Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals by Morton Montgomery


p. 426


Jacob B. Oberholtzer, miller and farmer of Colebrookdale township, who conducts the White mill, located on Swamp creek, was born on the family homestead in Washington township, this county, Oct. 29, 1844. The Oberholtzers have lived in Berks county for several generations. According to the Pennsylvania Archives three of the name came to America in the early days of the Commonwealth, viz.: Hans Jacob Oberholtzer arrived in 1730; Jacob Oberholtzer arrived in 1732, at which time he was twenty-eight years old, and had a daughter Elizabeth, aged six years, and a son Samuel, aged three years, to come with him to the New World; Hans George Oberholtzer arrived in 1754. One of the two first mentioned settled in Milford township, Montgomery county, (now included in Lehigh county), and there is a well-founded tradition that Jacob Oberholtzer, great-grandfather of Jacob B. Oberholtzer, whose name heads this sketch, was of this Montgomery county stock. The family is of Swiss origin, and its members have clung to the Mennonite religion. They have been upright in morals, successful in business and true to the traditions and faith of their forefathers.

Jacob Oberholtzer, previously mentioned as the great-grandfather of Jacob B. Oberholtzer, located about 1770 in Colebrookdale township, Berks county, in that section now included in Washington township. There he continued to make his home until he died, in May, 1811, full of years. He owned land and followed farming. In 1779 this pioneer paid a tax of 121, 10s. sterling. In 1805 he paid $3.70 and his son Jacob, Jr., $1.79. In 1809 they paid, respectively, $3.09 and $1.46. Jacob Oberholtzer was a Christian man. His will, made Nov. 28, 1810, and probated May 27, 1811, (sons Christian and Jacob, executors), is on record in Will Book A., page 584. He was survived by his wife, Esther, who bore him the following named children: Christian, Jacob, Abraham, Martin, Eve (m. Abraham Stauffer), Barbara (m. Jacob Stauffer), Esther and Elizabeth.

In Book 7, page 376, there is on record a German will of one Jacob Oberholtzer (the executors being Regina and Joseph Oberholtzer), who may have been a son of Christian Oberholtzer or one of the Montgomery county Oberholtzers. Martin Oberholtzer, previously mentioned as one of the children of Jacob Oberholtzer (who died in 1811), made his will Aug. 21, 1862, and died the following year in Washington township, where he had spent all his life, engaged in farming. His sons Jacob and Isaac, were the executors of the Will. He had six children in all, namely: Polly (m. a Hunsberger), Elizabeth (m. George Yohn), Susanna (m. Matthias Linsenbigler), Isaac, Sarah and Jacob.

Jacob Oberholtzer, born Dec. 5, 1773, another son of Jacob Oberholtzer (who died in 1811), was also a farmer in Washington township, where he owned land. He was a blacksmith by trade, and followed that line of work in connection with farming. He married Esther Moyer, born March 16, 1784, died Jan 13, 1843, who born him two sons and one daughter, Susanna and John M. reaching maturity. The daughter married Henry Landes, and they had a daughter Susanna, who became the wife of a Jacob Oberholtzer. As both Mrs. Landes and John M. Oberholtzer preceded their father to the grave the latter's estate was equitably divided among the grandchildren. Mr. Oberholtzer made his will Jan 19, 1858, and it was probated April 19, 1859. The executors were his friends Jacob M. and Jacob C. Oberholtzer. He died April 3, 1859.

John (Johannes) M. Oberholtzer, son of Jacob and father of Jacob B. Oberholtzer, was born Aug. 11, 1811, in Washington township, where he passed all his life, dying May 8, 1857, at the age of forty-five years. In his early manhood he was engaged as a school teacher and surveyor, but he eventually settled down to farming, the vocation of his ancestors. On Feb. 18, 1838, he married Anna Bliem (daughter of Jacob Bliem), born Nov. 4, 1815, died Oct. 26, 1884, and to them were born six children, viz.: Mary, who married John Bechtel; Hettie, wife of Eli Bechtel; Amos, of Bechtelsville; Jacob B.; Anna, wife of Joseph Moyer; and Minerva, wife of H. H. Stauffer. All this family were Mennonites and active in church life. Mr. Oberholtzer is buried at the Mennonite meeting-house at Bally.

Jacob B. Oberholtzer was reared to farming, growing up on the old home place in Washington township. As he was only twelve years old at the time of his father's death responsibilities came early to him and his brother, both remaining at home. Jacob worked for his mother until he was nearly twenty-five years old, he and his brother buying the homestead in 1869, after which they continued to cultivate the place together until 1872. That year Jacob B. Oberholtzer moved to Bechtelsville, where he lived until 1903, when he came to the place he has since occupied, in Colebrookdale township. He has the old Renninger mill property, originally owned by one Michael Renninger, and which Mr. Oberholtzer has owned since 1874, and which he has conducted. Mr. Oberholtzer is a man who takes an interest in the public welfare as well as in his own affairs, and he was prominent during his residence in Bechtelsville as one of the organizers of the borough, becoming its first secretary and later serving as chief burgess; he also served as township auditor and school director. Since settling in Colebrookdale he has been elected to the office of township auditor, in which he served efficiently. He is a Republican in political opinion.

On Nov. 6, 1869, Mr. Oberholtzer married Malinda Clemmer, daughter of Christian and Barbara (Gehman) Clemmer, and granddaughter of John Gehman. Mrs. Oberholtzer died June 25, 1888, at the age of forty-three years, and is buried at the Mennonite meeting-house at Bally. She was the mother of five children, namely: Eli, who lives in Douglass township, Montgomery Co., Pa.; John, of Philadelphia; Ida, who is unmarried and keeps house for her father; and Abraham and David, both of Philadelphia. Mr. Oberholtzer and his family hold fast to the religion of their forefathers, being New Mennonites in faith. They belong to the church of that denomination at Bally.



Thomas Jefferson Oberlin, a school teacher in Berks county for over twenty-three years, and a wholesale florist of Sinking Spring, was born at Schaefferstown, Lebanon county, June 21, 1850, son of Levi Schaeffer and Elizabeth (Spangler) Oberlin. He was educated in the local schools, the Palatinate College and the Ursinus College, qualifying himself for the profession of teaching. In 1868 when eighteen years of age, he began teaching public school in the vicinity of Epler's Church, in Bern township, Berks county, and he continued teaching in different parts of the county until 1876, when he located at Sinking Spring, and a year later opened a private school. He there established an institution under the name of the Charter Oak Academy, in the Mull Mansion, which he carried on successfully for fifteen years, being supported by pupils from the village and vicinity. Then the township school directors erected a large two-story brick building, and established graded schools, which caused Prof. Oberlin to abandon his academy. Having made a special study of botany and flowers since his boyhood, he naturally turned his attention to the extensive cultivation of flowers, and he has pursued this business in the line of cut flowers during the spring, summer and fall seasons until the present time, in a very successful manner, making almost daily shipments to large wholesale dealers in Philadelphia and New York.

Prof. Oberlin made a valuable collection of the flora in Berks county, which he arranged and classified scientifically, the specimens numbering over 1,000, and including several species which are exceedingly rare. Among these he found the very rare orchid, Pogonia affinis, C. F. Austin, in June 1882, in Cumru township, this county, the third station know for it in Pennsylvania, and the fourth in the United States. This specimen was deposited in the herbarium of Lafayette College, Easton, Pa. For this extraordinary work of classifying the Berks flora, he was highly complimented by the late Prof. Thomas C. Porter, of Lafayette College, the recognized authority on botany in Pennsylvania. Apropos of the subject of botany, Prof. Oberlin, in July, 1907, read a very practical paper, "The Redemption of the Hog Backs," before the Florists' Club of Philadelphia, at is session in Horticultural Hall, which paper was widely published in the floral journals of this country.

Upon located in Sinking Spring Prof. Oberlin identified himself with St. John's Reformed Church, and he took an active part in organizing the first Reformed Sunday-school in the village and became its first superintendent, serving in this position for several years. Since 1897 he has been officiating as a member of the consistory, acting as secretary of that body.

In 1902 Prof. Oberlin laid out the Mull plantation in the eastern section of the village into building lots, which number altogether nearly 1,000, and a considerable part of these lots has been sold. They have taken the local name of "Oberlin's addition."

Prof. Oberlin married Eva Ann Mull, daughter of Reuben Mull, of Sinking Spring, and widow of Dr. William J. Thirwechter, of Stouchsburg. By her he has four children: Elizabeth, Mrs. Irvin R. Huyett; Eva Maria, Mrs. Harry W. Burgner; Fredericka, Mrs. Floyd E. Groff; and Reuben L. Mrs. Oberlin had a daughter by her first husband, Marguerite, who married Dr. Thomas G. Binkley, a practicing physician at Sinking Spring.

Levi Schaeffer Oberlin was born in 1818 and died in 1893. He married Elizabeth Spangler, and had these children: Thomas J.; William Wallace, m. Lillie F. Sallade; Levi F., m. Eveline A. K. Myers; Ida Elizabeth m. Daniel F. Lynch; John Charles m. Katie V. Souders; Tamar A., m. Harry T. Myers; and George F., died in infancy.

Frederick Oberlin, father of Levi S., and grandfather of Thomas J., was born near Schaefferstown, Lebanon county, in 1775. For many years he was the owner and landlord of the "Franklin House" at Schaefferstown, which was built by Alexander Schaeffer in 1746. He died in 1840. He married Maria Schaeffer, daughter of Capt. Henry Schaeffer, and granddaughter of Alexander Schaeffer.

James Adam Oberlin, father of Frederick, married Margaret Stober, and his father, the great-great-grandfather of Thomas J., was Michael Oberlin, who emigrated from Germany in 1751, and settled in the vicinity of Schaefferstown.

Capt. Henry Schaeffer, father of Mrs. Maria (Schaeffer) Oberlin, was a captain in the Revolutionary war, and his company was included in the Second Battalion of Pennsylvania Associators from Lancaster county. This company was engaged in active service in the battle of Long Island, in August, 1776. In 1777 and 1778 he served as a justice of the peace, and as such administered the oath of allegiance to more than 360 persons at Schaefferstown. He married Anna Eva Schweitzer, by whom he had six children, of whom Maria was the third. Capt. Schaeffer's father, Alexander Schaeffer, was born in 1712 in the Palatinate, Germany, and emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1738, landing at Philadelphia. He was accompanied by his wife and several children. It was he who laid out and founded Schaefferstown in 1758.


p. 1196


Harold Obold, who is known to the citizens of his section of Reading as the proprietor of the popular "West End Hotel," was born Nov. 28, 1867, in Reading, Pa., son of John and Susan (Fichthorn) Obold.

Joseph Obold, the progenitor of this old and honored family, settled in Bern township, Berks county, prior to the organization of the county in 1752, and in 1759 paid a federal tax of eight pounds. His will is on record in Will Book 2, page 80, and was entered Nov. 30, 1770. From this fact and date we glean that he probably died early part of November, 1770. His wife, Maria Elizabeth, survived him. From items in his will we learn that he had children at the time of his death who were still under twenty-one years of age. He mentions his son Joseph, who obtained the homestead by paying seventy pounds to the other heirs and twenty pounds annually to his mother. The will was witnessed by Hieronymus Hemmig, Mathias Stoudt and Nicholas Holler. This ancestor, Joseph Obold, was probably the same party who came to America on the ship, "Robert and Alice" which qualified at Philadelphia, Sept. 3, 1739, and on this same ship was one Mathew Onbolt, who was, very likely, a brother. In 1759, in Heidelberg township, lived one Sebastian Obold, who paid a federal tax of ten pounds. We have no record of any children, or that he was related to Joseph Obold, but it is probable that there was some relationship between them.

Joseph Obold, the great-grandfather of Harold, died during the building of the Union Canal, where he contracted a fever. He was a farmer by occupation, owning upwards of 300 acres of land in Penn and North Heidelberg townships, this being subsequently divided among his children, and he was also the owner of "Obold's (later Mount Pleasant) Hotel." Among others he had these children: Rebecca, m. to Andreas Greth; Elizabeth m. to Benjamin Haas; Mrs. Umbenhauer; Joseph, who had an only daughter m. to James Christ, of Reading; George; and Philip, who made his will March 27, 1843, it being probated June 17, 1843. The last named was a yeoman of Penn township. His wife was Susanna, and who was executor of the will; and Sophia and Philip who were under age at the time of their father's death. Their uncle, George Obold, was their guardian.

George Obold, grandfather of Harold, was born in Penn township, in 1800, and died in 1854. He was a tanner by trade, and later became a farmer and dealer in grain, having a station along the Union Canal. He is buried in the private Catholic cemetery in Penn township, the ground for which was donated by the Obolds, Kisslings, and Deppens, who were all Catholics, as were the Smiths, Greths, Balthasers, Lamberts and Eckenroths, all of these families being related by marriage. George Obold was married to Rebecca Fisher (born in 1812, died in 1897), and they had these children: William; Alfred; John; Frank; and Henry, who had three children--Hiester, Bertha and Nevin.

John Obold, father of Harold, was born in North Heidelberg township, Feb. 26, 1836, and resided in his native locality until reaching his tenth year, at which time he came to Reading, and spent two years in this city with his parents. He then removed to Lower Heidelberg township, where he worked on the farm until fifteen years of age, and at this time again came to Reading, with his parents, attending school here for a short time. He was employed in a grocery store on South Fifth street, the site of the present city hall, for three years, and he then learned the machinist's trade wit the Nobles at Front and Pine streets, an occupation which he followed for one and one-half years. For more than twenty years, Mr. Obold was employed in George Lerch's hardware store, where the Bright & Co.'s hardware store is now located. In 1862 he enlisted and was made a lieutenant in Company K, 128th Pa. V. I., and served nine months. He was captured at Chancellorsville, May 3, 1863, and for three weeks was confined at Libby Prison, when he was paroled and exchanged. During the time of Lee's invasion of Pennsylvania he formed Company H, 42d Pa. Vol. Militia, which served six weeks and was mustered out at Reading. He was ever a brave and faithful soldier, and his war record is one of which any man might well be proud. After his services to his country were completed, Mr. Obold returned to the Lerch hardware store, but he subsequently form a partnership in the same line, with J. T. Jackson, under the firm name of Jackson & Obold, a connection with which he was identified until his election to the office of city treasurer in 1888, which he served for four years and then resigned, since which time he has lived retired, making his home with his son Harold.

In August, 1862, Mr. Obold was married to Susan Fichthorn, daughter of George Fichthorn, and she died in 1894, aged fifty-seven years. To Mr. and Mrs. Obold there were born these children: George C.; William and Annie, deceased; Emily; Kate; Mary; Harold and John.

Harold Obold received his education in the public schools of Reading, and when only six years of age began selling newspapers after school hours for George Frame, dealing in the Saturday Evening Review. Later he entered the employ of the Reading Eagle, as a carrier under Charles Frame, and in the morning carried the Reading Times for Thomas Frescolm. He continued selling papers from his sixth until his fifteenth year, at which time he entered the employ of the Reading Stove Works, where he remained for twelve years in different departments, and the following six years he was a bar clerk at different stands in Reading. For fourteen months he carried on a retail grocery business at the corner of Second and Spruce streets, Reading. Since 1901 he has been the proprietor of the "West End Hotel," at No. 129 Penn street.

Mr. Obold is connected with Reading Aerie No. 66, F. O. E. and Unamis Tribe No. 330, I. O. R. M. He is also a member of the West End Social Club, the Independent Gun Club and the Neversink Fire Company, with which he has been connected since 1889. Mr. Obold has represented the fire company at various State conventions, and at present is holding the office of captain of the organization.

On May 2, 1891, Mr. Obold was married to Mary C. Murphy, daughter of Charles Murphy, of Ontelaunee township, and one daughter, Susan, has been born to this union.


p. 597


John H. Obold, of John H. Obold & Co., hardware dealers, No. 300 Penn street, Reading, Pa., is a representative business man of that city, and was born in Penn township, Berks county, March 8, 1850, son of Elias and Elizabeth (Filbert) Obold. The name was originally spelled Abold, and tradition says that three brothers of the name came to America, one settling in Bern township and one in Heidelberg township, Berks county, while the third, it is believed, settled in the southeastern part of the state, although nothing definite is know of him.

The progenitor of this old and honored family was Joseph Obold, who settled in Bern township, Berks county, prior to the erection of the county in 1752, and in 1759 he paid a federal tax of eight pounds. His will is on record in Will Book 2, page 80, and was entered Nov. 30, 1770, from which fact it is deduced that he probably died early in November, 1770. He was survived by his wife Maria Elizabeth. From items in his will it appears that he had children not yet twenty-one years of age. He mentions his son Joseph, who obtained the homestead by paying seventy pounds to the other heirs and twenty pounds annually to his mother. The will was witnessed by Hieronymus Hemmig, Mathias Stoudt and Nicholas Holler. This Joseph Obold is probably the same Joseph who came to America in the ship, "Robert and Alice" which landed at Philadelphia, Sept. 3, 1739, and on this same vessel was one Mathew Onbolt, perhaps a brother. In 1759 in Heidelberg township lived Sebastian Obold, who paid a federal tax of ten pounds. There is, however, nothing to indicate his relationship to Joseph, though it is very likely that they were related, nor is there record of his children.

Joseph Obold, great-grandfather of John H., died during the building of the Union canal, where he contracted a fever. He was a farmer by occupation, owning upwards of three hundred acres of land in Penn and North Heidelberg townships, this being subsequently divided among his children, and he was also the owner of the "Mt. Pleasant Hotel." Among his children were: Rebecca, m. to Andreas Greth; Elizabeth, m. to Benjamin Haas; Mrs. Umbenhauer; Joseph, whose only daughter became the wife of James Christ, of Reading; George; and Philip.

Philip Obold, son of Joseph, was a yeoman of Penn township. He made his will March 27, 1843, and it was probated June 17, 1843. He married Susanna Hetrick, and among their children were: Elias, who was executor of his father's will; and Sophia and Philip, who were under age at the time of their father's death, and for whom their uncle, George Obold, acted as guardian. Philip Obold was a stanch Democrat in his political belief, but was never an aspirant for political preferment. The early Obolds were Roman Catholics, and with the Deppens, Kisslings and others donated the land for the Catholic cemetery.

Elias Obold, son of Philip and Susanna, was reared to farm pursuits, but on reaching manhood directed his attention to the mercantile business, carrying on a successful general store at Mt. Pleasant, although he still owned and operated a farm. He was honest and upright, and his word was as good as another's note with those he met in business. He was a member of the Reformed Church, and in that faith died in 1888, at the age of sixty-eight years. He married Elizabeth Filbert, who died Dec. 25, 1904, aged eighty-one years. Mr. and Mrs. Obold were the parents of the following children: P. Reily F.,; Elias; Emma; Mary; Katie; John H.; Annie, who died aged twelve years; and several who died in infancy.

John H. Obold received his education in the common schools and in the Keystone State Normal at Kutztown, Palatinate College at Myerstown and Mt. Pleasant Seminary at Boyertown. He taught school for seven terms, and for some time was engaged in farm work. In 1871 he came to Reading where he engaged as a clerk with the firm of Lerch & Co., hardware merchants, in which capacity he remained until 1881, when he came to his present stand, then operated by Jones & Clous, purchasing the stock, and doing business under the firm name of J. H. Obold & Co. The firm handles all kinds of shelf hardware, builder's materials, glass, paints, oils, etc., and all other lines usually carried in a first class store, giving particular attention to shot-guns, rifles, and ammunition. The firm also carries a full line of horse blankets and lap robes, and is the Reading agent for the Oliver Chilled Plows and Blue Rock Targets. Mr. Obold has sustained the reputation of his ancestors for honest and square dealing, and his house is known all over this section of Pennsylvania. Sixteen men are employed, including three traveling salesmen who cover eastern Pennsylvania.

Mr. Obold has been twice married. His first wife, Elizabeth M. Evans, who died May 3, 1900, was a daughter of John V. R. Evans. Three sons were born of this union: Howard, Calvin and Lester Elias, the latter of whom died Oct. 23, 1905, aged twenty years, five months and twenty-five days. Of the others, Howard, a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College and the Eastern Theological Seminary both of Lancaster, was ordained a minister of the Reformed Church in 1901, and is now located in Alexandria, Pa. Calvin is clerking in his father's store. Mr. Obold married (second) Mrs. Elizabeth (Valentine) Fidler, of Womelsdorf.

Fraternally, Mr. Obold is a member of Lodge No. 549, F. & A. M.; Excelsior Chapter, No. 237, R. A. M.; Reading Commandery, K. T.; Rajah Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S.; Wyomissing Council, R. A. For over thirty years he has been a member and officer in the Second Reformed Church. In politics he is a Democrat, and for seven and a half years held the office of Prison Inspector. For more than twenty years he has been a member of the Reading board of school controllers, and has been serving as a chairman of the Text Book committee many years. He also is a member of the Building and Sites committee.


p. 1070


Harry L. O'Brien, a prominent business man of Reading, was born in that city in 1856, son of Joseph T. O'Brien, also a native of Reading, born in 1831.

Joseph T. O'Brien engaged in the milling business, at the foot of Penn street, Reading. Mr. O'Brien remained in that business for a number of years, and then engaged as a grocer at No. 233 Penn street, and later at No. 319 North Sixth street. continuing at the latter place, very successfully, until his death in 1891, aged sixty-six years. Joseph T. O'Brien married Mary A. Boyer, who survived her husband two years, and was sixty-three yeas old at the time of her death. They had two children, Thomas B., who died when forty-eight years old, and Harry L., our subject.

Harry L. O'Brien received his education in his home city and assisted his father in the grocery business as a clerk, remaining with him for about six years. In 1877 he engaged in the variety business in which he has since continued, locating first at No. 626 Penn street, and in 1891 removed to his present location, No. 728 Penn street. He carries a full line of toys and varieties, dealing wholesale and retail, and pays strict attention to business. Mr. O'Brien has won an enviable reputation for honesty and integrity and this no doubt is one of the reasons of his great success.

Mr. O'Brien was married in 1885 to Mary J. Hillegass, of Reading, and one daughter, Edna M., who is attending the College for Girls at Frederick, Md., was born to this union. Mr. O'Brien is a Republican, and he is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church.


p. 863


William S. Odeair, one of the venerable citizens of Spring township, Berks Co., Pa., who for some years has been retired from active pursuits, was for a long period engaged in farming in this section. He was born Jan. 30, 1834, at Mount Penn Furnace, son of Patrick and Mary (Schnabel) Odeair.

Patrick Odeair, grandfather of William S., was a native of Ireland and emigrated to America in 1798, settling in the vicinity of the Mount Penn Furnace soon thereafter. He died, as did also his wife. Besides his son Patrick, Mr. Odeair had at least one daughter, Agnes, who was twice married, first to a Mr. Sheridan and second to a Mr. Kimbel. By her first marriage she had two daughters, both of whom married a Mr. Bechtel.

Patrick Odeair, father of William S., was born on the ocean while his parents were emigrating to America, and he died on his 100-acre farm in Cumru township in 1850, being buried on a private plot above Mount Penn Furnace, on the Blue Ball road. He started in life a poor man, but by industry and economy had his whole farm paid for at the time of his death. Mr. Odeair was married to Mary Schnabel, who died five weeks after her husband, being about the same age. They had these children: John, died unmarried; Mary m. Edward Hartranft, a lumber merchant of Kansas; William S.; Deborah m. David Maurer, a shoemaker at Yocom's Church; and Patrick m. Elizabeth Miller, and had his home with his son, Patrick M., until his death, July 20, 1908, and he was laid to rest in Sinking Spring cemetery. Patrick M. Odeair married Mary Hartman, and they live at No. 318 Cherry street, West Reading; they have five children; Aquilla Gertrude, a young woman of eighteen years who lives with William S. Odeair, for whom she attends market three time a week; William H.; Estella H.; James M. and Dewey W.

William S. Odeair was reared on the home farm and when twenty years of age learned the carpenter trade with Benjamin Matz, an occupation which he followed for fifty-one years. he purchased a tract of five acres of land in Spring township, between the Textile and Van Reed's paper mills, and here he built himself a house in 1862, and here he has lived for forty-seven years, retiring from active pursuits in 1906. In 1863 he built a barn, and carried on farming to some extent in the following years. In 1891 he bought eleven acres just below his home, and on it erected a frame kitchen, but in 1908 he sold this to Mr. Kohns. For eight years he also conducted a milk route to Reading.

On Jan. 12, 1861, Mr. Odeair was married to Harriet Rice, born June 19, 1841, daughter of David and Sarah (Spayd) Rice, of Walnuttown, Pa, and granddaughter of George Rice, of Germany. Mr. and Mrs. Odeair are very highly esteemed in their community and are familiarly known by their neighbors as "Uncle" and "Auntie" Odeair. They have no children, but their grandniece, Aquilla G. Odeair, has made her home with them since her childhood.


p. 843


Isaac Harrison O'Harra, who was engaged in the tailoring business in Philadelphia for many years, and who died in that city in 1888, was prominent in business, fraternal and political circles. Mr. O'Harra was born in Bridgeton, Cumberland Co., N.J., in 1817, and was educated in the schools of that place. When a boy he was apprenticed to the tailor's trade in Philadelphia, where his business life was spent. He was for a number of years engaged in business for himself, and became prominently known, his interest being large and varied. He was connected with the Masonic order and active in its interests, as he was also in the I. O. O. F. In politics he was a stanch Republican, filing various positions of trust and responsibility, and was at one time a member of the Pennsylvania State legislature.

Mr. O'Harra married (first) Elizabeth Miles, and to them were born four children: Mary; Annie (m. Horace T. Potts, of Philadelphia); Agnes, deceased; and Ella, of Philadelphia. Mr. O'Harra m. (second) Maria Johnston, a native of Lehigh county, Pa., and a daughter of Adam Johnston, and four children were born to this union: Julia (m. James Rick, mentioned elsewhere); Isaac H. (who is connected with the Fidelity Trust Company, of Philadelphia, Pa.); Adam J. ( of Reading, employed by the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Company); and John B. (deceased). In religious belief Mr. O'Harra was a Baptist, to which faith his widow, who survives him and resides in Reading, also adheres.


p. 1481


Adam A. Ohnmacht, of Bern township, Berks county, is a native of Lower Heidelberg township, born in September, 1867, son of John A. Ohnmacht.

John A. Ohnmacht was born in Lower Heidelberg township, Jan 27, 1835, and he died March 12, 1906. He had eighty-eight acres of good land in that township, and he farmed all his life. This farm is now the property of his son-in-law, William Olinger. John A. Ohnmacht married Elenora N. Ahrens, born Aug. 30, 1831, daughter of John Ahrens, and she died July 19, 1904, and both she and her husband are buried in the new cemetery at Bern church. Their children were: Adam A.; and Kate, who married William Olinger.

Adam A. Ohnmacht attended school in lower Heidelberg, and his first experience in practical farm work was in partnership with his father and brother-in-law. In 1902 he bought from his father a tract of sixty-six acres of good land and in 1907 he purchased the farm of Joseph Baer, containing 134 acres, and this latter he has rented.

Mr. Ohnmacht married Kate Balthaser, daughter of Henry Balthaser of Lower Heidelberg, and they have two children, Paul A., and John William. The family attend the Lutheran church at Bern.


p. 1478


William S. Ohnmacht, who resides on the old Ohnmacht homestead in Lower Heidelberg township was born on his present property, Feb. 16, 1865, son of John Adam and Lizzie Ann (Strickert) Ohnmacht.

Frederick Ohnmacht, who settled in Oley township, in Berks, about the time of the Revolutionary war, and the ancestor of this old and honored family, was assessed in the federal tax register from 1779 to 1781 inclusive as a laborer in Oley township. Before 1791 he was a resident of Heidelberg township, Berks county, where he died. His children were: George frederick, who died in 1787; Johan Christoph; and Catherine, who died in 1805.

John Christoph Ohnmacht, the great-grandfather of William S., was born Oct. 16, 1766, and died on his farm Dec. 14, 1827, aged sixty-one years, one month, twenty-eight days. He was a farmer and owned a tract of land in Heidelberg (now Lower Heidelberg) township, near Hiester's Mill, the present property of John Riegel. John Christoh Ohnmacht was married to Magdalena Schneckin, who was born Sept. 22, 1775, and died Oct. 1, 1834, aged fifty-nine years, nine days, and their children were: Susanna, born Nov. 1, 1800; Johannes, born Sept. 19, 1801, died Oct. 12, 1834; William, born Oct. 19, 1802, died July 22, 1882; Cathrine, born March 17, 1804, had two sons, Benjamin and David Himmelberger, and died in 1875; Valentine, born July 4, 1806, died Aug. 5, 1834; Benjamin, born March 31, 1808, died July 14, 1879; Sarah, born May 15, 1810, married (first) David Kemmerer and (second) a Ruth, and died Aug. 30, 1875; Helen, born Dec. 13, 1811; and Samuel. Benjamin Ohnmacht of the above family, was married (first) to Lydia Himmelberger, born in 1815, who died in 1846, leaving three children: William, John and Lydia. Benjamin Ohnmacht was married (second) to a lady whose first name was Elizabeth and who was born June 13, 1813, and still lives, making her home at Grantville, Lebanon county, with her nephew, Percival Ohnmacht, who was born Oct. 7, 1833, son of William and Hettie (Himmelberger) Ohnmacht. Percival is the owner of the old Family Bible, and is well-known and much respected in his community.

Samuel Ohnmacht, grandfather of William S. was born Nov. 2, 1814, in Lower Heidelberg township and his death occurred on his farm Sept 15, 1899, at the age of nearly eighty-five years. He was a farmer by occupation, and was the owner of the 119acre farm now owned by his grandsons, William S. and Samuel S. spending all his life in one community. He was a Lutheran member of St. John's Church at Sinking Spring, and is buried at Hain's Church. On May 16, 1884, the house on his farm was totally destroyed by fire, as were most of the contents thereof, including the Ohnmacht Family Bible, but in 1884, Mr. Ohnmacht replaced the former building with a large brick residence. Mr. Ohnmacht was married to Mary Gruber, daughter of John Gruber, and they had but one child, a son, John Adam.

John Adam Ohnmacht, father of William S., was born on the homestead in Lower Heidelberg township, April 7, 1842, and died Sept. 13, 1902. Like his father he was a farmer all of his life, and owned the farms now operated by his sons. In religious beliefs, he was a Lutheran, and he was interred at Hain's Churh. On Oct. 17, 1863, Mr. Ohnmacht was married to Lizzie Ann Strickert, who was born Nov. 8, 1844, and now lives with her son, William S. To this union there were born these children: William S; Edwin, born Feb. 16, 1866, who died April 21, 1872; Samuel S.; Mary M., born May 18, 1868; and John Adam, born Sept. 25, 1872, who died Dec. 13, 1883.

William S. Ohnmacht received his early education in the public schools of his native district and later entered the Keystone State Normal school at Kutztown, where he remained one session. He remained at home and farmed for his parents until he was thirty-two years of age, at which time he commenced operating the Werner farm in Bern township, but in the fall of 1897 returned to the home place, which he has since continued to cultivate. Mr. Ohnmacht has an excellent property, which he operates with the most highly improved implements, and his fifteen head of cattle and seven horses are of the best stock to be found in the locality. The farm was purchased by Mr. Ohnmacht after his father's death, and consists of 119 acres, on which is situated the large brick residence built in 1884 by his father, and a substantial barn built many years ago by an Ohnmacht, to which an addition was built by Samuel Ohnmacht, his grandfather. He attends the Bingaman street market in Reading, where he has a stand. Mr. Ohnmacht is a stanch Democrat, was elected school director in 1899, and has since served with efficiency as a member of the school board and treasurer there-of. He and his family are members of St. John's Lutheran Church, of Sinking Spring, where many of the family name are buried.

Samuel S. Ohnmacht, son of John Adam, and brother of William S., was born on the old family homestead, June 28, 1867. He was reared on the home farm, and his education was secured in Faust's school in lower Heidelberg township, which he attended until twenty-one years of age. Until his father's death, Mr. Ohnmacht worked for his parents, but in the spring of 1898 he commenced operations on his present farm of forty-eight acres, located in Spring township, which formerly belonged to his father. Mr Ohnmacht's property is a fertile one, and he raises good crops, which he disposes of at the Reading market. In politics Mr. Ohnmacht is a Democrat, and he has held the office of judge of election in his precinct. He and his family are members of Hain's Reformed Church.

Oct 15, 1892, Mr. Ohnmacht was married to Mary Sarig, daughter of Valentine and Caroline (Mohn) Sarig of Lenhartsville, and four children have been born to this union: Eva E., Katie L., Adam S., and Harvey C.

Last Modified Thursday, 16-Oct-2008 20:56:39 EDT

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