Biographies from Historical and Biographical Annals by Morton Montgomery


p. 602


James Oneaill, a highly esteemed retired citizen of Mohnton, Pa., and an honored survivor of the great Civil war, was born April 3, 1839, in Robeson township, Berks county, son of Michael Oneaill. James Oneaill, grandfather of James, came from Ireland when eighteen years of age and settled in Berks county, where he spent the remainder of his life in agricultural pursuits. His children were: Harriet (m. Abner Old, of Philadelphia), Katie (m. Patrick McNulty and lived in Iowa), Mary (m. Frederick Homan, died in Iowa), Jane (m. Samuel Bittler, and died in Robeson township), James (m. Abbie Stafford), Annie (m. Benjamin Wamsher), Hugh (m. Fannie Painter, and died in Robeson township), John (died young), and Michael.

Michael Oneaill, like his father, was a farmer all of his life, and followed this occupation in Robeson township. He married Mary Wolfe, and to them were born children as follows: Sarah A. (m. John Piersol), James, Mark M. (m. Jennie Lauderbach), Jacob (m. (first) Hannah Frey and (second) Sarah Jacobs, and resides in Robeson township), Ellen (m. George Geiger, of Geigertown), Hugh (m. Ellen Gorman, of Robeson township), and twelve others, the oldest of whom was two years of age, who died in infancy. This was one of the largest families in Robeson township.

James Oneaill attended the schools of Robeson township and worked on his father's farm until twenty-one years old. He then went to Reading and found employment at the iron works, where he was employed at the time of his enlistment, Aug. 8, 1862, in Company K, 128th Reg., Pa. V. I., being discharged May 29, 1962. He enlisted (second) in Company I, 196th Pa. V. I., July 1, 1864, and was honorably discharged Nov. 17th of that year. His third enlistment was on Sept. 1, 1865, in Company E, 75th Pa. V. I. In his second enlistment he became seventh corporal of Job Obock's company, and throughout his entire service he was a faithful and cheerful soldier, performing his duties efficiently and well. He participated in many of the hardest fought battles of the great struggle, including Antietam and Chancellorsville, and was always a brave and gallant fighter. After the war Mr. Oneaill returned to Reading and resumed work at the iron works, later learning the hatting trade, which he followed for three years, also taking care of his small farm, which he still looks after. Mr. Oneaill now receives a pension from the Government as reward for his faithful services, and he resides on Oneaill street, which was named in his honor. He bears the reputation of being an honest man of sterling integrity, and has the respect and esteem of all who know him. In politics he is independent. He is a member of Salem Evangelical Association, of which be is now steward, and is also active in Sunday school work.

On May 21, 1866, Mr. Oneaill was married to Amanda Reichwine, daughter of Cornelius and Elizabeth (Holtery) Reichwine, and to this union there were born: Ellen m. Walter Webber, of Mohnton, and has two children, Claude and Ralph; Mary J. m. William Beaver, of Reading, and has two children, Clyde and James; Sadie m. John Werner, of the firm of E.G. Werner & Sons, Mohnton, and has two children, Alethea and Norman; and Gertrude since 1902 has been a trained nurse in the German Hospital, Philadelphia. Mr. Oneaill also has an adopted daughter, Katie Lausch.


p. 385


Joseph P. O'Reilly, contractor at Reading for upward of twenty-five years, was born at that place Aug. 27, 1862. He received his education in the city schools and at Villanova College, in Delaware county, Pa., and upon quitting school learned the trade of stone-cutter under Christian Eben, who had been engaged in the business for many years at Reading. He continued with Mr. Eben for four years, and then engaged in the business for himself for about a year, when he started contracting in the construction of public works of various kinds. This was in 1882, and since then he has been prominently and successfully engaged in taking city and county contracts for roads, culverts, sewers and bridges. Among the large iron bridges spanning the Schuylkill river which are of his construction may be mentioned the "Exeter Bridge, " the

"Reading and South Western Street Railway Bridge," the "Schuylkill Avenue Bridge," the "Cross Keys Bridge" (above Tuckertown), and the "Berne Bridge" (above Shoemakersville).

Mr. O'Reilly married Clara A. Tea (daughter of Samuel H. Tea and Emily E. Hyneman, his wife, of Reading), and they have three children: James, Gerald and Claire.

Mr. O'Reilly's father was Owen O'Reilly, also a large contractor in the construction of public works at Reading for thirty years. In 1856 he put up the "Askew Bridge" for the Lebanon Valley Railroad (crossing Sixth at Woodward), which was then regarded as a remarkable piece of work, and is still admired by engineers and contractors. He was born in 1815 at Patrickstown, County Meath, Ireland, and emigrated to America in 1838, locating at Reading. He died in 1902. He married Elizabeth B. Felix, daughter of Anthony Felix, of Reading, and they had nine children: Agnes C., a sister of charity for forty years, now at Emmitsburg, Md.; Sallie B., a sister of charity for thirty years, now at Washington, D. C.; Eugene P., m. to Helena Rauen; Simon P., m. to Sallie G. Reber; Mary B., who died in 1902, aged forty-one years; Joseph P., above; and three ? James, Ann and William ? who died in infancy.

His grandfather was James O'Reilly, of County Meath, Ireland, born in 1771, died in 1851. He m. Bridget Conathy, of the same county, born in 1773, died in 1848. They had fourteen sons, among them Owen. And his great-grandfather, also named James, had seven sons, among them the said James. His mother's father was Anthony Felix, born in 1781, died in 1863; m. to Catherine Martin, born in 1783, died in 1861. Her grandfather was Nicholas Felix, born in 1731, died in 1813. He was enlisted in the Revolution, with the company of Capt. Charles Gobin, in Hiester's Battalion, which was engaged in the battle of Camden on Aug. 16, 1780. He emigrated from Germany in 1754.

Mr. O'Reilly's wife's father, Samuel Hains Tea, was a lineal descendant of Richard Tea, a surveyor of Hereford township before the Revolution, and an ironmaster during the Revolution. In 1776 he was elected to officiate as one of the Supreme Executive Councilors of the State, but he declined to serve, doubtless because he was identified with the Friends, who opposed the war.


p. 407


J. Allison Orr, one of Reading's representative business men, superintendent of the Mt. Penn Stove Works for twenty-five years, and for thirteen years a partner in the Reading Radiator Company, of which he later was president, held a position of recognized influence in the industrial circles of the city. Mr. Orr was born March 9, 1845, near Chester Springs, Chester Co., Pa., son of William and Margaret (White) Orr, and grandson of Robert Orr, and he died Oct. 1, 1907.

Robert Orr was born in Ireland, and was brought to America in childhood. His parents located near Yellow Springs, and there after reaching manhood he engaged in farming. He died in 1853. For many years he was sexton of the Vincent Baptist Church. His five children were: William, George, John, Jesse and Mrs. Catherine Sturgis. William Orr was a shoemaker by trade, but later he became superintendent of an ore quarry. The latter years of his life he devoted to farming. He became a man of some substance, and lived to the age of seventy-eight years. His wife, Margaret, died aged seventy-four years. They had three sons: John W., of the Mount Penn Stove Works; Jesse, deceased; and J. Allison. In religious belief the parents were Baptists. The father was a Democrat.

J. Allison Orr was afforded better educational advantages than were many of the youths of his day. He attended Franklin Hall and Pikeland Seminary, both excellent schools. After completing his education he became a clerk in a general store in Chester county, remaining six years. In 1868 he came to Reading as a stove mounter for Orr, Painter & Co., but twelve years later he went to Philadelphia, where he purchased a milk route, which he carried on for two years, returning to Reading at the end of that time. He then accepted his late responsible position with the Mount Penn Stove Works where he had charge of 130 workmen.

On Dec. 31, 1868, Mr. Orr married Cassie R. Saylor, and they had six children, three still living, as follows: Jesse, chief shipping clerk for the Mount Penn Stove Works, m. Katharine Goodhart; Bertha is at home; and Edwin was a student in the Electrical Department of the University of Pennsylvania. The home of the family is at No. 40 North Third street. Mr. Orr was a member of the Royal Arcanum. In politics he was a Republican.


p 645


A. R. Orth, a cigar manufacturer of Reading, was born in that city, Nov. 19, 1852, son of William and Susan (Printz) Orth.

William Orth during his active life was a blacksmith by trade, and in time securing a place in the Reading shops of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad where he worked continuously for thirty-five years. Both he and his wife are now deceased, his demise having occurred Sept. 1, 1895, hers in 1877. They are buried in the Aulenbach cemetery in Reading. Four children were born to their union, viz.: Alpheus R.; Christian, the wife of George Nagle, of Reading; Rosanna, Mrs. Henry Hertwig, of Reading; and William, also of that city.

Alpheus R. Orth attended the public schools till he was twelve years old, and then entered the hat factory run by Kutz and Arnold, at present the property of J. G. Mohn & Brothers. When fourteen he left that place and went into a cotton factory and then at the age of seventeen he began to learn cigar making with Frederick Printz, who was alderman of the Third ward at that time, with whom he remained five months. After he finished his trade he worked for Charles Breneiser & Co., and then for John Maltzberger. At the end of that time, in 1887, he and Augustus Frame formed the firm of Orth & Frame, in the cigar manufacturing business, with their location on Court street, above Sixth street. After four years, Mr. Orth sold out his interest to his partner and himself resumed cigar making. He was employed first by John Keiser and then for six years by Frank Hunt. In 1898 Mr. Orth purchased Peter Krick's stand, on Sixth street below Penn, formerly William R. Eaches' well-known place, and established himself there till 1900 when he moved to his present location, No. 37 North Fifth street. This stand, which he bought from Edward Luden, was one of the most up-to-date in the city and under Mr. Orth its reputation has been more than sustained. It is located next to the postoffice building, has a frontage of thirty feet in dimensions, in the rear. This factory Mr. Orth greatly improved in . June, 1906, and keeps fourteen hands busy at all times. When he began he employed only two, but his business increased rapidly from the first and now he has a fine local trade, supplying his products to all the best cafes and hotels in the city. He makes principally the Pompey Branch five cents, and Pompey Shorts, for chewing and smoking, ten cents. The business is now conducted under the name of A. R. Orth & Son.

In 1878 Mr. Orth married Ellen E., daughter of William and Elizabeth Reider. There are three children, Annie, Walter and Lizzie, the last a graduate of the Reading high school. The family have their home in the store building, where a residence portion has been carefully fitted up. Mr. Orth has never mingled actively in politics but supports the Democratic party. Fraternally he is a man of warm heart and charitable impulses, and is always a generous giver to worthy causes. His business success has been honestly won by his own unaided efforts, and he deserves the confidence and esteem in which he is held by all who have dealings with him.


p. 1641


Benjamin Oswald, who since 1905 has been engaged in the hotel business at Birdsboro as proprietor of the "Mansion House," so familiar to the traveler in this part of the country, was born in Greenwich township, Berks county, in 1843; son of Samuel and Sarah (Adams) Oswald, and grandson of Peter Oswald.

Peter Oswald was an early resident of Berks county, and was engaged as a farmer and stone mason.

Samuel Oswald was a son of Peter; he attended the subscription schools of the county in his youth, and between times assisted his father. At an early age he started out for himself, following farming in the vicinity of Molltown. He also became the owner of a farm in Lehigh county, and he made the cultivation of the soil his life work. He was quick to see what was practical in new methods of arming, and eagerly adopted those suitable to his needs. Prosperity smiled upon him, and he was able to retire some few years before his death, which occurred in 1880. He married Sarah Adams, and they became the parents of these children: Frederick, of Lehigh county; John, deceased; Susannah, who married Moses Reignald; Daniel; Samuel; Sarah, who married Samuel Weidenheimer; William, who makes his home in Lehigh county; and Benjamin. They were Lutherans in religious belief.

Benjamin Oswald lived the life of a farmer's son until he was twenty-three years of age. The district schools afforded him his educational advantages, and the home farm his practical training. When he began life for himself, on leaving home, he engaged in the coal, feed and lumber business at Chapman's Station for four years. He then rented a farm, which he cultivated for three years, when he had an advantageous offer and sold out. His next venture was as superintendent of an iron ore bank at Kline's Corners, in Longswamp township, and here he remained ten years. At the end of that time he resumed farming, and for the eleven succeeding years he carried it on which no little success, but sold out to engage in the feed business at Alburtis. His restless spirit looked for new worlds to conquer, and he then opened a hotel at Pottstown, also farming a tract of 254 acres o land for two years. In November, 1905, he came to Birdsboro, and opened the "Mansion House," a well known and first class hostelry, of thirty-three rooms, all fitted in an up-to-date manner. He ahs an excellent cuisine, and his table is sure to give satisfaction. He also handles a full line of imported and domestic cigars and liquors.

Mr. Oswald married Catharine Peters, and they have had eight children, five of whom are living: Clara, who married Harry Ebe; Herman; Mabel married a Mr. Case; Solomon P.; Laura, who married Willis Quigley. They attend the Lutheran Church. Mr. Oswald is a member of the F. O. E. Lodge at Reading.


p. 920


Henry Muhlenberg Otto, at the time of his death a retired merchant at Reading and director of the Commercial Trust Company, was born at Reading, Jan. 4, 1826, and died there April 12, 1909. He was educated in private schools, which were then maintained successfully in the borough, and in the Reading Academy. After completing his education he entered a large country store, carried on by Horatio and William Trexler, brothers, at Longswamp, Berks county, situated in the East Penn valley, twenty-two miles northeast of Reading, and there he continued fourteen months. He then returned to Reading and served in several stores until 1845, when he became a clerk in the employ of his brother, John A. Otto, at Taylorsville, in Schuylkill county, who was engaged in the manufacture of iron. While there he received the appointment of postmaster at the place from President James K. Polk, and he served in that capacity four years, from 1845 to 1849.

Mr. Otto returned to Reading in 1849, and after acting as a clerk for a short time opened a dry goods store for himself on Penn street, between Third and Fourth, which he carried on successfully until 1863. During this time, in September, 1862, he was enlisted for a short period in the Civil war, serving as a private in Company G. 2d Regiment. Pa. V. I. In 1863 he sold out his store and removed to Williamsport to engage in the lumber business with his brother, John A., and others, operating as John A. Otto & Co. for three years. Afterward for four years he was in the wholesale lumber business, having purchased a large area, several thousand acres, of hemlock timber, in Elk county, Pa., and formed a partnership with his son and son-in-law. The firm produced and disposed of great quantities of timber, lumber and bark and carried on a successful business until 1882, when the father retired. He then moved to Baltimore, remaining there until 1891, after which he was located at Reading, living in retirement.

Mrs. Henry M. Otto is a lineal descendant of Casper Hoehn, the Palatinate immigrant, who settled with other immigrants along the Tulpehocken creek in 1728. Her father was Jacob H. Hain who engaged in the saddlery business at Reading for many years. He officiated as clerk of the quarter Sessions of Berks county, from 1872 to 1875. He died in 1891. He married Mary Ann Goodhart, daughter of Jacob Goodhart, and had three children: Clara Louise m. George P. Zieber; Alice V. m. Jonathan P. Mengel; Sarah Agnes m. Henry M. Otto. Her grandfather was John Hain, of Lower Heidelberg, who was a son of Daniel, a grandson of Heinrich, and a great-grandson of George.


p. 731


Jacob Otto, who died at his residence, No. 833 Washington street, May 23, 1094, at the age of sixty-seven years, was not an American by birth, but had lived in this country since his seventeenth year. He was born in 1837 in Hesse-Darmstadt, and brought to his adopted country the sterling qualities which characterize the German race, and make them so valuable a part of our body of citizens.

When he was sixteen years old Mr. Otto landed in New York City, and proceeded directly to Reading. Although he had learned the trade of shoemaking, he never followed it, and instead worked at tinning under a Mr. Snell. He remained with him for a number of years, and became a very skilled workman. In 1877, he went into partnership in that same line with a Mr. Harper, under the firm name of Harper & Otto, and for a long time they were located on Seventh street near Penn, doing a general tinning business. When that partnership was dissolved, Christ Geisler became associated with Mr. Otto and the store was moved to No. 643 Penn street, its present location. In 1889 Mr. Otto bought out Mr. Geisler and from that time conducted it by himself. Nine years later his son John was made manager, but he died while still a young man, and his brother, Harry W. was then given the place. Since his father's death, H. W. Otto has continued to conduct the business in the interest of the estate.

Jacob Otto was married at the age of twenty-four years to Miss Katherine Kiruse, and five children were born to them; Emma, Mrs. Charles Leymaster, of Reading; John, who died at the age of thirty-two; Kate, wife of David E. Gring, of Reading; Minnie, who was born in 1873, and died in 1890; and Harry W. Mr. Otto belonged both to the Odd Fellows and the Masons, being a member in the latter order, of Teutonia Lodge, No. 367, F. & A. M. A man of many estimable qualities he was esteemed by everyone that knew him, and bore a deservedly high reputation among Reading's business men.

Harry W. Otto was born June 21, 1880, and was educated in the public schools of Reading. In 1896 he was taken into his father's employ and has been connected with the business ever since. Since assuming the sole responsibility he has proven himself to be capable in business, and is very successful in his management. Socially he is a Mason, a member of Chandler Lodge, No. 227; and also of the Knights of the Golden Eagle; the Order of Buzzards; the Ivy Leaf Association and the Cadet Band.


p. 935


John S. Oxenreiter, a highly esteemed citizen of Ontelaunee township, Berks county, was born July 8, 1858, in Marion township, near Womelsdorf, son of Benneville and Annie Magdalena (Spatz) Oxenreiter. His grandparents, John and Sallie (Haas) Oxenreiter, were the parents of thirteen children, as follows: John, Kate, Michael, Benneville, Mary, Moses, Adam, Elizabeth, Isaac, Elias, Harrison, Rebecca and Jesse.

Benneville Oxenreiter, who was a farmer by occupation, married Annie Magdalena Spatz, daughter of Jacob and Leah (Zeller) Spatz, and five children were born to this union: Elvina, who married John Shware, has two children, Frank and George; John S. is mentioned below; Mary died unmarried; Aaron married Emma Wallace, and had three children, Charles, George and Harry (the latter deceased); Frank died young. The mother died Jan. 8, 1908 and the father Aug. 24, 1908. Both are buried at Host St. John's Church, in Jefferson township, Berks county.

John S. Oxenreiter was reared and educated in his native locality, and his youth was spent in assisting his father on the home farm. On Sept. 26, 1885, he was married to Sarah C. R. Leinbach, daughter of Washington and Esther (Rieser) Leinbach, and to this union there have been born three children: Alberta Esther, Hattie Lulu and Paul Washington, all unmarried.

In politics Mr. Oxenreiter is a Democrat, but he has never aspired to public office. In his religious beliefs he is a Lutheran, while the rest of the family belong to the Reformed Church. Fraternally he is connected with Camp No. 237, P. O. S. of A.; Fraternity Castle, No. 302, K. G. E. ; and Ontelaunee Council, No. 985, O. of I. A.

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

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