Richard Ober

Richard Ober

Nineteen fifty-six. Ben Bradlee, recently remarried, is a European correspondent for Newsweek. He left the embassy for Newsweek in 1953, a year before CIA director Allen Duller authorized one of his most skilled and fanatical agents, former OSS operative James Angleton, to set up a counterintelligence staff. As chief of counterintelligence, Angleton has become the liaison for all Allied intelligence and has been given authority over the sensitive Israeli desk, through which the CIA is receiving 80 percent of its information on the KGB. Bradlee is in a position to help Angleton with the Israelis in Paris, and they are connected in other ways as well: Bradlee's wife, Tony Pinchot, Vassar '44, and her sister Mary Pinchot Meyer, Vassar '42, are close friends with Cicely d'Autremont, Vassar '44, who married James Angleton when she was a junior, the year he graduated from Harvard Law School and was recruited into the OSS by one of his former professors at Yale.

Also at Harvard in 1943, as undergraduates, were Bradlee and a man named Richard Ober, who will become Angleton's chief counterintelligence deputy and will work with him in Europe and Washington throughout the fifties, sixties, and early seventies. Both Bradlee and Ober were members of the class of '44 but finished early to serve in the war; both received degrees with the class of '43. Ober went into the OSS and became a liaison with the antifascist underground in Nazi-occupied countries; Bradlee joined naval intelligence, was made a combat communications officer, and handled classified and coded cables on a destroyer in the South Pacific. He then worked for six months as a clerk in the New York office of the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization that promotes various progressive causes, including conscientious objection to war. This job, so out of character for the young patriot, may or may not have been an intelligence assignment...

Angleton and Ober are counterintelligence, and run agents from Washington and Paris who do exactly the opposite: they prevent spies from penetrating American embassies, the State Department, the CIA itself.

In March 1972, a typescript of an article and a related book proposal were purloined by a CIA agent from a New York publisher and forwarded to Langley. For Richard Ober, the manuscript was right out of a bad dream. A former senior CIA official, Victor Marchetti, was planning to write a book exposing CIA deceptions. Marchetti had been the executive assistant to the deputy director of Central Intelligence and had attended regular planning and intelligence meetings attended by Richard Helms. He had also been a courier for the Agency group that approves covert operations. The most carefully guarded CIA information was called Sensitive Compartmented Information, or SCI, and was distributed to officials strictly on a need-to-know basis. But his position had allowed Marchetti an overview of the Agency purposely denied to most CIA officers.

Over time, Marchetti had become troubled by the Agency's role in the overthrow of democracies on behalf of dictators and by CIA manipulation of other nations' internal policies. He saw evidence of corruption in overseas operations. Marchetti's intellectual honesty was also offended by intrigue inside CIA headquarters that disrupted the accuracy of intelligence estimates. Furthermore, the Vietnam War had disillusioned Marchetti, whose sons would soon reach draft age. And when Eagle Scouts from a troop he served as scoutmaster began dodging the draft, Marchetti began to feel his CIA job was isolating him.

Upon quitting the Agency at age thirty-nine, after a highly successful fourteen-year career, Marchetti wrote a novel called The Rope Dancer. Prior to its publication by Grosset and Dunlap in 1971, a CIA officer read a version of the manuscript at Marchetti's home, in keeping with the rules set out in the CIA secrecy contract Marchetti had signed. The CIA officer found no security breaches, and publication went forward.

What troubled Ober and Ober's immediate supervisor, Thomas Karamessines, was one particular line in the novel. Marchetti's central character is speaking with jaundiced anger about the fictional CIA: "Somebody should publicize the Agency's mistakes." Suppose Marchetti got it in his head to write about MHCHAOS? Concerned, Helms himself ordered Marchetti placed under surveillance beginning on March 23, I972.

Within days, an article written by Marchetti appeared in the April 3 Nation under the headline "CIA: The President's Loyal Tool." Marchetti wrote that the CIA was using the news media to create myths about the Agency and was fooling such influential publications as the New York Times and Newsweek. Additionally, he claimed, the CIA had continued to control youth, labor, and cultural organizations in the United States, notwithstanding the scandals triggered by the report in Ramparts. Marchetti also castigated Helms for spending too little time engaged with the intricacies of intelligence analysis, satirically calling him a "master spy" who conducted his most important weekly meetings in less than twenty minutes. Marchetti concluded: "Secrecy, like power, tends to corrupt, and it will not be easy to persuade those who rule in the United States to change their ways."

Even while MHCHAOS was surviving the Marchetti scare, the CIA inspector general, an internal cop, was the focal point of a second emergency. Worried that the inspector general might discover MHCHAOS and expose it, Helms called in Colby, Ober, and Karamessines for a meeting on December 5, I972. Helms emphasized the importance of running a cleaner, less dubious-looking operation. There was a need to proceed cautiously, he said, to avoid a showdown with "some CIA personnel." Nonetheless, Helms was adamant that MHCHAOS not be abandoned. It will not be "stopped simply because some members of the organization do not like this activity," he insisted.

Helms cautioned Ober against attending meetings of the Justice Department Intelligence Evaluation Committee, because security was lax and its role in domestic politics might lead investigative reporters to MHCHAOS. Helms had come up with a solution to the problem of CIA officers who doubted the legality of MHCHAOS. Henceforth, it would be described within the Agency as an operation against international terrorism. "To a (sic) maximum extent possible, Ober should become identified with the subject of terrorism inside the Agency as well as in the Intelligence Community," Helms ordered. Afterward, Colby sent Karamessines a summary of the meeting: "A clear priority is to be given in this general field to the subject of terrorism. This should bring about a reduction in the intensity of attention to political dissidents in the United States not apt to be involved in terrorism." The change in label was evidently intended to improve the Agency's image and cover, on the assumption that "terrorists" were more believable as a genuine threat than "dissidents."

But there was in fact to be little change in targets. MHCHAOS continued to hold radicals in its sights, specifically radical youths, Blacks, women, and antiwar militants. The label "international terrorist" was designed to replace "political dissident" as the ongoing justification for illegal domestic operations. And in the final move to clean up Ober's act, in December Helms put an end to the operation of the five-year-old MHCHAOS by formally transforming it into the International Terrorism Group-with Ober still in charge.

According to his Who's Who entry, Alfred Friendly was a Post reporter while also serving in Air Force intelligence during World War II and as director of overseas information for the Economic Cooperation Administration from 1948-49. Joseph B. Smith (Portrait of a Cold Warrior) reports that the ECA routinely provided cover for the CIA. Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty were set up by the CIA and John S. Hayes was their chairman by 1974. Years earlier when Hayes was vice-president for radio and television at the Post, he was appointed by Kennedy to a secret CIA propaganda task force. Friendly left the Post soon after Bradlee came on board, and Hayes left when Johnson appointed him ambassador to Switzerland in 1966.

But poor Bradlee claims he didn't know that Cord Meyer was a globetrotting CIA destabilizer in the fifties, just as he knew nothing about CIA links when he took time off from the Post to work as a propagandist for the U.S. embassy in Paris from 1951-53. Deborah Davis includes in her book a memo released under the FOIA that shows Bradlee responding to a request from the CIA station chief in Paris, Robert Thayer. His assignment was to place stories in the European press to discredit the Rosenbergs, who had been sentenced to death, and Bradlee followed orders.

Benjamin Bradlee: from Post reporter to embassy propagandist, then on to Newsweek and back to the Post as executive editor, without breaking stride. The point of Davis' book is that this pattern is repeated again and again in Post history; she calls it "mediapolitics" -- the use of information media for political purposes. Robert Thayer's status as CIA station chief in Paris is confirmed in Richard Harris Smith's book OSS. While in Paris, Bradlee already knew Thayer, having attended the preparatory school Thayer ran while Robert Jr. was his classmate. Bradlee categorically denies any CIA connection, but it's a toss-up as to which is more disturbing: Bradlee in bed with the CIA and lying about it, or Bradlee led around by the CIA and not knowing it.

Unlike Bradlee, Katharine does not seem as sophisticated or conniving; she was apparently completely sucked in by such charmers as Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, and even Henry Kissinger, who took her to the movies. She supported Nixon in 1968 and 1972, changed her mind about him later, but has yet to waver from the anti-Communism that kept the Post from criticizing US policy in Vietnam. Her idea of an awkward situation is asking Nixon for National Guard protection during anti-Vietnam demonstrations in Washington; Lyndon never made her ask. The demonstrators had to be duped -- after all, she had taken the time to get her facts straight with a trip to Vietnam in 1965, where she shopped for blue and white china, and had access to all the assorted power brokers and opinion makers who showed up at the 1966 masked ball that Truman Capote gave for her. Between Bradlee and Katharine, with journalism such as this it's a wonder that the Vietnamese people survived.

The elitist conservatism and intelligence connections of the Post are as important today as they ever were; Katharine and Bradlee are still in control. Davis could have remarked on the current New Right editorial line in the Post, or added the fact that former editorial page editor (1968-79) Philip Geyelin joined the CIA for a year in 1950, while on leave from the Wall Street Journal, but found the work boring and went back to the Journal. And she also doesn't mention that Walter Pincus, a Post reporter who still covers intelligence issues, took two CIA-financed trips overseas to international student conferences in 1960, and waited to write about them until 1967 when reporters everywhere were exposing CIA conduits. Informed readers of Geyelin (who stills does a column) and Pincus can learn much from they way these writers filter history. This may qualify them as good journalists among their colleagues, but for the unwitting masses it simply amounts to more disinformation.

The CIA connections that Davis does mention are dynamite. The issue is relevant today because frequently the D.C. reader has to pick up the Washington Times to get information on the CIA the Post refuses to print. For example, while almost every major newspaper in the country, as well as CBS News and ABC News, use the real name of former CIA Costa Rican station chief "Tomas Castillo," the Post, as of late June, continues to gloat over their use of the pseudonym only. This is probably Bradlee's decision, not Katharine's, because Newsweek let former Associated Press reporter Robert Parry use Castillo's real name (Joseph F. Fernandez, age 50) when Parry joined the magazine earlier this year. According to Davis, Katharine doesn't make editorial decisions these days unless they threaten the health of the company.

The question, then, becomes one of myth-management, and attempting to discern why the Post enjoys such a liberal reputation in spite of its record. Once you redefine liberalism as something slightly closer to the center than the New Right, it means that "genuine" liberalism (if such a thing was ever important) is stranded and soon becomes extinct. Add to this the fact that US liberalism since World War II, whether "genuine" or contemporary, has a record on foreign policy that would make Teddy Roosevelt proud. That leaves two media events to explain the Post puzzle: the Pentagon Papers and Watergate. Forget the first event, because the Post was merely trying to keep up with the New York Times so as not to lose face. Besides, they didn't make a movie about it.

Watergate and the Post, the stuff of great drama. Much has been written already about the probability that Nixon was set up. McCord as a double agent has been covered neatly in Carl Oglesby's Yankee and Cowboy War, Bob Woodward's previous employment with a Pentagon intelligence unit was mentioned in Jim Hougan's Secret Agenda, and the motive -- that Nixon was losing perspective and becoming a threat to those who were still able to see their long-range interests clearly -- is evident after reading Seymour Hersh's The Politics of Power.

If you put it all together and summarize it in the context of Deep Throat and the Post, along with Bradlee's CIA sympathies, you must agree with Davis that Nixon wasn't the only one set up; Deep Throat led the Post by the nose. Whether they knew it or not, whether they cared or not assuming that they knew, and whether or not a noble end can justify shabby means -- all this pales next to Davis' main point. That point is this: the Post, whose history of journalism by manipulation helped create the conditions that led to Vietnam, the demonstrations, and the psychosis of Nixon, ended up using or responding to these same manipulative methods to avoid political obsolescence, and somehow it worked.

Davis identifies Deep Throat as Richard Ober, the chief of the CIA's domestic spying program called Operation CHAOS. The evidence is circumstantial and her sources remain anonymous. According to Davis, Kissinger moved Angleton into the White House and set him up with his own Israeli intelligence desk in 1969. This sounds like vintage Kissinger as he acts swiftly to capture the foreign policy apparatus, but it's the first I've heard that Angleton, who thought the Sino-Soviet split was a ruse designed to catch the West napping, was on any sort of terms with the China-hopping, detente-talking Kissinger.

Davis writes that Angleton's deputy Ober was also given a White House office, and after the Pentagon Papers were published Ober had privileged access to Nixon and was able to observe his deterioration. Again, this is news to me. If Davis is correct, it means Angleton and Ober were running Operation CHAOS out of the White House, Nixon knew about it while Kissinger didn't, but both Kissinger and Nixon were deeply suspicious of the CIA and felt it necessary to start up the Huston Plan to cover the CIA's shortcomings in domestic intelligence. At least the book includes a photograph of Ober -- the first one I've seen. Davis makes more sense than some of the Watergate theories that have kicked around in past years, but this is still the most speculative portion of her book.

Part of the Post success story has to do with sheer wealth. As one of the world's richest women, Graham has the empire backed up with many millions, which guarantees continued access to privilege and power. Another part is an ability to play dirty. Katharine Graham, who became one of Washington's most notorious union-busters in the name of a free press, used her "soft cop" with Bradlee's "hard cop" to insure that William Jovanovich, who published the first edition of this book in 1979, was bullied into recalling 20,000 copies because of minor inaccuracies alleged by Bradlee. Jovanovich made no effort to check Bradlee's allegations. Deborah Davis filed a breach-of- contract and damage-to-reputation suit against Jovanovich, who settled out of court with her in 1983.

The entire saga of Katharine the Great is a sobering antidote to the intoxication I felt when All the President's Men first played. A myth has been more than punctured; Davis bludgeons it mercilessly -- yet in a manner that shows far more journalistic integrity than one can expect from the Post or from Jovanovich. This bludgeoning was overdue for eight years, delayed by exactly the sort of Washington hardball that Davis exposes. Indeed, there can be no more eloquent testimony to the substantive nature of Davis' material than the sound that those 20,000 copies must have made as they, at the behest of Post power, went through a shredding machine.

The minor deception in the book is that only Woodward knew who Deep Throat was. Bradlee knew him, had known him far longer than Woodward. There is a possibility that Woodward had met him while working as an intelligence liaison between the Pentagon and the White House, where Deep Throat spent a lot of time, and that he considered Woodward trustworthy, or useful, and began talking to him when the time was right. It is equally likely, though, that Bradlee, who had given Woodward other sources on other stories, put them in touch after Woodward's first day on the story, when Watergate burglar James McCord said at his arraignment hearing that he had once worked for the CIA. Whether or not Bradlee provided the source, he recognized McCord's statement to the court as highly unusual: CIA employees, when caught in an illegal act, do not admit that they work for the CIA, unless that is part of the plan. McCord had no good reasons to mention the CIA at all, except, apparently, to direct wide attention to the burglary, because he had been asked to state only his present occupation, and he had not worked for the CIA for several years.

What matters is not how the connection with Deep Throat was made, but why. Why did Bradlee allow Woodward to rely so heavily upon it, and ultimately, why did the leaders of the intelligence community, for whom Deep Throat spoke, want the president of the United States to fall?

What we have seen so far has been Nixon's attempt, after the Pentagon Papers, to bludgeon CIA director Helms and FBI director Hoover into cooperating with his campaign to use the papers against the Democrats. Actually, Watergate goes back to the early days of the Nixon administration, when Henry Kissinger, the head of the National Security Council, issued NSSM (National Security Study Memorandum) 1 (ironically, Daniel Ellsberg had helped him draft it), which required different intelligence agencies and departments to provide him with independent answers to comprehensive sets of questions about the Vietnam war. The purpose of NSSM 1 was not only to be able to run the war better, for Kissinger was running the war the way he wanted to in Vietnam and Cambodia anyway, but to play the agencies off against each other, with the power, in the confusion, going to Kissinger. He was, of course, understood to be operating for Nixon.

NSSM 1 came out on February 1, 1969, about a week after Nixon took office; in February 1970 Kissinger then formed the infamous 40 Committee, to which the CIA was to submit all plans for covert actions. In December 1970 Kissinger assigned James Schlesinger, assistant director of the budget, the task of analyzing the intelligence budget with an eye to cutting back the department of Thomas Karamessines, Helms's deputy and the director of plans.

We always did our best to be careful and responsible, especially when we were carrying the burden of the Watergate reporting. From the outset, the editors had resolved to handle the story with more than the usual scrupulous attention to fairness and detail. They laid down certain rules, which were followed by everyone. First, every bit of information attributed to an unnamed source had to be supported by at least one other, independent source. Particularly at the start of Watergate, we had to rely heavily on confidential sources, but at every step we double-checked every bit of material before printing it; where possible, we had three or even more sources for each story. Second, we ran nothing that was reported by any other newspaper, television, radio station, or other media outlet unless it was independently verified and confirmed by our own reporters. Third, every word of every story was read by at least one of the senior editors before it went into print, with a top editor vetting each story before it ran. As any journalist knows, these are rigorous tests.

Yet, despite the care I knew everyone was taking, I was still worried. No matter how careful we were, there was always the nagging possibility that we were wrong, being set up, being misled. Ben would repeatedly reassure me - possibly to a greater extent than he may have actually felt-by saying that some of our sources were Republicans, Sloan especially, and that having the story almost exclusively gave us the luxury of not having to rush into print, so that we could be obsessive about checking everything. There were many times when we delayed publishing something until the "tests" had been met. There were times when something just didn't seem to hold up and, accordingly, was not published, and there were a number of instances where we withheld something not sufficiently confirmable that turned out later to be true.

At the time, I took comfort in our "two-sources" policy. Ben further assured me that Woodward had a secret source he would go to when he wasn't sure about something-a source that had never misled us. That was the first I heard of Deep Throat, even before he was so named by Howard Simons, after the pornographic movie that was popular in certain circles at the time. It's why I remain convinced that there was such a person and that he - and it had to be a he - was neither made up nor an amalgam or a composite of a number of people, as has often been hypothesized. The identity of Deep Throat is the only secret I'm aware of that Ben has kept, and, of course, Bob and Carl have, too. I never asked to be let in on the secret, except once, facetiously, and I still don't know who he is.

Three months later he authorized John Mitchell to provide Justice Department cover for an Intelligence Evaluation Committee (IEC, for which Hoover refused to provide FBI staff), which monitored civil disturbances and coordinated and evaluated domestic intelligence. The president also began to rely heavily upon the counsel of Richard Ober, Angleton's deputy, the man in the CIA most concerned with domestic counterintelligence, and one of the few whom Nixon trusted. Ober was given a small office inside the White House, where he was known only to Nixon, Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and possibly Kissinger. He had unlimited access to the president, could pass Haldeman at any time without permission and without going on the record (his name was never recorded in White House logs), and was present at many of the meetings that took place after the publication of the Pentagon Papers, when Nixon's obsession with his enemies pushed him to the limits to rational thought. The president, in his confusion, began to equate the Democrats with both the war (the Kennedy Democrats) and the antiwar movement (the McGovern Democrats); decided that a McGovern victory in the approaching presidential election would be a victory for the movement's Communists; and became more firmly convinced than he had always been that his reelection was synonymous with the best interests of the nation. He also knew, and must have complained to his personal intelligence consultant, Ober, that neither the CIA nor the FBI would help ensure that he would win.

Nixon's confidence in Ober did not come automatically; a man like Nixon must have proof of loyalty. He would have had to see, from Ober, the evidence that he did not care for bureaucratic battles, that he put the president's interests above those of the CIA. The most effective way for Ober to have proven himself was to have acted as consultant when Ehrlichman, Nixon's domestic affairs adviser, was ordered to establish (without experience in such matters) the president's personal intelligence unit, the Plumbers, in the summer of 1971. Ober would have found Ehrlichman the right men for the job (men like former CIA operative James McCord); he would have provided equipment, given detailed instructions, helped Ehrlichman to analyze their results. He would have shown Nixon that he was willing to risk his career for him by doing what the CIA would not have done-for example, overseeing the burglary of the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist-which more than anything else would have demonstrated Ober's correct state of mind and persuaded Nixon that he could finally trust him.

The essential rule of counterintelligence is to use an enemy's weaknesses against himself, to one's own advantage. Haldeman and Ehrlichman held the authority in the Nixon White House for political intelligence and sabotage, but Nixon, by his nature, needed to keep secrets even from them; he needed to think that certain plans were too sensitive to share with anybody except Ober. This operative, who was next to Angleton the most skilled counterintelligence man in the nation, understood Nixon's fear of the Democrats and did not tell him that with his thirty-point lead in the polls the fear was illogical. Instead, he played upon it; he either persuaded Nixon or agreed with him that the Plumbers ought to stop working on the fringes of the campaign, that they should be sent directly into Democratic National Committee headquarters to plant telephone bugs and steal documents, which they did for the first time on May 1, 1972, the day, coincidentally, before J. Edgar Hoover died.

Meanwhile, President Johnson had replaced Raborn as CIA director with Helms, who immediately made a crucial decision. He transferred responsibility for the Ramparts operation away from Osborn to a key CIA operative whose identity would not be known for years. Richard Ober's name is curiously absent from indexes of books about political spying of his era. Ober managed to keep in the shadows - a force behind the scenes, a man careful to say nothing that would reveal his true role. Few of his associates would even admit to knowing him. It was a breach of the code when one associate gave me a rough description of Ober as a big man with reddish skin and hair.

Ober was a counterintelligence specialist in the Directorate of Plans, sometimes known as the dirty tricks department. He had joined the Agency in 1948 and had a background that CIA directors trusted - Harvard class of 1943, army experience, graduate study in international affairs at Columbia University. At the CIA, Ober had completed two tours of duty abroad, returning to run clandestine operations from a desk and to study at the National War College before becoming the elite of the elite: a counterintelligence officer. Ober and his fellow counterintelligence agents worked in isolation from the rest of the Agency, in the most secret of the Agency's secret compartments. Counterintelligence involves destroying the effectiveness of foreign intelligence services and protecting one's own spies from exposure and subversion. During the 1950s and early 1960s counterintelligence had been widely expanded to all manner of internal police jobs, which now included stopping American publications from printing articles about questionable CIA operations.

As Ober studied the legal options for getting the courts to prevent Ramparts from printing a story about the National Student Association, he found that none existed. There simply was no legal precedent for stopping publication. Instead a decision was reached to try to achieve "damage control." A press conference was planned before Ramparts was due to break the story. Leaders of the National Student Association were to admit to their CIA relationship and were to say it had been ended at their insistence. The plan was to steal the thunder from the Ramparts story, limiting its impact by making it old news.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has repeatedly, and illegally, spied on US citizens for years, reveals investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in a landmark report for the New York Times. Such operations are direct violations of the CIA’s charter and the law, both of which prohibit the CIA from operating inside the United States. Apparently operating under orders from Nixon officials, the CIA has conducted electronic and personal surveillance on over 10,000 US citizens, as part of an operation reporting directly to then-CIA Director Richard Helms. In an internal review in 1973, Helms’s successor, James Schlesinger, also found dozens of instances of illegal CIA surveillance operations against US citizens both past and present (see 1973). Many Washington insiders wonder if the revelation of the CIA surveillance operations tie in to the June 17, 1972 break-in of Democratic headquarters at Washington’s Watergate Hotel by five burglars with CIA ties. Those speculations were given credence by Helms’s protests during the Congressional Watergate hearings that the CIA had been “duped” into taking part in the Watergate break-in by White House officials.

One official believes that the program, a successor to the routine domestic spying operations during the 1950s and 1960s, was sparked by what he calls “Nixon’s antiwar hysteria.” Helms himself indirectly confirmed the involvement of the Nixon White House, during his August 1973 testimony before the Senate Watergate investigative committee.

The domestic spying was carried out, sources say, by one of the most secretive units in CI, the special operations branch, whose employees carry out wiretaps, break-ins, and burglaries as authorized by their superiors. “That’s really the deep-snow section,” says one high-level intelligence expert. The liaison between the special operations unit and Helms was Richard Ober, a longtime CI official. “Ober had unique and very confidential access to Helms,” says a former CIA official. “I always assumed he was mucking about with Americans who were abroad and then would come back, people like the Black Panthers.” After the program was revealed in 1973 by Schlesinger, Ober was abruptly transferred to the National Security Council. He wasn’t fired because, says one source, he was “too embarrassing, too hot.” Angleton denies any wrongdoing.


Richard Ober - History

OBERMONJOU (also known as Ober-monjour, Ober Monjou, Obermonj, Kivivka, Krivovsk today: KRWIVOVSKOYE, Marxosvki Rayon, Saratov Region)

This article was commissioned by Kevin Rupp from Olga Litzenburger.

Note: Johannes Herzog of Königswinter, Germany translated this article from the original Russian-language version into German. Alex Herzog of Boulder, Colorado subsequently translated it into American English. Johannes and Alex are second cousins and Black Sea Germans.

Geographic Location and Administrative-Territorial Affiliation in the 19th and 20th Centuries

The German colony of Obermonjou was founded on the &ldquoleft side&rdquo of the Volga (which in the usage of Volga Germans was the &ldquomeadow side,&rdquo the &ldquoright side&rdquo being the &ldquomountain side&rdquo), on the banks of a small lake close to the Volga River. It lay 328 kilometers [ca. 203 miles] from the city of Samara, 162 kilometers [about 100 miles] from the county seat Novousensk, 70 kilometers [about 43 miles] from Saratov, 60 kilometers [37 miles] from the suburb Pokrovsk and nine kilometers [ca. 5.6 miles] from the Katharinenstaft administrative office of the rural Nikolayevsk district (Volski), government of Samara. Subsequent to the establishment of the Work Group of the Workers Commune of Volga Germans [forerunner of the Soviet Republic of Volga Germans. &ndash Tr,] Obermonjou was the administrative center for the village soviet [council] Obernonjou and for the entire Marxstadt Canton. In 1926 the village soviet Obermonjou was relegated merely to the Obermonjou village.

The German colony of Obermonjou was founded on June 7, 1767[i] by the [Crown&rsquos recruiter] Baron Kano de Boregard. The eighty-three founding families of the colony had come from various German cities and states (Saxony, Mainz, Mecklenburg, Trier, Würzburg, Bamberg, and other areas). Also listed among the original colonists are immigrants from France [likely, Alsace] and Luxemburg. Practically all initial setters were Catholics, with only seven persons professing to be Protestants. First to be appointed mayor was Joseph Grenzer, a twenty-six-year-old soldier from Würzburg who had immigrated to Russia with his twenty-two-year-old wife.

The name of the colony came from the German word &ldquoOber [upper] and the family name of the second director of the colony, the Crown-authorized Boregard,, Colonel Otto Friedrich von Monjou, combined as OBERMONJOU, in contrast with the &ldquoLower Monjou,&rdquo the Lutheran colony of Niedermonjou (today: Bobrovka, Marxovski Rayon, Saratov Region).

The ukase [the Crown&rsquos decree] of February 26, 1786, which regulated the naming of colonies, officially gave the colony the name OBERMONJOU.

The name Krivovka was given to the village in 1915 as a hostile anti-German propaganda campaign developed in the country, a consequence of the 1914 outbreak of World War, in which Germany was the principal enemy of Russia. A series of discriminatory laws was enacted against the German population of Russia. In 1914 all German-language publishers and associations were closed, and the public and everyday use of the German language was forbidden. The August 18, 1916 ukase forbade German-language instruction in all educational institutions of the Russian Empire. At the same time, when many German locales were renamed, Obermonjou was given the name Krivovka. However, subsequent of the establishment of the Working Committee of Volga Germans in 1918, German villages were allowed to use their original names.

The first ninety-five settlers included not only farmers, but also trades people such as five tailors, four hunters, four masons, three shoemakers, two carpenters, two blacksmiths, two paper manufacturer, two gardeners, two hosiers, two bread bakers, a soldier, a cooper, a maker of napkins, a plasterer, a merchant, a miller, a wood turner, a maker of perukes, a locksmith, a wool spinner, a weaver, a teacher, and a doctor[ii] . Still, most of the settlers had been farming people in their original homelands.

The colonists grew wheat, rye, millet, and vegetables. In time, a millwork evolved in the village. By the 1790s, the Guardianship Office granted the colonist Kunz permission to put up a stream-fed mill near the village of Voskressenskoye, and in 1800 he sold it to the Russian farmer Nechayev. Between 1810 and 1820 the colonist Befort[iii] also operated a mill. Business transactions with farmers were infrequent, but not uncommon. For example, in 1820 the Guardianship Office ordered a &ldquomandatory payment to be made by the farmer Chebyshov to the colonist Heinrich Berhart of Obermonjou.&rdquo

Each year the Saratov Guardianship Office produced documentation for trade volumes and carefully followed the economic situation in the colonies. For example, during 1814 it registered an epidemic affecting cattle. That same year it collected a record &ldquoon the welfare of the colonies, in which one could read about &ldquorecords of goods sold by the colonists to out-of-town merchants, namely, cattle, tobacco, grains, including wheat, to be transported to cities such as Kasan, Kostroma, Moscow, Nizhni Vovgorod, Rybinsk,&rdquo and the report included data on &ldquothe resulting sums of money received, as well as the expenditures for survival in the colonies.[iv] An audit of 1934 recorded land for the colonists in the amount of 15 desyatines [ca. 35 acres] per person. According to the10th audit of 1857, 921male colonists owned 5,941 desyatines [ca. 14,000 acres] (some 6.5 desyatines per person) of land. Lack of sufficient arable land, forest land and hay-growing land often resulted in court cases contested between German colonists. For example, between 1911 and 1920 there was a dispute between residents of Obermonjou and the neighboring colony of Orlovskaya over lands that were designated as Kommissarskaya, Monjou and Wilhelmina.[v] During the time span of 1836-1841 the Guardianship Office referred to the Senate a judicial dispute between residents of Obermonjou and the state&rsquos salt transporters and the Cloister of the Transfiguration of Christ of Saratov. It concerned the catch of fish in the above-named land areas.[vi] Between 1851 and 1853 the Office dealt with the matter of &ldquomis-measured tracts of land on the Koltovski Island, which belonged to colonists. &rdquo[vii]

In addition to wheat, tobacco also became an important trade commodity. Traditions of tobacco growing and use in their old homeland, favorable policies toward the tobacco trade, which was very weak in Russia and, as of 1762, was not taxed, as well as strong demand for it, supported the spread of tobacco culture among the foreign colonists. The Office observed carefully the contracts for purchasing tobacco leaves and guaranteed the colonists of Obermonjou 2,216 pud (over 30,000 pounds) of tobacco.[viii] In the second half of the 19th Century, production of tobacco, which was very profitable, was stopped due to heavy competition and to certain aspects of the state&rsquos tax policies.

Among the crafts of the colonists of Obermonjou, a special one was weaving with straw. Straw-woven products were indispensable to everyday fife of the colonists and found a broad variety of uses in the households. With time, this craft became a revenue-producing one, and by the end of the 19th Century dozens of colonists, primarily women, took part in their farmyards in the production of straw hats, small and large baskets, figures of straw and various everyday articles. Demand was rather strong, and profiteers bought the products in great quantity and resold them in the larger cities.

The population in the colonies grew steadily. While Obermonjou counted 91 families in 1816 and 138 families in 1834, by 1857 there were 197 families. According to reports of the state central statistical office, in 1859 there were one brick manufacturer and ten windmills in the village. At the same time, the office reported, Obermnonjou counted 165 farm homes in 1859. In 1869 authorities from the Brunnel and Hertel colonies turned to the Guardianship Office with the request to be allowed to &ldquocut the number of farm home sites in half, because the families of some home owners were increasing rapidly.&rdquo[ix] According to information issued by the statistical office of the Samara Gouvernement, in 1910 the colony had 392 farm steads and two operating oil mills.

Not all names of the various village leaders have been preserved. But it is known that during the years 1870 &ndash 1890, people such as Johann Befort, Jakob Walter, Josef Exner, Peter Brull and Konrad Boos held the office of mayor.

During Soviet times, Obermonjou opened a public reading room and a room intended to get rid of illiteracy. Under the headline &ldquoStalin&rsquos Constitution Demands Creative Cultural Work,&rdquo the newspaper &ldquoNachrichten [News],&rdquo in its issue of March 15, 1937 reported as follows: &ldquoThe situation regarding reading rooms in the Marxstadt Canton looks very bad. There is a great lack of leadership on the part of the Canton organizations and the village soviets [councils]. The reading room in Obermonjou possesses a good library, newspapers and magazines, which, however, no one makes use of. The work of the circles is lacking entirely, and the librarian, Comrade Kremer, opens the reading room only rarely.&rdquo[x]

During the 1920s the village had two cooperative stores, an agricultural credit cooperative, two machine cooperatives, and two artels.

The ongoing collectivization and de-kulakization bore tragic consequences and were accompanied by a severe famine. In response to the de-kulakization campaign, during which entire families were arrested and deported to Siberia or to the Far North, mass demonstrations by German famers defending the de-kulakized farmers, took place. The residents of Obermonjou stood in open defiance against the militia and the military responsible for carrying out the de-kulakization. The mood of the population was reflected in a top secret report on the events during the de0kulakization campaign, as follows: &ldquoIn the village of Obermonjou, a mob of people, more than three hundred women and also some men, hindered the operation involving the hauling away of the kulaks. The leader of the operation, who tried to disburse the mob in a peaceful way, was beaten up and was forced to hide. Just outside the village, another, a quickly growing mass of people gathered, with cries such as the following coming from the crowd: &lsquoWe should beat them up! Or &lsquoRefuse the hauling away of our people from our village!&rsquo and &lsquoWe won&rsquot let anyone get through here1&rsquo Only by February 17, when a unit of soldiers sixty men strong arrived, was the mass action ended. In punishment six persons participating in the action were sentenced to prison terms of varying duration.&rdquo[xi] The Commission for De-kulakization was able to go through with the transport of kulaks from Obermonjou only after the military had arrived in the village.[xii]

During September of 1941 all Germans were deported from the village, and as of 1942 the village has carried the name Krivovskoye.

Along with the first colonists came the first teacher, thirty-four-year-old Johann Schaller from Reol, along with his 38-year-old wife. Like the rest, the teacher received from the Guardianship Office a horse for agricultural work, but by request from the colonists, he taught their children as early as the first months after arrival. Under his direction, and in his house, the children were taught church songs and reading. His home was dubbed &ldquothe school.&rdquo The church played an active role in school instruction, and the teacher coordinated his office with his work as Küster [sexton]. The community dedicated significant funds for the school, and the clergy was also interested in providing church resources for the education of the children and collected donations for the construction of new schools. The first church-sponsored school in Obermonjou was built early in the 19th Century. It was made of wood, &ldquocovered with boards, seven sashes long and five sashes wide[xiii], consisted of one large class room, a teacher&rsquos office, a kitchen and an ante-room, and it had twenty windows and two stoves.[xiv] Between the end of the 1820s and 1840s, that is, for about twenty years, Michael Braun from Solothurn filled the office of teacher. By 1840, the school taught 131 boys and 128 girl.s

In 1906, the village opened a four-year public semstvo school [semstvo meaning local Soviet administration] and employed four teachers, Judging from a contemporary witness, &ldquounless with the greatest effort was it possible to open the school. The writer and a young priest tried, with tears in their eyes, to convince the members of the community members to erect a semstvo school.&rdquo[xv] The community donated the school acreage to the local [semstvo] administration, which not only took over responsibility for the instruction, but also paid the teachers. The school required three years for graduation and had two classes per grade. The distribution of curriculum materials was exemplary. Required subjects were God&rsquos Word (religion), reading, writing, arithmetic, and singing. Just as in the church school, instruction was conducted by the same teacher, who gathered several class grades in one school room. The teachers arranged for their own teaching plans, chose additional subjects to teach, and had the right to fit the teaching material to grade needs.

During its first years, the semstvo school was directed by G. Nürenberger, a former teacher at the church school who simultaneously filled the duties of the Küster. However, he and teacher Spister soon lost their positions. To protest the dismissals, the community turned to the school inspector and to the bishop of the Roman Catholic diocese of Tiraspol also became involved. As the Volkszeitung reported, the intrigue and fighting between the teachers and a certain priest went so far as to bring &ldquothe school to a very bad state, although fortunately, instruction was not interrupted.&rdquo[xvi]

During a community meeting on June 23, 1914, the construction of a second semstvo school was decided. Three fourths of the costs were taken over by the semstvo, the other fourth to be borne by the community. By community decision also called for the community to furnish a requisite piece of land and the building materials.

During the summer of 1914, the Volkszeitung wrote as follows: &ldquoGod willing, our future school will have active, diligent teachers who not only spend their time here to draw a salary, but are prepared to bring success to the school, so that the efforts by the community will not be in vain. Our school will then demonstrate the same successes as the ministerial school in neighboring Orlovskoye, which is well known for the diligence and eagerness of its pupils.[xvii]&rdquo

However, all of these wishes would never come to fruition. World War I and the subsequent Revolution of 1917 destroyed the plans of the community, and during the early Soviet times the parochial school and the semstvo school were replaced with a general public elementary school.

Denominational Faith of the Community and its Main Aspects

The colonists were overwhelmingly Catholic, with only a small minority confessing the Lutheran faith (the latter congregation being part of the Evangelical-Lutheran parish of Katharinenstadt).

From its founding and onward, Obermonjou was a branch of the Katharinenstadt Parish, and the highest authorities promised to provide it with its own priest, whose duties were to serve all the branch congregations in rotation, and to celebrate church services on weekdays, Sundays and feast days. By 1870 the overall parish counted 2,167 faithful,[xviii] and as of 1874 the church authorities allowed the Obermonjou congregation to have its own parish.[xix] By 1887 that Obermonjou parish counted 2,100 faithful, by 1909 it was 2,200, and in 1919 there were 3,052 members. As of 1874, the Obermonjou parish and five others were placed under the Deaconate of Katharinenstadt.

Church Construction Dates and Architectural Characteristics

During its first 130 years, from the founding of the colony to the end of the 19th Century, the community built some small church structures. The first consisted of a small provisional space akin to a normal home of the time. In 1824, the second church was built &ldquoat the community&rsquos expense.&rdquo It was dedicated by the priest Pupshevich of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Sacred Mother of God. According to an 1840 inventory record for the church put together by Superior Vinzenz Snarski, the church in Obermonjou was relatively large in comparison with other Catholic churches. &ldquo&hellipbuilt of wood on a stone foundation. With a roof made of boards, 14 sashes [?] long and 6 sashes wide, topped by an iron cross. The ceiling inside was 8 sashes high, the tower above the entrance was 115 sashes high[xx] and was topped by an iron cross. The church had thirty windows, two altars, &hellip ten paintings of saints.&rdquo[xxi]

The various bishops, deacons and priests at different times attempted to convince the congregation members to build one or another church. The priest Valentin Greiner (1861 &ndash 1043) wrote at a later time: &ldquoThe Catholic community of Obermonjou realized the necessity of a new church structure, not only because the old one, now seventy years old, was too small, but also because the structure represented a real danger for the congregation and recently had been closed by the police because of danger of collapse.[xxii] In 1875, a brick factory was built in the community, a parcel of land was reserved for a church, and a bank fund was set up. Initially, the brick factory stayed less than profitable, while the land parcel showed a gain in value of 9,000 rubles. The colonists deposited this amount in a Katharinenstadt bank to draw interest. The following years were fruitless and arid years and prevented the community from increasing their capital, while the process of collecting of donations was a slow, drawn-out matter.

By 1890 the bank deposits had doubled to about 18,000 rubles. Week by week, the parishioners still collected donations in their own village and even in neighboring colonies--all for a church building. Under the leadership of Peter Greiner, who urged speedy construction of a new stone church, work in the brick factory was resumed in 1890. Between 1892 and 1896, some 1.4 million bricks were produced at a value of 15,000 rubles.

The campaign for collecting donations for a church building dragged on for two decades, and it impacted the lives of priests and simple parishioners, all of whom donated differing sums for the building of a stone church. Somewhat later, the author of an article in the newspaper &ldquoKlemens&rdquo reached a climax with the rhetorical question: &ldquoDo we not have communities like Obermonjou&hellipwhich in the past few years have constructed churches at a cost of 40,000 &ndash 60,000 rubles? Doubtless, such high sums can be donated only when the people have a deep faith and are convinced that they need religion and the church for the salvation of their souls.&rdquo[xxiii]

In 1890 Father V. Greiner, who was assuming the role of organizer for the church construction, turned to the government architect Chilinski, who presented the community with several expensive projects to choose from. Tadeusch Severinivich Cjilinski was the main government architect between 1883 and 1905, and between 1881 and 1893 he also was the architect for his diocese and worked on projects with various functional significance. He was also involved in projects including a diocese-owned steam-driven candle manufacture, the hospital of the Red Cross community Olgino (Samara, Tolstoi Street, 135/11), the consistory&rsquos building (Samara, Galaktionovskaya Street 2013), a wooden prayer house for the Catholic community (Samara, Saratovskaya/Frunse Street),and others.

In choosing a specific architectural project, the residents of Obermonjou favored the &ldquoKontor Style&rdquo that was typical for German colonists, and they ended up constructing a genuine gem made of red bricks in the neo-Gothic style. This church in Obermonjou turned out to be a nearly exact replica of the church in Louis (today: rayon center Stepnoye, Saratov region). The architecture of the church was also similar to the no longer existent church in Marienburg and other Catholic churches built in the German colonies in the second half of the 19tyj Century. The new church would become not only a necessity for the Catholic church services, but it also ended up to be a real jewel for the village&mdasha true shrine. Preserved in the State museum of the Volga Germans is a photo of the project also executed by T.S. Chilinski, namely, the Roman Catholic church in Louis (Otrogovka), for which the deputy minister for the Interior in Saint Petersburg had given permission for construction on August 25, 1894. The drawings of the façade and the plans for the dimensions and those for Obermonjou to be practically identical. Rising costs during the inception of the project had led the Obermonjou residents to rely on the already existing drawings [for Louis]

In all probability, the drawings that would be used for the churches in Louis and in Obermonjou had been prepared in 1887 for the Catholic parish of Marienberg. Later, in 1890, by request of the parish community of Louis, a very similar project, with minimal deviations in the planning for the main façade and the apse, was approved by the governor of Samara and, in August 1894, by the Ministry for the Interior in St. Petersburg. The parish in Obermonjou adhered to the very same project.

After selecting a church architectural project, the community would then need to designate a construction site of at least 120 square meters [ca. 141 square yards], present a new village plat, and then present a cost estimate to the government administration. The government administration then had the police administration check the validity of the proposed data, accepted confirmation that the Roman Catholic Consistory had no objections to the construction of a church, and issued its approval. To the great joy and astonishment of the parish members, the community was issued a building permit by the official authority in Saint Petersburg in only four months, whereas the Louis parish originally had to wait six years for the same authorization.

Immediately after receiving official authorization, the community elected a financial council consisting of the following members: Johann Boos, Johann Nürenberger, Josef Graf and Peter Engel. In order to assure adherence to the cost estimates, the governmental bank commission took over the delivery of the building materials and appointed the construction managers. Given responsibility for the overall construction was Ivan Ivanovich Lossov of Wolsk Ivan Dmtrievich Gelousov for all wood requirements and for constructing all windows and doors the brothers Nikolai and Stepan Uholnikov of Welsk for the roof and Michail Gregoriyevich Perevostchikov and his father-in-law Rodion Vassilevich for piecework.[xxiv]

The first construction phase lasted from July 18 to October 15, 1895. In those three months, 700,000 bricks were laid. On August 15, a festive ceremony observed the laying of the consecrated cornerstone into the foundation, an occasion attended by clergy and numerous guests from neighboring colonies.

During the following year, the walls were erected, the floor was installed, the pews and the altar space were finished, and the work on the roof was completed. On November 24, 1896 the practically finished structure was dedicated by Deacon Rissling. However, the onset of winter frost caused work on the interior to be suspended. By spring of 1897 the interior work was resumed, and in the summer a fence was drawn around the church. On July 2, 1897 the consecrated cross was festively affixed to the tower. On June 5, the architect Chilinski, who by now was on his fourth visit to the site, signed the agreement of final acceptance of the work, signifying that he was satisfied with the overall result. It had taken about two years to construct the church, and it cost the community members a total of 33,000 rubles, which they were able to pay without having to take up credit.

The festive dedication of this House of God took place on September 28, 1897, and the actual dedication and the Mass were carried out and celebrated by the former pastor and (by then,) Bishop Anton Johannes of Padua Zerr and by the current pastor, Valentin Greiner. In attendance were many clergy and guests from neighboring colonies, as well as numerous parish members. The church was dedicated to the Conception of Saint Anna.[xxv]

The church structure impressed contemporary witnesses by its unusual size of forty meters in length [ca. 130 feet] and twenty-one meters in width [ca. 65 feet, and the tower&rsquos height of forty meters. &ldquoThe exterior of the church provided a wonderful sight,&rdquo wrote the priest Valentin Greiner at a later time, &ldquothirty-two square pillars, massive columns seventy centimeters thick [27.5 inches] stood all around the walls and served as elegant decoration. Every other window and very other door was framed by arced, top-tapering pillars. &hellip At the top of each pillar there was an indentation in the form of a cross. The most impressive part of the church was the tower with its many elegant decorations. A particularly beautiful part was four smaller towers on the four sides that symbolize the four evangelists, between which the gilded cross, topping the tower, reached into the sky.&rdquo[xxvi]

In contrast with the traditional &ldquoKontor Style&rdquo often forced on the colonists, characteristic features of the church architecture included a pillar-free construction [Translator&rsquos note: this appears in direct contradiction with the above description by the pastor! &ndash Tr., a main tower and four side towers, a double-door main entrance, a massive cross above the main entrance, a central decorative element for the main façade, framing of the side porticos and the tower/steeple with crosses, etc.. The new church&rsquos beauty could easily compete with the best examples in European buildings. Fortunately, architects and the clergy never classified their churches into main and peripheral, or central and side churches, just as the residents of Obermonjou did not consider their place as an unimportant village or parish. In their selection of the church design and in their preference for an original architectural solution, all were simply trying to make their hometown a more beautiful place.

Following the completion of construction, the parishioners of Obermonjou, just like other communities, ordered statues from the well-known wood carver Ferdinand Stuflesser: Joseph and the Jesus Child at 150 rubles, and Maria Immaculata (Latin: spotless) at 125 rubles. Christian aesthetics was given a special elegance and freedom in the wood statues created in the Stuflesser workshop. The most dignified image was presented by the Virgin Mary and the Christ child in her arms, The Mother of God conquered a dragon at her feet and hovered above the world, looking securely and unmoved onto the defeated evil. The statues of the European master were unveiled in the church in September, 1906, the sixth anniversary of the church dedication.

In 1767 Obermonjou numbered 299 foreign colonists, by 1773 the number was 325, 370 in 1788, 429 in 1798, 620 in 1816, 1,068 in 1834, 1,609 in 1850, 1,513 in 1859, and 1,936 in 1889. Between 1877 and 1878, some 544 residents emigrated to America. According to data from the general census of the Russian Empire, in 1897 there were 2,251 residents in Obermonjou, of which 2,235 were ethnic Germans. By 1905, the number of residents was 2,801, and in 1910 there were 2,752 residents.[xxvii]

Alter 1917 the population kept dwindling steadily under the influence of Bolshevist policies, and as a consequence of the famines in the early 1920s and 1930s, the de-kulakization era, ongoing repressions, and emigration of residents. An all-Russia census of 1920 had 2,978 persons living in Obermonjou, exclusively ethnic Germans. During the famine of the 1920s, 141 children were born, but 386 persons died.[xxviii] According to statistics from the Statistical Administration of the Autonomous Region of Volga Germans, around January 1, 1922 only 1,685 persons remained living in Obermonjou. During the all-Russia census of 1926, the community numbered 433 households, all but 431 of them German ones, with a population of 2,433 persons (1,190 men and 1,253 women), 2,432 were German (1,184 men and 1,248 women).[xxix] However, by 1931 Obermonjou again numbered 3,077 persons, all of them ethnic Germans.

From the History of the Church Community and the Parish

Between 1803 and 1830, the nine Jesuit missionaries working in the Volga region were led by Father J. Richard. Contemporary witnesses reported that the Jesuits introduced lengthy Masses and strengthened supervision over religious instruction. With the help of these missionaries, churches built, the parishes received ecclesiastical equipment from the order, and the situation regarding child rearing improved. The Jesuits helped in healing the sick and planting of trees. However, as a result of mysterious accusations lodged against the Jesuits by the Russian Orthodox Church, the Russian monarch issued a decree that forced the Jesuit order to leave Russia in 1820.[xxx].

Alexander Boos, who was born in 1842 in Obermonjou, eventually became a Catholic priest and in 1878 he was appointed the rector of the seminary for priest in St. Petersburg.

During the second half of the 19th Century, on each December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, which was declared a dogma in 1854 by Pope Pius IX, a festive Mass was celebrated. In the tradition of the Catholic Church, this was one of the most important feasts of Mary. Each July 26, Saint Anna was memorialized in the Obermonjou church.

Following the power grab by the Soviets, the enactment of anti-church laws, active anti-religious propaganda, and the repressive policies of the government gradually caused all expressions of religious life to cease and ecclesiastical welfare organizations to be shut down, the clergy exposed to massive extreme repression, and many clerics dragged before the courts and sentenced to various punishments. Dozens were accused of anti-Soviet activities and shot to death. Some of the clergy emigrated. At the time, Leo Michaelsohn Weinmayer, the former organist of the Saratov Cathedral and priest in Neu-Mariental and Pfeifer, attempted to hide in Obermonjou, but in 1929, by decree of the NKVD, the priest&rsquos name was placed on the &ldquoList of cult servants and persons who had similar offices,&rdquo which included the following accusations: earlier membership of certain status, number of years in the &ldquoCult,&rdquo property status and number of faithful served.&rdquo Leo Weinmayer was judged as follows: &ldquoIn the church council of Obermonjou since August 1, 1928 in the church for twenty years stemming from a farm family served 1.355 persons denied voting rights.&rdquo[xxxi] In 1929 he was arrested in Obermonjou, accused of being part of a clandestine group of Catholic clergy of the Volga region, tried in a court, and sentenced to banishment.

In 1931 the Central Enforcement Committee of the ASSR of Volga Germans received from the Regional Commission on Discernment of Religious Question a secret information, by which the church was not yet to be closed, the church community numbering 2,331 faithful, of whom 139 were designated in the category of those deprived of political rights.[xxxii]

According to an announcement by the German Embassy in Moscow, there were only four priests left in the Tiraspol Diocese. It further reported that there had been &ldquono contact and no certainty of whether he might still be alive,&rdquo referring to Peter Bach, a priest who had been active some years back and who earlier on also had served in Obermonjou .[xxxiii] Peter Bach had been classified with the same group that Leo Weinmeyer had been in, that is, a group of German Catholic clergy in the Volga region who were dragged into court and sentenced.

In September, 1934 the Commission for Cultic Matters within the Central Enforcement Committee of the ASSR of Volga Germans received a directive by which the church in Obermonjou was no longer to be available to the faithful.[xxxiv] On December 5, 1934, the Marxstadt Enforcement Committee decided that the church in Obernonjou would be closed because it was in arrears in tax payments. The Commission for Cults presented to the Enforcement Committee a list of signatures of those faithful who were in agreement with the liquidation of the church. By February of 1935, the Presidium of the Central Enforcement Committee of the ASSR of Volga Germans as well as the Supreme Soviet of the ASSR decreed the closing of the church in Obermonjou.[xxxv]

Clergy of the Katharinenstadt Parish who Serve in Obermonjou

1803 &ndash 1812 Johann Baptist Richard

1812 &ndash 1820 Johannes Guillemaint

1856 &ndash 1876 Raimund von Andreshevskoyvich

1876 &ndash 1878 Anton Johannes Zerr

Partial List of Clergy of the Parish of Obermonjou[xxxvi]

Ca. 1887 Alexander Torshinski

1889 &ndash 1898 Valentin Greiner

1901 &ndash 1905 Johannes Beilmann

1905 &ndash 1907 Michael Hatzenböller

Today it is called Krivovskoye, in the Marxovski Rayon, Saratov region. No trace remains of the former greatness of the Catholic settlement and its neo-Gothic church. On the territory of the former Obermonjou there are a mere four wooden homes (a fifth went up in flames in 2013), and the ongoing population numbers ten. Still, that is not the extent of the village. Part of it is a private estate with its own acreage, a man-made lake, a herd of horses, some houses, and a small Orthodox chapel. According to the estate owner, the chapel was dedicated in 2010 in memory of Anna Chapman.[xxxvii] For its construction, and in memory of the German settlers, stones were gathered from the entire region that had formerly been part of the foundation of the Catholic church and of colonist homes. In that way, with the stones of the Catholic church that once honored the conception of Saint Anna, an Orthodox chapel was built to honor an entirely different Anna.

Territorially, the village of Krivovskoye is part of the rural settlement Podlesnoye in the Marxovski Rayon. In addition, on the territory of the former Obermonjou there are now the rehab camp "Rovesnik" ("Contemporary") for children and the rehab camp "Niva" ("Field Meadow") for adults. The area is now considered one of the most picturesque on the entire Volga shore. The territory of the former village is surrounded by a massive forest, which tends to produce its own micro-climate. It is a wondrous landscape, with clean air, sandy beaches, rich mid-Volga vegetation and, most importantly, far enough distant from noisy civilization, which has made this area famous far beyond the region.

State Historical Archive of Volga Germans (Engels, Saratov Region), stock #162. Collection of documents of the Roman Catholic village churches of the rural county of Kamyshinski, Saratov Gouvernement of the rural counties Nikolayevsk and Novousenski, Samara Gouvernement covering the years 1789 - 1934, folders 6 - 9, 11. Contents: Birth, baptism, marriage and mortality records for the village residents of Krivovsk (Obermonjou) for the years 1821 - 1826, 1827 - 1835, 1849 - 1855, 1849 - 1856, 1855 - 1866.

State Archive of the Saratov Region (in Saratov), stock # 637. Collection of church registers of the Saratov Gouvernement (1780 - 1917), index 22, folders 27-34. Personal data for the Roman Catholic church of Obermonjou (Krivovsk, Lugovoye)[xxxviii] for the years 1875 - 1885, 1875 - 1911, 1885 - 1894, 1892 - 1907, 1897 &ndash 1905, 1905 &ndash 1912, 1907 &ndash 1918, 1912 &ndash 1918.

An Interesting Archival Document

Among the lost documents of the Saratov Welfare Committee for Foreign Settlers, there appears to have been one entitled &ldquoDocument Concerning the Cohabitation of the Colonist Leiker of the Obermonjou Colony and the Bachelorette Rosina Reising,[xxxix] dated during 1819. While the document is lost, the title contained in the index demonstrates that the Church strictly condemned various transgressions and violations in the area of marriage and the family. As early as during the first [Christian &ndash Tr.] millennium, there appeared teachings on the holy nature of marriage, which toward the end of the 19th Century were confirmed by Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical &ldquoArcanum divinae&rdquo and by Pope Pius IX in the encyclical &ldquoCasti connubi.&rdquo Within this system of transgressions, those against the moral basis of the family constituted a special category. Still, pre-marital relationships were not adjudged as strictly by the Church as adultery.

People were freed of punishment for pre-marital relations by the so-called marriage dispensation, with prescribed for the guilty that they must get married. Matters of dispensation were discussed in the Vatican by the Department for Spiritual Questions for Foreign Faithful. A man and a woman who had been &ldquogripped by passion of love&rdquo had to turn to their bishop via their pastor. The bishop then &ldquoAt the feet of His Holiness, begged most humbly for dispensation from Rome&rdquo--and this including the birth of a child out of wedlock&ndash o that &ldquothe parents of a child conceived through lust of the flesh and born out of wedlock could enter into the state of marriage.&rdquo[xl]

Obermonjou in the Press[xli]

On May 10, 1914, the village mayor[xlii] sent the police to Obermonjou to inform the residents that it was necessary to build a dam to back up the water. The residents dragged various building materials together, and the flow of water was dammed up. Although the water level kept rising more and more, it would not flood, thanks to the constructed firming of the banks&hellip. However, the mayor put forth a plan by which the water in a ditch behind the dam was also to be dammed, so that the ducks could swim there.&hellipWork was begun in the evening, the dam was broken through, and the water flowed the entire night through. The next day the people begged the mayor to stop the water flow, but he, a difficult character, answered one and all: &ldquoThat is my affair.&rdquo The water rose and rose, and the hole in the dam grew ever larger. Sandbags were of no help. Church bells were rung, and the people returned from the fields to save their belongings. [I find this story to be confusing and a bit contradictory regarding construction and destruction. &ndash Tr.]

The mayor, along with people who were on his side, approached the second dam [? &ndash Tr.] and ordered that it be broken through as well. However, men armed with pitchforks, stood in their way and threatened to stick him with them should he even touch the lower dam. Suddenly, as if descended from heaven, the mayor&rsquos overseer appeared and, under threat of three months&rsquo incarceration, forbade him to destroy the dam.

All the while, the water level kept rising and swept away twenty houses. A woman had just been baking bread when the water reached her oven. The owners of clay-brick homes lost all of their shelter. &hellip At this time the village is like a genuine Venice. The only thing missing are the gondolas, although in their place were canoes. Now there is plenty of water in the village, not only for the ducks, but also for people can also swim in it without even leaving their farmyards.

May God grant that people here might think first before they act!

[i] In the literature there appears an alternative founding date of March 5, 1767. See Beratz, G. Die deutschen Kolonien an der unteren Wolga in ihrer Entstehung und ersten Entwicklung [The German Colonies on the Lower Volga in their Establishment and Development]. Saratov, 1915. Also: Die Kirchen und das religiöse Leben der Russlanddeutschen. Katholischer Teil [The Churches and the Religious Life of the German Russians, Catholic Part.] Ed. By Josef Schnurr. Stuttgart, 1980.

[ii] Taken from Einwanderer in das Wolgagebiet 1964-1767, [Immigrants to the Volga Region, 1964-1767], publisher Alfred Eisfeld, originated in Igor Pleve, vol. 3, Kolonien Lamb-Preuss. Göttingen, 2005.

[iii] From the Index of the Saratov Guardianship Office for Foreign Settlers ,ed. I. Pleve, Moscow, 2002, vol. 2, p. 209

[iv] Russian Historical State Archive (henceforth referred to as RGIA), paragraph 383, Index 29, Document 1065, pp. 24-27.

[vi] RGIA, B. 383, V. 29, A. 1124.

[vii] RGIA, B. 383, V.28, A. 16535

[viii] Cf. Pleve, I.R. The German Colonies on the Volga during the 2nd Half of the 18th Century. M, 1998, p. 189 (in the Russian language).

[ix] RGIA, B. 393, V. 29, A. 20973.

[x] Nachrichten, March 15, 1937, p. 2.

[xi] Cf. German, A.A. History of the Republic of Volga Germans in Events, Facts, Documents. P. 199.

[xii] German, A.A. The German Autonomy on the Volga. 191801941, part 2. The Autonomous Republic, 1924-1941. Saratov, 1994, pp. 107-110.

[xiii] 14.9 meters by 10.6 meters [ca. 50 feet by 35 feet].

[xiv] GASO B. 1166, V. 1, A. 128, Bl. 54 Geb.-Bibl.

[xv] Deutsche Volkszeitung, number 32, April 22, 1912, p. 2

[xvii] Volkszeitun,g July l3, 1914, number 55, p. 2.y

[xviii] RGIA B. 821, V. 126, A. 14, Bl. 252.

[xx] 29.9 meters long, 12.8 meters wide [ca. 100 x 42 feet], ceiling height ca. 55 feet, tower height ca. 100 feet.

[xxi] GASO B. 1166, VC. 1, A. 128, Bl. 54.

[xxii] Klemens, number 26, March 25, 1898, p. 400.

[xxiii] Klemens, February 7, 1901, p. 3.

[xxiv] Klemens, April 8, 1898, p. 429.

[xxv] Saint Anna was the mother of the Virgin Mary and the daughter of the priest Mattan of Bethlehem. Anna&rsquos husband was Saint Joachim. Saint Anna had been infertile for a long time, but after twenty years of marriage, an angel announced to her the conception of a daughter, the future Virgin Mary.

[xxvi] Klemens, May 6, 1898, p. 490.

[xxvii] Deutsche Ortschaften im Russischen Reich: Geographie und Bevölkeruing. Handbuch .Zusammengestellt von W.F. Diesendorf [German Locales in the Russian Empire. Geography and Population, Homeland Book put together by W.F. Diesendorf]., M., 2002, p. 1156

[xxviii] These data were taken from the 1921 issue of Die Deutschen Russlands. Ortschaften und Siedlungsplätze. Enzyklopäsches Wörterbuch. Zusammengestellt von W.F. Diesendorf. [The Germans of Russia. Locales and Settlement Places. Encyclopedic Dictionary, put together by W.F. Diesendorf]. M., 2006.

[xxix] Preliminary data for 1926 for the ASSR of Volga Germans, Pokrovsk, 1927.

[xxx] Book of Russia&rsquos Laws, vol. 37, number 28298, pp. 113-116.

[xxxi] GIANP, B. 849, V. 3, A. 159, BI. 49.

[xxxii] GIANP, B. 849, V. 3, A. 834, BI. 81.

[xxxiv] GIANP, B. 849, V. 1, A. 890, BI. 36.

[xxxv] GIANP, B. 849, V. 1, A. 1138.

[xxxvi] This list is taken from the following: Die Kirchen und das religiöse Leben der Russlandeutschen, Katholkischer Teil. Bearbeitung J. Schnurr [The Churches and the Religious Life of German Russians, Catholic Part, by J. Scherr.] Stuttgart, 1980 Gedenkbuch. Martyrologium der Katholischen Kirche der UdSSR [Memorial Volume: Martyrology of the Catholic Church in the USSR], M., Silberfaden, 2000 Dzvonskovski, Roman, SAC

[xxxvii] Chapman, Anna, &ldquoouted&rdquo agent of the Russian secret service. In America she was active with a cover name of an entrepreneur of Russian origin.

[xxxviii] Thus in the index.

[xxxix] GASO. B. 180. V. 2. A. 9111.

[xl] RGIA. B. 821. V. 128. A. 1801, Bl. 3-7.

[xli] Article in the Volkszeitung issue of June 26, 1914, number 50, p. 2.

[xlii] We are here dealing with mayor Unrein, who in a subsequent issue of the Volkszeitung of July 10, 1914, number 54, p. 2) issued a personal reply to justify his actions by the fact that a plenary session of the village community had decided on the building and the destruction of the dam, a decision reached in agreement with the police. In the same reply, the mayor stated that mention of the residents threatening him with pitchforks and three months&rsquo incarceration were a pure invention of the author of the [original] article by the colonist D. Rösch.


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About Richard Ober, Jr.

The following is inserted in the Newfane, Vermont Records of the Richard Ober family, living in Newfane, Vermont, indicating that Richard is dead, and directing the guardianship costs of his minor children. (copy of document attached to profile). Burial is unknown.

Date: Feb. 14, 1646 Newfane, Vermont John Herrick, yeoman, guardian Sarah, minor child of Richard Ober, receipts to Peter Ober, (illegible) and Richard Ober of _________receipts to his guardian Peter O. for his share witness, Benjamin and Mary Foster __ same date Gideon Peter Ober

Feb. 23, 1746. John Lampson Jr. settles 7 years income as guardian of Josiah Ober.

Sarah was born in 1721, and Benjamin was born 1725. If Sarah was a minor child at Richard's death, this note must be relating to a time before 1740.

Birth: "Massachusetts Births and Christenings, 1639-1915," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FZZ5-PMD : accessed 8 March 2016), Richard Ober, 01 Mar 1683 citing BEVERLY,ESSEX,MASSACHUSETTS, FHL microfilm 0962871 IT 2.

"Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FH5X-MVQ : 25 September 2017), Richard Ober and Priscilla Woodberry, 15 Jan 1706 citing Marriage, Beverly, Essex, Massachusetts, United States, , town clerk offices, Massachusetts FHL microfilm 760,604.

"Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001", database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FHQL-14X : accessed 8 March 2016), Richard Jr. Ober and Priscillah Woodbery, 1705.

Ober, Richerd [jr. int.], and Presilah Woodbery [married] Jan. 15, 1705-6. (Beverly Marriages)

The son of Richard & Abigall Ober, he died at Canso, Nova Scotia aged 40 yrs. (as per Find A Grave). Death at Canso. Burial unknown.

Death: "Massachusetts Deaths and Burials, 1795-1910," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FH1S-H8L : accessed 8 March 2016), Richard Jn. Ober, 02 Aug 1725 citing Beverly, Essex, Massachusetts, reference FHL microfilm 864,851.

All his children are born at the same place. Birth records call it out as Beverly, MA, but may have been old Wenham. For consistency with citations, I am assigning the childrens birthplace as Beverly.

From the birth records of the family of Richard Ober and Priscilla Woodbury Ober the following children are:

1. Priscilla b. September 3, 1710 m. #1 Benjamin Lovett (?) 1729, m. #2 Gideon Baker Feb. 7, 1730

2. Martha b. March 11, 1712 m. Johnathan Kimbell, Jr. 1731/1732 at Beverly, Essex, MA

3. Edith b. March 31, 1714 m. James Friend

4. Richard b. Nov. 6, 1716 m. Lydia Chapman

5. Josiah b. June 26, 1719 m. Sarah Kimbell, in Wenham 1742

6. Sarah b. March 20, 1721 m. Nathaniel Cressy

7. Ebenezer b. May 16, 1722 m. Hannah Fiske, Wenham 1742

8. Rebecca b. August 3, 1723

9. Benjamin b. Feb. 21, 1725 m. Sarah Ellis May 28, 1746

Notation: Feb. 14, 1740 John Herrick of Wenham, yeoman, guardian of Sarah, minor child of Richard Ober, receipts to Peter Ober and . for her share in her father's estate and the . John as guardian of Ebenezer Ober, a minor, receipts for his share of his father's estate and Richard Ober of B. . receipts to his guardian Peter Ober for his share (name) Benjamin and Mary Foster

same date Gideon Baker and his wife Priscilla Johnathan Kimbell, Jr. cordwainer of Wenham and wife Martha and Edith Ober also releases to brother Peter Ober _ Feb. 23, 1740. John Lampson Jr. settles .

Richard may have died fighting in what is called "Dummer's War", an action taken by New England colonists against the Indians and French.


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About Richard Ober (d'Aubert)

Mentioned as father of Richard Ober, Jr. and Priscilla Woodbury in birth documents, Beverly, MA: Richard was an active citizen of Beverly, and his name is mentioned Nov. 1664 in the old Norfolk county records, and he was living in Salem in 1668, and at Beverly in 1679. He signed the petition of 1668-1669 against imposts. He was witness to a deed of Mr. Woodbury to Nicholas Woodbury, Sr., dated November 13, 1670. He owned land near Plum Island adjoining Thissell's land in 1673-1674. Richard Ober, whose occupation is given as shoresman, bought for 172 pounds twenty-two acres of upland and meadow, with house, barn and and outhousing from Sgt. Samuel Morgan's heirs, of which Hezekiah Ober's wife was one. Richard Ober was constable and collector of taxes 1682-1684 was on a committee of three to layout highways in 1683-1684, was Anna Morgan's guardian, daughter of Samule in 1698. Member of the board of selectmen in 1693 and 1702 grand juror in 1694 surveyor of highways several years. Under the will of his wife's mother Anna Woodbury, he received a house in Beverly.

He married December 26, 1671 Abigail Woodbury, then aged 18, daughter of Nicholas and Ann Palsgram Woodbury, granddaughter of William and Elizabeth Woodbury, pioneer ancestors of an illustrious family. Richard died March 6, 1716. His widow Abigail Jan. 2, 1741. Both their headstones were still standing. Children born at Beverly:

John, born June 1, 1673, bapt. Nov. 23 following. He died May 29, 1744. He married July 5, 1694 Hannah Woodbury of Ipswich.Their children were born at Beverly. __________b. Sept. 20, 1699, Mary John b. Jan. 15, 1701, Samuel and others mentioned later on this page.

Richard and Abigai's other children:

Elizabeth bapt. Dec. 9, 1677

Richard born. March 21, 1683

Nicholas bapt. Nov. 26, 1686

Benjamin, born April 14, 1689

"Massachusetts Deaths and Burials, 1795-1910," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FH1S-H8G : accessed 8 March 2016), Richard Ober in entry for Richard Jn. Ober, 02 Aug 1725 citing Beverly, Essex, Massachusetts, reference FHL microfilm 864,851.

Tradition states that Richard Ober was of French Huegenot descent. He arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony before 1670. Its interesting to note that the name Ober was originally written D'Aubert, being French. The family had been Protestants who fled to England to escape persecution, settling there for several generations. Later the D'Auberts (or Obers) espoused the Puritan faith, and emigrated to Massachusetts, to the towns of Wenham, Beverly and Upton. He was baptized Nov. 21, 1641 son of John and Elizabether (Butcher) Ober at Abbotsbury, Dorsetshire, England, where they were married Nov. 12, 1640. Before 1670 he emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and became an active citizen of Beverly, MA. He owned land near Plum Island in 1673-1674. He gives his occupation as shoresman, and bought a 22 acre farm from Sgt. Samuel Morgans' heirs. He was a constable and collector of taxes 1682-83-84 and on a committee to lay out highways 1683-84. He was the guardian of Anna Morgan in 1698 and a memeber of the board of selectmen 1693 and 1702 grand juror 1794, and surveyor of highways for several years. Under the will of his wife's mother Anna Woodbury, he received a house and land in Beverly.

He married Abigail Dec. 26, 1671 who was 18 at the time, daugther of Nicholas and Anna (Paulsgram) Woodbury, pioneer ancestors of an illustrious family. Richard died March 6, 1716 his widow Jan. 28, 1741/1742. Both their gravestones are standing at Beverly.

More on the d'Aubert, O'bear, Auber, Albet name variations as they relate to the Huguenot ancestors:

Susanne Albert, the daughter of Pierre, christened at the French Huguenot Church, Threadneedle Street, London, and on September 5th 1706 Daniel Albert, who was a witness at Glasshouse Street French Huguenot church, London. These recordings illustrate a what may be described as a third entry of the surname into Britain. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Alberd, which was dated 1221, in the pipe rolls of Warwickshire, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as 'The Frenchman', 1216 - 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax.


Bailey Ober

John Bailey Ober (born July 12, 1995) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Minnesota Twins of Major League Baseball (MLB).

Ober attended Charlotte Christian School in Charlotte, North Carolina and played college baseball at the College of Charleston. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 23rd round round of the 2016 MLB Draft, but did not sign and returned to Charleston. [1] He was then drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 12th round of the 2017 MLB Draft and signed. [2]

Ober made his professional debut in 2017 with the rookie ball Elizabethton Twins, recording a 3.21 ERA in 6 games. In 2018, Ober posted a 7-1 record and 3.84 ERA in 14 appearances for the Single-A Cedar Rapids Kernels. He split the 2019 season between the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos and the High-A Fort Myers Miracle, pitching to a stellar 8-0 record and 0.69 ERA in 14 games. [3]

Ober did not play in a game in 2020 due to the cancellation of the minor league season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. [4] The Twins added Ober to their 40-man roster after the 2020 season. [5] He was assigned to the Triple-A St. Paul Saints to begin the 2021 season.

On May 18, 2021, Ober was promoted to the major leagues for the first time. [6] He made his MLB debut that day as the starting pitcher against the Chicago White Sox.


Stories from Locke-Ober

This week I review Locke-Ober, the historic restaurant that recently saw renovations and other changes.

I've received some e-mails with great tales of people's personal experiences at the restaurant over the years. I thought I'd share a few. They illustrate nicely the importance and meaning of such institutions. Do you have any Locke-Ober stories to share?

One reader writes: "I went there once in May of 1945. I was on leave in NH after surviving Iwo Jima on a minesweeping destroyer. I was in Boston to report for new duty and my father called from Fall River to meet him for lunch. He seemed to know his way around the city -- he ran a brewery -- and, of course, we went to Locke-Ober. I recall two things -- one was that women were not admitted and the other was the large painting of a well apportioned lady behind the bar. I think we had lunch at that magnificent bar (is it still there with the nudy?). After an impressive meal my father was bidding me farewell because I had been ordered to be executive officer of a destroyer. I knew very little about destroyers (as a lieut j.g.) but my dad urged me to do my best. So we parted and I went to check in at First Naval district near North Station. In a corridor I met a friend from my college (Middlebury) and he offered me a stay home job recruiting V12 candidates in high schools. So the Navy and the [Japanese] were spared my ineptness at Okinawa. I called Dad that night and told him about the change. 'Well,' he said, 'you owe me one goood lunch at Locke's.'"

This comes from the comments section: "My grandfather was a bartender at 'Locke's,' as he used to call it, for many, many years. He worked there long before women were allowed. Even well into his 70s and early 80s he was still lugging cases of booze up from the wine cellar, while his younger counterparts dried and stacked glasses. At 83, upon the diagnosis of needing eye surgery, he retired. When a couple of cousins and I were in our early 20s, he gave us a gift certificate to go and have dinner before a stage show. Needless to say, we walked in young and unknowingly. I'm sure the staff thought we were some rich brats dining on daddy's credit card. Our waiter was a much older gentleman. Very proper and rather stone-faced, though kind. Every movement was done just as he was taught and/or instructed. Finally, my younger cousin told him that we were Lenny's granddaughters. Well, if that didn't crack him and make him break out into a great big smile! He couldn't have been friendlier or more accommodating . and now with ease. No stiffness, no formalities, but a genuine niceness. (The food was excellent as well.) Around this time last year, about 6 months before my grandfather's death at the age of 97, my family took him back to 'Locke's' for lunch. He saw a few familiar faces and apparently Lydia [Shire, then chef] even made a brief appearance. However it was the wait staff that made him feel like he was back home again. It was a day I know he enjoyed very much and never forgot. The funny thing about Gramps though, while he may have said the food was always good, he always said it was overpriced. You had to understand Gramps in this capacity, however. Over the years, I remember him telling bits of stories from his days behind the bar. This politician came in, or that actor, that businessman. And oh, some of the stories, these days I believe they'd be on TMZ. He learned a lot behind the bar. He learned finance, investing and history. And he could pour a drink. An old-fashioned drink by my standards, but as this article says, fashionable by Mad Men's Don Draper's style. And I can assure you, you got your money's worth if he poured your drink. I've now acquired copies of old menus from 'Locke's,' some that date back to the 1930s. They are so interesting. But to me, Gramps was as much the makeup of Locke-Ober's as JFK's chowder or the nude painting that hangs on the wall is. RIP . We love you & miss you!"

And a third story: "Years ago our daughter took my husband and me to dinner at Locke-Ober's. Late '70s perhaps? Details are blurry, it was so long ago. We were all three curious of course and also celebrating some recent honor or award [she] had been given. As I remember it was a good meal although obviously not memorable. When she was
presented with the bill we saw this bemused expression on her face. As you can imagine it was a sizable one for three people even then. She had been charged an extra 50 cents for bread and butter! She paid up promptly of course and said the extra charge was worth it since she could dine out on that for years."


Pittsburgh Brewers


This Document First Published: October 29, 2017, Revised January 2019

This document is in four (4) parts.

The Ober (Amber) Brewery , along Vinial Street

The Eberhardt Brewery , along Troy Hill Road

The Eberhardt & Ober (Eagle) Brewery , along Troy Hill Road.

The Combined F. L. Ober and Eberhardt & Ober Breweries

This document explores the breweries in a time-lime fashion.

The Penn Brewery sits on land that was predominately owned by the Ober Family. The current yard, corner office and parking lot is where Eberhardt started his brewery.

Part 1: Start of The Ober (Amber) Brewery Timeline


1857 Leonhart Schlaffner & Weiser
AKA Leonard Shaffner Brewery
AKA Shaffner & Veissert Amber Brewery
12 &ndash 18 Vinial St
Established in 1857 by Schlaffner & Weiser.
Noted in the Industries of Pittsburgh , published by the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce for 1879 & 1880.

The 1858 Pittsburgh Directory noted Lenhardt Kern, brewer living at the corner of East Lane and Second Street in Allegheny. Conrad Leonhart was a cooper at this time. Christ King of Spring Garden was a brewer.

1858 Koenig & Weiser Amber Brewery
12 &ndash 18 Vinial St
Established in 1858 as noted in the Industries of Pittsburgh , published by the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce for 1879 & 1880. One Hundred Years of Brewing has Leonhart Schlaffner & Weiser as the founders but has 1858.

George Ober was born in 1823 and came to America in 1840 when he was 17. He married Mary Vogel and they had 15 children. In 1858 he was living on Main Street and East Lane in this year. He was a grocer before becoming a brewer. He retired from brewing in 1878 and the brewery became the F. L. Ober Brewery operated by George&rsquos sons Frank and Charles.

Charles Ober had a daughter, Amelia who married Joseph Rooney of the North Side. Joseph and Amelia had four sons and four daughters. One of the sons was named Ober Rooney. Joseph came to the North Side in 1886 and lived at 1416 Boyd Street when he died in 1948. He was from Newry, County Down, Ireland

1860 Gottlieb Siedle Restaurant
The 1860 Pittsburgh Directory lists Gottlieb Siedle (see 1878 G Siedle, below) as having a restaurant at 218 Liberty Street in Allegheny City. The 1864 directory has Getand Edward Benz having a beer saloon at Liberty and Sixth in Pittsburgh. In 1858, Herman Seidel, brewer was living at 16 Diamond Street, now Forbes Ave.

1863 George Ober Brewery
16 Vinial St
George was sole proprietor from 1863 until his retirement in 1878.

1870 John P. Ober
George Ober&rsquos son, John P., was born on August 21, 1848. He quit school at the age of 14 and started working in the (Ober) brewery. Try that today? At the age of 22 in 1870 he left for the Eberhardt Brewery down the corner.

Note: Benz & Siedle Duquesne Brewery, Butler Plank Road in Duquesne. The 1872 Hopkins Atlas (Plate 92) shows Siedle property at a location that would support this. Interesting Note: John Benz was president of the Duquesne Brewing Company of the South Side. This was shown in the 1860 Pittsburgh Directory.

George Ober, by himself or with others operated a brewery at 12, 14 and 16 Vinial Street from at least 1860. Gottlieb Siedle operated a brewery at 10 Vinial Street from before 1872 and owned the lot across the street. George Ober acquired Siedle&rsquos property after Siedle&rsquos death but not until after 1877. Joseph Siedle was living at No. 10 in 1877-80 and was a horse shoer. The first time the name Ober was tied to No. 10 was in 1880 when Joseph A. Ober lived there. He was a brewer at first but by 1882 he was listed as a driver. Edward Ober, plumber, was living at 10 in 1884. The Pittsburgh Directories never associated No. 10 Vinial with the brewery despite the Obers owning the land and that there was a brewery on it.

Conrad Eberhardt retires in 1870 and his son William takes over the brewery. He along with partner John Peter Ober rename the brewery the Eberhardt & Ober Brewery. A tavern was operated here as well for a short time. Conrad lived at 39 Hazel Street in Troy Hill when he retired.


1878 F. L. Ober & Brother Brewery
When George Ober retired in 1878 the brewery went to his sons, Frank L. and Charles F. Ober. They renamed the brewery F. L. Ober & Brother Brewery. This name stayed unchanged even after the merger with the Pittsburgh Brewing Company.

The 1901 Hopkins atlas shows Mary Ober as the property owner of the lot belonging to George Ober. F. L. Ober owned the adjacent lot, towards Spring Garden. They did not own it in 1890. The Ober Brothers Brewery was between Mary Ober&rsquos lot and Troy Hill Road. The Penn Brewery loading dock and grain silos are currently on this lot.

The F. L. Ober property may have been miss-identified as a brewery in an old document and repeated by modern day websites. It was to have been known and formed by Frank & Charles Ober, George&rsquos sons, supposedly after E & O was formed.

1890 Mary Ober
Mary Ober, wife of George, was the property owner in 1890 of George&rsquos original lot at 16 Vinial Street (not today&rsquos number). Hopkins 1890 Atlas: Plate 8. However, the Ober Brothers owned the lots between Mary and Eberhardt & Ober.

1890 F L Ober Property
The Hopkins Atlas of 1890 and 1901 shows lots on Vinial across from the Ober brewery belonging to F L Ober Brothers. This indicates that the bottling house was not constructed until later. But, 1907, March: the Select Council of Pittsburgh passed ordinance 638 granting the Eberhardt & Ober branch of Pittsburgh Brewing Company to place a thirty-six inch conduit under Vinial Street connecting the brewery to the racking room of the bottling house.

1893 Aaron & Co. Malt House, Louis Israel
Vinial Street (behind the F. L. Ober Brewery)
Louis Israel Aaron (1840 &ndash 1920) was behind the brewery as shown on the Sanborn Fire Insurance map of 1893, page 95. Hopkins, 1890, above, does not show the presence of the malt house.

1895 Albert Ober
The Pittsburgh Directory identified Albert as a brewer living on Vinial Street.

1896 &ndash 1897 Brew House and Stock House
The 1896 &ndash 1897 American Brewers Review mentioned that the Frank L. Ober Brewing Company was had these structures under construction in connection with the existing buildings. The Pittsburgh Daily Post reported on February 16, 1897 that the Ober & Brother Brewing Company took out a permit for a four story stock house on Vinial Street. Cost $14,000.

1897 The English Syndicate
Investor groups from England were attempting to buy breweries in America to broaden their portfolios. They formed companies in America and solicited agents here to make the acquisitions. The Ober Brewery was one of the many Allegheny County breweries that were involved in this highly secretive endeavor.

The Harrisburg Telegraph on July 8, 1897 reported &ldquoTen of the largest breweries in Allegheny consolidated yesterday under the name Pennsylvania Brewing Company&rdquo. The breweries were not identified. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has the charted date as June 24, 1897.
https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/44272366/

1898 November 27 Dissolution of F. L. Ober & Brother Brewing Company Ltd
A court order was issued on November 26, 1899 dissolving the F. L. Ober & Brother Brewing Company Ltd. This was reported in the Pittsburgh Daily Post on the 27th. It was reported that the brewery might become affiliated with the American Brewing Company, a new corporation. A. B. Ober said that to the best of his knowledge there was no intention to affiliate with any other company. F. L. Ober & Brother Brewing Company Ltd went out of business in 1896 but the new firm of Ober Brothers became active. It was incorporated on January 1, 1897.

1899 Pittsburgh Brewing Company
The brewery was sold to the Pittsburgh Brewing Company in 1899. After that sale, Frank retired from the business but Charles became a superintendant with PBC.

The Obers sold the Amber Brewery to the Pittsburgh Brewing Company in the 1899 merger. Frank got out of the business but Charles became a superintendent with PBC. The Ober brewery and property meshed in with the Eberhardt & Ober Brewing Company.

George & May (Vogel) Ober had three sons:
John P Ober who went to Eberhardt
Charles F Ober: became a superintendent with Pittsburgh Brewing
Charles married Mary Amella Sauer of Allegheny
Frank L Ober: retire after the sale to Pittsburgh Brewing

John P. Ober
Born in Allegheny City on August 21,1848, Died in Pittsburgh on November 11, 1909.
Work with his father starting at the age of 15 in 1863 but left to join William Eberhardt in 1870.

Google search for Ober Pittsburgh 1921
Death of George H Ober https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/85825085/
From Alsace-Lorraine. Arrived Allegheny 1871. Died 78
Lived at 1121 Goettman Street
Sons: George Jr., Anthony, Joseph, Albert.
Brother: Anthony

Joseph C. Ober, brother of George H., policeman
1122 Goettman Street
Born in Allegheny, died 38

George was born in 1823 and came to America at 17 (1840)
He partnered with Koenig (also known to be King)
George retired in 1878 and at that time, Frank and Charles F took over the brewery, renaming it the F. L. Ober & Brother Brewery

George Ober&rsquos father, Peter, lived and died in France.

End of The Ober (Amber) Brewery Timeline

Part 2: Start of The Eberhardt Brewery Timeline
1848 &ndash 1870

1848: Conrad Eberhardt arrived in Allegheny City with his son William. They came from Alasce, France but Conrad was a brewer in Wurtemberg, Germany. It is often incorrectly stated that Conrad began brewing in 1848 but that did not occur until 1850. His first venture was operating a tavern on Ohio Street. He was also a grocer.

First Brewery Established
This brewery originally established in 1848 at the time faced Troy Hill Road and would eventually include the property that is now the parking garage. The rear of the brewery would include the land having the stone courtyard, stonewall, and the larger caves. The Eberhardt brewery would not have ownership of the building now having the restaurant and brewery. Some publications have made inferences that Eberhardt&rsquos first brewery may have been at another location until 1850 or 1852.

1850: Conrad Eberhardt built a brewery on Vinial Street. He was living at this time on what was known as the Butler Plank Road.

The Corner Lot
What is not mentioned in stories on Conrad is how he acquired such a prime spot of the corner on a lot large lot. Although the lot was large it was hilly.

1852 Date Established
The office building at the corner of Vinial and Troy Hill Road has this date and the inscription Eberhardt & Ober Brewery cut into the stone over the front entrance. This date was also included in early advertisements. Edward M. Butz designed the present day corner office building in 1897.

1856 Pittsburgh Directory listed John Eberhart (not as Eberhardt) as a brewer living on the north side of Plank Road. The Haid Brewery was listed as being on Plank Road. This directory did not recognize any other Eberhardt as a brewer. But it did mention Conrad Eaton, beer brewery on Troy Hill Road.

1856 Conrad Eberhardt
Thurston, in Facts and Figures , has Conrad having a brewery at Ohio Street and Chestnut Street about 1856. I have not see this referenced by others and wonder if Thurston misidentified the location or date. Lisa Miles Violin, who wrote Resurrecting Allegheny City states that &ldquoIt would be on. Vinial Street&hellip&rdquo. She may not have known about the Chestnut Street Location at the time of her writing.

End of The Eberhardt Brewery Timeline

1870 William Eberhardt Brewing Company
1870: Brother-in-laws William Eberhardt and John Peter Ober purchase the Conrad Eberhardt Brewery after Conrad retires. The company is named the Eberhardt & Ober Brewing Company. It is not associated with the Ober Brewery on the adjacent lot along Vinial Street.

According to George Thornton Fleming in History of Pittsburgh and Environs , 1922, the brewery was formed in 1870 and incorporated in 1883. John Ober married William&rsquos sister on Salome (Biesse) Eberhardt on September 1, 1872. Others note that the brewery formed by William and Conrad&rsquos son-in-law as though John was a member of the family at the time. This was not true, technically, as the marriage took place a year after.

Hopkins Maps
The 1872 map of the Seventh Ward of Allegheny shows the George Ober Brewery and the George Siedle brewery along Vinial Street and the Eberhardt & Ober Brewery along Troy Hill Road. Siedle also owned the land on Vinial opposite the brewery. The 1882 maps show the same other than Ober now owned Siedle&rsquos lots.

The 1890 maps show the Eberhardt & Ober Brewery as well as the Ober Brewery. The lots owned by Ober were indicated Ober Brothers et. al. The buildings shown did not look the way it does not look the way it does today. The maps also show that the two families operated the brewery as one entity.

Architectural and Engineering Plans
Architect Joseph Stillberg was hired to design the buildings at Vinial and Troy Hill Road. A collector obtained the original ink on linen building drawings. He sent them to Tom Pastorius when he found out the Tom was renovating the building. This was about 1986 or 1987. They have since gone missing.
See the 1961 entry and also 1927 Sanborn Map.

1891 &ndash 1911: Pittsburg was spelled without the h during this time.

1883 Formation of the Eberhardt & Ober Brewery
The Eberhardt & Ober Brewery is formed (January 1) with the acquisition of the John N. Straub Brewery that was located on South Canal Street, also in Allegheny.
John N. Straub was 73.

1883: Eberhardt &Ober purchased the John N. Straub Brewery of the North Side. This purchase forms the Eberhardt & Ober Brewing Company. After the sale the Canal Street brewery was converted to the malt house for the E & O Brewery.

1883 Brewery Collapse and Fire
Date unknown but assumed to be the E & O Brewery
Michael Brunk, the great-great-grandson of Gottlieb Siedle sent this information (August 2015): &hellip if you go in the lower level below the restaurant of the Penn Brewery, and look at the stonewalls of the lower foundation, you can still see the black lines marking where the fire burned out after it collapsed the brewery above.

In 1883, architect Joseph Stillburg designed what is today the brewery and restaurant. It included the appendage (partially demolished) along the side yard and a building (now a part of the parking garage) facing Troy Hill Road. The restaurant/bar room was used for keg washing and racking.

1883 Vinial Street Change in Grade
The Select and Common Councils of the City of Allegheny passed an ordinance (Enacted on December 28, 1883) that established an ordained grade for Vinial Street and William Street. The project was 744 feet along Vinial Street from Troy Hill Road to Villa Street. The work was said to have been completed on November 1, 1883 based on a court case where Allegheny City sought payment for the assessment due from a homeowner. The date was noted in records to have been alleged, which seems so as the work cannot be completed before it was authorized. A Board of Viewers Report was submitted to council on October 16, 1883, which would give a complete date in 1884.

I always found it interesting that the main building, built in 1897, had windows below the sidewalk along Vinial Street. The building was rebuilt in 1883 but a year later the road was raised to its present grade. This would suggest that is why the window wells were built. The present corner office and the building next to the present beer hall were built after 1883. It could be that the elevated walkway at the front of the brewery was originally used as a loading dock. The room that we know as the Penn Brewery Restaurant was used for racking and washing kegs in to the 1930&rsquos.

1891 Electrical Lighting
The Eberhardt & Ober Brewery became the fourth brewery in Pittsburgh to install a plant and 200 incandescent lamps. The contract for the installation went to the Edison Company, Pittsburgh office.

1893 Brewery Fire
A fire took place at (a property of) the Eberhardt & Ober Company. This is mistaken to be the brewery on Vinial Street but in actuality it was the Straub Brewery on Canal Street. After Straub sold to E & O the building was converted to a grain elevator.

1897 The English Syndicate
XXXXX

1899 William Eberhardt dies
William Eberhardt died soon after the merger on March 25, 1899.
Past postings had Conrad, which I acknowledged to be incorrect.

The above was wrong on my part and corrected.
Bob Mills, a descendent of the family. The University of Pittsburgh Library supports this.
&ldquoConrad Eberhardt died after the merger on March 25, 1899&rdquo &ndash actually it was William that died on this date. Conrad died

9/21/1875 aboard ship from Europe. He had a secret 2nd family in, I think, Alsace. We believe he was robbed & murdered, then buried at sea. I have not found any contemporaneous articles about his death, but have found later articles about the court case brought by the &ldquowife&rdquo in Alsace.
&ldquo. and Conrad not retiring until 1883&rdquo -- this was obviously William since Conrad was dead.

End of The Eberhardt & Ober Brewery

Part 4: The Combined Breweries
Pittsburgh Brewing Company Ownership is Included
1899 &ndash 1987

Prior to the merger with Pittsburgh Brewing, the Ober Brewery had a very close working relationship with Eberhardt & Ober. Both breweries were side by side and connected by marriage. The Brewer&rsquos Journal reported in 1921 on the pending sale of many of the breweries in Pittsburgh&rsquos portfolio. The Eberhardt & Ober Brewer was for sale but the Ober Brothers Brewery was also listed confirming that the two breweries were always separate.

William Eberhardt and Peter Ober formed a brewery that was essentially a continuation of the brewery owned by William&rsquos father, Conrand. This brewery was along Troy Hill Road. The brewery along Vinial Street was the F. L. Ober brewery, started by Peter&rsquos father, George. William and Peter incorporated as the Eberhardt & Ober Brewery having also purchased the John Straub Brewery on South Canal Street.

Eberhardt & Ober (Eagle) Brewery after 1899


1899 Pittsburgh Brewing Company
The Eberhardt & Ober Brewing Company AND the F. L. Ober Brewery merged with the Pittsburgh Brewing Company.
The Pittsburgh Brewing Company syndicate was formed on January 1, 1899. The breweries themselves were merged into the syndicate on February 1899.

John P. Ober became treasurer of the Pittsburgh Brewing Company and held many other offices in Pittsburgh until his death on November 11, 1909. Charles F. Ober became superintendant of the Eberhardt & Ober Brewery.

1899: The Eagle Brewery of the Eberhardt & Ober Brewing Co. is merged into the Pittsburgh Brewing Company combine. Theodore Straub became the manager of the Eberhardt & Ober brewery and Charles F. Ober became manager of the Ober brewery.

1899 March 25: William Eberhardt dies at the age of 57. All of the owners of the breweries became managers of one of the other breweries in the company but William was not assigned one after the merger only a few weeks prior due to his ill health.

1907: The Guthrie-Watson Greater Pittsburgh Bill was passed by the State on February 24, 1903 to allow the city to annex territory surrounding the city. The courts upheld this act on November 18, 1907. On December 7, 1907 the City of Allegheny was annexed. Prior to this date the brewery sat on land in Allegheny City&rsquos Seventh Ward. Today it is on Pittsburgh&rsquos 24 th Ward.

1907, March: The Select Council of Pittsburgh passed ordinance 638 granting the Eberhardt & Ober branch of Pittsburgh Brewing Company to place a thirty-six inch conduit under Vinial Street connecting the brewery to the racking room of the bottling house.

1916: The American Contractor announced that the Pittsburgh Brewing Company was taking bids for a new stock house. Julius Schultz was the architect from 1370 Main Street, Buffalo, NY. He was at this same time designing a 3-story (84 feet by 66 feet) bottling house for the Ft. Pitt Brewing Company.

1917: The Brewers&rsquo Journal announced that Pittsburgh Brewing was building a new stock house at the Eberhardt & Ober Brewery but made no mention of a fire destroying the old building.

1917: The Brewers Journal reported in January that Pittsburgh Brewing received a building permit to build a three-story brick and steel stock house at its branch on Vinial Street. The cost for the project was $33,000.

1917 August 22: The Pittsburgh Press reported that Samuel Herman was 63 when he was killed trying to stop a runaway team of horses on Vinial Street. The horses were standing in front of the Eberhardt & Ober Brewery when they were frightened. He tried to grab the reins. The horses made a shape turn into the Joseph Boles Transfer Company&rsquos stable. Boles owned the horses. Herman was caught under the wagon as it overturned and his skull was crushed. He lived at 1231 High Street. The team and wagon were leased to the brewery at the time.

1920 &ndash 1933: The brewery remained open during prohibition and was permitted to make non-alcoholic beer.

1927 Sanborn Map
The 1927 map shows the individual structures of the brewery. It also shows some dates that a structure was built or rebuilt. The corner office building that we see today was rebuilt in 1897. What we know today as the Penn Brewery restaurant was rebuilt in 1883. There are other structures that were built in 1883 but now removed. These are the structures designed by Architect Joseph Stillberg. It is commonly believed that these structures were built after a fire destroyed the original brewery. I can find no evidence that there was a fire and the buildings were designed to build a larger and more efficient brewery. The fire everyone talks about was the 1893 fire at the Straub brewery that, at that time, was owned by Eberhardt & Ober and used as a grain elevator.

1933 Brewery Reopens after Prohibition
The Board of Directors of the Pittsburgh Brewing Company voted to reopen the Eberhardt & Ober Brewery. Fred C. Klussmann made the announcement. The boilers were in good shape but other equipment will be replaced. This was noted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on April 25, 1933, page 7.

The brewery underwent a major rehab after the end of prohibition. New equipment was installed and the brewery was generally rehabilitated.

1933 August 18 Oil Fumes overcome Men
Quick work saved the lives of the two men who were trapped while painting a huge tank at the Eberhardt amd Ober Brewery, Troy Hill Road.

Two painters were rescued from a huge tank at the Eberhardt & Ober Brewery. Troy Hill Road, today after they had been overcome by fumes. Policemen and firemen affected the rescue after the men had been inside the tank about 30 minutes revived them with inhalators and removed them to Allegheny General Hospital. The two victims, Frank Oberleitner of 1314 Federal Street, and Urban W. Staph of 326 Forty-fourth Street, wore masks to protect them from the fumes of oil with which they were treating the inside of the tank, located in the cooling room of the brewery. A fan blew fresh air into the vat but apparently something went wrong with the ventilation system shortly after the men went to work. Other workmen noticed that no sounds came from the vat and. investigating, found both of the painters huddled at the bottom unconscious. Unable to reach them because of the oil fumes, policemen and firemen were summoned. They brought the two men out.

1930&rsquos Water Cooling Structure
A photograph taken in the 1930&rsquos of the general area around the brewery shows what looks to be a water-cooling structure behind the building near Prospect Street. I can find no information on when it was constructed and what it specifically used for.

1952 Brewery Workers Strike
The strike started on April 22 and ended on July 31 after a vote of 1,189 to 383. The worker struck the plants of the Pittsburgh Brewing Company as well as Fort Pitt and Duquesne. The one-year contract gave the workers a 5 cent differential for the second shift, 7 cents for the third, time and a half for Saturday. In addition, insurance for dependents was also granted and workers had a choice of shifts based on senority. The old two-year contract expired on April 1. Pittsburgh Brewing Co. closed the Eberhardt & Ober Brewery during this strike.

1953 Property Sale
Pittsburgh Brewing Company sold the E & O property to the Kovalchick Salvage Company for $100,000. The agreement was made on October 27, 1953.

1976 Demolition:
Buildings along Troy Hill Road were demolished after the roofs collapsed. The collapse was caused due to a fire.

1986 Pennsylvania Brewing Company
Tom Pastorius founded this company and after that acquired the E & O property. See the Penn Brewery History page.

1987 National Register of Historic Places
The brewery sitting on 40 acres and containing 6 buildings and 5 structures, at the time, was placed on the list of National Register of Historic Places (#87001984).
The architectural style is Romanesque, Classical Revival, Italianat


Locke-Ober's Cafe: Boston's Lost Treasure

The Locke-Ober Café, one of the grand restaurants of not only Boston, but in the United States, closed its doors for business this past October, after being in business for 137 years. Needless to say, a lot of history has passed through their doors. So, for the restaurant that was the third oldest in Boston, and by far considered the longest standing fine dining restaurant in Boston to shut its doors, and never use the name Locke-Ober in that location again, the city of Boston has lost a treasure. I am saddened as I worked there in the late 1980s, and felt that Locke-Ober's Café had many of the old school features that could attract a whole new generation of customers a beautiful bar, with a separate entrance, a majestic first floor dining room with an oyster bar and one-of-a-kind brandished silver, a good-sized second floor dining room, smaller party rooms on the third floor, and a beautiful club or banquet room, that could seat another 100 plus people. Never mind the tradition and history that should be a natural draw.

Factors Working Against Success

Why couldn't Locke-Ober's make it? Even in the 1980s when I was there, my feeling was there was more of a sentiment to reaching back to tradition, rather than looking into tweaking the restaurant in a little more modern food approach, as well as giving it a little life with a marketing and PR effort aimed at fun for a younger clientele. A meal at Locke-Obers was a special treat, not necessarily for the outstanding food, but for the surroundings, the elegant service, the history of the building, the traditions that were carried on only in this one rather special historical treasure in Boston. When a regular customer died, their chair was respectfully leaned against the bar, so that no one could sit in their place. There was Frederick Childe Hassam's iconic nude painting of ' Yvonne' (Circa 1886) that was positioned over the door in the main dining room. This is the restaurant of JFK, Enrico Caruso, Ogden Nash, the bluebloods of Boston, Heads of State, tycoons, and local politicians. This was once Boston's power restaurant. The bar, and the club "Yvonne's," were not utilized to their potential. There was nothing stopping Locke-Ober's from modernizing and upgrading their food, other than Locke-Ober's themselves.

Restaurant competition in Boston has changed dramatically. Boston, once known as one of the worst restaurant cities in America, as recently as the 1970s, has become one of the best. Locke-Ober's really had to compete. There have been arguments made that Locke-Ober's, who only admitted women in 1971, was always way behind the times. I would counter with the argument that Harvard University only started to admit undergraduate women in 1973. In that respect, Locke-Ober's made their adaptation, and opened their doors to women. They survived that change, and countless others during their long history, which included Prohibition, two World Wars, Vietnam and much cultural upheaval. What is it that made this the time that Locke-Ober's should close? Daytime drinking patterns had changed, and business meetings that were filled with wine and cocktails were replaced with water. Their clientele had gotten old, and was not being replaced. Casual dining patterns have taken over the restaurant landscape, both in Boston and the rest of the country. Very formal restaurants in 2012 require jackets for men. That was Locke-Ober's policy, and I would think it is in step with formal restaurants everywhere else. The downtown area, where the Winter Place address is located, had degenerated. Still, had the restaurant made some concessions to upgrading food, and aimed their marketing (something they never used to have to believe in, as everything with Locke-Ober in their heyday, was by word of mouth), I believe their doors would still be open.

The Last Attempt

The last decade of Locke-Ober's existence was spearheaded by the presence of legendary Boston chef Lydia Shire. The irony of a female chef in a restaurant that would not have even allowed her to dine in her early years was not lost on the ownership, nor on chef Shire herself. Yet, despite her presence, Locke-Ober's never fully worked its way back into the prominence it might have been able to gain, had there been more of an eye toward necessary changes that would have given Locke-Ober's an opportunity to continue on. I often wonder if Locke-Ober's would have thrived under the leadership of a visionary like Danny Meyer, or Drew Nieporent. Some person who could have taken the best elements of a historically classic restaurant, and put the modern touches on the menu and marketing, to make the legend of Locke-Ober's continue on.

We will never know. David Ray, now the last owner of Locke-Ober's made a statement to the Boston Globe saying,
"I fought for the dignity of the place. it was better to close it."

I view Mr. Ray's position as that of a steward of a legacy. A restaurant with 137 years of history bears a certain responsibility to the business owner. Locke-Ober's was David Ray's restaurant, but it was Boston's restaurant too. He is a business owner, and of course he has every right to sell his business. I just wish he had allowed someone else to come in and give Locke-Ober's a chance for a future.

Mr. Ray sold the building without allowing the name of the restaurant at Winter Place to ever be called Locke-Ober's again. He sold it to Mr. Jay Hajj, a local businessman, for $3.3 million dollars. Much of Locke-Ober's belongings were auctioned off. Mr. Ray did not auction off the iconic Frederick Childe Hassam painting of "Yvonne," which prominently sat over the doorway of the main dining room. Now he, and he alone, can view this iconic art piece that came from his restaurant, and Boston's most elegant restaurant too.


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Richard was born on March 7, 1960 and passed away on Saturday, May 22, 2010.

Richard was a resident of Chester, West Virginia.

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Watch the video: Civic engagement and our vision for New Hampshire Richard Ober, President and CEO