Biography of Birch R. Ober
Cambria County, PA Biographies

Birch R. Ober is among the representative business men of Johnstown, where he is general manager of the Swank Motor Sales Company. He was born at New Enterprise, Bedford County, Pa., July 25, 1890, and is the son of David H. and Elizabeth (Replogle) Ober.

David H. Ober, deceased, was a veteran of the Civil war. He was born at New Enterprise, Pa., in 1840, the son of Jacob Ober, who emigrated to this country from Germany at an early date and settled in Bedford County, where he became a prosperous farmer and large land owner. David H. Ober, father of the subject of this sketch, also was interested in general farming and ranks among the leading stockmen of Bedford County. During the Civil war he served under General Grant as a member of Company D, Ninety-ninth Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and was present at Lee's surrender. After the war he returned to farming and purchased the farm of D. L. Replogle, He also raised flax, which was used for spinning purposes. Mr. Ober died in March, 1904, and his wife died July 13, 1926; both are buried in the New Enterprise (Pa.) Cemetery. Mrs. Ober was born near that place, Jan. 1, 1850, the daughter of Jacob Replogle, a prominent pioneer of Bedford County. Prof. David Emmert, at one time connected with the art department of Juniata College, made a painting of the Jacob Replogle farm, which depicts its quaint buildings and picturesque trout streams. This picture is highly prized by the descendants of Jacob Replogle.

To David H. and Elizabeth (Replogle) Ober ten children were born, as follows: L. R., hardware merchant, lives at Martinsburg, Pa.; Rosa, the widow of E. S. Rice, lives at Etna, Pa., where he was superintendent of schools; Amanda, married H. E. Smith, lives at Johnstown; Cyrus, de ceased; A. G., a graduate of Juniata College, is principal of Maple Park School, Johnstown; Blanche, a graduate of Juniata College, is the widow of George Wertz, lives at Johnstown; Ralph, lives in California; Birch R., the subject of this sketch; Edna, married Ross T. Snyder, a graduate of Pennsylvania State College, farmer, lives in Bedford County, Pa; and Hazel, a graduate of Juniata College and the Johns Hopkins Nurses' Training School, lives at New Enterprise, Pa.

Birch R. Ober spent his boyhood at New Enterprise and attended the public schools. He was graduated from Millersville Normal College in 1911 and spent the following year as athletic director of the Tndustrial Training School at Huntington, Tenn., after which he served as assistant principal of Juniata (Pa.) High School. In the fall of 1913 Mr. Ober entered Pennsylvania State College, from which he received his degree in 1917. He was then appointed County Farm Bureau agent for Clinton County, Pa., at Lockhaven. In 1924-25 he served as an instructor in the agricultural department of Pennsylvania State College and at the same time took special work at the college. In January, 1925, he came to Johhstown and assumed the general management of the Swank Motor Sales Company, which is located at 537 Locust Street.

On Oct 15, 1919, Mr. Ober was united in marriage with Miss Mary Hazel Berkebile, the daughter of Lewis and Matilda (Faust) Berkebile. Mr. Berkebile, who lives retired in Johnstown, was for many years a leading coal operator of Cambria County. He also engaged in stock raising extensively and was the owner of the well known "Pony Farm," near Johnstown. He had various other business interests, being engaged in the wholesale and retail meat business in Johnstown, His wife died in 1921 and is buried at Rummell, Pa. Mr. and Mrs. Ober have a son, Lewis, born in 1920.

Mr. Ober is a Republican and during the World war served as chairman of the Food Conservation Committee. He is a member of the Church of the Brethren, Johnstown Lodge F. and A. M., Grange at Lock Haven, Pa., and Chamber of Commerce, being chairman of the agricultural committee. He is a member of the Legislature committee, also the educational committee of the Chamber of Commerce, In 1926 he was elected a trustee to Cambria County Farm Bureau. He is a member of Chi chi fraternity and has served as president of the Interfraternity Council. He is well known in Johnstown, having been connected more or less with interests here since a boy. He takes an active interest in the affairs of this community.

History of Cambria County, Pennsylvania
By: John E. Gable
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka-Indianapolis, 1926

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