Melius Ohlman (1834-1918) immigrated to northwest Pennsylvania from Stuttgart, Germany, in 1854. He settled first in Greenville, Pa., and moved to Conneautville, Pa., in 1858 to start a clothing business. In 1860, he returned to Germany to find a wife and married Sophia Weissenburg (c.1840-1919). In 1875, Melius and Sophie Ohlman moved to Meadville, Pa., where Melius Ohlman and his cousin Morris Kingsbacher started a clothing business called Ohlman & Kingsbacher. As a local boom in oil production subsided, many Jews left the area, including Kingsbacher. The business subsequently became M. Ohlman & Son and remained a notable presence in Meadville into the early 1900s.
Melius and Sophie Ohlman had nine children, Albert, Anna, Antoinette, Bertha, Flora, Frank, Isaac, Louis and Morris. In her youth, Antoinette “Nettie” Ohlman (1878-1957) often traveled into Pittsburgh and old Allegheny City to stay with the Kingsbachers. She enjoyed a busy social life in the city, attending themed parties at the homes of friends, balls at the Concordia Club, plays at the Bijou Theater downtown and ice-skating at the Duquesne Gardens in Oakland with members of the Hamburger, Frank and Strassburger families and others in the established German Jewish community.
Through these visits, Ohlman became acquainted with a young merchant named Horace Greely Gallinger (1874-1942). He paid her a visit in Meadville one weekend during the spring of 1900. They dined together and went driving in the evening. “A glorious time,” Ohlman wrote in her diary after the visit. “You can’t forget it, so don’t write anymore.”
They married in 1901 and had two daughters, Ruth and Marion. The family lived in Allegheny City and later in Squirrel Hill. They were members of Rodef Shalom Congregation and the Concordia Club. Nettie Gallinger was an early member of the Pittsburgh section of the National Council of Jewish Women.
The Ohlman and Gallinger families were further intertwined in 1901 when Antoinette’s brother Albert Nathan Ohlman married Horace’s sister Millie Garfield Gallinger.
Nettie’s brother Isaac Loeb Ohlman graduated from Allegheny College in 1896 and the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in 1900. He interned at West Penn Hospital for one year before going into private practice. After practicing general medicine for nearly 10 years, he began focusing on urology and proctology. Ohlman was affiliated with Montefiore Hospital, where he was the chairman of the training school committee. During World War I, Ohlman served as a captain in the Army Medical Corps.
Louis W. Ohlman was president of the local Common Council and later ran for mayor of Meadville in 1904 on the Democratic Party ticket. “I want to go on record before you and every citizen of Meadville as declaring myself in favor of an administration characterized by strict economy and honesty,” Ohlman said in his nomination speech.
Anna Augusta Ohlman (1863-1947) married Abraham Frank (1853-1928) in 1884. They had two children, Herbert and Florence. The family later operated a store in Irwin, Pa. Herbert Frank married Rose Buck from McKeesport.