Born in the Kingdom of Württemberg, in southern Germany, Herman Obernauer (1856-1947) spent his late teens and early twenties traveling throughout Europe as a salesman.
Obernauer immigrated to the United States in 1880 and settled in Pittsburgh. After working as a bookkeeper, he started Herman Obernauer & Company, a distillery and wholesale liquor business on Fifth Avenue. In 1892, he moved his business up the street to the corner of Fifth and Stevenson and covered the side of the building in painted advertisements for his various products. Obernauer sold the business in 1915 — several years before the enactment of Prohibition — and spent the rest of his career in real estate.
A well known figure among local German Jews, Obernauer was one of the pallbearers at the funeral of “Grandma Hirsch.” He was an active member of the local Democratic Party and served as an elector in four presidential elections.
After establishing himself in Pittsburgh, Herman Obernauer married Bertha Dinch (d. 1928), the daughter of Frederick and Martha Dinch of old Allegheny City. They had three children, Olga Obernauer Jaskulek, Harold Obernauer and Arthur Obernauer. Harold Obernauer was a prominent lawyer and involved in Jewish philanthropic organizations.