OLIVER C. GENTHER
NOTE - March 2013: This image of O. C. Genther (reduced in size) is owned by Linda Cunningham Fluharty, and has been on this website since about 1999. It was bought on eBay from a dealer in California. Another image of Genther - as a younger man - was purchased on eBay in 2006 from a dealer in Delaware.
From "HISTORY OF THE UPPER OHIO VALLEY,"
Vol. I, pages 296-297; Brant & Fuller, 1890.
0. C. Genther, a prominent citizen of Wheeling, wholesale jeweler, and lessee and manager of the Grand Opera House, was born at Woodstock, Champaign Co., Ohio, in 1843. He is the son of J. G. Genther, a native of Germany, who came to the United States when a young man, and settled in Ohio, where he was married to Julia Chance, who was born in that state. The latter died during the boyhood of her son, but the father is still a resident of southern Ohio. The subject of this sketch when eleven years old left home, and going to Columbus, Ohio, began to learn the printing business, at which he was engaged for several years. Subsequently he was for ten years engaged in the show business, making Columbus his headquarters, and while thus occupied he visited Wheeling in 1860, giving a performance in the theatre of which he is now manager and lessee, it being then known as Washington Hall. Mr. Genther made his permanent residence at Wheeling about 1874, engaging first in the printing business and then in show management, with his headquarters at Wheeling. Two years later he embarked in the wholesale toy and fancy goods business at Wheeling, to which he gave his exclusive attention until 1883. In the latter year he added to his business the wholesaling of jewelry and American watches, putting traveling salesmen on the road. This new departure met with such success that in 1890 Mr. Genther turned his attention entirely to this branch of wholesale trade, and is now the only wholesale dealer in his line in the state. Aside from his business operations Mr. Genther is justly famed for his successful management of the opera house, which, when he assumed control under a lease in 1885, was known as the Academy of Music. Before that time the house was used as a variety theatre of a low order, and its management did not bring repute to the city, nor attract the patronage of respectable people. Mr. Genther determined to redeem the reputation of the house, and from the start so rapidly elevated its character that it was determined to remodel the house and afford it in every way an opportunity for a new career. Accordingly the house was remodeled, the stage accessories were increased and improved, the seating capacity enlarged, and the theatre was then christened the Grand Opera House. In its management since that date Mr. Genther has displayed notable executive ability and shrewd discernment of the wants of the public, and has been able at the same time to present performances of an elevated character, pleasing to all classes of theatre goers, and make the house a financial success. This excellent management has been not only a matter of personal congratulation, due to Mr. Genther, but it has resulted in the increased value of the property in which the house is situated, and has added to the good name of the city. It is hoped by all good citizens that the stockholders of the Grand will continue Mr. Genther in the management for as long a term as he may desire, for he has justly earned the good will of the public. Mr. Genther's career, it may be said in closing, is eminently that of a self-made man. Starting out in the world at eleven years of age, without resources, and assuming entirely the responsibility of his future, he has steadily fought his way upward until he has won an incontestible position in the community which is now his home, and as has been mentioned, occupies a unique and leading position in the jewelry trade of the state. Mr. Genther is a member of Nelson lodge, No. 30, F. & A. M., Wheeling Union chapter, No. 1, and Wheeling commandery, No. 1, K. T., and is a member of Wheeling lodge, No. 28, B. P. 0. Elks. He was married in 1873, and has one son, Oliver Cromwell Genther, Jr.