Born in Buffalo in 1920, Robert Chittenden Oshei’s earliest paternal family history is traced to Ireland. Some of his ancestors left Ireland in the 1700s to work in what is now Austria. Francis Joseph Oishei was born in Austria in 1830 and married Adelheide Van Wildt of Prussia. They would have three children that included Charles, who would become Robert Oshei’s Great-Grandfather. Francis Oishei arrived in the United States in 1859 and eventually settled in Buffalo. Oishei owned & operated a number of saloons and eventually owned the Golden Gate Hotel at 160 Exchange Street at the time of his death in 1878. Charles married Julia Roffo, the daughter of John Roffo who is believed to be the first Italian to settle in Buffalo in the 1840s. Julia was also an early graduate of Nardin Academy. Eight children were born to Charles and Julia – John, Stella, Camilla, Bertha, Charles, Bernard, Florence and William. Oldest brother John R Oishei would go on to form the Trico Products Corporation in 1917.
As the family grew and matured, members chose to use variations in the spelling of their surname. In family documents, historical records and civic directories, the spelling of the Oshei name, with or without the use of the extra “i” may be found.
Bernard Francis Oshei was born in Buffalo in 1898. He was a graduate of Lafayette High School and attended the University of Buffalo Law School. Shortly after leaving school, Oshei joined the Trico Products Corporation where he eventually became vice-president. In 1937, he left Trico for the plastics industry and formed the Bernard F. Oshei Co. at 170 Florida Street. Oshei married Hortense Pratt Chittenden (nicknamed "Honey") and had two sons, Bernard F. Jr. and Robert Chittenden. Hortense Pratt Chittenden graduated from The Buffalo Seminary in 1914. She passed away in 1922. Bernard Oshei died in 1948 at the age of 50.
Hortense Pratt Chittenden’s ancestry can be traced to Buffalo’s earlier settlers and most successful business leaders. She was the daughter of John Lorenz Chittenden and Amelia Frederica Lautz. John L. Chittenden was the grandson of Pascal Pratt who founded Manufacturers’ & Traders’ Bank (M&T Bank) in 1856 and was a charter member of the Buffalo Club.Chittenden was also a direct decedent of pioneer Buffalo settler Captain Samuel Pratt. While on an expedition to Canada in 1801, Pratt made his way through the wilderness outpost what would become the Village of Buffalo. Sensing opportunity in this western town, he moved his family from New England to Buffalo in 1804 to become a civic and social leader.
Robert Chittenden Oshei was born in 1920 and attended School 30, Nichols School and Cornell University. He married Mary Elizabeth Bayliss in 1941 and had five children - Robert Chittenden Oshei Jr, William Bayliss Oshei, James Bayliss Oshei (died 2006), John Chittenden Oshei (died 2008) and Mary Elizabeth Bayliss Oshei known as Memo. Mary Elizabeth Bayliss, daughter of industrialist William Henry Bayliss, was a graduate of the Buffalo Seminary, attended Pine Manor College and National Park College. After serving in World War II and with the occupation forces in Japan, Robert C. Oshei founded Fibron Products in 1949. The firm became a pioneer in the manufacturing of laminated wood for the cutlery and hardware industries. Oshei enjoyed sailing as a member of the North Shore Yacht Club in Bertie Bay Ontario, Canada. He was also longtime member of the Buffalo Club and an avid bowler on the Club’s inter-club team. Robert Oshei passed away in 1999.
Mary Bayliss Oshei was a sustaining member of the Junior League of Buffalo, a member of the Garret Club and past president of the Buffalo Seminary Graduates Association. She volunteered on the Junior Board of Buffalo General Hospital and was a life member of Central Park United Methodist Church. She died on September 23, 2009 at the age of 89. In 2010, surviving family members include daughter Mary (Memo), sons William Bayliss and Robert Chittenden and seven grandchildren.
Mary E. Bayliss-Oshei
Robert C. Oshei
Mary Oshei from 1963 Snowball program ad
Mary Oshei while on the Junior Board of Buffalo General Hospital
Bob & Mary Oshei with family in 1972
Oshei Family in the 80s
Mary Bayliss as a teen
William Bayliss Oshei, far right, at the Pine Grill.