Oscar William Neebe I (b. July 12, 1850, New York City, New York, USA — d. April 22, 1916, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA) was a defendent in the Haymarket Square trial.
Ancestry: The family surname is pronounced "knee-bee". The Neebes were originally French Huguenots who fled to Castle, Germany.
Birth: Oscar was born on July 12, 1850 in New York City and he had two siblings: Conrad Neebe (1842-?), who later moved to Boston and presumably died there; and Louis W. Neebe (1847-1911), who was born in Pennsylvania and died in Chicago on September 22, 1911.
Education: Oscar went to school in Germany and returned to the United States in 1866, then moved to Chicago in 1875 where he worked as a tinsmith, and at other jobs. He worked as a cook on the boats that carried iron ore across the Great Lakes. Oscar William Neebe III said in 2005: "Oscar and Louis opened up a yeast business, and Oscar visited the breweries and saw the deplorable conditions."
Marriage: Oscar married Meta (1855-1887) and had the following children: Oscar William Neebe II (1880-c1957); Charles Neebe (1883-?); Edward Neebe (1885-?); Lillie Neebe who married Charles Nitschke on September 14, 1892; and Nettie Neebe who married Wilhelm Behrens on April 11, 1896. Meta died on March 8, 1887 and he then married "Elise Hepp" or Regina Hepp (1866-1921) on July 12, 1893 and had the following children: Rudolph W. Neebe (1897-?); Walter H. Neebe (1899-1927) who died on October 25, 1927; and Elsie Neebe (1902-?). Regina may have been the caretaker for his children while he was in jail, she had emigrated in 1883 from Germany. Regina died on November 25, 1921.
Haymarket Square: He was not at the Haymarket rally, but was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Illinois Governor Altgeld pardoned and released him in 1893, after he had served seven years of his 15 year sentence. By 1910 he was a saloonkeeper in Chicago living with his second wife.
Autobiography: "I have been in the labor movement since 1875. I have seen how the police have trodden on the Constitution of this country, and crushed the labor organizations. I have seen from year to year how they were trodden down, where they were shot down, where they were "driven into their holes like rats," as Mr. Grinnell said to the jury. But they will come out! ... Well, these are all the crimes I have committed. They found a revolver in my house, and a red flag there. I organized trade unions. I was for reduction of the hours of labor, and the education of laboring men, and the re-establishment of the Arbeiter-Zeitung - the workingmen's newspaper. There is no evidence to show that I was connected with the bomb-throwing, or that I was near it, or anything of that kind. So I am only sorry, your honor - that is, if you can stop it or help it - I will ask you to do it - that is, to hang me, too; for I think it is more honorable to die suddenly than to be killed by inches. I have a family and children; and if they know their father is dead, they will bury him. They can go to the grave, and kneel down by the side of it; but they can't go to the penitentiary and see their father, who was convicted for a crime that he hasn't had anything to do with. That is all I have got to say. Your honor, I am sorry I am not to be hung with the rest of the men."
The People of the State of Illinois vs. Oscar W. Neebe: Indictment for Murder. This day come the said People by Julius S. Grinnell States Attorney, and the said defendant as well in his own proper person as by his Counsel also comes, and now neither the said defendant nor his Counsel for him saying anything further why the Judgment of the Court should not now be pronounced against him on the Verdict of Guilty, heretofore rendered to the Indictment in this cause. Therefore, it is ordered and adjudged by the Court that the said defendant Oscar W. Neebe be taken from the bar of the Court to the common jail of Cook County from whence he came, and from thence by the Sheriff of Cook County without delay to the Penitentiary of this State, at Joliet, and be delivered to the Warden or Keeper of said Penitentiary; and the said Warden or Keeper is hereby required and commanded to take the body of the said defendant Oscar W. Neebe, and confine him in said Penitentiary, in safe and secure custody for and during the term of Fifteen years from and after the delivery hereof, at hard labor, and that he be there after discharged. It is further ordered, that the said defendant pay all the costs of these proceedings, and that execution issue therefor.
Burial: Oscar died on April 22, 1916, and was buried at the Haymarket Martyrs' Monument at German Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois. His illinois death certificate number was "6012488".
Burial: Forest Home Cemetery Forest Park Cook County Illinois, USA Plot: Haymarket Martyrs' Monument