Biography - August Otta

AUGUST OTTA. A fine representative of the foreign element that has been so potent in developing the varied resources of this county. Mr. Otta has won an important place among its most intelligent farmers and stock-raisers. He has extensive agricultural interests in Moweaqua and Penn Townships, his home being in the former place. He was born in Brunswick, Germany, February 13, 1844, to Henry and Elizabeth Otta, who were likewise natives of Brunswick. The father of our subject spent his entire life in his native land, dying there in 1848 leaving a widow and six children. Henry, the eldest son, still resides in Brunswick; William was a soldier in the Fourth Kansas Cavalry during the war between the North and South, and gave up his life for his adopted country; Fred died in Illinois; Minnie and Lena are the names of the two daughters of the family.

Our subject was the youngest child of his parents. He was but four years old when his father died, and his mother cared for him until he became self-supporting. She lived for several years after coming to the United States, with her children, and died at the home of a daughter in Madison County, in 1876. August attended school steadily until he was fourteen and obtained an excellent education in the schools of his native land. He was afterward employed on a farm by the year until 1861, when he came to this country with his mother and other members of the family, setting sail from Bremer Haven on the vessel "North America" in September, and landing in New York after a voyage of seven weeks and two days.

After his arrival in this country Mr. Otta came directly to Illinois and staid I'm a time in Madison County, where he was employed on a farm at $50 a year. In 1863 he went to Macoupin County, and was engaged there as a farm laborer by the month until 1867, when he came to Shelby County and entered upon his career as an independent farmer. He first bought eighty acres of land on section 24, of Moweaqua Township, on which stood a small log house. He soon erected a more commodious log house which the family occupied some years, and then erected the substantial and conveniently arranged frame house in which they now live. A view of this residence may be found on another page. In his farming operations he has met with more than ordinary success and has added to his original purchase from time to time until he has five hundred and eighty-five acres of well-improved land, lying in Moweaqua and Penn Townships.

In the acquirement of his property Mr. Otta has received valuable assistance from his wife, to whom he was wedded in the fall of 1866. Mrs. Otta, who was formerly Miss Augusta Durfrer, was born in Poland, and came to America with her parents when she was a child of four years. To her and our subject have been born ten children — Henry, William, Annie, Lizzie, Caroline, Emma, Minnie, Clara, Bessie and Hattie.

Mr. Otta has a clear intellect, cool judgment and sound sense, and these traits, no less than a good capacity for work and ready business tact, have gained him the honorable place that he occupies to-day among his fellow-farmers and makes him a good example of our self-made men. He is well-informed, has a good general knowledge of politics, and in that regard holds himself independent of all parties, preferring to use his own judgment in voting for men and measures. Religiously he was reared in the Lutheran Church, and still holds to that faith.

Extracted 12 Jan 2018 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 374-377.

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