Stephen Otis

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Stephen Otis was born June 10, 1784 in Norfolk, Litchfield County, Connecticut, the eldest child of Barnabas and Mehitable Turner Otis. The family moved from Connecticut to Vermont in the 90s and in 1800, Stephen set out from East Poultney to settle in the Ohio Company's Purchase in Marietta, Ohio. Marietta was little more than an outpost at this time, and its inhabitants still lived in fear of Indian attacks. At the age of 21 he married his first wife, Mary Cloudy. They had the following children: Olive, Caroline McCollister, Stephen, Julia, Harriet, Mary, George, and Clarissa. Only George failed to reach adulthood. Their eighth and last child was born September 8, 1824. Stephen married his second wife Sarah Dyer on February 17, 1825 and had eight more children, the youngest of whom, Harrison Gray Otis, was my great- grandfather.

Sarah and Stephen had the following children: Charles (born 1826) William Henry (1827-d.y.) Francis (1828-d.y.) Leroy (1829) Emily (1831) Oliver (1833) Sarah (1835) and Harrison Gray (1837). After Stephen's death on June 19, 1868, Sarah moved to Tecumseh, Johnson County, Nebraska to be with her children, Charles, LeRoy and Sarah (Lawrence), where she died November 24, 1879.

In his unpublished autobiography "Milestones" Harrison Gray Otis describes his birthplace as a hewed log house "on the hill" in Adams Township, Washington County, Ohio. He recalls that in politics his father was a Liberty-party man, supporting James G. Birney in 1844, and recounts that in 1848 the house was a station on the "Underground Railroad, eight or ten miles from the Virginia shore of the Ohio River. Runaway slaves were helped on their way to Canada. He describes his parents as "staunch, stalwart, intelligent, God-fearing people of the Methodist faith, and neither rich nor poor."

The house was to burn down in 1850, melting 28 cents that HGO recalled was the first money he ever lost.

Stephen died on June 19, 1868 at the age of 84 years. It is not known where he is buried. He was survived by four children from his second marriage: Charles, Leroy, Sarah Otis Lawrence and Harrison Gray Otis.

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Stephen Otis Charles Otis Leroy Otis
Stephen Otis Charles Otis Leroy Otis
Letter from Stephen Otis to son Harrison Letter from Stephen Otis to son Harrison
Letter from Stephen Otis to son Harrison Tecumseh Cemetery