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Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Harrison Gray Otis, U.S.V.

Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Harrison Gray Otis is the son of Stephen and Sarah Otis, who were pioneer citizens of Ohio, and was born near Marietta, February 10, 1837. In the year 1800 his father, at the age of sixteen, emigrated to the far West from Vermont, and settled in the " Ohio Company's Purchase" at Marietta, then just emerging from the condition of a frontier " blockhouse" post. His mother was a native of Nova Scotia, and emigrated with her parents from Boston early in the century, settling in the Muskingum Valley. His paternal grandfather was a patriot soldier in the Revolutionary War, and a pensioner.

The Otis stock has produced James Otis, famous as a Revolutionary patriot and orator, and Harrison Gray Otis, once a senator of the United States from Massachusetts.

The subject of this sketch received only a "log-schoolhouse" education up to the age of fourteen, when he became a printer's apprentice. He worked at this trade in various places, and at the commencement of the war of the Rebellion was a compositor in the office of the Louisville journal, under the noted editor, George D. Prentice. While here he was elected a delegate from Kentucky to the Republican National Convention of 1860, which nominated Abraham Lincoln for the Presidency.

Soon after the outbreak of hostilities, young Otis returned to Ohio, enrolled himself for the war as a private in the Twelfth Regiment of Ohio Volunteers (Colonel John W. Lowe), at Camp Dennison, June 25, 1861. He was mustered June 29, 1861, and took the field with his regiment July 6, 1861, under Brigadier-General J. D. Cox, on the Western Virginia campaign. He was promoted to first sergeant March 1, 1862; to second lieutenant November 12, 1862; to first lieutenant May 30, 1863, and to captain July 1, 1864. He was transferred on the latter date to the Twenty-third Ohio Veteran Volunteers (Colonel R. B. Hayes), and assigned to Company H. In 1865 he was brevetted major and lieutenant-colonel, upon the unsolicited recommendation of his commanding officer, "for gallant and meritorious services during the war;" he having participated in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, and 1865 in the campaigns, respectively, of the Kanawha Division, Eighth Army Corps; the Army of West Virginia, Mountain Department; the Ninth Corps, Army of the Potomac, and the Army of the Shenandoah, and taken part in the following actions: Scarey Creek, Virginia, July 17, 1861; Carnifex Ferry, September 10, 1861; Bull Run bridge, August 27, 1862; Frederick, September 12, 1862; South Mountain, September 14, 1862; Antietam, September 17, 1862 (wounded); Blue Sulphur Springs, September, 1862; Boyer's Ferry, November, 1863; Meadow Bluff, December 14, 1863; Princeton, May, 1864; Cloyd's Mountain, May 9, 1864; New River Bridge, May 10, 1864; Quaker Church (Lynchburg), June 17-18, 1864; Cabelltown, July 20, 1864; Kernstown, July 24, 1864 (severely wounded). He served in 1864-65 on several courts-martial and military commissions. In the winter of 1864-65 he was assigned, as senior captain present for duty, to the command of his regiment at Cumberland, Maryland. He was mustered out July 26, 1865, and honorably discharged at Cleveland, Ohio, August 1, 1865. Pensioned. Length of service, forty-nine months.

In 1867 he was tendered the appointment of second lieutenant in the army, but never entered the regular service. In the same year he served as Official Reporter of the Ohio House of Representatives. He then located in Washington, where he acted successively as government official, as correspondent and editor. He removed with his family to California in 1876. He was tendered the Collectorship of the Port of San Diego in 1878, and the consulates at the Samoan Islands and Tien-Tsin, China. In none of these positions, however, did he serve. He served as chief government agent at the Seal Islands of Alaska from 1879 to 1882.

Leaving this position, he purchased in 1882 an interest in the Los Angeles Daily Times and Weekly Mirror, and is now the editor of those papers and president of the Times-Mirror Company. Mrs. Otis, who is a leading member of the Times' staff, was Miss Eliza A. Wetherby. She married Mr. Otis at Lowell, Ohio, September 11, 1959. They have three daughters living: Mrs. Lilian Otis McPherron, of Redlands; Miss Marian Otis, secretary of the Times-Mirror Company, and Mrs. Mabel Otis Booth, of Berkeley, Cal. In ten years the Times has grown from very small beginnings to be one of the important daily newspapers of the Southwest, leading in circulation and influence in Southern California, using fast perfecting presses, and occupying a fine building of its own.

Source: Officers of the Volunteer Army and Navy who served in the Civil War, published by L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1893, 419 pgs.

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