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Caroline (Curtiss) Otis
Atchison County, Kansas


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The following transcription is from a 750 page book titled "Genealogical and Biographical Record of North-Eastern Kansas, dated 1900.  These have been diligently transcribed and generously contributed by Penny R. Harrell, please give her a very big Thank You for her hard work!

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Obituary - Caroline (Curtiss) Otis

The death of Mrs. Otis, in the seventy-fifth year of her age, deserves more than the passing notice usually given to those who for years have been absent from our circle of social or business activity.  I am sure the Telegraph will permit a friend and neighbor of this early pioneer and most estimable lady to recount for the gratification of her few remaining old friends and her many newer ones, the salient points of her history and to feebly portray her admirable qualities of mind and heart.

Caroline Curtiss was born August 20, 1808. In 1826, when she was eighteen years of age, she married Isaac Otis, at Homer, Cortland county, New York, where they lived six years.  In the spring of 1834 they came to Michigan and for two years lived in Calhoun county, but made permanent settlement, in 1836, near Prairieville, Barry county.

Here her husband died of an accidental injury March 12, 1853, leaving to his widow the care of eleven children.  Except, as one by one the older sons pushed out into the world for fame and fortune, she, with her family, continued to reside on the homestead until 1871, when, with three daughters and two sons, she removed to Kalamazoo.

For nearly twelve years this has been her home.  Like the Roman Cornelia, her chief pride was in her motherhood and in her children.  She was the mother of thirteen, two of whom died in infancy and eleven, eight sons and three daughters, lived to maturity.

Within the last three years two of these eight sons have died, Curtiss - well known here a few years ago in business circles; and Newton - a rising minister of the Presbyterian church, near Denver, Colorado.  Her oldest son, Judge Alfred G. Otis, is a prominent citizen of Atchison, Kansas.  Judge Ephraim Otis and her youngest son, Arthur, are well known residents and lawyers of Chicago.  George and Charles Otis are old and wealthy residents and lawyers of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Stephen Otis, for a while a resident here, now lives, a farmer, near Battle Creek, Michigan.  The three daughters, Mary, Louise and Lilly, well known in our social, educational and literary circles, have remained with their mother.

For the past seventeen years this venerable lady has been an invalid, most of the time unable to leave her home, much of the time dependent on her daughters for the simplest offices, and all the time a great but patient sufferer.

She died at her home in the village, March 12, the day before the thirtieth anniversary of her husband's death. "Mrs. Otis was a woman of marked characteristics.  Superior in intellect and moral attributes, devoted to her family and scrupuously observant of every duty, she had, also, an energy and persistency of purpose which impressed her qualities on her children, made her services invaluable to her neighbors in the straits and emergencies of pioneer life and her friendship a pleasure and a blessing to all on whom she bestowed it.

Over these solid and fundamental elements of character was thrown a charm and dignity of manner, warmed by an unaffected kindness of heart that made all feel in her presence that she was, in the best sense, a noble woman and a true lady.

All who, during her years of illness, have been admitted to her chamber of suffering will bear witness to the sweet patience and resignation with which she bore her afflictions.  "Burns' epitaph on his father declares, 'His failing leaned to virtue's side,' and so her greatest trouble in life came from her strongest and truest traits, her mother love and her conscientiousness.  Her physical infirmities and her real troubles she patiently bore, but the excess of these two noble traits caused her a constant fear lest harm happen her children or she do something wrong.

"Those of her old neighbors of the pioneer days who are yet alive will tenderly remember her neighborly sympathy and her practical kindness; the older members of the Presbyterian church at Gull Corners, of which she and her husband were early members, will bear testimony to her purity of life, kindness of heart and helpfulness of spirit, and all who knew her well, especially her children, who 'rise up to call her blessed' find in her life and character a striking exemplification of Solomon's picture of the 'virtuous woman,' Her own works praise her in the gates."

This sketch would be wholly incomplete without mention of Mrs. Maria Harres, the mother of Mrs. G. A. Otis, who resided in Atchison with her daughter and was a member of the household from 1865 until 1896, the time of her death.  She was then in her one hundredth year. 

She was a lady of sterling qualities of mind and heart, but of singular sweetness of disposition.  Judge Otis always claimed that she reversed completely the traditions about mothers-in-law, for he has no recollection of an unkind word between him and his mother-in-law during the entire period of over thirty years. In her ninety-ninth year she attended at Trinity church, in Atchison, the wedding of her granddaughter, Amy Otis.

The following tribute to her memory was paid by the local press at the time of her death: Mrs. Maria G. Harres, who was in the one hundredth year of her age, died at twelve o'clock last night, at the home of her daughter, Mrs. A. G. Otis.  Mrs. Harres was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, August 2, 1797.

She was married early in life to Gephard Harres, residing afterward in Philadelphia.  In 1863 Mr. and Mrs. Harres came to Atchison on a visit, and Mr. Harres died while here.  His remains were taken to Philadelphia for burial in Laurel Hill cemetery.  Mrs. Harres never ceased to grieve for her husband, and at her often expressed desire, her remains will be laid to rest beside those of Mr. Harres at Laurel Hill.

In 1865 Mrs. Harres came to Atchison to live with her daughters, Mrs. W. L. Challis and Mrs. Otis, and has since resided here, honored and beloved by all.  Of eight children, only the mentioned have survived her. Mrs. Harres represented five generations, Mrs. John A. Martin being her granddaughter.

Mrs. Harres not only enjoyed an unusually long life, but it was particularly free from care.  Her health was always good until the beginning of her fatal illness eight weeks ago, and her faculties were clear until the end.

The burial services will be held at Trinity church at 4 p.m., Friday, September 18th, to which all friends are invited without further notice.  After the services the remains will be conveyed to Philadelphia at once. Friends are asked not to send flowers."

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Last update: Monday, December 26, 2005 20:32:34

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