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Des Moines County >> 1888 Index

Portrait and Biographical Album of Des Moines County, Iowa
Chicago: Acme Publishing, 1888.


Judge Hermann C. Ohrt has been a resident of Burlington, Iowa, since, July, 1851. He was born June 2d, 1826, in Eutin, Grand Duchy of Oldenburg, Germany. He prosecuted his classical studies at the Gymnasium of Eutin, graduating from that institution in 1847, then entering the University of Marburg. He became entangled in the revolutionary movement in Germany in 1848, was in active service in the war, and suffered the privations of prison life at Copenhagen, Denmark, where he was confined for twenty-seven weeks. Mr. Ohrt then concluded that in America was the place to seek his fortune, and with that intent he emigrated, finding his way to Burlington in 1851. For some time after his arrival, he was editor of the Volksblatt, the first German paper started in Burlington, and afterward he filled the same position at the Freie Presse.

In 1857, Judge Ohrt opened a real-estate and general agency office, and was doing a lucrative business when his popularity and acknowledged ability and influence made him a candidate for the office of County Judge. He was elected to that office in 1861, and was re-elected in 1863. In 1866 he again embarked in real-estate business, and two years later was admitted to the bar to practice in all courts of the State. He was one of the original members of the Turner Society of Burlington and President of the same for many years. Judge Ohrt is a liberal-spirited man, and has always worked for the best interests of the city and community in which he resides.

In March, 1860, Judge Ohrt was joined in wedlock with Miss M. M. Bornholdt, who was born in Germany in 1831. By this union there is one son, J. J. Ohrt, a wood and coal dealer of Burlington, who married Emily Thompson, of Toronto, Canada. Three children bless their union: Herbert, Jacob B. and Norman.

Anderson Orchard, Prominent among the farmers of Washington Township, Des Moines Co., Iowa, is the subject of this sketch, who is a pioneer of 1853. He was formally a farmer of Brown County, Ill., and was born in Madison County, Ky., in 1821. His parents, John and Annie Orchard, were also natives of that State and of Scotch-Irish origin. The father was a soldier in the War of 1812, was a farmer by occupation, and removed to Brown County, Ill., at an early day, when our subject was but ten years old. In that county he engaged in farming until his death, which occurred about the year 1848. The mother died some years since. Our subject was united in marriage in Brown County, Ill., with Caroline Emeick, a daughter of John and Rebecca Emeick, both of whom were natives of Kentucky and pioneers of Brown County. In the year 1853 Mr. Orchard came to Des Moines County, Iowa, and purchased 160 acres of land on section 29, Washington Township, which he has greatly improved. He has subsequently added forty acres to his original purchase, making a most valuable farm of 200 acres, which is all under a high state of cultivation and is a model of neatness. The stock on the farm is well graded and thoroughbred, and he recently bought a fine Clyde horse for which he paid $1,000.

Mr. Orchard and his wife are members of the Christian Church, in which he has held the office of Deacon. He affiliates with the Democratic party, has served as Township Trustee and has held other township offices. On Mr. and Mrs. Orchard, Providence has certainly smiled very graciously, having given them a family of fourteen children, five sons and nine daughters, all of whom are living and are a credit to their parents. The first if Columbia J., who became the wife of John S. Conklin; Josephine, who became the wife of Camilles Burnett; John E. married Belle Miller, but after a short married life of two yers her death occurred, and he was united in marriage with Mollie Deter; Robert became the husband of Belle Childs; Mary, wife of Robert Oberman; Joseph, who married Levina Williams; Lucinda, wife of William Patlock; Augusta, who wedded Henry Elliott; Frank, who married Belle Phillips; Ella, who married Charles James; Belle, Lydia, Hugh and Edith, at home. This family record we predict can not be equaled in the State of Iowa. A resident of Des Moines County for almost a half-century, Mr. Orchard has been an eye-witness of the vast changes that have been made, and not only that, but he has been an active participant in the various movements resulting in the change from a wilderness to one of the most productive, and the most enlightened State in the Union. All honor to him and to his amiable wife for the toils and sacrifices necessary to bring all this about.

George Orm, a pioneer of Iowa, was born in Athens County, Ohio, Jan. 22, 1829, and in 1849 with his parents, Aaron and Elanor Orm, came to Lee County, Iowa, where he grew to manhood, receiving a liberal education in the public schools, which was supplemented by a partial course at Des Moines College, thus preparing him for teaching, which profession he followed for thirteen consecutive winters, working at brick-laying during the summer, and which he afterward followed for a livelihood. In Ft. Madison, Keokuk and Burlington Mr. Orm's work may be seen, he having erected some of the finest buildings in those cities, thoroughly understanding his trade, and being an excellent mechanic. He was book-keeper and clerk in Webster Bros.' book and music store in Ft. Madison from 1861 to 1864, subsequent to his removal to Burlington. In 1853 Mr. Orm was joined in wedlock with Miss Sarah Jane Morgan, a daughter of Thomas and Julia A. (Percell) Morgan, who settled in what is now Lee County, in 1839, crossing the Mississippi River at Ft. Madison in an old flatboat. The country was one vast wilderness, bands of Indians roamed over the prairies, deer and all kinds of wild game were plentiful, though money was hard to get, and when a letter was received from the East with twenty-five cents charges due, it was sometimes weeks before the money could be raised to pay the same. There was not much lumber and Mr. Morgan built a small log house, in which they lived for months without a floor. The nearest mill was thirty miles away, and he was obliged to take his grist on horseback, sometimes being gone for two or three days, and on one occasion, the corn had to be grated with which to make mush or johnny-cake for the family.

Mr. and Mrs. Orm are the parents of three children: Laura J., wife of James C. Smith, a merchant of Burlington; Georgia A., wife of J. C. Calkins, the editor of the Burlington Hawkeye; and Audubon, a salesman of the Guest music-store of Burlington, and a graduate of Elliott's Business College. Politically Mr. Orm is a Republican, and in 1876, was selected as Alderman of the Fourth Ward of Burlington. He is a member of the A. O. U. W., Orchard City Lodge, No. 27.

Commencing at the lowest round of the ladder of life Mr. Orm, by industry and economy, has worked his way up and secured a comfortable competence, also owning a fine home in the city of Burlington. Mr. Orm and his are both members of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of this city. He has a relic of Old Zion Church, which was built in 1838, being a bible-stand made from the oak timbers of the building, which was placed there over fifty years ago, and was secured by him when the building was taken down to make room for the new Opera House in Burlington.

William Orndorff, a prominent and influential citizen of Mediapolis, Iowa, born August 15, 1819, seven miles east of Gettysburg, Pa., and is a son of Jacob and Catherine (Orndorff) Orndorff, who were distant relatives, the father born near Frederick, Md., the mother near Lebanon, Pa.  The family of Orndorff was founded in America in 1726 by three brothers, natives of Germany, one of whom settled in New York in the Mohawk Valley, another in Kentucky, and the third in Virginia, the latter founding the line of which our subject is a descendant.  The paternal grandfather, Peter Orndorff, lived in Virginia, but Jacob Orndorff, the father, was reared in Maryland upon a farm and emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1819.  He married Catherine Orndorff, and they reared a fine family of seven children: William, our subject; Isabella, widow of David Martin of Adams County, Pa., now residing in Mediapolis; Angelina became the wife of John Snyder, and died in Pennsylvania in 1876; Catherine and Caroline are twins--the former became the wife of Leonard McElviegh of York Springs, Adams County, Pa., and Caroline wedded Joseph Ross of the same city; Maria, widow of Jacob Wireman, resides in Burlington; and Franklin M., whose home is in Mediapolis.  Mr. and Mrs. Orndorff were both members of the Catholic Church.  The father died in 1868 at Burlington, the mother being called to her final home one year later.  Mr. Orndorff, who was a man of fine business ability, engaged in shipping stock from 1827 until 1858, and he was one of the leading men of the community where he resided, taking an active part in public affairs. While our subject was an infant his parents removed to near Oxford, Pa., where they resided for four years.  They subsequently made their home in Stone Jug, Adams Co., Pa., where on the 19th of October, 1841, William Orndorff was united in marriage with Mary Ann Sadler, a native of that county, and a daughter of William Sadler, a prominent farmer and also a manufacturer of saddles and hats.  After his marriage, Mr. Orndorff engaged in the stock business for seven years in his native county, when he removed to York County, Pa., continuing in the same occupation, and four years later removed to Baltimore City, Md., engaging for two years in the shipping of horses to Philadelphia.  Mr. Orndorff next took up his residence in the latter city, purchasing the Rising Sun Hotel, which he operated for some time, and then built a race track at that place.  Once more returning to Baltimore, he there remained until 1856, when he emigrated to Des Moines County, Iowa, renting the farm of R. D. Poole, in Benton Township for four years, and at the expiration of that time purchased 160 acres of land near Franklin Mills, residing upon that land until February, 1885, when he moved to Mediapolis.  Mr. Orndorff added to his possessions from time to time until he owned 1,027 acres of land.  In 1857 he was renting land, and in that year borrowed $150 of R. D. Poole, with which he began the stock business, his first shipment to Chicago being a car load of sheep.  He has continued that business to the present time, gradually increasing his trade, until he is now the largest stock-dealer in the State of Iowa.  In 1864 Mr. Orndorff shipped forty-two car loads of hogs and had nine car loads left in the yards at Burlington.  On the 17th of December of that year, he sold hogs worth $31,936 to A. E. Kent of Chicago, and in seven days sold stock amounting to $71,107.67.  In eight months of that year he received for stock over $400,000, which he deposited in the State National Bank at Burlington. Mr. Orndorff was also engaged for a few months in the commission business at Chicago with R. F. Hosford, formerly general freight agent of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, at Burlington, Iowa.  In 1867 he also engaged in the same business with A. F. Fassett of Baltimore, then owner of the famous trotter "Dexter," continuing in partnership for one year, when they took in two other partners, a Mr. Allen and Norman B. Ream, now a millionaire of Chicago.  Throughout his business career, Mr. Orndorff has been very successful.  In 1872 he shipped 5,800 head of cattle, and now and for several years past has been engaged in shipping horses to Boston and Northern markets.

Four children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Orndorff:  William H., who was born in 1844, died July 1, 1881, the day before President Garfield was shot; Sabina C., wife of John Ballard, a leading farmer of Franklin Township, Des Moines County; Lydia C., died at the age of sixteen years; and John S. died in Baltimore at the age of seven years.  The mother of these children has been a devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal Church since childhood. Politically, Mr. Orndorff is a Democrat, and socially he is a member of the I. O. O. F.  On coming to this county he was without money, but by business ability, integrity, energy and enterprise, he has gained considerable property, and had never had a note protested nor a check dishonored.  He enjoys the respect of the people of the county, and is one of its influential citizens, well worthy of mention in this record of its best element.

JasonA. Ostrander, Auditor of the Burlington & Northwestern and the Burlington & Western Railway Companies, with headquarters at Burlington, Iowa, was born at Saratoga Springs, N. Y., Sept. 16, 1829, and is a son of Shelemiah R. and Mary (Andrus) Ostrander.  The father was born in the same county, Jan. 1, 1803, of Holland descent, the family being among the early settlers of New York, while his mother, who was born in Saratoga, Jan. 1, 1806, was of Puritan ancestry.  Our subject received his education in his native city and at Poultney, Vt., graduating from the Poultney Institute in the class of '46.  He was employed as civil engineer on the Saratoga & Washington Railroad for about two years, and from there went to Ohio, where he was employed in the engineering department of the Little Miami Railroad. During the late war Mr. Ostrander was engaged in the United States Military Railway service, located at Columbus, Ky., and Nashville, Tenn., remaining at the latter city until 1866, when he was mustered out of the United States service.  The succeeding two years he was employed at Sandusky, Ohio, as General Ticket Agent on the Cleveland, Sandusky & Cincinnati Railroad; in 1869 and 1870, he was employed as Auditor and General Ticket Agent for the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Missouri River Railroad, now known at the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railroad; the next year he secured the position of Auditor and General Freight and Ticket Agent on the Burlington & Southwestern Railroad, remaining in that employ until 1882, when he accepted the position which he now holds.

On the 26th of April, 1853, Mr. Ostrander and Miss Julia A. Berry, daughter of James Berry, were united in marriage at Springfield, Ohio, her native city.  Socially, Mr. Ostrander is a member of Clarke Lodge, No. 101, A. F. & A. M., of Springfield, Ohio, and also of Chapter No. 98, R. A. M.  Since 1869 he and his estimable wife have made their home at Burlington; where they have a large circle of warm friends.  Mr. Ostrander has the entire confidence of the company with which he is engaged, and is one of its efficient officers.

J. Otten, a prominent citizen and shoemaker of Burlington, Iowa, was born near Bremen, Germany, May 28, 1821, his parents being Claus and Adeline Otten.  Throughout his life Claus Otten was a farmer, and in 1838, bidding good-bye to his friends and fatherland, emigrated to America, taking up his residence in Marietta, Washington Co., Ohio, that city so noted as a dwelling place of the Mound Builders.  Purchasing a farm in that county, he resided upon his land until his removal to the city, after which he lived a retired life.  After many years of usefulness he was summoned to his final home, his death occurring in 1861 at the age of seventy-eight.  His wife survived him for a few years when she was called to her final home, having attained a ripe old age.  He and his wife were both members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, always taking an active interest in the Church work and laboring zealously in the Master's cause.  Upright in purpose, outspoken in what he thought to be right, Mr. Otten was always ready to aid in the advancement of any enterprise for the public good.  Four children graced the union of this worthy couple, all of whom are now living--Anna, wife of Peter Wilkins, who is residing in New Auburn; Jacob, a retired farmer of Henderson, Minn.; our subject, third in order of birth; Druselle, wife of John Clintworth, residing in Marietta, Ohio.

Remaining on the farm until attaining his seventeenth year, John then went to Marietta, Ohio, where he learned the shoemaker's trade, serving an apprenticeship of four years.  Having now attained his majority, in 1843 he decided to go West, and acting upon this determination took up his residence in Burlington, being employed as a journeyman for a time, then beginning business for himself.  He embarked in the grocery business, the store being situated on Jefferson street, and after three years, in 1860, he started overland to Colorado, remaining there engaged in mining about six months, being reasonably successful.  Leaving the mines he again returned to Burlington, resuming the shoemaker's trade, which he has continued since 1868.

On the 27th of April, 1847, John Otten was united in marriage with Elizabeth Marlow, a widow, a native of Indiana, and a daughter of Burnett Portlock.  By their union three children have been born, and the dread destroyer, death, has ever passed by their home, leaving the family circle unbroken.  The children are Mary, wife of G. V. Markham, a resident of Burlington; John C., a locomotive engineer, located at Galesburg, Ill.; and Hattie A., an artist of considerable talent, her drawings and oil paintings receiving much commendation.  She resides with her parents, at 202 Vine street.

Mr. and Mrs. Otten are both members of the Baptist Church, and since 1857 have been earnest workers in their Master's cause.  Socially he is a member of Washington Lodge, I. O. O. F., No. 1, it being the first lodge organized in the State, the date of its organization being April 26, 1844.  Mr. Otten is the oldest initiated member of the lodge residing in Burlington, and was a delegate to the Grand Lodge, at Bloomington, when it was organized.  He is also a charter member of Eureka Camp, No. 2, which was the second camp in the State, and has held all the offices in the subordinate lodge and in the camp.  Politically he affiliates with the Democratic party.