Mr Richard Otter

Richard Otter

Mr Richard Otter was born in Portland, Dorset, England on 23 May 1873, later being baptised on 20 July 1873.1

He was the son of William Henry Otter (1831-1909), a quarryman, and Mary Ellen White (1832-1888), both Portland natives who were married on 15 November 1851.

He had seven known siblings: Robert Flew White (1852-1937), Elizabeth Scriven Flew (1854-1864), William Henry (1856-1857), Rebecca Fall (1859-1940, later Mrs Levi Green), William Henry (1863-1921), Elizabeth White (1866-1943) and John (1869-1869).

Richard first appears on the 1881 census with his family and was residing in the village of Southwell. His mother died before the close of the decade on 27 February 1888; two years later Richard emigrated, setting foot on American soil on 23 April 1890. His sister Elizabeth had been living in Cleveland, Ohio since 1885 (2).

By 1891 his widowed father was living alone at house 41 in Southwell. He later resided  at 1 Avalanche Road, Southwell and died there on 2 January 1909.

Richard, a stone cutter by trade, settled in Cleveland, Ohio where he worked in the Berea quarries. He became a naturalised US citizen on 8 March 1898 and that same year, on 22 September, he was married to Catherine "Kate" Rauch (b. 24 September 1877), a native of Middleburg, Ohio and the daughter of German migrants. Their son Clarence Richard was born on 17 July 1899.

The family are shown on the 1900 census as resident of 125 Berea Street in Middleburg and on the 1910 census at 62 Stroud Road. Otter was described as a quarry foreman on the latter record.

As work in the Berea quarries was seasonal, Otter returned to England with his sister and brother-in-law in early 1912 to visit family, having crossed on St Louis and arriving in Southampton on 25 February, Richard's first time in England for ten years. Whilst in England he received word that the quarries would soon be opening and so he booked return passage on the Titanic. Because of the cost of the trip Elizabeth and William remained in England and Richard travelled alone. He boarded Titanic at Southampton as a second class passenger (ticket number 28213 which cost £13).

Richard Otter perished in the disaster and his body, if recovered, was never identified. He is mentioned on the family gravestone in St. George's Cemetery, Portland, Dorset.

His sister and brother-in-law would eventually make their way home to the USA in July 1912, travelling aboard Olympic.

Image
(Courtesy of Mark Housby, UK)

IN AFFECTIONATE MEMORY OF
MARY
THE BELOVED WIFE OF WILLIAM H. OTTER
WHO DIED FEBRY 27TH 1888 AGED 55 YEARS.
ALSO OF THE ABOVE
WILLIAM H. OTTER
BORN DEC 29 1831 — DIED JAN 2 1909
ALSO RICHARD SON OF THE ABOVE WHO WAS LOST ON THE TITANIC APRIL 15 1912 AGED 39 YEARS.
GOD BE WITH US TILL WE MEET AGAIN.
ALSO 3 CHILDREN OF THE ABOVE WHO DIED...

In a newspaper story published days after the disaster, Kate Otter said she "was glad her husband had gone down with the Titanic if it meant another woman or child saved." "I have lost him," she said as the tears welled, "but I am glad that if he had to die he died a hero." Kate told the story that Richard would often sing a song about a man who went out to sea and was never seen again.

Mrs Otter filed an insurance claim (#20) for loss of life to the value of $10,000 and received financial relief from the American Red Cross.

Case number 361. (English).
The husband was drowned. He was a stone cutter, 39 years of age, and had lived in this country for 22 years. His wife 34 years of age, has a son of 13. He had gone to England to visit relatives, using all of his savings for the trip and left his family destitute, except for $1,000 life insurance. The widow is a partial invalid, and never will be able to earn her own living. The boy is in good health and promising. The husband had two brothers and sisters in England, but all have large families to support and cannot assist. From other American relief funds she has received $1,152.46. ($1,500).

His widow Kate later lived at West 101st Street in Cleveland for many years, working as a housekeeper in the home of Dr. Louis G. Knowlton at the Southeast corner of Church and Seminary Streets (now the site of the Berea Post Office). She never remarried and died 26 January 1972 aged 94, outliving her son by over a decade. She is buried with her son in Holy Cross Cemetery in Brook Park, Ohio.

Clarence, their son, later apprenticed as a repairman in the Carbo Hydrogen Co. in Bayonne, New Jersey and by 1917 was a resident of 112 Broadway in that city. He later worked as a foreman in a rubber company before running his own cement business. He was married on 31 March 1924 to Ruby K. Walden (1902-1995), also of Ohio, and they had two children. Their first-born, a son was named after his lost grandfather, Richard Albert (b. 1925) and they would also have a daughter named Ruby (b. 1927, later Mrs Robert Peters). Clarence and Ruby later divorced. He died on 5 July 1960, just shy of his 61st birthday. His son Richard died on 26 January 2013 and his daughter Ruby on 23 January 2004, both in the Cleveland area.

Notes

  1. Birth date often confused with baptism date.
  2. Elizabeth (b. 4 February 1866) was married to William Herbert Otter (1862-1924) an engineer and also a native of Dorset, possibly a cousin. They had a son named William Herbert (1898-1997). Elizabeth lived out her life in Rocky River, Cuyahoga, Ohio and died on 30 October 1943.
 

Articles and Stories

Cleveland Plain Dealer (1912) 
Cleveland Plain Dealer (1912) 
 

Comment and discuss

  1. ian Hough said:

    I'm trying to find information about a second-class passenger called Richard Otter, who went down with the Titanic, who was born on Portland, Dorset, in 1873 but emigrated to America in 1889. His occupation in the the 1881 census was a quarryman. He had a brother and a sister, William and Elizabeth. In 1912 he went back to America as he heard a new job opening was over there, but his brother and sister stayed on Portland, do you know anything about what happened to them? Did they stay on Portland? And did they have any children? Thanks a lot, Jessica (no this is not my new name... Read full post

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    Phillip Gowan said:

    Ian, Richard Otter's wife Kate lived to be in her 90's and there are living descendants here in the United States--don't know about family of the siblings however. Phil

  3. Jessica Jackson said:

    Hi Phil, thanx a lot for your post (houghie posted that for me, thanx houghie!) I might start researching about Kate and his son after I've figured out about his family over here in uk, so thank you, you've inspired me! Jess

  4. Jessica Jackson said:

    Also, I forgot to post this bit: does anyone know how I could get hold of a (probably) old book called 'A Southwell Maid's Diary' written by his sister, Elizabeth and also, nothing to do with Richard otter, but 'The War On Hospital Ships' - don't know who that's by, but I saw an unexpected film about the Britannic on telly the other day! Thanks again! Jess

  5. Trent Pheifer said:

    Hey Jessica, For some time Richard lived here in Ohio. Some of his relatives still live here in Ohio. I met, I believe it was his grandson. Who gave a speech about Richard that I attended, it was very interesting. I can see if my friend can put you in contact with him. He was really nice. -Trent

  6. Bob Godfrey said:

    Jessica, it's your lucky day:

  7. Jessica Jackson said:

    Hi Trent and Bob, thank you very much. Bob, I read through most of the e-mail you sent me, thanks a lot, it was really interesting. And Trent, what did he say in his speech? Thanks to you both! Jessica

  8. Bob Godfrey said:

    I didn't send an email, Jessica, but if you mean the link to Mark Godden's 'Southwell Maid' transcription you're very welcome (and all credit to Mark!)

  9. Jessica Jackson said:

    Whoops! Sorry! Thanx Mark! Jessica

  10. Laura Wilkinson said:

    Hi everyone, I'm pretty new to this, but I'm interested in 'The Southwell Maid's Diary' and I've read it, but I'd like to know if any of you have any more information about Richard Otter or his family? In The Southwell Maid's Diary (S.W.M.D.) it has no mention of Richard, why is that? And is there anything else known about the Royal Adelaide and The S.S.Bournemouth? I have asked lots of the locals but they don't know that much about them. (bit before their time, I know!) How's your research going Jessica? Found any more out? Loz

  11. Bob Godfrey said:

    Hi, Laura. Good coverage of the Royal Adelaide wreck here:

  12. Laura Wilkinson said:

    Thanks Bob, very interesting!

  13. Laura Wilkinson said:

    Just found out that there's coverage of the Bournemouth aswell, along with loads of other shipwrecks, (I hadn't noticed the arrows at the bottom of the screen!) some stories which I think are quite sad really! So thanks again Bob. Loz

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Credits

Gavin Bell, UK
Robert L. Bracken
Mark Housby
Charles M. Otter (Great-grandson)
Danny Rigby
Homer Thiel
Brian J. Ticehurst

References and Sources

Cleveland Plain Dealer (Ohio), 18, 19, 20 April 1912
American Red Cross (1913) Emergency and Relief Booklet (#361)
Sun Newspapers, 26 March 1998
The Free Portland News (Portland, Dorset), April 1998, Letter
Search archive British newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2017) Richard Otter (ref: #530, last updated: 10th August 2017, accessed 5th June 2020 13:42:21 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/richard-otter.html