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Sketch of Benedict Otteni
1793 - 1858

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Benedict Otteni, the progenitor of most OATNEY and OTNEY family members in the United States today, was born in Urloffen, Germany on 19 March 1793. Although the actual ship passenger list has not yet been located, per German records, he immigrated to the U.S. in 1831.

These dates are used because of the different birthplaces for two of Benedict's children. Emily Otney Schefler is listed in German church records as being born on 9 January 1831 in Urloffen, Germany. Benedict's son, John Oatney, is listed in the 1850 U.S. Census as being born in Ohio on 10 Oct 1833.

Benedict most likely sailed to the United States with his family including his wife, Christina Hauser. She and Benedict are listed in the German records as being married on 30 Aug 1813 in Urloffen, Germany. Christina also appears in the 1850 U.S. Census as Benedict's wife.

Neither Benedict's nor Christina's parents came to America. Christina's father, Joseph Hauser died in Fautenbach, Germany on 22 Jan 1826, five years before they left. Her mother, Franziska Glaser, died 14 years later on 26 Sep 1840 also in Fautenbach. Benedict's mother, Magdalena König, Magdalena" died 25 Oct 1835 and his father, Andreas Otteni, died on 14 Dec 1835. Both are buried at Urloffen, Germany.

There had been some confusion as to the exact origin of Benedict because of the varied entries on the U.S. Census records. For instance, on the 1870 U.S. Census, Emily lists her birthplace as Prussia. At this time in history, Prussia was the largest state in Germany and was just North of the state of Baden where Urloffen is located.

To add to the confusion, according to the 1958 Thimmes family history of the descendants of Louisa Oatney Thimmes (another sister of Emily), states that Benedict came from Alsace-Lorraine. In the 1830's, this area belonged to France but was ceded by France to the German Empire in 1871. Alsace-Lorraine lies on Baden's western border and on Prussia's southern border.

Besides the German records, Benedict's origin is also stated on the naturalization records of Fairfield County. On 18 Sep 1840, "Benedict Ottine" was naturalized a U.S. citizen. The recorded document shows Benedict emigrated from the "Dukedom of Baden". Even today, there are families bearing the last name of "Otteni" living in Urloffen, Germany.

Why did Benedict immigrate to America? It is difficult to know exactly why, but according to one source, many people left Germany during the 1830-1840 time period because of "over-production, overpopulation, unavailability of land, and the fact that mass-production had replaced the artisan worker." Since this was a period of prosperity in America, "the Jacksonian democracy provided what many Germans had been striving for in vain. Many Germans leaving at this time...settled extensively in the areas of Ohio, Indiana, and Missouri."

 

Benedict's Family Members

Once in America, Benedict and his family settled in Fairfield County, Ohio. According to the 1840 U.S. Census, the family resided in Greenfield Township and worked in agriculture. This census listed six males living in the household. Names were not required for this census, but a breakdown by age was given. Information from the 1840 census plus information from later documents can deduce a probable name of most household members. Those listed were: 

 

AGE

NUMBER OF MALES

PROBABLE NAME

BIRTH

5 - 9

1

John (6)

1833

10 - 14

2

Andrew (13)
?

1827

15 - 19

1

Joseph (15)

1825

30 - 39

1

?

?

40 - 49

1

Benedict (47)

1793

Also listed were six females living in the household.  Again, age was the only breakdown and names are based on later documents. Those listed were:

AGE

NUMBER OF FEMALES

PROBABLE NAME

BIRTH

Under 5

1

Louisa (4)

1836

5 - 9

1

Emily (9)

1831

15 - 19

2

Nancy (18)
Theresa (19)

1822
1820

20 - 29

1

Magdalena (20)

1819

30 - 39

1

Christina?

?

According to the 1850 U.S. Census, the family had moved to Pleasant Township in Fairfield County, Ohio where Benedict engaged in farming. This census listed family members by name. They were:

NAME

AGE LISTED

Benedict

60

Christina

60

Andrew

23

Emily

19

John

16

Louisa

14

Combining all researched information, Benedict and Christina reared eleven children. There were:

NAME

BIRTH - DEATH DATES

Maria Elizabeth Otteni (Walt) 19 Mar 1815 

?

Franziska "Frances" Otteni (Welker) 27 Oct 1816

?

Maria Magdalena Otteni (Stortz)   8 Mar 1819 

?

Theresia "Teresa" Otteni (Flemm) 11 Nov 1820  May 1895
Cresentia "Nancy" Otteni (Wald) 29 May 1822  21 Apr 1864
Josef "Joseph" Oatney 28 Nov 1825  2 Mar 1897
Andreas "Andrew" Otteni    23 Jul 1827-

1850

Moritz Otteni  5 Sep 1829

23 Apr 1831

Maria Emily Oatney (Schefler)     9 Jan 1831 20 Apr 1912
John Oatney 10 Oct 1833

15 Mar 1897

Louisa Oatney (Thimmes) 11 Mar 1836?-

  3 Mar 1911

 

Benedict's Land Holdings

According to recorded land transactions of Fairfield County, Benedict owned two parcels of land in Fairfield County, Ohio. The first tract was 154 acres located in Berne Township. The second tract consisted of 81 acres located in Pleasant Township.

Benedict bought the 154 acre tract of land on 28 March 1842. This land is described as the southeast quarter of Section 9, Township 14, Range 18. This land lies between Duffy Road and Bauman Hill Road. Pleasant Run, a north-south creek, runs through the western portion of this quarter of a square mile section.

Benedict and Christina purchased this land from Samuel King for $1500.00, about $9.74 an acre. The following recorded information describes this transaction. (Original spellings are used and placement is approximate to the original, even though written in long hand.)

 

Saml King & wife         This Indenture made this twenty eighth day of March
            to                        in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred
Benedict Otney            and forty two between Samuel King & Magdalene                                         King his wife of the County of Fairfield and State of Ohio of the one part and Benedict Otney of the County of Fairfield and State of Ohio of the other part witnesseth that the said Samuel King & Magdalene his wife for and in consideration of the sum of Fifteen Hundred dollars to them in hand paid the receipt whereof they do hereby acknowledge and forever acquit and discharge the said Benedict Otney his heirs executors and administrators have granted bargained sold aliened and confirmed and by these presents do grant bargain sell alien express convey and confirm unto the said Benedict Otney his heirs and assigns forever all that tract or parcel of land lying and being in the County of Fairfield and State of Ohio and known and distinguished by being the South East Quarter of Section No. (9) of Township No. (14) in Range No. (18) of United States lands directed to be sold at Chillicothe Ohio. Containing one hundred and fifty four acres be the same more or less - Together with all the improvements and appurtenances whatsoever to the same belonging or in any wise apportaining and the reversions remainders and profits thereof and all the estate right title interest profits claim and demand of them the said Samuel King & Magdalene his wife of in and to the same: To have and to hold the lands hereby conveyed with all and singular the premises and every part and parcel thereof with and of the appurtenances unto the said Benedict Otney his heirs and assigns forever. And the said Samuel King & Magdalene his wife and their heirs and all the premises hereby bargained and sold with the appurtenances unto the said Benedict Otney his heirs and assigns against them the said Samuel King & Magdalene his wife and their heirs and all and every person or persons whomsoever do and will warrant and forever defend by these presents. In testimony whereof we the said Samuel King & Magdalene King have hereunto set our hands and seals the day and year first above written - -

Signed sealed and delivered in the presence of
us John C. Rainey L A Blair

                                                                         (signed) Samuel King


                                                                                                            her
                                                                         (signed) Magdalene X King
                                                                                                          mark

Purchase of 154 Acres for $1500 in 1842

In order to purchase this 154 acre tract, Benedict and Christina used a time payment plan to repay Samuel King. This promissory note, or land contract as it might be called today, was also recorded in Fairfield County.

Benedict only mortgaged $1000.00 of the purchase price, most likely having a $500.00 down payment. As can be seen in the following, Benedict's note called for 4 payments, one of $500.00 and 3 of $166.66. The following recorded information describes the mortgage transaction. (Original spellings are used and placement is approximate to the original even though written in long hand)

 

Benedict Otney & wife                Know all men by these presents that we
              to                                     Benedict Otney & Christina Otney wife of
Samuel King        Mort.               the said Benedict Otney of the County of
                                                     Fairfield Ohio in consideration of the sum of one thousand dollars in hand paid by Samuel King of the same place have bargained and sold and do hereby grant bargain sell and convey unto the said Samuel King his heirs and assigns forever the following premises situate in the County of Fairfield & State of Ohio and is known and distinguished by being the South East quarter of Section No. Nine (9) of Township No. Fourteen (14) in Range No. Eighteen (18) of United States lands directed to be sold at Chillicothe Ohio containing One hundred and fifty four acres be the same more or less. To have and to hold said premises with the appurtenances unto the said Samuel King his heirs and assigns forever. Provided always and these presents are upon this express condition that whereas said Benedict Otney hath executed to said Saml King his promisory note of even date herewith for the payment of the following sums of money at the times following. Five hundred dollars on the first day of August AD 1842-and one hundred & sixty six dollars & sixty six cents on the first day of April A.D. 1843 - one hundred & sixty six dollars and sixty six cents on the first day of April A.D. 1844 - and one hundred and sixty six dollars and sixty six cents on the 1st day of April A.D. 1845. Now if the said Benedict Otney shall pay said several sums of money to said Samuel King or his assigns when the same respectively become due then these presents to be void otherwise to be and remain in force. In testimony whereof the said Benedict Otney & Christina Otney have hereunto set their hands and seals this 28th day March A.D. 1842

Executed in presence of
John C. Rainey LA Blair

                                                          (signed) Benedict Otteni

                                                          (signed) Christina Otteni

 

Mortgage on 154 Acres for $1000 in 1842

Twice, Benedict used his land as collateral other for loans.  The first occurred on 24 April 1846 when Benedict signed a one year promissory note to Margaret and Drusilla Oswalt, for $204.00.   The second time was to Francis Lam on 15 February 1847 for $400.00. This note extended for four years with four equal $100.00 payments due each February 15.  The following information describes the first recorded note. (Original spellings are used and placement is approximate to the original even though written in long hand)

 

  

        Benedict Otney             Know all men by these presents that I
               to        Mort.             Benedict Otney of the County of Fairfield in
        M. & D. Oswalt              the State of Ohio in consideration of the sum
                                                of two hundred and four dollars in hand paid by
Margaret Oswalt and Drusilla Oswalt of the County of State aforesaid have bargained and sold and do hereby grant bargain sell and convey unto the said Margaret Oswalt and Drusilla Oswalt their heirs and assigns forever the following premises situate in the County of Fairfield in the State of Ohio and is known and distinguished by being the South East Quarter of Section No. nine (9) in Township No. fourteen (14) of Range No. Eighteen (18) of United States Lands directed to be sold at Chillicothe Ohio containing One hundred & fifty four acres by the same more or less. To have and to hold said premises with the appurtenances unto the said Margaret Oswalt and Drusilla Oswalt their heirs and assigns forever. Provided always and these presents are upon this condition that whereas the said Benedict Otney hath executed to said Margaret Oswalt and Drusilla Oswalt his certain promissory note of even date herewith for the payment of the sum of two hundred and four dollars, one year after the date hereof and with interest from date. Now if the said Benedict Otney shall pay paid sum of money to said Margaret Oswalt and Drusilla Oswalt or their assigns when the same becomes due as aforesaid, with the interest then these presents to be void, otherwise to remain in full force and virtue in law. In testimony whereof the said Benedict Otney hath hereunto set his hand and seal this twenty forth day of April Eighteen hundred and forty six -

                                          (signed) Benedict Ottney

Signed sealed and acknowledged in the presence
of us - (signed) Henry Oswalt Geo Sanderson

 

Mortgage on 154 Acres for $204

This mortgage was recorded as canceled on 7 May 1850. This is the same day Benedict accepted a mortgage from Magdalena Hebshier for $350.00 on the 154 acres he sold to her on 4 May 1850. The mortgage to Francis Lam was recorded canceled two days later on 9 May 1850, 9 months before the final payment was due.

Benedict and Christina sold their 154 acre tract eight years after purchase on 4 May 1850 to Magdalene Hibshere (var. Hibsheir) for $1700.00. Benedict accepted a promissory note form Magdalene Hibshere for $350.00. This note used the 154 acres as collateral and was to be paid in two equal installments over a two year period.

At this time, Benedict and Christina most likely moved to Pleasant Township since the 1850 U.S. Census listed their residence there. No records have been found to pinpoint where they resided until 11 February 1854. At this time, Benedict bought 81 acres in Berne township from Henry and Mary Helmsink (var. Helmsing) for $700.00.

This tract lies approximately 3 miles southwest of Benedict's 154 acre tract. The official designation for these 81 acres is the northwest quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 30 in Township number 14. The tract lies in Berne Township on either side of Tarkiln Road about a mile northeast of Blue Valley Road, also known as Ohio Route 67. The land can be better recognized as lying one and half miles east of the Fairfield School for Boys, now known as Southeastern Training Center which is located in the southeastern part of Hocking Township at 5000 BIS Road.

The following recorded information depicts this land transaction. (Original spellings are used and placement is approximate to the original even though written in long hand)

 

Henry Helmsink                  Know all men that we Henry Helmsink and Mary
    & wife to                          Helmsink wife of the said Henry Helmsink of the
Benedict Ottney                 County of Fairfield in the state of Ohio in con-
                                             sideration of the sum of Seven hundred Dollars to us in hand paid by Benedict Ottney of the County of Fairfield in the state of Ohio the receipt whereof we do hereby acknowledge have bargained and sold and do by these presents grant bargain sell and convey unto him the said Benedict Ottney his heirs and assigns forever the following premises situated in the County of Fairfield in the State of Ohio and in Berne Township and bounded and described as follows. Being the North West quarter of the South East quarter and, also the North East quarter of the South West quarter of section Number thirty (30) in Township Number fourteen (14) of Range Number Eighteen in the Chillicothe District containing together Eighty one acres and six hundreds of an acre be the same more or less. To have and to hold Said premises together with the improvements and appurtenances hereunto belonging or in anywise appertaining unto the said Bendict Ottney his heirs and assigns forever. And the said Henry Helmsink for himself and his heirs doth hereby covenant with the said Benedict Ottney his heirs and assigns that he is lawfully seized of the premises aforesaid that the premises are free and clear form all incumbrances whatsoever that he has good right and lawful authority to sell and convey the same in manner and for in aforesaid; and further that he the said Henry Helmsink his heirs executors and administrators will well and truly warrant and forever defend the premises hereby granted with the appurtenances unto the said Benedict Ottney his heirs and assigns against the lawful claims of all persons whomsoever. In testimony whereof the said Henry Helmsink and Mary Helmsink have hereunto set their hands and seals this Eleventh day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty four -

Signed sealed and acknowledged in the presence of us

(signed Mathias Thimmes                           (signed) Henry Helmsing
(signed) G Steinman                                    (signed) Mary Helmsing

 

Purchase of 81 Acres for $700 in 1854

It is interesting that Christina's name does not appear on this document. It is also interesting to note that no promissory notes were recorded by Benedict using this land as collateral.

On 11 Jan 1858, seven months before he died, Benedict sold his 81 acres. John Ritter purchased the land for the same amount that Benedict paid for it, $700.00. The following recorded information denotes this transaction. Note the spelling of Benedict's name is "Ottne". (Original spellings are used and placement is approximate to the original even though written in long hand)

 

      Benedict Ottne        Know all men by these presents that I Benedict Ottne
      to John Ritter           of the County of Fairfield in the State of Ohio in
                                      consideration of the sum of Seven hundred dollars to me paid by John Ritter of the County and State aforesaid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged do hereby grant bargain Sell and Convey to the said John Ritter his heirs and assigns forever the following premises situate in the County of Fairfield in the State of Ohio and known and distinguished by being the North West quarter of the South East quarter and also the North East quarter of the South West quarter of Section No. thirty (30) in Township No. fourteen (14) of Range No. Eighteen (18) in the Chillicothe District containing together Eighty one acres and sixty hundredths of an acre be the same more or less. And all the estate title and interest of the said Benedict Ottne either in law or in equity of in and to the said premises together with all the privileges and appurtenances to the same belonging. To have and to hold the same to the only proper use of the said John Ritter his heirs and assigns forever and the said Benedict Ottne for himself & his heirs executors and administrators does hereby convenant with the said John Ritter his heirs and assignes that his is the true and lawful owner of the said premises and has full power to convey the same and that the title to conveyed is clear free and unencumbered. And further that he will warrant and defend the same against all claim or claims of all persons whatsoever. In witness whereof the said Benedict Ottne has hereunto set his hand and seal on this eleventh day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and Fifty Eight.

Signed sealed acknowledged and delivered (signed) Benedict Ottne
in presence of us

(signed) Geo Sanderson

(signed) G. Steinman

 

Selling of 81 Acres for $700 in 1858



Benedict Remarries

Although documentation of the date of Christina's death has not yet been discovered, it is speculated she died between 1850 and 1854. This is based upon her appearance on the 1850 U.S. Census and her non-appearance on the 1854 acquisition of the 81 acres.

Three months before Benedict died at age 65, he married Barbara Drenckley on 2 May 1858.  It is recorded in Fairfield County, Ohio Marriage Records 1851-1868 Vol 2, page 175. H. Lange was the pastor of St. Mary Church in Lancaster, Ohio.

 

 

Benedict's Estate Records

Benedict died on 4 Aug 1858 in Fairfield County, Ohio. He did not leave a will so his estate was divided between his widow and his children. After a notice was placed in the 12 Aug 1958 "Ohio Eagle" newspaper, the estate began to be cleared. Final settlement was made on 26 Jun 1861. The legal notice printed in the paper read:

 

ESTATE OF BENEDICT OTTNEY

Notice is hereby given that the subscriber has been appointed and qualified as administrator of the estate of Benedict Ottney, last of Fairfield County Ohio, deceased. All persons having claims against said estate will present the same duly authenticated, and all those indebted will be required to make immediate payment

Dated this 11th day of August, A.D. 1858

3W12 Christian Flamm, Adm'r

Before the estate was settled, a public sale was held on 26 August 1858 to liquidate his holdings. The following list shows the items sold. Spelling and placement represents actual documents even though it was handwritten. Dashes are inserted where handwriting could not be deciphered.

A bill of the property sold by Christian Flamm, Administrator of the estate of Benedict Ottney, deceased, at public vendue August 26, AD 1858.

Property as inventoried

To whom sold

Price
D C.

1 One horse wagon

Owen McCormack

37.50

1 Bay Mare

Albert Drinkle

85.00

1 Sett Hames

Geo. ----------

5.05

1 Old Saddle

Albert Drinkle

4.00

1 Bridle

Fredk Betz

.32

1 Sett Plough Gears & Line

John Otney

4.95

1 Hay Ladder

Fredk Betz

1.00

1 Plough

Charles Zink

9.50

1 Shovel Plough

Peter Reker

2.15

1 Cow

John Long

10.75

2 Pigs

----------------

6.00

1 Scythe & Snathe

John Martin

.62

1 Manure Fork

Benj. --------

.72

1 Hoe

Albert Drinkle

.45

* 1 --------------

David Bright

.40

   

168.41

* Last item not claimed in inventory.

Once all bills were paid and collected, distribution of the estate was made to the heirs. Total assets consisted of $1328.58 and total debts amounted to $457.59 leaving a gross balance of $870.99. Of course, probate fees, attorney fees and administrator fees were then deducted. This left a net total of $780.31 to be distributed to the eight heirs.

The following shows the distribution as shown on the actual estate document.

DISTRIBUTION

Amount as above to distribute

$780.31

Of which the
widow Barbara Otney is entitled to

$326.77

Leaving for the heirs

$453.54

To which add advancement as
above to Mrs Nancy Walt
and part of John Otney note

18.50

67.43

Making
for each of the 8 original heirs
and makes amount payable to
each heir as follows:

$539.47

67.43

1. Elizabeth Walt wife of Jerome

67.43

2. Children of Frances Welker dec'd
    1. Joseph Welker
    2. Mary Lewis wife of


33.72
33.72

3. Teresa Flemm wife of Christian

67.43

4. Joseph Otney

67.43

5. Nancy Walt wife of Daniel 67.43
less advancement 18.50

48.93

6. Emily Shefler

67.43

7. John Otney - nothing

 

8. Louisa Thimmes

67.43

Total Amount

$453.52

Once again, spelling of names were not consistent. Emily "Schefler" is most often spelled "Schefler." Notice, however, that John's and Joseph's name was spelled "Otney", with only one "t" and Teresa "Flemm" was spelled with an "e."

Also note that the estate papers list Benedict's wife as "Barbara." As mentioned earlier, no records have been found concerning the death of Christina but according to the early marriage records of Fairfield County, Ohio, a "Benedick Ottene" married Barbara Dreuckley, Barbara" on May 2, 1858.   It is speculated that after Christina's death, Benedict remarried shortly before his death. In fact, he was only married three months before Benedict died. No other mention of Barbara has been found in any other records.

It is believed that Benedict is buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Lancaster, Ohio. According to a great great grandson of Benedict, Paul Oatney Shugert, Benedict's tombstone stood at the corner of Lawrence Street and Mt. Pleasant Avenue in Elmwood Cemetery. The stone was inscribed in German and no one in the family could read it.  Paul remembered the stone being knocked down by cars and destroyed.   Unfortunately, all cemetery records for Elmwood were kept in a tool shed which was later destroyed by fire.

Rachel Gibbony Oatney, wife of Benedict's grandson Frank Oatney, corroborates the site of Benedict's grave.  In a letter to her grandniece, Lucile Johnson Everett of Mancos, Colorado, Rachel relates a similar account of the burial place.   Part of the letter reads as follows:

 

                                                                             March 21, 1961
                                                                             Lancaster, Ohio

Dear Lucile,

Well at last I will send you the little information I could gather which isn't very much. About the father, John Oatney's father, no one seems to be able to tell me anything, Only that their grandfather and grandmother are buried in Elmwood Cemetery which is very close to us. A few years ago, Frank and one of my brothers went to the cemetery to see if they could read the inscription on the monument. but it is German and they couldn't read it. You see Grace and Frank are the only ones living out of a family of twelve and she will be 85 and Frank will be 82 the 20th of May and they can't remember much about the older ones. I guess people used to be kind of careless and didn't keep a record of everything...

                                                                        Love Aunt Rachel

 

Letter Concerning Benedict’s Burial Site

Rachel Oatney died on 26 Feb 1977 just shy of her 99th birthday.

Even if there seems to be a lot of documents that concern Benedict and his family, very little is really known about him. The family seemed to have led a very simple life, without a great deal of worldly goods. However, he must have been very courageous to have uprooted his family at the age of 40 and settle in America. Once he arrived, he he settled in Ohio, raised his family and survived!

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