Sketch of Joseph Oatney

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Sketch of Joseph Oatney
1825 - 1897

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Joseph Oatney, son of Benedict and Christina Otteni, was born on 28 Nov 1825 in Urloffen, Germany. It is conjectured, since the official ship passenger list has not been located, that he arrived in the United States with his parents and settled with them in Ohio in the early 1830's.

The next record concerning Joseph was his marriage to Martha Ann Warner. Martha, born on 24 Aug 1833 near Leesburg, Virginia, moved to Marion County, Ohio at the age of two after her mother died. Not yet 15 years old, she and Joseph married in Lancaster, Ohio on  20 Feb 1848 by Rev. Joshua M. Young, a priest at St. Mary Catholic Church.


Joseph & Martha Oatney - 1875

Joseph and Martha moved West and began married life in Martin County, Minnesota. They remained there for many years. According to Martha's obituary, they "experienced many of the rigors and hardships of pioneer life while living in Minnesota".

Most of the records concerning Joseph show the spelling of his name as OATNEY rather than OTTENI or OTNEY. The descendants of Joseph, who now live in the Western part of the U.S. (mostly Nebraska, Oregon, Idaho, and Northern California) still spell their name OATNEY.

Joseph enlisted in the Union Army on the 18th of January 1865. According to his volunteer enlistment record, he enlisted at Mankato, Minnesota at the age of 38. He listed his occupation as farming. Joseph enlisted for one year and mustered in on 11 Feb 1865 at St. Paul, Minnesota into Company F, 1st Regiment of Minnesota Heavy Artillery Volunteers. Being a Minnesota Volunteer, Joseph's name appears in Volume I of "Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars". He is listed on page 626 in the roster of Company F.

The Civil War ended before Joseph had completed his year enlistment and mustered out of the Army on 27 Sep 1865. He was honorably discharged at Nashville, Tennessee with rank of Private.

Joseph, as described on his Civil War enlistment record, had "grey" eyes and a fair complexion. He had auburn hair and stood 5 feet, 5 inches. This document also lists his birth place a Perry County, Ohio. Ohio may have been given for convenience or he may not have been aware of being born in Germany. However, according to German birth records, Joseph was born in Germany.

In 1874, Joseph and his family moved to Iowa. Then in 1878, they moved to Furnas County, Nebraska, locating five miles south of Arapahoe.

According to the 1880 U.S. Census, Joseph was farming in Furnas County and three sons were still living at home. They were: Marion, age 19; Joseph, age 15; and Arthur, age 12. On the same census page, Perry Oatney and his wife, Melinda Wilcox, were listed. Perry was listed as 25 years old and engaged in farming. Perry Oatney was Joseph's oldest son.

In all, Joseph and Martha Oatney had eight children. They were:



Ellen Oatney (Betts)

Sep 1850


Perry Oatney

15 Feb 1855

17 Jul 1929

Eva Oatney (Hull)

Sep 1859


Oliver Marion Oatney

23 Mar 1861

8 Feb 1926

Joseph Leslie Oatney

17 Jun 1865

8 Oct 1936

Arthur L. Oatney

15 Feb 1868

30 Jan 1851

Infant son



Infant son



With passage of the Civil War Pension Act on June 27, 1890, Joseph applied for a pension. He submitted the following information on a standard form.

Declaration For Invalid Pension

ACT OF JUNE 27th, 1890

State of Nebraska ,County of Furnas SS: on this 29th day of July July ,A.D. one thousand eight hundred and ninety personally appeared before me, a Notary Public Notary Public within and for the county and State aforesaid Joseph Oatney aged 63 years, a resident of the of , county of Furnas State of Nebraska , who, being duly sworn according to law, declares that he is the identical Joseph Oatney who was enrolled on the 18th day of January ,1865 , in Company F. 1st Regmt of Heavy Artillery Minesota Vollunters in the service of the United States in the War of the Rebellion, and served at least ninety days, and was honorably discharged at Nashvill Tennesseeon the 27th day of September ,1865 That he is now unable to earn a support by manual labor by reason of Partial loss of eye sight cannot see to do anything. Dissease of Lungs and aged .

That said disabilities are not due to his vicious habits, and are to the best of his knowledge and belief permanent; that he has never applied for pension under application No ; that he is a pensioner under Certificate No. That he makes this declaration for the purpose of being placed on the pension roll of the United States under the provisions of the act of June 27, 1890.

He hereby appoints, with full power of substitution and revocation, WILLIAM FITCH & CO., of WASHINGTON, D. C., his true and lawful attorneys to prosecute his claim, and to receive therefor a fee of ten dollars; that his post office address is Arapahoe county of Furnas , State of Nebraska

(signed) Joseph Oatney


(Original spellings used and placement is approximate to the original. The blanks on the form were written in long hand.)

A year and a half after filing for a Civil War pension, Joseph filed for an increase in pension using the following document.

Declaration for the Increase of Pension and for New Disability under Act of June 27, 1890

State of Nebraska , County of Furnas , SS:

On this 25th day of December , A.D. one thousand eight hundred and ninety one personally appeared before me, a Notary Public within and for the county and State aforesaid Joseph Oatney , aged 65 years, a resident of the of county of Furnas State of Nebraska , who being duly sworn according to law, declares that he is a pensioner of the United States, enrolled at the Des Moines PensionAgency, at the rate of 8 dollars per month, Certificate No. 608,34 1, byreason of disability from disease of eyes and general debility from old age That he was a Private in Co. F 1st Regt. Minn H A Vols.

That he believes himself to be entitled to an increase of pension on account of Increase of Disability also for Broken Colar Bone which disables the use of his arms And he also believes himself to be entitled to a further increase of pension on account of the following disabilities for which he has not heretofore been pensioned. This collar bone was broken in 1885. fell from a grain stack and broke it - once was thrown from a horse and broke it again in annother place That said disabilities are not the results of his vicious habits and are to best of his knowledge permanent in character; that he appoints WILLIAM FINCH & CO. of , County of , State of his true and lawful attorneys to prosecute his claim. That his POST-OFFICE ADDRESS is Arapahoe , County of Furnas , State of Nebraska

Claimant's Signature: (signed) Joseph Oatney (signed) Joseph Oatney


(Original spellings used and placement is approximate to that of the original. The blanks on the form were written in long hand.)

A general affidavit was also filed on behalf of Joseph for the increase in pension. The following depicts the contents of that document.


STATE of Nebraska , COUNTY of Furnas , SS:

In the matter of Joseph Oatney Cert # 608341 1st Minn H A

Personally came before me, a Notary Public in and for aforesaid County and State M B Pratt , aged 34 years citizen of the town of Arapahoe , County of Furnas , State of Nebraska , well known to me to be reputable and entitled to credit, and who, being duly sworn declare in relation to aforesaid case, as follows:

We are personaly acquainted with the claiment Joseph Oatney and have been for about 10 years. And know that on or about July 1888 he was stacking oats for us and in getting of off the stack he sliped and fell and broke his colar bone. which crippled him so as to make him unable to perform man- ual labor for the ballance of said fall having bones broken before. And that with other disabilities incapasitates him from manual labor in our judgement And the disabilities are not due to vicious habits we make the above state- ment from our own personal knowledge and without dictation from any one.

We further declare that we no interest in said case, and are not concerned in its prosecution.

1. (signed) John Kennedy (signed) G W Dutton

2. (signed) H Dimpey (signed) M B Pratt (signed) M B Pratt


(Original spellings used and placement is approximate to that of the original. The blanks on the form were written in long hand.)

According to a pension agency document filed on 25 Aug 1897, Joseph's request for an increase must not have been approved. This document stated Joseph received $8 as pension as late as 14 Jan, right before his death.

Joseph died on 2 Mar 1897. The following death notice appeared in the Omaha World Herald, Omaha, NE, 3 March 1897, page 3:

On 9 Mar 1897, seven days after Joseph's death, Martha filed for widow's pension. On 8 Apr 1897, two affidavits were filed supporting Martha's need for a widow's pension. One of the affidavits follows.

Affidavits will not be CONSIDERED unless they meet in every respect requirements of



STATE of Nebraska , COUNTY of Furnas , SS:

In the matter of Martha A Oatney widow of Joseph Oatney ON THIS 8th day of April A.D. 189 7, personally appeared before me W D Pruitt in and for the aforesaid County, duly authorized to administer oaths West Newton , aged years, a resident of Arapahoe in the County of Furnas and State of Nebraska who, being duly sworn, declared in relation to aforesaid case as follows

Affiant says that he has been acquantee with Joseph Oatney and Martha A Oatney for 17 years and to the best of my ability they were married except to each other all during the last 17 years and during said time they have lived together as man and wife. Since the death of the said Joseph Oatney the said Martha A Oatney has not remarried and is still a widow. The said Joseph Oatney and Martha A Oatney were never divorsed. Affiant further says that at the death of Joseph Oatney, there was no property assesed to Martha A Oatney except a village lot and a small one story frame house. Affiant says that to his personal knowledge the said Martha A Oatney is entirely dependant upon her own labor for her support and that she is too old and feble to earn a living. Affiant says that he was not prompted by any person or by any written or printed mater or that his evidence was writen in the presence of W D Pruitt at Arapahoe and by him as above stated.

H is Post Office address is Arapahoe Nebr

he further declares that he has no interest in said case and he is not
concerned in its prosecution.

(signed) W D Pruitt (signed) West Newton

(Original spellings used and placement is approximate to that of the original. The blanks on the form were written in long hand.)

Apparently there was a problem in obtaining the widows pension because of a clerical error made on Joseph and Martha's marriage certificate. On 29 Apr 1897, Martha filed a statement supporting that she was the wife of Joseph. The Fairfield County, Ohio Probate Court records in Lancaster, Ohio show Joseph's last name as OTTNEY. The following affidavit tried to explain the error. However, another spelling variation was created by referring to OATTNEY as the marriage record error instead of OTTNEY.

Daniel Wald (var. Walt), husband of Joseph's sister, Nancy Otney Wald, obtained a transcript from the Record of Marriages in Fairfield County, Ohio. The transcript was then filed with the Pension office in support of Martha's claim.

Martha's affidavit follows. It was completely hand written and spelling is duplicated as found.

State of Nebraska

Furnas County ss

On this 29th day of April 1897 personally appeared before me WD Pruitt a NOTARY PUBLIC in and for said county. Martha Oatney who deposes and says that she is the widow of Joseph Oatney diseased. Affiant says that through some clerical error the mariage records spells the name Oattney. That this is an error that her husbands name is Oatney. That she has furnished the best evidence as to her now marriage, and the death of her husband, that she can obtain, that owing to the early date of her marriage and she requests that in view of the time she was married and that the now prior marriage be waived. Affiant says that she has a village lot 50 by 142 feet with a three roomed house, valued by the assesor at $40.00, that she has no personal property other than a few household goods and is compelled to create for a living which in view of her age it is imposible for her to earn a living. She asks that her claim be allowed without further evidence she enclosed her husbands certificate. Affiant says she is indestitute circumstances and asks that her case be made special.

(signed) C Hosten her
Martha X Oatney
(signed) W D Pruitt mark

Subscribed and sworn to before me this 29th day of April 1897.

(signed) W D Pruitt

Martha was apparently successful in gaining the widow's pension. Evidence of a document dated 8 Dec 1925 indicates that she was last paid a rate of $30.00 per month to 4 Nov 1925 just right before her death.

Martha Ann Warner Oatney died on 24 Nov 1925 at the age of 92 years, 3 months and 2 days. According to her death certificate, she died at 133 East First Street, Loveland, Colorado of hardening of the arteries. Martha was living with her daughter, Ellen Oatney Betts at the time of her death.

Martha was evidently a very religious and strong person. Her obituary testifies to both of these assets. The obituary, published in an unknown newspaper, reads:

Martha A. Warner was born August 24, 1833 near Leesburg, Virginia, and passed away at the home of her daughter Mrs. Ellen Betts at Loveland, Colo. At the ripe age of 92 years, 8 months and 2 days.

Sister Warner was only two years old when she lost her mother. Then she along with the father and family moved to the state of Ohio, settling in Marion county where Mrs. Warner grew up to womanhood. In 1848 she was united in marriage to Joseph Oatney, they beginning their married life in Martin Co., Minnesota. Here they remained for many years experiencing many of the rigors and hardships of pioneer life. In 1874 they went to Iowa, staying there some three years and then in 1878 they came to Furnas County, Nebraska, locating on the homestead 5 miles south of town.

Brother and Sister Oatney were blessed with eight children, six boys and two girls. Two of the boys died in infancy and one daughter passed away in 1924 at the age of 69 years. Brother Oatney, a Civil Way veteran preceded his life companion into the great Beyond a few years, he dying in 1897.

When but 10 years of age, the deceased was converted to the Christian faith, uniting with the United Brethren church. A few years later, she joined the M. E. Church remaining a loyal member all the days of her life. She was always fond of things of God - His Word, His Music, His Flowers, His People and it was quite a trial to have to stay away from the sanctuary, and it is interesting to know that a modern invention, the radio, was means of satisfying her spiritual desires. Often she would listen to the music of various choirs, or sermons of various preachers. And thus though unable to visit the church, she was able to feed her soul. Her soul was alive all the time as evidenced by the constant reading of the Word and humming the songs of Zion.

The deceased enjoyed good health and though a small woman physically yet had physical vitality above the ordinary, living to an unusual age.

She leaves to mourn her loss, five children, Mrs. Ellen Betts and Marion Oatney of Loveland, Colorado, Perry Oatney of Arapahoe, Nebraska, Joseph and Arthur Oatney of Burbank, Washington, twenty grandchildren, thirty-seven great grandchildren and a host of friends.

Martha is buried beside Joseph at the Arapahoe Cemetery in Arapahoe, Nebraska.

More Information

Click on the following link to view information on the descendants of Joseph Oatney to the present. (Report with documentation also available)

Descendants of Joseph Oatney (1825-1897) - a privatized (dates & places of living people omitted) 7 Generation Descendant Book (PDF), starting with Joseph Oatney - 51 pages plus index.

Joseph Oatney Find A Grave - Burial information with links to descendants

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Last modified: October 20, 2022