Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Ottendorfer, Oswald

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OTTENDORFER, Oswald, journalist, b. in Zwittau, Moravia, 26 Feb., 1826. He was the son of a manufacturer, went through the course of classical studies, and devoted himself to jurisprudence at the University of Vienna. He was active in the movement to overthrow the Metternich government in 1848, and joined the Von der Tann volunteer corps, which, in the first Schleswig-Holstein war, participated in several engagements with the Danish forces. During the uprising in Vienna he was 1st lieutenant in the battalion that was commanded by Robert Blum. He subsequently joined in the popular revolution in Saxony and Baden, after the failure of which, to escape capital punishment, he fled to Switzerland, and from there came to the United States. In New York he found employment in the counting-room of the “Staats-Zeitung.” When, after the death of Jacob Uhl, its proprietor, the management of the paper devolved upon his widow, the services of Mr. Ottendorfer became gradually more important, and the acquaintance thus formed led to his marriage with Mrs. Uhl in 1859. As the German-born population of New York city increased, his journal, in which he endeavored to reflect the sentiments of the German-Americans, became one of the most widely circulated and influential in New York. He adhered to the principles of the Democratic party, but joined no political organization, and maintained an independent position. He has been an advocate of reform in the civil service and active in promoting improvements in the public-school system. In 1872-’4 he was an alderman, and in 1874 a candidate for mayor of New York city. Besides other charitable gifts, Mr. Ottendorfer gave $300,000 to build and endow an educational institution in his native town in Austria, founded on Long Island a home for aged and indigent men, and established the Ottendorfer free library in Second avenue. New York city, at an original cost of $50,000, which has been augmented by annual gifts. He has retired, on account of failing health, from active journalism, and spends most of his time in Europe. — His wife, Anna, philanthropist, b. in Würzburg, Bavaria, 13 Feb., 1815; d. in New York city, 1 April, 1884, was the daughter of a poor man named Behr. She came to the United States in 1837, and in the following year married Jacob Uhl, a printer. In 1845 her husband purchased the “New Yorker Staats-Zeitung,” then a small weekly paper, which, after a brief period, he changed to a daily. When, in 1852, Mr. Uhl died, his widow assumed the management of the paper. Yet she declined several offers for the “Staats-Zeitung,” and, by her own energy and sagacity and the co-operation of Mr. Ottendorfer, made it one of the chief journals in the United States. She took an active part in the management of the paper until almost the time of her death. She also devoted much attention to charitable enterprises. In 1875 she established in Astoria, L. I., the Isabella home for aged women, named in memory of a deceased daughter, expending $150,000 on the building and endowment. She contributed $40,000 to an educational fund, built the women's pavilion of the German hospital, New York city, at a cost of $75,000, and gave $100,000 for a German dispensary. Mrs. Ottendorfer received in 1883 a gold medal from the empress of Germany, in recognition of her many acts of charity. In her will she left additional sums for her charitable foundations, and bequeathed $25,000 to the employés of the “Staats-Zeitung.”