Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Otto, John Conrad

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OTTO, John Conrad, physician, b. near Woodbridge, N. J., 15 March, 1774; d. in Philadelphia, 26 June, 1844. His great-grandfather, grandfather, and father were physicians. His grandfather came to this country from Germany in 1752, settled in Philadelphia, where he engaged in the practice of medicine, and during the winter of 1778 had charge of the hospital of the Continental army at Valley Forge. His father, Dr. Bodo Otto, was warmly attached to the patriot cause, sat in the senate of New Jersey, and served during the war as an officer in the Revolutionary army. The son was graduated at Princeton in 1792, and in medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in 1796. In 1798 he was elected one of the physicians of the Philadelphia dispensary, and in 1813, on the death of Dr. Benjamin Rush, he was chosen to succeed the latter as one of the physicians and clinical lecturer of the Pennsylvania hospital, which post he held twenty-one years, and in connection with which he became extensively known throughout the United States. He was physician to the Orphan asylum for twenty years, and during many years to the Magdalen asylum. In the cholera epidemic of 1833 he was one of the twelve physicians that were chosen by the public authorities of Philadelphia to adopt sanitary measures and establish and conduct hospitals in the city, and at the organization of the sanitary board he was chosen its president. He was a fellow of the College of physicians, in which he held the office of censor, and from 1840 until his death that of vice-president, and was for many years a member of the American philosophical society. He published “An Account of an Hemorrhagic Disposition in certain Families” in the “New York Medical Repository” (1803), and another paper on the same subject in “Coxe's Medical Museum” (1805). It is said that these papers are the first that appeared on this subject. He was also the author of other medical papers. — His son, William Tod, lawyer, b. in Philadelphia, 19 Jan., 1817, was graduated at the University of Pennsylvania in 1833, read law with Joseph R. Ingersoll, and removed to Indiana, where he was admitted to the bar. He followed his profession until 1844, and then held the office of judge of the district court of Indiana for six years, also serving for several years as professor of law in the University of Indiana, from which institution he received the degree of LL. D. In 1863 he was appointed assistant secretary of the interior of the United States, and he held the office until 1871, when he was appointed arbitrator on the part of the United States under the convention with Spain for settlement of claims of citizens of this country. In 1875-'82 he was reporter of the United States supreme court, in which capacity he published sixteen volumes.