Sunday, September 30, 2018

Shadows In A Timeless Myth Presents Mrs Anna Ottendorfer Journalist and Philanthropist

"Whenever our people gratefully point out their benefactors, whenever the Germans in America speak of those who are objects of their veneration and their pride, the name of Anna Ottendorfer will assuredly be among the first. For all time to come her memory and her work will be blessed." Thus spoke the Hon. Carl Schurz at the bier of Mrs. Ottendorfer in the spring of 1884.

Anna Behr was born in W├╝rzburg, Bavaria, in a simple home, Feb. 13, 1815. In 1837, when twenty-two years old, she came to America, remained a year with her brother in Niagara County, N.Y., and then married Jacob Uhl, a printer.

In 1844 Mr. Uhl started a job-office in Frankfort Street, New York, and bought a small weekly paper called the New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung. His young wife helped him constantly, and finally the weekly paper became a daily.

Her husband died in 1852, leaving her with six children and a daily paper on her hands. She was equal to the task. She declined to sell the paper, and managed it well for seven years. Then she married Mr. Oswald Ottendorfer, who was on the staff of the paper.

Both worked indefatigably, and made the paper more successful than ever. She was always at her desk. "Her callers," says Harper's Bazar, May 3, 1884, "had been many. Her visitors represented all classes of society,—the opulent and the poor, the high and the lowly. There was advice for the one, assistance for the other; an open heart and an open purse for the deserving; a large charity wisely used."

In 1875 Mrs. Ottendorfer built the Isabella Home for Aged Women in Astoria, Long Island, giving to it $150,000. It was erected in memory of her deceased daughter, Isabella.

In 1881 she contributed about $40,000 to a memorial fund in support of several educational institutions, and the next year built and furnished the Woman's Pavilion of the German Hospital of New York City, giving $75,000. For the German Dispensary in Second Avenue she gave $100,000, also a library.

At her death she provided liberally for many institutions, and left $25,000 to be divided among the employees of the Staats-Zeitung. In 1879 the property of the paper was turned into a stock-company; and, at the suggestion of Mrs. Ottendorfer, the employees were provided for by a ten-per-cent dividend on their annual salary. Later this was raised to fifteen per cent, which greatly pleased the men.

The New York Sun, in regard to her care for her employees, especially in her will, says, "She had always the reputation of a very clever, business-like, and charitable lady. Her will shows, however, that she was much more than that—she must have been a wonderful woman." A year before her death the Empress Augusta of Germany sent her a medal in recognition of her many charities.

Mrs. Ottendorfer died April 1, 1884, and was buried in Greenwood. Her estate was estimated at $3,000,000, made by her own skill and energy. Having made it, she enjoyed giving it to others.
Her husband, Mr. Oswald Ottendorfer, has given most generously to his native place Zwittau,—an orphan asylum and home for the poor, a hospital, and a fine library with a beautiful monumental fountain before it, crowned by a statue representing mother-love; a woman carrying a child in her arms and leading another. His statue was erected in the city in 1886, and the town was illuminated in his honor at the dedication of the library.

Compiled from sources in the public domain.

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

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