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History of Sandusky. Part 2: The Otey Era

The next principle family of Sandusky was the Otey family who owned Sandusky from 1823-1841. A Christopher Clark did own Sandusky for a short period (1818-1823) but it appears he simply rented it out. During this interim period the house appears to have become rundown as reported by Francis Steptoe Langhorne in a letter to her sister:

…the day before yesterday I proposed riding to San­dusky. It is going or has gone I may with truth say to ruin; there is not one pane of glass in the Kitchen windows the ice house fallen in the house going rapidly to decay, the yard quite grown up in weeds, scarcely any gravel to be seen and in fact the whole even the trees bear a gloomy aspect.

In 1823 Sandusky was sold to John Matthews Otey. Some accounts state that Sandusky was instead sold to his father Isaac Otey (pictured left); however it is John who is recorded as purchaser of the property per a deed book at the Campbell County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office. John, his wife Lucy, and their children lived in a house built for them by Lucy's father located at 1002 Federal Street. In 1823, following the death of Lucy's father's, John and his family moved the father's home at located at 1020 Federal Street. It is possible that John bought Sandusky for his father and mother to live in. Isaac Otey and his wife, Elizabeth, had twelve children; John and his wife, Lucy, had eight. It is possible that several generations of extended Otey family members lived at Sandusky during the Otey ownership.

Not much is known about the Otey residency; however, the family has a fascinating history. Isaac Otey was the oldest child of Colonel John Otey, a “hero” of the American Revolution for leading a company of riflemen in capturing a British vessel on the Pamunky River. Isaac Otey served as a Major, likely with the Virginia Volunteers during the War of 1812. After that he served as a farmer and as a member of the Federalist party served 30 years in Virginia Legislature representing Bedford County. Isaac died at Sandusky in 1839 and is buried in a family cemetery in Bedford, Virginia.

Isaac’s son, John Matthews Otey (right), was born in 1792 in Bedford County. At a young age he relocated to Lynchburg where he worked in a bank as a bookkeeper, teller, and later, cashier. He also served for 21 years on Lynchburg City Council and for 18 years as its president. John’s wife was Lucy Wilhelmina Norvell Otey and together they had thirteen children, five of which died during childbirth or at a young age. Eight lived into adulthood, seven boys and one girl. John died in 1859 so did not see the hardships of the Civil War" he is buried in Spring Hill Cemetery in Lynchburg, Virginia. Five of his son graduated from the Virginia Military Institute and when war came in 1861, all seven joined the Confederate army, as did their only daughter’s husband, John Stewart Walker. Three of the sons and the son-in-law died during the war.

John's wife Lucy (left) became notable for her efforts during the war when she, along with Mrs. John Speed, the Ladies Relief Hospital located in the Union City Hotel on Main Street, where the current Academy of Museum stands. In that era women were generally not admitted into the medical or nursing profession. To sidestep this norm, Lucy and her ladies started their own hospital which over time gained in reputation for its high survival rate. Confederate surgeons began sending their worse cases to Lucy’s hospital for there they had be best chance for survival. The women spent their time raising money, holding food drives, collecting materials for bandages, and caring for their patients. Lucy died shortly after the war in 1866, some accounts saying the war had ruined her health leading to her death at 65.

One of Isaac's other sons, James Hervey Otey, also made history as the first Episcopal Bishop of Tennessee and establishing the Anglican Church there. He published many addresses, sermons, and charges, and a volume containing the “Unity of the Church” and other discourses through out his long career. He died in Tennessee in 1863.

The Oteys sold Sandusky in 1841 to George Christian Hutter. Perhaps what initiated the sale was Isaac Otey’s death in 1839.

Coming next, Part 3: The Hutter Century

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