The Beginning

by Alelia Otto Mahavier

An excerpt from the 1996 Bodo Otto Association Yearbook.

"My search for my ancestors began in 1968 with very small results. I had to learn to search. My grandparents and most of my aunts and uncles had already died, so there was no one left with answers. I knew about my great grandfather Daniel Henry Otto, and that he was from Pennsylvania. After our father died in 1972, my brother Claud Daniel (Dan) Otto asked me to help him find information about the person for whom he was named. That was when our search really took off.

In every library & museum we left our names and stated that we were searching for our Otto ancestors. Dan & his wife Ann made many trips, and in every place they stayed Dan searched the telephone directory for Otto's. In Williamsport, Pennsylvania they found John Bodo Otto III and William Gibson III. John & Bill knew they were related, but Dan did not know that we were. He just knew he had found some Otto's and that we needed to follow up.

My sister, Margaret Brown had been visiting her son in Ohio in 1980 when I flew there to help drive her car home. Before returning to Texas we did a lot of research in Berks County, Pennsylvania where we made the definite connection proving we are descendants of Dr. Bodo Otto.

Next Dan received a letter and documents from Pat Godwin who lives in North Carolina. She had discovered his name at the Reading, Pennsylvania museum. This lead to much correspondence. Dan, Pat & I wanted to find enough descendents to have a reunion so we began a mailing list.

Our first reunion was held in 1982 at Kaercher Creek Park, near Reading with 80 descendents of Dr Bodo's youngest son Dr. John Augustus Otto. At this time our association was formed To honor and perpetuate the memory of Dr. Bodo Otto and have fellowship with his descendents."


The reunions have been held every year since. Sometimes with many in attendance and other times with only a few. We have found descendents of each of Dr. Bodo Otto's children and there are now more than 200 families on our mailing list.

  • 1983 - attending the reunion were descendents of Maria Elizabeth, Dr Bodo Otto's only surviving daughter, who married Marcus Kurrmann (Anglicized to Mark Carman).

  • 1988 - reunion was held at Yellow Springs, PA where the Association dedicated a marker in honor of Dr. Bodo Otto who served as a Senior Surgeon and Director of the only hospital built for the Continenal Army.

  • 1990 - James E. Gibson's research for the book DR. BODO OTTO AND THE MEDICAL BACKGROUND OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, published in 1937 and long out of print, was donated to the Association by his nephew Bill. The research has since been donated to the Library and Archives of the Historical Society of Berks County in Reading PA.

  • 1991 - it was decided to reprint the Gibson book and to add four pages of reprinting notes including a chart containing four generations of Dr. Bodo Otto Descendents. Go to four generations chart At that reunion we dedicated a plaque at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Friesburg, NJ in memory of Dr. Bodo Otto's wife and daughter Maria Elizabeth, wife of Mark Carman, who are buried in the adjoining cemetery.

  • 1994 - it was decided to meet at Historic Yellow Springs in even numbered years and at other locations in odd numbered years. The reunion at Yellow Springs is always held the weekend after Father's Day. Dates for odd numbered reunions may vary.

    Association Contacts Four Generations Book and Links Annual Reunion

    More about Dr. Bodo Otto

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