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Southworth, Otis (Otis Monroe), 1861-1940



Otis Monroe Southworth was born May 27, 1861, in St. Joseph, Michigan and died December 30, 1940, in Venice, California. This collection of diaries spans the years 1902-1923 during which he and his family lived in Benton Harbor, Michigan and Niles, Michigan.

Otis was a bricklayer and mason who worked on the Carnegie library in Niles, Buildings for the weekly Socialist newspaper, Appeal to Reason, in Girard, Kansas, and other buildings throughout Michigan and in other states such as Texas and California. He often built chimneys, cisterns, burial vaults, walls, and porch piers for members of the community.

He was a member of the Bricklayers Union, the Elks Club, and the Socialist Party. As a prominent area Socialist, renowned figures in the party, such as Mother Jones (Irish-born schoolteacher and dressmaker Mary G. Jones who became a union organizer, and activist. She was baptized in 1837 and died November 30, 1930), would stay with him and Clara while visiting the area. Otis was active in organizing workers to join unions and the Socialist Party and often wrote letters to newspapers and acquaintances on those topics. He also contributed to trade journals such as the American Builder and spoke at the 48th Convention of Bricklayers, Masons and Plasterers’ International Union of America in 1922. He was once mentioned in Wilshire magazine for the number of subscriptions he sold and received a reward of $15.00. In February 1924 Otis organized his friends to serve out the 30-day jail sentence of attorney Walter M. Nelson who was being held in contempt of court over withholding the location of individuals related to a suit filed against the House of David. Otis and his friends were unable to convince the judge to let them each stay one night in exchange for letting Nelson return home to Detroit. Otis also ran as the Socialist candidate for Congress in 1908, although he did not write about his campaign.

Otis married Clara Louise Duvall (1868-1924) on September 7, 1886. They had four children: Ada May (1887-1976). Grover C. (1889-1973), Walter Albert (189-1969), and Velva Rosalia (AKA Babe) (1894-1966). After Clara Louise died in 1924, Otis moved to Los Angeles, California, and married Clara Amelia Riggs on July 14, 1925.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Otis M. Southworth Collection

Identifier: RH-A-4335
Scope and Contents This collection contains diaries kept by Otis Monroe Southworth (b. 1861- d. 1940) of Benton Harbor, Michigan for the years 1902-1923. In addition to his diaries are a notebook kept by his son Grover during 1918, a 1922 Diary kept by his other son, Walter, plus items and photocopies of newspaper clippings that were within the volumes.In these diaries, Otis captured not only his present, but memories and thoughts of his wife Clara L., his children, and what they did for fun as...
Dates: 1902-1923