Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Connect with your past: Skiing

Now that Blaine is getting into skiing, I thought it would be neat to type this up to save for the future.  My great great grandpa, CJ Otto owned a farm in Maryland with a big ski hill on it.  His son later owned the farm (Sam) and Sam's daughter still lives there today (Grace).

I found this excerpt here.

Building a Community -- The Swauger, Swatzengruber and Swartzentruber families built a dam, creating the 13-acre lake that became the center or the small community. Around 1930, the McAndrew brothers, Philip and Michael, owned most of the area around the lake. Mike McAndrew operated a “Jot Em Down” store, and Phil ran the grist mill. Some other facilities in the small community were a large garage, a large barn, the community’s one-room school, a residence now known as the “Martin House” and the McAndrew’s residence. At the north end of the lake, Mr. C.J. Otto had a grocery store, filling station, and post office. Mr. Otto also ran a large sawmill near present-day Twin Churches Road.

Recreation -- Soon after the New Germany CCC camp was disbanded in 1938, people began flocking to the area for recreation. Bowing to pressure from ski clubs, the state negotiated with Mr. Samuel Otto to use his property for a downhill ski run, complete with a rope tow powered by a 1935 ¾ ton Dodge truck. Visitors could stay at the Alexander (Martin) house in dormitory-like quarters, in the cabins, in the old barracks, or with local families. Some visitors would regularly drive six to eight hours from Washington or Baltimore to visit the park for the weekend. In February 1941, New Germany was the site of the first Open Ski Championship Meet ever held south of the Mason-Dixon Line.


I find this super cool for many reasons.  1)  My grandma Betty (CJ Otto's granddaughter) was born in Akron, Ohio on a farm that is now Firestone Metropark, home off one of the best sledding hills in the area. Winter sports family for sure!    2)  Grace Otto's husband was named Blayne.    3) The house my great grandma was born in is still there today and lived in by family.  SUMMER ROADTRIP ALREADY PLANNED!  Can't wait.

CJ Otto Family.  Pearl Otto Farriss front right (My great grandma, ie Betty's mom).

PRINGS, Pa. — Visitors to the Springs Museum can now follow the family history of Jacob J. Otto, who arrived in Somerset County in 1831 from Germany via the port of Baltimore.

The family Bible, imprinted on the cover with the name of Jacob Otto and date of 1814, was given to Jacob, eldest son, by his father, Jacob, in Germany. Grace Otto Shunk of the New Germany area donated the Bible to the museum. She is the granddaughter of Christian J. and Clara Arendt Otto, youngest son of Jacob J. Otto.

She also donated a pitcher that was made and presented to Jacob J.’s fiancĂ©e, Mary Shetler, in 1829. Upon Jacob’s arrival to Somerset County, he and Mary were married. They later moved to Garrett County, where they purchased their first farm in 1838 on the east side of Meadow Mountain. In 1845, they purchased 168 acres at New Germany, where Jacob lived for the remainder of his life.

Christian J. purchased a farm of his own in the community and mother Mary resided with Christian’s family until the time of her death. The Bible and pitcher remained on her bedside table until her death.

The pitcher has been displayed on the mantle in the living room as long as Shunk can remember. Her father, Sam Otto, lived in the home as well as Grace and her husband, Blayne.

A Frick thresher machine has been donated by Matthew Caton of Meyersdale.

The Springs Historical Society makes the items available to many interested descendants. The Springs Museum and Springs Museum store, selling antiques and collectibles, is open Wednesday through Friday, 1 to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m.to 2 p.m. Admission is on a donation basis. For more information, go to www.springspa.org or call (814) 662-2625.