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"WILLIE OTTOGARY, WIFE AND FAMILY: LIFE HISTORY OF WILLIE OTTOGARY(Written by Himself)
Elwood, Utah. May 18.--Mr. England and Earl want me a short scatches on my early life, But I set in my seat and try to do it.
But I am sorry to say about my right age, but may guess near is can. I was born in little place above Brigham city on little vallies of mountain. what is name known in our day in Mantua. in the 1867. July 20 right in the middle of the valley. and there was much settler their since. My parents are living on the state every since. But we most time living around Willard city since I was boy about 3 or 4 year. After I 8 year old my parent heard Gospel and converted and baptized by George W. Hill and join church. But later on I been baptized too. But we liv on Bear river ever since and after 3 or 4 more year move up to Washakie. Then build school house. Soon get it finish. The day school start up among Indian. There is about 50 Indian children going school. I was with them. I been school about 8 year straight. I am raise at Washakie. Well, when I going to school first, don't know what come next. I don't interest in ‘em. Before this mission come, my parents been move all time, a hunter games and so on. I think this is nice away to live to be civilize.
But I am think about first time been school: am very sorry for it because I don't know anything. But I am know it is worth something to be educated. I am proud of it I can read and write too. That is all I can say today.
(The Journal. Logan, Utah. Thursday May 23, 1912: p. 5)
Those are the words of a Shoshone Chief, Willie Ottogary, giving his life history in an article in 1912. Willie was a farmer and performed many duties as chief, but he is most well known in the "white world" for his letters which appeared regularly in The Journal, (a Logan, Utah Newspaper) from 1909-1929. According to historian Matthew Kreitzer:
He [Ottogary] wrote over 400 letters during a literary career spanning 23 years. His letters appeared most often in The Journal, but he also was published in the Tremont Times, Oneida County Enterprise, and the Box Elder Journal. Willie's columns reflected a wide range of topics such as agriculture, the LDS Church, his travels, the comings and goings of his people, land issues, hunting and gathering, Sun Dances, social activities, sports, special occasions, economic development, life-cycle events, and new technological innovations. He kept the pulse of Washakie and accurately reported his perceptions of the things that, he believed, mattered most. (Kreitzer 57)
Willie was the son of O-Ti-Cot-i, who later changed his name to Peter Otahgary after his conversion to the LDS Church. Willie's birth date is uncertain, but he died in March of 1929. Willie married twice. His first wife, Alice, died in 1902. They had two children but both died in childhood. He married his second wife, Nancy West, in 1903. Their first two children also did not survive childhood. They had three more children, two sons and one daughter, who lived to maturity. Chester was born in 1908, Custer in 1910, and Louise in 1912. Louise lived until 1992; death dates for her brothers are unknown. Willie and Nancy divorced in 1916, and Willie kept custody of his sons while Louise went with her mother to Idaho.
Willie was chief of the Shoshone at Washakie from at least 1915. Washakie is the name of the land in Box Elder County, Utah, allotted by the LDS Church for the settling of the converted Shoshone. Ottogary traveled extensively to keep in touch with Shoshone and other Indians in Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, and various parts of Utah. He also represented the Shoshone at Washakie in Washington D.C. in repeated efforts by the tribe to uphold their rights and preserve their lands. He was a key player in the 1917-18 draft resistance activities among the Gosiute-Shoshone people in Duck Creek, Utah.
Willie was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on August 1, 1875. He was ordained a Seventy (a church administrative position) in 1907. He also served a two month stake mission to the Shoshone people in 1913.
The Willie Ottogary Papers include copies of newspaper articles from the The Journal (1909-1929), Box Elder Journal (1925), and the Oneida County Enterprise (1924). These articles are letters written by Willie Ottogary to the various newspapers describing the events and well-being of the Shoshone people in Washakie. Also included in this collection are some copies of later correspondence (1929-1959) dealing with efforts to establish a reservation for the Shoshone in Idaho.
It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.
Permission to publish material from the Willie Ottogary Papers must be obtained from the Special Collections Manuscript Curator and/or the Special Collections Department Head.
Initial Citation: Willie Ottogary Papers USU_COLL MSS 263, Box [ ]. Special Collections and Archives. Utah State University Merrill-Cazier Library. Logan, Utah.
Following Citations:USU_COLL MSS 263, USUSCA.
|1||1||The Journal ( Logan, Utah)||1909 May 29 to 1922 March 3|
|1||2||The Journal (Logan, Utah)||1922 March 6 to 1926 August 19|
|1||3||The Journal (Logan, Utah)||1926 August 21 to 1929 March 23|
|1||4||Box Elder Journal||1925 March to 1925 November|
|1||5||Oneida County Enterprise (Malad, Idaho)||1924 February to July|