Also known by the alias “Bayard," Franklin J. Ottarson was a successful New York journalist, editor, and civil servant. Born in Watertown, New York, Ottarson learned the trade of the printing business in a Whig newspaper (possibly the Whig or the Tribune Almanac) (Brockway 172). Under the editorship of Horace Greeley, Ottarson was part of the “very strong” Tribune staff of 1854 along with Bayard Taylor (Brockway 141). Ottarson is perhaps best remembered for his editorship, first at the Tribune and later at the New York Times. Junius Henri Browne characterizes him as “for five and twenty years a city journalist, nearly all of which he has spent in the service of the Tribune” (156). After Henry J. Raymond assumed his seat in Congress and abdicated his editorship of the New York Times, Ottarson took over these responsibilities. He is characterized by an article in the Independent as “a gentleman who, we believe, is never remembered to have been young, but who is the kindest of editors to juvenile applicants with manuscripts” (“The Young Men of the New York Press” 4).
Junius Browne and Mark Lause identify Ottarson as part of the Pfaff’s fraternity as does Henry Clapp’s obituary, which lauds him as "Frank Ottarson, who stirred up the Bohemians so savagely in the Round Table, [and] was an occasional visitor" to Pfaff’s (Browne 156-7; Lause 49; "Obituary" 7). In fact, it is presumed that pieces published in the Round Table criticizing the group at Pfaff's can be attriubuted to Ottarson. These criticisms likely inspired Frank Bellew's illustration of the group of artists and writers at Pfaff's subtitled as "they were said to be by a knight of the Round Table" (Cottom 159, 320n.45; "The Vault at Pfaff's" Homepage). Lause notes that Ottarson "remained close to [Henry] Clapp," the so-called king of the Pfaffians and was also Horace "Greeley's 'trusted assistant and friend," who was another individual linked to Pfaff's (41).
Later, Ottarson became a Councilman for New York and was the Chairman of the third National Quarantine and Sanitary Convention held in New York April 27-30, 1859. The records of the proceedings reflect that Ottarson offered “additional proof of the well-earned reputation which the Metropolitan has long enjoyed” (Proceedings 617). He also helped to bring down New York's infamous Tweed Ring by providing evidence of voter fraud the organization had facilitated and suppported. At the time of Clapp's death in 1875, Ottarson was described as a federal officeholder who continued to dabble in journalism (“Obituary” 7). Ottarson "died in 1884 at seventy-five 'in a very feeble condition brought on by hard work and irregular habits'"(Lause 118).
Brockway discusses the Tribune staff in general and Ottarson's role as city editor.[pages:141, 172]
Ottarson "for five and twenty years a city journalist, nearly all of which he has spent in the service of the Tribune" (156).
He was part of the "fraternity" that met at Pfaff's resturant, that "had late suppers, and were brilliant with talk over beer and pipes for several years." Browne claims "Those were merry and famous nights, and many bright conceits and witticisms were discharged over the festive board" (156-7).[pages:156-157]
The proceedings record Ottarson's role in successful reform in New York.[pages:2, 21, 677, 716]
Ottarson may be the "dreamy Frank" referred to in the poem.[pages:9]
Ottarson (referred to as "Joe Otterson") is mentioned as one of "the best know writers who frequented that cozy corner [Pfaff's]."[pages:9]
Gunn describes Ottason, "Cahill, the Mejor and Bellew's brother joine us here. Ottarson was very lively and bibilous, trying on the hat or cap of every man in the party, wrestling with "Doesticks" &c."[pages:182]
This text identifies the following pseudonym: Bayard (17).[pages:17]
Ottarson is mentioned as a writer who came from the printing trade (86). Ottarson's fellow printers sent him as their delegate to the 1850 national convention, at which he served as secretary. In September of 1851 he attended another convention which led to the formation of the National Typographical Union (88).
Ottarson died in 1884 "'in very feeble condition brought on by hard work and irregular habits'" (118).[pages:41, 49, 86, 88, 117, 118]
Following the example of fellow Pfaff’s visitor and labor activist John Swinton, Ottarson became interested in social issues. He also served as Secretary for the International Typographical Union, which was formed after the National Convention of Journeymen Printers that convened in New York City on December 2, 1850. The convention of “these pioneer organizers of the printing trade laid the foundation of a stable, well-disciplined and intelligent national craft organization” (“The Labor Movement” 183).[pages:183]
Referred to as Bayard (36).[pages:36, 42, 46, 49, 65]
He is mentioned as an occasional visitor of Pfaff's and described as "Frank Ottarson, who stirred up the Bohemians so savagely in the Round Table." At the time of Clapp's death, Ottarson "has become a Federal office-holder, and only occasionally dabbles in press writing."[pages:7]
Ottarson is the City Editor of the Tribune that claims he will not be married to Ada Clifton. Personne makes it clear that Ottarson's remarks seem unnecessary as she's already to be married and quite pretty (2).[pages:2]
A regular in the bohemian circle at Pfaff's.[pages:142]
During the riots of July 13-14, 1863, Ottarson is described by Starr as "Gay's first lieutennant" on the Tribune staff. When the mob advanced on the office, he was sent to find a policeman to arrest the leader of the mob who was calling for the downfall of the Tribune. The policeman arrived and promptly vanished. The mob dispursed shortly but returned in twenty minutes with larger numbers and would later break into the paper's offices (222).
Gay suspected Ottarson, England, and Wilkeson alternately of angling for his job at the Tribune amid his fears of being replaced by Greeley (293).[pages:222,293]
"It is a striking fact that the number of young men prominently connected with the New York press as writers is greater now than at any former period...the chief editorial work in these journals is done by men between the years of twenty-five and forty" (4).
"The Times, in the absence of Henry J. Raymond (who is just finding out how much less influential his congressional chair is than his editorial), is conducted by Franklin J. Ottarson—a gentleman who, we believe, is never remembered to have been young, but who is the kindest of editors to juvenile applicants with manuscripts; for we happen to know of a youngster whose first piece of newspaper writing was accepted and printed by Mr. Ottarson, then city-editor of The Tribune" (4).[pages:4]
The Vault at Pfaff's
27 Memorial Drive West, Bethlehem, PA 18015