Heman Otis 1848 - 1929
CO. A 16th N.Y. CAV
16th Regiment Cavalry "Sprague Light Cavalry"


Coos County Democrat
May 22, 1929

DESPATCH DRIVER DEAD

Civil War Veteran, Heman Otis with Notable War Record Passes Away in Whitefield.

In the recent passing of Mr. Heman Otis, a resident of Whitefield for the past 34 years, the town loses one of its worthy and interesting citizens as well as a G.A.R. veteran with a most unusual record.

Mr. Otis was born in Peru, New York State, Sept. 24, 1848, and hence was nearly 81 years old. At the age of 14 he enlisted in the cavalry in the Civil War and served three years, receiving an honorable discharge at the close of the war.


Mr. Otis became quite noted because of his efficiency as a dispatch carrier. When others failed the superior officer’s remark was, “let the boy do it, he will get through if any one can.” The boy “did it,” and did it in many a hazardous trip, with never a capture and never a wound. Several times horses were shot from under him, and once he was slightly injured by a falling horse. He also, at times, drove mules and on one occasion his team was blown to pieces by a bursting shell, he being thrown may feet and temporarily rendered unconscious, but was otherwise uninjured.

Mr. Otis’ most interesting war experience was that he was one of 20 prisoners in Libby Prison who made a successful escape, by means of the now historically famous tunnel that he and others dug from the fire place entrance to the canal and warehouse exit, and in which undertaking they were aided not a little by negro citizen sympathizers. Mr. Otis was often called upon to relate their experience and often told it in the village school here. His sufferings in the prison and in escaping were extreme indeed but he was one of the few not to be recaptured.


At the close of the war he returned to Peru N.Y., and at the age of 17 married Miss Hannah Hoagg of that town, his junior by several years. Later they left New York and moved to Jefferson, N.H. and still later to Whitefield, where they lived for many years on their farm in the Cowing section in the eastern part of the town, moving into the village 10 years ago, and they have since resided there.

For 30 years Mr. Otis helped decorate the graves on Decoration Day, and for 45 years in succession attended the public exercises on the occasion. A year ago he, Mr. Miller and Mr. Shores were the only G.A.R. veterans at the Memorial Day exercises and these three have all died since then, the other two being killed in auto accidents. But one G.A.R. veteran is left in Whitefield, Benjamin Garland, now confined to his home at past 85 and in poor health. The married life of Mr. And Mrs. Otis would have totaled 63 years by next August.

The deceased is survived by two daughters, Mrs. Albert Suitor of this town and Mrs. John Page of Carroll, also by several grandchildren and 11 great grand children.

As a citizen Mr. Otis was loyal and worthy and industrious; as a friend and neighbor one of the best; as a husband, most devoted and uncomplaining even during the last seven months of severe sickness; and as a father deeply interested in the welfare of those who follow him. Although quite lame his wife was able to care for him until the last in which labor of love she was ably assisted by Mr. And Mrs. Suitor, especially.

Funeral services were held at the late home. Wednesday, at 1:30, with many relatives and friends present. Rev. Guy Roverts officiated. Interment was in the village cemetery.

Hannah Otis Obituary