Biography of Charles F. Otterson
Napa County, CA Biographies





CHARLES F. OTTERSON.
The present chief of the fire department, Charles F. Otterson, stands deservedly high in public esteem among the citizens of Napa, for his record has been one of which he has a right to be proud. Mr. Otterson is a native son of California, having been born in the city of San Francisco. His birth took place about five months after the arrival there of his parents, who had crossed the plains with covered wagons and ox teams. After living in San Francisco for a time the father moved his family to Nevada, where he became an Indian agent for the United States government.

Charles F. Otterson was reared in Nevada and there received his education in the public schools. At the age of twelve years he went to work for Dan Rutherford in the Southern Pacific railroad shops in South Vallejo, where he learned the trade of machinist. Some time later he left that position and became a foreman of construction on the Powell street cable car line in San Francisco. As a memento of that service, he still possesses an old transfer issued on that line in 1887. He then went to Seattle, Washington, where he built the Monroe street railroad, after which he returned to San Francisco and built the Sacramento street car line in that city. In 1904 Mr. Otterson came to Napa and constructed the Napa, St. Helena & Calistoga electric railroad line. In 1906 he organized the Napa fire department and was appointed the first chief of the same, a position which he has held continuously since, a period of twenty years, thus being one of the oldest fire chiefs in point of length of service in the state. The Napa fire department consists of five paid men and twelve men subject to call. The Gamewell alarm system is in use and the department is well organized and provided with up to date equipment. It has a fine record in efficiency, having the best rating of any fire department in the state. To the painstaking efforts and keen judgment of Mr. Otterson a large part of the credit for this fine showing is due, for he has devoted himself indefatigably to the end that his department might be maintained at the highest possible standard of efficiency. Mr. Otterson is a past vice president of the International Fire Chiefs Association and a past vice president of the Pacific Coast Fire Chiefs Association. At one time he ran for the nomination for sheriff of Napa county in a field of five candidates. He received a flattering vote, but it was not large enough to secure the nomination. At one time he served as chief of police of Napa, conjointly with his other position. He is a member of the Woodmen of the World and of the Napa City Sporting Club.

Mr. Otterson's hobby is fishing, in which he takes a keen interest. At one time Napa river afforded splendid sport, but the indiscriminate use of nets had about cleaned the river of the finny tribe. Mr. Otterson and four other gentlemen appeared before the supervisors of Napa county, presented the situation to them and secured the passage of an ordinance prohibiting net fishing in any of the waters of Napa county. This subsequently became a state law, applying to all the inland fishing waters of the state. The beneficial results of this action were soon apparent and Napa county has become one of the best fishing grounds in the state. Fishing clubs on the Napa river have been established at Cuttings Wharf. Three lakes in the county have been stocked with trout and five lakes with black bass and during the season from two hundred to three hundred fishermen may be seen at one time, with rod and line, enjoying the best of sports, whereas prior to this movement fishing was so poor as not to justify one's attention.

Mr. Otterson married Miss Emma Mass, who was born in New York and reared in South Dakota, and they have two children, a son, Andrew J. Otterson, and a daughter, Mollie, wife of Wallace Switzer. Mr. Otterson is a man of clean character, open hearted and public spirited, and because of his fine record as a public official, his efforts to advance the general welfare of the community and his genuine worth as a man he holds a high place in the esteem and confidence of the entire community.

From:
History of Solano County, California
BY: Marguerite Hune
and Napa County, California
BY: Harry Lawrence Gunn
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chicago 1926


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