Otto Edward Ahrens is actively connected with a profession which has important bearing upon the progress and stability of every community, for through thirteen years he has been actively engaged in the practice or law. During this period he has made steady progress in his profession, owing to the possession of certain qualities. He throws himself easily and naturally into the argument, displaying a deliberation which shows no straining after effect. There is precision and clearness in his statements, combined with acuteness and strength in his reasoning, and thus his high position at the bar is well merited.
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A native of Germany, Otto E. Ahrens was born in Pomerania, May 14, 1855, a son of William G. and Charlotte Ahrens, who were also natives of that country. The father was born in the city of Hagenow Schuerin September 18, 1821, and learned the trade of wagon and carriage building, which he followed in Germany until 1856 and then sought the opportunities of the new world, establishing his home in Elgin. Illinois, where his wife passed away in 1857, leaving two sons and a daughter: William, now a resident of Elgin; Otto E.; and Caroline Pauline, the wife of William Smith, of Chicago. The father, William G. Ahrens, was one of four brothers who enlisted for service in the Union army, although at the time of their enlistment none of them had become naturalized citizens. William G. Ahrens enlisted at Chicago on the 7th of August, 1862, was mustered into service on the 6th of September as a private-of Company C, One Hundred and Twenty-Seventh Regiment. Illinois Volunteer Infantry, to serve three years, under Colonel John Van Amon, and Captain John S. Riddle, and the regiment was assigned to the First Brigade. Second Division, Fifteenth Army Corps, Army of the Tennessee, and was under the command of General John A. Logan. It participated in the engagements at Chickasaw Bayou, Arkansas Post, Deer Creek, Vicksburg, Jackson, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, Resaca, Kenesaw Mountain, Atlanta, Columbia, Fayetteville and Bentonville and took part in the famous march to the sea. Mr. Ahrens was in the Grand Review at Washington, D. C., May 22, 1865, and on the 17th of June received his honorable discharge. Two of his brothers laid down their lives on the altar of their adopted country, one meeting death in the battle of Vicksburg and another at Corinth. When the war was over William Ahrens returned to Elgin, where he continued in the carriage manufacturing business. Having lost his first wife, he wedded Miss Martha Taylor, of Dundee, Illinois, on the 26th of February, 1862, at Elgin, and they became the parents of four children, three of whom survive: Ernest Ellsworth, of Elgin; Lulu, the wife of John Taylor, of Montana; and Birdie, the wife of John Rowe, of Dundee, Illinois. The mother passed away January 22, 1899, and Mr. Ahrens died March 15, 1910, survived by six children, twenty-nine grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren.
Taken to Elgin in his infancy, Otto E Ahrens, after his graduation from the high school with the class of 1871, began learning the carriage and wagon making trade under the direction of his father and with his removal to Racine in August, 1879, obtained employment in the wagon manufacturing establishment of Fish Brothers, with whom he continued until the winter of 1882-3. In that year he secured a position with the Mitchell & Lewis Company, wagon makers, and a further advance step in his business career was made when he was offered and accepted the management of the Badger Electric Light Company, a. position which he filled until 1889. He was afterward connected with the Racine Wagon & Carriage Company until December 10, 1892, when he resigned to take public office, having been elected on the 8th of November of that year to the position of circuit clerk. The splendid record which he made is indicated in the fact that he was four times chosen for that position, remaining the incumbent in the office for eight years. While thus engaged he determined to prepare for the practice of law and matriculated in the Northern Indiana Law School, from which he was graduated in June, 1903, having in April of the same year been admitted to practice at the bar of Wisconsin after passing the required examinations, ranking highest in a class of sixty. seven. Mr. Ahrens then opened a law office in Racine and his advancement in professional circles has been continuous and gratifying. It is well known that his devotion to his clients’ interests is proverbial, yet he never forgets that he owes a still higher allegiance to the majesty of the law.
On July 17, 1880, Mr. Ahrens married Miss Eleanor Adams, who died August 29, 1898, in the faith of the Baptist church. On October 25, 1899, Mr. Ahrens married Miss Julia D. Currier, daughter of Arthur Webster and Amelia (Snyder) Currier, and to this union one son was born, Edward George. A. W. Currier was a descendant of Daniel Webster.
Mr. and Mrs. Ahrens are Baptists. Politically he is a republican. He is a member of Lodge No. 92, F. & A. M.; Orient Chapter. No. 12, R. A. M.; the Uniform Rank and subordinate lodge, Knights of Pythias; Racine Lodge, No. 252, B. P. O. E.; the Sons of Veterans; the Fraternal Order of Eagles; and the Loyal Order of Moose. He has his residence at No. 1034 Park Avenue, and he erected another house at No. 1028 Park Avenue.
A great source of pleasure to Mr. Ahrens and equally a source of pleasure to his friends is his musical talent. He became one of the first members of the Elgin Watch Company Band, an organization of seventy pieces, and was afterward a member of the Prichard Band of Racine. Possessing a fine tenor voice, he was for about fifteen years in charge of the choirs of the Congregational and Baptist churches. He has sung in many concerts and private entertainments and competed in many contests of the Welsh National Eisteddfod, on every occasion winning a prize. His efforts have been an element in promoting musical culture and raising the standards of musical taste. In fact his entire life has been a progressive force contributing to the benefit of the individual and of the community at large. He has at all times been actuated by high ideals and in no instance is this more manifest than in his profession, in which he has won very favorable criticism among his colleagues and contemporaries by the careful and systematic methods which he has followed and by reason of his close conformity to a high standard of professional ethics.