What’s new?

The following pages have been added or substantially changed since the dates shown. Click on the underlined link to go straight to the page.



July 24, 2013

DNA analysis of Michael R. Otterson’s ancestry shows ethnic makeup from ancient times, with suggestions of Viking and Roman influence.


October 30, 2012

Entire website moved to a new server (should make no discernible difference to the user. Site is still accessed through www.otterson.us).


March 6, 2011

A video tribute to the many members of our family who served in the armed forces.


February 11, 2011

Added a page on the life of Doris Dix, wife of Robert Otterson. Doris was the mother of the webmaster of this site.


February 6, 2011

Added a rare image of a miniature painting of Mary Reynolds Pipe (1785-1848), of Suffolk - the oldest visual reproduction of any person on this website. This is the third great grandmother of this site’s webmaster, on the Dix and Garwood side.


February 5, 2011

The Seafaring Calverts gives a glimpse into the family of George and Hannah Calvert, their son George who became a ship’s captain, and his three sons - George, William and John - who all died by drowning.


December 26, 2010

The page on Alfred Giles and Ann Oxton considerably expanded with more text, photographs and maps.


December 19, 2010

Robert Dix left 24 pages of handwritten notes about his life. It contains fascinating insights into life for the working man in Britain between the world wars. This is a two-page feature.


December 4, 2010

John James Dix and Elizabeth Lawson Garwood had 15 pregnancies, half of which were lost in the first few minutes, days or years after birth. Their experiences capture the trauma of parenthood at a time when childhood diseases, poor nutrition and health devastated many families.


November 7, 2010

The Ottersons of Kentucky and Oklahoma. Extensive new research on the Ottersons who emigrated from Sunderland to Kentucky, and later moved to Oklahoma. New material, more photographs and a complete rewrite to accommodate recent discoveries, including the coal miner who became a town mayor.


March 18, 2010

Searching for lost graves: the story of how an act of friendship led to the newly discovered resting place of Lewis Dix and Mary Jane Smiles. Scroll down toward the bottom of the page.


February 27, 2010

A few details have been added of the second marriage of Joseph Otterson, son of the English coal miner by the same name, to Fanny Brooks in Oklahoma in 1907.


February 20, 2010

A video tribute, “Requiem for a Soldier,” sung by Katherine Jenkins, has been added to Robert Otterson’s pages at the beginning and end of World War II.


February 13, 2010

Extra photograph of Sheringham Workhouse, the last known residence of Matthew Dix (born 1775), added to his page along with extra details of his last years.


October 19, 2009

Page on John Otterson’s naval career updated with details of the death of his wife, Isabella Kane, in 1865.


October 4, 2009

First of two pages added on the history of Sunderland, Durham, England, from 55 BC to 1500 AD.


September 27, 2009

Photos on “The Places” page identified in captions.


September 6, 2009

Two pages on John Otterson, the child miner and later Royal Navy sailor, completely rewritten with new material and photographs.


August 15, 2009

The Times” index page redesigned and links to incomplete pages removed.


August 14, 2009

The People” index page redesigned and simplified.

The Places” index page redesigned and simplified.


August 13, 2009

Site map added.

Site highlights section moved from “Contact me” to  the “What’s new?” page.


August 9, 2009

“What’s New” (this page) allows you to see at-a-glance what changes might have been made since you last visited the site.


August 9, 2009

James Reed and Eliza Gibbons and their flight from the Irish Potato Famine. This feature covers two pages.


May 30, 2009

Preserving a name: 300 years of Otterson descent

Site highlights

Robert Otterson, 1911-1949
Robert Otterson, was a soldier in the Royal Corps of Signals, 1st Armored Division of the British Army. He spent three years as a prisoner of war from 1942-1945. A detailed account of his POW experiences from his own logs and letters covers several pages. Start here.

Robert Otterson, 1881-1970
A glimpse of the World War I experiences of Robert Otterson and his brother James at Gallipoli and the Somme is found here.

John Otterson, 1828-1904
Sent to work in the Durham coal mines at 8 years old, John Otterson’s testimony was included in an 1842 official government report on children in mines. Later he joined the Royal Navy where he had a successful career.  Read his story here.

Lewis Dix, 1853-1893
Lewis Dix broke with centuries of agricultural tradition and left Norfolk for Sunderland, County Durham. He is the progenitor of the Sunderland Dixes, although he died young. Start here.

The earliest known Otterson, 1783-1871
Nicholas Otterson was born in 1783 in Sunderland and is the common ancestor for most of the Ottersons in northeast England. His life ended in the United States.

George Giles, 1821-1896
An English soldier who married a local girl when posted to Tipperary, Ireland, George Giles’ first two wives died before him. In all, he fathered 11 children and generated a large posterity.

The Otterson American branches
Brother and sister Joseph and Elizabeth Otterson each emigrated within a few years of each other to the United States from England. What became of them and their posterity is told here.

The Reeds and the Irish Potato Famine
James Reed and Eliza Gibbons took their flock of 12 children and escaped from the Great Famine of 1845-1852 by sailing to England. Their story is found here.otterson_robert_and_doris_1911_p1.htmlotterson_robert_and_james_army_1.htmlotterson__john_and_isabella_1828.htmldix_lewis_and_mary_1853.htmlotterson_nicholas_and_jane_1783.htmlgiles_george_and_maria_1821.htmlotterson_joseph_and_sarah_ingram.htmlotterson_elizabeth_and_thomas_parker_1816.htmlreed_james_and_eliza_1811.htmlshapeimage_4_link_0shapeimage_4_link_1shapeimage_4_link_2shapeimage_4_link_3shapeimage_4_link_4shapeimage_4_link_5shapeimage_4_link_6shapeimage_4_link_7shapeimage_4_link_8