Family picture lists him as Rudolph John. Last name is spelled Ottenstroer by other family members.
Born in Germany on 3 March 1844 (from death certificate), possibly Westphalia ('West Fahlrn' on sons' birth certificate), thought to be a coal mining area. Also reputedly the Essen area in Germany, a coal mining region.
He immigrated to the United states at the age of 16 or 17 on the advice of his mother to avoid the German compulsory draft into the armed services. He worked his way across the Atlantic, "leaving his mother on the dock, waving good-bye forever". He entered through New York City and first went to Bridgeport, Illinois (later a part of Chicago), later moving to Chicago. Apparently he had siblings who settled in Minnesota as his son later visited them.
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