Attorney Richard Otter Is On A Mission...And He's Taking It To The Streets
By Kay Willis Burns
Saturday, January 5, 10:56AM
Richard Otter was not born in Anderson, or even in South Carolina. But you'd never know it, considering the interest he has shown in preserving the history of Anderson and its people.
Born in Pottsville, Pennsylvania and raised in Chicago, Otter went to Durham, NC to attend Duke University Law School. After graduating in 1960, he made his way to the Palmetto State and set up a law practice in Anderson. Eight years later, he was elected Mayor of Anderson. In 2004, Mr. Otter completed the first of two volumes of Anderson County, Twentieth Century Memories and Reflections, which features Andersonians chronicling their stories, experiences and memories of Anderson. Two years later, Mr. Otter completed the second volume. The number of participants in the project totaled 75.
Now, Mr. Otter is taking on another preservation project.
"There are approximately 300 streets in the City of Anderson that have been named for individuals, and the knowledge of how they were derived is being rapidly forgotten,” said Otter.
Mr. Otter has been working with the Anderson County Chapter of the South Carolina Genealogical Society attempting to identify for whom such streets have been named.
Otter hopes the project will grant recognition to people who have been important contributors to the community, and also be of assistance to genealogists.
“At this point we have exhausted known resources but are confident there may be sources we have overlooked,” said Otter.
Often, streets were named by builders, such as John Lindley, who developed portions of Anderson and frequently named streets after historical persons, particularly Confederate military officers. Property owners who subdivided land often named streets. Postmasters named streets that had not been named so they could correctly direct mail to the appropriate location. Governmental entities (city, county, and state) named streets, as did surveyors who were assisting developers. It is also likely that real estate attorneys and realtors also played a part in naming property.
Even though the current project is solely dealing with the City of Anderson, information on county streets or roads would be welcomed also. That information is being kept on record in the event that similar projects would be spearheaded by the County or other municipalities. The results could be maintained and periodically updated and shared with the Anderson County Library and the Anderson County Museum.
According to Mr. Otter, streets with a first name (i.e. ‘Brenda’ ‘Carol’, ‘Louise’ etc.) are among those whose history is the hardest to discern. Who were ‘Brenda’, ‘Carol’ and ‘Louise’? Were they mill workers, teachers, nurses?
Mr. Otter invites readers to contact him if they have any information identifying former or current names of Anderson streets, and/or who the people are that the street names represent. Callers should provide their contact information so they can be reached for further information.