History of the Restoration Movement

Daniel Joseph Ottinger


The Life Of Dan Ottinger

Daniel Joseph Ottinger was born July 23, 1907 in Cave City, Independence County, Arkansas. He was the son of John Franklin Ottinger (1865-1952) and Sarah Elizabeth Eleanor Peacock Ottinger (1872-1939). After becoming a Christian, she changed her name to "Grace." Daniel was married to Minnie Fike (1908-1947), a sister of elder and preacher, Avery Fike, September 2, 1933, in Birmingham, Alabama. They were married eleven years when she found out she was having a child. Their first child, Sarah was born in 1944. They were living at Searcy, Arkansas, when their son, David Daniel, was born January 29, 1947. Sadly, Minnie found out she had ovarian cancer during delivery. She had complained of pain not long after Sarah's birth, but her doctor in Searcy, did not investigate it. By the time it was discovered it was too late. In just six weeks she passed away, March 16, 1947. Her body was returned to her Walker County, Alabama home where she was buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Jasper. Before her death she requested that her brother Avery and Zora would take the two children for the time being. Sarah was just 2 1/2 and David was three months old. Their teenage daughter Helen (Helen Fike Lusk, future of Elmer Lusk of Columbia, Tennessee) was a little mother to them.

A little over a year later, Dan married Zelda Ann Jones (1913-1996) of Grapeland, Texas, July 23, 1948. They were married in Jackson, Mississippi because, as daughter Sarah later reported, "Dad, "being 'fair,' planned the wedding to be halfway between Grapeland, Texas and Jasper, Alabama." The wedding was conducted by Brother Douthitt. Together, they had two children, Charles Franklin (1950-2013) and Nina Ruth (1951-2019).

Dan was baptized into Christ in 1923 by D. H. Hicks. The following appeared in a 1934 article in Firm Foundation under "Getting Acquainted With Our Preaching Brethren" by James H. Childress. Of Dan he wrote, “He was reared on the farm where he was born. He attended the Ball District school about four months yearly until he was sixteen years old. He had all the common experiences of a normal country boy. In 1923 he entered the Batesville High School, and was graduated in the spring of 1927.

“Eager to enter college, this young man earned money by teaching district schools and by working for the Ford Motor Company in Detroit. In 1928 be matriculated at Harding College, where he did some teaching in the academy and worked in the library. By the end of the winter term, he was out of funds and left the college. While a student in Harding, he preached his first and second sermons at Bunker Hill schoolhouse in Perry county, Arkansas. Brother Ottinger says that he owes a debt of gratitude to the help and encouragement given him by Brother J. N. Armstrong.

“Later, he attended Chillicothe Business College, where he did special work in penmanship as well as general commercial and secretarial work. During 1929, 1930, and 1931, brother Ottinger taught school and farmed. As he had opportunity he preached, and every Lord's day found him proclaiming the words of life. He preached in every conceivable place—in dwellings, under shade trees, at public gatherings, in schoolhouses—and under many varying circumstances. In July of 1931 he conducted his first and thus far his only debate. His opponent was a Russellite. During the summer of 1931, Brother Ottinger conducted mission meetings on his own charges.

“In the fall of that year, he entered Johnson Bible College, Kimberlin Heights, Tennessee. He states that he went there because he had no money. Johnson Bible College is the only school in America "open day and night to any sincere young man who desired above every other desire to preach the gospel of Christ whether he has money or not.” (This quotation appears over the door of the main building.) While there, Brother Ottinger taught penmanship, spelling, and current events, and did janitor work. He feels deeply indebted to President Brown and Professors Garrett and Fitts of this college. He feels that such a school for "preacher boys" ought to exist among us.

“During 1932 Brother Ottinger conducted meetings at Lindsay's Chapel, Old Glory, Black Jack, and Colonial Avenue church in Dallas; all these points are in Texas. (He established a New Testament church at Black Jack.)

“While holding the meeting at Colonial Avenue, he was called to work with the congregation at Ada, Oklahoma. This was in September, 1932. Since coming to Ada there have been around fifty additions from all sources. W. Claude Hall, L. R. Wilson, and Ira Wommack have assisted the Ada church in meetings during this time. Brother Ottinger preaches twice each Lord's day, teaches two Bible classes weekly, and does all the personal work he can find time for.

“In the summer of 1933 (after close of summer-school) Brother Ottinger conducted meetings at Lone Camp and Black Tack, Texas, and also at Pangburn, Arkansas, with splendid results.

“He is now a senior in East Central State Teachers' College at Ada. He has made a "B" average in his studies despite the fact that he is working his way through. Brother Ottinger hopes to work with some congregation in a university town during 1934-'35 in order to secure his Master of Arts degree.” (Firm Foundation, Tuesday, May 1, 1934, p.3)

In October, he moved to Chicago where he began working with the Central church of Christ. He entered the University of Chicago the following January (Gospel Advocate, 10.04.1934, p.961) While in the region he planted a new work in Peoria, Illinois, and conducted preaching and campaign work in Wisconsin. By 1939 he was living in Batesville, Arkansas and preaching in states all around.

In 1952 he was preaching at Lone Cedar church of Christ in Florence, Alabama. In 1962 he reported he’d been with the church in Yeaman, Kentucky for the past year. He was on demand for Gospel Meetings in North Carolina, Vermont, and Pennsylvania.

He was involved with Bible Distribution as a ministry. He worked as a sales agent for the Dickson Bible Company. Many preachers, included Gus Nichols worked under Dan's oversight to get good quality Bibles into the hands of the brethren.

In 1978, he wrote a book entitled, “Creeds Under Fire,” by Foundation Publishers, dealing with what was described as an effort to take “potshots at our loose vocabulary and some of the notions that have become unwritten creeds among us.” (Firm Foundation, January 32, 1978, page 14[78])

Brother Ottinger traveled from Vermont to California preaching meetings, distributing Bible, planting churches, and building up the cause of Christ. He led a life focused on the Kingdom of God. Much good came about due to his labor. While living in Nashville, Tennessee, and after 47 years of marriage to Zelda, he passed away August 26, 1995. His body was returned to be buried by his first wife Minnie in Jasper, Alabama. Zelda passed away the following year, March 16, 1996. She was buried beside her husband. Son, David married Charlene Henry of Abilene, Texas in Cookeville, Tennessee in 1970. He was a pharmacist by trade. While living in Knoxville, Tennessee, he passed away November 20, 2019 and was buried beside his parents in Jasper, Alabama at Oak Hill Cemetery. Charles married Joyce Shaub of Ohio in 1974. Neither David or Charles had children of their own. Nina never married, though she adopted a child from China and named her Sarah Helena.

-Scott Harp 10.31.2021

Sources: Ancestry.com, Gospel Advocate, Firm Foundation, etc., Sarah Ottinger Rummage (see additional info she sent 01.2022 below)

Update From Sarah Ottinger Rummage

Update: On January 1, 2022, we received some corrections and added information from Dan and Minnie's eldest daughter, Sarah Ottinger Rummage of Nashville, Tennessee. Many thanks for Sarah's assistance in setting the record straight. Some of the info was incorporated into the biographical sketch above, however, additional information is added here. She wrote,

"Charles died in 2013 and Nina in August 2019, and David, November 2019. We had a joint graveside service at Oak Hill Cemetery in Jasper, AL for David and Nina on December 16, 2019. The Sixth Avenue church of Christ in Jasper was gracious to us to let us meet at their building to share memories. They even made cookies and coffee for us!

"David married Charlene Henry of Abilene, TX in Cookeville, TN in 1970; Charles married Joyce Shaub of Ohio in 1974 (neither couple had children). Both Joyce and Charlene were excellent wives to Charles and David. Both Charles and David were in bad health for several years. God blessed my brothers mightily.

"Nina never married, though she did adopt a beautiful daughter from China, Sarah Helena, who is one of my joys today, and who lives with us now when she is home from college. She is an honor student at ACU in Texas.

"Dad had two brides he met by mail. I believe minister L. R. Wilson knew of them both and gave him their names. Both marriages had short engagements and courtships. My mom was a teacher, and they kept their marriage a secret for a short time as she would have had to give up her job to give to a man and she was very poor and needed it. She lived with Uncle Avery and Aunt Zora at the time.

"I think Dad went to a lot of the 1920's-1930's debates and meetings where he met the prominent church of Christ ministers of the day. He respected them, but I think he thought he didn't get the respect he wanted from them. Perhaps that is why he wrote 'Creeds Under Fire,' to explain some ideas he thought important.

"He was a faithful tither of his money. He had an envelope with cash which was the 'giving fund.' I really thought God blessed his efforts in tithing as when he died, he didn't die penniless but left his children a modest inheritance from the sale of their home.

"When dad and Zelda married, he suggested that they move to Florence, AL so that we kids could go to Mars Hill Bible School . . .Mom Zelda agreed, though I think she was desperately lonesome for her Texas family. She as a self-proclaimed 'daddy's girl,' the youngest of two girls. She was smart, had a Master's degree in math in the 1940's when many women were lucky to graduate from high school. She had been a school teacher for several years in Texas. So I can imagine that, all of a sudden having two toddlers in a strange town with no family around, and no car . . . AND a husband who traveled during the week to sell Bibles, was depressing and made her lonesome and sad.

"I'm glad for my time at Mars Hill. I look back at the gentle teaching of Bro. Ralph Snell. He used Montessori techniques before any of us knew the word (I think of Montessori as starter students learning from older students.) Chapel was a Bible story each day (probably going through the entire Bible each year), memorization of the books of the Bible, the generations, the plagues, apostles, Jacob's sons, chapters in Psalms, and many other things. The little first graders just started listening to the bigger children recite and soon had learned it all. There were no tests, no reciting or shaming of not knowing. No pressure. . ..

"Yes, Dad loved to preach. If he drove us somewhere, we were his captive audience and we heard a sermon whether we wanted to or not. The last few years that he drove a car, I worried when he took my boys somewhere as I knew he was 'preaching' to them more than watching the road, other drivers, and traffic lights. . ..

"We kids thought he had an obsession for saving soap scraps when we were growing up. When they accumulated, he would get them wet and soft and form new soap bars. He said that he came from being so poor and having no soap at Johnson Bible College that he had to wait until the other students had showered and he would then go in and collect the tiny pieces of soap and weld them together to make his bar of soap.

-Sarah Ottinger Rummage, (January 31, 2022) SarahRummage@comcast.net

Reports Sent

Gospel Advocate, October 4, 1934, page 961.

Firm Foundation, February 20, 1940, page 6

Directions To Grave

The Ottingers are buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Jasper, Alabama. The cemetery is located north of the city on Hwy. 195. Just where Hwy. 5 splits to the left, note to the right is the cemetery. Enter through the gate and go to the seventh drive to the left and turn into this drive. Then take the second left off of it, and begin looking to your right for the Ottinger, Fike, and Karrh plots in a row. The Fike and Karrh families were closely connected with the Sixth Avenue Church in Jasper for years where both served as elders. While here look for the grave of another preacher, John K. McCleskey. And, as a side note, be sure and seek out the grave of George "Goober" Lindsey. Though not connected to the Restoration Movement to our knowledge, most knew him as "Goober" on the Andy Griffith Show. He is buried here as well.

GPS Location
33°51'18.5"N 87°17'06.3"W
or D.d. 33.855132, -87.285079

Minnie Fike Ottinger
May 1, 1908 - March 16, 1947
Unselfish Companion
Christian Mother

Zelda Jones - October 29, 1913 - March 16, 1996
Daniel Joseph - July 23, 1907 - August 26, 1995
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
and a light unto my path." Psalms 119:105

Photos Taken November 14, 2015
Webpage produced October 31, 2021
Courtesy Of Scott Harp


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