WILLIAM BENTON OTTO of Charlotte, has attained a high reputation as a breeder and importer of draft and coach horses, being one of the leaders in this line of enterprise in Michigan at the present time, while he has maintained his residence in Eaton county for more than forty years and is held in high esteem as a citizen and as an enterprising business man. Mr. Otto was born in Wood county, Ohio, January 18, 1844, and is a son of Henry and Sirena (Bryan) Otto, the former of whom was born in Pennsylvania of German lineage and the latter in the state of Ohio, both continuing resident of the latter commonwealth until their death, and the father having been a farmer by vocation. Of their seven children three are living. William E. Otto, who was the fourth of the seven children, was reared to maturity in Ohio, his early educational advantages being those afforded in the district schools of the locality and period. After the death of his father he began working the home farm for his widowed mother, being thus engaged until the outbreak of the war of the Rebellion, when he began arranging his affairs and prepared to go forth in defense of the Union. In the early part of 1862 he enlisted as a private in Company B, One Hundred and Eleventh Ohio Volunteer Infantry, with which he continued in active service until the close of the war. He took part in many important battles but was never wounded. At the siege of Knoxville he was captured by the enemy and was held a prisoner of war for a period of forty-two days. He was with General Sherman's army on the ever memorable march from Atlanta to the sea, and was mustered out and received his honorable discharge at the close of the great struggle through which the integrity of the nation was perpetuated. He then returned to Ohio but soon afterward came to Michigan taking up his residence in Eaton county. He purchased eighty acres of land near Potterville, the same being wild land, and he afterward sold this property and purchased a partially improved farm in the same locality. This latter place he later traded for a mill property in the village of Potterville, becoming associated with George S. Potter, who owned the other half-interest in the mill. Mr. Otto disposed of his interest to his partner and then purchased the one hundred and sixty acres of land constituting a part of what is now known as the J. C. Potter farm, in Benton township, afterward trading this for the old homestead. He remained on this farm, operating the same and also rented land, having in the meanwhile also purchased the land which he rented, and he continued his residence on the homestead until 1902, when he took up his residence in the city of Charlotte. He has made the best of improvements on the farm mentioned, and is now the owner of farms in Benton, Oneida and Windsor townships, amounting in all to nine hundred acres, and which he has improved with special reference to their use as stock farms. The locality has the best of facilities for the raising of farm stock horses, and with this specialty in breeding M r. Otto's name has been long and prominently identified. In 1880 he began breeding and raising high-grade draft horses, having one stallion and four mares purchased of M. W. Dunham, of Illinois, and he gradually expanded the scope and importance of this branch of his farming enterprise, and in 1897 had the reputation of being one of the leading breeders of this section of the state. In that year he entered into a partnership with A. E. Holbert, of Greeley, Iowa, and engaged in the importing of horses, principally of the high-grade draft order and they placed many fine stallions on the home market in the nest few years, extending their sales to twelve different states. In 1899 he associated himself with others in the opening of large breeding and sales stables at Wayne, Illinois, continuing identified with this enterprise until the business was destroyed by fire. Mr. Otto has a wide and worthy reputation as a horseman and he keeps a fine line of Percheron, Royal Belgians and German coach horses on his farm, averaging about fifty head. He brought the first pure-bred imported draft horses into Eaton county, and he has done much to improve the grades of both driving and draft horses in the state. In connection with his business he makes annual trips abroad. He has attained noteworthy success and controls a very prosperous enterprise in the line mentioned, while he is the owner of more than nine hundred acres of valuable farming land in Eaton county, giving a general supervision to the same. He is public-spirited and enterprising and is one of the stalwart supporters of the Republican party, in whose cause he has done effective work. In a fraternal way he is identified with the Grand Army of the Republic. In 1873 Mr. Otto was united in marriage to Miss Celia M. Potter, daughter of the late George N. Potter, one of the honored pioneers of Eaton county, and of the three children of this union two are living: Jessie, who is the wife of Lewis Chester Pierce, a resident of the republic of Mexico, and Lawrence P., who remains at the parental home, being a student of the Charlotte high school.