ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Ernest Off

Capt Civil War, Co K 3rd Regt


Died 03 16 1874





Among the most substantial citizens of which the United States can boast are those of German birth who have sought a home for themselves of the free soil of America. Prominent among this number may be mentioned Ernest Off, who was born at Lowenstein, Germany, being one of five children born to a successful physician of the Old Country, who served as a surgeon in the French army.


Ernest received a good collegiate education while growing up, and upon reaching manhood entered the French army, in which he held the rank of lieutenant. During this time he was in Algiers two years.


In 1848 he decided to come to America to seek his fortune, and upon landing on our shores made his way direct to Watertown, Wis., two miles west of which place he entered 160 acres of land. After a short time he opened a cigar store in the town, but sold out in 1856 to enter the office of deputy sheriff of Jefferson County.


When the Civil War came up he responded to the first call for troops, raised Company K of the Third Wisconsin Cavalry, of which he became captain, and with which he served in Missouri and Arkansas. He was injured by his horse falling upon him, and was in the hospital in St. Louis for some time. He was honorably discharged at the close of the war, and returned home to engage in the restaurant business, which he carried on for a short time.


He was made city marshal of Watertown, was later elected deputy sheriff, and while discharging the duties of sheriff was called from this life, leaving a wife and three children, two sons and one daughter. Socially he was a member of the I. O. O. F. and the A. F. & A. M.


Buried in Oak Hill Cemetery.



Above portion derived from Memorial and Genealogical Record of Dodge and Jefferson Counties, Wisconsin, Chicago; Goodspeed Brothers, 1894.




A handsome grove near the residence of Mr. Enos had been selected as the spot where the people were to assemble to hear the oration, and to this place the procession of Turners and citizens marched [at] about two o’clock, under the leadership of the chief marshal, Captain E. Off, formerly of Barstow’s cavalry.  The captain had gained a high reputation, not only as a gallant officer, but as one of the most accomplished riders in the regiment to which he belonged. 




Captain Ernst Off, Sheriff of Jefferson County, died at his residence in the village of Jefferson, on the morning of Monday last, March 16th, 1874, after a severe illness of several months.


Mr. Off was a native of Lichtenstein, Wurttemberg, and the early part of his life he spent at Sedan, a place now memorable in the annals of the of the late war between Germany and France.


He came to America in 1849 when a young man of 27 years of age and spent a few months in Virginia.  In company with his associate Mr. Charles Stoppenbach, of Jefferson, he arrived in Watertown in 1850 and continued to reside here until removing to Jefferson in January 1873 to take charge of the Sheriff’s office.


In early years Mr. Off held a position in the French service and he always felt a strong attachment for military life.


In 1861 he enlisted in the 3d Wisconsin Cavalry, known as “Barstow’s Calvary,” and received a commission as Captain of Co. K.  He served in the regiment until the close of the war, and was mustered out of the service in February 1865.


Before his enlistment Mr. Off held the office in this city of City Marshal, and on his return from the army was again elected to the position, holding it until assuming the duties of Sheriff of the county to which office he was elected in the fall of 1872.


Mr. Off made a prompt and vigilant officer, always discharging his duties with faithfulness and care.  Personally, he was a great favorite in the circle in which be moved, and his death will carry sorrow to a large number of friends and acquaintances.  In his family he was kind and affectionate, and his loss will be deeply felt by his wife and three children, two sons and a daughter, who have the sympathy of our entire community in their sad bereavement.


Sheriff Off was in the 52nd year of his age at the time of his death.  The funeral of Mr. Off will take place from his late residence in Jefferson today, (Wednesday) and his remains taken to this city for interment.  The remains will arrive here by the 4 p.m. train on the Chicago & Northwestern Railway, and will be met by the Watertown Masonic Lodge, of which Mr. Off was a member, a squad of soldiers of the late war, and friends of the family.


Buried in Oak Hill Cemetery.





Ernest Off:  Forty-Eighter, Civil War vet, Watertown marshal, sheriff of Jeff Cty

Ernest Off, property gift, First Church of Christ Scientists, 500 S. Fifth


Heber Smith also built a home for Captain Off, this being among the first brick homes in the city and stood on the corner of S. Fifth and Spring streets, fronting on Fourth.  Today the site of the post office.






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History of Watertown, Wisconsin