OTEY, James Hervey, P. E. bishop, b. in Liberty, Bedford co., Va., 27 Jan., 1800; d. in Memphis, Tenn., 23 April. 1863. His father, Isaac Otey, was a farmer in easy circumstances, and frequently represented his count in the house of Burgesses. James was one of the younger children in a family of twelve. He early evinced a love of study and of general reading, and after attending an excellent school in his native county, was sent in his seventeenth year to the University of North Carolina, where he was graduated in 1820. He received honors in belles-lettres, and was immediately appointed tutor in Latin and Greek. In 1823 he took charge of a school in Warrenton, N. C. There his attention was turned to the ministry, and he was ordained both deacon and priest in the Protestant Episcopal church by Bishop Ravenscroft. In 1827 he removed to Tennessee and settled in the town of Franklin, but he changed his residence to Columbia in 1835, and finally to Memphis. On 14 Jan., 1834. he was consecrated bishop of Tennessee. Next to the duties of his episcopate the bishop’s heart was most engaged with the work of Christian education. It seemed to be a passionate desire with him to establish in the southwest a large institution in which religion should go hand-in-hand with every lesson of a secular character, and young men he prepared for the ministry. Accordingly, after establishing with the assistance of Rev. Leonidas Polk, a school for girls, called the “Columbia Institute,” he devoted a great part of his laborious life to the realization of his ideal. For full thirty years (1827-’57) he failed not, in public and in private, by night and by day, to keep this subject before the people of the southern states, until the successful establishment of the University of the south at Suwanee, Tenn., in which he was also aided by Bishop Leonidas Polk. The life of Bishop Otey was one of hard and unceasing labor. He lived to see the few scattered members of his church in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida, as well as Tennessee, organized into dioceses and in successful operation. He was known throughout the south and southwest as the Good Bishop. Though he was strongly opposed to secession, he wrote a letter to the secretary of state, remonstrating1 against coercion. The reply to this letter change his views on the subject. and he declined to attend the general convention of his church in the seceding states that was held in Georgia soon afterward. In person the bishop was of a commanding stature, being six feet and two inches in height, and of fitting proportions. He published many addresses, sermons, and charges, and a volume containing the “Unity of the Church” and other discourses (Vicksburg, 1852).
SOURCE: James Grant Wilson & John Fiske, Editors, Appletons' Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Volume 4, p. 604