Compton, Otelia Augspurger (1859-1944)

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Otelia Augspurger Compton (6 February 1859-15 December 1944) was born near Trenton, Butler County, Ohio. Her parents were Samuel (1825-1900) and Elise Holly Augspurger, both of German Mennonite ancestry.

She received her education in the public schools of Butler County and Western College, Oxford, Ohio, from which she graduated in 1886 after an interim of teaching in the public schools near her home. She was perhaps one of the first Mennonite women in America to graduate from college.

Soon after she graduated in 1886 she was married to Elias Compton (d. 2 May 1938), also of Butler County. He was professor of philosophy and later also dean of Wooster College, Wooster, Ohio, where they made their home.

Her children were Karl Taylor Compton, who has been president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a scientist of note; Arthur Holly Compton, chancellor of Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1927; Wilson Martindale Compton, president of Washington State College, Pullman, Washington, and also one of the U.S. delegates to the United Nations Assembly; and Mary Compton Rice, who was a missionary in India for many years, and whose husband, C. Herbert Rice, was president of Forman Christian College at Lahore, Pakistan.

Otelia Compton was brought up in the Apostolic Mennonite Church of Trenton and was a member of it until her marriage on 3 August 1886, when she united with the Presbyterian church to which her husband belonged. She, however, kept up her interest in her mother church and attributed much of her strength of character to its influence and teaching. She received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Western College for Women (Oxford, Ohio) in 1933, and was chosen as "American Mother of the Year" by the Golden Rule Foundation in 1939.


"Mrs. Compton, 85, 3 Sons Educators: ' American Mother of the Year' in 1939 Dies. " New York Times (16 December 1944). 

"Mrs. Compton wins Award as Mother." Times Wide World (12 April 1939): 25.

"The Compton Collection." The College of Wooster Libraries. Web. 20 February 2012.

Author(s) J. E Amstutz
Sam Steiner
Date Published February 2012

Cite This Article

MLA style

Amstutz, J. E and Sam Steiner. "Compton, Otelia Augspurger (1859-1944)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2012. Web. 18 Jun 2018.,_Otelia_Augspurger_(1859-1944)&oldid=113299.

APA style

Amstutz, J. E and Sam Steiner. (February 2012). Compton, Otelia Augspurger (1859-1944). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 June 2018, from,_Otelia_Augspurger_(1859-1944)&oldid=113299.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 662. All rights reserved.

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