Rothacker, O. H.

Ottomar H. Rothacker’s short but spectacular career as a newspaperman in Denver and Omaha attracted a good deal of attention. The subject of Lewis O. Saum’s “The Good Die First: The Meteoric and Brief Career of O. H. Rothacker,” in the Spring 2005 issue of Nebraska History, Rothacker is especially remembered for his campaign while editor of the Omaha Republican against a rival editor, Edward Rosewater of the Omaha Bee.

Rothacker’s early years are obscure. He apparently spent time in New York City and then did newspaper work in upstate New York. While in his early twenties he edited a paper in Louisville, Kentucky. In his middle twenties (probably in late 1878), he assumed control of the Denver Tribune. While in Denver Rothacker became socially prominent and in 1883, married the daughter of Sterling P. Rounds, the chief executive officer of the U.S. Government Printing Office.

Unfortunately Rothacker’s career did not prosper. Although colleagues and correspondents were guarded in their assessments, it appears that he was viewed as brilliant but erratic-possessed of an artistic temperament but with little ability to handle details. By the fall of 1885 he was living with his father-in-law’s family in Washington D.C. and doing some “desultory correspondence” for the Denver News. He later became editor of The Hatchet, a Washington D.C. weekly, and the author of a booklet of prose and poetry entitled Some Phases: A Review of Ingersoll and His Methods.

In 1886 Rothacker and his wife’s family, the Roundses, moved to Omaha, where his father-in-law arranged for Rothacker to buy the Omaha Republican. Late in 1887 Rothacker briefly edited the Omaha Daily News, resuming the editorship of the Republican in early January 1888, shortly after the death of Rounds. As editor of the Republican Rothacker initiated a fiery campaign against Edward Rosewater, editor of Omaha’s other Republican newspaper, the Omaha Bee. Editorials directed at Rosewater (such as “Vermin” and “About Skunks”) all but assured repercussions, and a violent argument between Rothacker and Rosewater occurred on an Omaha street. A newspaper cartoon depicting the rough encounter appeared in the Democratic Omaha World, on April 22, 1887.

When Rothacker left the Republican is unclear, but he wrote occasional pieces for the paper as late as June 1888. What seems to have been his last published work, a parody entitled “An Anarchist,” appeared serially in America, a Chicago weekly, in early 1889. Rothacker died at the age of thirty-four of tuberculosis. He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Omaha. 

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.