Otto Ferdinand Pfordte was born in Saxony, Germany on March 4, 1859, the son of Hugo Pfordte, an engineer. He emmigrated to America with his father and two younger sisters in 1871, and they settled in Hoboken, New Jersey, where Otto worked as a brass finisher in 1880. He began collecting minerals around 1879, and decided upon a career in mining. graduating from Stevens Institute in New Jersey in 1881, then returned to Germany and studied at the Freiberg Mining Academy, where he earned his credentials as a mining engineer. In 1893, after a period working in the Peruvian silver mines, he published an article entitled "Ancient method of silver-lead smelting in Peru," (in Transactions of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, 21, 25-30).
He married Frieda Tittle (1870-1959) in 1891, and they had five children, the first of which was born in Telluride, Colorado, where Otto worked: Lilian (1893), Frederick (1894), Carl (1896), Winifred (1902) and Robert (1908).
Returning from Colorado in 1894, Otto and his family settled in Bergen, New Jersey where he worked as a mining engineer; they later lived in Rutherford, New Jersey (1904-1919), Cairo, New York (1920-1938). His granddaughter still remembers her enjoyable visits to "the mineral house" in Cairo. He was a member of many mineralogical organizations, including the New York Mineralogical Club; he was considered "a collector of the highest type, and a fine gentleman."
Otto died on June 16, 1938. All but one (with the Cairo address) of the mineral labels preserved in the Label Archive give the Rutherford address, and most are date-stamped. One Rutherford label in the Carnegie Museum is associated with a 1904 sale. He left some of his mineral collection to Union College in Schenectady, New York; it emphasized ore minerals and numbered around 3,000 to 4,000 specimens. Other specimens he left to his granddaughter, Susan; In 1976 she gave them to the Geology Department at Mount Holyoke College (where she was retiring after 14 years of teaching ).
Mike Worth (great-grandson), personal communication (2009)
Susan Mangam (granddaughter), personal communication (2010)
[Obituary] Otto F. Pfordte. The Mineralogist, 6 (11), 31.
U.S. Federal Census, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
|Click on thumbnail picture to see larger image.|
Number of labels found: 8 | Labels being viewed: 1 to 8
||Otto Pfordte (1934)|
||46 x 69 mm,|
Dated 1908 on the back
||49 x 72 mm,|
Date-stamped "FEB 22 1909" on the back
||49 x 73 mm,|
Date-stamped on the front "AUG 12 1909"
||48 x 72 mm,|
Date-stamped on the back "SEP 20 1910"
||43 x 67 mm,|
Date-stamped on the front "JAN 15 1910"
||48 x 72 mm,|
undated, but the Rutherford address dates it to 1904-1919.
||Undated, but the Cairo address dates it to 1920-1938.|