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Otto J. Zahn

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Title: Otto J. Zahn  
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Subject: E. Snapper Ingram, Los Angeles City Council, List of Los Angeles municipal election returns, Charles E. Downs, Four Minute Men
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Otto J. Zahn

Otto J. Zahn (ca. 1871–1965) was the second person to represent District 10 on the Los Angeles City Council, serving from 1925 until 1927.[1]


  • Biography 1
  • Public life 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5


Zahn in 1937

Zahn was the son of Frances and Johann Carl Zahn, a wealthy Prussian-born physician who lived in Victoria, Australia, and who moved to San Francisco, California, with his family in 1871. Otto and two brothers, Oscar Carl and Oswald Frances, were born in that city,[2] and in 1873 or 1874 the family moved to Los Angeles, where Frances had two more boys, Lorenzo Paul and Hector N. They first lived on Spring Street, then moved in 1890 to 427 South Hope Street on Bunker Hill, where they lived until 1912. The elder Zahn was also a minister, and he financed a church on Spring Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets; it later became the First German Methodist Episcopal Church. He died in October 1901 at the age of 79.[3][4][5][6]

Otto was educated "in private institutions."[7] He raised homing pigeons at 426 South Hope Street[8] and on Santa Catalina Island, where he and his brother Oswald established a messenger service to and from Los Angeles, a distance of some 50 miles. Among other messages, the birds carried news items about the island for publication in the Los Angeles Times.[9][10]

Zahn was the second husband of Frances May Sproston, whose first husband, Dr. Louis Carleton Harmon, had died. She was active in Los Angeles social and cultural circles. After they married, Zahn moved into her home at 2115 Estrella Avenue.[11][12] She died in December 1947.[13]

Zahn was a charter member of the City Planning Association and a member of the City Club, California Club, Knights Templar and the California Audubon Society. During WWI he was divisional secretary of the Southern California Four-Minute Men.[14] The organization gave four-minute speeches on topics dealing with the American war effort in the WWI and which were presented during the four minutes between reel-changing in movie theaters.

Zahn, 94, died of a heart attack on October 12, 1965, while vacationing in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was survived by his second wife, Ruth; a stepson, Daniel Curran, and two grandchildren. He was buried at Evergreen Cemetery.[1]

Public life

Zahn was a candidate for the California State Assembly in 1918, running on the Republican ticket, and he was also a member of the city's Humane Animal Commission. He took out his nominating petition for the City Council on March 13, 1919.[14][15]

At first seen as a "dark horse," Zahn was unanimously appointed by the City Council on September 11, 1925, as a substitution in the 10th district for Charles E. Downs, whom the council had suspended after he was indicted on bribery charges.[7] Downs was later convicted and Zahn's temporary appointment was made permanent.[16] In 1927, he lost a bid for election to E. Snapper Ingram.[17] In 1934, Zahn, a registered Prohibitionist, was a candidate for the Republican nomination for Assemblyman in the 55th District[18] against Emory J. Arnold, who had the endorsement of the Times.[19] Arnold won the nomination.[20]

See also


Access to the Los Angeles Times links requires the use of a library card.

  1. ^ a b October 16, 1965, page A-7Los Angeles Times,"Rites Conducted for Former Councilman,"
  2. ^ A Los Angeles Times story of September 12, 1925, said Otto was born in Oakland.[1]
  3. ^ February 28, 1882, page 0-2Los Angeles Times,"Married,"
  4. ^ "The Zahn Family — 427 South Hope Street," On Bunker Hill website
  5. ^ October 7, 1901, page 6Los Angeles Times,"Remarkable Man Passes,"
  6. ^ April 24, 1934, page A-5Los Angeles Times,"Five Brothers Get Together for Party,"
  7. ^ a b September 12, 1925, page A-1Los Angeles Times,"Council Fills Vacant Seats,"
  8. ^ February 8, 1897, page 7Los Angeles Times,"Intelligent Birds,"
  9. ^ July 22, 1894, page 10Los Angeles Times,De Witt C. Lockwood, "Carrier Pigeons,"
  10. ^ February 23, 1986, page Y-4Los Angeles Times,Jack Smith, "Wings Across the Water,"
  11. ^ September 11, 1938, page D-7Los Angeles Times,"Civic Cultural Leader Enjoys Colorful Life,"
  12. ^ March 16, 1919, page II-6Los Angeles Times,"Politics. The Watchman,"
  13. ^ December 28, 1947, page 13Los Angeles Times,"Deaths, Funeral Announcements,
  14. ^ a b March 14, 1919, page II-1Los Angeles Times,"Otto J. Zahn Would Be a Councilman,"
  15. ^ February 21, 1922, page II-12Los Angeles Times,"Mrs. Zahn appointed,"
  16. ^ October 24, 1925, page A-1Los Angeles Times,"May Serve Bribery Term,"
  17. ^ June 9, 1927, page 2Los Angeles Times,"Parrot-Cryer Rout Revealed,"
  18. ^ June 19, 1934, page A-16Los Angeles Times,"Merriam Files for Nomination,"
  19. ^ August 28, 1934, page 10Los Angeles Times," 'Times' Recommendations for Republican Primary,"
  20. ^ Los Angeles Times," August 30, 1934, page 5"Sinclair Ticket Triumphs in Legislative Races,"

Further reading

  • Chronological Record of Los Angeles City Officials: 1850—1938, Compiled under Direction of Municipal Reference Library City Hall, Los Angeles March 1938 (reprinted 1966)

Preceded by
Charles E. Downs
Los Angeles City Council
10th District

Succeeded by
E. Snapper Ingram
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