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1893-1897 George W. Ochs

George W Ochs 1893-1897(Lived October 27, 1861 – October 26, 1931)

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, George Ochs moved to Knoxville, Tennessee with his family at the age of seven.  He attended the University of Tennessee, and in 1879, he left college and move to Chattanooga to work for his brother Adolph at The Chattanooga Times.  In 1884, George became the managing editor of the Times owned industrial magazine The Tradesman. 

In 1890, George Ochs won a city commission seat, became the Police Commissioner and was named president of the Chattanooga Police Commission for three years.  As a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1892, Ochs had the privilege of seconding the presidential nomination of Grover Cleveland.  The following year, Ochs won the mayoral race. Two years later he was re-elected.  During his four years as mayor, Ochs oversaw the construction of the first city auditorium and city hall.  Even as the country was recovering from an economic depression, Ochs and the commissioners were able to retire the city’s debt.

Following his terms as Mayor, Ochs served as president of the city’s Board of Education and held several offices in the National Democratic Party.  When his brother Adolph purchased The New York Times, George returned to the publishing business.  As Adolph Ochs’ publishing empire expanded with the purchase of The Philadelphia Times in 1901, George became publisher, overseeing the papers merger with several other Philadelphia papers.  Ochs moved to New York to become editor of the Times owned Current History, and served as a member of the Board of Directors for The New York Times.  Over the years, Ochs held many positions within The New York Times Company.

For seven years, 1907-1914, Ochs serves as president of the Jewish Chautauqua Association.  Being a deeply patriotic man, Ochs was concerned about passing on a German name. So he petitioned the courts to change his name from Ochs to Oakes.  From that point on, George’s part of the Ochs family carried the name Oakes.

Photo by Phillip Stevens and Matt Lea