William Alexander Ott (1872–1951) was Mayor of Invercargill 1910–1912. During his mayoralty, the Invercargill tram network was opened.
Ott was born in Invercargill in 1872. The Ott family came from the German village Dörnach, which is these days part of Pliezhausen in Tübingen. His uncle Johan Jacob Ott came to Dunedin in the early 1850s. In New Zealand, he was known as Jacob Ott. He was a shoemaker and came out employed by the Lutheran Mission under Johann Friedrich Heinrich Wohlers. Not a missionary himself, he later owned the Whitehouse Hotel in Waikiwi.
Jacob Ott financed two of his siblings to come out to New Zealand; his brother Johan Georg Ott (known in New Zealand as George Ott) and his sister Maria Barbara Ott (who appears on the shipping list as Elizabeth). They arrived on the Maori on 16 April 1857 in Dunedin from London. George Ott, a tailor, was the father of William Ott. His father married Margaret Ott (née Murray) in 1862 at Dunedin. William Ott had two siblings; a brother and a sister.
William Ott trained as an accountant and became a fellow of the New Zealand Accountants' and Auditors' Association.
He was elected onto the Invercargill Borough Council in 1900. In April 1910, he was elected unopposed to the Invercargill mayoralty. A year later, he was re-elected unopposed. Ott did not contest the 1912 mayoral election; it was won by William Benjamin Scandrett, who defeated Andrew Bain.
During his mayoralty, he opened the electric Invercargill tram network, with the Prime Minister Joseph Ward in attendance. It was the southernmost tram system in the world. At the occasion, Ott was handed a cloak from the late paramount chief Topi Patuki. The Ott family returned the cloak to descendants of Patuki after six members of his family died in May 2006 when the fishing vessel Kotuku overturned in Foveaux Strait.
Family and death
On 17 April 1901, he married Isabella Frew Ott (née Campbell) of Invercargill. They had two sons and one daughter: William Frew Murray Ott (1903–1993; known as Murray), Alexander Bruce Ott (known as Bruce), and Marjory Isabel Ott (b. 1908). His wife died in 1922. In 1925, he married Marjory Forsyth Ott (née Dobie). His second wife died in 1945.
His sister Margaret died in 1870 aged four months. His mother Margaret died in 1907 and his father George died in 1909. His oldest brother John George Ott died in 1954. William Ott died on 4 January 1951, aged 78 years. All are buried in the family grave in the Invercargill Eastern Cemetery.