George Edmond Otis was born in the City of Boston in 1847. He was a descendant of one of the oldest New England families. His ancestors emigrated from Somersetshire, England around 1630. Otis attended the Boston Latin school and later Norwich University in Vermont. Before graduating he enlisted in the Sixth Mass. Volunteers, Co. H. and served throughout the Civil War. He returned to his studies and graduated from Harvard University with a degree of L.L.B. in 1869 at the age of 22. After graduation, Otis spent a year and a half perfecting his law studies in the office of Hon. Richard H. Dana, Jr., a leader of the Suffolk County bar and well known author of Dana’s Wheatons International Law. Otis was admitted to the Massachusettes bar in 1872. He then opened a law office and practiced in Boston until 1875.
Otis then moved to California and settled in San Bernardino. He formed a partnership with Hon. W.J. Curtis, the district attorney for the county. Two years later he moved to San Francisco, and was a member of a firm made up of Charles E. Wilson and John J. Roche. When this firm dissolved he returned to San Bernardino in 1897 and entered into partnership with F. W. Gregg. Judge Otis was noted for the fairness and soundness of his decisions. He varied his legal work with selling subdivsions, mining, selling shorts stories to the Argonant and others under the pen name of Edmond Stuart Roche.
Otis built a home in Redlands on Brookside Avenue names “Alderbrook.” This home late became the home of Jennie Davis. He later would live at 1012 West Highland Avenue. He was married to Katherine Johnson, daughter of Hon. Alexander Johnson, who had been the Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals of New York. In 1888, he built the Otis block on Fourth Street, between D and E streets in San Bernardino. The same year he built the First National Bank block in Redlands. One of the first brick buildings in Redlands. He also built a brick building on State Street known as the Otis building.
He organized the Monte Vista Land and Water Company. The Redlands Land Company and the Terracina Hotel Company. He was also one of the prime movers in organizing and constructing the San Bernardino and Redlands Motor Road, and served as a director of the company. In politics he was a Republican and a member of the San Francisco Bar Association, the San Francisco Harvard Club, the California Historical Society and a member of the American Bar Association.
[Sources: Brown and Boyd, History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, 1922; Illustrated History of Southern California; Ingersoll’s Centry Annals of San Bernardio Co., and Nelson, L.E., Only One Redlands.]