Kathryn M DORRER [c.1901-????] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Kathryn M DORRER [c.1901-????]

Kathryn M
c.1901-01-01 (Year, Month, Day are approximate)
Birthplace (country): 

In a list of those held at the Tai Koon Hotel in January 1942 she's described as a 40 year old American tourist previously residing at 555, The Peak.


"5th Aug 1942 - 14 people left Camp (guaranteed out)  including Mrs Proulx, her two children, her mother Mrs Simmonds, Gosling, Kynoch,Manning, Gingles,"Doc" Molthern and Miss Dorrer" (Source: Eric Macnider's diary)

Best regards,  Philip Cracknell

Miss Dorrer was engaged to M. L. Ott, a Swiss national. She declined repatriation in June 1942 because she hoped to be released from Stanley to marry him. She was indeed 'guaranteed out' but I have not been able to find any evidence of their marraige.

I have found a possible link to Asbury Park, New Jersey, as her place of residence of the USA, but this might be a different person.


Richard C. Wilson’ Some Americans Chose To Remain As Pris0ners Of Japs’, The Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Florida)
    27 Aug 1942,  Page 7


The 1941 Juror's list has an Emile Ott:

c   Ott, Emile Merchant, Groupe Chine. 555 The Peak.

It would be easy to hear "Emile" and write it as "M.L.", so he may be the man she was engaged to.

Ancestry.com shows a New York marriage record for Kathryn M Dorrer and Emil Ott, though I don't have membership to see more details: https://www.ancestry.com/search/categories/bmd_marriage/?name=_Dorrer

Good work, David.

Kathryn (sic) M. Dorrer married Emil Ott in Manhattan on February 27th, 1947.

This opens up a number of Ancestry sources.

Kathryn M. Dorrer was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, on 23rd February 1893. Her parents, Jacob and Anna M., were of German origin and lived in California after migrating to the USA. Jacob was a fruit grower and it seems the family were wealthy enough for Kathryn to never have worked while being able to travel around Europe, and eventually of course visiting Hong Kong. She was there in 1937, returning to the USA in October of that year, but she was soon back, as a story in the SCMP tells us that in December 1938 she was fined for unnecessary use of a car horn. She presumably met her future husband at some time during these late 1930s visits.
Emil(e) Ott (a merchant) was born in Zurich and was 53 in 1946 when he travelled from Hong Kong to San Francisco, on his way to Switzerland. If he’s the Emile Ott on a list of freemasons, he was working as the manager of the Rising Sun Lodge in Kobe, Japan when he was initiated in 1919.
We know that Kathryn declined repatriation from Stanley with the other Americans in June 1942 and was  later released, most likely on Emile’s guarantee, but that the couple did not marry until 1947 in New York.
I have only indirect evidence as to what happened to the marriage.
Kathryn and Emile travelled together in 1950 and my guess is that they stayed married until his death, as Kathryn returned to America from Zurich in late October 1962 and in December entered Brazil on a 30 day tourist visa, with her immigration card describing her as ‘viuda’ - widow. It seems likely that her visit to Zurich was consequent on the death of her husband.
Kathryn died on February 23rd, 1986 in San Mateo, California. If the birth date is correct it was her 93rd birthday.




I've checked the Ancestry sources to try to establish a date of birth. These sources all over the place - from 1890 to 1920! February 23rd is common to what seem the most reliable of them, but these documents give 1890, 1891 and 1893 as the year. There was a 'Kathryn Dorrer' who was a student in San Francisco in 1916 - if this is her, then 1893 is most likely if we assume some form of advanced study.

I said that she never worked - however, in the 1920 Federal Census she is described as 'accountant'. However, the 'Kathryn Dorrer' who was studying in 1916 is described as without occupation in 1920. I'd hazard a guess that she qualified as an accountant but practised only briefly.

Passenger Lists

Kathryn (sic) Dorrer Ott age 28 departed New York 5 August 1948 on a ship bound for Le Havre and stated that she intended  to spend three months abroad.

17 February 1947 Emil (sic) Ott age 54 merchant intended place of permanent residence China sailed on the Queen Mary from Southampton to New York

Shown as aged 28 in 1948 on a passenger list

US Social Security Death Records Kathryn (sic) M Ott born 27 February 1920 died  26 June 1993 in Pasadena Los Angeles USA

Kathryn (sic) Dorrer and Emil (sic) Ott Licence registered 27 February 1947