Born: Oc­to­ber 10, 1841, Frank­lin Coun­ty, Ohio.

Died: Oc­to­ber 14, 1897, To­le­do, Ohio.

Buried: Wood­lawn Ce­me­te­ry, To­le­do, Ohio.



William was the son of Aa­ron Og­den and Ma­ry Mag­da­lene Haw­kins, and hus­band of Jen­nie V. Head­ing­ton.

When he was six years old, his fa­mi­ly moved to In­di­ana. He be­gan stu­dy­ing mu­sic in lo­cal sing­ing schools at age 8, and could read church mu­sic fair­ly well by age 10. A lit­tle lat­er, he could write a me­lo­dy by hear­ing it sung or played. When he was 18, he be­came a cho­ris­ter in his home church.

At the out­break of the Am­er­ican ci­vil war, Og­den en­list­ed in the 30th In­di­ana Vol­un­teer In­fan­try. Dur­ing the war, he or­gan­ized a male choir, which be­came well known through­out the Ar­my of the Cum­ber­land.

After the war, Og­den re­turned home and re­sumed his mu­sic­al stu­dies. Among his teach­ers were Lo­well Ma­son, Tho­mas Hast­ings, E. E. Bai­ly, and Ben­ja­min F. Bak­er, pre­si­dent of the Bos­ton Mu­sic School.

As his skills de­vel­oped, Og­den is­sued his first song book, The Sil­ver Song, in 1870. It was im­mense­ly po­pu­lar, sell­ing 500,000 co­pies. He went on to pub­lish num­er­ous oth­er song books.

In ad­di­tion to com­pos­ing, Og­den taught at ma­ny schools in Am­er­ica and Ca­na­da. In 1887, he be­came su­per­in­tend­ent of mu­sic in the pu­blic schools of To­le­do, Ohio.