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Augustus Herbert Gansser (1872-1951)
Born in Germany, emmigrated to Bay City in 1881.

1905 auto-biography. (Added May, 2010)

History of Bay County, Michigan - Gansser 1905.


Capt. Augustus H Gansser, the editor and compiler of this historical features of this volume, whose portrait is shown on page 16 of the work, was born among the foot-hill of the Alps, in Wortemberg, Germany, July 5, 1872. The quaint little village nestling among vine clad heights lies on the headwaters of the Neckar, one of the main tributaries of “Father Rhine.” Its rushing waters turned the old water-wheel of the primitive sawmill which for generations had been own and operated by the Gansser family. The quaint old church, where he worshiped in his youth, had then celebrated its 350th anniversary, and his ancestors dated back their direct linage even centuries beyond that period. Among the weather-beaten stone crosses in the churchyard cemetery, the young student delighted to decipher the names of both branches of his family, who had helped to build that church and the chapel that had preceded it. In the old town hall were records that proved that the ancestors of both father and mother had stood high in the military annuals of the “Fatherland,” but less public clamor, in the pursuits of the sciences and the arts of peace.

Captain Gansser's grandfather, surnamed Ausgustus, according to time-honored family traditions took an active part in the revolutionary movement in German in 1848, and only his previous good service for his king and country saved him from banishment. But the sacrifices then made brought the family into financial difficulties, which eventually brought the last survivor of the family to Michigan in 1873. Peter Baur, grandfather of our subject on his mother's side, was for over 30 years district treasurer and moderator, positions of trust held by his family for many generations before him, a family heirloom, like the surname Peter. His only son, also named Peter, died at 21, leaving as the last sprig of the family tree, the daughter, Johanna.

Augustus Gansser, the father of Captain Gansser, was educated at the University of Tubingen, but early found the confines of the little kingdom too narrow for his roving nature. Before marriage he traveled almost around the globe, his trip including a stay among the gold field of Australia. Return to take up the burden which age compelled his father to surrender, he wooed and won Miss Baur in 1865. The first three children died in infancy, but Emma (now Mrs. R. Boehringer) and the subject of this sketch brightened the lives of their grandparents' declining years. Both families would survive through these infants, and to the good old people who prized their family tree above all else, this meant much.

By 1872 a business depression throughout Germany brought the climax to the entanglements of the sawmill and gypsum properties, and reluctantly enough the family relinquished this heirloom of many generations to strangers. Hearing of the “big mill” in Wenona, the head of the family determined to apply his practical sawmill experience in the heart of the world's lumber industry in Bay County, and that very year began life anew as gang foreman for Henry W. Sage on the West Side. Emma accompanied her parents, while Augustus H., the immediate subject of this sketch, remained with his grandparents, at their earnest solicitation. One by one the old folks passed away. Grandfather Baur dying after only a few days illness in the fall of 1880. The following March his daughter returned to the old home to straighten up family affairs, and in June the little lad, who never remembered see his mother, and who had studied assiduously in the German district school, was united with his family at Bay City. Eugenia and Emil born on the West Side in the meantime, and Emma took the little foreign stranger to the Sherman School, and for two years he worked hard to master a new language, trying experiences never to be forgotten by the principal.

In June, 1884, Augustus H. Gansser graduated from the Ninth grade and was admitted to the High School. The loss of father left the little family entirely dependent upon the invalid mother that summer, and the oldest son assisted by working before and after school, for local newspapers as carrier and mailing clerk. That fall he secured, in addition, a position with B. H. Briscoe & Company, then a box factory (in 1905 the Quaker Shade Roller Company), which he held for three years, continuing his newspaper work eventngs, and studying nights. In 1887 August Rathke was accidentally killed at this factory while he and our subject were adjusting a broken belt, and this fatality change the whole course of the young man's life. His mother insisted other fields might be less remunerative at first, but they offered a wider field, were less dangerous, and within a week he began more than nine years in the carpet department of Capt. A. J. Cooke (formerly See Brothers & Cooke), for many years subsequently, city librarian.

In 1897 our subject was given charge of the carpet and curtain department for the Bay City Cash Dry Goods Company, which position he held when President McKinley's call for volunteers brought him to the colors in 1898. He had enlisted in the Peninsulars, June 16, 1892, and had been promoted through competitive examinations, to 1st sergeant, Company C, Third Michigan Infantry, by 1897. Shortly before war was declared he was united in marriage to Elizabeth Almira Henrietta Richardson, daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Robert Richardson, of the West Side, and when on April 26, 1898, he marched forth with his company he left in care of his bother Emil not only the aged mother and two sisters, but also a young, brave but disconsolate bride. Rejected through a technical error on the regular army medical examination, later corrected, he became a member of Company D, 34th Michigan Vol. Inf., and orderly to Colonel Petermann, commanding the regiment, having charge of the regiment's mail at Camp Eaton, Camp Alger, Virginia, and much of the time before Santiago. The regimental staff correspondent of the Detroit Tribune and Evening News declined to go to Cuba, and at the last moment the assignment was given Captain Gannser, and during the stirring scenes before Santiago, in addition to his regular military duties, he did his best to keep the people of Michigan informed of the doings of their regiments serving with General Shafter's Fifty Army Corps, through the Detroit Tribune, Muskegon Chronicle, Detroit News, Bay City Times and Bay City Freie Presse. On July 3d, when the hospitals in the rear of the San Juan battle-field and the supply trains for the front were being fired on by Spanish sharpshooters from the chaparral west of General Shafter's headquarters, he volunteered with 20 members of his regiment under Lieut. Angus McDonald, for special duty with regulars to clear the San Juan valley of these bushwackers, and for 10 days, armed with Krag-Jorgenson rifles and ammunition secured from the dead American regulars, this detachment did its share of the work in protecting the extreme right flank of the army. Tropical heat and insect pests made trailing through the rocky and wooded heights near Santiago an arduous task, and a number of that detachment were so weakened by the strain, that the first attack of prevailing fevers, shortly after the surrender, brought death.

Some weeks after the surrender (July 17, 1898) were spent in guarding the prisoners and in a vain endeavor to make a tropical camp in the rainy season habitable for men direct from the North. Devoted nursing saved many, and peace brought speedy relief, yet 21 of that fated company of 86 gave their lives for “Cuba Libre.” Assisting the sick of the regiment on the homeward trip, the robust volunteer of April, weighing 154 pounds, came home in September, a mere skeleton, weighing 118 pounds on arriving at Detroit. Then followed months of intermittent fever and ague, campaign reminders that spasmodically torment to this day. Outdoor life, nature's best remedy, prevented a return to former avocations and perforce Captain Gansser entered the insurance and free lance newspaper field. In 1902 with a class of 48 he took the civil service examination at Detroit, standing sixth, being appointed United States gauger for the Michigan Chemical Company, a position he still holds.

Mrs. Johanna Gansser, the devoted mother, died May 29, 1902, in her 60th year. She lived to see two little girls bless the home of Captain Gansser, three of whom survive, -- Emil Augustus, Webster Homer and Victor Lincoln.

Since 1898 Captain Gansser's promotion in the State militia service has been rapid. He was commissioned 1st lieutenant and adjutant by Governor Pingree in June, 1899. 2d lieutenant of Company B, July 17, 1900, and captain commanding Company B, by Governor Bliss, May 15, 1901, being in 1905 senior captain of the regiment. With Company B, he had the distinction of being Michigan's sole military representatives and body guard to Governor Bliss at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, October 8 to 17, 1904.

Always an active Republican yet never seeking an office, he was secretary of the Republican County Committee for four years, 1898-1902, and for 10 years past has commanded the marching divisions of the Young Men's Republican League. He is editor and published of the Modern Archer: a regular contributor to various journals; for nine years secretary of the local Clerks' Association; member of the Knights of Pythias, Arbeiter Unterstuetzung Verein and Spanish War Veterans; is inspector general, National League of Veterans and Sons; member of the Modern Woodmen of America. As a citizen, Captain Gansser has always been ready to assist worthy public enterprises, intended to benefit the city of his adopted home.

1924 political biography.

Michigan Biographies
Michigan Historical Commission - 1924 (Page 293)


Representative from the First District of Bay County, 1911-12; and
Senator, 1915-16, 1917-18 and 1923--, from the Twenty-fourth District, comprising the counties of [p.318] Bay and Midland.
Was born at Wurtemberg, Germany, July 5, 1872.
He attended the primary schools in Germany and the public schools of Bay City where he has resided since June, 1881.
He is married.
From 1884 to 1886 he was employed in a mill;
1886 to 1896 collector and clerk;
manager of a carpet store, and
newspaper correspondent from 1896 to 1898, and
insurance agent from 1898 to 1910.
He has served in the M.N.G. since 1892, and
participated in the battle and siege of Santiago in 1898.
He has been active in many fraternities and is a member of Bay City lodges F. & A. M., R. A. M., O. E. S., Elks, Odd Fellows, K. of P., and National League of Veterans and Sons.
In politics he is a Republican.

Related Note & Pages

Augustus H. Gansser

Related Pages:
Boehringer Bros.
Cooke, Aaron J.
First Congregational Ch.
People Referenced
Baur, Johanna (aunt)
Boehinger, R.
Baur, Peter (g-father)
Bliss, Gov.
Cooke, A.J.
Gansser, Augustus (father)
Gansser, Augustus H. (subject)
Gansser, Emil (bro)
Gansser, Emil A. (son)
Gansser, Emma (sis)
Gansser, Johanna (mother)
Gansser, Victor L. (son)
Gansser, Webster A. (son)
McDonald, Angus Lt.
McKinley, Pres.
Petermann, Col.
Pingree, Gov.
Rathke, August
Richardson, Elizabeth A.H. (wife)
Richardson, Robert (f-inlaw)
Sage, Henry W.
Shafter, Gen.
Subjects Referenced
3d MI Inf. Co. C
34th MI Inf. Co. D
50th Army Corp
Bay City, MI
Bay Co., MI
Bay City Cash Co.
B.H. Briscoe & Co.
Camp Alger, VA
Camp Eaton, VA
Detroit Evening News
Detroit Tribune
Michigan Chemical Co.
Quaker Shade Roller Co.
San Juan Valley
Santiago, Mexico
See Brothers & Cooke Univ. of Tubingen
Wortemberg, Germany
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.