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Charles Fussman was a Kansas pioneer. He was one of the first settlers at Humboldt, and that community and Allen County will always pay a respectful regard to his memory and the high-minded and conscientious citizenship that he exemplified.
He was a German by birth, and had those substantial virtues and qualities for which the German people are most respected. He was born at Frankfort on the Rhine in 1829. In the old country he learned the trade of tinsmith. Coming to the United States in young manhood, he first located in Uniontown, Iowa, but in 1857 arrived in the territory of Kansas. For a brief while he followed his trade at Lawrence, but in the same year, 1857, he arrived at Humboldt. Here he put up a log cabin home and established the first tin shop in all that locality. His first shop was at the old Fort on the Neosho River. Later he put up a two-story building at the corner of Bridge and Eighth streets, and it was for the dual purpose of a shop and a residence. It was hardly completed when in October, 1861, during an invasion of the Confederates and bushwhackers it was burned to the ground, along with nearly every other building on the townsite. His property and stock of goods were entirely destroyed. He and his young wife left the community after the raid and walked all the distance to Lawrence. In May, 1862, he had rebuilt his establishment and once more was in operation at the old stand. After the misfortunes of the early ’60s, Mr. Fussman built up a splendid business at Humboldt and over that section of the county. He continued in active business until his sudden and tragic death on December 28, 1870. At the time he was assisting his workmen in putting the roof on the Landreth house at Humboldt, and as a result of a misstep he fell to the ground, being so badly injured that he died two hours later.
What a local paper said editorially of Mr. Fussman at the time of his death is a consistent tribute that needs no modification even at this time, more than forty-five years later. “The people of Humboldt remember Mr. Fussman’s many good qualities and his self-sacrificing endeavors for the growth of Humboldt. Mr. Fussman came to Humboldt in 1857 and commenced business as a tinner, keeping also a stock of stoves. Business prospered until 1861 when he built a two-story residence, corner of Eighth and Bridge streets; but hardly was it completed when the rebel horde destroyed the town and with many others Charles Fussman lost all he had. He was not a man to give up even to the discouragements of those days, but went to Lawrence and worked at his trade. In a few months he returned to Humboldt and with what he had saved in Lawrence started again in business. Gradually but steadily his business prospered. Correct business habits with a courteous demeanor, brought success. No man was more earnest in his work for Humboldt than Charles Fussman. To his labor and energy the town owes much. He was a man of untiring industry, and indomitable perseverance, always aready to spend his time and money for anything that pertained to the building up of the city and state. A phase of his character that deserves particular mention was his unbounded charity. His purse was always open to assist the poor and unfortunate. His death consequently was a great calamity to Humboldt, and he is missed there in society, in business meetings and on the street.”
Charles Fussman was a very strong republican in politics. He served several times as a member of the council of Humboldt and was in that office at the time of his death. He was one of the builders of the First Lutheran Church and always one of its consistent members. During the war he had joined the Home Guard organization and assisted in repelling Price’s invasion.
In 1859, two years after locating in Humboldt, Mr. Fussman married Sophia L. Wenthe. She was born in Caterinhagin, Hesse, Germany, in 1822. Her death occurred at Humboldt in May, 1891.
After the death of her husband, Mrs. Sophia Fussman became one of the sterling business women of the city. She showed a splendid business ability and is a woman whose character and activities have been greatly admired by her friends and have made her name a benediction to her family. Mr. Fussman at the time of his sudden death left a comfortable fortune, including his city home, his business and stock of goods, and a valuable farm adjoining the city. Though Mrs. Fussman had a large family to look after, she proved herself equal to the exigencies of the household and also the management of her husband’s business, and controlled it with a master hand until her death. The fine brick business block at the corner of Eighth and Bridge streets, the site occupied in pioneer times by the old Fussman home, was erected under the immediate supervision of Mrs. Fussman. She set aside one room of this business house for the manufacture of tinware, and the general salesroom was started with a stock of groceries, tinware and hardware goods and other necessaries, and she managed the business with exceptional judgment both as a buyer and salesman. It was long understood that any article bought at the Fussman business house could be depended upon to be exactly as it was represented. Since Mrs. Fussman’s death her son and daughters have been active managers of the Fussman estate.
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Fussman were the parents of four children. Edith was educated in the Humboldt public schools and still lives in Humboldt, giving her active time to the management of the estate. Louise, born at Humboldt and educated in the Humboldt schools, is also assisting in the management of the estate, and both she and her sister Edith are active in the work of the Presbyterian Church, Louise being a teacher in the Sunday school. W. F. Fussman, the only son of the family, is managing the farm of 160 acres half a mile north of Humboldt, and also had extensive oil and gas interests in the Mid-Continent field. Emma Amelia, the other daughter, died unmarried at Humboldt at the age of twenty-five.
The Fussman estate now includes the large business block on Bridge and Eighth streets, a garage on Osage Street, and two farms in Allen County, altogether comprising 200 acres. Much of the land is in the active oil field and is consequently of greatly enhanced value.