Oscar Krauss

OSCAR KRAUSS is one of the veteran merchants of Topeka. After a residence of four years in America he came to that city in 1869. Nearly half a century has gone by, and at the present time the largest wholesale house of its character in the State of Kansas is O. Krauss & Sons, harness, leather and shoe findings. It has a splendid record of progress and one that has been built up on the basis of square dealing and strict integrity.

The Krauss family from which the Topeka merchant is descended has an authentic record of antecedents as far back as 1503. The first ancestor mentioned on the family tree is Hans Krauss, who was a councilman and judge of the City Court of Staffelstein, Bavaria.

Mr. Oscar Krauss was born in Saxe-Coburg, Germany, in 1847. His grandfather, George Salomo Krauss, was a minister of the Gospel. The father, Paul Frederick Samuel Krauss, was an extensive manufacturer of toys. He had a large family, their names being: Berthold, Herman, Fanny, Agnes, Frederick, Carolina, Leopold, Werner, Antonia, Helmina, Moritz, Oscar and Thekla, thirteen in all. Oscar, Carolina and Helmina are still living. Helmina, after residing with her brother in Topeka, Kansas, ten years, returned to the old home at Saxe-Coburg, where her sister, Carolina, resides. Samuel Krauss was a man of affectionate nature in his family. He was a good provider and also was a figure in public affairs. At one time he was a representative of the Duchy of Coburg-Gotha.

When he was nearly eighteen years of age and after completing his education in the German schools, Oscar Krauss came to America in 1865. One year was spent in New York City, one year in Chicago, a short time in St. Louis, and two years at Hamilton, Ohio. Then in 1869 he came to Topeka. In that year he engaged in business under the title of Bischoff & Krauss. Their first establishment was on Kansas Avenue where Crosby Brothers Company's department store now now[sic] is located and they operated on a small scale as hide and leather merchants. Soon afterwards they moved to North Topeka, Kansas Avenue, to a larger establishment, where they continued and prospered in business. For several years Mr. Bischoff and Mr. Krauss traveled alternately with team through Eastern, Southern and Central Kansas, buying and selling hides and leather. Railroads were rather scarce at that time in Kansas. This was a profitable venture, and with the proceeds of their efforts they built business houses in North Topeka and on Kansas Avenue, South. These old-time partners dissolved their partnership in 1881. Mr. Krauss continued the business in North Topeka, and about 1886 he established the present business on Kansas Avenue, South, taking his sons in the firm February 1, 1902. The old business in North Topeka they continued as a branch until January, 1910.

In 1873 Mr. Oscar Krauss married Miss Augusta Fensky. Her father, Jacob Fensky, was a favorably known early pioneer citizen of Shawnee County. Mr. and Mrs. Krauss are the parents of the following children: Leopold, George, Theresa and Samuel, twins, Antonia, John Paul, Augusta Theresa, and Willie. Leopold and George are in business association with their father and as young energetic men they have assumed a large share of the responsibilities connected with the management of the extensive business. The daughter Antonia is Mrs. William Suhm, of Wichita, Kansas, Mr. Suhm being a member of the firm of the Sauer Drug Company, one of the oldest drug firms of Wichita. The son John Paul has attained a successful position as civil engineer at Gary, Indiana, where he is connected with the Gary Steel Company. Augusta Theresa is living at home with her father and mother in Topeka.

Mr. Krauss is a member of the German Evangelical Church (St. Paul Church), East Third Street. He was police commissioner of Topeka from 1892 to 1894.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed October, 1997.
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