August Renz

AUGUST RENZ, of Leavenworth, is a rather remarkable man. He is now eighty-three years of age, and while his material means would justify such a course, he refuses to be considered in the retired class. He is still working every day, and goes about with erect form and with a decision of purpose such as many younger men might envy. He has put in fifty-eight years of business activity at Leavenworth. So far as can be ascertained he is the oldest active business man of the city in point of continuous service.

Mr. Renz is a native of Wuertemberg, Germany, where he was born March 21, 1833. As a German youth he had the advantages of the common schools and also learned the trade of weaver. In 1853, at the age of twenty, he set out for America. It took forty-nine days to cross the ocean on a sailing vessel. Landing in New York City, he found work at different occupations, and in fact was willing to accept any honest means of earning a dollar. He worked in a butcher shop, also in a tannery, and finally had an experience which made him an expert cigar maker.

From New York he went to Pennsylvania. He was not long in becoming a thorough American citizen, and he exercised his opportunities to participate in politics by studying and observing carefully all the conditions which then prescribed political partisanship. He became thoroughly indoctrinated with the teachings of the free soil party. From Pennsylvania he continued westward to Chicago, and he left that city to identify himself with Kansas territory and assist in making it so far as his individual influence was concerned a free state, where he might live and become a permanent resident. He came to Kansas in 1857 and soon located in Leavenworth.

In 1858 Mr. Renz began making cigars in a small shop on Shawnee Street near the Planters Hotel. He made cigars for the residents of Kansas before the Civil war and during that struggle and for fully half a century since. He is probably the oldest cigar maker in the United States. He is still active in business and is exceedingly well preserved for a man of his years.

Before coming to Kansas Mr. Renz was married at Chicago, September 22, 1856, to Helen Graeif. Mrs. Renz died November 7, 1894. Twelve children were born to their union, and those still living are: Helen, Louise, Mathilda, Gustaph, Samuel, Cora, Wally, Pearl and Theckla. Mr. Renz also has nineteen grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, 1918, transcribed February 10, 2000.

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Tom & Carolyn Ward
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