Charles A. Hauser

Page 595-596-597 - Charles A. Hauser, who is now living virtually retired, after many years of successful and important business activities in the city of Grand Rapids, where he long held precedence as a leading contractor and builder, is able to claim Michigan as the place of his nativity and is a representative of one of the sterling pioneer families of Clinton county, this state. In the sturdy and prosperous little German village of Westphalia, Clinton county, Michigan, Charles A. Hauser was born February 2, 1855, a son of Hubert and Marie (Bohr) Hauser, both natives of Germany. Hubert Hauser was born in Wurtemburg, Germany, where he was reared and educated, and he was an ambitious youth when he came to the United States and established his residence in Michigan. He became a pioneer contractor and builder in Grand Rapids, to which place he came in 1855, when the future city was little more than a frontier village and to which he made his way by means of one of the old-time stage coaches. He was a skilled brick mason, and as such, developed a substantial contracting business in the little village that was destined to become one of the metropolitan communities of Michigan and one of the great industrial centers of the United States. Under the direction of this honored pioneer were erected many of the leading business and residence buildings of Grand Rapids and at the time of his death, at the age of eighty-three years, he was the venerable dean of building contractors in this city. Within a short time after his arrival in Grand Rapids Mr. Hauser purchased a small tract of swamp land on the west side of the Grand River, reclaimed the land, and there erected the building that long continued to represent the family home. In this old homestead were born his fine family of fourteen children, of whom only six are now living: Charles A. and Julius both of Grand Rapids; Mrs. Emelia Jager, a resident of California, and Mesdames J. H. Johnson, Charles T. Johnson and H. J. Haggie, all of Grand Rapids. The devoted mother was born in Germany and came with her parents to Michigan in 1846, the family home having been established in Grand Rapids in 1855. Mrs. Hauser was sixty-nine years of age at the time of her death, the religious faith of the family having long been that of the Catholic church. In Germany the Hauser genealogy is traced to the fifteenth century, and the name has been one of prominence in German annals, as is indicated by the fact that the family has long possessed its heraldic coat of arms. Charles A. Hauser attended the old West Side Union school of Grand Rapids, was for a short time a student in the private school of Professor Everett, but the major part of his early education was obtained in the Catholic parochial schools, in which connection he reverts with great satisfaction to his youthful association with the honored pioneer Catholic priest of Grand Rapids, Father Berhorst, with whom he made numerous missionary trips among the Indians then residing in western Michigan. In January, 1868, Mr. Hauser accompanied Father Berhorst on a trip through the wilds to Newaygo and Pentwater, where the sacrament of baptism was administered to twenty-five Indians. Mr. Hauser early became self-sustaining, and also aided in the support of the other members of the large family. At the age of thirteen years he found employment in the Widdicomb furniture factory, where he learned the trade of wood-turner. By working with his father he learned also the trade of brick mason, and thus for a number of years he worked as a mason during the summer seasons and found employment in the furniture factory during the intervening periods. In 1890 Mr. Hauser engaged independently in business as a contractor and builder, his associate in the enterprise having been William Hayden and the firm name having been Hauser & Hayden. The partnership was later made to include Edwin Owen, and thereafter the business was continued under the title of the Hauser-Hayden-Owen Company until Mr. Hayden retired and the title was changed to Hauser-Owen-Ames Company. Mr. Hauser continued his active association with the large and important business of his company until 1917 when he retired, but the enterprise has not been permitted to lapse, as the same is now conducted under the title of Owen-Ames-Kimball Company. Mr. Hauser was president of this representative contracting corporation for a period of twenty-five years, and was concerned in the erection of many of the largest and most important buildings in Grand Rapids, as well as many in other cities and town of Michigan. He thus has the satisfaction of knowing that he has made valuable contribution to both the material and civic progress of his home city, and he has ever been known as a liberal and public-spirited citizen. Mr. Hauser has much musical talent and appreciation, and has deep interest in the advancing of musical interests in Grand Rapids. In his youth he was here a member of the Knight Templar band, and he is the only surviving original member of the Germania band, in the organization of which he took part, in 1873. He has been for many years an associate member of the local Schubert Club, and in 1878 he varied his experience by a year of travel as a member of the band of the John Robinson circus. As a lover of nature and of outdoor life, Mr. Hauser is an active member of the Luther Burbank society, and he has a most complete collection of the published works of Luther Burbank, the distinguished wizard of plant life, one of the volumes of Mr. Burbank having been dedicated to Mr. Hauser, who has traveled extensively through American and European countries and incidentally made a close study of their plant life. His political allegiance is given to the Republican party and his religious faith is that of the Catholic church. He gave six years of service as a member of the city council of Grand Rapids, and was for five years a member of the board of police and fire commissioners. He has been for several years president of the Grand Rapids Schwaben society, has membership also in the Arbeiter society and the Grand Rapids Curling club, and he is affiliated with the local lodge of Elks. In 1882 was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Hauser to Miss Rosa Smith, who was born and reared in Grand Rapids, and who is a daughter of John and Augusta (Schikel) Smith, the Schikel family having been founded in Grand Rapids in 1830, about seven years prior to the admission of the territory as a state. Mr. and Mrs. Hauser have two adopted children, one of whom is now Mrs. William Drueke, of Grand Rapids, and the other of whom is Crescenz L. Smith, of this city.

Transcriber: Nancy Myers
Created: 13 December 2002