Transcribed by: Mary Ann Kaylor
Oscar Ansell , whose value as a citizen has been demonstrated by his active and efficient service as a city alderman and whose capability in business is manifested by the excellent service which he gives to the many patrons of his machine shop, has been a resident of Springfield since 1866 and was born in Elmira, New York, November 24, 1862. On the paternal side he comes from one of the old families of the Empire state and on the maternal side he is one of Welsh ancestry. One of this grand mothers lived to the age of ninety-six years and the family has ever been noted for longevity. His parents, William and Elizabeth (Oliver) Ansell, are both now living, the former being seventy-one years old. The father was a native of New York. He was employed in woolen mills in his native state and when he came to Illinois he secured a position as fireman in connection with the stationary engine. Later he went into the mills and is now engaged in woolen manufacturing. At the time of the Civil war he served in a New York regiment, enlisting at Elmira, that state, and during the period of hostilities he rendered valiant aid to the government in its effort to preserve the Union. He and his wife hold membership in the Presbyterian church and Mr. Ansell has been a stalwart advocate of the Republican party since its organization. In their family were four children who were born in New York and four born in Illinois. Of these six are yet living, namely: Laura; Cora, the wife of J. R. Chisam, who is a freight agent in Springfield; Oscar, of this review; Elizabeth; Jennie; and Alice. The last three were born in Illinois. One of the family died in early childhood in the Empire state, while Fred died in Springfield at the age of twenty-two years. All were educated in the Edwards school of this city.
Mr. Ansell, whose name introduces this record, attended the Edwards school until thirteen years of age, when he entered upon his business career, and since that time he has made his own way in the world. He began as a clerk and driver for C. M. Smith & company in their grocery department, and remained with that house for three years. He then went to work in the Springfield Rolling Mills, serving a three years' apprenticeship in the machine shop and on the completion of his term he secured employment in the machine shops of the Wabash Railroad, where he remained for about a year, gradually gaining a thorough, comprehensive and practical understanding of the business. In 1883 he returned to the rolling mills and was employed as a journeyman machinist, remaining there for some time. He then went to the Illinois Watch Factory, where he worked as a machinist for six years and was then promoted to the position of assistant foreman of the screw and flat steel department, serving in that important capacity until 1892. In 1894 he entered the service of A. L. Ide & Son, spending the year in their machine shop, after which he secured employment as a machinist with the Barker Mine, Car & Foundry Company, with which he was connected for two years. He was then promoted to the superintendency of the plant and acted in that capacity for two years. In February, 1899, he opened up his own machine shop at No. 319 South Third street, and has since prospered in his business undertakings. He does everything in the line of machine work and has his shop fitted up with all modern machinery necessary for carrying on the business. He now has a thorough understanding of the scientific principles which underlie his work and of the practical part of the business as well. He employs six men in the shop and two are employed outside of the shop, and to the business Mr. Ansell give his personal attention and supervision.
In Springfield in 1885 Mr. Ansell was married to Miss Annie A. Schwarberg, who was born in St. Louis in 1864 and was educated in the common schools. They now have two children: Edna M., who was born in 1888 and attends the Edwards school, and Raymond H., who was born in 1890 and is also in school. In 1887 Mr. Ansell built his pleasant home at No. 109 West Allen street and his since resided there.
Mr. Ansell is a member of Navaree Lodge, K. P., of Capital Tent, No. 1, K.O.T.M., and of Sangamon Council, No. 46, of the National Union. He has always taken a deep and active interest in politics and regards it the duty as well as the privilege of every citizen to keep informed on the questions of the day and to indicate his preference by his ballot. He has never been an aspirant for office, yet his fitness for public trust led to his election to the position of alderman from the fourth ward in 1897. He discharged the duties so acceptably that in 1899 and again in 1900 he was re-elected, each time by an increased majority. He has been chairman of the water works committee since a member of the council, is also serving on the committee on finance, ordinances and public franchises. He has given his closest attention to the interests of his constituents and of the city and over his public record there falls no shadow of wrong or suspicion of evil. Local progress ia a matter very dear to his heart and in
his official service he has manifested the utmost loyalty to Springfield and her welfare. In business, too, his reputation is one highly commendable and exemplary and that he has been dependent upon his own resources from the age of thirteen years and is now in comfortable circumstances, indicates that as the architect of his own fortunes he has builded wisely and well.