Biographical Sketch of the Creator of the Collection
Lorraine Michael "Nick" Gensman was born August 26, 1878, in Andale, Kansas, a small town near Wichita. Educated in Kansas, he graduated from law school at the University of Kansas in 1901. He was admitted to the bar in Douglas, Kansas, and practiced law in Lawrence, Kansas, for less than a year before moving to Oklahoma.
Gensman arrived in Lawton, Oklahoma, on July 23, 1901, two weeks before the city was opened for settlement. He immediately opened a law office and served as a federal referee in bankruptcy cases from 1902-1907. In 1918 Gensman married Lucia Van Cleef, an alumna of the University of Kansas. That same year, he became the first Republican elected as the prosecuting attorney of Comanche County and was only the second elected official in Comanche County from the Republican Party.
The Republican landslide of 1920 helped Gensman to defeat Elmer Thomas for the Sixth District U.S. Congressional seat. In so doing, he became the first Republican to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives from the Sixth District. Representative Gensman served on the Committee on Committees, the Committee on Indian Affairs, and the Committee on Insular Affairs in the Sixty-seventh Congress. In 1922 he was defeated by Thomas in a bid for reelection. He served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1924. In 1936 Gensman again ran for Congress but was defeated by Jed Johnson. After the election, Gensman began work in the oil business and eventually resumed the practice of law until his retirement in 1953.
Gensman and his wife traveled extensively, including several cruises around the world and many trips to Europe. From 1942 to 1945, he hosted a weekly radio broadcast on KSWO radio station in Lawton, discussing the world as seen through the eyes of a traveler. Active in various civic organizations, including the Masons, Elks, and the Guthrie Consistory, he was also a member of the Oklahoma and Comanche County Bar Associations. Gensman died in Lawton on May 27, 1954. His estate included a bequest of $87,586 to the University of Kansas School of Law, the largest single gift the school had received to that time.
Scope and Content of the Collection
The Gensman Collection includes 17 cubic feet of material arranged in 10 series. The collection consists predominantly of correspondence. While the collection covers the period 1901-1945, most of the material is from 1913-1923. The Museum of the Great Plains in Lawton, Oklahoma has additional materials on Gensman. This collection consists of personal and business correspondence as well as documents concerning his law practice.
Detailed Description of the Collection
The following is a detailed listing of series, boxes, folders, and documents that can be found in this collection.
Series 1: Credit Clearing House of Cincinnati, Ohio, 1913-1923
The 2 cubic feet of material in this series includes correspondence concerning legal work performed by Gensman for the Credit Clearing House of Cincinnati, Ohio. The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by defendant.
Series 2: Personal Correspondence, 1921-1923
The .25 cubic feet of material in this series consists of correspondence arranged by date.
Series 3: General Correspondence, 1921-1923
The 4.25 cubic feet of material in this series is arranged by county and then alphabetically by name of correspondent. This series includes valuable materials relating to the city of Lawton during the early 1920s.
Series 4: U.S. Naval Academy Appointments, 1921-1923
This small series of .25 cubic feet of material contains appointments to the U.S. Naval Academy made by Gensman.
Series 5: Veterans' Affairs, 1921-1923
The 4.25 cubic feet of material in this series is arranged by county and then alphabetically by name of correspondent. There is also miscellaneous correspondence on the American Legion, bonus bill, and Spanish American War veterans.
Series 6: Indian Affairs, 1918, 1921-1923
Consisting of one cubic foot of material, the Indian affairs files are arranged alphabetically and contain individual and tribal correspondence concerning topics such as allotment payments, oil royalties, Indian schools, use of peyote, and various pieces of legislation. These letters serve to illustrate the paternal attitude toward the Indians adopted by the government.
Series 7: Post Office, 1920-1923
The 4 cubic feet of material in this series are arranged alphabetically by name of town. Topics include post office buildings, personnel issues, and designation of postal routes.
Series 8: Travelogue Broadcast Manuscripts, 1942-1945
The .75 cubic feet of material in this series consists of manuscripts of radio broadcasts Gensman made over Lawton station KSWO from 1942-1945.
Series 9: Miscellaneous, 1901, 1908-1928, 1945
Consisting of .25 cubic feet of material, this series has a variety of material, including a stock certificate issued by the Volcano Oil and Gas Company, reportedly the first oil corporation in Comanche County.
Series 10: Maps, 1921-1922
The collection contains five maps, including two concerned with the Wichita Indians.
For more information on the archival holdings, please contact the Carl Albert Center.