THE STORY OF
GEORGE M. HAUSZ AND HIS MEDAL
W. F. Jannke III
Mar 27, 2015
I work for the Jefferson County Veteran’s Service Office. I love my job. The things I have learned about the plight of veterans and their many interesting, and oft times tragic, stories make my job all that more intriguing and challenging.
Recently our office has been much in the news when my boss, Yvonne Duesterhoeft, the Jefferson County Veteran Service Officer, helped to honor a fallen hero of WWII, Fort Atkinson native Victor Draeger. Draeger was killed in action in 1944 while serving in France and is buried there in the city of Mirecourt cemetery. Somehow his Purple Heart medal found its way into the hands of a fellow CVSO and he turned it over to our office to see if we could find any living relatives to whom we might return the medal.
At the time Yvonne was making plans for a trip to France and she arranged with the American Legion there to turn over the medal and have it placed on his grave. After many meetings, this was done and thus the memory of Victor O. Draeger and his heroic sacrifice was assured.
Since that time, Yvonne has become the sort of “go to” person for lost relatives and errant medals. Recently Richard Miles, of the Fort Atkinson American Legion Post 166 came to our office with a medal that once belonged to a Fort Atkinson man named George M. Hausz. He asked us to try to find a living descendant of Mr. Hausz so that the medal could be returned to the family.
Knowing that I am a historian and genealogist, Yvonne turned the case over to me. So I set about my quest and along the way uncovered some rather interesting information on this pioneer Jefferson County family to share with you.
Background on the Hausz Family
George Michael Hausz was the second generation born in America. His grandfather, Michael, was born in Baden, Germany. In an 1892 biographical sketch, found in the archives of the Iroquois County (IL) Genealogical Society, we find the following:
Michael Hausz was born in Baden, Germany, May 6, 1809. He was reared to manhood upon a farm, and when a young man learned the trade of cabinet-making, which he followed in the Old Country. Hoping to benefit his financial condition by emigrating to America, he crossed the broad Atlantic in early manhood. Landing in New York, he there worked for a time, after which he went to Bridgeport, Conn., where he married Miss Elizabeth Heinig. She was also a native of Germany, and when a young lady of eighteen years came to this country.
Mr. Hausz continued to follow the cabinet-making trade in Bridgeport until 1840, when they moved to New York City, where they lived about six years, when they started Westward. They traveled by way of the Lakes, landing at Milwaukee, Wis. The father at once went to Jefferson County and secured a farm near Ft. Atkinson, where he has since made his home . . . His life has been an industrious and enterprising one, and by his own efforts be has acquired a competence, which enables him to live a retired life. In politics, he is a supporter of the Democratic party, and himself and family are members of the Lutheran Church. Of the children, Michael is the eldest; George J. resides on the old homestead; Mrs. Louisa Widman is living in Jefferson County, Wis.; and Mrs. Amelia Sherman makes her house in Tacoma, Wash.
Michael Hauz and his family first appear in the U.S. Census of Jefferson County in 1850. The family at that time was living in the Town of Koshkonong, and Michael was listed as being a farmer. The family continued to occupy this farm for many years, ultimately Michael’s son, George J. Hausz, assumed ownership of the farm. Michael Hausz died March 1, 1895 and is buried in the Union Cemetery, in Jefferson. His widow continued to make her home with her son, George and his family but ultimately she went to Illinois to make her home with George’s elder brother, Michael Hausz Jr. and died there on August 1, 1912. She lies buried in the Sugar Creek, IL cemetery.
The Hausz Family of the Town of Koshkonong
George J. Hausz, George M. Hausz’s father, was born in New York in 1845. He married a woman named Mary E. in about 1873 and they had four sons, George, John, Charles and Adelbert. George J. Hausz was a farmer in the Town of Koshkonong. He and his wife seem to have passed away sometime before 1920.
George Michael Hausz was born in the Town of Koshkonong November 15, 1873. He was a carpenter by trade, although his WWI draft card states that he was employed as a shipping clerk for the Jones Manufacturing Co. in Fort Atkinson. He married Alma Brandel, daughter of an old Jefferson County family, on April 6, 1898. They had two children: Alvin (1901-2001) and Lola, Mrs. Earl Hensey (1898-1996).
George was active in the community, working with the Fort Atkinson Historical Society, helping to found the Garden Club, as well as serving in several fraternal organizations. He passed away in September, 1944, and is buried at the Union Cemetery in the Town of Oakland.
Sometime in the early 1900s Mr. Hausz served a term in the Wisconsin National Guard. The medal Mr. Miles brought in proves this point. It is a small, rather tarnished, medal comprising three bars suspended by a series of chains. It may have been attached to a silk ribbon at one time.
The medal (pictured above) reads as follows:
GEORGE M. HAUSZ
CO. B 1 INF.
WIS. N. G.
There is an eagle on the top bar, and the bottom shows two crossed rifles behind a laurel wreath bearing the year.
At first this was thought to have been a medal from the First World War, but upon closer inspection it proves to have been from a much earlier time. Through her contacts, Yvonne Duesterhoeft has found out that this medal may have been awarded for sharp shooting. A note from Wisconsin National Guard historian Brian J. Faltinson confirms this assumption. Capt. Faltinson writes:
suggests that this medal is an award for distinguished marksmanship.
In 1901, the Wisconsin legislature authorized a rifle competition within the Wisconsin National Guard between regimental teams and amongst individuals for the award of Distinguished Marksman. Awards included “various handsome medals offered by the patriotic people of the state.” Competition first held in 1901 with a much larger interest and participation by units and soldiers in 1902.
Prior to WWI, the National Guard placed a significant interest in marksmanship. This is partially due to the fact that federal assistance at the time to the National Guard largely was limited to providing arms and ammunition. Whole annual training would sometimes be dedicated to marksmanship. Most National Guards within the states held shooting competitions between teams and individuals and the best of those teams participated in the National Match held at Camp Perry, OH.
Some biennial AG reports do cite individual winners of these competitions, however, the 1902 report was not one of them.
Source: 1902 WING adjutant general's report
CPT Brian J. Faltinson
Command Historian & Public Affairs Officer Wisconsin Army National Guard
2400 Wright St
Madison, WI 53708
Reuniting the Medal with the Surviving Family
By utilizing the resources of the Dodge-Jefferson Counties Genealogical Society, based in Watertown, and its excellent and efficient webmaster, Ken Riedl, as well as the website Ancestry.com, I was able to track down the current descendants of Mr. Hausz.
As stated before, George and Mary Hausz had two children, Alvin and Lola. Lola married Earl Hensey in 1921 and lived in Illinois. She returned to the Fort Atkinson area sometime before her death and lies buried in Evergreen Cemetery.
She had three children, Herbert (1922-1945), who was killed in battle in France in 1945 and is buried in the town of Hamm, Luxemborg, Robert (1924-1995), who was married to Mary Culcheck and had three children, Dena, Richard, and Richard Jr. and Gilbert Hensey, who was born in 1934 and lives in Normal, IL. It is to Gilbert, as the oldest descendant of George M. Hausz, that Mr. Miles will be returning the medal, thus reuniting it with the family once more.
(The compiler would like to thank the following for their assistance in creating this article: Ancestry.com, the Dodge-Jefferson Counties Genealogical Society, Inc,; Ken Riedl; Richard Miles; The Online White Pages; Gene Asman; Major Robert P. Vandergrinten, WIARNG; Capt. Brian J Faltinson, WIARNG; and of course Jefferson County CVSO, Yvonne Duesterhoeft.)
The contact information for George M. Hausz’s oldest living relative, Gilbert Hensey, is: 1300 Hillcrest St., Normal, IL 61761. His telephone number is (309) 452-3823.
History of Watertown, Wisconsin