Meet Miss Ada Christena Kansgen (1883-1966), Educator

I met Ada Christena Kansgen in a Show Low, Arizona antique store – that is, I met her 1922 photograph, which I purchased. I figured with a rare surname like KANSGEN, it wouldn’t be difficult to find her in historical records and I was right!

Ada Christena Kansgen was born in 1883 in Ogle County, Illinois, the first of many children born to Frank and Anna May Pratt Kansgen, who had married on 16 February 1882 in Ogle County. Both of Frank’s parents were German immigrants. However, Anna’s parents, Edward and Sophia, were both born in Massachusetts.

Her paternal grandfather, Adolph Kansgen, was born in Germany in December 1823 and lived with the family in 1900 in Montrose, Colorado. He immigrated in 1848 and indicated that he was a naturalized citizen in the 1900 census. Mary Anna Koerfer, wife of Adolph, wasn’t in the home in 1900, but she is buried at Cedar Cemetery. Mary was living with her unmarried son, William, in 1910 in Riverside, Montrose, Colorado. She was born 11 November 1830 and died 22 October 1920.

Also in the household were Adolph’s son and daughter-in-law and eight grandchildren. I’ve added further biographical information about Ada’s family members. All are buried at Cedar Cemetery in Montrose except for Stanley and Emolyn, who are buried at Rose Hill, also in Montrose, Lawrence’s wife, Sadie, who is buried in Glendale, California and Myrtle and Arthur, who are buried in Delta County, Colorado:

Kansgen, Frank H., born August 1859, Illinois; died 1951
Kansgen, Anna M., born November 1859, Illinois; died 1919
Kansgen, Ada C., born March 1883, Illinois; died March 1966; did not marry.
Kansgen, Carrie G., born March 1885, Illinois; died 1962; married Sanford Louis Miller (1884-1939).
Kansgen, Mabel Louisa, born February 1887, Illinois; died 1949; married Claude McClure Long, 3 September 1907, Montrose County, Colorado.
Kansgen, Wilber W., born April 1891, Nebraska; died 1956; married Rectha Mae Wilson (1890-1944), 18 January 1921, Montrose, Colorado.
Kansgen, Lawrence Elmer, born July 1893, Nebraska; died 1937; married Sara (Sadie) M. Miles, 5 December 1916, Montrose County, Colorado. she died 16 August 1959 and is buried at Forest Lawn, Glendale, Los Angeles, California.
Kansgen, Stanley Harold, born  December 1894, Nebraska; died 31 December 1984; married Emolyn Mikkelson (14 April 1906-16 May 1989), 26 June 1928, Garfield County, Colorado.
Kansgen, Myrtle Olive, born September 1896, Nebraska; died 5 July 1943, Delta County, Colorado; married Arthur Vanburen Berry (17 March 1894-24 December 1947), 10 December 1920, Montrose County, Colorado.
Kansgen, Gurtrude M., born 27 November 1897, Nebraska; died 7 May 1988, probably El Paso County, Colorado; married Howard D. Selden. Place of burial for this couple is unknown.

Gleaned from the birthplaces of the children is the fact that sometime between Mabel’s 1887 birth and that of Wilber in 1891, the family spent at least six years living somewhere in Nebraska before they moved to Colorado between 1897 and 1900.

Tenna Kansgen, daughter of Adolph and Mary Anna, and sister of Frank, was born 25 October 1865 and died on 9 February 1882. She is buried at Oak ridge Cemetery in Dannebrog, Howard County, Nebraska, so I suspect that is where Frank, Anna and children also lived.

Ada set out on her teaching career in Montrose, Colorado, where teacher appointments for the upcoming school year were announced in the local newspaper on 22 May 1906.

Montrose Enterprise, 22 May 1906
Source: Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection

Ada apparently moved on to a new teaching position in Boulder, as the Montrose Enterprise published a list of some of the local high school graduates “in times come by” on 16 May 1912. Ada’s name appears on that somewhat lengthy list.

Montrose Enterprise, 16 May 1912
Source: Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection

Ada apparently became a math teacher as the 1923 Colorado School Journal included this talk given by her:

“Weak Points in High School Training as a Preparation
for College Mathematics”
Source: Google

Ada was also a member of Kappa Delta Pi, the International Education Honor Society. She served as corresponding secretary and president of her chapter. (Note: her name comes up in the search engine, but access to the journals is restricted, so I don’t know to which chapter she belonged.)

Her career progressed to the point where she was a professor and then Dean of Women at Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado:

Student, Boulder, 1930
Source: Ancestry

Ada was highly educated with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Colorado, was a graduate student at the Universities of Chicago and Colorado.

Source: Ancestry

She taught in the Division of Astronomy, Geography and Geology:

She was a professor at Western State College in the Division of Natural Science and Mathematics.

Ada also became the Dean of Women at the same college before her retirement.

Ada Christena Kansgen had a notable career as an educator. She died in March 1966 and is buried at Cedar Cemetery with most of her family. How her photo ended up in Show Low, Arizona, I have no clue, but she is going home to family.

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