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GENSMAN, LORRAINE MICHAEL (1878-1954)

Born on a farm near Wichita, Kansas, on August 26, 1878, Lorraine Michael "Nick" Gensman was the son of Nicholas and Kansas Osborne Gensman. The future congressman attended various rural schools, the Garden Plain Graded School, the Wichita Commercial College, Lewis Academy, and the Kansas State Normal School at Emporia. After he left the normal school, he served as principal of the Andale, Kansas, schools in 1896 and 1897. Following graduation from the law department at the University of Kansas in 1901, he opened a law practice in Lawrence, Kansas.

The lure of the land attracted the young attorney. Two weeks before the Kiowa and Comanche lands in southwestern Oklahoma were opened on August 6, 1901, Gensman arrived with a group of other pioneers. Although he opened a law office in Lawton, he served as a federal bankruptcy referee from 1902 to 1907. During this time he married fellow University of Kansas graduate Lucia Van Cleef on April 6, 1904.

Gensman first sought elective office in 1918 when he became Comanche County attorney, a position he held only one term. In 1920 he launched a campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives and defeated Democrat Elmer Thomas in the Republican landslide. During his one term in Congress Gensman was a member of two committees, Indian Affairs and Insular Affairs. Although he was not reelected in 1922, he again made an unsuccessful campaign for the seat in 1936. He never held an elective office after 1922, but he remained a staunch advocate of the Republican Party.

He continued to practice law until his retirement in 1953. He also was involved in the oil business. In addition, the former lawmaker and his wife made several trips abroad. During World War II he hosted a Lawton radio show and commented on the world as seen through the eyes of a traveler. He died in Lawton on May 27, 1954, and was interred in Highland Cemetery.

SEE ALSO: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS, REPUBLICAN PARTY.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1996 (Alexandria, Va.: CQ Staff Directories, 1997). Lorraine Michael Gensman Papers, Congressional Archives, Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma. Lorraine Michael Gensman Papers, Museum of the Great Plains, Lawton, Oklahoma.

Carolyn G. Hanneman

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