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          Martin Frederick Ansel, governor of South Carolina, was born in the city of Charleston, SC, December 12, 1850. His father, John J. Ansel, of Wurtemburg, Germany, came from an admirable and prosperous family. Martin, while till quite a young man sought his fortune in America. He was a skillful master of mechanic, having received his degree in a technical institute of his mother country. Mr. Ansel married, in Philadelphia, Fredrika Bowers, of Germany. They settled first in Charleston and later went to Walhalla, with a colony of friends and countrymen. Mrs. Ansel was a woman of great force of character. She exerted a great deal of influence in directing the energies and efforts of her children. They are a credit to the careful hometraining they received.

          Martin F. Ansel inherited a strong body and mind, which was developed and strengthened by outdoor sports and a fondness for horse riding, in his youth. He was about four years old when his parents moved to Walhalla, and his early years were spent there, engaged in the usual boy activites. In his teen years, Martin learned discipline, exactness, regularity and precision from a village workshop. Afterwards, he was a clerk at the village store, and here he had the opportunity to study human nature and people. His educational advantages were limited to attending the villiage school. He also had the priviledge of using the literary societies’ books, of Newberry college, which was at that time located in Walhalla.

          Martin Ansel studied law under Major James H. Whitner, and was admitted to the bar before he was twenty-one years of age. He practiced nearly four years in Franklin, North Carolina, before going to Greenville, South Carolina, in Janurary of 1876. He took an active part in the Hampton campaign of that same year. In 1882 he was elected as a member of the legislature from Greenville county. He was re-elected in both 1884 and 1886, each time heading the ticket in the Democratic primary elections. In 1888 he was elected solicitor of the eighth judicial circuit, which is an office he held for twelve years. He voluntarily retired after the third term of office, in Janurary of 1901.

          Martin Ansel has been associated with some of the most prominent lawyers in the upper part of South Carolina, James S. Cothran, George G. Wells, and Thomas P. Cothan. He was a fluent, forcible speaker, very knowledgable in law. As solicitor of the eight judicial circuit, and as the state’s prosecuting attorney. He was fearless, impartial and faithful to his duties.

          Martin Ansel was a member of the Masonic fraternities of Blue Lodge, Royal Arch, Knights Templar and Odd Fellow. He was an elder in the First Presbyterian church of Greenville. In politics he was always a Democrat. Active in political affairs, in 1902, he made the canvass for governor before the Democratic primary. He developed so much strength that his friends persuaded him to make the canvass again in the summer of 1906. He received the nomination in the primary election, leading his competitor, the honorable R. I. Manning, by over a ten thousand vote majority. One the main issues in the campaign was the state’s dispensary for the sale of liquor. Mr. Ansel’s platform was in opposition to the state dispensary, and in advocacy of local county option. He was elected in Janurary1907, for a term of two years. The votes he received was very flattering and clearly showed he was held in high esteem and that the public had a great deal of confidence in his abilities.

          Mr. Ansel was married twice. His first wife was Ophelia Speights, daughter of the late Mr. A. M. Speights, for many years, the editor and proprietor of the Greenville “Daily News.” Mrs. O. Ansel died, leaving three children, two daughters and a son. Mr. Ansel’s second wife was Addie Hollingsworth Harris, daughter of Mr. C. L. Hollingsworth, a leading attorney of Pickens, South Carolina. He was a man of influence and unsual strength of character.


Men Of Mark in South Carolina, Volume I


James Calvin Hemphill



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