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GUESSAZ, OSCAR CHARLES

GUESSAZ, OSCAR CHARLES (1855–1925). Oscar Charles Guessaz, publisher and conservationist, son of Swiss immigrant Louis A. Guessaz, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 23, 1855, of his father's first marriage. In a second marriage, to Sophia Reuther, were born three additional children. From 1875 through 1884, Guessaz operated a print shop in St. Louis. He later moved to San Antonio, Texas, where by 1889 he was the proprietor of the Daily Times and the Weekly Times and was also publishing Texas Field, a magazine for sportsmen interested in Texas game animals and their protection.

In February 1902 he and his business partner, Tony A. Ferlet, purchased the Southwestern Sportsman and merged it with Texas Field to form Texas Field and Sportsman, which was renamed Texas Field and National Guardsman in 1909. By 1912 this publication was advertised as the official organ of the Texas State Sportsmen's Association, the Texas State Rifle Association, the Lone Star Field Trial Club, the Texas National Guard, and the State Ranger Service. From 1894 through 1896, Guessaz was also the Texas representative and correspondent for Forest and Stream, published in New York City.

He was an accomplished marksman and a leader in the San Antonio Gun Club. In 1890–91 he was president of the Texas State Sportsmen's Association, a position that he used to condemn market hunting and to organize a sportsmen's lobby for the passage of protective game laws. Guessaz's influential articles in Texas Field and Sportsman and its successor kept Texas sportsmen informed of conservation issues, changes in game laws, and the prosecution of lawbreakers. These magazines, from 1902 to 1915, are a major source of information about Guessaz and his work for conservation. After passage of the 1903 Model Game Law, Guessaz offered his readers an annotated pamphlet explaining the law and posters with a summary of the law printed in English, German, and Spanish. The 1903 law was scheduled to expire in 1908, and Guessaz editorialized extensively for its reenactment. In 1905 he testified before the State Game and Fisheries Committee in favor of retaining the law, and in 1907 he served with Henry Philemon Attwater and Mervyn Bathurst Davis on the game-law committee; this body recommended that the 1903 law be retained, that a license be required for all hunters, and that the revenue from licenses and fines be used solely for game protection and propagation. Additional conservation posts held by Guessaz included secretary of the Texas Game Protective Association (1906), chairman of the Game Protection Committee of the Texas State Sportsmen's Association (1906), and director of the Texas Game and Fish Protective Association (1912–13).

In the Spanish-American War Guessaz served as chief quartermaster in the Second Texas Infantry and as an inspector of small arms and small arms practice for the Seventh Corps of the Texas National Guard. During late 1898 and early 1899 he saw service in Cuba. After the war he served at various times as chief ordnance officer, aide-de-camp to Governor Oscar Branch Colquitt, and brigadier general of the Texas National Guard. During World War I, Guessaz served as a colonel in the 141st Infantry, Thirty-sixth Infantry Division. When discharged for physical disabilities in 1918, he volunteered for the United States Guard, a branch of the army for men who, because of physical disability, could not serve overseas, and was commissioned a major.

Guessaz was married in San Antonio on December 28, 1897, to Sarah Jane Lyons and had no children. He died on January 16, 1925, and is buried in San Antonio National Cemetery.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Galveston Daily News, February 24, 1890. San Antonio Express, January 18, 1925.

Stanley D. Casto

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Stanley D. Casto, "GUESSAZ, OSCAR CHARLES," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fgu15), accessed October 02, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.