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  • Writer's pictureJeny Mueller

Augustus Columbus Cane

Born: October 21, 1892 - Ontonagon, Michigan

Died: January 24, 1964 - Ontonagon, Michigan


Father: Edward Cane (1854-1923)

Mother: Mary Ann (Molly) Schaffer (1857-1939)


Siblings: Roxanna Cane (1886-1976)

Clinton Cane (1888-1933)

Dorothy Cane (1890-1979)

Edward Cane (1896-1953)

Ruth Cane (1900-1988)

James Cane (1905-1905)


Spouse: Mabel Ellen Johnson (1897-1990)

Children: Arnold Cane (1914-1968)

Dorothy Cane (1917-1997)

Robert Cane (1926-1968)

Ralph "Tom" Cane (1939-living)


Relationship: My maternal great grandfather


Augustus "Gus" Cane was born on October 21, 1892 in Ontonagon, Michigan - the 4th child of Edward and Mary Ann Cane. Gus' father founded the Cane Funeral Home in Ontonagon - the only funeral home in the village of approx. 1300 residents. The funeral home is still owned and operated by descendents of Edward Cane. Gus' maternal grandfather, whom he was named after, Augustus Schaffer, was one of the original residents of Ontonagon and even still today, the Schaffer farm/land is still owned by the family.


The earliest historic record that shows Gus is the 1900 US Census. His dad was an Undertaker and he owned the Cane house without a mortgage. Within the household, was Gus' father, mother, siblings Roxanna, Clinton, Dorothy, and Edward, and Gus' maternal grandmother, Mary Schaffer.

1900 US Census - Cane Family [line 81]

The next record of Gus comes from the 1910 US Census. Changes in the household consisted of: Gus' youngest sibling was born (Ruth Cane), Gus' grandmother is no longer living, his mother gave birth to 7 children but only 6 are alive (James Cane), and Gus' eldest brother (Clinton Cane) was also an Undertaker with their father.

1910 US Census - Cane Family [line 224]

Also from the 1910 Census record, it shows us neighbors of the Cane family and two of their neighbors were Gus' aunt and uncle. Fannie Cane lived four houses down from Gus Cane's family - she was 49 years old, single, and a dressmaker. Next door to Fannie was William Cane and his family (wife and 5 daughters). William Cane was the village Marshall and held variety of other offices in the village. Fannie and William Cane were brother and sister to Gus' father, Edward.


On June 13, 1914, Gus Cane who was 21 years old married 17 year-old Mabel Johnson also of Ontonagon. Mabel was the daughter of Ebbe Johnson and Alma Ackerman, immigrants from Denmark and Sweden respectively. According to Gus and Mabel's marriage record, Gus was also working at the Cane Funeral Home as an Undertaker and I'd assume Mabel just finished high school as the wedding took place in June.

1914 - Marriage Record of Gus and Mabel [line 32]

1917 - Gus Cane's WWI Registration Card

The image above is Gus Cane's WWI registration card. Details from the record show that he no longer was working at the Cane Funeral Home - he was a Clerk and Warden of State of Michigan employed by the Northern Forest Professional Association in Ontonagon.


Three years later in 1920, Gus Cane was an Express Agent for the Railway Express Agency or with Wells Fargo - a position he would have from another 40+ years. From the 1920 Census, Gus Cane rented a house within the village limits of Ontonagon and within the home was his wife, Mabel, and children Arnold (5 years old) and Dorothy (2 years old) [my grandmother].

1920 Census - Gus Cane Family [line 237]
Arnold and Dorothy Cane as kids - exact year unknown

In February of 1923, Gus' father passed away. Details of the Cane family history are described in his obituary below.

From the 1930 US Census, Gus Cane and his family owned a home on Greenland Road - a block or so from the high school. (That house stayed with the Cane family until the 1980's or so. The house was torn down in the early 2000's to make way for a new road/bridge.) The Cane household consisted of his wife Mabel, his children Arnold (15 years old) , Dorothy (12 years old), and Robert (3 years old).


From the 1940 Us Census, the household looked a bit different as Arnold and Dorothy both married and moved out and the youngest child was born, Ralph (Tom) Cane a year before. Robert was also still living in the home as he was only 6 years old.


1930 US Census [line 5-9]
1940 US Census [line 77-80]
1942 - Gus Cane WWII Registration Card
1950 Census - Gus Cane and Family [line 2-5 and sample section line 2]

The 1950 Census that was just released in April 2022 provided more detail in the life of Gus Cane. From the image above, Gus (55 years old) was living at 410 Greenland Road (the same house from the last 20+ years) with his wife Mabel (53 years old), and sons Robert (23 years old) and Tom (11 years old). Gus was still working 40 hours a week as an Express Agent. In 1949, Gus' salary was $882. 42 ($11,000 in 2023 currency) but also in 1949, he received $2,352.32 in interests, dividends, and other income - that's $30,000 in 2023 currency!


In 1958, Gus Cane received an Express Agent Award to celebrate his 40 years service. From this article, some of his accomplishments are acknowledged:

  • Honorary member of the Railroad Co-Op League of Michigan

  • Knights of Columbus Member

  • Previous positions held in Ontonagon - Mayor, Justice of the Peace, Health Officer, and President of the Ontonagon Board of Education


Just a few years later on January 24, 1964, Gus Cane passed away. His cause of death was 'acute coronary occlusion ("a range of conditions related to sudden, reduced blood flow to the heart").


1962 - Cane family photo - Gus and Mabel Cane are 2nd and 3rd from the left standing

Date Unknown - Gus and Mabel Cane selling kitchen products
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