Martin Frederick Ansel

59th Governor of the State of South Carolina 1907 to 1911

Date Born: December 12, 1850

Date Died: August 23, 1945

Place Born: Charleston, SC

Place Buried: Springwood Cemetery, Greenville, SC

Residence: Greenville, SC

Occupation: Lawyer


Walhalla, SC Public Schools

South Carolina House of Representatives: 1882-1887

Solicitor, Eighth Judicial District of South Carolina: 1888-1901

South Carolina Governor: 1907-1911

On November 6, 1906, Ansel was elected to his first term without opposition, receiving 30,251 votes.

On November 3, 1908, Ansel was reelected for a second term without opposition, receiving 61,060 votes.


Martin Frederick Ansel studied law under Maj. James H. Whitner, and was admitted to the SC bar in 1870. He practiced in Franklin, NC, and later in Greenville, SC. He was first married to Ophelia Anne Speights, who died in 1894, and, in 1898, he was married to Mrs. Addie H. (Hollingsworth) Harris, daughter of C.L. Hollingsworth, she died in 1937.

In 1882, Martin Frederick Ansel was first elected as one of four men to represent Greenville County in the House of Representatives of the:
- 55th General Assembly that met from 1882-1883
- 56th General Assembly that met from 1884-1885
- 57th General Assembly that met from 1886-1887

In 1888, Ansel was Solicitor of the Eighth Circuit and Judge of the Greenville County Court.

He served as Governor of South Carolina from 1907-1911.

Deeply interested in education, his efforts resulted in the establishment of 150 additional high schools in South Carolina while he was Governor.

"Who can furnish a career more interesting, more helpful or more inspiring of true worth and honest endeavor than the well-poised, self-trained, mild-mannered man who held the reins of government for four years."


Martin Frederick Ansel was born on December 12, 1850 in Charleston, SC, to John Ansel who was an immigrant from Württemberg in Germany and Fredrika Bowers, also a German immigrant. Martin Frederick Ansel grew up in the "German colony" of Walhalla, in Oconee County, SC. He was admitted to the South Carolina bar in 1870, first practicing law in Franklin, NC for four years, then in Greenville, SC, where he became involved in politics.

He served in the state legislature between 1882 and 1888, then was elected solicitor in the 8th Judicial Circuit, where he stayed until 1901.

He explored a run for governor in 1902, but did not actually run until 1906. He was re-elected in 1908.

He was first married to Ophelia Anne Speights, daughter of A.M. Speights, founder of The Greenville News, with whom he had two daughters and a son, but who died in 1894. Ansel married a second time, to Addie Hollingsworth Harris, who died in 1937. One of his daughters, Frederica, christened the battleship USS South Carolina (BB-26) in 1908. He served as an elder at First Presbyterian church of Greenville. He was interred in Springwood Cemetery in Greenville, SC.


Martin Frederick Ansel was born in Charleston, SC. He was educated in the common schools of Walhalla, SC, going on to study law and winning admission to the South Carolina bar in 1870. He practiced law in Franklin, NC for a number of years, after which he opened a law office in Greenville, SC. He was a member of the SC House of Representatives for three terms and served for more than a decade as Solicitor for the 8th Judicial District of SC. Although an unsuccessful candidate for governor in 1902, he won election to the office in 1906 and was re-elected in 1908. During his administration, the Dispensary system for liquor that had been established during the administration of Gov. Benjamin Tillman was abolished, and statewide prohibition was adopted. Also, the state Audubon Society was chartered, high schools were placed under state supervision, a Confederate Veterans Home was established, a State Health Office was appointed, and the State Insurance Department was organized. After leaving office, Ansel returned to his private law practice in Greenville, SC.

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