Augustus (Gus(s)) Phillip Skaer was the fourth son, one of twelve children born to George and Caroline Skaer. He was born in Ashley, Illinois on August 8, 1862. In 1878 as a young boy of 15, he and his brother Will, 17, made their way from Illinois to Augusta. Each boy had a wagon and three horses. While crossing the Missouri River, one wagon along with its horses were lost along with much of their food and supplies. The trip was a grueling one, with horse thieves a constant danger. Even under the vigilant watchfulness of the boys, one night Indians stole one horse and they were forced to buy a mule so they could continue their journey over uncharted trails. The journey took several weeks to complete. The boys’ mother and siblings came by rail to ElDorado, then on to Augusta, and established a home on south State Street across from the Historical Museum. The population of Augusta was around 150 at the time. The boys’ father, George, was a ‘forty-niner’, crossing the plains to California with a party of gold seekers in 1849. After three years on the coast, he returned to Augusta by way of the Panama route. He brought with him 1500 dollars’ worth of gold, buying 1220 acres of land east of Augusta.
Gus married Emma Lietzke in 1891. Emma was born in Germany on September 13, 1871. Her family came to America when she was only one year of age and they settled in Butler County. Gus and Emma had five children, Walter, Minnie, Wesley, Howard and Floyd. Emma died in 1908 and in 1918, Gus married Georgia Blaney.
Gus, along with his brothers, were active in the first oil and gas tests in Butler County. They organized the Skaer Gas and Drilling Company which was later sold to the Empire Company. Their son, Walter was a widely known oil man and polo enthusiast. He was married to Mae Auer. Their daughter, Minnie married Ralph McCauley, and had two children, Christine and Ralph Dale. Wesley served during WW I and was also active in the oil business. He was married to Ethel Varner and later to Ethel Gillet. Howard was also a veteran of WW I and died in 1918 at Camp Funston, Kansas. Floyd established the Skaer Drug Store in Augusta. He was married to Maxine Davis.
During his later years, Gus and Georgia lived in their home at 1047 State Street. During his lifetime, he served as Sunday School superintendent and teacher at the Zion Church, southeast of Augusta. He later attended the First Methodist Church and was one of the generous contributors to the church building at the corner of 6th and School Street. Gus passed away on June 6, 1947 and is interred in the Elmwood Mausoleum. Emma, who died in 1908, is also interred in the Mausoleum, as is Georgia who died in 1965.
Photo: 1885 Map, 1905 Map and the home of Gus Skaer at 1047 State Street.