Henry Brunner, Mayor of Mansfield

This item was recently brought into the Sherman Room. It is a flyer from the original Armistice Day in Mansfield, a holiday which celebrated the end of World War I and which later became Veterans Day in the United States. The item inspired me to take a deep dive into Mayor Brunner, who issued the proclamation to close the city for a celebration on November 11, 1918.

Henry (“Heinie”) G Brunner’s parents were Henry Brunner Sr and Catharine (also spelled Catherine or Katharine) Kuhn, who both came to the United States from Germany in 1881. Henry (Heinrich) Brunner Sr was born in Germany to Margaret Daum on the 28th of June 1862 [1]. The pair were married in Richland County on 14 August 1883. Henry G Brunner Jr was born on 30 July 1884.

Henry G Brunner (Jr) worked as a mail clerk before becoming an insurance agent in 1911. Shortly after switching careers, on 11 April 1911, Brunner married Beatrice Wolff, who was, according to the Mansfield News, “one of the best known young women of Mansfield where she has always lived” [Mansfield News, 12 April 1911, p 7]. In the same year, Brunner planned to make his first campaign to be mayor, but ultimately withdrew his petition for candidacy when the Democratic party instead chose to nominate the county treasurer, Pierce J Wigton, as their candidate for mayor [Mansfield News, 7 August 1911, p 3]. This might not have been the best strategy for the Mansfield Democratic party, as Wigton lost the mayoral election to W. E. O’Donnell [Mansfield News 11 May 1919].

After withdrawing from the election in 1911, Brunner continued to work as an insurance agent and also took on new or expanded roles in the community and his family. In the fall of 1911, he became the secretary for the Mansfield Baseball Club [Mansfield News 24 October 1911], and in 1912 he had his first son. In 1915, he was selected as chairman of the local Liquor Board [Mansfield News 30 Jul 1915].

After O’Donnell, the next mayor of Mansfield was Frederick S Marquis, who was elected to two terms but died shortly after taking office for his second term. As President of the City Council, George H Lowrey served as acting mayor for the remainder of Marquis’s term, and in 1917 ran for election for a full mayoral term of his own.

Apparently not one to give up on an ambition, Brunner returned to the political arena in 1917 and again pursued the role of mayor. This time the Democratic Party did choose Brunner from among several individuals to be their candidate for mayor running against acting mayor Lowrey [Mansfield News 26 May 1917 p 5].

According to the Mansfield News, the Republican party were pleased that Brunner was the Democratic candidate selected, and seem to have expected that Lowrey would win the election without too much effort on their part. As one measure of this confidence, when the candidates reported their expenses, Brunner had spent $236.70 on his campaign while Lowrey had spent $139 [Mansfield News 17 November 1917, p10]. On the right is one of Brunner’s campaign posters.

Brunner won the election in 1917 by a margin of 274 votes [Mansfield News 7 November 1917, p 3], and had during his term an almost entirely Democratic city council, with only one Republican elected to serve.

Although he did not win a majority of the votes in 1917, Brunner proved to be a popular mayor during his term. When he ran for re-election in 1919, once again facing off with Lowrey, he won by an “exceptionally strong vote” with a majority and a margin of 942 votes [Mansfield News 5 November 1919, p 2]. Brunner served as mayor for six years, in total, and was succeeded by Carl H Stander in 1924[Mansfield News 30 Dec 1923].

Look for more materials about Mayor Brunner’s life after his terms as mayor and a guide to the mayors of Mansfield on the Sherman Room Digital Archives and blog in the upcoming weeks!

  1. “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XZTS-8SN : 8 March 2021), Henry Brunner, 03 Jan 1942; citing Mansfield, Richland, Ohio, reference fn 5554; FHL microfilm 2,023,979.

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