PROFILE -- John Joseph Sussmuth



Born in Oberalstadt, a suburb of Trautenau, now known as Trutnov, Czechoslovakia on March 13th, 1883. This town is about 80 miles Northeast of Prague in the Tatra Mountain Region.

He was orphaned at an early age. His father, August, died in l884 and his mother, Catharine, in 1885. Foster parents by the name of Alios Tautz and later, his aunt Agatha Hellert Schmidt of Gellanau, saw to his upbringing and schooling in the town of Alstadt, Bohemia and then later grammar school years were spent in Emsdetten near Munster, northwest Germany. Very little is known of this period in his life.


He completed his advanced schooling in Sodertelge, Sweden while living with other relatives. His education continued, we surmise, in a technical training school over the next four years while still in Sweden. This schooling gave him his initial background in textile manufacture, the traditional business of the family. In all respects, he would be considered a good example of a self-taught man.


Returning to Germany, he spent two years in the service of the German Army as a Signal Corps man, during the 1905-1907 time period. He rose to the rank of Corporal and was cited for his proficiency in Morse Code telegraphy.


From all we know, he became deeply committed to his interest in textiles, including their design, their manufacture, pertinent machinery and the marketing of finished textile products

Soon after his arrival in the U.S.A. on October 27, 1907, he found a position as a foreman in Salt's Textile Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut. This is where he met Felicia Alexandra Nagorski, lovingly known as Fannie who had entered the work world from her home in Milford, CT.

Our records indicate he became a Naturalized Citizen on October 13, 1913 in Bridgeport, CT.


His career High Point was undoubtedly his going into the textile manufacturing business in Union City, New Jersey in around 1915. His business grew to the point where he had three factories and employed a sizeable number of workers.

Unfortunately, through a series of market miscalculations and the widespread textile recession of 1926, the businesses were lost and eventually dissolved.

In the late twenties, he became associated with a textile machinery manufacturer in Paterson, N.J. It was while with this firm that he invented the High Speed Warper, a key equipment in the preparation of yarn prior to the weaving process. Once the machine was perfected, he helped sell it and to train textile personnel in weaving companies up and down the East Coast of America, where almost all cloth manufacture was located. This type of equipment is still being used by the textile industry.

In the mid-thirties, he took a position as General Manager of a textile manufacturing operation in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The company was owned by a Japanese group who decided to close down the business and return home shortly before World War II broke out.

After the War began, which involved Canada in October 1939, his career fortunes began to wane and by the time of his death in 1951, he had had a variety of insignificant and non-demanding jobs.


To distinct causes occupied much of his adult time. One was being part of the ESPERANTO LANGUAGE movement, founded by Dr. Zamenhof of Poland. Since he had a working knowledge of over ten European languages, he saw the natural advantages of a universal language that would permit an acceptable means of communicating between different nationalities. Prior to moving to Canada, he had became General Secretary of the Esperanto Society of North America which is still active to this date. During this episode in his life, he authored a number of books designed to make learning Esperanto easier.

An early' interest in his life, the welfare and lifestyle of North American Indians, developed into a deep involvement with the Indian Association of North America. His efforts on their behalf led to his being named Junior Great Sachem, the highest position that could be held by a non Indian. He was adopted by the Mohawk Indian Tribe of Brantford, Ontario and in a ceremony conducted by Mohawk Chief Joseph Montour, was given the name Chief Happy Beaver, a descriptive he loved.

By the early forties, the onset of the War, as well as his return to the States, led to a declining active interest in these organizations. The press of personal economic factors caused the end of further work on behalf of Esperanto and Indian causes.

His hobbies were quite varied, ranging from extensive reading to stamp collecting, to opera appreciation and to gardening. He was also interested in current events and the political side of local and national life. During his textile manufacturing days, he made a published proposal to unify the many local towns of Hudson County to help eliminate, wasteful duplication of services.

While not exactly a hobby, he was very interested in history and philosophy and always enjoyed good conversations with people of comparable interests. He was an excellent teacher in the subjects he knew best and since we as a family always ate together, many of the table conversations were quite constructive and helped us children have a better grasp of topics we may not have had from school instruction.


He had a very serious attitude, but his mind never ceased to tell a good story or an amusing joke at the right moment. He also was a good listener. He enjoyed a good cigar and a schooner of beer, as well as good food and a Sunday night family game of pinochle.

He stood about 5'9" and in later life was bald and overweight. A truly interesting man to know.


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