A rotund man of great girth and not always jolly disposition, many remember Archibald Ganse with mixed feelings of grandfatherly sternness and scholarly detachment. While a tad shorter than the average citizen of the empire, he was a stout as an oak tree and as wide as a bull. He wore a thick mustache to hide a vicious scar on his upper lip and favored hats much of the time as his pate was as smooth as a babe’s bottom. Most paintings of Ganse show his wearing a simple cut frock coat of Nimzian style over a silk doublet of the current Imperial style. He was seldom seem without his walking stick, or his Mitoyen pork-pie hat.
One of the things that most no longer remember about Ganse was that he was afflicted with a strange skin condition that left his face flaky with dry skin and red sores. this is one of the reasons there are very few artistic representations of Ganse today, and it certainly didn’t help that Ganse considered artists to be step below beggars since beggars were more honest by default. Despite his advanced years and excess weight, Ganse was by no means a sluggard or layabout. He was often seen bustling about his city, waving his hamhack fists at beggars and artists, tipping his hat to the ladies of the burg and the like.
Archibald Ganse was born to burgoise roots in the growing sprawl of the Mitoyen wards in Hahvrensburg. He spent the first part of his life working in the meat packing and slaughterhouses of the Mitoyen Ward where he gained his dour disposition and his bull like endurance. it was not long after he was on his own that he found himself dealing with bones.
While nothing of a necromancer, Ganse found himself working under contract to the Alchemists to reduce animal bones to powder and treat the remnants with certain acids to render phosphorus from the bones. It was then that he came to a strange idea, to find places where raw phosphorus could be mined from the very earth itself. He applied himself to this research while still working hours in the slaughterhouse dens and rendering bone down for its components.
It was during this time that Ganse became ill, a wasting disease that sapped his vitality and ruined his appetite. It was only by luck that the local Physician’s guild was able to determine that the bone of his jaw had been infected with vapors from the phosphorus rending vats. After a number of treatments and tinctures and a harrowing three months of dogged illness, Ganse overcame his bout of Phossy Jaw. Many others were not so lucky and ended their careers in closed coffins, their facial bones rotting inside their bodies.
It was after his recovery that Ganse made his move. He secured the rights to a town charter and mineral rights in a desolate spot of land in the Western Reaches, just south of the Great Escarpment. With a few like minded investors and bone renderers Ganse laid the first stones and timbers of the town that would later bear his name. Witihn a month of the commencement of construction, the first mining teams burrowed into thick veins of phosphorous, sulfer, and other volatiles under the thick and colorless soil of the hinterlands.
The mines produced a steady supply of the alchemist’s valued materials, and though there were the dangers associated with mining, they seemed pale compared to the slow and lingering death of phossy jaw. Ganse grew into a boomtown of some 15,000 souls. The mining community seemed poised to spawn a wave of colonization along the hinterlands. Several surveyors came, checking the soil to see if it could grow grapes for a wine vinyard, a ranching operation, as well as representatives from various faiths to see about setting stones to build their churches and temples as close to the pulsing heart of Ganse as possible.
Of course Archibald was shoulder deep in such enterprises, encouraging vinters and brewers to come so his miners would spend their coin in his town. He worked tirelessly, inspecting the mines and the miners, the wagonloads of raw material being shipped back east, and visiting the various taverns and shops that were growing all the while.
Every boom is followed by a bust, and with the town of Ganse, the bust was an explosion. The number Six mine suffered a massive blast that collapsed it as well as the adjacent number five and three mine shafts. While three had been shut down for two years, more than 200 miners perished in the auxillary number five and even that number paled next to the 450 miners whose lives were snuffed out in the Six Shaft.
However, the worst fatality was Archibald Ganse, who was inspecting the Number six that afternoon and was among those swallowed by fire and stone. Without his tireless guidance and intrusiveness, the town council quickly made itself wealthy, drove away the workers, and left Ganse in complete anarchy. The mines were closed as the cause of the massive explosion could not be determined and first at a trickle and then a flood, the populace abandoned the frontier city for more cosmopolitan surroundings.
Though his body was never recovered, Ganse has a tomb and a memorial in the center of Ganse proper thost can easily overlook this since the statue is of a horse prancing in the fountain. This is again attributed to Archibald’s less than ideal physique and skin problems as much as his dislike of artists and such.