For twenty years, from 1890 to 1910, Father Henry Ganss served as pastor of Saint Patrick's Catholic Church in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. During that time he produced historical and musical works achieving international appreciation. He has merited entries in two prominent works of reference-The Dictionary of American Biography and The New Catholic Encyclopedia-rare for one whose activities one would assume deserved only parochial notice. He had, one newspaper records, "a charm that made the circle of his friends far outrun professional or church lines." The paper expanded this remark by naming among those friends a renowned musician, John Philip Sousa, and a famous music critic, James Gibbons Huneker, the latter a lapsed Catholic, the former an Episcopalian and Freemason. A rival newspaper confirms the picture, recalling Ganss as "a man of commanding presence, pleasing address, and winning disposition," adding, "church lines were forgotten in dealing with" Ganss.
Ganss's historical writings fall into two groups, local and European. His History of Saint Patrick’s Church, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, (1895) is still useful, and alone amongst local historians of his day, Ganss cites the learned monographs and public records he quotes. 4 Such a practice one may trace to his education by the German Benedictines of Saint Vincent Abbey (now Archabbey) near Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Ganss, born on 22 February, 1855, to Hessian immigrants settled in the city of Lancaster, was at age thirteen sent to Saint Vincent; his parents wanted him to get a classical education from the Church. Ganss discerned a call to the priesthood-but not monastic life-and in 1878 was ordained for the diocese of Harrisburg.