John Herman Tholen, who departed this life, February 18, 1911, was one of the successful business men of Southeastern Kansas. He began life a poor boy, and by his own unaided efforts succeeded to a marked degree. He was a native of Germany, born at Harren, September 9, 1853, and was a son of J. H. and Helena (Fuhnstagle) Tholen, both natives of Germany. The father was a teacher, and followed that profession throughout life. John Herman Tholen was educated in his father's school, and when a mere boy went to sea and was a sailor for three years. In 1872, he immigrated to America and after remaining a short time, in Illinois, went to Milwaukee and attended college for two years, in order to obtain an English education. He then went to Breese, Ill., and taught school two years. During vacations, and other times that could be spared from his school work, he was engaged in buying and selling produce, and finally drifted into the produce business, exclusively. In 1877, he came to Kansas, and located at Humboldt where he bought and shipped butter and eggs, principally, to the St. Louis markets. In 1878, he engaged in the restaurant and confectionery business at Humboldt, and conducted this business about ten years, and during that time he was also engaged in several other enterprises. He built two large ice houses and engaged in the ice business, furnishing the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad Company with ice for years. He also conducted a pop bottling establishment at Humboldt, and bought a grocery store in Humboldt, which he conducted for a number of years, in partnership with B. H. Achter and Henry Tholen. After this latter business was well established, he started another grocery store, on a cash basis, and retained his two partners in connection with this enterprise also. About 1889, he disposed of his restaurant and confectionary business, and the following year sold his ice business and bottling works, and his interest in the grocery business. In 1891, in partnership with B. H. Achter and George Greeby he purchased the wholesale grocery house of Lehman & Higgins Wholesale Grocery Company, of Humboldt, and established the Tholen & Achter Wholesale Grocery house at Humboldt. In 1900, they reorganized this business, and established the Iola Wholesale Grocery Co., at Iola, Kans., and Mr. Tholen became president of the company and served in that capacity until his death. He was active in local affairs, and took a prominent part in every movement for the betterment of his town and county. He served as mayor of Humboldt one term. Mr. Tholen was united in marriage February 7, 1878, at Humboldt, Kans., to Miss Ellagunda Koppers, a native of Germany. Mrs. Tholen is a very capable woman, and throughout her husband's busy and successful career, he sought her counsel in all important business matters. She was a daughter of Henry and Johanna (Franklin) Koppers, natives of Klepplin, Germany, where the father was a farmer until 1867, when the family immigrated to America and located in Wisconsin. In 1870, they came to Kansas, and located near Humboldt in Allen county. Mrs. Tholen was educated in a private school in Germany, and after coming to this country attended the public schools. To Mr. and Mrs. Tholen were born five children. The Tholen family are members of the Catholic Church and Mr. Tholen was a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Knights and Ladies of Security, and the Modern Woodmen of America.Pages 284-285 from a supplemental volume of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed October 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM196. It is a single volume 3.
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