Louis Van Dorp, a leading manufacturer of Topeka, Kan., began his business career at the age of fourteen, when he was apprenticed to learn the tinner's trade at Negaunee, Mich. He is descended from stanch German ancestry, his father, August Van Dorp, being a native of Elberfeld, Germany, where he was born in 1828, the son of a dyer of that famous old German city. When August was sixteen years old, his father died and as he was the eldest of the family he had to work to support his mother and younger brother and sister. When the German revolt broke out, in 1848, he gave his support to the revolutionists and fought against the crown. After the revolt was crushed, he was so persecuted for his part in it that he bade farewell to his native land and set sail for America. He located first in Detroit, Mich., and later at Negaunee, Marquette, and other points in Michigan, but finally settled in Topeka, Kan., where he died, in November, 1908. He was married to Miss Sophia Koenig, who died in Marquette, Mich., in 1861, and is buried in the beautiful Marquette cemetery.
Louis Van Dorp is the only son in a family of three. One sister, Sophia, older than he, married John Salchart, and resides at Iron Mountain, Mich. The younger sister, Edith, married John Byrne and resides in Trenton, Mich. Mr. Van Dorp attended the night schools at Negaunee, Mich., for the main part of his early education and, as stated before, was apprenticed to learn the tinner's trade, which apprenticeship continued three years, when, having mastered his trade, he went to Chicago, where he was employed for a similar period. In the early part of 1878 he came to Kansas, arriving in the city of Topeka on June 18, a stranger among strangers and with but six dollars in his pocket. He was employed there four years as a journeyman tinner and cast his first vote in that city on the question of the disposal of the old King Bridge building to the Santa Fe Railway Company. In 1882 he formed a partnership with Frederick Bradbury, a practical sheet metal worker, which partnership continued twelve years, or until 1894, during which time the firm prospered and built up an excellent business. Upon Mr. Bradbury's retirement from the firm in 1894 on account of ill health, Mr. Van Dorp bought the Bradbury interest in the business, and since that time he has owned and very successfully operated it alone. In 1903 he purchased his present site at 507-9 Jackson street, where he erected his present commodious building of brick and stone. He manufactures galvanized iron cornices, tin, slate, and tile roofing, and metal sky lights. He not only supplies the local trade, but the products of his factory are shipped to all parts of Kansas and to other states. He supplied the sheet metal work for a number of the State Agricultural College buildings at Manhattan, including the science building and the library building; for the club house, gymnasium, and library building of the University of Kansas, at Lawrence; and for much of the post work at Forts Leavenworth and Riley; and also for the new Grace Cathedral just completed at Topeka. He is also interested in a Montana mining project, which has fine prospects for success.
On May 11, 1881, Mr. Van Dorp was united in marriage to Miss Joanna Van Houten, of Indianapolis, Ind., the daughter of Captain Van Houten, of that city, an old Mississippi river steamboat captain. Mrs. Van Dorp was reared and educated in Indiana until eighteen years of age, when she came to Kansas to reside with an older sister in Topeka, where she and Mr. Van Dorp met and were married. To their union have been born four children: Edith Isabelle was educated in Topeka and has made a specialty of music and painting, in each of which she has especial talent; Frederick Louis, an alumnus of the State Agricultural College at Manhattan, is now associated with his father in business; Howard E., born, reared and educated in Topeka, a very promising young man, is also associated with his father in business; Glen H., the youngest son, a graduate of the Topeka High School, in the class of 1911, is now taking a course at the School of Mines, at Golden, Col.
Mr. Van Dorp has always given the Republican party his political allegiance, but has never sought official preferment. In Masonry, he has attained the Thirty-second Scottish Rite degree, and is also a Knight Templar. He and his family are all members of the First Congregational Church of Topeka. Mr. and Mrs. Van Dorp reside in their pleasant home at 1115 Polk street, one of the best resident districts of Topeka, and their home in that city is endeared to them through long years of association in its business and social circles. They may be justly proud of their efforts in rearing their children to become honorable and useful citizens, and the result of their efforts commends the course of Mr. Van Dorp toward his sons. He has never been too tired or too busy to aid a son in his studies or work and has so endeared himself to them and so heartily and sympathetically entered into their lives, their interests, and their sports that they have always preferred the companionship of their father to that of younger and less responsible associatesa course, which, if adopted by parents in general, would in a large measure check the growing evil tendencies of the day and change the story of many a wayward boy.Pages 1565-1567 from volume III, part 2 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 December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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