Henry Baden

HENRY BADEN. A successful business career like that of Henry Baden of Independence indicates that persistence together with good judgment and enterprise is practically sure to win its goal. Mr. Baden is the pioneer merchant of Independence, has been in business in that city forty-six years, ever since the town was placed on the map in that part of Southern Kansas, and he is now distinguished as being the largest retail and wholesale merchant in that section of the country and one of the largest in the entire state. A history of the life of Henry Baden is not only valuable for its individual detail but also as a part of the commercial record of Independence.

He is of German stock and ancestry, and was born in the Kingdom of Hanover, Germany, April 22,1844. His parents were J. P. and Mrs. (Luehmann) Baden, both natives of Hanover, the former born in 1795 and the latter in 1798. The father died there in 1871 and the mother in 1851. They were substantial farming people. They had five children: Diedrich, who came to America in 1868 and was employed in the tobacco factory at Hannibal, Missouri, until his death; Maria, wife of Hammond Dittmar, living on their farm near Independence; John W., who was associated with his brother Henry in the mercantile business at Independence and who died there in 1889; Henry; and John Peter, who died in 1901 at Winfield, Kansas, and was the principal founder of that city, its leading business man and the owner of extensive mills, packing plants, ice plants and other industries.

Reared in his native country, Henry Baden had the advantages of the German schools, and was twenty-two years of age when he came to America about the time the Civil war closed. He spent 4 1/2, years at Alton, Illinois, employed by the tobacco house then conducted by Liggett and Drummond, one of the pioneer plants of the great Biggett and Myers Tobacco Company of the present time.

It was in the fall of 1870 that Henry Baden arrived in Independence. The town was just in its incipiency and Mr. Baden is probably the only business man who has had a continuous record of achievement in this one locality from 1870 to the present time. On coming to the town he bought a lot at the corner of Penn Avenue and Myrtle Street, put up a small building, and for four years conducted a cigar store. He then branched out and enlarged by installing a general merchandise stock, and after one year his brother, John W., came in as a partner. The widow and children of John W. Baden are still associated with the business. Forty years ago the store was typical of many similar establishments throughout that part of Kansas. Since then it has grown into one of the distinctive mercantile establishments of the state. There is no other house in Montgomery County doing business on so large a scale both retail and wholesale, and none that is better known. The general store now occupies three lots, with three buildings 23 by 130 feet each, while the wholesale house in the rear occupies a site 140 by 140 feet. From the wholesale department goods are shipped to a radius of 100 miles in all directions from Independence. In 1911 this business was incorporated as the Henry Baden Mercantile Company. The company also has a clothing, store 70 by 24 feet, on two floors at the corner of Penn Avenue and Main Street.

Mr. Baden has a fine family of boys who assist in all the details, and he is thus relieved from all responsibility except financial management. Mr. Baden owns 440 acres of farm land in Montgomery County, has a fine residence in Independence on South Sixth Street, surrounded by 6 1/2 acres of land and altogether comprising the best building site in the city. Its value is shown by the fact that he is taxed for $25,000 for this home property. He owns four other houses built on the 6 1/2 acres, is owner of a three-story business building at the corner of Penn Avenue and Myrtle Street, and has several tenant properties, one on Penn Avenue south, one on Sixth Street and one on Fourth Street.

For many years Mr. Baden has been one of the leading members of the Lutheran Church at Independence, and has served as treasurer of the church for forty-two years. He belongs to the Independence Commercial Club, and for six years served as a city councilman. Politically he is independent.

In 1874 at Independence, he married Miss Annie Katrina Klindworth. She died in Independence in 1884, leaving three children: John P., who is manager of the wholesale department of the Henry Baden Mercantile Company; Katy, manager of the dry goods department; and Annie, wife of John Schroeder, who lives at Independence and is traveling representative for the Baden Mercantile Company in the State of Kansas. In 1886, at Independence, Mr. Baden married Miss Susanna Rothjen, who was also born in Germany. To their union have been born five children: Emma, wife of J. W. Fitz, manager of the retail department of the store at Independence; H. H., who is secretary and a traveling representative for the Baden Mercantile Company; Freda, still at home with her parents; August, a traveling salesman for the firm; and Carl, who died at the age of eight years.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed 1997.
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