Frank J. Hauber

FRANK J. HAUBER. A business is only as strong as that of the character and the personal forces behind it. This has been demonstrated over and over again, and perhaps no one enterprise in Kansas is a more signal illustration of this truth than the great Hauber Cooperage Company of Kansas City, Kansas. The president of this company is Mr. Frank J. Hauber. It is a business which has endured all the arrows and slings of fortune, was twice destroyed by floods, and twice by fire, and Phoenix-like has arisen again and is now bigger and better than ever. The plant of the company at Seventeenth and Osage Avenue is considered one of the largest cooperage and barrel plants in the Middle West.

The president of the company has been a resident of Kansas since 1878, and for many years lived at Lawrence, until his business interests at Kansas City, Kansas, compelled him to remove to this city. He is now the only survivor of the three children of Joseph Anthony and Agatha (Rapp) Hauber. Frank J. Hauber was born at Marysville, Hastings County, Ontario, Canada, January 22, 1856. His father was born in Wuertemberg, Germany, March 25, 1820, while his mother was born in Westphalia, Germany, on September 24, 1827. They came to America in early youth, and were married in Ontario, Canada, April 3, 1855. Joseph A. Hauber lived for a number of years at Rochester, New York, where he served an apprenticeship at the cooper's trade. As an American citizen he was a democrat, and was active in the Catholic Church, while his wife was a Lutheran. Her death occurred in Lawrence, Kansas, October 7, 1888. Their sons were Frank, Joseph and John. Joseph A .Hauber worked at his trade in Buffalo, New York, in Cleveland, Ohio, and on removing to Lawrence he opened a small factory, in which he and his three sons employed their skill in the manufacture of barrels. The old shop which they acquired at Lawrence had formerly been a cooperage department of the wholesale house of Ridenour-Baker Company.

Frank J. Hauber was educated in the parochial schools in Canada and in New York State and learned the cooper's trade under his father. He was twenty-two years of age when he arrived at Lawrence. He and his brother Joseph became practical assistants to their father in conducting the business, and the firm soon became J. Hauber & Sons. Later it was known as Hauber Brothers.

In March, 1886, a branch plant was established in Kansas City, Missouri, by Joseph Hauber, the plant being located at the corner of Twenty-first and Walnut streets, and subsequently at Fourth and James streets. In 1897 a new site was secured in Kansas City, Kansas, at the corner of North Second Street and Riverview Avenue. Through the dishonesty of a business partner this plant was soon all but wrecked, and the Hauber brothers had to bring all their courage and business prudence to the rescue. Frank J. Hauber and his brother weathered the financial crisis, and soon had a large and flourishing business. Mr. Hauber's brother Joseph died March 22, 1899, and that proved a severe blow to the business and entailed upon him personally a double load of responsibility. He had in the meantime kept his residence at Lawrence and looked after the business of the firm there, but after his brother's death he spent part of each day at Kansas City, Kansas, and the rest at Lawrence, until in 1903 he sold the Lawrence branch of the business and removed to Kansas City, Kansas.

In 1903 occurred the great flood which devastated the Missouri Valley and Kansas City in particular. Mr. Hauber lost nearly all of his carload of household goods being transported from Lawrence to Kansas City at the time. The cooperage plant was all but destroyed in that flood, and there was no indemnification for the losses. However, he soon had the plant rebuilt and was again operating with full force. In November, 1905, the entire plant and contents were destroyed by fire, only one-third of the loss being covered by insurance. Operations were resumed in a building at 1200 South Mill Street. In the matter of misfortune it never rains, but pours. In June, 1908, the plant was badly damaged by another flood, and on the 23rd of August the factory was completely destroyed by fire.

There is no severer test of character than the ability to recover from disaster and begin over again after disheartening losses. Such courage is evidently the foundation stone in Mr. Hauber's personality. He soon had rebuilt a plant on Mill Street, and in 1910 sold the property to the Kansas City Terminal Railway Company. He then secured his present site at the corner of Seventeenth Street and Osage Avenue, and in January, 1911, completed the erection and equipment of the largest and most modern cooperage plant in the Middle West. This is the business which he now directs as president and manager, and the plant covers four acres of ground, the average daily output is 4,500 barrels, and about fifty men are constantly on the pay roll year in and year out. Mr. Hauber for a number of years has had the active assistance and co-operation of his sons. Formerly the company maintained branch plants in other cities of Kansas, but the business is now entirely concentrated at Kansas City.

Mr. Hauber is thoroughly public spirited, and proved his character as a citizen when he refused to be defeated by disaster and kept a business going which meant much to the vital prosperity of his community. He is a democrat, but has never sought political office. He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, of the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Knights of America, and he and his family are active in the Catholic Church.

On June 13, 1882, Mr. Hauber married, at Lawrence Miss Barbara Ellen Knuehl. To them were born thirteen children, twelve of whom are living. Mrs. Hauber is a native of Chicago, but wag reared in Lawrence, Kansas, where she attended the parochial schools. Her parents were Joseph A. and Sarah (McGee) Knuehl, the former of German and the latter of Irish stock. They lived to a ripe old age, spending their declining years in Kansas City with Mrs. Hauber.


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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