Louis Van Dorp

LOUIS VAN DORP. More than thirty-five years a resident of Kansas, Louis Van Dorp, though he arrived in the state with only a few dollars available cash capital, has built up and maintained for years a large and important service as a sheet metal contractor. With his headquarters in Topeka, his contracts have called him and his class of workmen to all parts of the state.

A native of Detroit, Michigan, where he was born November 22, 1857, Louis Van Dorp is one of the three children of August and Sophia (Kohn) Van Dorp, both of whom were natives of Prussia. August Van Dorp participated in the German revolution of 1848, and it was at the close of that struggle for liberal institutions that he left his native land and migrated to free America. He found work in different lines, and his closing years were spent in Topeka.

Louis Van Dorp lived in a number of places during his childhood and early youth, learned the trade of sheet metal worker in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and was a true journeyman, going from Negaunee, Michigan, to Chicago, and from there to Topeka. For two years eight months he lived and worked in Chicago.

It was on June 17, 1878, that Louis Van Dorp arrived in Topeka. For three years eleven months he worked at his trade with W. A. L. Thompson, and then established himself in business as a member of the firm of Bradbury & Van Dorp. This was one of the leading firms of the kind during the next twelve years, and after its dissolution Mr. Van Dorp was in business alone until 1915. Since then he has had associated with him his son Howard E., under the firm name of Louis Van Dorp & Son. It will of course be impossible to give anything like a complete list of Mr. Van Dorp's contracts in his line. However, it may be stated that he worked on the north and south wings of the state capitol and various other state buildings in addition to county buildings throughout Kansas and many other public and private structures. When he reached Kansas he had but $6 to his name. Such success as he has achieved has been by hard work and good management. With no disparagement to others Mr. Van Dorp has become a leader of his line in the State of Kansas.

He has been equally a public spirited citizen of Topeka. He is a republican, a member of the Topeka Commercial Club, is a Knight Templar York Rite and a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason, and a member of the Mystic Shrine. On May 11, 1881, in Topeka he married Johanna Van Houghton. Four children have been born to their union. Edith Isabel is Mrs. Vinton S. Babcock; Frederick Louis is a practical farmer in Shawnee County; Howard E. is now associated with his father in business; Glenn Howe is a mining engineer located at Telluride, Colorado.


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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