Biographical History of Central Kansas, Vol. II, p. 1183
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902
W. S. VANDORSTEN
The farming interests of Rice county find a worthy representative in W S Vandorsten, who owns and operates a good tract of land near Lyons. He was born in Ohio, July 8, 1852, his parents being Levi and Mary (Flickinger) Vandorsten, both of whom were natives of Pennsylvania, but were reared in the Buckeye state. The paternal grandfather, Samuel Vandorsten, was also born in Pennsylvania and was of German lineage. Emigrating westward he took up his abode in Ohio in an early day and there improved a farm. Subsequently he went to Michigan, where he remained until his life’s labors were ended in death. He was a plain, unassuming but honorable man, whose worth was widely acknowledged by his friends. He and his wife both held membership in the Lutheran church, and in that faith they reared their seven children, namely: Levi, Harmon, George, Cornelius, John, Mrs Steiner and Mrs Lah Witheroe.
Levi Vandorsten, the father of our subject, was reared in Ohio, and after arriving at years of maturity he was married. In 1861 he went with his family to Michigan and there purchased a farm, which he continued to cultivate until 1878, when he came to Kansas, taking up his abode in Rice county. Here he purchased a squatter’s claim to a half section and at once began its further development and improvement, transforming the tract into a very desirable farm property. In due course of time he received the title to the same from the government. As his lands were cultivated the productive soil brought to him good returns and as his financial resources were accordingly increased he purchased another quarter section of land and carried on general farming. In addition he followed stock-raising, and thus he added to his income. He usually produced a fair crop of corn, and being in the wheat belt of Kansas always garnered rich wheat harvest. He cast in his lot with the early settlers here and was instrumental in laying the foundation for the present prosperity and progress of the community. As the result of his energy and diligence he became possessed of a comfortable competence and was enabled to surround his family with all the comforts and many of the luxuries of life. His business methods were ever straightforward, bearing the closest investigation, and his honesty in matters of trade was proverbial. Politically he was a Democrat, but was not an office seeker, although he filled some township offices, including that of treasurer. Both he and his wife were of the Lutheran faith, and their Christian principles permeated their conduct and colored their entire careers. The father died April 25, 1893, when fifty-seven years of age. His first wife had died in Michigan, in 1866. She was a daughter of Mr Judd, who was also a native of Pennsylvania, and became an Ohio farmer, his death occurring in the Buckeye state. Unto Mr and Mrs Vandorsten were born eight children, namely: W S, of this review; Frank and Steven, residents of Michigan. After the death of his first wife the father married Miss Maggie Grover, and they had four children: Joseph, who is located in Oklahoma; Viola, George and Jessie. His second wife died July 12, 1878, and he again married, this time to Sarah B Spencer, and they had one child, namely: Lora.
W S Vandorsten was quite young when his parents left their Ohio home and took up their abode in the Wolverine state. His youth was quietly passed on the home farm in Michigan until 1879, when he came to Kansas and assisted his father in the development and improvement of the farm in this state. At the time of his marriage he began farming upon his own account on rented land, thus continuing until 1893, when he returned to the old homestead, of which he took charge. He has since operated it and has acted as administrator of the estate, having charge of the business connected therewith, for the estate has not yet been divided. He has continued the work which his father inaugurated, devoting his energies to the cultivation of the fields and to the raising of stock. He is a good business man, energetic and reliable and with keen discrimination.
In 1886 was celebrated the marriage of Mr Vandorsten and Miss Emma M Lackrone, who was born in Illinois, May 19, 1868, a daughter of Levi and Christina (Hammer) Lackrone, both of whom were natives of Pennsylvania, and were of German lineage. They were married in the Keystone state and subsequently removed to Illinois, where the father died. The mother afterward became the wife of Eli Strode, and in 1876 the family moved to Kansas, settling in Reno county, where they remained for two years, when they came to Rice county, since which time Mr and Mrs Strode have resided upon a farm in this portion of the state. Unto the parents of Mrs Vandorsten were born eight children, namely: Mrs Amanda Henson; Robert, of St Joseph, Missouri; Lewis, who resides in Illinois; David, deceased; Mrs Alice Bennett; Edward, also of Illinois; Ida, deceased; and Emma, now the wife of our subject. Mr and Mrs Vandorsten have five interesting children: Nellie, born July 30, 1887; Nora, August 3, 1889; Earl, November 28, 1894; Madge, October 5, 1899; and Frank, February 4, 1901.
The parents hold membership in the Christian church and Mr Vandorsten is identified with the Fraternal Aid Association. In politics he is a Democrat and keeps well informed on the issues of the day, using his influence in support of the welfare of his party. He has filled some local offices, yet has never been a politician in the sense of office seeking. His life illustrates the power of honesty and industry in active business affairs. He is still living on the old homestead, which became his place of residence when he arrived in the county, twenty-two years ago.