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Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois with Portraits 3rd. ed. revised and extended (Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 620-621.

FRANK COLGATE VAN NESS, an enterprising young business man of Chicago, living at Wilmette, is a native of Cook County, born in Chicago February 20, 1868. He is a son of Isaac R. and Caroline (Bailey) Van Ness, natives of New Jersey.

Isaac R. Van Ness was born at Plainfield, and was a descendant of Bogardus Van Ness, who married the famous Anneke Jans, over whose immense estates there was a prolonged controversy. He came to Chicago in 1862 and founded the Chicago Varnish Company, in company with John Colgate, the firm being successively known as Colgate & Company, Chicago Varnish Company and Elmendorf, Van Ness & Treat. He was killed by a train on the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, March 13, 1892, at the age of fifty-six years. He was a capable and successful business man, and laid the foundation of one of the most prosperous enterprises in the city.

Mrs. Caroline Van Ness still lives at Irving Park. She was born at Newark, New Jersey, and is descended, through her mother, from one of the most conspicuous pioneer families of the state of New York, the Gardiner family, of Gardiner's Island. She is the mother of seven sons and two daughters, namely: Lester Tillinghast, Nellie Gertrude, Sanford Lee, Caroline Josephine, Frank C., Gardiner Bailey, Melville (who died at the age of six years), Charles Carroll and Douglas Irving. All the survivors except Frank C. live at Irving Park.

Frank C. Van Ness was educated in the grammar schools of Chicago. In 1881 he entered the employ of the great wholesale house of Reid, Murdock & Company as office boy. He remained two and one-half years with that firm, during which time he was promoted to the position of tea-buyer's clerk. He subsequently became a sample clerk for E. A. Shoyer & Company, tea importers. After serving this house for two years he engaged in business as a broker in rice, sugar and molasses, representing prominent New Orleans dealers in those commodities. Since 1893 he has been in partnership with B. W. Merrill, representing the well-known firm of B. H. Howell, Son & Company, selling agents of the great Mollenhauer and National sugar refineries. The office of Merrill & Van Ness is on River Street, and they do an immense business in supplying jobbers and wholesale dealers in sugars.

Mr. Van Ness was married, August 24, 1893, to Mabel H. Clark, of Chicago. Mrs. Van Ness was born in Des Moines, Iowa, and is a daughter of Henry and Lucinda Clark, both of whom died during her infancy. She was reared by her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Solomon Harbert, of whom extended notice appears elsewhere in this volume.

Since their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Van Ness have resided in Wilmette. and are considered a rare acquisition to the social circles of that village. They are members of St. Augustine Episcopal Mission of Wilmette. Mr. Van Ness is a member of the Chicago Athletic Club and the Country Club of Evanston, and of Commercial Council of the National Union.


– Submitted by Sherri Hessick on November 23, 2008.


DISCLAIMER:  The submitter is not related to the subject of this biography nor is she related to anyone mentioned in the biography.