A Biographical Record of Whiteside County, IL, Published 1900
A. L. Van Osdel. In past ages the history of a country was the record of wars and conquests; today it is the record of commercial activity, and those whose names are foremost in its annals are the leaders in business circles. The conquests so made are those of mind over matter, not of man over man, and the victor is he who can successfully establish, control and operate extensive commercial interests. Mr. Van Osdel is unquestionably one of the most influential business men whose lives have become an essential part of the history of Whiteside County. He is not only prominent in business circles, but has become a leader in public affairs, and is now most creditably serving as mayor of Fulton.
Mr. Van Osdel was born in Kendall County, Illinois, December 25, 1860, a son of James M. and Margaret C. (Bates) Van Osdel. The father was born in 1816 in New York State, where he was married and continued to make his home until after the birth of four of his children. In November, 1854, he moved to Millington, Kendall County, Illinois, where he followed the business of blacksmithing and wagon-making up to within a year of his death, which occurred in 1889. He had a family of ten children, of whom three died in infancy, whose living to maturity being as follows: Mary, now the wife of E. H. Young, of Fulton; George C., an attorney of Aurora, Illinois; O. W. a Baptist minister of Spokane Falls, Washington; Emma, wife of Edward Budd, of Millbrook; Elizabeth, wife of C. Rickert, of Kendall County; Walter S., who is engaged in the sawmill and lumber business in the state of Mississippi; and A. L., who is the youngest of the family.
Reared under the parental roof, our subject was educated in the schools of Millington and worked with his father in the shop.He also found time, by private study, to procure knowledge of civil engineering, which profession he took up at the age of twenty-four, and to which he devoted the following six years of his life, being in the employ of different railroad companies on survey and construction work in various states and territories.
In May, 1894, Mr. Van Osdel came to Fulton to erect a building for the C. H. Rose Company of Chicago, and in March of the following year bought stock in the Mississippi Valley Stove Company and become its manager, which position he has capably filled ever since. He has also served as treasurer of the company since August, 1897. The Mississippi Valley Stove Company was founded in Fulton in 1893 by the Ohio Stove Company of Tiffin, Ohio, and in 1895 was formed into a stock company, being purchased by local stockholders, and became the Mississippi Valley Stove company. It is now one of the most important industries in this part of the state, and under its present management the business has increased to ten times its former capacity, now amounting to over one hundred thousand dollars per year. The officers are J. W. Broadhead, president; J. B. Kearns, vice-president; and A. L. Van Osdel, manager, secretary and treasurer; and the works are conveniently o=located in the southeast part of the city, just outside the corporate limits, on the Northwestern and the Chicago, Milwaukee & S. Paul railroads. They manufacture over four hundred different styles and sizes of heating and cooking stoves and ranges. Among the most popular of these are the Royal Solar, Regal Solar, Rival Solar, and Art Solar stoves and ranges, which have gained their place in the trade by their acknowledged superior merit. Added to their other merits, one nice feature of these ranges and cooking stoves an oven thermometer with an indicator on the outside of the oven door, showing at a glance the exact temperature. This enables the operator to regulate the heat to a nicety and does away with the occasional “bad luck” incidental to guess work.
On the 25th of June, 1895, at Fulton, Mr. Van Osdel married Miss Grace E. Mercereau, a daughter of Charles B. and Julia (*Keeler) Mercereau, of that place. Religiously, our subject is a member of the Baptist church, while his wife belongs to the Presbyterian Church, and fraternally he is a Royal Arch Mason. In political sentiment he is an ardent Republican. Although comparatively a recent arrival in Fulton, he has become thoroughly identified with its interests and has become an important factor in public affairs. Broad-minded, liberal and public-spirited, he is recognized as a valuable addition to the community, and he has been honored with the highest office within the gift of his fellow townsmen – that of mayor of the city – to which position he was elected in May, 1899. Without the aid of influence or wealth, he has risen to a position of prominence in the business world and in public affairs, and his native genius and acquired ability are the stepping-stones on which he has mounted.
(Photo of Mr. & Mrs. A. L. Van Osdel)
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