Biography of Charles A. Karlan

Charles A. Karlan. Though comparatively a newcomer in Kansas, Mr. Karlan in a few years has made a record of practical accomplishment and a reputation for himself such as few who have spent their entire lives within the state’s borders have been able to attain.

He is an artist in furniture. The making of high grade furniture has been a specialty of his for many years, and it was in 1905 that he came to Topeka and set up his establishment in that line. It is no disparagement to other similar concerns to state that his is the largest and best equipped furniture factory and retail establishment in Kansas. Karlan-made furniture has a special significance among those who demand and appreciate artistic merit. It was from his original designs that the present furniture in the Memorial Building, the home of the State Historical Society, was made, and this alone has made his work familiar to thousands.

Charles A. Karlan was born in Detroit, Michigan, July 29, 1874, being one of the three surviving children out of the five born to Frederick and Wilhelmina Karlan. His parents spent their early years in Germany, where they married, and came to the United States in 1872. Charles A. Karlan grew up in Detroit, graduated from the high school there in 1892, and for three years was a student in the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, until failing health compelled him to relinquish his studies, when he moved West. From boyhood he had a special knack at handling tools and has developed a mechanical trade into an artistic profession. He was first engaged in furniture manufacturing at Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and was there at the outbreak of the Spanish-American war in 1898. He at once left his work and became a member of Company F of the Eighth United States Infantry. At Dacquira he had the distinction of being the second American soldier to put foot on Cuban soil in the time of war. In the campaign that followed for the subjugation of Cuba he was in seven distinct engagements, including Dacquira, Siboney, El Caney and the siege and bombardment of Santiago. It was at Santiago that Mr. Karlan received a gunshot wound in the left leg. At the close of the Cuban campaign he received an honorable discharge as sergeant-major, and after recuperating resumed manufacturing at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. From there he moved to Topeka in 1905.

Mr. Karlan is a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason, and is affiliated with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the Woodmen of the World; is a member of the Rotary Club, the Topeka Commercial Club, the Spanish-American War Veterans, and is active in the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Topeka.

In 1907 he married Miss Louise E. Biebel of St. Paul, Minnesota. Their two children are Charles B. and Frances Louise.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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