Biography of William Henry Van Meer, M. D.

William Henry Van Meer, M. D. A comparatively recent recruit to the medical fraternity of Elk County, Dr. William Henry Van Meer is a physician and surgeon of more than a quarter of a century of standing and experience. When he entered upon his professional career it was as a man of matured mind, thoroughly alive to the responsibilities of the course which he had chosen, and one whose broad experience in other fields of endeavor had given him a keen insight into human nature, as well as developed his sympathies and spirit of kindliness. During the short time that he had been practicing at Longton, his present field of endeavor, he had won a place in the confidence and regard of the people, as well as a standing in the community as one of its learned and able men.

Doctor Van Meer was born in the township of Brock, Province of Ontario, Canada, May 4, 1854, and is a son of William and Sarah Anna (Maybee) Van Meer. He is of Dutch descent, his grandfather, Simon Van Meer, having been born in Holland and an early resident of Albany, New York, at which place he owned forty acres of land during the days of the War of the Revolution. Later he went to Canada, locating four miles from Hamilton, Ontario, and his death occurred near Head Lake, Lexington, Canada, in 1862, when he had reached the remarkable age of 104 years, eight months, twenty-nine days. In addition to his longevity, there were numerous other things that made Simon Van Meer a remarkable man. He was not only a thorough agriculturist, but was a master of the blacksmith’s trade, a skilled carpenter and joiner and a finished cooper, and was able to hold his own in competition with the best workmen in all these vocations, in fact being a genius as a jack-of-all-trades. William Van Meer, the father of Doctor Van Meer, was born four miles from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and was reared at Hamilton, where he secured a public school education. He was married at Cannington, Township of Brock, and there followed farming and the blacksmith trade, which he had learned from his father, continuing to be a resident of Canada until 1864. On first coming to the United States, Mr. Van Meer located in Montcalm County, Michigan, where he followed farming and blacksmithing for many years, but in 1891 went to Salem, Oregon, where some of his children were living and retired from active life. His death occurred at that place in 1906. Mr. Van Meer was a republican and a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Like his father, he was skilled as a mechanic, and while he did not possess the elder man’s yersatility was an excellent workman in whatever he undertook to do. He was a good citizen and a man whose integrity was well known in the communities in which he resided. Mr. Van Meer married Miss Sarah Anna Maybee, who was born in 1822, at Cannington, Canada, and died near Salem, Oregon, in 1906, and they became the parents of the following children: Elizabeth, who died at Maple Hill, Montcalm County, Michigan, as the wife of the late Edmond Shipman, who was a farmer; Emily, who is the wife of Thomas Wilson, a farmer of the vicinity of New Ego, Michigan; Elmira, who died at Clam Lake, Michigan, north of Grand Rapids, as the wife of the late Sam Johnson, who was a farmer; Edward, who is prominent in the political and official life of the city of Seattle, Washington; Cynthia, deceased, who was the wife of the late Robert Houston, who was first a sailor and later a farmer of Montcalm, Michigan; Amanda, who died at Clam Lake, Michigan, as the wife of the late Dan Kaiser, who was a farmer; Martha, who was married three times and died in Oregon; William Henry, of this notice; a son who died in infancy; Melisa, who was twice married and died near Chicago, Illinois; Marietta, who married a Mr. Sphink, a contractor near Grand Island, Nebraska; and Minnie, who had been twice married and now lives at Salem, Oregon.

William Henry Van Meer received his early education in the common schools of Canada and Montcalm County, Michigan, and was reared on his father’s farm, on which he remained and assisted the elder man until he was sixteen years of age. He then left the parental roof and began to work out among the farmers by the month, but tired of this vocation and soon secured employment in a sawmill, which was more to his liking, as he had undoubtedly inherited some of his father’s and grandfather’s liking and genius for the handling of tools and machinery. In the sawmill he passed through all the positions from the lowest until that of head sawyer, in which he was capable of operating the engine, and this within the space of three years. When he was nineteen years of age he sought the West, as his health had failed from the constant confinement and breathing of the mill dust, and located first in Adams County. Later he removed to Dorchester, Saline County, Nebraska, where he worked in the harvest fields, and after two years went to Grundy County, Iowa, and engaged in farming. While in that state he was married at Waterloo, April 19, 1875, but in the fall of the same year returned to Nebraska, and for two years continued his farming operations. In the spring of 1876 he homesteaded 160 acres of land in Osborne County, Kansas, and remained on that farm during a period of eighteen and one-half years.

In the meantime, first merely as a pastime and later as an interesting subject of study, he had engaged in reading medicine, and finally came to the conclusion that he would enter the profession as a practitioner. Accordingly, after some preparation, he entered the Kansas City Homeopathic Medical College, from which he was duly graduated in March, 1890, with the degree of Doctor of Medicine. Since then he had taken much post-graduate work, notably in 1898, at the Kansas Homeopathic Medical College, Kansas City, in medicine and surgery. Doctor Van Meer began the active practice of his vocation as an undergraduate, in Osborne County, and remained in that community for a number of years, in 1902 removing to Valley Falls, Jefferson County, where he practiced for ten years. In 1912 he went to Pawnee County, Oklahoma, but remained there only a little over a year, when he returned to Valley Falls. In September, 1915, he located at Longton, where he had since carried on a general medical and surgical practice. He recently sold his farm at Valley Falls, and his office and residence are located just off of Main Street. Doctor Van Meer belongs to the Elk County Medical Society, the Kansas Medical Society, the American Medical Association, and the Kansas State Homeopathic Medical Society. He maintains an independent stand in political affairs, and had served as a member of the school board in Osborne County, and as constable prior to entering upon the practice of his calling. His fraternal connections are with the Ancient Order of United Workmen, the Woodmen of the World, the Knights and Ladies of Security and the Fraternal Aid Union. He enjoys high standing among his fellow-practitioners in medicine and is acknowledged to be one of the strict observers of the ethics of his calling. When called upon he had not been backward in giving his aid to movements for the betterment and progress of the place of his adoption.

Doctor Van Meer was married at Waterloo, Iowa, April 19, 1875, to Miss Sarah E. Lane, daughter of Benjamin Franklin and Margaret (Kennedy) Lane, the former, a farmer and carpenter, now deceased, and the latter now a resident of near San Francisco, California. To Doctor and Mrs. Van Meer the following children were born: Edna, who is the wife of Sherman Mayhew, proprietor of a barber shop and shooting gallery at Great Bend, Kansas; F. A., who is engaged in farming in Osborne County, Kansas; Warren, who is a thresher, farmer and blacksmith of Arkansas; and Arlie Lenora, who is the wife of Sam Strong, an attorney of Valley Falls, Kansas.

Van Meer,


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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