Biography of Frank Durein

Frank Durein. This venerable man, now in the seventy-fourth year of his age, who with firm step and unclouded mind still walks the streets and attends to his daily routine of affairs, had, during the thirty-seven years of his residence in Topeka, witnessed its great development and borne a share in the startling course of its progress. He had been connected with many and important business enterprises and had done much to contribute to the upbuilding of the city, but since 1890 had lived in retircment, his only activities being those of looking after his large holdings and taking a part in movements for the city’s betterment.

Mr. Durein was born September 11, 1843, on a farm at Landuo Rheinfalz, Germany, a son of Matthew and Katherine (Stiner) Durein. His father’s elder and younger brothers, Jacob and Valentine Durein, were with Napoleon on his drive to Moscow, and from the time they left home were never again seen nor heard of. Matthew Durein, who was born Febuary, 11, 1789, had been married before the call came for troops, and consequently was absolved from military duty. He followed farming throughout his life, but while industrious and hard-working gained only a moderate fortune. His death occurred August 8, 1866. He was married three times and had fifteen children, and Frank was born to his third marriage.

Frank Durein received only a meagre schooling in his native land, as when he was but eight years of age he began to help his father, driving oxen and cows instead of horses in plowing the small farm which, like others in the old country, because of the congestion had to be farmed intensively, in order to make up for its smallness. When he was twenty-two years of age, Mr. Durein decided to come to the United States, where conditions were more promising for the acquirement of a fortune, and accordingly, with a half-sister, left Havre on a three-masted sailing vessel. During the journey, which consumed forty-eight days, Mr. Durein did the cooking for his little party, and finally reached Cincinnati, Ohio, at an expenditure of $20. He arrived in the latter part of 1865 and soon, through a friend, secured a position as attendant in the Longview Asylum, in Hamilton County, Ohio, where he remained for three years. At the end of this time he found his health broken by the long and unaccustomed confinement, and he accordingly took his savings, amounting to some $400, and went to St. Louis, where he was an attendant in the St. Louis County institutions for a year. In 1870 he came to Topeka, having been called hither by a friend, E. Pape, who was a baker and confectioner. Mr. Durein was employed to take charge of Mr. Pape’s place of business, at No. 509 Kansas Avenue, and after one year resigned this position to accept a like one with Paule & Kreipe, proprietors of a hotel and grocery. While acting in this capacity, Mr. Durein was married, January 4, 1872, to Miss Lena Rupel, and on the following day opened what was known as the Topeka House, at Nos. 500-04 Kansas Avenue. In 1875 he purchased these buildings from George W. Weil for the sum of $16,000. Mr. Durein had as partner in this venture Mr Kreipe, and after the latter’s death bought his interests, and is still the owner of the three lots. Later he acquired, through purchase, the Capital Block, back of the Journal Building, and in the same year, 1907, built his present home, at No. 415 Quincy Street, and other property in various parts of the city. He was long interested in the hotel and bakery business, but since 1890 had been retired and had not engaged actively in any line of business endeavor. He is devoting himself to the care of his property, the improvement of his lands, and the quiet enjoyment of the life which the enterprise of a growing city had made to surge in restless waves about him. In politics he is independent. He had never sought distinction, nor accepted public employment. He had been content to live a quict life, prudent in expenditure, simple in habit, and yet not indifferent to the interests of the community, nor unconcerned in the welfare of its people. With Mrs. Durein, he belongs to the Catholic Church.

Mr. and Mrs. Durein are the parents of two sons, both of Topeka: Frank, Jr., who is identified with the O’Connor Furniture Company; and Ed, manager of his father’s property, who married Miss Tela Fritton, and had two daughters.



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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