Keweenaw County Michigan

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William Van Orden


WILLIAM VAN ORDEN, a member of the well known insurance firm of Van Orden Brothers, of Houghton, Houghton County, Michigan, and a leading and representative citizen, was born in 1840 in the City of New York, which was also his father's birthplace. The family has been established in America since early in the 17th century, coming here from Holland with Peter Minuit, governor of the New Netherlands, who bought Manhattan Island from the Indians for a bundle of ribbons and gaudy beads.

Mr. Van Orden was reared and educated until the age of 16 years in his native city, and then removed to Eagle River, Houghton (now Keweenaw) County, Michigan, to join his uncle, James Crawford, who was an explorer in the copper country in 1846. The latter was more or less connected with mining all his life, making his home mainly in Keweenaw County, where he died in 1882. The young Easterner soon found employment as a clerk at Eagle River and there continued in that capacity from 1856 to 1865, when he began writing insurance with John Senter, a veteran insurance man of the Northern Peninsula, whose sketch may be found elsewhere in this work, with whom he continued for 20 years. During this time Mr. Van Orden took an active part in Democratic politics, and was county treasurer for 11 years, continuing all the time to be associated with Mr. Senter. About 1885 Mr. Van Orden took up his residence in Houghton and entered into partnership with his brother, Mathew C. Van Orden, under the present firm name of Van Orden Brothers. They located first in the Strobel Building, but secured offices later in the fine new bank building where they now carry on a general fire, life, accident, tornado and plate glass insurance business, representing 16 of the most reliable companies of the country.

In 1865 Mr. Van Orden married Ellen Nutt, a lady from Ohio, whose death occurred in 1903. Mr. Van Orden has always been an active politician and has held many offices in the gift of the party. In all his public service he has carried himself with honor and uprightness and has done credit to himself and his party. Of a genial, companionable nature, he has taken great pleasure in various fraternal organizations, and joined the order of Odd Fellows at the age of 21. As a Mason he belongs to both Houghton Lodge and Houghton Chapter. In religious views he is liberal, demanding and giving freedom of thought on all questions and regulating his life according to his conscience.