Crawford County, Iowa, IAGenWeb


Walter Crosby Van Ness

Among the practical educators of the west Walter Crosby Van Ness, principal of the Denison Normal & Business College, occupies an honored place. Ever since leaving the university, nearly thirty years ago, he has devoted his time and energies to teaching and the success he has attained is evidence that he made no mistake in the selection of a calling.

He was born in Perry, Lake county, Ohio, October 7, 1854, a son of James and Laura Ann (Cook) Van Ness, both of whom were born in New York. The father was a tanner and currier by trade and became a successful farmer. He died in Lake county, Ohio, in 1909 at the age of seventy-five years, but the beloved wife and mother is still living, She is a faithful member of the Methodist church, as was her husband.

Our subject's paternal grandfather, Caleb Van Ness, was a native of New York state and also was a tanner and currier. He was a local Methodist preacher and made a record for marrying people. Politically he was a zealous supporter of the republican party. He had a large family, most of his children dying in early manhood or womanhood and only one is now living, Henry Van Ness, of Perry, Lake county, Ohio.

Joseph Cook, the maternal grandfather, was bom April 1, 1800, and died September 13, 1844. He married Nancy Richmond, and there were twelve children in their family, namely: Joseph W., Nancy J., Jehial P., Laura Ann, Colonel B., Susan Maria, James B. I, James B. II, Cynthia R., Benjamin A., Martha Amelia and ILmma A.

To James and Laura Ann (Cook) Van Ness three children were bom: Walter Crosby, the subject of this review; Eugenia, who died when a small child; and Emogene, now the wife of D. J. Webb of Perry, Ohio.

Walter Crosby Van Ness was reared on his father's farm and received his preliminary education in the district schools of Lake county, later attending a select school, Madison Seminary and Grand River Institute at Austinburg, Ashtabula county, Ohio. He matriculated in the Western Reserve University, graduating from that noted institution in 1883 with a degree of A. B., and three years later took the degree M. A. from the same university. He began teaching in New Lyme Institute at South New Lyme, Ashtabula county, Ohio, immediately after his graduation and continued there for seven years, then becoming principal of the city high school of Ravenna, Ohio, in which position he acquitted himself with high credit. In 1893 he came to Denison and has since been principal of the Denison Normal & Business College, building up the institution until it is now one of the most popular of its kind in this part of the country.

On the 27th of June, 1883, Mr. Van Kess was united in marriage to Miss Ida R Webb, a native of Lake county, Ohio, and a daughter of Wilford and Wilhelmina (Champion) Webb. Her parents were natives of Schoharie county, New York, and the mother is now living at Perry, Ohio, the father having passed away at the age of seventy years. There were three children in their family: Ida R, Delbert J., and Carrie, deceased.

The home of Mr. and Mrs. Van Kess has been brightened by the birth of four children: Grace R, who is a graduate of Cornell College, Mount Vernon, Iowa; Loretta 1., who is now a teacher of Denison College; Irene L. and Hubert J., both students in the public schools.

Politically Mr. Van Ness gives his support to the republican party, whose principles of protection and centralization he heartily endorses. Fraternally he is identified with Symbol Lodge, No: 452, A. F. & A.M., of South New Lyme, Ohio; Doudall Lodge, No. 90. Knights of Pythias, of Denison; and the Woodmen of the W orld. He and his wife are both members of the Order of the Eastern Star. He has received wide recognition on account of his marked ability as a teacher and school manager. A constant student. he keeps abreast of the times on all subjects pertaining to his calling, and as a public speaker he is in wide demand upon educational topics. He has a host of friends and former students in all the states of the west and has no cause to regret that eighteen years ago he established his home in the beautiful city of Denison.

Source: History of Crawford County, Iowa. Vol. II. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1911.