Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

John Van Diest

JOHN VAN DIEST has had an extensive experience in mercantile affairs in Northern Kansas, and is the chief merchant at Prairie View. He is a Hollander by ancestry, and one of the leading men in a community of his countrymen in Phillips County.

His grandfather, Garrett Van Diest, was born in Holland in 1824, and in 1857 brought his family to the United States and settled among the pioneers of a Holland community near Holland, Michigan. Later he moved out to Lancaster County, Nebraska, and in 1894 came to Kansas and lived retired near Prairie View until his death in 1900. He was a farmer all his active life.

A. Van Diest, father of John, is a well known retired resident of Prairie View. He was born in Holland in 1843, and was fourteen years of age when brought to this country by his parents. He lived for a few years in Western Michigan, and then went to Lancaster County, Nebraska, where he continued farming for a number of years. In 1885 he moved to Kansas, established a general store at Luctor and was its proprietor for twenty years. In the meantime he established another general store at Prairie View when the railroad reached that point, and was a merchant there five years. Selling both these enterprises, he conducted for three years the St. Joe store at Cawker City, Kansas. Returning to Prairie View, he resumed farming, and with Mr. Prinsen also bought and conducted the Prinsen and Van Diest store five years. Again he resumed farming, and since 1910 has lived retired. He still owns a farm five miles west of Prairie View. He is a republican voter and a member of the Dutch Reformed Church. A. Van Diest married Tuna Walford, who was born in Holland in 1844. They have a family of five children: Dr. G. A., physician and surgeon at Prairie View; William, a partner with his brother John, who is third in age; Tom and Benjamin, both on their father's farm.

John Van Diest was born in Lancaster County, Nebraska, February 13, 1883, and was too young to remember when the family came to Kansas in 1885. He attended the rural schools of Phillips County, and in 1902 graduated from an academy in Orange City, Iowa. He gained his early business experience as an employe of Mr. Muilenberg at Prairie View, and after a few years bought an interest in the store. Two years afterward he sold out to Boland & Harbers. His next location was at Palco in Rooks County, Kansas, where he and Mr. Muilenberg conducted a general store for three years, finally selling out to W. R. Franks. On returning to Prairie View in 1911 Mr. Van Diest bought Boogaart Brothers' general store, and has been its proprietor ever since. He has done much to remodel the store and enlarge its scope, so that it is the lending mercantile business in this part of Phillips County. His trade is drawn from a country in a radius of twelve miles around Prairie View.

Mr. Van Diest is now serving as mayor of Prairie View. He is a republican and is very active in church work, is a trustee of the Methodist Episcopal Church and superintendent of its Sunday school. In 1903, at Prairie View, he married Miss Alice Short, who died in 1911. Her parents were Charles and Ella (Thomas) Short, her mother now living at Wheaton, Wyoming. Her father was a farmer. By this marriage Mr. Van Diest had two daughters: Freda, born February 3, 1907; and Helen, born December 5, 1910. On December 25, 1915, he married at Prairie View Miss Amanda Finch, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Guy Finch, now deceased. Her father was formerly a farmer in the State of Washington. Mr. and Mrs. Van Diest have one daughter Beatrice, born October 10, 1916.

Pages 2339-2340.