John Van Der Vaart, starting at the age of twelve years as a common laborer at all classes of work within range of his ability, has steadily climbed the ladder of prosperity, having established himself in a permanent and lucrative business of which he is the sole owner and proprietor. He is the president of the Majestic Theatre Stock Company, and is also identified with other business interests in Sheboygan. His birth occurred in Oconto, Wisconsin, on the 4th of September, 1869, his parents being Frank and Josephine (Van Litt) Van Der Vaart, both natives of The Netherlands. The father was by trade and occupation a cabinet-maker. He emigrated to America in 1862 and settled in Little Chute, Brown county, Wisconsin, where he found ample opportunity for the exercise of his knowledge and ability as a cabinet-maker. At one time he also owned and operated a store at De Pere, Wisconsin. This he sold and moved to Oconto, where he remained until 1870. In that year he removed to Hollantown, Brown county, from which place he returned to De Pere, afterward living in Green Bay. He later moved to Duck Creek, at which place he suffered the loss by fire of his house and much of his personal property. He then removed to Rosetree in the eastern part of Brown county. Here he purchased a farm and also a general merchandising establishment. He disposed of his property in Rosetree after a residence there of two years, and moved to Algoma, where he became the manager of an elevator. At the same time he was interested in the grain business. In August, 1882, he came to Sheboygan and here spent the remainder of his life, passing away in 1911 at the age of eighty-three years.
He was married to Josephine Van Litt in The Netherlands, their native country. Mrs. Van Der Vaart died at their home in Sheboygan in January, 1902, when seventy-four years of age. Seven children were born to them.
John Van Der Vaart, the youngest of his father's family, was educated in the common schools and at the age of twelve years he started on the road to business prosperity, working at such employment as he found close at hand, and continued as a day laborer at various kinds of work until 1892. During this year he obtained a position in the life saving service under Captain Nequette, who was in charge of the station at Sheboygan, and in this vocation he remained for ten consecutive years. Frugal and industrious with an ambition to own his own business, he found himself at the close of his service in the government employ possessed of sufficient means with which to purchase a billiard hall on North Eighth street in Sheboygan.
This business proved to be a fortunate investment and for four years was carefully managed by Mr. Van Der Vaart with satisfactory profits for his time and attention. In 1905 he entered into co-partnership with Louis Silvers, a partnership which continued until 1908. At one time Mr. Van Der Vaart owned a theatre and restaurant property in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, which he conducted for a period of one year only. This business he sold in 1908 and purchased the property in which he is now located in Sheboygan, having bought the land from T. M. Blackstock. He is also the owner of a half interest in the fishing tug, Charles Auger, and he is the president of the Majestic Theatre Stock Company of Sheboygan.
In 1896 Mr. Van Der Vaart was married to Miss Emma Groh, a daughter of Ole Groh, of Sheboygan. Three children were born to this union, two of whom are deceased. George, the remaining child of the family, lives with his father. The mother died at her home in 1902. On the 20th of February, 1911, Mr. Van Der Vaart was again married, his second union being with Miss Rosetta Groh, a half sister of his first wife. Fraternally Mr. Van Der Vaart is identified with the Eagles of Sheboygan. He is a man of great business energy, well known in the city of Sheboygan, having a reputation for honesty and good citizenship.
Information gathered and adapted from History of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, Past and Present
Carl Zillier, Editor
Pubished by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912, Chicago, IL