"History of Lincoln, Oneida, and Vilas Counties Wisconsin"

Compiled by George O.Jones, Norman S. McVean and Others. Printed in 1924 by H.C.Cooper. Jr. & Co., Minneapoli-Winona MN. ill. 787 pages. The first two hundred pages are history of the three counties, the remainder of the book is biographies.


Van Hecke, John a prominent member of the legal profession who has been engaged in practice at Merrill since 1884, was born on a farm in the town of Sharon, Portage County, Wis., April 28, 1857, son of Charles L. and Barbara (VULSTEKE) VAN HECKE. Both parents were born in Belgium, the father in 1827 and the mother in 1831; they were married in that country and came to America in 1856, settling in Portage County, this state, where they were subsequenlty engaged in farming until they retired and moved to Stevens Point in 1890. Both died at the latter place, the father on April 5, 1909, and the mother Jan. 30, 1917. Seven children, as follows, were born to these parents: Leonard, now deceased; John, subject of this sketch; Leander, living at Loakland, Calif.; David, now a railway superintendent living at El Reno, Okla.; Mary, who died the wife of Patrick WALSH, formerly of Ashland, Wis.; Charles E., who is living at Stevens Point; and James A., a resident of Chicago, who he is connected with Swift & Co., packers. John VAN HECKE attended country school in the towns of Sharon and Stockton, Portage County, the parents having removed to the latter town after the Civil War. He then taught school for five years in order to acquire the money to continue his studies, after which he entered the state normal school at Mankato, Minn., graduating from that institution in 1880. He then taught school for two years more, following which he took up the study of law, entering the office of Raymond and Hazeltine at Stevens Point in the fall of 1882. He was admitted to the bar in the spring of 1884 and came to Merrill at that time, opening a legal office here. He practiced law alone for some time and then formed a partnership with E. L. BUMP; after this was dissolved he associated himself with E. M. SMART, and after the dissolution of this latter partnership he practiced for some time with W. L. FISHER. He was then alone until 1912, when he was joined by his son, Max; the present firm is known as J. and M. VAN HECKE. Mr. VAN HECKE is Republican in politics, though previous to 1896 he aligned himself with the Democratic party. He served his city as alderman from his ward for two years, was city attorney for many years, was twice elected to the office of district attorney, and filled an unexpired term as county judge, serving in all of these positions of trust with marked credit to himself and his constituents. He was a member of the school and library boards, and he served as a director of the Merrill Chamber of Commerce. He is a stockholder and director in the Lincoln County Bank at Merrill and is also a stockholder in the West Lumber Co. of Lugerville, Wis. Fraternally he is a member of Merrill Council No. 133, Knights of Columbus, of Merrill Branch No. 94, Catholic Knights, and the St. Francis Court No. 502 of the Catholic Order of Foresters. He and his family are prominent member of St. Francis Catholic Congregation. Mr. VAN HECKE'S offices are in the two-story brick block which he owns at 407 West Main Street, and he has his residence on the second floor of this building. Sept. 20, 1994, Mr. VAN HECKE was united in marriage to Mary A. MCGUIRE, of Merrill; Mrs. VAN HECKE was born at Wisconsin Rapids (then Grand Rapids) Dec. 19, 1866, daughter of John and Mary (MEEHAN) MCGUIRE, and then removed to Merrill with her parents in 1884. Four children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. VAN HECKE; Margarets, who was born on Sept. 18, 1886 and died March 22, 1887; Max, a sketch of whose life will be found below; Dean Stanley, who was born Nov. 15, 189 and is now a practicing physician at Phillips, Wis.; and Kathleen, born Jan. 21, 1894, now Mrs. Robert G. REGAN of Chicago. Mr. VAN HECKE is truly a self-made man, and his success is indeed a fine one; he had no financial assistance after finishing the country schools, and made his own way thorugh normal school and during his law studies. He came to Merrill with but $50, and has built up his present position in the community solely through his own efforts and ability.

Transcribed by Susan Swanson, from pages 727-728, History of Lincoln, Oneida and Vilas Counties Wisconsin; Compiled by George O. Jones, Norman S. McVean and Others 1924, H. C. Cooper, Jr. & Co

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