Biography of Theodore Raben
Posey County, Indiana Biographies

Theodore Raben, president of the Mt. Vernon Construction Company, the Consumers Ice and Cold Storage Company, and the John Larkin Company, is a native of Posey county, and was born in St. Wendel, May 17, 1860, the son of Anthony and Mary S. (Ten Barge) Raben, the former of Lichtendoorde, Gelderland, Holland, came to the United States in 1840 and settled in St. Wendel, Posey county, Indiana. He was a cooper and he established the first cooper shop in St. Wendel, also the first general store. Some years later he formed, with George Naas, the firm of Raben & Naas, general merchants and millers. The business of this firm grew to be the largest, in point of sales, in the county. They owned the leading stores in Mt. Vernon and St. Wendel, and were also interested in flour mills in both towns. In 1884 the junior partner, Mr. Naas, died and the firm style was changed to Raben & Sons, of which firm our subject, Theodore Raben, was an interested principal. The money stringency of 1893, together with too generous credits, forced the firm to make an assignment, and the business was liquidated. Anthony Raben resumed business in St. Wendel, where he conducted a general store until his death in 1904. He served as postmaster of that town for about fifty years, through both Republican and Democratic administrations, although he was a Democrat and an active and influential member of the party in his section. He was reared a Catholic and gave generously toward the support of his church. He married, when a young man, Mary S. Ten Barge, who died in 1867. They were the parents of sixteen children, eight of whom are living at the present time (1913). They are as follows: Johanna, the wife of Frederick Brakamp, merchant tailor, of Evansville; John, a retired farmer, of St. Wendel; Joseph, who owns extensive farm property near Ridgeway, Ill.; Theodore, the subject of this review; Mary, the wite of Frank Thuis, a well known manufacttirer of Vincennes; Louisa, the wife of Anthony Louix, wholesale dealer in dairy products, Evansville; Charles, a general merchant of St. Wendel, and who succeeded his father in that line; and Elizabeth, the wife of George Mann, a farmer of Black township. Five children died in infancy and the following lived to maturity: Anna, the wife of William Heyns, the well known furniture dealer and manufacturer of Evansville, who was the owner of the Vendome Hotel and promoted the organization of the company which built the present structure, operated as the new Vendome; died in 1891; Kate, the wife of Joseph Ebner, president of the Consolidated Ice Company, of Vincennes, died in 1893; and Henry, manager of the Raben merchandise business and mill at St. Wendel, died in 1910. Theodore Raben received his early educational discipline in the public schools of St. Wendel, which was supplemented by a course in St. Meinrad's College, Spencer county, Indiana, and St. Francis College, Teotopolis, Ill. He also attended a commercial college at Evansville and completed a course there in 1879. His first employment was with the firm of Hankins, Naas & Co., for whom he clerked from 1876 until 1879, and in the last named year he entered the employ of Fuhrer, Boyce & Co., millers and grain dealers, of Mt. Vernon, of which firm his father was a partner. In 1881 he married, resigned his position in Mt. Vernon and removed to St. Wendel, where he had secured a position with the firm of Raben & Naas, general merchants and millers, of which his father was the senior partner. On the death of Mr. Naas in 1884 the firm of Raben & Sons was organized and he became an interested principal, and he was given the management of the Mt. Vernon store, of which he was in charge until the closing out of the business in 1893. From 1893 until 1896 he was the resident agent at Mt. Vernon of the Fulton Avenue Brewing Company, of Evansville. In the the last named year Rosa Raben secured the agency for southwestern Indiana and southeastern Illinois from the American Brewing Company, of St. Louis, for their product, and Mr. Raben covered the territory as her agent, continuing in this capacity until 1898, when she secured the Mt. Vernon agency of the F. W. Cook Brewing Company, of Evansville, since which time he has been her agent. In 1907 he, with Rosa Raben, Louis Raben and S. A. Gano organized the Mt. Vernon Construction Company. It was incorporated with a paid-in capital of twenty-five thousand dollars and the following officers elected: President, Theodore Raben; secretary and treasurer, Louis W. Raben; and S. A. Gano, general manager. Since the establishment of its business, in 1907, the company has constructed fifteen miles of rock road in Gibson county, sixty five miles of gravel road in Posey county, and some two hundred bridges, the latter of various types, and all in Posey county. The company operate a large gravel plant at New Harmony and are extensive employers of labor, as many as one hundred teams and two hundred men having been on the pay roll at one time. The work done by the company has given entire satisfaction, the business is in a most satisfactory condition, has paid large dividends to the stockholders, and since the retirement of Mr. Gano, in 1909, has been under the management of Louis W. Raben, the secretary and treasurer. In 1901 our subject, with Allyn B. Hart and the late August Schieber, organized the Consumers' Ice and Cold Storage Company, of Mt. Vernon (see chapter on Manufacturing and Commercial Enterprises), of which he is president. He is also president of the John Larkin Company, of Mt. Vernon, manufacturers of washing compounds and toilet preparations. As a builder of residence property Mr. Raben has done much for the city of Mt. Vernon, having built within the past ten years twenty one houses. He has had in view, as his principal object in this work, the offering of an opportunity to men of the laboring and salaried class to own their own homes, as he has sold on the small payment plan and at prices which have been reasonable. Measures having for their object the welfare of the city and its residents have always received his active support. His political allegiance has been given to the Democratic party. He is a member of Mt. Vernon Lodge, No. 277, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and of its house committee since the General Hovey home was purchased; Posey aerie, Fraternal Order of Eagles, and the German Aid Society of Mt. Vernon. Mr. Raben married, on May 17, 1881, Miss Rosa Fuelling, the daughter of Clamour and Regina Fuelling, of Mt. Vernon, where Mr. Fuelling is a well known merchant tailor. They are the parents of three children: Antoinette, born December 13, 1883, the wife of John W. Hall, dry cleaner and tailor of Mt. Vernon; Louis W. Raben, a sketch of whom follows this review; and Vera, born March 16, 1892, who resides with her parents. In the successes realized by Mr. Raben, and they are substantial ones, his wife has been of potential assistance. Shortly after their marriage, when reverses had swept away about all he possessed, her sympathy, counsel and courage put heart and fighting spirit into his efforts, while her sound business judgment, keen financial sense, and sound advice were drawn upon within stint. Her possession of business qualification of high order have in no wise detracted from her love of home and family. She has reared her children to be useful citizens, the home life of the family has been perfect, and she is one of the popular hostesses of her home city.

History of Posey County, Indiana
John C. Leffel, Editor
Standard Publishing Company
Chicago 1913.


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