Biography of Joseph S. Van De Boe
Cuyahoga County, OH Biographies

JOSEPH SHERMAN VAN DE BOE is president and treasurer of one of Cleveland's oldest and most favorably known real estate firms, the Van De Boe-Hager Company. Establishing this business as a partnership in 1895, Mr. Van De Boe in conjunction with his associates has built up an institution of vital importance to the community as the direct outcome of a consistent policy of rendering service to customers and keeping faith with the public.

J. S. Van De Boe's life story is analogous to that of so many other captains of business who started with nothing but brains and by properly using them arrived at a place of prominence in the business and social structure.

Born at Cooperstown, New York, on January 2, 1859, son of John Leland Van be Boe, he found himself an orphan six years later. Mr. Van De Boe traces his ancestry in this country back to the first boatload of Dutch settlers that came to the new world and founded the colony on the Hudson River. Maybe it was that rugged Holland lineage that prompted him at the age of twelve to strike out to wrest a livelihood from the world. His first job was a farm hand at $10 a month. Two months of this was enough for an immature lad, so he went to work for a manufacturing drug company at Andover, New York, subsequently graduating to a short experience as clerk in a general store.

Believing that "Knowledge is Power," as soon as his accumulated savings warranted, he entered Ulysses Academy, Pennsylvania, and was graduated therefrom when sixteen, and entered Eastman's Business College, Poughkeepsie, New York. By this time he felt qualified and taught a country school for a time. The urge for more education induced him to matriculate in Wilson Seminary, Easthampton, Massachusetts, and then later to come to Ohio and enter the National Normal University at Lebanon for special post graduate work.

Here in Lebanon he met Mary A. Wood, and in 1881 they were married. The young couple went to Florida and staked their small assets in starting an orange grove. Everything would have been all right but the young orange grove was frozen to the ground. Mr. Van De Boe had to go to work immediately. He worked at all kinds of jobs from carpenter to bookkeeper. Finally, at Sanford, Florida, he opened a fancy grocery store. Then Sanford had a big fire, which burned him out and disclosed the fact he was carrying wildcat insurance. That was enough of Florida.

Mr. Van De Boe came North and formed connections with a general real estate brokerage firm at Boston, Massachusetts, and eventually became its general manager. In 1893 he resigned that position to engage in the real estate business on his own account in Buffalo, New York. In 1895 he formed a partnership with William M. Hager, and they came to Cleveland, opening offices at 417 Garfield Building, then the city's newest and finest skyscraper: This building, remodeled, is now the National City Bank Building, and the firm, incorporated in 1907 under the name of the Van De Boe-Hager Company, occupies extensive quarters on the fourth floor.

For thirty years this old and reliable concern has been in the allotment business, and this fact in itself is a magnificent guarantee of its dependability, for no firm can stay continuously in the same line of business in the same city for that length of time unless it comes clean with the buying public. In none of the thousands of transfers made with Cleveland people has this concern failed to do what it contracted to perform, and there has never been the slightest question of perfect title to any of the deeds they have issued.

The whole attitude of doing business of the Van De Boe-Hager Company can best be summed up by the phrase "a square deal." The company wants business, and wants its business relations with customers to be pleasant. To that end the officials have adopted certain standard policies which they feel will make for harmony. They have but one price on a lot. It is the lowest they can consistently place on it, and the only change made in it is to increase it as the land becomes more valuable. They have a standard printed contract on each subdivision setting forth the terms and conditions of the sale, in plain, understandable English, and the spirit as well as the letter of the contract is carefully carried out.

Since coming to Cleveland Mr. Van De Boe has been very active in civic matters. High in Masonry, he belongs to Tyrian Lodge No. 370, Free and Accepted Masons; has held various offices, including that of eminent commander in Holyrood Commandery, and has been advanced to the thirty second degree in the Scottish Rite, which was conferred on him by Lake Erie Consistory, October 27, 1899. On May 25, 1899, he was constituted a Noble of the Mystic Shrine in Al Koran Temple. On November 21, 1904, he became a charter member of Al Sirat Grotto No. 17, Mystic Order Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm, and was later elected as monarch of that body. He is and has been for a number of years a trustee of the Masonic Temple Association of Cleveland, Ohio.

Mr. Van De Boe has a son, H. Robert, a graduate of the class of 1909, United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, and two daughters, Annex Gordon and Mary Elizabeth. The son is actively associated in business with his father, being vice president of the company.

A History of Cuyahoga County
and the City of Cleveland
By: William R. Coates
The American Historical Society
Chicago and New York, 1924

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