Herbert Van Bree, president of the Racine Traveling Bag Company and also of the Racine Electric Company, is numbered among Wisconsin’s native sons, his birth having occurred at Barton on the 25th of June, 1861, and his parents being Jerry and Johanna Van Bree, both of whom were natives of Holland. They were reared in that country, but immediately after their marriage crossed the Atlantic and made their way to Wisconsin, settling at Barton. The father was a miller by trade and followed that pursuit in order to provide for the support of his family, but he and his wife are now deceased.
Herbert Van Bree is indebted to the public school system of Barton for the early educational advantages which he enjoyed. He came to Racine when a youth of thirteen years and since that time has been dependent largely upon his own resources, working his way upward through diligence and perseverance. For a short time he was employed by the Secor Trunk Company and afterward spent thirteen years with the S. Freeman & Sons Manufacturing Company. On the expiration of that period he embarked in business on his own account, becoming one of the organizers of the Racine Traveling Bag Company, which is a close corporation, the stock being owned by members of the family. During the twenty-six years of its existence the business of the company has grown steadily and as the executive head of the undertaking, Mr. Van Bree has contributed in large measure to its success. He studies the trade, its needs and demands, knows the market and bases his success upon the standard of goods turned out. Aside from his connection with the Racine Traveling Bag Company he is the president of the Racine Electric company, manufacturers of motors, fans, drink mixers, vibrators, etc., its plant being located at Superior and Prospect streets. This company was organized in 1912 with Mr. Van Bree as the president and with John Rugaber as secretary, treasurer and manager. They employ seventy men. Still other activities claim the attention of Mr. Van Bree, who is now dealing in real estate, buying, selling and renting property. He has become thoroughly conversant with market values and has negotiated many important realty transfers.
Mr. Van Bree married Miss L. Bohn, of Racine, a daughter of Paul and Anna Bohn; representatives of old pioneer families of this part of the state. Two children have been born of this marriage: Lena, the wife of Paul Buchman, of Racine; and Addie, who married John Peterson, also of this city.
Mr. Van Bree holds membership with the Moose and he attends St. John’s Catholic Church. In politics he votes independently, and has never been an aspirant for political honors and emoluments. Well defined purpose has brought him from a humble starting point to a position of considerable prominence in the manufacturing circles of the city. He has never counted upon fortunate circumstances to aid him or placed his dependence upon a turn in the wheel of fate, but has worked diligently, knowing that the rewards of labor are sure.