Henry Carl Alwes is manager of the Western Typesetting Company and president of the Gate City Directory Company of Kansas City, Missouri. He organized the latter company in 1911 and from the beginning had been its manager. Mr. Alwes had conquered obstacles in the path to success as he had met them. He is a man of versatile talents. He is a practical printer, is a pharmacist by profession, had filled offices of responsibility as editor and newspaper manager, linotype operator, and in other ways in connection with some of the best known newspapers of Kansas, Chicago and the Middle West.
Mr. Alwes was born in Schleswig, Germany, December 11, 1873, the oldest son of nine children born to Henry and Margaret (Schroeder) Alwes. His parents were both natives of Germany and are now living at Ottawa, Kansas. The grandfather, George Frederick Alwes, was killed in the battle of Fredericia, Denmark, during the German-Danish Revolution of 1848. Mr. Alwes is a great-grandson of a soldier who followed the great Napoleon. This ancestor went with Napoleon in his Russian campaign, and lost his life during the retreat from Moscow at the crossing of the River Beresina. On the maternal side of the family Mr. Alwes is descended from people who were residents of the northern section of Schleswig-Holstein and were loyal to the Danish rule.
Henry Alwes, father of the subject of this sketch, is now an employe of the water department at Ottawa, Kansas. During the France-Prussian war in 1870-71 he was connected with the German navy. He was always a keen student of history and through his readings he became quite familiar with America and opportunities and finally decided that it would be the proper country in which to live and to give his children the best of opportunities. His wife’s two sisters had already located in Franklin County, Kansas, where their husbands were well to do farmers. An uncle, George F. Alwes, had been a resident of Lawrence and lost his life in that city during the raid of Quantrill in 1863.
In 1882 Henry Alwes sold his interests as part owner of a steamboat and emigrated to America. For four years he and his family lived in Chicago where he was employed as a teamster and also in the construction of some piers in Lake Michigan. In 1886 he joined his relatives in Franklin County, Kansas, and finally moved to the City of Ottawa where he worked in the machine shops of the Santa Fe Railway and from that took a position in the waterworks. He is a democrat in politics but had never held any office. He took special pains to give his children the best possible educational opportunities and sent two daughters to Ottawa University. One of them, Catherine, became a school teacher in Ottawa, and is now the wife of Homer Dodd, principal of the public schools of Fruita, Colorado. The daughter, Margaret, is now the wife of William Hjorth, a music dealer at Ottawa. Lena is the wife of Clarence Fredeen, who is connected with the local office of Underwood & Underwood at Ottawa. George is a linotype operator with the Kansas City Typesetting Company.
Henry Carl Alwes acquired his early education in different localities. He was nine years of age when the family came to America, and for three years he had attended German schools. For four years he went to school in Chicago, and for another few years attended school at Ottawa, Kansas. At the age of fourteen he began preparing himself for his real work in life. He decided to learn printing and entered the office of the Ottawa Republican. A. T. Sharp, then its owner, was a member of the State Board of Charities, while the editor was ex-Governor George T. Anthony. With that paper Mr. Alwes put in four years of that general utility employment frequently described briefly as the occupation of a printer’s devil. Promotion did not come rapidly enough to suit him, and he sought another door of opportunity in a drug store. He worked there three years and in May, 1892, successfully passed the examination before the State Board of Pharmacy at Wichita. As a pharmacist he spent a year in Matt Weightman’s drug store at 833 Kansas Avenue in Topeka. He then took up the printing business where he had left it off. This time he was in the office of the Topeka Capital under Maj. J. K. Hudson, with Dell Kizer of Kansas City, Missouri, as manager and Paul Hudson as editor. He remained with that journal from the spring of 1893 until the fall of 1895. During that time the Mail and Breeze was consolidated with the Capital. Mr. Alwes and Harry Myers leased the machinery of the Capital and set type for the North Topeka Mail and Breeze, for the Kansas Farmer, the Kansas Advocate and School Journal.
On October 17, 1895, Mr. Alwes married Mrs. Marie (Biggs) Rosenberry of Topeka. She is a daughter of Jeremiah Biggs, who made a good record as a soldier of the Civil war with the Nineteenth Indiana Cavalry. He subsequently became a farmer in Shawnee County, Kansas, and also in Lyon County. Mr. and Mrs. Alwes have one son, Henry Carl, Jr., born February 22, 1910.
After his marriage Mr. Alwes returned to Chicago and became a linotype operator on the staff of the Inter Ocean. He developed a proficiency in handling the linotype machine that made him a recognized expert and for thirteen years he lived in Chicago and was employed in various newspaper plants. He also was employed in commercial offices in that city. In 1908 he returned to Kansas and became manager and editor of the Coffeyville Chronicle, a paper that had since become defunct. He had its editorial control during the democratic campaign of that year, and in 1909 he left Coffeyville and went to Topeka, becoming a linotypist with the Topeka Farmer and later with the Mail and Breeze.
His next location was at Kansas City, Missouri, where he was night foreman of the Special Linotyping Company. He made his residence in Rosedale, Kansas. In 1911 Mr. Alwes organized the Western Typesetting Company. The business was started with very limited capital, but the physical valuation of the plant is now $60,000. His partner in this business is John W. Henry, a son of Andrew N. Henry of Leon, Kansas. These partners applied themselves with unremitting diligence to the building up of their business, and success had more than crowned their labors.
In 1910 Mr. Alwes took up the study of law. In 1913 he entered the Kansas City School of Law and he will complete the course in 1917. Thus he had applied himself with remarkable versatility to several professions and trades, and contrary to the popular rule had mustered all of them. Politically he is a democrat and in 1913 was elected police judge of Rosedale, filling the office two years. In 1915 he was elected justice of the peace of that city, and his present term ends in 1917. He had done much in behalf of his party and in behalf of good government and the best interests of his community. Mr. Alwes is a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason, a member of Caswell Consistory, and of Ararat Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Kansas City, Missouri. His local affiliations are with Lodge No. 333, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, at Rosedale; Columbia Chapter No. 202, Royal Arch Masons, at Chicago; and he is now senior deacon of his lodge. He also belongs to the Modern Woodmen of America; the Royal Highlanders; is past chancellor of Lodge No. 636, Knights of Pythias, at Chicago; and belongs to the Fraternal Order of Eagles. He is connected with the Commercial Club of Kansas City, Missouri; the Kansas City Athletic Club; the Ad Club; the City Club; and the Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity. Mrs. Alwes is a member of the Eastern Star and took much part in the work of the Lake View Chapter in Chicago. Mr. and Mrs. Alwes are members of the Wyandotte County Democratic Club and both are members and regular attendants of the First Methodist Church of Rosedale.