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Encyclopedia Dubuque

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VAN VLIET, Adrian

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Image courtesy: Meghann Toohey: Serials, Digital Management and Archines Assistant, University of Dubuque

VAN VLIET, Adrian. (Holland, Mar. 28, 1809-Dubuque, IA, May 9, 1871).Van Vliet, pastor of the FIRST GERMAN PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, founded a theological seminary in connection with his church that developed into the UNIVERSITY OF DUBUQUE.

Van Vliet began the school believing that scores of German immigrant farmers and miners coming to the region would eventually establish homes and need ministers for their churches. He trained Jacob and A. Kolb for the ministry in the basement of his church at 17th and Iowa STREETS, later the site of Our Lady of Lourdes Convalescent Home. Van Vliet's school was unique by modern standards. He provided the students with board, room, and books without charge. As the number of students gradually climbed to eighteen, Van Vliet saw that his annual salary of $400 would no longer cover expenses. At this point, he began charging two dollars per week for board and room and purchased two buildings near the church to be used as dormitories and a kitchen.

For its first twelve years, the school was the private concern of Van Vliet. In the spring of 1864, however, its supervision came under the control of the Presbytery of Dubuque. The school was then given its first formal name, "The German Theological School of the Northwest."

The Presbyterian Church of the United States officially assumed control of the school in 1870.

Original headstone of Adrian Vann Vliet. Image courtesy: Katelyn Wolff and Meghann Toohey: Serials, Digital Management and Archives Assistant, University of Dubuque
Epitaph from the headstone. Image courtesy: Katelyn Wolff and Meghann Toohey: Serials, Digital Management and Archives Assistant, University of Dubuque