JACOB BARZEN. Jacob Barzen, well known in the business circles of Kansas City as one whose enterprise and energy have led him from small undertakings into business interests of importance and magnitude, was born at Reil on the River Moselle in the Rhine province of Germany, February 23, 1854. His father, Stephen Barzen, was a grape grower, which product he used in the manufacture of wines, and was the only son in a family of eight children, his birth occurring in the year 1807. He was of the old thrifty, sturdy, German stock, a typical German citizen, in that he never ate a meal without his wine on the family board. However, he never used tobacco in any form. He lived to the very advanced age of ninety-two years, while his father, whose habits of life were similar to his own, reached the very venerable age of ninety-seven years. The family for five or six generations down to the present time have lived in the same house and for many years they have been wine growers. The oldest portion of the family residence was built in 1500 and is one of the attractive points of interest to the visitor in the town. Stephen Barzen died in 1899 and has been succeeded in business by his sons. His wife bore the maiden name of Margaret. Veith and was one of a large family of daughters, all of whom were taught to do the work of the sons of a household. Her father operated an old-fashioned tannery. Mrs. Barzen passed away about nine years prior to her husband's death, her death occurring in 1890.
Jacob Barzen was the seventh in a family of ten children, of whom seven are living, and was the only one who ever came to America. He was educated in the public schools of Reil and left home at the age of fourteen years. He then went to Coblenz where he entered a wholesale grocery, being employed in the office and the warehouse. There he spent three years, beginning in a humble capacity, but working his way upward and gaining a good knowledge of the business. He next went to Nuenkirchen, a large mining and manufacturing town, where he entered a general store, his duties taking him a part of the time on the road while the remainder of the time was spent in the office. There he continued until March, 1872, when he came to America, settling in Chicago. For ten years he was employed as bookkeeper in various establishments, but principally in wine, liquor and cigar lines. In April, 1882, he came to Kansas City in search of a favorable business location. He had previously met Mr. Glasner, who had established a grocery store here nine years before, and on Mr. Glasner's invitation Mr. Barzen entered into partnership with him. In 1884, however, he disposed of the grocery business and engaged in the wholesale liquor business, in which he has since continued. The business has grown steadily from year to year, the sales the first year amounting to thirty-five thousand dollars, but with the annual increase the sales at the present time amount to about one million dollars. For the past five years the firm has owned and operated the Blue Valley Distillery at Leeds, near Kansas City, where they make high grade rye and bourbon. The climatic conditions are about the same as those of Kentucky, which fact enables them to produce the same quality of product whereby the Blue Grass state has become famous. Mr. Barzen, however, has not confined his attention alone to one line of business. He is also a director of the Pioneer Trust Company and thus figures prominently in financial circles. He has also made investments in Kansas City real estate and his own home at No. 2823 Forest Avenue was erected about ten years ago at a cost of twenty-five thousand dollars.
On the 23d of May, 1875, in Chicago, Mr. Barzen was married to Miss Martina Heiderich, a daughter of Martin Heiderich, a tobacco manufacturer at Quincy, Illinois. He is devoted to the welfare of his wife and family and finds his greatest happiness in contributing to their pleasure. They are the parents of seven living children: Matilda, the wife of W. R. Murrow, of City; Emma, the wife of Ewing E. Cole, of Kansas City; Carl A., associated with his father in business; Grace, a student in Loretta Academy; Richard G., a student in the public schools; and Martina, still at home. They also lost two sons: Edward, who was the second child and died at the age of nineteen years; and Frederick William, who died at the age of four years.
Mr. Barzen is a member of the Roman Catholic church and belongs to the Commercial Club, in which he is serving on several committees. He likewise belongs to the Rich Hill Hunting Club, to the Pioneer Bowling Club, to the Elm Ridge Club, the Kansas City Club and the Kansas City Athletic Club—associations which indicate much of the character of his interest and recreation. He likewise belongs to the Elks Lodge and he is a member of the board of directors of the German Hospital and several times served as its president. He is a lover of music and possesses considerable talent in that direction. He is a very public-spirited man and a liberal contributor to charities and benevolent movements, while any measure for the good of the city receives his endorsement. He is a quiet, reserved man, yet of a pleasant and kindly nature. He has never desired to figure prominently in public life, aside from his business affairs, but all who know him respect him for his loyal citizenship, his benevolent spirit and the kindly purpose which he displays in his relations with his fellowmen.