A daguerreotype of Van Trump taken during his tenure in Congress.
Born in Lancaster, Ohio (not Philadelphia as most would think) Philadelph Van Trump rose from humble origins to become a prominent figure in Buckeye State politics during his life. A man whose name is truly unique in the annals of American political history, Van Trump was born in Lancaster, Fairfield County, Ohio on November 15, 1810, the son of John Van Trump. The name of Philadelph's mother remains unknown at the time of this writing.
After attending school in the Lancaster area, Van Trump learned the printing trade, and after a few years of apprenticeship became the editor of the Lancaster Gazette and Enquirer. On January 16, 1837 Van Trump married to Ms. Marie Louisa Beecher (1816-1861), a daughter of former U.S. Senator and Representative from Ohio Philemon Beecher (1775-1839). Eight children were born to Van Trump and his wife and are listed as follows in order of birth: Frances (born circa 1837), Philemon Beecher (1839-1916), Maria Louisa (1841-1924), Charles (1843-1844), Mary E. (1847-1918), Henry Stanbery (died 1862) and Thomas Ewing (1852-1931) and Cornelia (died age one year.) Van Trump's second child Philemon went on to become an early American environmentalist and mountaineer who was one of the first men to successfully scale Mt. Rainer in Washington state (this occurring in 1870). Van Trump was admitted to the Ohio state bar in 1838 and within a few years became a rising figure in the Ohio Democratic party.
In 1852 Philadelph Van Trump was chosen as a delegate to the Whig National Party convention in Baltimore. Four years later he mounted an unsuccessful attempt for the Governorship of Ohio, not as a Democrat, but as the American Party candidate. This party stemmed from the earlier Know-Nothing party, which was vehemently anti-immigration and based most of their political ideas around nativism. Because of his American Party candidacy, Van Trump's political career was temporarily hampered, but, according to the book Ohio In Congress: 1803-1901, he received over 10,000 votes in the 1856 election for Ohio Governor, helping to draw votes away from the Democratic candidate. This in turn pretty much handed the election over to Salmon P. Chase, who was inaugurated as Ohio's first Republican Governor in 1856.
Another daguerreotype of Van Trump, late 1860s.
Van Trump's political career rebounded in the coming years, and in 1862 he was elected as a judge for Ohio's Seventh Judicial District. He was re-elected as judge in 1865 and two years later won election as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio, serving three terms here. In 1869 he served as the chairman of the Ohio Democratic State Convention held in Columbus. He did not seek a fourth term in Congress during the 1872 election out of concern for his health and returned to his home in Lancaster, Ohio. He died at his home of heart disease on July 31, 1874 at age 63. Van Trump was subsequently interred in the Elmwood Cemetery in the city of Lancaster.
Van Trump's obituary as featured in the Stark County Democrat.