Weller van Hook

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Weller van Hook, (1862-1933) Chicago surgeon, author and official in the Theosophical Society, whose son Hubert was at one time viewed as the appropriate vehicle for the Lord Maitreya.

Copyright 2007, Will Johnson, wjhonson@aol.com, Professional Genealogist, All Rights Reserved. This page is locked, if you'd like to add or correct anything, please email me.

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A sizable contribution to the present biography is made by the online manuscript of a biography on him by Chauncey Maher (see Primary sources below), to which I've added details as they are known from other sources and clarified a few unclear sections.


Early life

Weller van Hook was born 14 May 1862 in Greenville, Indiana, son of William Russell van Hook (b 1837) and Phebe Matilda "Tillie" Weller (1839-1889).

He attended the University of Michigan, receiving his B.A. in 1884. He then went to Chicago, where he attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons (later re-named the Division of Medicine at the University of Illinois) and graduated in 1885. He interned at the Cook County Hospital from July 1885 to Jan 1887. He began practice in 1887. He married Anna Charles Whaley of Saint Louis, Missouri, also a physician, on 16 Jun 1892.[1][2]

He was in 1897 appointed the third Chairman in Surgery at Northwestern Medical School.[3] He became a very well-known surgeon and is called "one of the three top surgeons of this era".

The surgical procedure Ureteroureterostomy, which is end-to-end anastomosis of the two portions of a transected ureter; is also called ureteroureteral anastomosis or the van Hook operation, named after Weller van Hook.

Thesophical Society

One of the leaders of the Theosophical Society, Jinarajadasa was in Chicago about 1904, and it was apparently through him that Dr. Van Hook was introduced to Theosophy. In Jinarajadasa's work In His Name, a work of one hundred pages, he has a "...foreward directed to Dr Van Hook."[4]

Weller and his wife Anna both became very active members of the Theosophical Society. In 1907, Weller became the General Secretary of the Thesophical Society in the United States, and was one of the vocal supporters of Leadbeater during the scandal that eventually forced Leadbeater to temporarily resign. About that time, Leadbeater while on an American lecture tour, met their son Hubert and in the summer of 1907, Hubert and his mother stayed with Leadbeater in Germany where some of Hubert's past-lives were writen out. Leadbeater and Besant both believed Hubert was the appropriate vessel for the indwelling of the expected Lord Maitreya. Anna and Hubert moved in 1909 to Adyar, India with high hopes for his future. They must have been disappointed when another vessel, Krishnamurti had already been chosen in the Spring of 1909. Nevertheless, they stayed and Anna taught Hubert, Krishnamurti and Krishna's brother Nitya for some time.

With his own funds, Weller built "...a printing establishment on his own property for the production of free propaganda material." He had wanted to establish the National Headquarters in Chicago, but it was instead established in Los Angeles, California.

End days

He was forced out of Northwestern, and by 1911 "...his practise had suffered so severely that he resigned from officership of the Society, to rehabilitate his economy."[5]

He carried on a rather limited surgical practice at the South Shore Hospital until at least 1925. He still maintained his faith and interest in the Theosophical Society. "He felt that he had the occult power of being able to communicate with other adept leaders of the faith, and told me he conversed frequently with Annie Besant, then in India."[6]

At the end, he was estranged from his family. His wife was still in England, and his son had renounced Theosophy many years before. (see image 25 which is page 23) About 1931, he left Chicago and went to a farm near Coopersville, Illinois, where he spent the remaining two years of his life. Weller van Hook died June 30, 1933 of a stroke, in or near Chicago, Illinois where a brief death notice appeared in the Chicago Tribune (Jul 2, and Jul 5). His body was cremated, and his funeral supervised by the Masonic Lodge.


Primary documents

  • A Man of Good Will, by Chauncey C Maher. A Biography of Weller van Hook. This is a photographic image of a typed manuscript, with hand-writen corrections. Presumably the corrections are also by Chauncey. The manuscript is hosted on the website of the Chicago Literary Club.
  • New York Times, Obituary, Weller Van Hook, 3 Jul 1933. Survived by son Hubert, three sisters Martha Van Hook and Mary Lee Van Hook both of Pasadena, and Mrs Phoebe Anderson of Durham, NC, and two brothers, Professor Larue Van Hook of New York and Russel Van Hook of Rensselaer, Ind.

Secondary sources

Further reading

  • Dictionary of American Biography. Volumes 1-20. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1928-1936. (DcAmB)
  • A Dictionary of North American Authors Deceased before 1950. Compiled by W. Stewart Wallace. Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1951. (DcNAA)
  • Indiana Authors and Their Books, 1917-1966. A continuation of Indiana Authors and Their Books, 1816-1916, and containing additional names from the earlier period. Compiled by Donald E. Thompson. Crawfordsville, IN: Wabash College, 1974. (IndAu 1974)
  • Who Was Who in America. A component volume of Who's Who in American History. Volume 1, 1897-1942. Chicago: A.N. Marquis Co., 1943. (WhAm 1)

External links

Weller van Hook on Wikipedia (not yet in existence as of Mar 8, 2007 when I created the above biography). So anything there is probably copied from me.

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