Sculpture of German-American novelist Theodore Dreiser
Dreiser was born in Terre Haute, Indiana to John Paul Dreiser and Sarah Maria (née Schanab). John Dreiser was a German immigrant from Mayen in the Eifel region, and Sarah was from the Mennonite farming community near Dayton, Ohio. Her family disowned her for converting to Roman Catholicism in order to marry John Dreiser. Theodore was the twelfth of thirteen children (the ninth of the ten surviving). Paul Dresser (1857–1906) was one of his older brothers; Paul changed the spelling of his name as he became a popular songwriter. They were raised as Catholics.
After graduating from high school in Warsaw, Indiana, Dreiser attended Indiana University in 1889–1890 without taking a degree. Dreiser was going to return from his first European vacation on the Titanic but was talked out of going by an English publisher who recommended he board a cheaper boat.
1 Library Square, Terre Haute, IN 47807