Friday, March 27, 2015

Dutch Immigrant Women

Image from the curriculum wiki of the Picasso Lyceum in Zoetermeer, Holland

 Janet Sjaarda Sheeres is planning a presentation through the Western Michigan Genealogical Society on Dutch Immigrant Women on April 4, 2015 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After hearing about this presentation, it got me thinking about the Dutch immigrant women in my family tree. There were three, all with different circumstances.

Martha Bolhuis Timmer

Martha was born in 1884 and married John Timmer in 1906 in the province of Groningen, Netherlands. Right after they married, they sailed with some of her siblings for America and settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Click here to see the blog post with more information about this emigration story.

John and Martha (Bolhuis) Timmer and sons, ca. 1915

Gertrude Bos Kiel

Gertje Jans Bos was born in the Friesland province of the Netherlands in 1852. Her father passed away when she was around ten years old. It appears that she came to the U.S. in 1881 just to get married. No record of her emigration from the Netherlands or any immigration record for her has been located at this time. Nonetheless, other records are consistent in showing that she arrived in 1881. We know it had to be at least by November of that year, for that was when she married Gerrit Kiel in Kent County, Michigan. Gerrit came to Grand Rapids about thirteen years before that, in 1868. It’s unclear how Gerrit and Gertrude became acquainted with each other but obviously they did. (See this post here for more about Gertrude during WWI.)

Gerrit and Gertrude (Bos) Kiel and family, ca. 1898. Gertrude is the woman standing on the left.

Henderika Siegers Kiel

Hendrika, the mother of Gerrit Kiel, was 60 years old when she came with her husband and two sons, having buried five other young sons in the homeland. Her first was just a few months old, the others were 2 years old, 11, and two that died at the age of 10 ten years apart. Four years after burying the last one, the remaining family decided to emigrate in 1868. She suffered more in losing two infant grandsons roughly ten years later and unfortunately never lived to see any more grandchildren born. Henderika died less than a month after her youngest living son was married. Perhaps she was finally able to rest from her earthly labors knowing that both of her children were continuing on their way to their future and the hope of families of their own. 

Population Register of Onstwedde, Groningen, Netherlands 1860-1870

I have known about these female ancestors of mine for some time now with some of the research having been done more than ten years ago. Turning my eye to them in writing this blog post has sharpened my focus and taught me more about the details of their life stories in context of their lifespan. I did not realize before writing this that Henderika never lived to see any of her grandchildren and my heart breaks to think of all the losses she suffered. From this view in the future of the family, I am happy to say that out of the six children Gerrit Kiel eventually had, they only lost one little girl in infancy (see my post on this child Meike here) and the oldest child, Henderika’s namesake, was my great grandmother. (The arrow in the above photo of the Kiel family points to her). 

Here’s to the women in my family!

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