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Translated From "De Landverhuizers"
by G.H. Ligterink
p.49-51 and p.96-97
The Emigrants / De Landverhuizers
Alexander Hartgerink, by far the most interesting person of the
Arnoldus Hallerdijk) from whom we also have
obtained the most newsworthy facts.
Even though he was born on December 7, 1802 as son of the Geesterense
village schoolteacher Jan Hartgerink
and his wife Hendrika Bouwmeester of Eibergen, Alexander was still unmarried at the time of his departure (between 1843-45). It appears to have been a common occurrence to marry late in life, due to less desirable circumstances.
The Hartgerink's were teachers from father to son in Geesteren.
Alexander's grandfather, also named Alexander,
had followed in the footsteps of his father Hendrik Hartgerink as teacher. The Alexander of this letter became a
teacher in Noordijk by the city of Neede, probably in 1822.
Evidence of Alexander's calligraphic ability was found among family
papers by Mr. G. H. Hartgerink, an architect.
The particular paper was written with flamboyant lettering by the 12 year old, in 1814.
In 1838, teacher Hartgerink took a step that cost him dearly.
He sent a letter to the minister of the Neede
Hervormde (Reformed) Kerk, "requesting my name to be dropped from the membershiplist. After considerable
deliberations, I have decided to separate myself from the present day Hervormde Kerk community."
The City Council of Neede promptly reacted by proposing to withdraw
his municipal allowance, and to suspend
him of his function "until he returns to an approved church community." If he failed to comply, he would be
discharged, "since separatists have a negative influence on children."
The State, however, decided that foremost it should be determined
whether Mr. Hartgerink was teaching
against the law, before such a drastic measure be taken. The Secretary of Domestic Affairs and his colleague
in the Justice Department concurred. The school inspector would keep a close eye on the situation and would
report immediately to superiors if Mr. Hartgerink was exceeding his jurisdiction.
However, the position could not be saved for Alexander. What do
you do, when parents keep their children
home voluntarily or because of the influence of the authorities? With the calling of a new teacher we learn how
the salary was paid: The State Fl. 100.00, municipality Fl. 30.00 and taxation Fl. 20.00, for the total sum of
Fl. 150.00. In addition, the teacher had the use of a small plot of land.
In 1838, Alexander Hartgerink moved to Nijverdal, where his brother
Derk, the contractor, was building a large
warehouse on the Regge for the Nederlandse Handelsmaatschappij (Trading Company). After completing this
work, they returned to Goor, where Derk Hartgerink was established as a contractor. While in Goor, Alexander
was known as a merchant, probably in textile.
In Nijverdal, he tried with the help of the Afgescheiden (Separatists)
Consistory to enter a program to study for
the clergy, but was unsuccessful. In 1844, he visited with a couple of families in Winterswijk who had received
letters from emigrants in America. The news was encouraging, and it didn't take long for Alexander to decide
that emigration for others as well as for himself, was the only way out. Armed with copies of the letters from
America, he visited Rev. Brummelkamp in Arnhem, who like his colleague Rev. Van Raalte, was willing to
organize an emigration for the Afgescheiden followers.
Upon arrival in America, Hartgerink promised to report as soon
as possible about his findings. A copy of this
report concerning the principal findings will be related separately.
When the first group of people, who allowed themselves to be mobilized
to emigrate through letters and
propaganda materials, arrived in New York, Alexander Hartgerink had traveled South to volunteer for the
Mexican campaign, begun in 1846.
This war had a smooth and favorable development. Mexico was forced
to cede great portions of Texas,
California, Arizona and New Mexico to America. But it also was a war where "eight times as many died
than those actually killed on the battlefield." Alexander also was hospitalized. After rehabilitation, he signed
up again. Peace was restored in 1848, and Hartgerink traveled to the Van Raalte colony in Michigan. There,
the government issued him a quarter section of virgin property 160 acres or 65 hectares. He established
himself as a farmer near a village, that later would be called Noord Holland.
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