DERK DE KLEINE
126 YEARS IN AMERICA
1848 - 1974
THE CARE THAT HELPED
THE HELP THAT CARED
the "DeKleine/deKleine" name:
This is the second edition of the descendants of Derk
De Kleine and Margje Oostindie who came to the
United States in 1848 with seven children.
The first edition was published in 1956 by Dr. William
De Kleine, a grandson, with a great deal of help
from his niece Cornelia De Kleine and his son Dr.Edwin H. De Kleine, as well as many others who
supplied information. This first edition listed five generations, and without this study the second edition
could never have been published with such completeness.
Some special information was collected and passed
out at the 1973 reunion by the program committee
for entertainment and information as to how each person was related to others present. Realizing the
amount of unpublished material on hand, a motion was made to have another book published and ready
for distribution on Friday August 30, 1974; at the Spring Grove Woods in Jamestown township. Derk
died one hundred years ago on August 31, 1874.
Bob and Marian Avink with Herbert and Dorothy De
Kleine were appointed to organize committees
for the task. The Avinks spent many hours almost every week all year long on researching, organizing
and typing. The names listed below served as the committee to look for missing information, pictures
and dates and to provide financial support for the project.
Herbert and Dorothy De Kleine; Chairman from the Hilbert
De Kleine family
Bob and Marian Avink; Genealogists from the Jan Nyenhuis family
Edwin H. and Francis De Kleine
Fanny De Kleine from the Hendrick De Kleine family
James De Kleine from the Lukas De Kleine family
John and Barbara Hanink from the Derk De Kleine family
Nelson and Jeanette Kamer from the Hendrick Kamer family
Melvin & Margaret Kronemeyer from the Derk De Kleine family
Grant and Jean Mac Eachron from the Jan Bos family
Dena Nywiede from the Jan Bos family
Jeanella Ten Have from the Hendrick De Kleine family
Burton and Virginia Timmer from the Jan Nyenhuis family
Reynold & Henrietta Van Bronkhorst from the Jan De Kleine family
Donald and Ruth Vande Bunte
The Memorial Funds of Abe & Grace De Kleine were used to help promote the project.
Dr. Edwin H. De Kleine and Cornelia De Kleine gave
full permission to use parts or all of first edition
including the are work. Many families and individuals responded and provided much needed information
Part I of this book was taken from the original
edition with a few changes to bring the story up to date.
Several paragraphs were added when more information became available. Dr. William De Kleine in
writing the original story used "I" and "ME" in referring to his experiences and he referred to Derk as
Grandfather De Kleine.
Part II of this edition is a complete reorganization
of the original to include much more information
that had accumulated in those eighteen years and because of the tremendous response by so many
Herbert and Dorothy De Kleine, Bob and Marian Avink
wishes to thank all who were so helpful in
supplying pictures, stories and dates; and apologizes for any error that may have crept into the final copy.
The spelling of names and dates have been given by heads of families and were copied as they gave them.
NOTE: Papers have been found that Derk De Kleine, was
baptized March 4, 1798: and do not coincide
with his tombstone.
S T O R Y O F T H E M I G R A T I O NThe year 1847 will always be a memorable one for descendants of the Dutch pioneers who came
Derk de Kleine came from Ruinerwold in the province of
Drenthe where all his children were born.
The oldest one, Derk, was twenty-three and the youngest, Hilbert, was three. They followed the
example of other Dutch immigrants who, coming some months earlier, had settled in the wilderness
of Ottawa County in Western Michigan near Black Lake. The earlier group left the Netherlands
under the leadership of Dominie Albertus Christiaan Van Raalte whose indomitable will, courage
and Christian faith were primarily responsible for this immigration and for the development of the
settlement in Western Michigan now known as the city of Holland.
Van Raalte and his fifty-three immediate followers left
the Netherlands in the fall of 1846 on the
sailboat, "SOUTHERNER", arriving in New York November 18, after seven weeks of difficult
sailing and terrible hardships. These Dutchmen had to find their way in New York and learn how
to proceed to their final destination in Western Michigan. They were advised to go to Albany,
New York where they remained a few weeks. Here they had an opportunity to learn something
about life in the New World before going any further. An advance guard of seven - six men and
one woman - arrived in Ottawa County as early as February 1847. The rest followed in the spring.
Other groups came to Western Michigan later in the year from the provinces of Zeeland, Vriesland,
Graafschap, and Gronigen in the Netherlands.
Derk de Kleine and others followed more or less
the same course Van Raalte had taken. They
had been informed of Van Raalte's success and experiences in finding his way to Western Michigan;
but, it is doubtful that Derk de Kleine knew of the lack of accommodations in this bleak wilderness
else he might have postponed the migration. Fortunately for him and others who came later,
Van Raalte had established himself well enough that he could give them advice and temporary shelter.
Dominie Van Raalte and his associates assisted all these
groups in choosing certain sections in
Ottawa and Allegan Counties. It was their plan to keep these people, who knew each other,
together as neighbors, partly because of different local customs and dialects in the Netherlands
and also to develop and maintain a more neighborly and friendly relationship. These sections in
Ottawa County were named after the provinces in the Netherlands from which these different
groups came. Those who came from Drenthe located in a section in southeastern Ottawa County
which was named Drenthe; in like manner, those who came from the province of Zeeland, located
in a section named Zeeland, now the City of Zeeland, about six miles east of the Holland settlement.
Vriesland was located about five miles east of Zeeland. Those who came from Graafschap located
in the adjoining county of Allegan in a southerly direction from Holland and others in Groningen to
Derk de Kleine, born in 1798, formerly bore the
name of Derk Derks prior to the Napoleonic regime
in Western Europe. No one had a family or surname in the Netherlands at that time. Napoleon issued
an edict in 1811, probably for the identification of military personnel, that all people of Western Europe
must adopt surnames as well as Christian names(Voornam) and that their children should all have the
same surname. Kings and Potentates apparently were exempt from this order; they still have only
so-called Christian names. They remain King George, King Edward, King Gustave, Queen Elizabeth,
Queen Juliana, etc. Nationalities had different customs in naming their children. In the Netherlands,
a son born of Willem was named Willem Willems; a son of Derk was named Derk Derks, etc. In
the Scandinavian countries, they apparently added "son" and "sen" to the father's name which probably
accounts for so many Olsons, Swensens, Jensens, etc. It must have been very difficult, with the
multiplicity of similar names, to identify individuals. Napoleon's order was at least one good achievement.
One other individual, probably a cousin or near relative
of our grandfather, also bore the name of
Derk Derks. Following this Napoleonic edict one was named Derk de Kleine and the other Derk
de Groote. It is assumed that their stature determined the names they received. One was large and tall;
the other short and stout. Derk de Kleine apparently was the smaller one of the two and was named
Derk de Kleine (the little one) and the larger one was named Derk de Groote(the big one). This may
account for the fact that Derk de Kleine frequently called himself "Klein Derk." The prefix "de" was
later capitalized in America and the name is now written De Kleine. One item of interest discloses
that Derk de Kleine had in his possession an official document showing title to a piece of property in
the Netherlands in which his name is recorded as Derk Derks.
Reyer van Zwaluwenburg who was also one of the Dutch pioneers
in Western Michigan gives the
following explanation as to the origin of his name. He says that his grandfather's name was recorded
originally as Reyer Aartzoon (zoon meaning son). His father's name was Aart Reyerzoon. When the
Napoleonic edit went into effect his name, Reyer, was changed to Reyer van Zwaluwenburg because
the family lived in Zwaluwenburg, a famous estate in the Netherlands.
R E A S O N S F O R T H E M I G R A T I O NThe story of the Dutch pioneers, who came to America to settle in Western Michigan, cannot be
There were two primary reasons for this migration;
First, the religious persecutions to which
these particular groups were subjected in the Netherlands; second the poverty and hardships
under which they were compelled to live in the later years of their sojourn in the old country.
Economic conditions were bad and entirely out of control
following the domination of the Netherlands
and other sections of Europe by Napoleon. Napoleon had long since been deposed following the
Battle of Waterloo in 1815; but the laws and edicts established by him continued for many years.
The churches were subject to government control and, therefore, subservient to the state. The
Protestant Church in the Netherlands prior to the Napoleonic era was known as the Gereformeerde
Kerk(Reformed Church). The state authorities changed this name to the Hervormde Kerk which
also means reformed, but literally intended to indicate a reformation of the Gereformeerde Kerk,
or a Reformed, Reformed Church. The clergy was paid by the government and therefore required
to observe the laws and regulations promulgated by the state even if these were not in conformity
with the religious principles adopted by the original Dutch reformed church in the Netherlands. As
could be expected, a number of younger ministers, with minds of their won, revolted against this
arbitrary domination and openly defied the edicts of the state.
One of the earlier young ministers to revolt was Hendrick
Peter Scholte. After graduating from the
University of Leiden, he was inducted into the ministry. His first church was at Doeveren. He was
such a forceful and eloquent preacher that he attracted a large number of followers. He eventually
broke with the Hervormde Kerk, the state church, following the example of Dominie Hendrick de
Cock who occupied a church in Ulrum in the province of Groningen as early as 1829. He also was
an eloquent preacher and had a large group of followers among the farmers and fishermen of Gronigen.
de Cock, Scholte and Antonie Brummelkamp were staunch observers of Calvinism and, therefore,
refused to submit to the state laws and regulations as formulated in 1816 by the state church regarding
the organization and government of the Hervormde Kerk(the state church).
De Cock told the members of his consistory, who were ready
to follow him, that he had prepared an
"act of cessation or return," in which he set forth his confession of faith as the basis of his belief. This
constituted the first break with the state church. Shortly, thereafter, Scholte was also deposed and
not allowed to preach in the state church.
Large numbers of Hollanders followed the example
of de Cock and Scholte, not only among the lay
public, but also among the ministers. Several of them were deposed and forbidden to preach in the
Van Raalte knew Scholte when a student at the University
of Leiden. Here he received his first
indoctrination in the tenets of the old Dutch church as presented by Scholte. Because his father was
a minister in the state church, Van Raalte hesitated for some time but after due consideration and
many arguments with the authorities, he threw in his lot with his friend Scholte in 1836. These groups
were often referred to as Afgescheidenen or seceders.
They openly defied the authority of the state church.
The ministers preached to their followers
wherever they could - in open fields, in private homes - proclaiming that they had the right to
freedom of religion, acting as their consciences dictated. Defiance of the state regulations resulted
in an order by the Synod of the state church in 1835 to enforce the Napoleonic Penal Code against
these seceders. According to this Code, they were holding illegal meetings.
In March 1836 these seceding groups appealed to the King,
pleading for due consideration of their
rights. They stated that they represented the true Gereformeerde Kerk since they followed the liturgy
of the old reformed church and that they should be granted freedom of worship as guaranteed under
the state constitution promulgated by their beloved William the Silent of the House of Orange, who
had long since passed on to his reward. All of this was to no avail. The successors of Willem the
Silent to the throne of the House of Orange were not as ardent in the pursuit of personal freedom
for their people. A royal decree, July 5,1836, accused the petitioners as law violators and subject
to punishment as set forth in the Napoleonic Penal Code.
The seceders were persecuted beyond belief. They
were fined for holding unlawful meetings
wherever more than twenty persons were gathered. They were imprisoned and even stoned. Young
boys, whom we would now classify perhaps as "delinquent teen-agers," often gathered around these
meeting places, singing vulgar songs, beating on pots and pans, breaking windows, and injuring the
occupants. The soldiers followed the ministers and watched them. They often quartered themselves
in the preachers' homes and ate their food, meager as it was.
At long last, after numerous attempts by the state authorities
to discourage these groups in their
efforts to organize a new Protestant church, but with no success, the state finally agreed to permit
them to go their way. The authorities, no doubt, observed the rapid growth of these seceders. They
also recognized that since they belonged mostly to the laboring class, they could not possibly finance
the building of new churches and pay their ministers an adequate salary. The state authorities, therefore,
assumed a more tolerant attitude and put an end to the persecutions.
The seceding groups also became discouraged. They recognized
that their future was very uncertain
in the Netherlands and they began to think and lay plans for possible emigration to other parts of the
world where they could observe their won concepts of religion and where they could make a
comfortable living for themselves.
The economic situation in the Netherlands was very bad
in the decade of 1840. It was at its worst in
1845 when a disease, known as "Potato rot," destroyed the entire potato crop in the country, the one
staple food the laboring class depended on for their subsistence. It is said that food riots were very
common in that year. This was also an era of industrial depression, not only in the Netherlands, but
throughout Western Europe. Labor was so plentiful that the daily earnings were a mere pittance.
Lack of work, high prices, and high taxes caused untold suffering. Famine stalked the land, especially
These conditions, together with the religious oppression
to which these people were subjected,
brought about a final decision to break away from an intolerable situation. After long deliberation
and advice from other migrants abroad, Reverends Scholte and Van Raalte both decided that America
was the land of their choice. Glowing reports of other Dutch families who had crossed the ocean to
different parts of America convinced them that they were right in deciding to leave their beloved
Netherlands for this new land of opportunity. Preparations were therefore made for this emigration
into the unknown New World. Their staunch religious faith gave these crusaders confidence in the
success of this venture. It gave them the courage and assurance that God would lead them into a land
of freedom and prosperity for themselves and their children.
Emigration was not anew idea. Many Hollanders and other
nationalities had left Europe for America;
some to escape military service and others the burden of poverty and high taxes. Most of these people
settled in parts of America already well inhabited and where opportunity for employment was awaiting
them on their arrival. Scholte and Van Raalte had other ideas. They wanted to take their followers to
a place where they could live by themselves and where they could work out their own salvation in
complete and unmolested freedom. These ministers did not want their people to mix too freely with
the more worldly groups in the New World, but rather to live by themselves where they could be
independent, earn their own livelihood, and follow the dictates of their own consciences.
Scholte and Van Raalte did not come to America at the
same time, as might have been a logical thing
to do. Each one had his own group of followers and each chose to find his way independently of the
other. Scholte and his followers chose to settle in the open prairies of Iowa where there was no
forested wilderness and where the soil seemed well adapted to farming. They landed in Baltimore;
went west to St. Louis, Missouri and from there trekked their way north to Iowa. They called the
place they chose for their settlement "Pella" which is also the name of a place in Macedonia, the
birthplace of Alexander the Great. Whether the choice of that name was inspired by the birthplace
of this world conqueror is not known. Be that as it may, this migration was also blessed with material
Derk de Kleine and other immigrants from the Netherlands
chose to follow the leadership of Van Raalte.
After many weeks of hardships in crossing the ocean by sailboat, Van Raalte and other groups that
followed later landed in New York and then traveled north to Albany where they were befriended by
the Reverend Isaac N. Wyckoff, pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church of that city.
Of interest to many is the fact that the Dutch Reformed
Church is the oldest church in America. It
was founded by the early Dutch immigrants who settled in and around New York during the earlier
periods of American history. The St. Nicholas Collegiate Reformed Church, formerly located near
Rockefeller Center on Fifth Avenue, is said to have been the oldest continuous church in existence
in America, until it was torn down recently to make way for the more progressive needs of the city.
Reverend Wyckoff did everything in his power to help Van
Raalte and other groups who came later.
He was instrumental in raising funds for these immigrants in their trek toward Western Michigan and
to help them find temporary employment in and around Albany. They were eager to work. Van Raalte
and others who came in the next two or three years bound for Western Michigan traveled to Buffalo
either by train or via the Erie Canal and from there by rail or boat to Detroit, depending on the season
of the year. The trip west from Detroit was make by train to Kalamazoo, thence north by foot and
oxcart through the wilderness of Allegan and Ottawa Counties. Some of the men made the last part
of the journey west from Detroit on foot following the Indian trails. When these Dutchmen arrived in
Western Michigan there were no accommodations whatsoever for their families. The country was a
wilderness of trees and underbrush, teeming with wildlife - deer, rabbits, squirrels, and even bears.
There were no living quarters except a few cabins or shanties built by the earlier settlers who came
with Van Raalte.
In spite of all this, they were cared for in some way.
The new comers were befriended by earlier
settlers and taken into over-crowded cabins until they could build some shanties for themselves.
The privations were especially difficult for older folks and younger children. Many of them died
and since there were no cemeteries they were buried near their cabins.
The trials and sufferings endured by these pioneers were
overwhelming. It often brought them
down on their knees praying to God for some relief and wishing at the same time that they had
never left their beloved Netherlands. There was no possibility of returning and so they lived to
endure these hardships in the belief that God would see them through. Their undaunted faith
helped them to bear the hardships to which they were subjected. They believed in the righteousness
of their cause and that God would guide them all the way. This sincere faith accounts for their
determination to find a place for themselves and their families in the New World. "Faith is the
victory that overcomes the world." Their faith is our victory for life in these United States.
D E R K D E K L E I N E ' S E A R L Y D A Y S I N A M E R I C ADerk de Kleine and his family suffered the same privations as all the other immigrants. They had
Derk de Kleine and his family, together with other families
from the province of Drenthe in the
Netherlands, located in the southeastern part of Ottawa County which was named Drenthe.
This section had already been established before Derk de Kleine arrived in America. Not
having any place to live, his family was given shelter in the church which was only a log cabin
near the present Drenthe corner. On Sundays, their meager possessions were moved out or
stored in the corner of the church so that the people could come to worship.
Derk de Kleine and his boys proceeded to build a
log cabin as soon as possible on an 80-acre
farm purchased from the government at $1.25 an acre. This cabin built with squared logs was
one of the earlier type log houses built in the Drenthe area. Such a cabin had fewer cracks and
crevices to be filled with mud or plaster and therefore was warmer.
Dominie Van Raalte was foresighted enough to obtain
title to several hundred acres of land in
and around Ottawa County so that he and his associates could transfer these pieces-meal to
the new arrivals without too much difficulty. Trading centers, churches, and schools were
established in due time in every one of these sections and gradually these centers developed
into villages. They remain villages to this day, with the exception of Holland and Zeeland, now
thriving cities. Some enterprising individual usually established a general store where most or
the daily necessities were kept in stock. These trading centers and the church served as social
centers where the families could gather, converse with each other and discuss their common
problems as well as their religious interests. It was reported that some seven or eight hundred
immigrants had arrived in Western Michigan by the fall of 1848.
Jamestown township at the time of the Dutch immigration
was settled largely by English pioneers.
Some of them were quite critical of the Dutch settlers. They did not mingle with their English
neighbors. They did not join their churches nor participate in the social life of the community.
The English pioneers were somewhat resentful of this attitude. They did not understand why
these Dutch people were so aloof.
This was partly because they did not speak English,
and therefore, could not converse with
their English neighbors. They hesitated to associate too intimately with them. The Englishmen
often laughed at their foibles and peculiarities which, no doubt, gave these Hollanders an
inferiority complex. One Dutchman replied to their taunts on one occasion by saying, "I am
not as dumb as you look!"
After the death of his wife, Derk de Kleine lived
with his children; first with Derk, the oldest
son, who took over the old farm, and in the later years of his life with Hilbert, the youngest son.
He died August 30, 1874.
Grandfather de Kleine is living today in the lives
of everyone of his descendants, not only in
flesh a nd blood, but in his soul and spirit. His life is our life. His mind, h is intelligence, his body,
his physical strength, his character, his spirit, his whole life is our inheritance. We shall carry his
traits to the end of time. Our lives today are the lives of Grandfather and Grandmother de Kleine.
Truly they are living today. Their lives and deeds are immortal and their blessed immortality is
our rich heritage.
D U T C H C H A R A C T E R I S T I C S, H A B I T S, A N D C U S T O M SIt is our happy privilege to be descendants of the family of Derk de Kleine and so it is with pride
The descendants of Derk de Kleine are engaged in
a variety of pursuits and vocations. Among
the farmers are skilled fruit-growers, poultry men and dairy men. Some became farm agents and
instructors in crop and farm management. Others have become butchers, merchants, businessmen,
manufacturers, school teachers, missionaries and church-men. One became a sheriff, another a
coroner and one an auctioneer. Some became members of Boards of Education and boards
of supervisors. Some entered the political field as Republicans, Democrats and Bull Mooses.
Still others entered the medical professions as doctors and nurses.
We mention these various enterprises and activities among
the descendants of the de Kleine
family to indicate that family members became community leaders as well as thrifty, hard-working
and worthy citizens - the very thing we would expect of a progressive and growing family with a
purposeful ideal in daily living. All the children were taught to work and work hard, recognizing
that this is a prime requisite for successful living. Loafing was almost equivalent to sinful living.
Children who are taught to work and become self-reliant individuals early in life have acquired
essentials for good citizenship.
The early training of Derk de Kleine was not of
a very religious character. His parents were reared
under the influence of the state church in the Netherlands. The religious training and supervision of
this church were very different from the present standards of the Dutch Reformed Church in America.
Derk de Kleine said that the Dominie would frequently skip church on Sunday if he thought the weather
suitable for skating or military drill. Skating was and still is a national pastime in the Netherlands, and
military training was a national requirement. The country was living under the constant threat in invasion.
The present trend of international affairs seems to indicate that invasion may again be in the offing, not
only in the Netherlands, but throughout Western Europe. (This was of greater concern in 1956 than
Derk de Kleine developed a more religious frame
of mind when tragedy struck his family. The first-born
child, whom he loved very deeply, died in infancy. The death of this child altered his whole life. He chose
to join the seceding church groups rather than to continue with the state church, and, therefore, chose to
follow Van Raalte to America. Although he was not known as a very devout personality in matters of
religion, he never-the-less was very faithful and loyal to the Dutch Reformed Church which he joined
after settling in Ottawa County. The church office he held in Drenthe was that of deacon, whose duty
was to receive the collection on Sundays and look after the needy poor.
It was the custom of each Hollander in those days to deposit
a penny in the collection on Sunday.
Grandfather tells the story of one communicant who did not have a penny. After fumbling through his
purse he finally extracted a nickel which he deposited. After the church service one of the deacons
returned four pennies to him. That may seem funny but it must be remembered that money in those
days was a scarce article. A penny meant more at that time than a dollar does now(August 1974).
On Saturday night, one of the boys would go to the general store and bring back enough pennies for
each one in the family to deposit in the Sunday collection - three pennies for each member of the family
for three church services and an extra one for the children at Sunday school.
Derk de Kleine was an able and shrewd man. He came to
this country with something like four thousand
"guilders" which was equivalent at that time to about $1,600.00 in United States money(1974). His
foresight was shown by his unusual interests in business transactions, not only with his neighbors, but
also with strangers. His one expression, "daar zal Kleine Derk voor oppassen," indicated his confidence
in being able to take care of himself.
Some years after his arrival in America, during
the period of the Civil War, he purchased a quantity of
Flour, stored it carefully, and later sold it at a profit when prices advanced. At another time, at the close
of the Civil War, when many banks were failing (as they did in the United States during the depression
of the 1930's), he had the foresight to carefully record every bank note he received and paid out. Much
of the paper money was issued by local bands under government regulations. He realized that some of
these banks might fail and that the notes issued by them would become worthless. He knew there would
be a great deal of trickery in attempting to pass these on to innocent people. He, therefore, recorded the
serial number on each bill he received and of those he paid out to others. He knew just what he received
and paid out. At one time, he bought some corn from a neighboring Englishman with whom he could not
converse very well. He paid this neighbor with a ten-dollar bill. Some weeks later the neighbor returned
with a ten-dollar bill claiming that it was worthless. Grand father de Kleine had been digging a well and
was at the bottom of the pit when the Englishman called. Grandfather asked his son, Hendrick, to look
in his notebook and compare the serial numbers. When Hendrick informed him the numbers were not
the same, grandfather looked up and said, "You raasket wei mussen you in the jail putten." The Englishman
knew what Grandfather meant and left without further argument.
Grandfather had a reputation for being scrupulously honest.
He would defraud no one knowingly. He
wanted what belonged to him and had the courage to stand up for it but wanted nothing more. At one
time, while trading in Grand Rapids, he went to Mr. Steketee, a fellow-Dutchman who operated a general
store in that city, to purchase some articles. He paid for his merchandise, but Steketee informed him that a
two-dollar bill he had given him was worthless. Grandfather told him he believed he got it at a certain
hardware store. When advised that upon signing an affidavit he could take the bill back and demand that it
exchanged for good money, Grandfather replied that he believed he got it there but he would not besmirch
his character for a two-dollar bill, whereupon he threw the bill into the stove.
Grandfather was full of fun and loved to play innocent
jokes on his neighbors. It was said that one of the
deacons in his church, who took up the collection on Sunday, prided himself in the strength of his fingers.
The collection was not received in open plates as now but in a small plush sack (een Kerk Zakje) sewn
on a metal ring fastened to the end of a smooth round handle like a broomstick. The handle was just long
enough to reach to the end of the pew. This particular deacon would always hold the end of the handle
between the two fingers and thumb of his right hand and, in that way, extend the collection sack to the end
of the pew. He took great pride in being able to do this. Grandfather decided to have some fun with him.
He filled a small bag with one hundred large early American pennies, the kind they used for trading in those
days. He sat at the end of the pew and as the collection sack was passed to him, he dropped the bag of
one hundred pennies into the sack, not too gently, and down went the plush sack and pennies to the floor.
The pennies probably weighed about three pounds. This was more that the deacon could stand. His face
became red, he scowled at Grandfather and then and there decided to bring the matter before the consistory
so that Grandfather could be punished for his misdeeds. However, after the elders and deacons counted
the pennies, they decided he had been very generous and had not violated any church regulations. They
needed the pennies more that Grandfather needed a church censure.
As stated before, Derk de Kleine had seven children
- five boys and two girls. The names of the children
according to age are Derk, born September 10,1825; Lukas, born September 27,1828; Grietje, born
March 19, 1831; Jacobje, born January 2, 1836;; Jan, born February 16, 1839; Hendrick, born September
8, 1841; and Hilbert, born February 4, 1845. The family came from the province of Drenthe in the
Netherlands where farming was the principal occupation. It was here that Grandfather and his sons
learned the practical ways of farming. Butter, eggs and other produce prepared for the market brought
in some money for their daily necessities. The soil was mostly sandy except for a section near the sea.
Grandfather de Kleine came from the sandy soil section
where the crops were not very abundant one
hundred twenty-six years ago. We are told that all of this has changed in the Netherlands because the
farmers have adopted modern methods of agriculture. Agriculture is still the principal occupation in the
province of Drenthe with only a few small manufacturing plants. We understand that the people in this
section now make a good living and are happy and contented in their home and family life, perhaps
more so than in other parts of the Netherlands.
Grandfather de Kleine and his sons knew the art of farming
when they came to America. The land on
which they settled was virgin soil. They did not want a sandy soil but rather a clay soil which was better
suited to farming. He and others from the province of Drenthe, therefore, chose to settle on clay land
near the Village of Drenthe in Ottawa County. They knew how to plant, grow and store the staple
foods they needed from day to day; how to raise cattle, hogs, and chickens; and how to develop dairying
and butter-making. Wherever there was a Dutch farmer with the background of Grandfather de Kleine,
one would always find a farm with mild cows, chickens, pigs; fields of corn and wheat; and vegetable
gardens with potatoes, cabbage, carrots, turnips, etc.
The Dutch pioneers brought with them to America all the
characteristics - physical, mental and social -
which they inherited in the Netherlands. Their stout and rugged physiques, their sober, ruddy stolid
faces, and their quiet behavior were part of this inheritance.
The men wore whiskers of various styles, particularly
after marriage. Some had full beards; some had
chin whiskers like pointed brushes; others had a bush growth under the chin and over the throat; a few
had side-burns. This hairy growth on their faces was a sign of maturity, dignity and consecration to family
loyalty and a life of good behavior. They wore heavy baggy trousers, fastened with buttons to a short
waist coat. The front had a buttoned side flap and the rear a full drop seat, patterned after boys' clothes.
The legs of their trousers were baggy and short, well above the ankles. The men of the first, second and
third generations wore wooden shoes and typical Dutch caps with a small stubby visor.
The women let their hair grow long and usually braided
and rolled it up in a knob like a doughnut on the
back or top of their heads. Their dresses were somewhat comparable to the men's clothes in matters of
style. They wore one-piece dresses. The skirts were full and wide. Most of the women wore two or three
petticoats, all of this over heavy underwear. Some of them wore wooden shoes. The older women of the
first generation wore typical Dutch hoods embroidered with a white border.
Sunday was always a special day for the Dutch farmers.
Not only was it a period of rest from strenuous
labor, especially in the summertime, but it was a day of religious devotion, mixed, of course, with an
element of recreation especially for the young folks. They all went to church - the religious and social
center of the community. Here they gathered for spiritual devotion and to meet and greet friends and
relatives. The young men dressed up in their "Sunday best" - starched white bosomed shirts, paper and
celluloid collars, and bow ties. The girls, as they grew up, wore modern dresses of modest design.
The Dutch families were not allowed to work on Sunday,
not even to save the grain or hay from an
approaching rainstorm. It was considered better to allow the crops to go to waste than to make an
effort to save them on Sunday. They fed the cattle, horses, chickens and pigs but did not pretend to
do much more. They milked the cows and then turned them out to pasture in the summer months so
they could feed themselves. From Saturday evening till early Monday morning there was little work
done. One Dutchman often butchered pigs Monday morning, ready for the early market. He would
make preparations Sunday evening - sharpen his knives and collect the things he needed for the occasion;
but, he would not touch the pigs until Monday morning. His neighbors were critical of him. They said,
"He sharpens his knives on Sunday; he might as well butcher the pigs too."
The Sunday sermons were always long and tiresome.
As young boys and girls, we had to sit quietly for
an hour or more, listening to something far beyond our comprehension. The youngsters often took relief
in a nap while the preacher droned on. Some of the older people managed to keep awake by sucking
a babbelaartje (peppermint candy). If the preacher was absent on Sunday, then one of the elders would
take over and read a sermon from a book of sermons translated into Dutch. The monotonous monotone
of his delivery over an hour or more was about as much as any young boy or girl could take; but they
had to take it and they knew it.
The Dutch farmers were slaves to their work. There
were no laborsaving devices as we have today
with the exception of a treadmill for the big family dog to churn the butter. It was all toil and hard manual
labor. In the summer, the farmers got up at four o'clock. In our own home, Father was up first to make
a cup of coffee for us. Then he called the boys and out we bounded without a second call. That morning
cup of coffee was delicious and stimulating. Then we stepped into our wooden shoes and proceeded to
the barn to do the chores - feed the cattle, clean the stables, and curry and harness the horses ready for
the day's work. When the chores were done, we kicked off our wooden shoes in the woodshed and
stepped into our "plow shoes," as we called the working shoes of that day. This helped to keep the house
clean. Dutch families, although poor, usually were scrupulously clean. Meanwhile, mother prepared a
breakfast consisting of corn or graham mush, fired potatoes, a slab of fresh or salt port, bread and butter,
and coffee. There was always plenty of fresh mild. Sometimes we had eggs and, occasionally, a piece of
fresh steak after butchering. There was no fresh meat available from day to day; no refrigeration other
than a cool cellar which kept some things quite well but not meat and mild. In the summertime we had
all kinds of fresh vegetables and fruit and gallons of fresh warm milk. We had a very good diet, especially
during the summer season.
When the wheat and oats were ready to be threshed, the
neighbors helped each other and the threshers
were always rewarded with a big meal. A big chunk of meat, usually beef or mutton, was purchased at
a neighboring city market and the threshers filled up on a luscious meal of meat and vegetables fresh from
the garden. The meal was Always topped off with coffee, all they could drink, and a large piece of pie.
Threshing time was a happy occasion in more ways than one. It was the time of harvesting and feasting.
The family ate the leftovers for the next two or three days. A few Dutchmen would provide a keg of beer
for the occasion. The keg was kept in the cellar where the threshers could help themselves to all they
wanted but they never drank too much.
Grand Rapids was the nearest market for the farmers of
Western Michigan to take their produce -
potatoes, apples, peaches and what-have-you. When the pigs were fat enough for the market they were
butchered and brought there, a distance of some twenty miles. The farmers started out at seven or eight,
in time to show their wares at the grocery stores and butcher shops. After selling their produce and
purchasing some needed articles, they returned home, arriving in time to help with the chores and finish
with a late supper.
Grandfather de Kleine did not smoke or chew tobacco, as
was the custom among many Dutchmen; nor
did any of his five boys smoke or chew and only a few of the third generation acquired the smoking habit.
The fourth and fifth generations, of course, became very modern in this respect. Some of the old folks like
a glass of beer occasionally, a habit they acquired in the old country. They never drank to excess.
The men worked from sun to sun but the women's work was
never done, not even at bedtime. They
raised the family and had the little children to look after all hours of the day and night. It was the mother's
unquestioned duty to keep the house in order. She got the meals and did the family washing by hand. She
sewed and mended the clothes, darned the stockings and did the family knitting. She churned and made
the butter. During the busy summer season she helped with the chores in the barn, helped milk the cows,
feed the chickens and pigs and even helped with the farm work.
They were literally slaves to their work. They were
as old physically at forty and fifty as the modern
housewife is at sixty and sixty-five. But they never complained. They accepted their lot without a murmur
and they enjoyed life to the fullest. They were willing to do what was expected of them.
When the children of the second generation married they
built modern two-story frame houses for
themselves. A saw mill and shingle mill were built in Gronigen as early as 1848. Lumber was cheap
and with the help of carpenter and mason they did much of the work themselves, making the cost
comparatively low. Most of these houses were quite large. They had a masonry stone foundation for
the cellar walls. They had a large living room and a parlor, a combination kitchen and dining room, a
woodshed and from three to five upstairs bedrooms. The walls were plastered. In due time the living
room walls were papered and the floor covered with a rag carpet. The living room was heated in the
winter with a large, pot-bellied stove and the kitchen with the proverbial cook stove. The bedrooms
were not heated. The parents usually had a downstairs bedroom off the living room so their room was
comfortably warm in cold weather. The children were tucked away in cold beds in the upstairs bedrooms.
Fuel was no problem. Wood could be had for sawing and
chopping it. "Who chops his own wood
warms himself twice."
The early shanties and houses were cold and drafty
even with a hot fire in the stove. The housewife
usually had a "foot stove" to keep her feet warm. It consisted of a square wooden box, about a foot
high, with a perforated top. Live coals from the wood fire were placed on some ashes in a metal
container set in the box. This added a great deal to the lady's comfort.
There were no sanitary facilities, of course, as we know
them today. There was no running water in
the home-it all had to be carried in from the outdoor pump. The "plumbing" was outside. We washed
our hands and faces in a common hand basin stationed on a block of wood in the woodshed, or out
of doors. The boys bathed in the swimming hole in the creek in the summer, and a tin tub behind the
living room stove served the family bathing needs in the winter. Although a full bath was frowned upon
by the children in the middle of the winter Mother saw to it that they had at least a few. She used to say,
"There is no excuse for being dirty. There is always plenty of soap and water."
Grandfather de Kleine did not have the reputation
of being indifferent to the world around him. As soon
as he became settled in America, he recognized that he and his family must adjust themselves to the new
conditions in their home and community life. He often admonished his children to learn the English language
and to adopt the American way of like. He used to say, "We are living in America and we must forget the
traditions of the old world from which we came and adjust ourselves to the American way of life." He
wanted his children to become loyal citizens of America. After two and one-half years in America some
three hundred Hollanders took out their first citizenship papers.
The children of the second generation all talked Dutch.
It was the only language our father and mothers
could speak and so, as children, we talked Dutch in the home. That, of course, changed as the children
of the third and fourth generation grew up. English was taught at school. The parents soon followed the
children and they dropped the Dutch language from daily use.
The farmers always observed coffee-time (koffie tijd)
at about nine-thirty in the morning and three-thirty
in the afternoon. The housewife made a pot of coffee and prepared some tasty sandwiches. Nothing was
quite as welcome to the men in the fields as lunch time. Some of the men drank from ten to twenty cups a
day; however, the coffee was weak-mostly water. One Englishman remarked to a Dutch farmer, "Doesn't
drinking so much coffee keep you awake?" to which the Dutch farmer replied, "Oh, maybe it helps some.
"These hard-working Dutchmen were not afflicted with insomnia.
The little children were all rocked to sleep in
the cradle. There was one in every home. Some of the little
ones were so used to this they could not possibly go to sleep until mother had rocked them for a half-hour
There was very little doctoring among the Dutch in the
early days. The doctor usually lived many miles
away and he was not called unless some illness appeared to be serious. When he did come, he came with
horse and buggy or cart; he examined the patient and left a few pills or powders before he went on his way.
It left the family quite satisfied, however, that something had been done for the sick one.
The Dutch never held a funeral on Sunday. I do not know
whether there were any scruples against that but
it just wasn't done. I think the minister preferred to keep this occasion for an extra sermon with which he
could admonish his parishioners, either for good or for bad, as was exemplified in the life of the departed
one. It was the custom to toll the church bell six times to announce a death and funeral. When the church
services were over and the funeral procession was on its way to the cemetery, the bell tolled the number
representing the age of the departed one.
Our Dutch parents and grandparents never swore or used
profane language. The use of profanity was
considered uncouth and evidence of an irreligious spirit. Their language was always very simple and plain
but never, or at least very seldom, punctuated with a cuss word.
The church, as stated before, was the religious and social
center of the community. That has remained true
over the years, even to this day. The automobile, of course, is taking the youngsters away into neighboring
cities; but the church and the social functions sponsored by the church occupy a dominant place in
community life. The Village of Forest Grove in 1953 completed a building known as Fellowship Hall.
It was built at a cost of several thousand dollars and provides a place where the young folks, and old
folks too, can gather for social and business functions. The boys and girls play basketball there. The
older folks of the community hold farm and women's club meetings. Dinners and receptions are
regular events. Although this enterprise is not connected with the church, it was sponsored originally
by the church.
Farming in the Dutch community is as modern today
as it is anywhere in the State of Michigan. The
tractor has replaced the horse on the farm and modern machinery is used today for plowing, cultivating
and harvesting the crops. Hired help is hard to get at the present time but with the use of labor-saving
devices, a farmer can cultivate three or four times as many acres as he could originally. The small farm
of a few acres is gradually giving way to the larger farms.
One hundred twenty-six years of life in America has produced
modern and progressive citizens in the
fifth and sixth generations of Dutch families in Western Michigan. They are as forward-looking,
progressive and enterprising as any group of American citizens in any section of the country. They are
contributing much to better home and family life in Western Michigan and to help build a better America.
D E R K d e K L E I N E'S S O N S A N D D A U G H T E R SGrandfather de Kleine's sons all became prosperous farmers. The two daughters also married farmers.
Derk De Kleine, the oldest of the six living children,
married Geesje Heins. In 1866 they purchased the
original 80 acres (E ½ of SE ¼ , Sec. 24, Zeeland Twp.) The frame house which was built about that
time is still standing with its heavy floor of hand hewn timbers, wide floor boards and square nails. It has
been completely modernized and is occupied by Mr. And Mrs. Nelson Smallegan. Derk and Geesje
had six girls and one boy. All but one daughter left farming.
Mary married Albert Bos and settled on a farm one mile
north of Forest Grove.(S ½ of SE ¼ of Sec.17).
Their two daughters did not marry. After Mary's death, Albert married Wilmtje Hop and they had
six children who became influential residents of the community.
Maude Struik married Gerrit Nagelkirk who worked as a Standard Oil Company Agent. Mary
Bill Struik married Alice Zandbergen and operated one of the Jamestown Grocery stores.
Dena De Kleine married Henry Hanink who worked at
Berkey and Gay Furniture Co. and later
operated, with a brother-in-law, the then well known Hanink and Vruggink grocery store on Grandville
Avenue and Ellsworth Avenue for many years. During the time he was at Berkey and Gay he finished
the bedroom suite that took first at the Centennial in Philadelphia in 1876. It is now on display in the
Grand Rapids Museum. They had four daughters and one son.
Henrietta (Etta) Hanink was a missionary to the Sioux
Indians where she met and married Albert H.
Kneale from New York who was and continued to be an officer in the United States Indian Service.
Until retirement in 1935, they spent 36 years in the Rocky Mountains, Plains states and the New Mexico
region of the United States. They published a book "Indian Agent" after retirement.
Herman Hanink, a civil Engineer and graduate of the University
of Michigan in 1907, married Marie
Dregge. He worked for a firm in Chicago that organized the first Chicago Sanitary District in 1910
which included digging the Chicago River to make it drain out of, instead of into, Chicago. At this time,
this firm built the first street car tunnel under the Chicago River at LaSalle St. After building levees along
the Missouri River for five years, the Haninks came to Grand Rapids and entered into the construction
field. With a previous college roommate, Henry Palmer, they built the Graceland Mausoleum. Their son,
John, is the president of the John Widdicomb Co., a manufacturer of fine furniture.
Henry Hanink married Margaret Saunders. He was employed
as salesman for a commercial equipment
Grace Hanink was a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago.
She was the first art teacher at South High
School in Grand Rapids. Grace married Emil Zellmer who was an architect--specially interested in school
buildings. She did the art work and, as a result, there are many evidences of her work in Grand Rapids.
The friezes around the Ottawa Hills High School are her work. They designed the Dumond house in the
Rosewood addition. Grace later was the artist and designer for the Grand Rapids Museum until retirement.
The diuramas on Indian life are her work. Gas Light Village includes a replica of the Hanink and Vruggink
grocery store which was her father's business.
Jennie De Kleine married Sam May who was employed in Grand Rapids.
Maggie De Kleine Worked in the Smallegan Store in Forest
Grove for many years and was well known
there. She later clerked in Steketee's store. Maggie had a general store on Plainfield Avenue and Page
Street N.E. about 1918.
L U C A S D E K L E I N ELucas De Kleine married Grietje Riddering, the second child of John Riddering and Grace Lanning who
Lucas became a U.S. citizen on March 15, 1861 in Ottawa
County. This was six years after he married.
He got 80 acres of land from the Ridderings (E ½ of SE ¼ of section 25 in Zeeland township). He
acquired 160 more acres in Jamestown Township before his untimely death due to a kick from a cow.
Lucas was an elder in the Drenthe Christian Reformed from its organization in 1882 when the original
Drenthe church was discontinued. Lucas and Grietje had four children-Derk, John, Marinus and Gerrit.
Derk continued on the home farm with John, who did not
marry. After a start with the Durm breed they
bought some registered Shorthorn cattle in about 1905 and that breed continued on that farm for about
fifty years, later by Jim and Bert and still later by Bert. They were progressive farmers and were one of
the first farmers to get power equipment for field work when they bought a Huber tractor in 1920 to
supplement the eleven horses that were used to furnish the farm power. This was a very large tractor by
the 1920 standards and the total cost was $1,500.00 including the three-bottom plow.
Derk's sons Luke and William both operated large
farms. Luke bought a farm west of Zutphen and
William bought a farm just across the road. That farm is still in the family and they are still specializing in
Gerrit bought a farm one mile east of Drenthe where his
daughter Jennie Brinks and her husband
Albert are still living.
Marinus developed a talent for auctioneering and was employed
as such for a few years among local
farmers who were retiring or selling out. That farm is now occupied by Mr. & Mrs. Len Immink, one
half mile east of Drenthe. She is a daughter of William De Kleine.
Hendrick Kamer was born in the Netherlands March 18, 1821
in the province of Rotterdam. He
arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana in January 1847 where his parents died. He came alone by boat to
St. Louis, Missouri and spent time in the copper mines and in other work in Illinois. On December 27,
1850 he signed his allegiance to the United States in Jo Daviess County, Ill. Later he moved to
Noordeloos, Michigan where he felt more at home.
Hendrick Kamer, 32 and Grietje De Kleine, 23, as well
as Lucas De Kleine, 25 and Greetje Riddering,
20 were married by Rev. C. Vander Meulen on March 23, 1854.
The Kamers settled on 40 acres (probably her dowery)
1 ½ miles West of Forest Grove, which has
continued to be in the family. Gene Kamer, a great grandson, acquired the property in 1970. This was
part of the 160 acres bought by Dirk De Kleine from the Government on June 25, 1849 for $164.24.
The total tax on this 40 acres was $3.48 in 1859 and $2.85 in 1862.
Hendrick Kamer was the administrator of the estate
of his brother-in-law Derk De Kleine according
to the County Records of June 16, 1891. He was an elder and clerk in the Forest Grove Reformed
Church, until March 17, 1908 when he was presented with a gold-knob cane for his services, still in
possession of a great grandson, Gene. His son, John, continued as elder and later as clerk from 1909
through 1928, and as Sunday school teacher for many years.
The present generations include people distinguished in
many fields such as banking, education and
Jan Nyenhuis left the Netherlands, province of Drenthe,
with his parents, Jakop and Jantje (Buls)
Nyenhuis and two sisters, Zwaantje and Lammigtje in May 1847. They arrived in New York in
August. They traveled over the Erie Canal for three weeks and by sailboat through Lakes Erie and
Huron, the Straits, and Lake Michigan to Chicago, and then to Holland, arriving about November 1.
They soon moved through ten miles of forest to Drenthe and settled on 80 acres there.
Jan Nyenhuis married Jakobje De Kleine in 1860 and bought
80 acres in section 20, one-half mile
west of Forest Grove. They soon bought 60 more acres, rented land for pasture and planted a large
apple and peach orchard.
Although crippled later in his life, he continued
to buy and sell livestock and operated a slaughterhouse
within a few rods of the extreme southwest corner of the farm. Many of the cattle and hogs were driven
to Holland for slaughter there.
Later when their son, John married, they bought another
140 acres which was most of the northwest
corner of section 29.
Jan Nyenhuis was successful in farming and business
as were his sons. They had three sons. Jacob,
born 1861, worked on the family farm and drew the plans for the new home for his brother, Dirk,
after his marriage to Maria (Mary) Tigelaar. He died in 1882, before the home was built in 1885.
The other two sons were Dirk and Jan (John).
The Dirk Nyenhuis farm is now owned by a grandson, Richard G. and Eva Nyenhuis.
One of the first disappointments that came with the machine
age was the death of Henry Nyenhuis
due to an automobile accident. Accidents with cattle, runaway horses and oxen were not uncommon
but this event caused much interest. The account is found in the Holland Sentinel.
Forest Grove Farmer Killed. Neck broken. Brother is uninjured. Henry Nyenhuis a Forest Grove farmer aged 23 years met instant death when he lost control of his auto- mobile while he was driving it into the barn and the machine dashed through the side of the building. The machine with its occupants, Henry and his brother (John) fell some fifteen feet to the ground toppling over and pinning Nyenhuis under it, breaking his neck. His brother escaped uninjured. Henry Nyenhuis is the son of John N. of Forest Grove. Nyenhuis drove an old model Reo into the barn. The lower part of the barn was used for stable purposes and the second floor was reached by an inclined driveway. It was to this second floor that he was driving the machine. But when he reached the place where the machine was usually stored he lost control of it and could not bring it to a stop. The barn was constructed of one inch boards through which the machine crashed quite easily.More information from the Holland paper of June 14 and from relatives gives the following information:
The funeral of Henry Nyenhuis was held Saturday, June
12. Services were in the home of his parents
at 12:00 and at 1:00 at the Reformed church in Forest Grove. There were nearly a thousand people
to hear the services in the church but there was room for only 500 and the rest stood outside. The
hundreds of horse-driven rigs made any other activity impossible that day. The church barns were full
and horses were tied to fences all along the road. The relatives walked from the house to the church
with a few exceptions.
Jan De Kleine married Dena Riddering, a sister of Lucas
De Kleine's wife. She was the youngest of
John Riddering and Geesje Lanning and was only eight years old when she came to America. She
had the misfortune of breaking an arm during the trip, and a sister died and had to be buried at sea.
The story is told that Dena was not feeling well but passed the health entrance inspection because
her parents tied or pinned a red handkerchief around her neck to hide the redness of her face and
Dena's parents bought Section 25 except the NE ¼
and settled on the southwest corner of the section,
one mile east of Drenthe. Later they divided the 480 acres between the remaining fourgirls and the one
Jan and Dena got the 80, and 16 more acres just west of the Lucas De Kleine farm.
The barn, still standing in 1974, was built by Peter Karsten
for a labor cost of $90.00. Dena stated to
her relatives that her parents walked from Holland and stopped in Drenthe to settle because the trees
were the largest there and the soil must be very good which proved to be true. Those trees of birch,
black walnut, basswood, ash and maple were cut into huge windrows and burned as soon as they
were dry. As soon as some land was clear where the sun could get at it, they family would rake the
ground and sow some wheat to be harvested by a hand-operated cradle.
Jan died of pneumonia at the age of thirty-three, leaving
three small children, Mary, John and Grace.
Mary married Fred Ter Haar and settled on a farm south of Drenthe. Grace Married Fred Ter Haar
and settled on a farm south of Drenthe. Grace Married Bert Ter Haar, a nephew of Fred. They settled
on a farm one mile northwest of Forest Grove after share-farming in Hudsonville a few years.
Dena then married Jan Bos by whom she had two children,
Alice and Hattie. Alice married Arend
Arendson and Hattie married John Van Dam. All were prosperous farmers. This family chose to
become a part of the Forest Grove Church after 1882.
Hendrick De Kleine, son of Derk De Kleine, was the father
of four sons and two daughters. Hendrick
learned to talk English better than any of the other children because his farm was located in the township
of Jamestown which was settled largely by English pioneers. Keeping records for his father probably
gave Hendrick some insight into the purchase and sale of merchandise.
Hendrick opened a general store in the village of Jamestown
where the people in that neighborhood
could trade for their daily necessities. Having learned thrift and economy, which Grandfather impressed
upon all his children, he learned how to buy groceries and other family necessities and to sell them at a
profit. This venture was a big financial success in the standards of those early days. The story is told that
when he weighed out a pound of crackers, scooped up from the open barrel, he would break a cracker
in two to make the scales balance.
Richard, the eldest son, received his education from Hope
Prep School and went on to become a teacher.
He also enjoyed traveling.
Mary and Jennie, the third and fourth children, became
secretaries in Chicago during their younger days.
Later Jennie also taught school.
Three of Hendrick's boys went into business and all were
successful. The second oldest one, Nicholas,
and the youngest, Lewis, first ventured into the business of raising and selling ferrets for rat and rabbit
hunting. Along with the ferret business they owned and operated a grain elevator. When these enterprises
came to an end they began processing pickles. They entered into contracts with neighboring farmers to
grow the cucumbers which they bought then prepared for market. This business remained in the family
until it was sold in 1965. Lewis, a man of high principles, also entered into the creamery business.
Because of his religious convictions he refused to operate on Sunday which was requir4ed by the State
and so he sold the business to the Carnation Milk Company. Another of his achievements was the
establishment of the Jamestown State Bank of which later he became the first President. Lewis married
Hattie Van Noord. They had three daughters - Fanny, Jeanella and Lois, all graduates of Hope College.
Franklin De Kleine, next to the youngest of the boys,
started as an employee of the Macey Furniture
Company in Grand Rapids. Later he entered into business for himself in Lansing, Michigan, the state
capitol. He opened an office furniture business in partnership with a local printer. As the years rolled
by and he gained experience, he took over the entire business of this partnership. He then ventured
into an expanding enterprise of printing and merchandising furniture which grew to large proportions.
He died in 1948 long after this business was well established. Franklin married Hattie Macey. They
have two daughters, Dorothy and Helen. Dorothy is a graduate of the University of Michigan. She
married Seth Bidwell, an attorney. He became the business manager of the company after Franklin
De Kleine's death. The Bidwells had one son, Seth Macey. Helen married Forest Lang. They had
one son, Franklin Jr.
These grandchildren of Derk climbed to the top by taking
advantage of the opportunities opened to
them in the business world.
Hilbert De Kleine, the youngest son, married Alice Kremers,
daughter of Willem Kremers.
[See Kremers family]
Their oldest child, Mary, married John Smallegan who operated
a general store and also a string
butcher business located in the village of Forest Grove. Two of their children, Dick and Nellie,
graduated from Hope College. Alice is a graduate of Michigan State University. Two of the girls,
Alice and Nellie, became missionaries to India. The boys of John Smallegan all continued in the
business established by their father in Forest Grove. Ruth became a trained nurse.
Anna married Gerrit Holleman, a farmer located in Bonhomme
County, South Dakota. Later they
moved to Michigan and settled in the Township of Jamestown. Their children, with two exceptions,
became farmers and farmer's wives. The three daughters, Alice, Helen and Esther, taught in the
elementary grades for several years.
Dick De Kleine married Myra Struik [See
Struik Family], daughter of Cornelius Struik. Dick also
was a prosperous farmer in the Township of Jamestown. He has always been very active in church
work, first as a deacon and later as an elder. He spent more than forty years in Sunday School work.
His daughter, Cornelia, is a graduate of Hope College and has since been a successful teacher, now
employed in the public school system of Grand Rapids. She has a Masters degree in Education from
the University of Michigan and was recently advanced to the position of principal in the Grand Rapids
All of the 35 grandchildren of Derk De Kleine have passed
on to their reward. The youngest wasHelena
De Kleine who died May 21, 1974 at the age of 90 years.
William De Kleine studied medicine. After graduating from
Hope College in 1902 he entered Northwestern
University Medical School where he received his M.D. degree in 1906. He entered private practice in
Grand Haven. After some eight years in practice, he decided to study public health at the University of
Michigan, receiving his Master's degree in Public Health in 1915.
He served in various capacities in the field of public
health, first as a director of state-wide tuberculosis
survey campaign by the State Board of Health, the first of its kind in the world, then as the first full-time
health officer of Flint, and later of Saginaw, Michigan. He was later employed by the Commonwealth
Fund, a New York foundation, to locate in certain typical American communities to organize and
demonstrate procedures for safe-guarding child health. In 1928 he was appointed Medical Director for
the American National Red Cross in Washington, D.C. Here he served some thirteen years until his
retirement in 1941. After engaging in private practice for two years in Washington, he was appointed
State Health Commissioner for the State of Michigan in 1944. He served in this capacity for one term,
when he again entered into private practice in Lansing, Michigan, at the age of seventy. He retired
December 31, 1955 at the age of seventy-eight.
William De Kleine married Lottie Hoyt. They have one son,
Edwin Hoyt, who is a plastic surgeon in
Buffalo, New York. He married Frances Webster. They have two sons, William Charles and Richard
Francis. William De Kleine and his son, Edwin Hoyt, are the only physicians, to date(1974), among
all the descendants.
Abe De Kleine married Grace Bos, a daughter of Arend Bos.
He, too became a prosperous farmer,
first in general farming and dairying and later, operating a peach farm. He prides himself in raising the
very finest peaches available in Western Michigan. His son, Herbert, is a graduate of Michigan State
University. He taught school for several years, principally in the science of agriculture. He also operates
a peach farm, spending part of his time as an instructor in agriculture in a local high school. Abe's
daughter, Ruth is also a graduate of Michigan State University. Helena, the youngest child of Hilbert
De Kleine, remained single.
**********EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES LIMITED**********Derk de Kleine's children did not have an opportunity for schooling. There were no schools in or
However, they knew the Dutch language; knew how to read
and write3 it in simple form. They had
some schooling in the Netherlands. The use of figures, adding and subtracting, was the same in Dutch
as it was in English. But they could not use the English language. Some of them learned to talk it after
several years of exposure to English neighbors, and then their pronunciation was very broken and
Hendrick de Kleine was an exception. He learned to speak
English because his farm was located in
the center of Jamestown Township which was largely settled by English-speaking pioneers. He had
a good mind and his daily contact with English neighbors gave him an advantage the other de Kleine
children did not have.
Hilbert, the youngest son of Derk de Kleine, never saw
the inside of a school in his boyhood days.
He learned to write his own name and that was about all. He left the Netherlands at the age of three,
so he had no schooling there. He did learn to read simple Dutch and by persistent personal effort
learned to speak and read a little English.
He did, however, learn hard work from the earliest days
in Michigan, even as a boy. He knew the
fundamental of farming which was paramount to making a living - clearing land, planting and cultivating
crops, raising cattle, pigs and chickens. The boys and girls were taught how to become successful
farmers, respected in the neighborhood, but their linguistic facilities were very meager. They did,
however, learn to figure. They could figure the value of wheat at so much per bushel and the price
of pork at so much per pound.
My mother, Alice Kremers (Mrs. Hilbert De Kleine) did
have the benefit of some schooling when she
was a young girl. She learned the English language and spoke it fluently, as well as Dutch. She wrote
both Dutch and English exceptionally well for her time. She even taught school for a year or two.
Neighbors often consulted her about family problems, illness, birth of babies, and what-have you.
She was an able counselor, both inside and outside the immediate family, and highly respected in the
neighborhood. She was always ready to advise and help whenever needed.
My mother was quite determined that her children
should have an education beyond what was generally
considered adequate. Schooling was compulsory when we of the third generation were youngsters. We
all went to a country school, learned to read, spell, write and figure in simple arithmetic and had a
smattering of history and English grammar. But my mother wanted her children to have more than that.
She wanted them to go to college if that were possible, but, financial reverses made that very difficult.
A disastrous fire with a heavy loss of buildings, animals and crops interfered with her dreams of a college
education for all the children.
Fortunately, for me, father and mother had been able
to recoup enough of their heavy losses to send me
to Hope college, the only college available to us.
Since my schooling, up to then, consisted of a course
in a one-room country school, I was a long way
from being ready for college. I was admitted to the second class in the Hope Academy in the fall of
1895 and finished in three years. Then I entered the college proper in the fall of 1898, receiving my
Bachelor of Arts degree in June 1902. I might add that I was the only one in the third generation
of Derk de Kleine who was privileged to finish college and receive a Bachelor or Arts degree.
I followed this up with a four-year course in Northwestern University, Medical School, receiving
an M.D. degree in 1906.
Hope College was a God-send to the boys and girls of
the early Dutch pioneers. They could never
have had the equivalent of a college education anywhere else but in Holland, Michigan. Lack of
sufficient funds to go elsewhere and lack of preliminary schooling needed for admittance to some
other schools, made Hope College indispensable for many boys and girls. Hope College overlooked
our deficiencies in those early days and took us in for what we were worth. However, we knew
what it meant to work hard which is a prime requisite for a successful college career as well as for
If the question were asked; "What is the most significant
event in the lives of Derk De Kleine and his
descendants?" The answer would be clarion clear; "Coming to America." Nothing in all their one
hundred twenty-six years, from 1848 to the present, can possibly overshadow the blessings of
living in a free country.
Someone has postulated that children have a right to
choose their own parents. If that dictum
is correct, then by the same token, children have a right to choose the country in which they wish
to live. America was our choice. This, no doubt, was the primary objective in the mind of Derk
de Kleine and other Dutch pioneers when they chose to come to America, the land of the free
and the home of the brave. We bless our grandfather de Kleine for thinking of us first and
foremost and listening to our silent and unspoken pleas: - Take us to America.
The primary reason for Derk de Kleine's emigration
to America was that he could not see his
way clear to continue to make a comfortable living for himself and family in the Netherlands
and to establish his seven children in prosperous pursuits of their own as they grew to maturity.
He himself had earned and saved some money in the years when that was still possible in the
Netherlands. But in the decade of 1840 to 1850, when poverty stalked the land, he could not
see how it would be possible for his children to continue to live a life of freedom and plenty in
the old country. There was nothing ahead for his sons but to work as day laborers on the farm
and his daughters to serve as housemaids for a pittance in wages. That could mean nothing but
poverty the rest of their lives.
Like other Hollanders he had heard of the wonderful
opportunities in America and so he chose
to follow Van Raalte to Western Michigan. Here he felt that he could find economic security
as well as religious freedom. He was willing to venture his all on this most important objective
in his life. How well he chose is now fully appreciated by his living descendants in America.
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