This is a story about a ‘hovenier’ from Bergen op Zoom. Someone from one of the classic Bergen op Zoom families that made the city in what it is today. One of the characteristics of this group is that they never moved very far away. Maybe only to surrounding villages with their little vegetable carts. But at the end of the 19th century, the ‘hoveniers’ weren’t small scale farmers anymore. Many of them owned large villas in the old city centre and they assured a lot of farming ground for themselves by marrying within their own group. There wasn’t a lot of reason to emigrate elsewhere. Except for one of them: he was of a different opinion.
In this article I will write about everything American that I’ve found in the timeline of the life of my grandma’s great-uncle. I’ve tried, with the help of names and facts, to give a general view of the US in those days, and how immigrants influenced the US and the people they left behind. From birth certificates to native American tribes, from procedures to post cards. I hope I’ve succeeded in this mission.
Please note that I’ve used the metric system as is common outside of the United States. A converstion tool can be found here. Dates written with a ‘slash’ are in Dutch order, so DD/MM-YYYY. Sources are not translated. – With special thanks to mister Dami Koevoets of local museum ‘de Holle Roffel’, misses Anne Paterson of the Appleton library, my former high school English teacher Noud Jehoel and my distant family members Barbara Withagen Ciske, Beth Meldrum Withagen and Gerald McCarthy.
Walterus or Waltherus (Walter, Wouter) Withagen was born on the 13th of November 1886, at 10pm in the Dubbelstraat ,Bergen op Zoom, neighbourhood D number 165. The birth declaration was done by his father Godefridus Withagen, forty years old, hovenier and Jacobus Johannes Trimbos, 33, without profession. His mother was Maria Withagen, housewife. They all lived in Bergen op Zoom. Walter grew up in the family home at the Dubbelstraat, in the Kaai neighbourhood. I wrote about that house last month in this article.
First a bit of text for my distant American family. How am I related to this story? Wouter or Walter Withagen, I use both names alternately, was a younger brother of my great-great-grandmother Paulina Maria Franken-Withagen (1873-1942, number 21). In Dutch it is usual to note the maiden name second, the order is different. Her son was my great-grandfather Martien Franken (1908-1950), whose daughter was my grandma on my father’s side: Corrie Bernaards-Franken (1937-2017). So Walter Withagen was my grandma’s great-uncle. I asked her about her family in the US, and she remembered it vaguely. Now something unusual for me: I’m going to try to tell you about the basics of my own city. Bergen op Zoom is a mid-size city, 66.000 inhabitants, in the western part of the Dutch province of North-Brabant. It is situated between the North Sea coast in the west and beautiful forests in the east. North-Brabant is the , predominantly catholic, southern part of the Netherlands, and culturally closer to Belgium than to Holland. Bergen is an ancient city, with lots of monuments and lots of ancient culture and traditions. I’ve tried to find some links that can tell the ‘outsider’ somewhat more about my town in English, and found some. For example: this link, this link, this link, this link or this link. But the most important thing is: you can always contact me for questions about my city or about your Bergen op Zoom ancestors, or translations of parts of my website.
In 1906, when Walter was twenty, he was required to register for the draft. As a profession, ‘hovenier’ was noted. His lottery number was 7. The next year, Walter was again mentioned in the archives. His father Godefridus is then lying on his deathbed in the family home at the Dubbelstraat. Notary Van Gruting comes by and takes inventory of Godefridus’ possessions. The total possessions of the family were two cows, grain and hay, a horse, a cart, a rig, farming equipment, a tub, baskets, manure worth ten guilders, twelve chickens, a nightstand with table, chairs, a lamp, a mirror, a blanket, a pillow, some potteries, a closet with household equipment, a couch, a milking table with milking equipment, a cot with belongings, two heaters, an ice cart, a bicycle, men’s and women’s clothing, a safe, vegetables and fruit on the owned farm land and three houses: two on the Artilleriestraat and one at the Dubbelstraat. Apart from the houses, the total of goods was worth 1353 guilders. The same document mentioned Wouter as one of the underage children of the family, with the note that one became of age at 21 years at that time.
As we take a look back at the draft, we find further details in the draft lottery register. Number seven wasn’t Walter’s lucky number: the military commission advised ‘hire’ and Walter was drawn on the 22nd of december 1905. On the 2nd of march 1906 he was enlisted in the army in Bergen op Zoom’s famous 3rd infantry regiment. The report that was written down in the last column of the register notes some particularities. For example, he went on leave for an unknown time on the 27th of july 1907. A few weeks after his father passed away, so maybe it had something to do with that event. Also on the 18th of september 1909, the 24th of september 1912 and the 19th of september 1913 he went on big leave. The next note stated that Walter was written out of the military because of ‘discharge as a deserter’. He ran away. However, on the 30th of december 1916 he was enlisted again, with the note that he was written out because of desertion on the 22th of september 1915. The word ‘since’ was used in this sentence, so maybe a trial or punishment had taken place in the meantime. It seems Wouter was lost for them for a while on the 22th of february 1915, and he was arrested on the 22th of september that year and had to enroll again in the military. On the 18th of march 1918 he was enlisted for the ‘national defence’ department in Bergen op Zoom.
So Walter deserted in the course of 1914. Although the exact reason wasn’t stated, it’s good to give a bit of context about the situation at that moment. World War I broke out. Tens of thousands of Belgian refugees flocked to Bergen op Zoom. Almost all young men in the region were mobilized and had to serve at the nearby Belgian border, see for example this photograph of my great-grandfather Toon van Dijke and his brothers in Ossendrecht. The refugees lived in enormous camps on what is now Kijk in de Pot park and Plein 13 square, and brought terrifying stories with them. Although everyone tried to make the best of it and a lot of work was being done, the atmosphere in the town must have been very tense, as it was in the rest of Europe.
The second question we can ask about this story is: where did Walter go? One could state that the civil registration and the army administrators didn’t communicate very well. When we take a look at the Bergen op Zoom civil registration over the 1900-1920 period, we see that my great-great-grandmother Paulina Maria had already married and left the family home in 1900, and Walter’s other sisters also left in this time period. As addresses, Dubbelstraat D189 (renumbered to 50), Glymesstraat M265 and Dubbelstraat 10 were given. In Dutch, it is custom to write the house number after the street name in an address. At Walter’s registration it was stated that he left for Reinholtz in North-America on the 28th of may 1914, and in the city registration of outgoing citizens this date was also noted. As occupation they noted ‘farmer’. The 28th of May was before WWI broke out.
The Flemish TV-station Canvas broadcast the documentary series ‘Publiek Geheim’ or ‘public secret’ in 2015. One episode was about Belgian emigrants on the famous Titanic. This episode gives a very good example of how young men in the Benelux were motivated to emigrate in the 1910’s, and how this emigration took place, practically. The situation in Flanders was similar to that in North-Brabant. I subtitled this episode myself.
All immigrants that wanted to enter the US had to pass one place: Ellis Island. Ellis Island is an island in the Hudson river in New York City, between the island on which the Statue of Liberty is situated and Lower Manhattan. The US wasn’t as strict on immigration in 1915, in fact, they were unbelievably open to immigration compared to, for example, the Dutch or Belgian immigration policies right now. The image of the land where one can achieve anything was very much alive and that attracted huge amounts of immigrants since the middle of the 19th century, mostly from Europe, Russia and China. Although the Wild West times were coming to an end and America entered modern times with the beginning of the 20th century, there was still a lot of wild and open space in the Midwest, ready to be developed, and an ever growing economy with an ever growing amount of jobs. For this reason, the motto on the Statue of Liberty is:
“give me your tired, your poor (..) your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”
Ellis Island, on the state border of New York and New Jersey, was built to have more control over all those tired and poor people. When one arrived on the island, they underwent a medical exam and were registered in detail. About 2% of the people arriving were refused, which isn’t a lot, for example because they were very ill or had a criminal past. That means for as much as the American authorities knew, that there wasn’t an Interpol database they could check or anything. After all: Wouter wasn’t a ‘criminal’ because of his desertion?
Speaking about Walter, I found him in the Ellis Island registers. The ship he sailed with, the Noordam, departed from Rotterdam and arrived on May 30, 1914 on Ellis Island. What was taken down about him was his age, 26 years old, his profession, farmer, that he wasn’t married, was able to read and write, was of Dutch ethnicity and Dutch nationality and had last been living in Bergen op Zoom. He had to state a name of someone who he had left behind, which was his mother Maria Withagen-Withagen, mentioned as the ‘Wid. Withagen, Bergen op Zoom N.B.’, Wid. meaning widow. Then there was the column in which one had to state the final destination of their journey, which in this case was ‘Reynolds’ in ‘ND’, the state code for North Dakota. The town name the civil registration in his home town germanized to Reinholtz was actually Reynolds!
But this wasn’t everything the immigration services had to know. Noted was that Walter had a ticket for his journey to North Dakota, with an ‘S’ written next to it (I don’t know what the S means yet). Also he was carrying fifty dollars, paid for the journey himself, had not been to the US before, was of good physical and mental health, wasn’t a polygamist or anarchist (and imagine a custom agent who had to ask this for example to a very poor Zeelandish family that had never read a newspaper before), was 5,5 inches long, had black hair and black eyes and a scar on the frontside of his body. But the most important question was if he was going to work or live with acquaintances. And that was the case: he went to his sister M. Withagen who was living with J. Akkerman in Reynolds, ND. I think I missed something!
To find out how Walter’s sister ended up in North Dakota, we have to go back to the Bergen op Zoom archives. Maria Withagen was born on June 12th 1880 at 8am in the Withagen family home at the Dubbelstraat, neighbourhood D number 165. The birth declaration was done by her father Godefridus Withagen, at that moment 35 years old and hovenier, with witnesses Johannes Baptist Trimbos, 55, owner of a coffee shop and Johannes Hopmans, 32, hovenier, all living in Bergen op Zoom. Maria married on August 24th 1905 in Bergen op Zoom with Johannes Walterus Langenberg from Bergen op Zoom, at that moment 25 years old and laborer. So Langenberg was Walter’s brother-in-law. He was born on July 8th 1880 on Kettingstraat G41 in Bergen op Zoom, as a son of hovenier Johannes Langenberg and Johanna Hopmans. The couple Langenberg-Withagen moved to Dubbelstraat D142/renumbered to 15 on August 21st 1905, a few days before their marriage. On February 23rd 1914 they left for North Amerika.
The couple left from Rotterdam with the ship the ‘Potsdam’ and arrived on Ellis Island on March 7th 1914. And they didn’t go alone. It was a group of four people from Bergen op Zoom, all going to Reynolds in North Dakota. The group consisted of Jan Langenberg, 34, Maria Langenberg-Withagen, 34, Willem Klaassen, 42, and Roeland Johannes van Nispen, eighteen years old, all farmers. All of them had to state someone they left behind: Jan’s father Jan Langenberg in Bergen op Zoom, Willem’s father Jacob Klaassen in the Bergen op Zoom countryside and Roeland’s stepfather F. Elsakkers in Bergen op Zoom. With the last mention they meant Philippus van Elzakker, a widower who remarried Roeland’s mother Antonetta Laurina Jalink. Both of them had eight children at the time of their marriage, which means it became one family with sixteen kids. Willem Klaassen was born on May 18th 1872 in the Potterstaat in Bergen op Zoom, the street I live in. He was a son of farmer Jacobus Klaassen and Catharina de Dooij from Ossendrecht. Willem wasn’t married when he went to the US with Roeland, Jan and Maria. In the arrival register it was noted that all four of them paid for their own journey and all four of them were going to Reynolds to go live with a friend, a certain Van Mansfeld, a surname well known in the hovenier community in Bergen op Zoom. This guy was probably Laurens van Mansfeld, a Bergen op Zoom farmer that went to the US when he was 27 years old. Laurens arrived on Ellis Island on March 12th 1910 with the ship the Lapland from Antwerp. He was part of a large group of people that consisted of two families from Velsen and some young men from Druten and Haarlem. They all went to a certain Van den Heuvel in the very small village of Butler, Minnesota. It seems the whole America-story started with this Van den Heuvel.
North Dakota is quite a stereotypical mid western state. Located in the Great Plains, with the Rocky Mountains in the west, Canada in the north and the Great Lakes region in the east. Nowadays it has about 700.000 inhabitants and a mostly farming based economy. The area was part of French Louisiana until 1803, but at that time nearly uninhabited. From the 1870’s and onwards the US federal government started selling land to immigrants, while railroads were being constructed and towns founded. As was the case in the larger part of the central US it were mainly German immigrants that were attracted to this, next to Americans from east coast states. However, in North Dakota and bordering Minnesota, a large Norwegian community arose, something which can be seen in the general map at the top of this article.
In the decade the Bergen op Zoom people went to Dakota, the situation was quite different. North and South Dakota weren’t a territory anymore, but fully-grown US states. Most of the land had been cultured in a planned matter, something which can be seen today by the giant ‘chess board pattern’ in the landscape. This didn’t mean that there weren’t new villages and communities being founded. Reynolds was founded in 1883 on the border of two counties. The east border of the state, is formed by the Red River of the North, or in french La Rivière Rouge du Nord. This river flows in the direction of Lake Winnipeg in Canada, although the region is sitting between the Mississippi and a tributary of the Mississippi. The two counties in which Reynolds is located are Grand Forks and Traill.
Page 12 of the evening news paper ‘Grand Forks Herald’ from July 3rd, 1916 was kind of a large advertisement for the village. The page begins with the text: [this quote was translated into dutch first and re-translated into english]
“One of the most progressive cities in the entire north west is Reynolds, a lively business town, located on the border of the counties Grand Forks and Traill. Reynolds is known throughout the whole north west by her progressiveness and her unprecedented location amidst the richest part of the best farming area in the world. With her connection to a grand transcontinental railroad she has the great chance of becoming a city of notable size. Reynolds already established a reputation as one of the most progressive cities in the north west and the beauty en modernizing of the city have been meaning a lot to people looking for a clean and beautiful place to found there home.”
This text is nice as an advert, but it isn’t good journalism, to say the least. The village had reached it highest population point twenty years before, in 1896: six hundred inhabitants. Nowadays the streets still aren’t paved and the population halved since the end of the 19th century. Looking for the Bergen op Zoom group in a book in honor of the centennial of Reynolds, I found quite a lot of traces that point to the Norwegian background of the population, a thing this region, as I wrote earlier, is known for. No mention of Akkerman, Van den Heuvel, Van Mansfeld, Withagen, Van Nispen or Klaassen was found. Their existence in the US must have been built up quite hastily.. or maybe not.
Willem Klaassen returned on December 29th, 1915. He was registered as living back in Bergen op Zoom on Moerstraatsebaan 99, the same address he lived before leaving, ‘ambtshalve’. The latter means that Willem didn’t go to the city hall to report his return, although I suspect that he met an official in the meantime, because it was noted he came back from Reynolds, not written as ‘Reinholtz’. Willem died on June 5th 1933 in Bergen op Zoom, 61 years old. He was a gardener servant at that time, and had never married. America wasn’t a success story for Willem. Or maybe he took over his father’s farm? Roeland Johannes van Nispen wasn’t mentioned again in the Bergen op Zoom archives since he was exempt for the draft on May 4th, 1914 because his brother already served in the military. It’s a bit ironic that that wasn’t an excuse in the US, or so it seems. On June 5th, 1917, just after the US joined WOI, he was mentioned on a US draft registration card as Roland van Nispen. At that time he was 22, butcher (the same profession he had at home) and wasn’t essential as breadwinner for a family member, which isn’t odd because he didn’t have any family in the US. Roeland lived in Moorhead, Minnesota at that moment, on 4th Street North 123. Moorhead is located on the Red River of the North, across the river from Fargo, the largest city in North Dakota. Moorhead was the destination ofLaurens van Mansfeld, so it wasn’t a coincidence Roeland ended up there. Roeland went back and forth twice. On May 24th 1916 he lived in Moorhead and had Ant’ van Nispen and Jean Badis as acquaintances. And on the 22nd of May 1922, his acquaintances were Jack Moorhead and F. Wakhee, his brother-in-law who lived in Harderwijk. On that date he also lived in Moorhead, on 4th Street 223. I didn’t find any mention of him after 1922.
Walter’s brother-in-law Johannes Walterus Langenberg returned to Bergen op Zoom on February 14th 1920, coming from New York. He was a merchant in vegetables and fruit at that time and went on to live on Sint Antoniusstraat 23. It is remarkable he returned alone. And indeed: on June 17th 1920 he married Catharina Petronella Musters in Bergen op Zoom. She was forty, daughter of Cornelis Musters and Helena Nuijten and widow of Jacobus Withagen. That can only mean that Walter’s sister Maria had passed in the US. In the papers that were added to the marriage certificate, more information can be found. Dutch law obligated Jan to prove he was a widower. He contacted general consul John Vennema for this, working at the Dutch consulate in Chicago. Vennema made clear in April 1920 that he trusted a statement that was to be retrieved by John Murphy, notary for Grand Forks county. This notary Murphy had set out to the pastor of Reynolds for proof. And that proof was given: [this quote was translated into dutch first and re-translated into english]
“Priest F.A. Meyer, pastor of the parish of Our Lady of Everlasting Support in Reynolds, North Dakota, declared after taking an oath that misses Maria Langenberg has passed in Reynolds, North Dakota, US, on September 25th, 1917 and was buried in Reynolds, North Dakota, in his presence on September 27th, 1917.”
This seems ample proof, but it wasn’t. The priest mentioned Mrs. Langenberg, instead of using her maiden name Withagen, which was usual in the US, on the lists of Ellis Island Maria was also called Langenberg. But this wasn’t customary in the Netherlands. Thus followed, and it can hardly be a surprise for any Dutch people, a somewhat typical Dutch bureaucratic procedure. One attachment to the marriage certificate was a letter from the Breda court. They got involved because the Bergen op Zoom marriage official refused to certify the marriage because he could not see the surname ‘Withagen’ in the statement from the American priest. On top of that was the fact that the priest had written something by hand in the catholic wedding book of Jan and Maria, which the official found to be suspicious. The Breda court attorney lined up the passports and catholic wedding book, which wasn’t a rightful evidence for the Dutch government, and spoke of a habit in English speaking countries to use the married name instead of someone’s maiden name. He saw no problems. And on top of that came a letter from another attorney who understood the marriage official and was of opinion that the marriage could not take place. They ‘simply’ had to ask the consul to send someone to the Reynolds priest again, he wrote, to get the same statement but not with the surname Langenberg but the maiden name Withagen mentioned. The judge did not approve, and decided the proof they already had would do. Jan Langenberg was lucky he didn’t have to pay court fees because he was poor..
After all of this, Jan Langenberg could go on with his marriage, and moved with his second wife and three stepchildren, which had coincidentally the same surname as his late first wife, to Koevoetstraat 11. On that address, son Johannes Cornelis Langenberg was born on June 9th, 1921. At the end of his life, Jan was a horticulture laborer. He passed away on October 26th, 1944, at the age of 64.
We return to Walter. I presume he also returned home in 1915, judging by the note in his military file. He still had to serve out his time. We find him again in the archives on a lovely day: his wedding day. Walter married on February 15, 1917 in Steenbergen with Anna Maria Buijzen. At that moment he was a farmer and lived in Bergen op Zoom. Witnesses were Leonard Johannes Buijzen, 26, carpenter, brother of the bride, living in the Steenbergen county, Marijn van Herel, fourty, laborer, cousin of the bride, living in the Steenbergen county, my great-great grandfather Adrianus Franken, fodder merchant, 43, living in Bergen op Zoom and Cornelis Bruijs, 43, hovenier, living in Bergen op Zoom.
Some background information about the Buijzen family. Anna Maria was born on November 14 1887 at 1am on the address E22 in Steenbergen county, which points to the nearby village of Welberg. Witnesses at the birth registration were Daniël van Agtmaal, 34, laborer, Cornelis Antonius van der Riet, 26, cigar maker, both of them living in Steenbergen county. She was a daughter of Leendert Buijzen and Laurina Dekkers. Leendert was born on September 30th, 1856 in Steenbergen as son of carpenter Leendert Buijzen (*Steenbergen county, 14/7-1821, ✞ yonder, 31/7-1884) and former maid Maria Cornelia Laanen (*Wouw, 22/12-1823, ✞Bergen op Zoom, 10/6-1891). Laurina was born on January 8th, 1853 in Steenbergen, daughter of laborers Marijn Dekkers (*Roosendaal, 11/2-1801, ✞ Steenbergen county, 26/1-1889) and Anna van Reijen (baptized in Steenbergen, 17/9-1810, ✞ yonder, 8/3-1880). On January 28th, 1887 Leendert and Laurina married in Steenbergen, with announcements on the 16th and 23rd of January that year. Witnesses were Ludovicus Adrianus Tholhuijsen, 31, house painter, brother-in-law of the groom, Frederik Pieter van Alphen, 71, agent, cousin-in-law of the groom, Willem Marcelis de Vos, 54, barman and Jan Baptist de Vree, 34, barman, brother-in-law of the groom. All the witnesses lived in Steenbergen county, in the Steenbergen or Kruisland villages. Remember the last name of De Vree, it will return further on in this article.
So daughter Anna Maria was born later in 1887 on the address E22. Neighbourhood E was located, according to the Steenbergen population register of 1889, ‘the whole Oudeland and the Welberg, including ‘den Bergschen weg going from the Ligne and the Olmendreef’.) The house E22 was in Welberg, but wasn’t inhabited by Leendert Buijzen at that time, nor was it his property. The civil registration shows that the Buijzen family lived on E41 and E24 in the period 1887-1900, in that respective order. In the 1889 neighbourhood population list, Leendert can be found living on number 41, also in Welberg. He lived there but the house was owned by the widow of Adr’ Wijnen. Leendert did own the next door houses of 41a and 41b, but those were inhabited by Jan Baartmans and Jan Bastiaanse respectively. In the period from 1900 onwards the family lived on E24, E49 and E55. Noted was that they were ‘written out’ of the register at the time of the 10th Dutch census. On March 23rd, 1890, the second child of the Buijsen-Dekkers couple was born, son Leonard Johannes Buijzen. That was at 11am on the address E21. Witnesses present at the birth registration were Kornelis Jan Raats, 33, carpenter and Cornelis Antonius van der Riet, 29, cigar maker, both living within Steenbergen county. I’ll refer to Leonard later on as brother-in-law, Leonard’s surname spelled as ‘Buijsen’.
Walter and Anna Maria were registered in Welberg, neighbourhood E number 55, on November 7, 1917. That was the same day their daughter Laurina Maria Withagen was born, which was at the same address at 9:30am. The birth registration was done by father Walter Withagen, at that moment thirty and laborer, with witnesses Frans Pieter Bogers, 73, barman and grandfather Leendert Buijzen, 61, carpenter, all living in Steenbergen county. It seems that E55 was located in the ‘de Overval’ township, north of Welberg according to the neighbourhood registration list of 1915. A few days after Laurina’s birth, Walter left Steenbergen, he returned to Bergen op Zoom on November 13, 1917. His wife and daughter followed him on November 24th, 1917. In Bergen op Zoom, they lived at Auvergnestraat 6, until September 24th, 1918, when they all went back again to the Steenbergen neighbourhood E, living over there on E52 this time. At that address their second daughter was born: Maria Leonardus, on January 30th, 1919 at 7am. It seems they wanted to name their daughter after grandfather Leendert, but used the masculine form of the name.
Somewhere around this time, a decision was made. Walter would try the US again. I can imagine the Steenbergen countryside of the 1910’s didn’t bring him the opportunities he had seen in the States. The opportunity of his own wooden house for example, with owned land around it, larger than Dutch people could even imagine. He still knew the group of Bergen op Zoom people he joined five years before, then living in Minnesota. He knew North Dakota well himself. He knew his way about and could think of a way he and his family could build their new lives at the other side of the ocean. And not only their lives: his brother-in-law Leonard Buijzen and his mother-in-law Laurina Buijzen-Dekkers were going with him. His father-in-law Leendert Buijzen seems to be living with his brother-in-law Jan Baptist de Vree in Kruisland at that moment. Jan Baptist de Vree married Leendert’s sister Adriana Cornela Buijzen on May 7th, 1880 in Halsteren. He himself was born in the Belgian village of Berendrecht, but came to Steenbergen as a minor when his mother remarried a Steenbergen man.
Anna Maria sent this post card to her father on April 28th, at that time already living with J.B. de Vree in Kruisland. She tells him about how they arrived in Antwerp safe and soundl. She writes: “come soon, it is easy enough”. From Antwerpen, one could make the crossing to the US with the famous Red Star Line company, also called the ‘Société Anonyme de Navigation Belge-Américaine’. This company operated a shipping service to New York and sometimes to Philadelphia. In Antwerp, the family went aboard the SS Finland, an American-British ship built in 1902, owned by Red Star Line. On May 9th, they arrived on Ellis Island. Registered were Walter Withagen, farmer, 32, blond hair and blue eyes, his wife Johanna Withagen, 32, blond hair grey eyes, Laurina Withagen, two, blond hair blue eyes, Maria Withagen, one, blond hair blue eyes and Laurina Dekkers, 66, brown hair brown eyes. None of them had any physical problems. They had to name someone they left behind, which was again grandma Maria Withagen in Bergen op Zoom. And remarkably, the destination of the family was a friend, J. Langenberg in Southard, North Dakota. I cannot prove that J. Langenberg is Walter’s brother-in-law who I mentioned before. As far as I know he was living with his second wife in Bergen op Zoom at that moment.
Presumably somewhere else on the ship was brother-in-law Leonard Buijsen. He arrived with the SS Finland on May 9, 1920, a note that was rewritten to May 10th, 1920. He also gave up J. Langenberg as a destination, in ‘Southark’, North Dakota. Most remarkable is that Willem Klaassen was also aboard! I already found out that Willem didn’t end up in the US, but he apparently travelled back and forth again. Willem didn’t have J. Langenberg as destination but J.C. Akkerman, who I think is the same mr. Akkerman the group of Bergen op Zoom men went to in 1914.
The Withagen’s had Southard or Southark as their destination. A place called Sourthark doesn’t exist in North Dakota, and a short Google search on Southard only gives me the address of a pumpjack as a result. I’ve called the North Dakota State Archive in Bismarck for this, and they told me the destination was probably understood wrongly by the Ellis Island officials. They thought it could be Sourth Heart. South Heart is located in Stark county, in the southwestern part of the state, closer to the Rocky Mountains. However, they didn’t stay very long in ‘Southard’, it isn’t even sure for me if they ever arrived there. Not long after this L.J. Buijsen, the brother-in-law, sent a postcard to Kruisland from Hillsboro, North Dakota. Hillsboro is located in Traill county, and I recognize this county as the one located under Grand Forks in eastern North Dakota. Wikipedia describes it as a ‘bedroom community’ halfway between two larger metropolitan areas: Greater Grand Forks and Fargo-Moorhead.At the postcard it says ‘filling the silo on Elmwood Farm, Hillsboro N.D.’ Elmwood is the name of a cemetery close to Hillsboro, on the other side of the Goose River. The farm was maybe located somewhere nearby. Moreover these places are all located about 32 kilometers from Reynolds, and that isn’t a coincidence. There were presumably a lot of acquaintances living in the area, and I can imagine Walter and brother-in-law Leonard worked at farms in the area alternately.
In September 1920, grandfather Leendert Buijsen came to live with the family. I cannot find any document about his emigration anywhere, but I’m certain he did come, mostly because of a third postcard sent to J.B. de Vree on September 30, 1920, in which Anna Maria tells De Vree about her father’s trip:
“Dear family, with this card I wanted to let you know that father arrived well, and we were all happy to see him again. The journey also went well. Father Koeman brought him home to us. He looks very well and Auntie, thanks a lot for your goods en for the children. Father will write you a letter when he’s at ease. Furthermore best whises from us all and especially from Father.”
A few days later, on October 2nd 1920, another postcard was sent. Grandpa Leendert was working for the local pastor and seems to get used to living in the US pretty well.
“Dear family, with this card I wanted to let you know that Father is so happy here. It is better than he expected and is having a good time here. He already started working at the Pastor’s farm. And father (..) is already coming, it always arrives two days later. The Pastor has had those from Auntie early. (..) the Pastor is coming to the Netherlands on All Soul’s Day again and the month after that. Best wishes for all of you.”
Upside down was written: “the other is Hillsboro, N.D. North America, a letter is coming, this is our church and our rectory.” That church does not exist anymore. The website of the parish describes how the catholic community in this region was made up of mostly Irishmen, and later of catholic Germans. In Hillsboro, there’s an episcopal church, which means Anglican, and two Lutheran churches, that serve the large Norwegian community. The church seen under this part of the article is the Saint Rosa of Lima church, built in 1915. It was quite new when Walter and Anna Maria came there. It was demolished in 1977 and replaced by a new church (of, I would say, American size) at the south side of the village. The parish also writes about how there wasn’t a pastor until 1915, when they hired one from Reynolds. And that could be the before mentioned pastor Meyer that buried Walter’s sister in 1917. Anyhow, the first pastor of Hillboro was father Koelman, about whom Anna Maria writes in her letter from September 30, 1920.
Sometime in the winter of 1920/1921, the family moved eastward, to Minnesota. Walter is mentioned in a list of taxpayers over 1921 (at the top of the second column), in the Finnish language newspaper ‘Uusi Kotimaa’, dated January 24, 1922. From the 19th century onwards, local newspapers written in the language of a certain community were usual, and quite a large community of Finnish emigrants lived in Minnesota and the northern parts of Wisconsin and Michigan. In the phone call with the Bismarck archive I had, I learned what townships are. A state is divided into counties, counties are divided into townships and townships are divided into sections with a size of one square mile each. About 160 kilometers southeast of Hillsboro lies Otter Tail county, that’s in the state of Minnesota. The main thing I knew about Minnesota was the city of Minneapolis, being the home city of Prince. Located west of the Great Lakes, the state is a lot older than the Dakotas, it joined the union in 1858, so before the civil war.
Otter Tail county is located in the western part of the state, in a landscape that characterizes itself by a lot of farmland, low-height deciduous forests and lakes, all cultured in a systematic manner facing north. Like in North Dakota, there’s a continental climate with warm summers and very cold winters. There are 58.812 people in the county, which is a little bit less than the population of Bergen op Zoom, but on a surface which is a few hundred square kilometers bigger than the whole surface of North Brabant. Paddock township has 323 inhabitants. It was founded in 1882 and named after the owner of a saw mill, L.A. Paddock. Located around Paddock are Butler township with 315 inhabitants, founded in 1883 and named after local government man Stephen Butler, and Sebeka, a town in Wadena county, about fifteen kilometers from Paddock. Sebeka has 675 inhabitants nowadays, and already had a center function for the region in the 1920’s. The name ‘Sebeka’ seems to be of Native American origin, maybe it is derived from a Ojibweg word, the language of the aboriginals of this area. The fact Walter and his family came to live in this area is, again, not a coincidence. The nearby township of Butler was the residence of mr. Van den Heuvel in 1910, when Laurens van Mansfeld, the first Bergen op Zoom man from the group went to live with him. This points out the fact that the contacts with acquaintances were still alive in 1921. On September 30, 1921, their third daughter Anna F. or Anna Alima Withagen was born in their new residence.
In the years that followed, the family made their home in Minnesota. Father Walter, mother Anna Maria, grandparents Leendert sr. and Laurina and daughters Maria, Laurina and Anna in one spot, with brother-in-law Leonard jr. living in the neighbouring area. The family owned a farm with land, according to the list of taxpayers from the 1922 newspaper. We can see the farm in some detail in the photo below. This picture was probably attached to a postcard Leendert Buijsen sr. sent in 1924 to his sister and brother-in-law in Kruisland. I don’t know how exactly he did that: all the postcards I have from this period were stamped separately, which means there wasn’t an envelope to enclose them. That would mean the series of postcards isn’t complete, or that the photo was sent to another family member in the Kruisland area and ended up there. I’m sure grandma Withagen, my 3rd great-grandmother, also received some cards in the years before her passing away in 1927.
It seems the family was already making plans to move elsewhere in 1925. The problem is that the civil registration in the US was done in a different manner than they do over here: there’s a census every ten years. There was a census last year, for example. That means one’s searching ‘snapshots’ instead of an ongoing registration of moving dates and addresses. Birth certificates aren’t always available. Overall it means that sometimes I have to guess the intent of the documents I could find. The postcards make it easier, but it’s still hard to prove things in detail. Anyway, the family travelled to the Netherlands somewhere in 1925 or 1926 for a family visit, and it seems they didn’t return to Minnesota but to a new residence in Wisconsin. It also seems grandpa Leendert did not come with them, and stayed in the Netherlands for some time. The trip back to the US was on March 31, 1926 (the postcard stamp says April 1). The family booked a crossing aboard the ‘Paris’, a French ship that departed from the Normandy harbor city of Le Havre. That must have been quite a big train ride from Bergen op Zoom. The ‘Paris’ is depicted, with description, on the cards the kids sent to their grandpa in Kruisland. (Image source: D. Koevoets)
The family arrived on Ellis Island on April 8. Registered were Waltherus Withagen, 39, farmer, with his wife Johanna Withagen, 38, housewife, daughter Laurina Withagen, eight, Maria Withagen, seven, Anna Alima Withagen, four and brother-in-law Leonard Buijsen, 36, farmer. There was a stamp placed at the note of Laurina and Maria saying ‘under 10’. Another stamp was placed at the note of Anna Alima, which is probably because she was the only family member born in the US and thus the only family member who was a American citizen at that time. As the one ‘they left behind’, brother-in-law Leonard mentioned father Buijsen in Kruisland, the others mentioned grandma Withagen. A very funny attempt was made to explain the spelling of her address, ‘Moeregrebstraat‘ to the US customs officer. It was written as ‘Moergrep St.’ eventually. They proclaimed their final destination was Sebeka, which was the nearest large town to Paddock township. However, I suspect this wasn’t really their final destination, although they stated Paddock was their hometown.
Grandma Laurina Buijsen-Dekkers also went back with them. She isn’t mentioned on the Ellis Island passenger list, but when grandpa Leendert came back later, he stated he went back to his wife, which means she was already living in the US at that time. Besides, she was mentioned at an index list of arrived passengers in New York with her son Leonard jr. (see the fifth image below). Below are three postcards (source: D. Koevoets) which give a picture of how the journey went. When they arrived in New York, two cards were mailed, one they took with them from France empty with wishes from granddaughter Anna, the other with wishes from daughter Anna Maria. She wrote:
“Most loved father and family, we all arrived well. When we have a home spot we will write to you about the journey, but for now, we don’t know an adress yet. Many regards from all of us, take care.”
They didn’t have an address yet! Now, it could be that she meant a resting spot to stay overnight, but later cards point out that Anna Maria was indeed talking about a new living address in Wisconsin. On April 13, 1926, the family arrived in Chicago. Brother-in-law Leonard wrote:
“Dear father and family, we’re in Chicago at the moment. I’ll send you a letter in a few days. Many regards, L. Buijsen.”
I’ll write about the post cards some more. The last five cards I have weren’t sent from Minnesota, but from Wisconsin. On June 5, 1926, two cards were mailed and stamped in Kimberly, a suburb of Appleton. I’ll tell you more about those places later on. Anyhow, it seems that the family had moved to Appleton in the meantime. On June 5, 1926, a few weeks after arrival, daughters Anneke, Marie en Lois wrote a card to their grandfather in Kruisland. Depicted are the main streets of Appleton and the Wisconsin river. They wrote:
“Grandpa, there are lots of children here to play with, but I’d rather go to the woods with you to pick berries. Take care and see you soon, Marie”
“Grandpa, I’m doing well. When I grow up, I’ll come and visit you, so take care. Anneke.”
“Grandpa, I’m doing my best at school and we are with good nuns. Take care, so that we can see eachother again. Lois.”
Along with the message on the third postcard, mother Anna Maria asked her father if he could send her an ‘oil stone’. These three cards are, to be honest, a bit of an emotional part of this story. A fourth card goes out on July 10, 1926. It was sent from Kimberly, Wisconson, and depicted Chicago central station. It was written in the name of daughter Anneke, and is about how Leendert sr. himself had visited that station (in 1920), and how they wished he came over as well. The remarkable thing about that card is that it seems to be the only one of the bunch written by Walter Withagen. His Dutch name Wouter is known because of this card. From all these postcards, we can conclude that it wasn’t certain that their grandparents would join them again. But happily not much later, they did.
Grandpa Leendert left for the US on August 11, 1926, with the ship the ‘Volendam’, in service of the Rotterdam Holland-America Line. At that time, Leendert was 69 and a carpenter. It was mentioned that he had lived in Sebeka, Minnesota, left behind his cousin J. de Vree and went to visit his wife ‘Laulina Buysen’ in Sebeka. He did not have a ticket for his inland journey, but did carry more than fifty dollars. It is remarkable that Sebeka was still mentioned as a residence in 1926: it’s quite clear the family already settled in Wisconsin earlier. Leendert was detained for special inquiry when arriving on Ellis Island. This could be for a lot of reasons, it mainly happened with pregnant women or women travelling alone. The abbreviation ‘PHY D PC’ was used. ‘Phy’ seems to point to physical, I suspect they meant a sort of physical exam because he made the journey on his own at almost seventy years old. People were ‘old’ a little bit earlier than nowadays, and the Atlantic crossing was very exhausting. He was examined by inspector Johson and was served breakfast, lunch and dinner three times.
The last post card must have been bought I while back: it depicted an Antwerp scene. It was sent on August 28, 1926, from Kimberly, Wisconsin. Anna Maria wrote:
“Dear uncle and aunt Neel, father has arrived well. A letter is coming. Many regards for all of you, especially from Father”
The family stayed in the same place for more than a year. On October 4, 1927, daughter Freida M. (or Frida) Withagen was born in Wisconsin. I think she was named after her grandfather Godefridus Withagen. Later that year, on December 19, 1927, Walter’s mother Maria Withagen died in her home at the Moeregrebstraat in Bergen op Zoom. He did not go back for the funeral.
One could say that after thirteen years, someone had really contributed to the US society. It was enough anyway to get American citizenship at that time. That happened in 1927. Walter and his brother-in-law Leonard jr. were naturalized on November 11, 1927, Anna Maria did November 9, 1928. On both the occasions, the address was R7 in Appleton, Wisconsin. According to the index, witnesses were M. van Grinsven, Anton Derks, John Boelhower and John Polman. And those are Dutch names, something to remember, as I’ll describe the Dutch community in Wisconsin later on. As far as I could find, Leendert sr. and his wife Laurina weren’t naturalized, and I think the citizenship process of daughters Maria and Laurina went automatically when their parents became US citizens.
As far as I can see, the naturalization process happened in a few steps. At the end, one certificate was written, after which the local court decided if someone was to become a US citizen. It is a bit like how a Dutch marriage came to be at that time: marriage announcements, followed by a list of requirements that had to be met, with proof, then finally the marriage. The process started with a declaration of intention. For naturalization, a prove of immigration via Ellis Island was needed, an interview taken by an acquaintance of the candidate who had to already be a US citizen. The documents give lots of information about appearance, background, professions and addresses. I’ll start with Walter. His intention declaration was served on May 14, 1923 in Traill county, North Dakota. In 1923 he was a laborer, 35, and resident of Hillsboro. His appearance was as follows: white skin with a light complexion, 1,77 meters long, his weight was 75 kilo, he had dark hair and blue eyes. He stated some facts about his place of birth and his marriage to ‘Johanna’ Buijsen, and declared not to be an anarchist or a believer in polygamy. Those last two items seem to be really important to the US government, as the same question was asked when arriving on Ellis Island. An important question in the declaration of intention was: [citation translated to Dutch and re-translated into English]
“It is my sincere intention to forever renounce my loyalty to any foreign prince, state or souvereignity, especially to Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, of whom I’m a subject at this time.”
That sounds kind of heavy but believe me when I say that most of them did not care at all about who they were a subject to. A naturalization was especially very practical. As witnesses Jacques Hendrickx, post office worker living in Butler, Otter Tail and Theodore Sweere, farmer, living at R4 in Perham, Minnesota, were called. They would declare about Walter’s character and about the time he lived in Minnesota in the exact period between July 1, 1922 and December 20, 1925. After all when this process came to be, the family already moved to Wisconsin. The head of the interview takers of the naturalization service in Saint Paul, the capital of Minnesota, delegated mr. J.W. Shea. Shea travelled to Perham and took the interview there on July 3, 1927, at 11am. Theodore was a farmer, 54, living in Butler, Minnesota, born in the Netherlands and a US citizen. He declared he first met Walter on his own farm in October 1920, and that according to his knowledge, Walter lived in the US from October 1920 to 1925. On the question about Walter’s place of residence he answered: “before I met him, he lived in North Dakota for a while. After 1920 he lived near (..).” Theodore saw Walter on a weekly basis and said he was of good moral and certainly recommended him as a citizen. The second witness, Jacques Hendrickx, 37, was a shopkeeper from Butler and also a Dutchman. He declared he met Walter in his shop in 1920 and saw him on a weekly basis thereafter. His answers correspond to those of Theodore Sweere.
The authorities came to no other conclusion than that Walter was well suited to be a US citizen. Everything checked out. In the final document, all kinds of facts were noted, from his date of birth to his date of marriage and when he came to the US. The most important fact to me in this document is the address: he lived in Buchanan, Outagamie county. His profession wasn’t laborer but ‘helper beater’. I’m not quite sure what that means, but it could mean something as ‘to float’, or maybe they meant someone who repairs damaged cars. The witnesses at the final court procedure, M. van Grinsven and Anton Derks (both living in Kimberly, Outagamie), were ‘head beaterman’ and ‘beater helper’ of profession respectively. Co-workers of Walter. It is clear that this job was quite a different one to the farming jobs Walter had before, which without a doubt had to do with them now living in a more city-like region.
At the same time, brother-in-law Leonard Buijsen appeared for the court. That was convenient. His documents are almost identical with that of Walter, which isn’t strange: they went on the same path since 1920. Leonard also lived in Buchanan, Outagamie, and was also a ‘helper beater’. They even had the same witnesses: Theodore Sweere and Jacques Hendrickx, and they gave the same answers about him as they did about Walter. They met Leonard on a farm or in the shop and saw him on a weekly basis. On May 16, 1928, Anna Maria went up for naturalization. Her file was smaller. Attached was a proof of immigration. In the final decision of the court, Buchanan, Outagamie was mentioned as a place of residence. Also mentioned were her children: Laurina, born November 7, 1917 in the Netherlands, Maria, born January 30, 1919 in the Netherlands, Annie, born September 30, 1921 in Sebeka, Minnesota and Godfrida, born October 4, 1927 in Appleton, Wisconsin. Anna Maria declared to be married to Walter Withagen, a US citizen. Witnesses at the court hearing were John Boelhower, laborer, and John Polman, laborer, both living in Kimberly, Outagamie.
The small town of Butler, next to Paddock in Otter Tail county, where Leonard and Walter met the people that would later be witnesses for them, seems to have more of a Dutch characteristic than one would expect. Theodorus Johannes Sweere was born in 1872 in Oploo, in the North Brabant county of Sint-Anthonis. He was a farmer in Minnesota in the 1920’s and would later move westward: he passed away in Carrington, North Dakota in 1942. Sweere was married to Johanna Maria van den Heuvel (1864-1926) from Cuijk, and that surname is striking, because a certain Van den Heuvel in Butler was the destination of Laurens van Mansfeld at the beginning of this story. On the Holy Cross cemetery in Butler, a lot of inhabitants with a Dutch background are buried, among whom a lot of Sweere family members (it seems not the whole family went to North Dakota), but no Van den Heuvels’ except for the before mentioned ms. Sweere-van den Heuvel. Jacques Antoine Hendrickx was the oldest child of twelve from the couple Johannes Josephus Hubertus Hendrickx (1862-1928) x Maria Margaretha Timmermans (1862-1937). He came from Venlo, she from the Northern Limburg village of Beesel. The whole family emigrated to the US in 1910, and lived in 1927 in Butler, where Jacques was a shopkeeper, for about fifteen years.
There is some background information to be found about the Wisconsin witnesses. All of them were also Dutch-Americans of catholic faith. The first witness is probably Martin van Grinsven (1891-1979) from the North Brabant town of Herpen. He was married to Johanna Wilhelmina van den Hoogen (1893-1957), also from Herpen, but the marriage was in 1914 in Kimberly, so he had lived in the US for quite a while. Then there’s Anton Derks, which I could not link to any documents. I did find a Derks family that lived in this area for a long time, starting with Henry Derks (1806-1887), who came from the German-Dutch border town of Zyfflich, close to Nijmegen. He emigrated in 1848 and has lived in Wisconsin since about 1850. A Boelhower family from Amstelveen lived in Kimberly around 1928. One of the family sons was Johannes Bernardus Antonius Boelhower (1905-1987), a priest in a monastery in Kimberly. He could be witness to John Boelhower, but that witness was mentioned as a laborer in 1928. The last witness was John Polman (1902-1959). Polman lived in Wisconsin in 1928, but was married to Johanna Helena Maria Cornelia (Ann) Sweere (1906-1995), born in Butler, Minnesota. She was a daughter of the couple Hendricus Hubertus (Henry) Sweere (1874-1949) x Wilhelmina van den Heuvel (1872-1946) from Oploo and Cuijk. Henry was a brother of the first witness Theodore Sweere. These connections are no coincidence, I’m almost sure the Withagens’ knew all these people and I think they moving eastward in the course of the 1920’s, 1930’s and 1940’s has to do with them.
Somewhere between November 1928 and January 1930, the family moved back to Paddock, Minnesota. On April 18, 1930, they were visited there by a census official. The census gives a fine overlook on the family in that year. I can imagine the reader of this article can get a little bit lost in all the names and dates, so I made a clear summary, with the names written in the American form.
- Waltherus, Wouter, or Walter Withagen, head of the family, man, white, 43, 30 when married, farmer, citizen, born in the Netherlands, first in the US in 1914.
- Anna Maria (Anna) Withagen, spouse, woman, white, 42, 29 when married, no profession, citizen, born in the Netherlands, first time in the US in 1920.
- Laurina Maria (Lorraine, Marie or Lois) Withagen, daughter, woman, white, twelve, school pupil, not a citizen, born in the Netherlands, first time in the US in 1920.
- Maria Leonardus (Mary, Marie or Lois) Withagen, daughter, woman, white, eleven, school pupil, not a citizen, born in the Netherlands, first time in the US in 1920.
- Anna Alima (Annie, Anneke) Withagen, daughter, woman, white, eight, school pupil who hadn’t learn how to read or write yet, born in Minnesota, citizen.
- Freida M. (Frida) Withagen, daughter, woman, white, two, not yet going to school, born in Wisconsin, citizen.
- Leendert (Leonard) Buijsen, father-in-law, man, white, 74, 30 when married, able to read and write, no profession, born in the Netherlands, first in the US in 1920, not a citizen.
- Laurina (Lorraine) Buijsen, mother-in-law, woman, white, 76, 32 when married, not able to read or write, no profession, born in the Netherlands, first in the US in 1920, not a citizen.
- Leonardus (Leonard) Buijsen, brother-in-law, man, white, 40, unmarried, able to read and write, farming laborer, born in the Netherlands, first time in the US in 1920, citizen.
They lived in a farm which was owned by Walter. They didn’t have a radio set. All those who were born in the Netherlands had parents that were also born in the Netherlands. The census gives a nice overview on their direct environment: their neighbours. We can read about the large family of Benjamin and Sofia Samuelson; he was born in Minnesota as a son of Finnish immigrants, she was also Finnish but born in Norway. Another large family was that of Oscar and Hilja Ewasti. Both of them were Finnish and emigrated in the 1910’s. A little further lived the old age couple of Leon and Mary Jacob, he was born in France, she was also french but was born in Minnesota. Their son married an American woman and lived next door. Next we have John S. and Ella Thon of Norwegian and Irish-New-Jersey background. They were seniors and lived with their son Morris and their 15 year old granddaughter from Oklahoma. Then there were two couples, an older couple of John and Nettie R. Rayeroft, he was from Canada with roots in New York and Ireland, she was from Minnesota with roots in Connecticut and New York, and a younger couple, Elmer and Josephine Vitt with a mixed Russian-German ancestry. In short: quite a usual mix of background of a midwest town: Germans en Irish, with a variety of other ancestries. With the exception that in this region, the Scandinavian influence was quite big, and the Finnish community seemed to be growing in the 1930’s. Remarkable is that the naturalizations show a Dutch-American community in Butler, but not in Paddock, according to the census.
I’ll try to give an image of what happened to the Withagen family in the 1930’s, without being able to refer to postcards. The only thing I can use are some documents. Grandma Laurina died later on in 1930, on the 29th of June. She was 77 years old and was buried in the cemetery of the Holy Cross in Butler, Otter Tail, which was probably the nearest by catholic cemetery. The small tombstone mentions ‘Laurina Buysse’, in the burial registers, ‘Dekkere’ is noted, by which her maiden name Dekkers was meant. On January 7, 1932, their youngest child was born: Leonard N. Withagen. That was in Morrison county in Minnesota, a little further in the Minneapolis direction. In the 1940 census, a column was included in which the residence of five years before was noted. That way, I know that the family lived in Outagamie, Wisconsin, in 1935. They moved back and forth between Minnesota and Wisconsin.
It is probable that the family lived in Black Creek in 1935, a town in Outagamie county at about 33 kilometers from Kimberly, the village they lived in at the end of the 1920’s. Black Creek is the town where grandpa Leendert Buijsen passed away on February 1st, 1939, at the age of 82. He was buried at the catholic Saint Mary’s cemetery in Black Creek, with his name written on his tombstone as ‘Leenderd’, the Dutch way. 1940 was a very important year for the family, but it must have been a sad year as well, because the grandparents had been with them since the beginning of their journey. Two articles from the local newspaper Appleton Post-Crescent give some insights. The first article is dated January 15, 1940, and is about daughter Lorrain. She got engaged to George McCarthy. A party was thrown to celebrate their engagement. The hostesses were the wife of Sylvester Smits and the wife of Leonard Jochman, both sisters of George. The article mentioned that they would marry two days later, on January 17. Visitors could win prizes, and the winners were the wife of Edwin Cooney, Bernice Jochman, Lorrain Duffek, ms. M. McCarthy, the wife of Ray Feuerstein, the wife of Leonard Jochman and Marie Withagen. Furthermore, Miss Mary Jochman, the wife of R. Kornely, Miss Anna Withagen, Miss Loraine Withagen, the wife of Vincent Eichstadt, Miss Lucile McCarthy and Miss Orlean Kolberg were present. I’ll write a lot more about the Withagen children further on in this article.
A second article is dated April 4, 1940. A game hunting club submitted an application for 1250 pheasant chicks, which was awarded. A somewhat weird list of personal facts about members of the club followed. They wrote about the annual party of the hunting clubs, which took place in what I assume was the local evangelical church. Then something was written about the birth of twins and about some people moving. The article finished with:
“W.J. Ganzel sold his 80-acre farm on Highway 47 to Edward Zuleger, route 1, wednesday. The Walter Withagen family is returning to Minnesota this week, their former home. They lived on the Ganzel farm.
Highway 47 still exists: Wisconsin Highway 47 was meant here. Highway 47 was built by the state and runs through Black Creek. In the 1940 census, William Ganzel, 53 years old, lived there with his wife Margaret, fifty, and nephew Vernon Blake, 23. Ganzel was born in Wisconsin in a family with probably a German background. A Carl Theodor Friedrich Christopher Ganzel, born in Kosbad, grand-duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in 1826, came to Wisconsin before 1867 and died in 1901 in Cicero, Outagamie.
Later on in 1940, the census people came around again. That was after the family moved back to Minnesota. Noted family members were:
- Walter Withagen, 55, head of the family, married, born in the Netherlands, lived in Outagamie county in 1935, working on a farm.
- Anna Withagen, 52, wife, white, married, born in the Netherlands, lived in Outagamie county in 1935.
- Marie B. Withagen, 21, daughter, white, not married, born in the Netherlands, lived in Outagamie county in 1935.
- Anna E. Withagen, 18, daughter, white, not married, born in Minnesota, lived in Outagamie county in 1935.
- Freda M. Withagen, twelve, daughter, white, born in Wisconsin, lived in Outagamie county in 1935.
- Leonard R. Withagen, eight, son, white, born in Minnesota, lived in Outagamie county in 1935.
The family became significantly smaller compared to the 1930 census. Oldest daughter Lorraine was married and stayed in Wisconsin. Grandpa and grandma passed away, and brother-in-law Leonard is also not mentioned as a family member. The location of the farm they lived on is remarkable. It was located in Orrock township in Sherburne county. Sherburne is, compared to Otter Tail, located more in the center of Minnesota, between the larger cities of Saint Cloud and Minneapolis. The landscape is hilly with lots of pine forests, alternated with some lakes and rivers. The census points to section 27 of Orrock township, which makes the square on the map where their home was clear. They lived about nine kilometers from Big Lake, a town at the Mississippi riverside. Orrock itself is quite a large township, with a population of 2764 in the year 2000.
Later that year, on September 27, 1940, Walter Withagen passed away in Sherburne county or in the vicinity of the nearby town Big Lake. A variety of sources support this date. A death certificate was written, in which name, place and date were noted. This certificate is attached to the Minnesota Health Department Death Register over 1908-2002. Two indexes also mention the certificate: one on Familysearch and one on the Minnesota Historical Society website. Walter was just 53 years old. He was buried on October 1, 1940 in the Holy Cross cemetery in Butler, so about 180 kilometers away. This was the cemetery in which his mother-in-law found her last resting place, and the family knew the town of Butler well. It seems like the family had planned to stay in Orrock for a longer time, to maybe do some farm work, like they did in Paddock and Black Creek. But without their family head, it didn’t go through. The family would return once again to Wisconsin, and this time for good.
A little bit about Wisconsin. I mentioned Outagamie a few times, and some place names. On the western shore of Lake Michigan lies the state of Wisconsin, founded in 1848. Wisconsin is known in the US mainly for their snow. The winters are freezing cold, there is a continental climate. It is a very green state nonetheless, with lots of forests and lots of lakes. One of the smaller lakes is Lake Winnebago. Lake Michigan and Lake Winnebago are connected to each other by the Fox River that flows into Lake Michigan at the big city of Green Bay.
Around Lake Winnebago lived the Fox (Meskwaki), Sauk, Kickapoo and Winnebago (Ho-Chunk) tribes originally. These three tribes are connected to each other, they speak the Algonquian Fox language. The Algonquian languages form quite a large Native-American language family, that stretches to modern-day Mexico. The languages of the Cree, Blackfoot, Cheyenne and the Mohicans also belong to this language family, for example. On the other side of the lake lived the Winnebago tribe, after which the lake was named. They call themselves the Ho-Chunk: Winnebago is a word from the Fox language, while their language belongs to the West-Siouxan language family, that stretches along the Mississippi all the way to Louisiana. The first European in the area was the Norman explorer Jean Nicolet. He discovered Lake Michigan and arrived for the first time in 1634 in what would later be Wisconsin. He later became the French ambassador to the Ho-Chunk, an alliance benefitting for trade. Explorer Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette boated quite a distance on the Fox river in 1673. They discovered lots of small lakes between the mouth of the Fox river and the Mississippi. If a group was able to go a few short distances by foot, the lakes could be used as a kind of waterway between the two rivers, and thus as a connection between the French colonies of New France (Québec) and Louisiana.
For centuries, the Great Lakes area, or certainly the western part of it, was influenced by the french. They built their colony in Québec and trappers and traders flocked inland. Along the route discovered by Jolliet and Marquette, trading posts were built in the 17th century. A small French community arose, where the men married native women frequently. They call that ‘métis’ in Canada. The trappers had employed engagés or voyageurs, adventurous men that went further inland from the trade posts to hunt and trade with native tribes. In 1803, Napoleon sold the whole of Louisiana to the US, so also present-day Wisconsin. That didn’t mean the end of the French character of the area, something that can be seen in a lot of place names in the current US midwest. For example Eau Claire, Des Moines, Saint-Louis, Fond du Lac or Prairie du Chien.
The metropolitan area I’ll describe is the area of the Fox Cities. The main part of the metropolitan area lies at the bottom of the Fox River, at the shores of Lake Winnebago. Main city is Appleton, with Greenville, Little Chute, Kimberly, Kaukauna, Buchanan, Harrison, Menasha and Neenah as suburbs. The biggest part of Appleton is located within Outagamie county. Outagamie was founded in 1851 and 1852, three years after Wisconsin’s accession to the union. The county is square, and that’s simply because of how this part of the US is subdivided. At that time, there wasn’t given any thought of course to where a big city would arise, and that’s why some Appleton suburb-towns are located in Winnebago county and Calumet county. ‘Outagamie’ is a french language version of the Fox word ‘Anishinaabe’ which means ‘people living on the other side of the stream’. I really cannot imagine how the French came up with the ‘Outagamie’ version of that word, but OK. Together with Oshkosh, the Fox cities have a population of almost 400.000. I made a map to keep the overview on all of this. The orange lines signal the city limits, the red lines are the county borders.
The fact that Appleton and surrounding area were part of French Louisiana, that there were European trappers in the area and that the whole region was sold to the US didn’t mean that the US ‘had control’ over the area at the beginning of the 19th century. The Menominee and Ho-Chunk still ruled the area. It was US policy to relocate east coast Native-Americans to reservations in the midwest. The notorious ‘trail of tears’ happened in the 1830’s. The Oneida, Brothertown and Mohican tribes had to move from Massachusetts/New York to new reservations in Wisconsin. But other tribes were already living there. In 1836, the treaty of the Cedars was signed between the US federal government and chief Oshkosh of the Menominee tribe. With this treaty, the Oneida reservation was founded in Outagamie, which still exists to this day. The treaty cleared the way for further development of the area. Appleton was founded in 1847. That same year, there was also a university built, and the city was named after the father-in-law of the founder of that university: Samuel Appleton. The city developed in a similar way to other cities in the state. Important were the paper industry and a power plant, and Appleton was a precursor in the midwest in street lighting and telephone connections. A progressive city, all and all, with anno 2021 a population of 72.000 inhabitants, which is a little bit more than live in Bergen op Zoom. Also important to mention: Appleton is one of the 25 best cities in the US to live in.
East of Appleton, on the southern Fox River side, Kimberly was located: the village where the Withagen family resided when they went to Wisconsin for the first time. Kimberly was called ‘the Cedars’ in earlier times, after which the treaty of the Cedars that I mentioned before was called. In 1889, it was renamed to Kimberly after one of the founders of the paper factory, John Alfred Kimberly. Walter also lived in Buchanan. Buchanan was a town, but not in the sense of a village or city, but in the sense of a section: a township like Paddock. It was a rural area, although a township was located within it: Darboy. Buchanan had a population of 5827 in the year 2000. Nearby Kaukauna is a bit larger, with 16.000 inhabitants. This town is exceptional because it is where a bit of the earliest history of the area can be found. French missionary father Claude-Jean Allouez wrote about Kaukauna in the 1670’s. He wrote about Native-Americans and how they owned apple orchards and vineyards. Dominique du Charme bought 518 acres of land from the same tribe in 1793, in exchange for two barrels of rum and some small stuff. That land would later become the Kaukauna center. On the land, a Green Bay trading network outpost was built. This outpost was inhabited by Augustin Grignon from 1813 onwarts. He inherited it from his father. Grignon was a Métis, like his wife Nancy McCrea, who was a daughter of a Scottish-Canadian trader and a granddaughter of an important Menominee indian. His inheritance, together with the land Grignon bought from Du Charme (who even was one of the signatories of the treaty of the Cedars), was formed into a large estate that became well known as a resting place. The ‘Mansion in the Woods’ where they lived still exists today, it is the oldest building of Wisconsin.
The book ‘Land of the Fox, Saga of Outagamie county’ from 1949 described a lot about the origin of Appleton and surrounding cities, along with a beautiful story about the Grignon family). It seems Kaukauna’s origin was somewhat separate from that of Appleton and her university. I read somewhere that in the 1840’s everything west of Milwaukee was still a wilderness. An overview of Kaukauna’s origin gives a summary of the city council in 1842. Compared to the council members a hundred years later, in 1949, many differences in the members’ background can be seen. At the time of the founding of the town, men like Charles Grignon, Bazile H. Beaulieux, Hoel S. Wright, Lewis Crofoot and Charles Maites were members. Definitely a French influence. In 1949, members were Walter Riemer, the wife of Arnold Deering, Edward Kieffer, Alvin Lemke, Joseph van de Loo, Peter Farrell, Frank Meulemans and Theodore van Vreede.
Little Chute is a remarkable town; it was founded by a Brabantian priest and became sort of a gathering spot for East Brabant immigrants, mainly originating from Uden. Maybe this was the start of the waves of hundreds of catholic Dutchmen, mainly from Brabant and Twente, settling in and around Appleton. Quite a big community. And because of these facts, I’ve to tell you all about something that annoys me. On the other side of Lake Michigan lie Holland and Zeeland; founded by reformed Dutchmen from the north. When something is told about Dutch-Americans here in the Netherlands, it is always about Holland, Michigan. From the RTL News to visits of the king. They never talk about the Wisconsin community, because over there are less windmills, less wooden shoes and less pancakes. In short: it is less of an amusement park. An example of north-Dutch arrogance can even be seen across the Atlantic.
We return to the year 1940. The American story I’m telling continues, and I’ll tell it in separate parts from here on, so that I can give some more background about the different groups of immigrated Americans and their communities. There will be less focus on the Withagen children, and for a simple reason: less information can be found about their later years. As is in the Netherlands, privacy laws make it harder to find ‘younger’ documents and information, although it is easier in the US. I’ll begin with mother Anna Maria, her third daughter Anna Alima (Anneke) Withagen and her brother Leonard Buijsen. After that, I’ll write about the other children, their family-in-law and their background. The order is:
- Withagen-Buijsen, Buijsen, Withagen
- Lorraine Withagen x McCarthy
- Marie Withagen x Jeske
- Freida Withagen x Swiechowski
- Leonard Withagen x Ciha
Withagen-Buijsen, Buijsen, Withagen
Anna Maria and her brother Leonard appear in the archives again in 1942. The US had gotten involved in WOII in 1941, and folks were busy registering potential conscripts. On April 26, 1942, a draft card was made for brother-in-law Leonard. It was a special card, meant for man born between roughly 1877 and 1897. They were a bit older, and would have been a reservist rather than going into active duty. Leonard lived in Paddock the moment the card was made, but had a mailbox in nearby Sebeka. He was 52 years old, had no telephone connection, had white skin with dark complexion, had blue eyes, black hair, was 1,75 meter long and weighed almost 76 kilo. Remarkable is that he was working for his sister, mentioned as ‘Mrs Anna Withagen’ in Sebeka. Both of them lived in Paddock. Also remarkable is that the person registering him was Jacques Hendrickx, who I wrote about before above. It is unknown if Leonard served in the army during WOII.
At the beginning of the 1950’s, Anna Withagen-Buijsen lived in Seymour, Outagamie, so back in Wisconsin. She inhabited a farm. I don’t know if her brother lived with her on that farm, but her unmarried children did, I suppose. Seymour is a town with about 3500 inhabitants, located at about ten kilometers from Black Creek and a bit less than 25 kilometers from Kaukauna. I’m glad to be able to mention Seymour in this article, because it is maybe the most American town in existence: the hamburger was invented here. There’s a hamburger festival, a hamburger statue and a hamburger museum. Very cool.
Anna Maria returned to the Netherlands two times. The first time was in 1951, when she went alone. I could not find any travel documents surrounding that trip, but I did find a group photo that was made. In 1955, they went for a second time, travelling by plane. It must have been quite a journey where they probably saved money for years. She went with her brother Leonard, who flew on a plane for the first time of his life. After their trip, when coming back to the US, a list was made that looks similar to the lists made on Ellis Island. Brother and sister landed in New York on September 27, 1955. They carried 28 kilos of luggage and eleven kilo’s of hand luggage. They departed from Schiphol with a KLM plane, a Lockheed L-1049E flying under Dutch flag. The flight included two stopovers, one in Shannon in Ireland and one in Gander in Canada. Shannon was, as one of the most western airports of Europe, an important hub for trans-atlantic flights. In Gander in Newfoundland, a registration was made by the American Immigration Services. That way we know that the pilot was the British John H. Stanley and the co-pilot’s were Dutchmen Gerrit van den Born and J.L. (Jules) Hoeberechts. They hopped on a final flight called NW525 to MKE: Milwaukee in Wisconsin.
Around 1955, Anna Maria became sick. She lived in Kaukauna for the last years of her life, on West Third Street 307. She died on wednesday october 23, 1957, at 23h45. She was laid out in the funeral home in Greenwood, Kaukauna, and was buried the next saturday morning after a mass by pastor Peter A. Salm in the catholic church of Saint Mary’s. In the US, a more detailed obituary is usual compared to the dutch ones, and such an obituary was written in the ‘Sebeka Review’, the local newspaper of Paddock, Minnesota. That means a lot of people in Minnesota still knew her well. [this citation was re-translated from english to dutch]
“Ms. Anna Withagen from Kaukauna, Wisconsin, died on wednesday october 23, at quarter to twelve in the evening at that place, after a sickbed of two years. She was born in the Netherlands on november 2nd, 1887 and came to America in 1920. She lived in North Dakota and Minnesota before coming to Wisconsin. She went back to the Netherlands in 1925, 1951 and 1955, when she flew there with her brother Leonard Brysen. (..) The burial was on the local parish cemetary. She leaves behind her four daughters ms George McCarthy from Appleton, Wisconsin, ms Alfred Jeske, miss Anna Withagen and ms Ed Swiechowski, all from Kaukauna, a brother Leonard Brysen from Kaukauna and nine grandchildren. Her husband passed away before her on September 27, 1940. The family lived here in Paddock township for many years. She will be missed by a lot of friends in this community.”
Brother Leonard worked at Appleton Mill around this time: the local paper factory and an important employer in the area. He retired in 1958. He lived in Kaukauna on West 13th Street 406. On September 18, 1972, he passed away in Kaukauna at the age of 82. Tree documents confirm that date: a death certificate with exact date and document number 030159, a certificate from the Social Services archives which had to do with is retirement, bearing his date of birth and last known ZIP-code (54130), and a burial certificate that mentions Saint Mary’s cemetery. Leonard remained unmarried and childless. In his obituary, it was written that he was surpassed by two nieces: miss Ann Withagen and ms. Freida Swiechowski, both in Kaukauna, and a nephew, Leonard Withagen. The funeral services were held in the local Saint Alois church, of which parish he was a member.
Daughter Anna Withagen also remained unmarried. She lived in Kaukauna and was frequently photographed along with her family. I don’t know much more about her, to be honest. She passed away on July 24, 1993 in Kaukauna. That date is confirmed by a death certificate from the state of Wisconsin and the Social Services index, which mentioned the ZIP-code 54130. She was 72 years old. These certificates also make something clear about her name. It was Anna Alima, as noted on the immigration registers. In these certificates, Anna P. and Anna Pauline Withagen are mentioned. That would mean she was named after her grandmother Paulina Withagen-Schuurbiers, or maybe after my great-great grandmother, her aunt Paulina Maria Franken-Withagen. I hope I’ll find more information about this here.
Lorraine Withagen x McCarthy
I wrote before about the marriage between oldest daughter Lorraine Marie Withagen and George Willem McCarthy in 1940. An article about the wedding was placed in the local newspaper. The family always stayed in Wisconsin. Some of their children were Robert G. McCarthy (1943-2004) and Gerald McCarthy. Gerald and his wife Jan sent me lots of family pictures. Lorraine would pass away at a young age, on October 28, 1960 in Appleton. She was 41 years old. Her husband George was born on September 21, 1915 in Appleton and would pass away there on June 21, 1984.
George was the second youngest son of his family. He had six older sisters, two older brothers and a younger brother. From two of them, I could find their place of birth: sister Loretta Anna McCarthy was born in 1900 in Grand Chute and George himself in Appleton in 1915. His parents were Michael John McCarthy and Theresa Stoffel. They married on July 18, 1898. The Little Chute Historical Society gives a detailed description of the family. Michael was born on October 3, 1865, in Center, Outagamie. He spent his childhood on his parent’s farm and had a basic education at the local school in Grand Chute. His education was basic because his help was needed doing farm work at home. He left his childhood home age 32, when he married Theresa. Just before the wedding, he bought a farm with 68 acres of land, of which 22 acres were forested land and the rest was used for agriculture. Michael was particularly known for his cattle breeding, with a speciality in breeding Holstein cows, the black and white we can well recognize in the Netherlands. Michael was an independent democrat in local politics and a member of the catholic parish in neighbouring Mackville. His farm must have been somewhere near Mackville or Center. He would pass away on October 8, 1942, in Center, the township he was born in. His wife passed away on May 25, 1956.
Theresa was born on June 24, 1877 in Grand Chute, as a daughter of Joseph Stoffel and Anna Pfeifer. Her father was a brother of Michael’s mother Margaret Stoffel, so they were cousins. That seems remarkable but I recognize marrying ‘within the family’ as being usual as well in the Bergen op Zoom hovenier community. With a dispensation note of the pastor, it was alright most of the time. Joseph Stoffel was born in 1831 in Bavaria or Wassersuppen in Bohemia, which is close to the Bavarian border. He immigrated along with his parents to the US and bought a farm in Grand Chute, on which he lived until his death. His first marriage was four years later, on July 8, 1860 in the catholic Saint John Nepomucene church in Little Chute, which was coincidentally named after a Czech saint. He married Theresa Siegert, born on January 1, 1842 in Zieditz, Bohemia, the currently named Citice in Czechia. Theresa also came as an emigrant with her parents. She was a daughter of Johann Andreas Sigerth (*Falkenau, Sokolov, Czechia, 12/1-1806, ✞Greenville, Outagamie, Wisconsin, 19/1-1887) and Elisabeth A. Komma (*Zieditz, Bohemia, Czechia, ca. 1808, ✞Appleton, Outagamie, Wisconsin, 22/4-1890). Genealogical information can be relatively well found in Czechia, as can be seen from the fact that her family tree can be traced back to Johann David Sigerth, born around 1697 in Unterneugrün in Bohemia. The name Bohemia might be somewhat confusing. It seems these people were all Sudeten Germans: ethnic Germans living in a stroke of land in West Czechia, along the German border. The old Bohemia and the current Czechia can be used to address the same country alternately. Sudetenland is known as one of the earliest Nazi targets in the 1930’s, because of the many Germans living in ‘Slavic area’ at that time.
Theresa Siegert would pass away at a young age, on September 7, 1874 in Grand Chute, Outagamie. She was surpassed by her six children. Almost two years later, Joseph Stoffel remarried Anna Pfeifer in Appleton, on June 6, 1876. In the marriage certificate it was stated that he was born in Bavaria, and Anna was born in Austria. The Pilsen area were the Stoffel family originally came from is located in around the same part of Europa as Bavaria and the north of Austria, so there might have been some connection. Little is known about Anna. She was born around 1855 as a daughter of Chas. Pfeiffer and Theressa Pfeiffer, with ‘Chas.’ pointing towards a standard abbreviation of Charles. I also suspect that Pfeiffer wasn’t her mother’s maiden name. A lot of Pfeiffer families lived in Appleton and Outafamie, but it is a very common German surname and with the many German people in the area, a connection can hardly be found. The Stoffel-Pfeifer couple had two daughters: Theresa, born in 1877 and Bertha Stoffel (*Appleton, Outagamie, Wisconsin, 7/11-1878, ✞9/2-1963). Bertha married on April 19, 1904 in Chicago, Illinois with a certain Michael J. Meyers or Myers. She went to the big city. Myers was of German heritage and owned a restaurant in the metropole. I don’t know when Anna Pfeifer passed away. Joseph Stoffel died on October 10, 1892 in Grand Chute. He would later be buried at the Saint Mary’s cemetery in Greenville, Outagamie. His tombstone beares a german text: ‘hier ruht’ and ‘alter .. jahre’.
As I wrote before, the Stoffel family emigrated from current Czechia. Michael (Mike) Stoffel was born or baptized on April 19, 1805 in Wassersuppen (or Nemanice in the Czech language). Wassersuppen is located in the Sudetenland, next to the border with the German state of Bavaria. A small farming town in the hills, amidst many pine tree forests. Mike married Margareth of Margaret Sieplen (also named Bauer) on August 27, 1832 in Wassersuppen. They had five children: Joseph, Margaret, Katrina, Anna and Wenzel. Daughter Margaret would later marry a McCarthy family member. The whole family was ready to emigrate. They probably travelled north first, to Bremen, and bought a ticket there for a big journey. On April 6, 1856, they arrived in New York, aboard the ‘Coriolan’. The Coriolan was a bark, a large sailing vessel that made trans-atlantic passages before the steam boat age. I found two different factsheets about what could be the ship. First source stated that it was built in 1847 in Lubeck using oak wood and weighed 499 tons. It was under the command of captain Steengrafe and would be in service of the Stanton & Ruger company. A second source states that it was built in Kennebunk in Maine (US) and would arrive in New York (coming from Bremen) the first time at the end of september. It would have been in service of the Bremish F. Reck & co. company. Coriolan passenger lists are available, with mainly a lot of Germans down in the hold. Halfway through the 19th century, just before the German unification under Bismarck, extremely large numbers of Germans emigrated to the US, which can be seen on this map. It is because of that that German-Americans are still today the largest ethnic group in the US.
Mike Stoffel ended up in Milwaukee at the shore of Lake Michigan. According to a 1911 book about Outagamie by Thomas Ryan, that was in 1854, but that would have been two years before his emigration to the US. It is possible they made a wrong assumption when writing that book. Around that year, everything west of Milwaukee was still wilderness, so he went to Madison on foot and walked from there on to Outagamie. He founded a farm in Grand Chute. All and all it was a 264 kilometer long trip. The couple lived at the Grand Chute farm for their whole lives. Mike passed away at the end of April or the 1st or 2nd of June, 1885 in Outagamie county, probably in Grand Chute. His wife died on September 16, 1891 in Grand Chute. She was buried two days later on September 18, 1891 in the Saint Mary’s cemetery in Greenville, were her late husband Mike was buried on May 2, 1885.
Back to the McCarthy part of this substory. Michael John McCarthy was a son of Stephen Patrick McCarthy and Margaretha (Margaret) Stoffel, a daughter of the above mentioned Mike Stoffel. Margaretha was born on January 25, 1842 in Wassersuppen and was baptized there on January 28, 1842 in the local catholic church. She emigrated as a child with her parents, who went on living in Grand Chute. On November 2, 1862, she married Irishman Stephen Patrick McCarthy in Appleton or Greenville. The couple would eventually get ten children. One of those children was Timothy Thomas McCarthy (*Center, Outagamie, Wisconsin, 5/10-1866, ✞23/4-1946). Timothy was the third son of the couple. I mention him here because he was the father of a famous American, one that even I learned about in high school: senator Joseph Raymond McCarthy (*Grand Chute, Outagamie, Wisconsin, 14/11-1908, ✞Bethesda, Montgomery, Maryland, 2/5-1957). Democrat McCarthy is an example of the US’ situation at the start of the cold war, being a communist hunter. He was in charge of years of attacks on all sorts of Americans and organisations, he was accused of having communist sympathies, which would make them traitors. With his tactics, he came into conflict with president Eisenhower and laid the groundwork for a style which would be exemplary for the rest of the cold war. A style which was named after him: Mccarthyism.
Stephen Patrick McCarthy was born on December 24, 1825 in Kyleagoonagh in the county Tipperary in Ireland. He was baptized on December 27, 1825 in Borrisokane, where the closest parish church stood. His parents were mentioned as Michael Carty and Mary Gleeson, his godfather and mother were Tim Carty and Ann Gleeson. Kyleagoonagh was noted as the family’s residence. Stephen was one of the children that crossed the Atlantic, according to numerous sources as a young man in or around 1848. That year leads me to another historic thing I learned about in school; the potato disease or Irish Famine of the 1845-1849 period. Ireland at that time was nothing short of a poor and backwards colony of Great-Britain. It was different than the UK: catholic, agricultural, and so forth. It was so dependent on the potato harvest, with potatoes being the basis of almost all meals, that when there was a crop failure in 1845 caused by a potato disease, a couple of horrible years started for Ireland. In 1845 and 1846, the harvest failed because of this disease, that ended when there was a drought in 1847, which caused another failed harvest. Along with an outbreak of typhoid. In 1848, the potato disease broke out again because of a very wet period. In December that year, a cholera epidemic happened. London did nothing: the Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism was at its peak and a unbalanced distribution of food was a part of that model. Nearing 1849, the base of life for many Irish was basically swept away. More than one million Irish had died because of hunger and disease. The population of the island shrank from eight million to around 3,5 million people. Millions of Irish fled the island. They went to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, but most of all: the US. Ships went back and forth, packed with Irish families and unmarried Irishmen that would never see their home country again. More about this time period can be viewed on this Youtube channel, I really recommend it.
It is very much possible that Stephen was one of those immigrants. He emigrated in 1848, and probably didn’t go alone. McCarthy ended up on a farm in upstate New York, where he went on working as a laborer. It was very hard work. After seven years, in 1855, he saved enough money to buy his own homestead with some land. This homestead was located in Outagamie county, in Grand Chute or Center, and he bought it from the brother of the farmer he worked for. He never saw the place until after he bought it, he hadn’t even been to Wisconsin before. Stephen saved some more money, until he had enough to buy two oxen, a wagon and some other necessities. After this story, I’ve read two sources, both telling a different story. The first source says that he sent some money to his mother at the end of his ten year stay in New York and then went with his ox wagon to Wisconsin. Once there, he met two Indians on his land, sitting in an old wood shack. The other sources state that he went from New York to Chicago by train, and from there on with a stagecoach to Milwaukee. He walked from Milwaukee to his homestead in Outagamie. Upon his arrival, he was met by two Indians, living on his land. He built a wood shack where he slept in, cleared the terrain and built his little farm with help of the indians.
Stephen married Margaret Stoffel in Greenville on November 2, 1862. I presume the wedding took place in Greenville because the nearest catholic church was located there. In the 1911 book about Outagamie, the writers mentioned something about a farm of son William Patrick McCarthy, and that he was born in 1875 on his parents’ farm in Center. If the previous sources are right, Stephen McCarthy lived on the farm he built himself for is whole life. The source stated about him: [this citation was re-translated into english from dutch]
“William P. McCarthy, whose excellent 73 acres farm is located in the Center township, is one of the more well-known farmers in his section, and a son of pioneer parents. He was born in December 19, 1875 on his father’s farm in Center. (..) As soon as he was ready, he let his mother come over from their old motherland, and she went to live with them, on the land that is now owned by William P. McCarthy.”
This means that I can maybe retrace the location of the farm built by Stephen, also using the US Census registrations of him and his son. In the 1870 census, Stephen is mentioned as inhabitant of the ‘town of Center’. He lived there with his family, had 4000 dollars worth of property and 575 in cash. Next to him lived his younger brother Tim McCarthy with his young family and the family of Scottish immigrant Alex Beggs, along with his wife and 24 year old twins William and Agnes. He also lived there in 1900, one year before he died. Other neighbours were three Jense families, all of them of German heritage, and the German Wenzel Schrieter family. For the 1910 census, we’ll have to start with looking up son William. On a row are mentioned: John McCarthy, 26, Louisia McCarthy, 24, baby Lucile McCarthy, servant Fred Hartmann, 22, William McCarthy, 35, Mollie McCarthy, 33, widow Margaret McCarthy, 67 (Margaretha Stoffel) and Ferdinand Jacobs, 22, servant. In the 1910 census, a street name was stated for the first time: McCarthy’s Road. That doesn’t seem a coincidence. In between Grand Chute and a crossroad near Center lies a road, almost 7,5 kilometers long. To be sure this is the right road, I looked up the previous street listed in the register, which was ‘Hampils Road’. A quick Google search shows that at the end of McCarthy road, there’s a small forest, next to Bear Creek. Next to those woods lies Hampel Road, which is probably the same street.
The book ‘Land of the Fox, Saga of Outagamie county’ gives a description of the Center as a town were German en Irish immigrants came together, a thing which can also be seen looking at the McCarthy-Stoffel couple. [this citation was re-translated into english from dutch]
“Center was named after the eponymous town in Columbiana county, Ohio, where many of the early Irish settlers had a momentary stay before travelling to Outagamie. This groip, also known as the ‘Irish buckeyes’, dominated the local government for many years. This was partly because of them being the first settlers but also because they had an big interest in the welfare and growth of the town. (..) Nearing 1857, the eastern part of the town was inhabited by Irish, while the center en norther parts were quickly filled with Germans. These people worked hard building their roads, schools and churches. Well maintained farms, big barns and strong fences could be seen everywhere as soon as the land was cleared for farming.”
Stephen McCarthy passed away on August 11, 1901, probably on his own farm. His widow Margaret McCarthy-Stoffel died years later at her son’s house on July 1, 1919, in Appelton or Mackville. Both of them were buried in the catholic cemetery in Greenville.
So, Stephen was from Kyleagoonagh. The township is located about twenty kilometers north of Nenagh, in the center of Ireland. His father Michael McCarthy must have been born around 1800; he passed away in Ireland around 1840. His mother Mary Gleason was born around 1808. Stephen’s family followed his footsteps and came over to the United States. Mary emigrated in 1860, along with her brother Timothy (Tim) McCarthy (*Killaloe, county Clare, 10/10-1835, ✞US, 1/5-1911). Tim would later marry Mary Ringrose (*Ireland, february 1845, ✞Aberdeen, Brown county, South Dakota, 28/10-1911). The Ringrose family is quite interesting, because a certain path of immigrants throughout the US can be seen in their story. Maurice Ringrose (*Bally Corney, county Clare, Ireland, ca. 1820, ✞Aberdeen, Brown county, South Dakota, 21/12-1904) and Anne Cox (*county Clare, Ireland, 16/4-1821, ✞Aberdeen, Brown county, South Dakota, 21/12-1904). The Ringrose couple came to the US in 1849 (which probably is not a coincidence) and went on to live in Appleton. Two of their sons went further west in 1880, in search of pioneer land. The couple would follow their sons in 1882. When we take a look at the birthplaces of their children, it can be seen that the oldest two were born in Ireland, their third child daughter Katherine Elizabeth Ringrose in Berlin, Hartford, Connecticut and the five youngest children in Appleton or Greenville, Outagamie.
A few things about other brothers and sisters of Stephen. One of them was Michael McCarthy (*county Tipperary, Ireland, 20/9-1830, ✞Chicago, Illinois, 1866, buried in Saint Mary’s cemetery in Appleton), Mary Katherine McCarthy (*county Tipperary, Ireland, ca. 1834, ✞Chicago, Illinois, 27/7-1874), she married immigrant Daniel Fleming (*Ierland, 1824, ✞Chicago, Illinois, 24/6-1875) and finally brother Patrick McCarthy (*county Tipperary, Ireland, 17/3-1834,✞1919, buried in Saint Mary’s cemetery in Appleton). Patrick McCarthy came 3,5 years after his mother to the US, so in 1864. When the biographies in the 1911 book about Outagamie were written, he must have been the only one of the children still alive. Patrick worked after arriving in the States on a farm in Rochester, New York first. And that could very well be the same farm Stephen worked on fifteen years earlier. After his time in New York, Patrick bought a farm in Center, Outagamie with his brother Tim, but sold his stocks in the farm to Tim around the time of his marriage. He founded his own farm in Grand Chute. [this citation was re-translated into english from dutch]
“In the long time he has lived here, he became well-known as a progressive and practical farmer, a citizen with a sense of community and a friendly neighbour. He is a devoted member of the Saint Mary’s parish in Appleton, and is a political independent.”
Patrick married Margaret Maloney (*county Kerry, Ireland, 18/6-1842, ✞3/5-1911, buried in Saint Mary’s cemetery in Appleton). Margaret emigrated to the US around the same time Patrick did, and lived a while with her mother at her nieces’ house in New York City. Later, she lived at a brother’s house, who was a blacksmith. She then went on travelling to Chicago, where Patrick visited her to propose to her. They started a farm just outside the border between Center and Grand Chute.
Mary L. Withagen x Jeske
Daughter Mary Leonardius (Marie) Withagen would marry not much later than her oldest sister, with Alfred Jeske on April 30, 1942 in Pacific county in the state of Washington. Witnesses were Ernest R. Markham and Mary Ann Markham, with the marriage official being E.F. Wood, an Ilwaco resident. Bride and groom both lived in Pacific county. Alfred was born on August 25, 1918 in Outagamie, Wisconsin. Ilwaco is a town at the bank of the Columbia river. Alfred was in service at that time, and was later mentioned somewhere as a WOII-veteran. The attack on Pearl Harbor happened in December 1941, which got the US involved in the war. The epicentre of the war were at that time the battles in the pacific, which could maybe explain why the couple lived on the west coast at the time of their marriage. The Jeske-Withagen couple had four children: Walter Gerard Jeske (*18/1-1948, ✞17/8-2002, buried in Kaukauna, Outagamie), Allen John Jeske (*Green Bay, Brown, Wisconsin, 26/7-1949, ✞1/8-1949), Keith Jeske and Freida Haas-Jeske. Unfortunately Mary Withagen also passed away at a young age, on January 5, 1959 at age 39. She was buried in Saint Mary’s cemetery in Kaukauna. Alfred remarried Loretta Lucy Redell (*Spring Hill, Illinois, 3/5-1923, ✞West DePere, Brown county, Wisconsin, 25/1-2015) on December 8, 1973 in Kaukauna. Loretta was a widow of James C. Blean. Alfred worked at the Thilmany paper factory in Kaukauna for years, and later at the North Shore golf course. Both of them would reach a very old age: Alfred passed away on November 2, 2017 in DePere, close to Green Bay. Funeral services were held in the Methodist church in Kaukauna, followed by a burial with military respects. He had an impressive progeny: one son, one daughter, two stepsons, two stepdaughters, seventeen grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren. He was a great-great-grandfather!
Alfred Jeske was a son of Arthur R. Jeske (*Cicero, Outagamie, Wisconsin, 3/9-1889, ✞Wisconsin, 28/7-1978) and Frieda H. Reim, or Rihm (*Marinette county, Wisconsin, 21/5-1892, ✞Outagamie county, Wisconsin, 12/10-1981) from Wisconsin. That couple lived in Cicero between 1905 and 1940, according to multiple censusses. Arthur was from a German family, Prussian-Pommeranian to be precise. His parents were Johann Albert Heinrich Jeske (*Posen, Poland, 29/4-1846, ✞ Cicero, Outagamie, Wisconsin, 1938) and Ernestine Auguste Caroline Gustmann (*Karnitz near Greifenberg, Pommeren, Poland, 11/7-1848, ✞ Black Creek, Outagamie, Wisconsin, 18/3-1931). Jeske and Gustmann married in Karnitz on September 29, 1874 and emigrated to the US after. Their departure was on June 8, 1875 from Bremen aboard the SS Nuernberg, along with the family of brother Albert Jeske. She travelled in ‘steerage class’. The ancestry of the Jeske family can be traced back quite far. The family lived in lots of villages in the northwest of what is now Poland, but at the time was part of Prussia; Germany. The area the family originated from was annexed by Poland after WWII.
Freida Withagen x Swiechowski
I do not know when daughter Freida got married, nor if she had kids and how her life went on. The only fact I have is that she passed away on September 11, 1999 in Kaukauna, and was buried there in the same spot as her uncle Leonard and her sister Anna. Freida was married to Edward Harold (Eddie) Swiechowski. Eddie was born on September 2, 1928 in Menasha, Winnebago county, Wisconsin, a suburb of Appleton. Although a wedding date is not known, I do know their marriage didn’t last very long: a tragic story. Eddie was sent as an army man to Korea in the early 1950’s. The Korean War took place just after WWII, and had to do with the division of Korea as is the case today: a communist northern part backed by China and a free and democratic southern part with support of the UN and the US in the lead. The domino theory, the theory that if one east Asian country would become communist, neighbouring countries would follow soon, was very much alive in the geopolitical landscape of that time. It was the same cold war the story of senator McCarthy happened in.
Eddie was killed in action on March 1st, 1952, at Saman-Gol in current North Korea. He was only 23 years old. A lot can be found about him. He was a private first class member of the F-company, 2nd bataillon, 18th infantry regiment of the 45th infantry division. In early 1952, the war became less heavy, albeit compared to the beginning. On the night of February 29, 1952, Swiechowski guarded with other soldiers a disabled tank near Saman-Gol. They were attacked in the morning, and Swiechowski was killed when a mortar shell hit. His name was written on a monument for veterans who gave their life for their country in his hometown. Swiechowski was a son of Isidore Louis Swiechochowski and Clara Maciejewski. Mother Clara was born on July 8, 1900 in Menasha (Winnebago county, Wisconsin). She died at an early age, on August 2, 1932 in the Theda Clark Hospital in Neenah (Winnebago, Wisconsin). She was buried on August 4 in Menasha. Menasha was also her parent’s home town: Polish immigrants Albert Maciejewski (*Brzeziny, Kuyavia-Pommerania, Poland, 3/4-1863, ✞Menasha, Winnebago, Wisconsin, US, 10/1-1938) and Mary Ann Galant (*Posen, Greater Poland, Poland, 11/3-1863, ✞Menasha, Winnebago, Wisconsin, US, 11/10-1939). Contrary to the Jeske family, also from Poland, these people were ethnic Polish. A large variety of the different regions of Northwestern Europe can be recognized looking at the people in the Appleton region.
Isidore Louis Swiecichowski was born on March 21, 1899 in Wisconsin; the exact place is unknown. He or his son shortened his surname: the first ‘ci’ was left out. He was registered for the draft in 1917 or 1918, the moment the US joined WOI. Other information from the document makes clear that he had grey eyes, brown hair, and that he was an garbage beater at the company of a certain Michael Niespodzany, also a Polish guy looking at his name. Isidor would marry Clara somewhere before September 2, 1928. At the time of writing the census, the family lived in Menasha. Something remarkable is that they stated that his parents were from Germany, and her parents from German East-Prussia. Although the border between Germany and Poland was a changing one throughout history, the distance between Posen and East-Prussia is simply too big. Adding to that: his mother was born in the United States. Swiecichowski died in 1961 and was buried on the Saint John’s cemetery in Fox Crossing (Winnebago, Wisconsin, US). There’s a big chance that Isidore was born in Hofa Park, a township close to Hamburger city Seymour. He was a son of John Swiecichowski (*Targowa Górka, Greater Poland, Poland, 27/6-1858, ✞ Hofa Park, Shawano, Wisconsin, US, 13/8-1938) and Helen Zygmanski (*Hofa Park, Shawano, 1879, buried on the Saint Stanislaus’ cemetery in Hofa Park, Shawano, Wisconsin, US, 1954). It is clear that Hofa Park was an area whose inhabitants were almost totally of Polish decent. This can also be made out of the catholic Saint-Stanislaus parish website, were one can see almost only Polish surnames. John’s parents were Mathew Swiecichowski (*Habsberg, Kuyavia-Pommerania, Poland, 17/9-1829, ✞Polen) and Mary Madra (*Targowa Górka, Greater Poland, 1832, ✞Pennsylvania, US, 1889). They were married in 1855. We know about Mathew that his father passed away on June 3, 1833 in Chabsko or Habsberg in Poland and that his sons John and Joseph were both born in Poland. It seems that two of the sons went to America after their father died, one went on to go living in Wisconsin and one stayed in Pennsylvania. Mother Mary came later.
About Helen’s parents. Their story gives a good example of the origins of this Polish community. Her parents were Valentinus (Valentine) Zygmanski (*Poland, 14/2-1834 ✞Hofa Park, Shawano, Wisconsin, US, 2/11-1933) and Mary Peplinski (*Poland, 25/3-1834, ✞Milwaukee, Milwaukee county, Wisconsin, US, 8/1-1835). They were married in 1864, probably in Poland. What makes this couple exceptional is their incredible high age: he became 99 years old, she one hundred years old. Zygmanski was involved in setting up the community in Shawano county. Pioneer J.J. Hof was the initiator. Hof tried to sell lots of land in the Seymour vicinity to Norwegian immigrants, but that wasn’t a success. He then tried the Polish. In the book ‘Poles in Wisconsin‘, Susan Gibson Mikos writes: [this citation was re-translated into english from dutch]
“In the summer of 1877, advertisements targeted Polish families in the Milwaukee newspapers. They were invited to settle in land around the future town of Hofa Park in the Shawano township of Maple Grove. Hof promised that this was the beginning of a plan to get lots more Polish pioneers to the area and that, when it would be a success, he would build more Polish colonies. In September 1877, the first Polish pioneers from Milwaukee went to the northwestern section of Maple Grove. They were Valentine Peplinski, Valentine Zygmanski, Michael Lepak and Frank Lepak, all originally from the West-Prussia province.”
So Zygmanski was the first: the first participant in Hof’s project. Hof managed his project professionally: he would set up some more campaigns that targeted Polish-Americans and send letters with lists of Polish that were successfully farming in the Hofa Park area. Taking into account the deep catholic faith most Polish have, Hof added sketches of future catholic churches, without mentioning that they had to build those churches themselves. However, his project became a success. Between 1883 and 1897, more Polish towns arose in the area: Pulaski, Sobieski, Kosciuszko and Krakow. In the book ‘Immigrants on the Land: Agriculture, Rural life and Small Towns’, Zygmanski is mentioned as a Polish man who took his chances at moving from Milwaukee. I also suspect Mary Peplinski and Valentine Peplinski were family of each other.
Leonard Withagen x Ciha
The youngest child of Walter was his only son, Leonard N. Withagen, also called Uncle Sonny. Leonard was born on January 7, 1932 in Minnesota. He fought as well as his brother-in-law in the Korean War. On October 3, 1956, he married Geraldine Ciha, about whom I’ll tell more later. The Withagen couple had four children: Barbara Withagen (*1957), Beth Withagen, with whom I’ve had lots of contact about their family, Richard L. Withagen (1960-1989) and Bonnie Withagen (1964-1995). Two of them died at a young age. Leonard also passed away at a relatively young age on November 19, 1998 in Kaukauna. He was buried on the Saint Mary’s cemetary in Kaukauna. His widow Geraldine Ciha passed away a few years ago, on July 29, 2013 in Menasha (Winnebago county, Wisconsin).
Geraldine Ciha was born on March 9, 1934 in Appleton. Her parents came from nearby: they originated from more in the east, towards Lake Michigan. Her parents were Joseph John Ciha (*Casco, Kewaunee county, 21/11-1892, ✞ Appleton, 7/8-1965) and Octavia Ann (Octave) Dandois (*Brussels, Door county, 6/8-1893, ✞ Appleton, 7/3-1975). Kewaunee lies at about 75 kilometers from Appleton. I made this list of addresses of the Ciha Dandois-couple:
- 1905: Casco, Kewaunee
- 1910: Casco, Kewaunee
- 1920, Gardner, Door
- 1935: mogelijk Gardner, Door (zelfde huis)
- 1940: Center, Outagamie
- 1942: Center, Outagamie
It seems the family already lived in Appleton in 1934 ore at least visited the town regularly, and definitely moved to Outagamie just before WOII. Joseph John Ciha’s background can be found in Kewaunee county. His parents were Frank W. Ciha (*Bohemia, 25/7-1862, ✞ Casco, Kewaunee, 29/3-1905) and Mary Kruel (*Bohemia, 30/4-1865, ✞ Brussels, Door, 25/1-1935). So they were Czechs, quite a large heritage group in Wisconsin. Kruel does seem like a German surname though. Frank was a laborer in 1905.
Adresses (both of the couple untill the year 1905):
- 1885: Casco, Kewaunee
- 1905: Casco, Kewaunee
- 1910: Casco, Kewaunee
- periode 1916-1922: Algoma, Kewaunee
- 1920: Ahnapee, Kewaunee
- 1923: Brussels, Door
- 1930: Green Bay, Brown
We go back another generation. Frank Ciha was a son of Wenzel Ciha (born around 1829 in Bohemia) and Anna Kromatkova, who’s name is clearly not German. Frank probably came to the United States himself and his parents stayed in Europe. That wasn’t the case with Mary’s parents: farmer Joseph Krall (also Kral, *Bohemia, November 1844, ✞ Two Creeks, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, 7/12-1911) and Barbara Kresl (*Bohemia, december 1841, ✞ Wisconsin, 23/4-1919). They emigrated to the US in 1866 along with grandmother Anna Graschl (*ca. 1810, ✞ Manitowoc county, Wisconsin, 7/8-1877, widow of Anton Kresl, which name is likely a variation on Graschl).
- 1865: Bohemen
- 1866: immigratie
- 1870: Two Creeks, Manitowoc
- 1900: Two Creeks, Manitowoc
- September 1874: Duck Creek, Brown, Wisconsin
- 1877: Two Creeks, Manitowoc
- 1905: Two Creeks, Manitowoc
So, a relatively early immigration. About that trip, something was written in a short biography of Anton M. Krall in the 1911 book ‘History of Manitowoc County Wisconsin’ by doctor L. Falge. [this citation was re-translated into english from dutch]
“His father, Joseph Krall, came from Bohemia and left for the US in 1866. While on the way to the Mississippi valley, he ended up in Two Creeks township in Manitowoc county, where he cleared a piece of land and settled as a farmer. The ground in this district is rich and reacts well to the good care and labour that is done on it. That is why mister Krall cultivated his land carefully, with good harvests as a result. He’s spent lots of energy to his farm work untill his death at the age of 71 in 1911. As a young man, he married Barbara Kressel, also born in Bohemia. In that country, her father died, after which her mother came along with the Krall family to America. Mister en misses Joseph Krall got five sons and five daughters, of whom six are still alive. Wenzel, that lives on the old family farm in Two Creeks, John, a carpenter in Antigo, Wisconsin, Antom M. about who this biography is written, ms. Mary Chiha, a widow living in Casco, Wisconson, Anna, the wife of John Duchan from Antigo and ms. Frances Cherf, a widow also living in Antigo.”
At last I want to talk about my favourite country. Maybe you suspect it being the United States, after reading this article. But no, it is Belgium. Or, maybe both, because I’d like to write about Belgian-Americans. When one thinks about the US in the 19th century, and the European immigrants, settlers and pioneers in particular, you’d maybe think about Irish, Germans, the first Italians or maybe even Dutchmen. But Belgians, that doesn’t seem logical. And it isn’t, when we take a look at 2013 data. In comparison: that year 4.533.617 Americans claimed to be of mainly Dutch ancestry, which is 1,43% of all Americans, against 361.667 Americans claiming to be of Belgian heritage. I cannot really put my finger on why the difference is that big, but I suspect a few reasons. First there was, sinds the beginning of development of the ‘New World’, a Dutch community in and around current New York: the well known New Amsterdam in New Netherland. A colony which was called Nova Belgica in Latin, weird enough. That’s confusing, but Belgians were not meant when saying Belgica at that time. There were thought Flemish and Walloon people among the settlers of New Netherland, among many from other European countries. But those who are descended from them will likely claim Dutch heritage nowadays. While their surname may be Flemish. All and all, the idea of Belgium being something only exists since 1830, and there also weren’t a lot of religious refugees or split off protestant churches from Belgium. But there were some Belgian immigrants, as can be seen in the video at the top of this article. So there are Belgian communities in the United States.
North of Kewaunee lies the Door peninsula. It existed, covered in forests, in Lake Michigan for many years, untouched by any French trade route. In the early 19th century, some Irish and Moravians pioneered on the peninsula, but as the century went on, a large community of mostly Walloons arose in the south of Door county. Their culture can still be traced in the current character of the community. For example, kermis is celebrated, there is a festival with Reuzen (which is a tradition that also takes place in Bergen op Zoom), there are roadside chapels and a kind of typical Belgian-American architecture. At many historic sites in the US, a special commemorative plate is set up, as it is in Door. The text reads:
“Wisconsin’s and the nation’s largest Belgian American settlement is located in portions of Brown, Kewaunee and Door counties adjacent to the waters of Green Bay. Walloon-speaking Belgians settled the region in the 1850’s and still constitute a high proportion of the population. A variety of elements attests to the Belgian American presence: place names (Brussels, Namur, Rosiere, Luxemburg), a local French patois, common surnames, unique foods (boohyah, trippe, jutt), the Kermis harvest festival, and especially architecture. Many of the original wooden structures of the Belgian Americans were destroyed in a firestorm that swept across southern Door County in October 1871. A few stone houses made of local dolomite survived. More common are 1880s red brick houses, distinguished by modest size and gable-end, bull’s-eye windows. Some houses have detached summer kitchens with bake ovens appended to the rear. And the Belgians, many of them devout Catholics, also erected small roadside votive chapels like those in their homeland.”
One of the Wallonia provinces is Walloon-Brabant. As a few of you may have noticed, the old Brabant region was as a whole a lot bigger than the North Brabant province we known in the Netherlands. The region with it’s own unique dialect, language characteristics, population and catholic faith stretches among the Netherlands and the Belgian states of Flanders and Wallonia. Since Belgian’s independence in 1830, it is divided between the Dutch province of North Brabant (in which Bergen op Zoom is located), and the Belgian provinces of Antwerpen and South Brabant. The last province harbors European capital Brussels and college city Leuven. The south of South Brabant isn’t Dutch speaking but French speaking, and along with a language conflict about Brussels, the province split along the language border in 1995. Flemish Brabant (Dutch speaking), Walloon Brabant (French speaking) and the capital region of Brussels were created. Leuven became the province capital of the north, and Waver of the south. Walloon Brabant is the smallest province of Belgium, sparsely populated and more like a green suburb region for Brussels. It has many hills and is, like the rest of Wallonia, quite poor. Famous are the Waterloo battle, and the antique Zoniënwoud, a beech forest (UNESCO-world heritage site) that was a part of a primeval forest that existed in the age of the Roman Empire.
In the town of Brussels, Door, the story of ms. Ciha Withagens’ mother starts: Octavia Ann Dandois. She was born on August 6, 1893 in Brussels, Door, a daughter of Hubert Dandois (*Brussels, Door, 19/2-1869, ✞ yonder, 30/3-1934) and Marie Virginie (Virginia) Mathy (*Sart-lez-Walhain, Walloon Brabant, 29/2-1868, ✞ Brussels, Door, 8/9-1933). Hubert grew up in Brussels were he went to school in the winter and helped with farm labor in the summer. He learned the profession of blacksmith in Brussels and Marinette from age nineteen. Until the year 1909, he had his own blacksmith shop, after that he opened a garage. Next to that all, he owned a saloon, was a horse trader and owned sixty acres of farmland in Brussels and forty acres of farmland in Gardner. Hubert married Virginia Mathy on July 16, 1892 in Brussels. Virginia emigrated from Walloon Brabant to Wisconsin at a young age. She was born at 7am in 1868 in Sart-lez-Walhain, at her parents’ house. Charles Joseph Ghislain Mathy (*Nil-Saint-Martin, Walloon Brabant, 20/2-1840, ✞ Brussels, Door, 11/2-1887) and Anne Josephine (Annie) André (*Sart-lez-Walhain, 19/7-1839, ✞ Brussels, Door, 22/1-1925). Virginia’s birth certificate, found in the Belgian State Archive, states that her father Charles was a day laborer in 1869 and her mother Annie housekeeper. When Virginia was young, she emigrated with her family to Door, where her father bought land in Union township and built his own farm and family home. He died in 1887 in Union, after that, the Mathy family moved to another farm. Virginia’s Belgian grandparents were the couple of Jean Joseph Mathy (*Walhain-Saint Paul, Walloon Brabant, 24/12-1811, ✞ Nil-Saint-Martin, 19/10-1888, ‘domestique’, son of day laborer Jean François Joseph Mathy and Jeanne Joseph Charles), married Joséphine Chaufoureau on May 3, 1838 in Nil-Saint-Vincent (*Nil-Saint-Martin, 7/2-1811, dochter van Pierre Joseph Chaufoureau en Anne Joseph Thibeau) at her father’s side and the couple Louis Joseph Andre and Marie Catherine Joiret on his mother’s side. Hubert Dandois was buried in 1934 at the Saint Francis Xavier cemetery in Brussels.
I think the story of the Dandois family is the most beautiful of this whole article. Walter Withagen came to a land that already existed: a big agricultural area that wasn’t ‘finished’, but brought in culture nonetheless. A big difference with the land the parents and grandparents of Dandois: they were real pioneers, founders of the Belgian community on Door peninsula.
Hubert was a son of Etienne Joseph (Ethan) Dandois and Marie Octavie Delveaux. Etienne was originally a shoemaker, he and his wife were born in Graven, a town close to Waver in the north of Walloon Brabant. Etienne was born in Lambais in the Graven county at 1am. Witnesses at the birth declaration were Antoine Lacourt, 28, barber and Leopold Joseph Degeneffe, 37, policeman, both inhabitants of Graven. He was a son of Jean François Dandois (or Dandoit, *Lambais close to Graven, 24/5-1795, ✞ Graven, 11/5-1865) and Jeanne Josephe Bouffioux (*Eerken, Walloon Brabant, 3/11-1796, ✞ Graven, 24/7-1853). Dandois was, as his son, a shoemaker (1828, 1856) and married Bouffioux in Graven on August 3, 1818. Etienne’s grandparents were Gilles Junior Dandois (*Graven, 14/8-1748, ✞ yonder, 9/6-1816) married (Graven, 19/6-1785) Marie Anne Catherine Lacourt (*Graven, 6/6-1759, ✞ yonder, 19/6-1848, ‘dévotaire’) and Jean Joseph Bouffioux (*Court-Saint-Étienne, 16 February or 12 December 1762, ✞ Eerken, 21/5-1848, day laborer), married 28/10-1787 Jeanne Joseph Collin (*Eerken, 5/8-1767, ✞ yonder, 2/2-1810, housekeeper).
Etienne’s wife en Hubert’s mother was Marie Octavie Delveaux. Marie was born in Graven on April 14, 1835 as a daughter of Hubert Ferdinand Delveaux (or Delvaux, Delveau *Graven, 27/7-1800, ✞ Brussels, Door, Wisconsin, 1/3-1870) and Marie Françoise Socquet (*Graven, 16/2-1799, ✞ Union, Door, Wisconsin, 1870). Delveaux was a man with a lot of skills: he was mentioned as a day laborer in Belgium (1826), crayon maker (1844) and would even have been a manufacturer of harnesses in Brussels (Belgium). He was married to Marie Françoise on June 20, 1826 in Graven.
Going back to the children. I want to imagine something. It is January 31st, 1856. In the Netherlands it is windy that day, and about 4 degrees celsius, the weather in Graven must have been alike. Etienne and Marie stand in front of the altar in the renaissance church of Saint George, in the center of Graven. They just left the city hall on the other side of the square, where they’ve had their civil marriage, confirmed by government representative Louis Duchesnel. Now, they have to get married a second time, but this time for the church. A lot of family is present: nephews, nieces. They all wore their fanciest clothes, that means, as far as they owned fancy clothes. On the front bench, Etienne’s father and Marie’s parents are sitting, in silence. The couple smiles a little in the direction of Marie’s parents. This wedding is not the biggest adventure they would take on this year.
I don’t know why these people decided to emigrate. There was a lot of poverty in the area: the industrial revolution hadn’t really begun. And even that time period wouldn’t make the lives of the Graven inhabitants better. Maybe, someone from town used to visit Brussels once in a while, and had heard about possibilities in the US. Maybe he knew french speakers that had left for french speaking Canada. The group was probably made up of Etienne, his wife Marie, her parents and her brothers and sisters. There are different sources telling about the trip they made, and it is probable both sources are based on witness testimonies by the eldest son of the Delveaux-Socquet couple: Constant Delveaux. The journey began with travelling to Antwerpen, I presume they went by steam train. Two separate years are mentioned: 1849 and 1856. The first testimony states that the group made the trip with a sailing vessel called ‘Seymour’. Imagine the difference with the large steamship that Walter crossed the Atlantic on. The crossing would take six months, but the Seymour was shipwrecked, after which they had to go to ‘Flushing’ to repair the ship. Based on the second testimony, I suspect that the Dutch naval town of Vlissingen is meant with Flushing, not the New York neighbourhood. After reparations, they departed again and arrived in Québec, in what was British Canada back then. The second testimony describes a crossing in 1856. The group would go aboard the ship ‘Lacedemon’ in the Antwerp harbor on March 18, 1856 after waiting for two days. Ten miles into their journey, a violent storm broke out that ripped off the largest part of the main mast. The ship had to return for reparations, which would take 23 days. Ten nautical miles is about 18,52 kilometers. If you look up that distance from the Antwerp harbor, the ship would still be on the Scheldt river, near Berendrecht. If the 18 miles are counted with the entering of the open sea as a starting point, Flushing seems the logical place to go to in case of an emergency. After three weeks of reparations, the Lacedemon went back to sea. It was probably the first time Etienne and his family were on a ship at full sea. According to the second testimony, they arrived in Québec after nineteen days, on May 12, 1856. Those nineteen days are quite different from the six months mentioned in the first story. I do think the second testimony is more reliable. The marriage of Etienne and Marie was in Graven in 1856. That would mean he left for the US seven years earlier, alone, at the age of 21, then returned to Belgium and made the crossing again. Walter Withagen made a similar journey, but that was a lot easier in the 1910’s. In the 1850’s, it was too expensive and too hard to go back and forth.
In Québec, the group went aboard a smaller boot that took them to Montréal via the Saint Lawrence river. In Montréal they had to transfer on a boat which took them further inland, to Toronto. Because of this part of Canada speaking french, Toronto must have been the first place they visited since Antwerp where they couldn’t speak their mother language. In Toronto, the group went aboard a train, which took them as far as Lake Michigan. At the Canadian shore of the lake, they went aboard a sailing vessel that took them over the border to Green Bay, Wisconsin. Once they arrived in Green Bay, the group had to be exhausted from travelling in wobbly cabins and wagons. In Green Bay, they could hear people speak french again, and were warmly received by the local french speakers: a community that yearned for news from their European homeland, hoping the new arriving immigrants could bring it to them. The group was extended in the meantime: on the sailing vessel that took them across Lake Michigan, the group met immigrants Alexis Franc and Francis Petris. The source states that the group also met Etienne Dandois on the ship, but I can counter that with the Belgian marriage certificate.
I don’t know how long the group stayed in Green Bay, but I do know they met a priest there. The priest gave them the advice to contact mister Rikari. Rikari spoke french and resided in Union on the Door peninsula. He guided newly arrived immigrants in Green Bay to unexplored lands in the region, and did so in this case. Delveaux, his son-in-law Dandois, Franc and Petris (and their families) went along with Rikari. According to the testimony, Rikari’s compass led them directly to section 6, township 26, range 24 in what would later become the town of Brussels. It was a 40 kilometer hike, carrying all their stuff and through thick forests without paths or roads. They would finally arrive in what would later be Brussels. Probably with the help of Rikari they could imagine where the future lots would be. Ferdinand Delveaux got four ‘forties’ of land, Dandois, Petris and Franc each two ‘forties’. These four men and their families were the first Europeans in this area. The story tells about how the local Indians the group met had never seen white people before. It must have been an encounter like that of Columbus in 1492.
After arriving on the right spot in the woods, the group cleared a spot with a lot of effort, and built a cabin with leaves and branches so they could hide from the rain. Somewhat later, they built a more steady cabin with logs, with a door in the roof. With axes, they cut trees and dug around the stump, until the stump could be dug out with all it’s roots. They crafted wooden roof shavings to sell, I presume to other pioneers. Together with those other pioneers, Delveaux and Dandois bought an ox, which made the labor much easier. Later, Ferdinand built his own machinery to grind grain. And they did all of this while being totally self sufficient. True pioneers. A story was told about Marie Delveaux-Socquet by two of her great-grandchildren. The story gives an impression of how the pioneers were cut off from the outside world. One day, Marie went into the woods to check on one of their cows who was about to give birth. The fact that the cows grazed in the woods means that this happened not long after their arrival. Marie tripped over a log and broke her leg. Not much later, her leg got infected and her eldest son Constant ran all the way to Green Bay: a 40 kilometer run over rugged forest paths, in search of a doctor. In the meantime, gangrene had set in, and Marie had to be transported by boat to Green Bay to get an amputation. Her life was even harder after that.
In 1866, the pioneers had been building their own place in the New World for ten years. That year, they went to a photographer to get their picture taken. I think that is incredible. In comparison: the first picture in Bergen op Zoom was taken in 1869. It’s amazing that people who lived so far from civilization got to know photography earlier. The photo makes for a great legacy of the couple: they would pass away not long after. Marie Françoise passed away in Union in 1870. Hubert Ferdinand also died that year, on March 1st in Brussels, the town he founded himself. They reached the age of seventy and 69 in that order, and were buried in the Saint Mary’s cemetery in the nearby village of Namur.
I’ll try to make up a list of the group I described. A big help with drawing up that list is the database of mister Flemal, who described the paths of the Belgian-Americans in detail. Alexis Franc or Alexis Frank was from Luik, where he was born in 1827. His wife Désirée Barbiaux, was born in Fleurus in Hainaut, close to the current airport of Charleroi. Their children were Antoine, Francois and August Frank. The first two kids were born in Fleurus around 1854 and 1855, August was probably born in Brussels, Door around 1859. I couldn’t find anything more about Francis Petris or mister Rikari. The children of the Delveaux-Socquet couple were (all of them born in Graven, Belgium):
- Anne Josèphe Françoise Delveaux (*1827), was the only one that stayed in Walloon Brabant. She married Eugene Jean Baptist Hermans, who died in 1864.
- Constant Ferdinand Delveaux (*1829). The eldest son, the one that gave the testimonies. He took over the Brussels farm. Constant married Rosalie Dachelet (1838-1913) in 1862 in Sint-Andriesberg. Passed away in 1922.
- Hubert Celestin Delveaux (*1831). Was buried in 1907 in Allouez, so he probably lived in Green Bay.
- Marie Octavie Delveaux (*1835), this part of the article is about her.
- Marie Josephine Delveaux (*1838), married Wauthier (Walter) de Keyser (1831-1900) from Terhulpen in 1859. Walter immigrated along with his Gabriel de Keyser (1799-1890) and Rosalie Spreutels (1809-1887) to Door county. I think Marie Josephine and Wauthier moved to Green Bay later.
- Guillaume Joseph Delveaux (*1841), died in 1867 in Green Bay.
- Ferdinand Joseph Delveaux (*1846). Details unknown.
The Dandois-Delveaux children were: (all of them born in Wisconsin, probably at home in Brussels):
- Rosalie Dandois (*1856), married Francois (Frank) Romier (1855-1925), a son of the couple Joseph Romier x Adele Siot from Namen and Temploux, who came to Brussels probably around 1860. Rosalie and Frank probably lived in Green Bay after their wedding.
- Elise Dandois (*ca. 1865), married Sylvain Flavion (1872-1910), son of a couple from Korbeek that immigrated to Kewaunee. Elise died on October 13, 1942 and was buried in Allouez near Green Bay.
- Hubert Dandois (1869-1934).
- Charles Dandois (*1873), married Anna Hagelstein at quite an old age in 1946 in Colorado Springs. He died in 1957 in Colorado Springs.
- Francois (Frank) Dandois (*1876), married Marie J. Evrard (1878-1954) in 1899 in Green Bay. She was born in Taviers, a daughter of John Baptiste Evrard and Fulvie Josephe Leloux (or Leloup) from Taviers. They came to Door county after 1878.
Back to the Dandois-Delveaux family. The story continues from 1870. In 1871, a year after the passing of the Delveaux-Socquet couple, an enormous wildfire broke out in southern Door county. A lot of what the Belgian pioneers had built got swept away. The Delveaux family home did not: the fire ‘splitted’, went around the house on both sides to collide again at the back of their home. Miraculously. Eldest son Constant took over the Delveaux farm. In 1887, a beautiful big farm was built from wooden planks. I wonder where their farm stood, because it must have been right next to the land of the other pioneers, Dandois, for example. The story mentions section 6, township 26, range 24 in Brussels. I was able to find section 6 on old Brussels maps being sold on eBay. Two reproduction maps are being sold there, one from 1899 and one from 1914. Using the numbering system and cutouts to enlarge it, I discovered the lots of C. Delveaux and F. Delveaux, west of the church of the town.
Marie Octavie Delveaux passed away on the Dandois farm on May 14, 1890. Etienne Dandois would remarry the year after that, on April 23, 1891 in Green Bay with Victoria Dovberolowske. He stayed in Green Bay, where life was undoubtedly somewhat easier. He passed away in Green Bay on March 25, 1910, I hope after a beautiful retirement.
I’m almost done writing this article. The only thing left is to give some oversight on the ancestry of the Delveaux-Socquet couple in Belgium. Their parents were Etienne Joseph Delvaux (*Graven, 19/5-1758, ✞ yonder, 13/1-1809), a day laborer who married on February 2, 1790 in Graven to Marie Therese Degeneffe (*Graven, 28/4-1764, ✞ yonder, 8/11-1839), housekeeper, and Pierre Joseph Soquet (*Graven, 9/1-1770, ✞ yonder, 16/3-1835), day laborer (1826) and master-shoemaker, who married in November 1795 in Dongelberg (Walloon Brabant) with Marie Anne Josèphe Rentin (*Dongelberg, 21/1-1771, ✞ Graven, 12/11-1840). She was a housekeeper and day laborer (1826) and her name was also written als Rantin or Derantin. Their grandparents were:
- Gislain Delvaux (*Graven, 1/9-1709, ✞ yonder, 21/4-1790), day laborer, married 7/7-1737 in Graven to:
- Marie Marguerite Fochon (or Fosson, *Sint-Agatha-Rode, Walloon Brabant, 1/2-1714, ✞ Graven, 28/7-1781), houskeeper.
- Jean Georges Degeneffe (*Waver, Walloon Brabant, 18/8-1722, ✞ Graven, 8/9-1800), tailor, married 25/5-1754 in Graven to:
- Marie Ida Lacourt (*Graven, 8/11-1722, ✞ Biez, Waals-Brabant, 10/2-1813), ‘dévotaire’.
- Jean Socquet (*Bossuit-Gruttekom, Walloon Brabant, 7/4-1724, ✞ Graven, 7/3-1800), married 17/1-1760 in Graven to:
- Anna Maria Françoise Lecapitaine (*Graven, 30/4-1733, ✞ yonder, 6/10-1815), widow of Jean François Matillart (1720-1756).
- Jean Francois Derantin (*Dongelberg, Walloon Brabant, 6/3-1739, ✞ yonder, 11/5-1817), married 5/6-1763 in Deurne (Walloon Brabant) with:
- Ida Josephe Warichet (*Deurne, Walloon Brabant, 21/1-1737, ✞ 1817).
With this, I finish writing my story. At the bottom, you can find the source list and names list. The article is almost history itself: I’ve been wanting to write it for years now and I finally began writing in September 2019. That means the first parts are from a somewhat ‘different time’ than this part. I think I learned a lot about the US and the lives of the ancestors of current Americans. I hope you readers learned a lot as well.
- Geboorteregister Bergen op Zoom 1886
- Hulpkaarten Kadaster, stichting Industrieel Erfgoed Bergen op Zoom
- Lotingsregister voor de nationale militie Bergen op Zoom, lichting 1906, klasse 1886
- Minuutakten notaris Van Gruting te Bergen op Zoom
- Inschrijvingsregister voor de nationale militie Bergen op Zoom, lichting 1906, klasse 1886
- Bevolkingsregister Bergen op Zoom 1900-1920
- Wikipedia, Nederlands: Ellis Island
- The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island foundation, inc.
- Geboorteregister Bergen op Zoom 1880
- Huwelijksregister Bergen op Zoom 1905
- Geboorteregister Bergen op Zoom 1872
- Project ‘Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers’, Library of Congress te Washington D.C.
- Dorpswebsite Reynoldsnd.com
- boek Reynolds City Centennial 1880-1980, North Dakota State Library, Bismarck
- Overlijdensregister Bergen op Zoom 1933
- Amerikaanse kaarten op het dienstplichtregister t.b.v. de Eerste Wereldoorlog, 1917-1918, via de Mormoonse kerk
- Index in boekvorm op de New Yorkse Passagierslijsten 1906-1942, via de Mormoonse kerk
- Huwelijksregister Bergen op Zoom 1920
- Huwelijksbijlagen Bergen op Zoom 1920-1922, via de Mormoonse kerk
- Huwelijksregister Steenbergen en Kruisland 1915-1917
- Geboorteregister Steenbergen en Kruisland 1887
- Geboorteregister Steenbergen en Kruisland 1856
- Geboorteregister Steenbergen en Kruisland 1853
- Stamboom F. de Jonge
- Overlijdensregister Steenbergen en Kruisland 1882-1884
- RK Doopboek Steenbergen 1806-1810
- Geboorteregister Steenbergen en Kruisland 1821
- Overlijdensregister Steenbergen en Kruisland 1879-1881
- Huwelijksregister Steenbergen en Kruisland 1887
- Wijklijsten Steenbergen en Kruisland 1889
- Bevolkingsregister Steenbergen en Kruisland 1900-1920
- Geboorteregister Steenbergen en Kruisland 1917
- Wijklijsten Steenbergen en Kruisland van rond 1915
- Geboorteregister Steenbergen en Kruisland 1919
- Huwelijksregister Halsteren 1873-1882
- State Historical Society of North Dakota, Bismarck, ND
- D. Koevoets, museum de Holle Roffel
- Website parochie St. Rose of Lima, Hillsboro, N.D.
- boek Minnesota Geographic Names, their origin en historic significance, volume 17. W. Upham, 1920
- Overlijdensregister Bergen op Zoom 1927
- Index op naturalisaties in het noorderlijk district Illinois, 1840-1950 (via Mormoonse kerk)
- US Census 1930, via Mormoonse kerk
- Find A Grave database, bijdrager Marjorie, 2011
- Petitions for naturalization records, Outagamie county, volume 8, certificaten nummer 1401-1505, 1928-1929 (via Mormoonse kerk)
- Petitions for naturalization records, Outagamie county, volume 7, certificaten nummer 1151-1400, 1923-1928 (via Mormoonse kerk)
- Stamboombestand P. Sweere
- Overzicht gefotografeerde graven Holy Cross cemetery, Butler, Otter Tail, Minnesota, Find a Grave
- Geboorteregister Steenbergen en Kruisland 1890
- Stamboombestand B. Moos
- Genealogie Van den Hoogen
- Stamboom Van der Wijk (via Genealogie Online)
- Index op geboorteakten Morrison county, State Historical Society of Minnesota
- B. Harding, Encyclopedia of Milwaukee
- W.C. Sturtevant, Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.
- Heel veel Wikipedia-artikelen
- KCBXfm Central Coast Public Radio
- Biografie van Augustin Grignon, Wisconsin Historical Society
- Artikel ‘Kaukauna, lion of the fox’, M. Grogan-Seleen, 1985 (via Kaukauna Library)
- Find A Grave database, bijdrager H. Marsh, 2016
- US Census 1940, via Mormoonse kerk
- Stamboom P. Brault
- Minnesota Map Publishing Co., Minneapolis, 1913/Library of Congress
- Index op het overlijdensregister Minnesota 1908-2002, Minnesota Department of Health, via Mormoonse kerk
- Index op het overlijdensregister Minnesota 1908-2002, via Minnesota Historical Society, Saint Paul
- Otter Tail county Historical Society
- G. Johler
- J.M. Tijthoff
- Indexkaarten op de registratie van Amerikaanse Tweede Wereldoorlogdienstplichtigen, 1942 (via Mormoonse kerk)
- The Appleton Post-Crescent, 24 oktober 1957, pagina 38
- Mrs. Ann Withagen Obituary, The Sebeka Review, 6 november 1957 (via Findagrave)
- New York, lijsten van passagiers en bemanning, 1925-1957 (via Mormoonse kerk)
- J. Cain (Ayronautica, Flickr)
- Register op overlijdensakten Wisconsin, 1959-1997 (via Mormoonse kerk)
- Overlijdensregister Amerikaanse sociale dienst (via Mormoonse kerk)
- Land of the Fox, Saga of Outagamie County, Outagamie County State Centennial Committee, 1949
- Huwelijksregister Wisconsin, 1836-1930 (via Mormoonse kerk)
- L. McCarthy Kopka (via Findagrave)
- D. Hazeldine, via Rootsweb
- Mppraetorius, via Oocities, 1999
- History of Outagamie Wisconsin, Thomas H. Ryan, Goodspeed Historical Association Publishers Chicago, 1911
- Begraafboeken parochie Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Greenville, Outagamie, Wisconsin
- RK DTB-boeken Wassersuppen, via Portafontium, samenwerking tussen het Beiers Staatsarchief en het regionaal archief Pilsen, Tsjechië
- RK Doopboek Borrisokane 1821-1835, Rijksarchief Ierland
- US Census 1870, via Mormoonse kerk
- US Census 1900, via Mormoonse kerk
- US Census 1910, via Mormoonse kerk
- Aberdeen newspaper, 21/12-1904
- D. Jeske
- M. Klug
- A. Nichols
- US Census 1940
- Wisconsin State Census 1905
- Little Chute Historical Society
- D. Green Findagrave
- K. Check Findagrave
- R. Troy (via Geni)
- United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918
- website Korean War Project
- boek Poles of Wisconsin
- boek ‘Immigrants on the Land: Agriculture, Rural life and Small Towns’
- ‘History of Manitowoc County Wisconsin’, dr. L. Falge
- D. Devlin (Rootsweb).
- J.A. Pratt (Familysearch)
- S. Kern (Familysearch)
- RindtJohnLeo1 (via Familysearch)
- Geboorteregister Walhain-Saint-Paul 1861-1892 (via Rijksarchief België)
- Geboorteregister Graven 1813-1842 (via Rijksarchief België)
- Huwelijksregister Graven 1813-1860 (via Rijksarchief België)
- C. Catry (via Geneanet)
- Chr. Clavelle (via Geneanet)
- V. Bouffioux (via Geneanet)
- A. Degelle (via Geneanet)
- Registers Burgerlijke stand Zuid-Brabant 1582-1914 (via Familysearch)
- R. Flemal (via Geneanet)
- C. Malego (via Geneanet)
- ‘History of Door County Wisconsin’, Hjalmar Holand, The Country Beautiful. S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago, Volume II, 1917
- ’17 200 Belges Devenus Americains 1620-1920′, Marcel Lacourt, Cercle Historique et Archéologique de Wavre et al région, 2001
- US Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885
- Land Patent Records, State of Wisconsin, Menasha District, US Bureau of Land Management
- Genealogische database Netradyle-Geneadyle, J.-J. Hallaux e.a.
- B. Dury-Barett
- Registers Burgerlijke stand Zuid-Brabant 1582-1914 (via Mormoonse kerk)
- Math S. Tlachac, ‘The History of the Belgian Settlements in Door, Kewaunee and Brown Counties, A Legacy in 10 Parts.’ Belgian-American Club, Brussels, Wisconsin, 1974.
van Agtmaal, Daniël
van Alphen, Frederik Pieter
André, Anne Josephine (Annie)
Andre, Louis Joseph
Blean, James C.
Boelhower, Johannes Bernardus Antonius
Bogers, Frans Pieter
van den Born, Gerrit
Bouffioux, Jean Joseph
Bouffioux, Jeanne Josephe
van den Broek, Jaak
Buijsen, Leonard (Leendert)
Buijsen, Leonard Johannes
Buijzen, Adriana Cornelia
Charles, Jeanne Joseph
du Charme, Dominique
Chaufoureau, Pierre Joseph
Chiha, Anton M.
Ciha, Geraldine J.
Ciha, Joseph John
Ciha Robinson, Karin
van Cleemput, Alfons
Collin, Jeanne Josephe
Cooney, de vrouw van Edwin
Cusack, Mary Frances
Dandois, Francois (Frank)
Dandois, Gilles Junior
Dandois, Jean François
Dandois, Octavia Ann
Degeneffe, Jean Georges
Degeneffe, Leopold Joseph
Degeneffe, Marie Therese
Dekkers, Laurina Maria
Delveaux, Anne Josèphe Françoise
Delveaux, Constant Ferdinand
Delveaux, Etienne Joseph (Ethan)
Delveaux, Guillaume Joseph
Delveaux, Hubert Celestin
Delveaux, Marie Josephine
Delveaux, Marie Octavie
Derantin, Jean Francois
van Doorne, Piet
de Dooij, Catharina
Dricot, Pierre Gabriel
Dricot, Pierre Joseph
Dricot-de Keyser, Therese
van Dussen, Sierd
van Dijke, Antonius (Toon)
van Dijke, Laurens
Eber, de familie
Eichstadt, de vrouw van Vincent
van Elzakker, Philippus
Evrard, John Baptiste
Evrard, Marie J.
Falge, dokter L.
Feuerstein, de vrouw van Ray
Fochon, Marie Marguerite
Franken, Adrianus (Adriaan)
Galant, Mary Ann
Ganzel, Carl Theodor Friedrich Christopher
Gibson Mikos, Susan
van Grinsven, Martin
van Gruting, notaris
Gustmann, Ernestine Auguste Caroline
Haas Jeske, Freida
Hendrickx, Jacques Antoine
Hendrickx, Johannes Josephus Hubertus
van Herel, Marijn
Hermans, Eugene Jean Baptiste
van den Heuvel, voornaam onbeked
van den Heuvel, Johanna Maria
van den Heuvel, Wilhelmina
Hoeberechts, J.L. (Jules)
van den Hoogen, Johanna Wilhelmina
Jalink, Antonetta Laurina
Jense, de drie gezinnen
Jeske, Allen John
Jeske, Arthur R.
Jeske, Johann Albert Heinrich
Jeske, Walter Gerard
Jochman, de vrouw van Leonard
Joiret, Marie Catherine
de Joode, Antje
de Joode, Frans Adrianus
de Joung, de familie
Kanter, de familie
van Kauwenberg, Joseph
de Keyser, Alice
de Keyser, Anna
de Keyser, Edmond
de Keyser, Emma
de Keyser, Frank
de Keyser, Gabriel
de Keyser, Joseph
de Keyser, Josephine (Josie)
de Keyser, Jules
de Keyser, Julien
de Keyser, Mary Therese
de Keyser, Mathilde
de Keyser, Victoria
de Keyser, Wauthier (Walter)
Kimberly, John Alfred
Klaassen, Jacobus (Jacob)
Komma, Elisabeth A.
Kornely, de vrouw van R.
Krall, de vrouw van Joseph
Laanen, Maria Cornelia
Lacourt, Marie Anne Catherine
Lacourt, Marie Ida
Langenberg, Johannes Walterus
Last, Aldert Jan
Lecapitaine, Anna Maria Françoise
Lecharlier, Marie Francoise Eveline
Leegstra, Jantje Margina
van Leeuwen, Johan W.
Leloux, Fulvie Josephe
van Lil, Maria
van Mansfeld, Laurens
Markham, Ernest R.
Markham, Mary Ann
Mathy, Charles Joseph Ghislain
Mathy, Jean François Joseph
Mathy, Jean Joseph
Mathy, Marie Virginia (Virginie)
McCarthy, Catherine (Kit)
McCarthy, George William
McCarthy, Joseph Raymond
McCarthy, Loretta Ann
McCarthy, mevrouw M.
McCarthy, Margaret (Etta)
McCarthy, Mary (Molly)
McCarthy, Mary E. (Nell)
McCarthy, Michael John
McCarthy, Robert G.
McCarthy, Stephen Patrick
McCarthy, Timothy (Tim)
McCarthy, Timothy Thomas
McCarthy, William Patrick
Musters, Catharina Petronella
Myers, Michael J.
van Nispen, Ant’
van Nispen, Roeland Johannes
Raats, Kornelis Jan
Raes, de familie
Rayee, Pauline Aldegonde
Rayeroft, Nettie R.
Redell, Loretta Lucy
Regbanovicz, de familie
Rentin, Marie Anne Josèphe
van Reijen, Anna
van der Riet, Cornelis Antonius
Rihm, Frieda H.
Ringrose, Katherine Elizabeth
Romier, Francois (Frank)
de Ryckere, Gustaf
Salm, pastoor Peter A.
Sand, de familie
Shanley, John H.
Sieplen (of Bauer), Margareth
Sigerth, Johann Andreas
Sigerth, Johann David
Socquet, Marie Françoise
Socquet, Pierre Joseph
Stoffel, Michael (Mike)
Sweere, Hendricus Hubertus (Henry)
Sweere, Johanna Helena Maria Cornelia (Ann)
Swiechowski, Edward Harold (Eddie)
Swiechowski, Isidore Louis
Thibeau, Anne Joseph
Tholhuijsen, Ludovicus Adrianus
Thon, John S.
Timmermans, Maria Margaretha
Trimbos, Jacobus Johannes
Trimbos, Johannes Baptist
de Vos, Willem Marcelis
de Vree, David
de Vree, neef J.
de Vree, Jan Baptist
Warichet, Ida Josephe
de Weerd, Anna Catharina
Withagen, Anna Alima (Anneke)
Withagen, Freida M. (Godfrida)
Withagen, Laurina Maria (Lorraine)
Withagen, Leonard N.
Withagen, Maria (weduwe Withagen)
Withagen, Maria (zuster Withagen)
Withagen, Maria Leonardus (Marie)
Withagen, Paulina Maria
Withagen, Petrus Martinus
Withagen, Richard L.
Withagen, Waltherus (Wouter)
Withagen Ciske, Barbara
de Wolf, Helena
de Wolf, Frans
Zygmanski, Valentinus (Valentine)