Akke in the Netherlands, 1827-1884

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Photo credit: Erik Hoekstra, USA, c.2000.

Here is the main post for Akke de Jong Hoekstra (1827-1900), Ancestor #1/52

Akke Sijes de Jong was born in 1827 in the village of Berlikum, the municipality of Menaldumadeel, the province of Friesland, the Netherlands, and she lived there until emigrating to Orange City, Iowa in 1884. Even today, the village of Berlikum is dominated by the old dome church, built in 1777, encircled by a churchyard cemetery. On Sundays when the faithful went to church there, according to John Clover Monsma in his article, “Farewell to Windmills and Dikes,” just like today they would have encountered an ornamental iron gate with gilded lettering: “MEMENTO MORI,” which meant, as even the village’s “lowest ragamuffin” knew, “Remember that you must die!” (Monsma, 34).

Chances are pretty good, however, that Akke Hoekstra and her family did not attend the old dome church, which was part of the State Church, supported and under indirect control of the national government. Instead, Akke most likely attended the more modest Free Church, located at the other end of the town. Both churches were of the Reformed faith, but the Free Church was more strict in doctrine and in life (Monsma, 35). Akke was an active member of Orange City’s 1st Christian Reformed Church when she immigrated to the United States; it is therefore easy to imagine that she was also active in the Free Church in Berlikum.

Monsma writes of four classes of people who lived in Berlikum. He states that money wasn’t what mattered in determining class. Rather, religion was what counted most, or lack of it. So people were grouped as one of these four: State Church people, Free Church people, a small group of people who attended the Mennonite church, or a larger group of “worldly” people who did not attend church. There was little association among these groups, even during weekdays (Monsma, 37).

As far as the language spoken by the people of Berlikum–look to what the children speak when they are playing together, and that will tell you what language is spoken there. Speaking of when he was a child (he was 9 in 1900), Monsma says that, while in school and church he learned Dutch, on the street and at their play they always reverted to the old Frisian. At home, “never a word of Dutch was spoken,” except from the Bible or the newspaper (Monsma, 38). There is no reason to think that in Akke’s time in Berlikum the language spoken would have been different than in Monsma’s time there. Undoubtedly, for the most part, Akke and her children as well spoke Frisian most of the time.

Like almost any married woman of her class and time, Akke’s fortunes were tied to her husband’s. We know from her son Heerke Kornelis’s 1878 death notice that Akke was a gardeniersche in Berlikum, as her husband Kornelis had been–in his case, a gardenier.(1) This word has been translated for me by native-speaking Dutch as the feminine of “garden farmer,” suggesting that she would have grown vegetables and/or flowers for sale.

Notes

(1) Heerke Kornelis Hoekstra oud achttien Jaren, zonder beroep, geboren en wonende te Berlikum, ongehuwd, zoon van Kornelis Heerkes Hoekstra, overladen, en van Akke Sijes de Jong, gardeniersche wonende te Berklikum.

Heerke Kornelis Hoekstra eighteen years old, without profession, born and residing in Berlikum, unmarried, son of Kornelis Heerkes Hoekstra, deceased, and of Akke Sijes de Jong, gardener residing in Berlikum. (translation by GoogleTranslate)

References

Monsma, John Clover. “Farewell to Windmills and Dikes.” Origins, Calvin College Historical Magazine of the Archives, Vol. XIV, No. 1, 1996, 32-38.

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