Here is the main post for Akke de Jong Hoekstra, Ancestor #1/52
Akke immigrated to Orange City, Iowa in March of 1884. The records show that on April 10 she bought 80 acres of farmland near Orange City in Nassau Township, Sioux County, Iowa. The description of the land: the East 1/2 of the SE 1/4 of Sec. 6 in Twp. 94, R44. Akke bought the land from Peter G. Ketel for $2,280, almost $30 per acre. There was a $500 mortgage on the land, subject to 7 percent interest, payable semi-annually. (1) This 1930 plat map of Nassau Township shows Akke’s land (outlined in red) in Sec. 6.
Akke is found in the 1885 Iowa state census for Nassau Township. The census confirms the location of her land in Section 6: Hoekstra, A.K., F(emale), age 57, W(idow); Jan, M(ale), age 20, S(ingle); Martha, age 17, F, S. (2) Akke’s other single daughter, Geertje Hoekstra, is living with the Yge Mulder Sr. family. (3) The senior Yge Mulder, age 57, is a widow. Living with him are five sons, ages 23 to 16, and one daughter, age 14. It’s easy to imagine that Geertje, age 23, was living in the household because she was working for wages as household help. This Mulder family would be an important connection for all of the Akke’s Hoekstra daughters. Geertje would marry one of Yge Mulder’s sons, Gerrit, in 1887–but not until the youngest Hoekstra daughter, Martha, married Gerke Mulder in 1885. The third Hoekstra daughter and the eldest–Tryntje Hoekstra van der Schaaf–would marry a third Mulder brother after the death of her first husband Yarig. This third Hoekstra/Mulder marriage would take place in 1894.
What was Akke’s farm like? In a letter to a young relative (year unknown), Akke’s grandson, Cornie Hoekstra, tells of those early years on the farm, stories he would have heard second-hand from his father, Akke’s son Jan. Akke settled on an established farm fourteen years after the first settlers came to the area. Life was still quite primitive. This was the prairie, so there were few trees. Cornie says that fuel was made by twisting bundles of prairie grass into tight knots. (4) An Akke 2nd great granddaughter, herself a farm daughter, has analyzed the items that Akke sold at her farm sale to speculate about the running of farm. The list includes “One colt, 10 months old; 4 milk cows; 2 2-year-old oxen; 1 young beast, 2 years old; 1 bull, 2 years old; 1 1-year-old ox; 4 spring calves; 30 suckling pigs; 50 chickens; 1 wagon; 1 McCormack combined reaper; 1 plow; 1 Dowser rake; 1 cornsheller; 1 cultivator; 1 bobsled; 1 cookstove; 300 bushels oats; and many other things too many to mention.” (5)
It appears Akke had a small dairy operation with 4 cows, one bull, and 4 spring calves from the 4 cows. She also raised pigs, probably for their meat, and chickens for eggs. The McCormack reaper indicates she may have raised oats to feed the horses and the remainder to sell on the grain market, if there was a grain market. The horses would have been needed for the horse-drawn combined reaper, cultivator, plow, and rake. She also had an ox that may have been used for plowing. Akke probably raised corn for feed for the cows, pigs, and chickens. Any remainder would have been sold on the grain market. In those days, corn was picked by hand. Her cornsheller was probably hand-operated. Travel in the winter was probably by horse-drawn bobsled.
A household built around unmarried 20-something adult children is a household, by definition, in flux. Akke’s children were marrying and setting up households of their own. Four years after she immigrated and bought her farm, the last single child in 1888 was her son Jan, age 23. The story told by family is that Jan returned to Friesland in 1888 to marry his “sweetheart,” the girl he had left behind. This was not an uncommon practice among Dutch immigrants at this time–to return to the home country to find a wife. However, there is no explanation in the family stories about why Jan did not return to the farm in Iowa after his marriage. (6) He eventually returned, but not until 1909, long after the farm was sold and his mother had died. When Jan and his family returned to Iowa, he would rent the land for the next 25 years from his oldest sister, Tryntje Mulder.
Akke remained on the farm for four years, from 1884 to 1888, when she sold out and moved to town to live with her eldest daughter, Tryntje (then van der Schaaf). What Akke’s intent was in buying the farm in the first place, we can probably never know. She certainly could have chosen an easier path and considered buying an acre or so of land and continuing her occupation as a gardeniersche, as she had in Berlikum. But it’s clear that someone who would immigrate to a new life at the age of 56 probably wasn’t looking for the easy path. Akke’s 80-acre farm purchase shows a leap of faith, from a faithful woman.
Notes and References
(1) A copy of the Warranty Deed Record is in my possession. Found at the Sioux County Courthouse, Book Q, page 170. The deed is dated 10 April 1884.
(2) Iowa State Census, 1885. Nassau Township, Sioux County. Image 23 of 23, Ancestry.com.
(3) Iowa State Census, 1885. Nassau Township, Sioux County, Image 17 of 23, Ancestry.com.
(4) Thanks to Imo Mulder for providing a copy of the letter from Cornelius Hoekstra.
(5) Akke’s farm sale notice would have appeared in a local newspaper. What I have is a transcription of the article from a Hoekstra family researcher. I have not found the original article, so details of the newspaper it appeared in and date are unknown.
(6) Looking at the Friesland birth, marriage, and death records at AlleFriezen.nl, confirmation of at least the main part of Jan’s story is possible. Jan Hoekstra (which would have been as common a name in Friesland as John Smith is in the U.S.), age 23, son of Cornelis (usually spelled Kornelis) Heerkes Hoekstra and Akke Sijes de Jong, married on 26 May 1888 to Trijntje Meersma, age 23, daughter of Herke Sjoerds Meersma and Tietje Pierers Kloostra in Barradeel, Friesland. They had one child together, a daughter in 1890, and then Jan’s wife died on 23 Jan, 1892, also in Barradeel. Dutch death records don’t include a reason for death, but one possible scenario for Jan not returning to the U.S. after marrying Tryntje in 1888, considering her death in 1892, was that Tryntje was ill with tuberculosis either at the time or shortly after marrying Jan. If that were the case, and it’s only speculation on my part, then Jan would have known that Tryntje would not be able to emigrate with him to Orange City.
After his first wife Tryntje died in 1892, Jan married again in 1893 to Martha de Jong. He had three children with her before she died in 1900. Jan was having truly horrendous luck with his wives. In my papers, I find an unsourced note that reads, “According to a family letter, Martha died of tuberculosis, as did John’s first wife.” So there is confirmation, although only hearsay until the source is found–and then still maybe only hearsay, depending on who wrote the letter and when–that points to what was going on in Jan’s life and a possible reason for him not returning with his family to work Akke’s farm.
Plat maps of Nassau Township, c. 1930 taken from the Plat Book of Sioux County, Iowa, 1930, W.W. Hixson & Co. From the University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa Digital Library. http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cdm/ref/collection/hixson/id/1937. Accessed 8 Jan 2015.