Our personal responses to the coronavirus are shaped by many things, including our understanding of history. I’ve been thinking about the Flu of 1918, which has always been very real to me, perhaps because I heard stories about it from my father. He was named Nicholas after an uncle who died in that flu, in a story I thought very romantic. (That was before I grew up and realized that what we call “flu” involved people bleeding from their orifices, including ears, eyes, nose and mouth.) Late in his life my father wrote about his uncle, so I’m posting that story, as he wrote it, with a rambling charm which reveals the piety and theology of my forebears, as well as their failings (revealed especially in Appendix 2). The original title was “Breadbasket of the World.”
Nicholas Zandstra left the rented family farm in Highland, Indiana on his horse on Sunday evening to attend the Young People?s Society in the Highland Christian Reformed Church. It was his turn to teach the lesson, but that was not the reason he was nervous. The year was 1916. The church had services in the morning and afternoon, both in Dutch; but the Young People?s Society held its meetings in English. Two brothers and a sister, both thirteen years or older, would leave later by horse and buggy to attend the same meeting. Eight other siblings remained at home.
Normally the main activity of the meeting was a lesson based on a Bible passage. However, Nick received approval to teach an article from the catechism that was very meaningful to him. In a way, that was strange because the article was preached on an annual basis in the church and the members of the class had to memorize the article in their catechetical classes. However, the sermons were in Dutch as was the instruction in the Catechism. In addition to this, the emphasis in the classes was on rote memory. Nick was also aware that the young members of his class were gradually losing the Dutch language. Nick and others had learned English in eight years in school and had little incentive to keep up with the Dutch. The children of the earliest immigrants to Highland really knew little Dutch. Yet, they were required to sit through two services each Sunday and memorize questions and answers that they did not understand. The lesson went well and the president complimented Nick for doing a thorough job of giving the Biblical bases of the Catechism. A supervisory elder also gave Nick a complimentary word [in Dutch]. The elder could judge the attention of the class and the earnestness of the teacher, but his English was not adequate to evaluate the soundness of the lesson.
The reason that Nick went to the meeting separately and the reason that he was nervous was his usual ?date? with Jenny Plantinga afterward. For some time, after Young People?s Society, Nick and Jenny would walk to the parsonage hand in hand two lots away for pleasant conversations. The Dominie, Rev. De Boer, and his wife had no children of their own and had taken in Jenny to live with them.
Twenty year old Nick was tall with a full serious face. He looked like a young German philosopher, radiating wisdom and seriousness. Jenny, two years older, was pretty with a slight delicate frame. That evening she wore a plaid dress, which matched her auburn hair. Nick considered Jenny a good friend and they got on well together. A part of his enjoyment of these ?dates? was the attention he was shown by the Dominie and his wife. At home he was respected as the oldest son, but he competed with 13 siblings. At the parsonage he felt special.
However, Nick sensed that Jenny had fallen in love with him and wanted the relationship to move forward. On the other hand, Nick realized that he was not in love with Jenny. Though he valued her as a friend, he realized that he did not want to go further. Nick knew what it was to be in love; he had been in love with J.D., who had rejected him. At the time his world had collapsed, and he knew well that Jenny would take it hard with an end to their special relationship. He had known for some time that he would have to ?break up? with Jenny, but his procrastination was due to concern for her.
The reason that Nick finally decided to do what he had to do was that a final decision had been made that he was to leave to farm in Montana, being gone for a year or so, at the least. His actual leaving would not be for several months, but a definite decision had been made.
?I?ll be gone for a year or two,? Nick told Jenny. ?It wouldn?t be fair to you. You should date others.?
?I don?t want to date anyone else!? said Jenny, with tears running down her face.
They were sitting in the spacious parlor in the large parsonage. Jenny murmured, ?I hope that Rev. De Boer doesn?t come in and see my tears.?
?I?m truly sorry,? said Nick, ?that things haven?t worked out better.?
It was very painful for both of them and there were hard feelings. However, it ended up that they would remain friends and they would write.
The origin of the move to Montana is rooted in the desire of Nick?s father, Bartel Hans Zandstra to have his own farm. Bartel was an ambitious entrepreneur who wanted to provide for his 14 children. He had had a market and peddling route in Roseland and had tried farming in a number of places in Munster and Highland. None were very successful, but then he heard of an opportunity to rent some land in Kuner, Colorado owned by John Meeter of Lansing.
At that time, 1911, Nick had developed a bad cough and the West was recommended as a place more conducive to Nick?s heath. Soon, the Zandstra family arrived in Colorado with nine children after two days on the train. The venture was not a success: the first year there was a drought and the second year ended with most of the crop destroyed by a rain and hail storm. Then it was back to the Midwest, poorer than when they left the Illiana area.
A few years later, in 1915, Bart saw another opportunity to provide for his large family. This time it was Montana, and it looked like a sure thing. In Highland it was very wet. Furrows filled with water, crops rotted in the ground, and it was too wet to plant. Meanwhile, reports about great farming opportunities were reported in Montana. A small number of families had already established a Christian Reformed Church. The Spoolstra Realty Company of Roseland ran some four or five ads in the church paper, De Wachter: ?This land is of the best quality and brings unbelievable crops; it does not need irrigation because [the crops] receive adequate rain;? ?In some states a farm brings no gain, but in Columbus it is a success;? ?Montana is destined to be the breadbasket of the world.? The Northern Pacific Railroad, which owned much land in Montana, gave cheap rates to inspect the land and gave discounted rates for ?immigrant movables.? The Homestead Act (1913) made it possible to get some land free, and farmland could be purchased for about $25 per acre. Land in the Illiana area was sold at the time for $183-$201 per acre.
Bartel Hans trusted Mr. Peter Spoolstra who was a fellow Friesian who wore his Reformed faith ?on his sleeve.?
DE WACHTER, 19 MAY 1915 MONTANA
Montana is blessed with cool summer nights.
Get rid of your gloom and grouch by living in Montana.
Only those who don?t know, say harsh things about Montana.
The knocker soon grows listless and anemic in Montana.
Nature is the best booster Montana has.
The railroads have to buy more cars to haul Montana?s crops.
The best wheat grown in America came from Montana.
Heat prostrations are unknown in Montana.
Montana is destined to be the bread-basket of the world.
It?s easier to succeed in Montana than anywhere else.
Spoolstra Realty Co.
A number of individuals and families from the area had already responded to the alluring ads, and reports from them were favorable. William Recker had gone in 1915 with Dick Staal and soon returned to marry Jessie Staal before returning to the Holland Settlement in Montana. He reported adequate rain in 1915 and a good crop. He acknowledged some problems with rocks and evidence of deceptive advertising, but he reminded Bart of more serious problems with farming in Highland. He commented: ?In Highland we crawled on our knees; in Montana, we ride.? That comment registered with Bart, for his children were at the time complaining about weeding onions on their knees. On the current farm such weeding was extremely troublesome because of a natural irritant in the soil.
Another thing that added to the attraction was that a Christian Reformed Church had been organized in 1915 with nine families. The church was meeting in a sheep herders’ bunkhouse.
Bart was raring to go. Here was a chance to have a farm of his own to provide for his large family. However, his wife Trientje refused to go. She remembered well the wonderful report from Colorado. She remembered well the grueling train trip and her crying children. She remembered well that they had returned in two years, poorer than when they started. However, as a compromise, she agreed to permit her oldest son to go for a year or two to Montana. If that was successful she would reconsider. At any rate, the income that Nick would receive would be of great help to the family.
Thus the preparation began: Bart was able to get financing through his first cousin in Lansing. Bartel Hans began to buy provisions to fill up a train car on the Northern Pacific Railroad, whose rates were highly discounted. He bought some things new: a seeder, a gangplow, a disc, and a tractor. He also bought a barrel of nails and a variety of household goods. He would also send Nick?s horse.
Nick was very willing to go. He disliked the winter work in the shops in East Chicago and Whiting, where he felt like a prisoner. He was also still smarting from the wounds of being rejected by J.D. Gathering at the Hammond train station to bid Nick farewell were most of his family and Jenny. It was early 1917, a time when preparation for war continued.
The trip went well. However, when Nick arrived in Columbus, the railroad authorities noted the new equipment and challenged whether they could be classified as ?immigrant movables.? Nick met the challenge and was not overcharged. Before this, some Dutch immigrants from the Settlement had hid some new items behind their household goods, only to sell them at a profit. It was their dishonesty that was responsible for the interruption. In Columbus, Nick was helped out by friends originally from Highland, including the Poortingas, Staals, Reckers, and the Oostemas.
Though Nick originally intended to build his own sod house or simple lumber house, he decided to accept an offer from the Oostemas to board with them. In lieu of room and board, he would help with the farm chores and they would have some use of his new tractor. In this way, Nick could immediately begin farming.
In a letter to his sister Gert, he wrote: ?It sure takes ambition here, but I have it to some extent. . . I?m starting to like it [Western farming] all right. It ain?t so busy as in the East. . . . I could hardly farm without a tractor. . . . I have to disc and seed about 130 acres, so I?ll be busy, and then I hope to plow some 50 acres. It?s difficult and requires hard work.? Nick used his tractor to break the prairie [some 16 inches] and to transport his wheat to the local grain elevator.
NICK LEADS YOUNG PEOPLE?S SOCIETY
The church elders took note of his leading role in the Young People?s Society in Highland, and they asked him to be president of the recently organized Young People?s Society, named Excelsior [always upwards.] Nick took this responsibility seriously; he felt a responsibility for the spiritual growth of the young people, some as young as 13. To his sister working in New Mexico [Note from Ruth: this sister was Gertrude Zandstra, my father?s mother] he wrote: ?Sunday nights I feel so inspired and I impress this upon the young folks so. I make a special study in Matthew Henry?s [commentaries] and it surely gives me good material. I can feel God?s blessing for those studies ? to His glory.? He taught the lesson in English because he was more fluent in English.
BARTEL AND NICK?S INTEREST IN MISSIONS
In the Settlement it soon became evident that his interest in missions was not shared by anyone, and he was not able to interest the young people in his care. Nick?s interest in missions can be explained by the experiences of his father. Bartel Hans had been orphaned at an early age and was raised by distant relatives who were not Christians. After he emigrated from Friesland and moved to Roseland, he was witnessed to by Jacob Kostelyk, a fellow worker in the Pullman shop. Jacob invited him to his church and his home. In his home he introduced him to his sister-in-law Trientje. In time Bartel became a Christian and Bartel and Trientje married. In addition to the witnessing of Kostelyk and members of the church, Bartel?s conversion was also due to the reading of the works of Dwight L. Moody. Thus, Bartel?s interest in missions was because he had the zeal of a convert and was influenced by Dwight L. Moody.
As a result of his interest in missions, Bartel sent his oldest daughter Gertrude [one year older than Nick] to go to the mission field of the church in Rehoboth, New Mexico, in 1915, to serve as a cook. The cost of the train trip was $50.00, which was paid for by the Denominational Mission Board. Gertrude had initiated the going by noting an announcement in De Wachter, but it was embraced by her father who bought her the largest trunk sold by Sears Roebuck.
One can easily understand Gertrude?s desire for adventure, but it is surprising that her father allowed her to go; she was the oldest child, and she had five siblings at home under the age of six. It can only be explained by the mission zeal of Bart, the convert.
Though Nick was interested in the cause of Christian missions, he was disappointed that this was not shared by members of the Holland Settlement. Just why this was is hard to explain. Could it relate to their understanding of decretal theology? If God chose his Elect before the world began, did they not want to interfere with God?s plan? It seemed to Nick that the evangelistic activities in the Settlement were limited to clear parameters of the Covenant, concern for fellow Hollanders who had strayed. Dorothy Vanderby Ypma, who spent her childhood in the Settlement, told an interviewer that ?it wasn?t taught as a Christian duty to go out to evangelize. No, not at all.?
Nick received information about the work in Rehoboth from Sister Gertrude and shared this information with the young people in the Society. Nick wrote to Gertrude: ?Last night I read the piece titled ?Navaho Peculiarities?. It sure is interesting to read.? However, the young people showed no interest in missions. They looked at some of the pictures and that was that.
Nick was lonely at times. He wrote to Gert, ?I act independent here to most. You know, if I do [go] along with the young folks, I do wrong, and then God says, ?Toon uw geloof mit uwe daden.? And that is such a hard battle: for a sinner to do good.“
In Nick?s letters to Jenny, he acknowledged that he was lonely, which increased her hopes.
TAKING SIN SERIOUSLY
Nick took sin seriously. In a letter to Gert, he wrote, ?How can the Lord use me as an instrument when I?m such a sin-stained and stinking creature?? Later, he reported to Gert that he had a real struggle during ?preparation week? prior to the celebration of the Lord?s Supper. He also took seriously the sins of others, especially members of his Society. In a letter to Gert, he laments the fact that none of the S___ sisters were at the Table [Lord?s Supper], for they didn?t come home. But, when the County Fair came three day later, yes, then they could go. He also notes that some of the young men fail to attend services and that some young women become pregnant without being married. It is possible that he noted too much the sins of others. However, his spirituality comes through loud and clear. At the closing of a letter to his sister on the mission field, he writes: ?Oh Gertie, may God grant us much comfort and grace and a powerful ?faith?. To His glory and that we may do what he wants us to do. Pray for me also, Gert. I?ll close now, for supper is calling me. God be with you til we meet again. Your loving brother, Nick.?
At church in the Settlement it was made known by the elders that they were looking for a volunteer to take a visiting minister to Columbus, a trip of ups and downs and 18 miles long. The visiting minister was Rev. Tiede Vander Ark, pastor of the Christian Reformed Church in Manhattan, Montana, who came by way of a classical appointment. Nick had much respect for pastors and educated leaders in general, so he volunteered.
NICK CONVERSES WITH A VISITING PASTOR
After comments about the sermon and the communion service, Nick said to the pastor. ?I was told about your first classical appointment to the Holland Settlement. Just a few details. I would like to hear the whole story.?
?I?ll be glad to tell you,? said the Dominee.
The story was told fluently, including details. It was obvious that he had told the story many times. Just as his much repeated sermons preached throughout Classis Pacific improved with repetition, his story was well told. In the telling, Nick made no interruptions.
I had been in Manhattan but four months when I was called upon to go to Columbus. It was the 22nd of May, 1916, and I thought cold weather was a thing of the past, so I could leave my fur coat at home. So I thought ?it was a heavy coat, and wasn?t it almost summer? So everything seemed fine.
The area where I had to go was unknown to me. A realtor, who wanted to do me a favor, had promised me a week before to take me to the settlement of our Christian Reformed people in his car. All this looked good and I was happy. But what disillusionment awaited me when I arrived in Columbus at quarter to three and my sweet dream fled from me. Whom did I see approaching me ? was it my chauffeur who would speed me to my destination in the area of this new settlement? A cold rain or wet snow was falling, making it rather precarious for auto travel. I saw two men approaching me who were to take me to the home where I was to spend the weekend. Approaching me, one of the farmers asked me if I was the dominee. At my affirmative answer he took my suitcase. In turn I asked him if I was to ride with him in his buggy and ?How far is it?? It nearly knocked me over when he said, ?18 miles.? Had I heard aright? All too true. I had never expected it to be that far. Ah! Eighteen miles. I looked at the dark sky and my thoughts went back to my fur coat. The brethren led me to their open buggy standing at the side of the station. I looked at the ponies and thought by myself they won?t cause a runaway. At first they had quite a bit of energy. I took my seat next to the driver and since there was no other seat, the other brother had to sit on the bottom of the buggy in the back.
We hadn’t been riding very long when my whole body was shivering. A wet snow struck us in the face. What was it ? snow or rain? I was becoming very cold which the others could see. My knees were wet and my thought went ? wasn?t it natural ? to my coat. Although the road was muddy we proceeded at a jog trot for some ten miles when we had to climb a hill, which, in places was quite steep. The horses had a hard, difficult pull. It became very slippery as we approached the top of the hill. The question arose ? are we going to make it? Yes, we succeeded but now new woes awaited us. There was now level country covered with about a foot of snow. What a lot of snow and wasn?t it the 22nd of May?
The ponies proceeded at a walk. Who dared hope that they could keep up their trot. It began to get very tiresome because of the cold. I didn?t seem to have feet any more. That?s why I got out of the buggy and started to walk. There won?t be a runaway. However, I couldn?t keep it up wading through the deep snow and got in the buggy again. We preceded slowly, the wheels cutting through the deep snow. Nowhere did we see a road and it became difficult to see one because the driving snow blinded our faces. This area had but recently been settled and there were no well-marked roads with fences at the sides. It can very well happen that one loses his way in such an area. Such was not only a supposition; it became a reality. We were lost which I gathered from the conversation of the brethren. All of a sudden one of the ponies stepped in a hole, and it was of a mind not to stand again. My companions had to help it, the one pulling on his head, the other his tail. This brought results: the exhausted pony again was on his four legs.
Counsel was held how to get on the right way. We finally succeeded and in my dreams I saw myself soon in the home where I was to stay. Another difficulty awaited us. We actually had now come to the farm of my host (the driver of the ponies) where I was to spend the night. The night was rapidly approaching. We looked in every direction for his house. This new experience shocked us. No house was to be seen and the snow was coming down in big flakes. Lost again. So near home and yet lost. My companion, the farmer, lost on his own farm and for him seemingly, impossible to locate his own house. It was dusk everywhere and our minds in a similar condition. Our hearts were heavy, our bodies cold and wet. We would go on a bit, then listen. Now and then a bit of hope ? nothing happened. Nobody could help, only the Lord would. We shouted ? nobody seemed to hear. We rode on ? now in a zigzag course, then straight. Then again in a circle. We knelt on the ground trying to find some indication of a trail to lead us to the farmer?s house.
Now, what had befallen the one pony now happened to the other. He fell into a hole and broke his harness. It was useless to try to repair it. The ponies were unharnessed and we followed after them ? two farmers and one shepherd. We were brothers in a difficult situation. Walking was difficult through the knee-deep snow, and to my grief I noticed that I had lost one of my rubbers [overshoes].
This wading through the snow soon became too much of a strain for one of my companions. He was getting a pain in the region of his heart ? a condition which he had had for sometime. He decided to return to the buggy to rest there, if necessary, to spend the night there covering himself with blankets. Inwardly, he hoped that we would find the house.
We went on walking, the two of us, tired and cold, always hoping. All of a sudden a surprise. Was it true or not? Yes, we heard the barking of a dog and that determined the course we now must follow. As we neared the house, a girl came outside with a lantern to direct the way.
After having left the station some six or seven hours ago and enduring cold and weariness, it indeed was a great joy to enter a warm house. No credit to us for finding the house ? to God only and we thanked Him for it.
?That?s quite a story!? said Nick. ?Thanks for sharing it.?
Then Nick asked, ?What ever happened to your older companion??
The minister said, ?I understand that he never recovered. He was over 60 years at the time, and he never recovered. He is now with the Lord.?
Having dominated the conversation for some time, the dominee turned to Nick, asking about his story. Nick talked for some time, telling pretty much his own story except for any mention of Jennie. He did include the story of his mother who immigrated with her sister and her sister?s husband at age 16. He also gave an account of the trials of his maternal grandfather, Klaas de Ruiter, after whom he was named. Klaas was part of the group that left the State Church with Abraham Kuyper. Nick said, ?My grandfather was a godly man and kept the faith through many trials; he was accused of being unpatriotic and schismatic by members of the State church, and he was ostracized and discriminated against by neighbors, including members of his own family. I am thankful that I bear his name.? In a letter to Gert, he wrote about the trip, ?Eighteen miles, but it seemed to be a short drive.?
Upon his return home, Nick received a long letter from Jennie. In it she reported the fact that William Terpstra had returned to Highland from the settlement to marry one of the Staal girls. There were things written ?between the lines? that Nick did not know how to deal with. In his return letter, he made no reference to them.
He also received a letter from Gert in New Mexico. Gert revealed that she too had received a letter from Jennie. It appeared that Jennie was attempting to use his sister to motivate him.
Nick responds to Gert, ?You wrote about Jenny. Sometimes I feel a lot for her, but then again, I?m afraid to tackle a city Jane like her, for troubles come out here (providing my path leads to this place) and, you know, as long as she is there [in the parsonage] she has a fine life. And if she?d have children I?m afraid she would be a helpless creature. You understand these things we must look upon. Of course, love covers all, but the trouble is I see these things.?
?Sometimes I wish I was like Paul: marry Christ and love and please him all the days of my life. Yet, Gert, I pray for Jennie to give her comfort in these afflictions. . . . I may go back to her, but I don?t know. I would choose J.D. She broke my heart; she is the one I truly loved. But so I heard she doesn?t care for me.?
Nick received some distressing news from ?Ma? and ?Pa? about the ravages caused by the epidemic of the Spanish Influenza. He learned of the death of a first cousin Gertie Kostelyk and of the wife of Reinder Van Til.
Upon receiving these letters from his parents, Nick shared his feelings with Gert, who was closest to him: ?And so it is; it?s the Lord. So many die in Chicago of influenza. Seventy-five were buried in one day in Mt. Greenwood and many without a Redeemer.? Nick stated that the flu had not yet reached the Settlement, though some had died in Billings.
A MEMORABLE TRIP
The next Sunday Nick told William Recker about his trip to Columbus with Rev. Vander Ark. Recker then told him of a similar story. A home missionary was staying at their home for two weeks. He decided to visit a neighbor a mile and a half away, whose house could be seen in the distance. He stayed too long visiting the neighbor and got lost in the return trip. The poor man had wandered in a maze of canyons for two hours or more before he was found.
NICK AND HIS FATHER MORE ECUMENICAL THAN THE ELDERS?
Nick was more ecumenical than the other members of the Christian Reformed Church. He had had contact with other Christians in other churches, whom he considered to be brothers and sisters in the Lord. This can be explained by the influence of his father and his father?s contacts with Moody.
In 1915 the Moody Memorial Church purchased the Monon Park at Cedar Lake, Indiana, some 20 miles south of Highland, and converted it to a Christian Conference Grounds. Nick took his parents to evangelistic meetings in a ?tabernacle?, a building formerly used as a dance hall. They listened to sermons by Paul Rader, the son of a Methodist minister, and they sang gospel songs composed by Ira D. Sankey such as ?Blessed Assurance? and ?Oh, Say but I?m Glad.? Sankey, an associate of Moody, was known as the ?sweet singer of Methodism.? Both Nick and his parents enjoyed the New Testament gospel songs, which enriched their lives, and they appreciated the messages of the evangelists. They enjoyed singing the Dutch psalms, the only songs sung in the Dutch services in the Highland Christian Reformed Church, and they did not advocate any departure from that tradition; however, at the Conference Grounds and in their home they joyfully sang, ?Faith Is the Victory? by Methodist Ira Sankey.
Bartel Hans? appreciation for the ?Moody? types is illustrated in a letter that he sent to his son Joe at Calvin. Joe, four years younger than Nick, was sent to Calvin with a hope that he would be a missionary or pastor. Bart discerned that there was something missing in his letters, and wrote to Joe, ?How does it happen that there is hardly any semblance of true religion to be found at Calvin . . . . Just recently I read a letter of a Moody man, how he lived, worked, etc. Truly I have to say that it appears to be a better school to me. I believe that Moody stands higher than Calvin, spiritually. . . . Moody seems to give more attention to the work of the Holy Spirit.?
Bart?s ecumenism is also illustrated with his support of ?faith? missionaries, who went out on their own, not part of a church effort. At the time the Christian Reformed Church felt strongly that all mission work should be an outgrowth of the organized church. Mr. Peter Stam, member of the Christian Reformed Church in the East, was very much mission minded. However, because he followed dispensational and premillenial views, he was excommunicated from the church. After this, Stam organized the Star of Hope Mission in Paterson, New Jersey. Despite his removal from the church, Bartel continued to give him financial support.
Nick?s ecumenical views can also be illustrated in a letter he sent to Rev. J. W. Brink, pastor at Rehoboth. Nick felt he needed pastoral counsel. Since the Settlement had no pastor, he wrote to Dominee Brink whom he knew through Sister Gertrude. Though he had not met Brink, he knew that he had visited the Settlement.
To Rev. Brink he wrote of his experience at Cedar Lake: ?Even though they be of a different stripe, we could see the Holy Spirit in their souls.? By contrast Dorothy Vanderby Ypma of Manhattan wrote of her memories of growing up in the Settlement as a child: ?When we were kids we thought that the Christian Reformed people were the only ones going to heaven.? There was a tendency to think that brothers and sisters in the Lord were pretty much limited to those who subscribed to the Canons of Dort.
CONVERSATIONS WITH A METHODIST
With this in mind it is not surprising that Nick had conversations with the Methodist minister in Columbus. Nick especially appreciated this contact because the Settlement did not have a pastor of its own. The elders in the Dutch Reformed church would have been surprised about this and they probably would not have approved. In one conversation with the Methodist pastor, the pastor asked Nick, ?Say Nick, how is it that your church is full twice a Sunday, where an elder reads sermons in Dutch, while I have a small group of parishioners who are mostly elderly?? Nick didn?t know how to respond.
The pastor then suggested that he would like to preach for them in English on some Sunday afternoon. He had taken note of the fact that the farmers from the Settlement conducted their business and did their shopping, using the English language.
?Well,? said Nick, ?I personally would like that, but the elders prefer to hear their sermons in the Dutch language.?
?Tell you what,? said the pastor. ?Tell them that I would be willing to preach two or three sermons in English without any remuneration.?
Nick said, ?I will ask them, but I?m not optimistic.?
Nick reported back to the generous pastor, ?The elders have rejected your kind offer. You see, there is also a concern that your theology has been influenced by Arminianism, which has been rejected in one of our confessions.?
?I see,? said the minister.? I first thought that the elders were just old fashioned, but now I see that they are also narrow minded.? Nick made no reply.
An important event in the life in the Settlement was the Christmas Program. Each family participated with a number of some kind either in English or Dutch. The father of one Americanized family taught his children ?Konkje klinkt, vogeltje zingt? to the delight of all. Children sometimes were given a small book. Generally, the children got a bag of candy and an orange. Women got an apple or an orange, and the men got cigars.
Cecil Staal Triemstra recalled, ?Every time I ate an orange later I?d think of the Christmas program because it was the only time we ever got an orange.? As early as 1917, the American neighbors were invited to the program.
JULY 4 CELEBRATION
The most exciting day of the year in the Dutch Settlement was the Fourth of July celebration on the grounds of the church. The 1918 celebration began with a patriotic address by Nicholas Zandstra, which would surprise some, for he had no formal education beyond eighth grade. However, the respect for him is illustrated in an article in the Columbus News-Democrat by columnist Jim Annin. Jim referred to him as, ?a splendid type of young manhood [who] commands the affection and respect of all who know him.?
In the address, Nick related the causes for the War and information about the leaders and the battles. He gave word pictures of men walking barefoot over ice and snow at Valley Forge. After summarizing how the British treated the Colonists, he asks the question: ?From a religious point of view, had they been right in these things?? His answer was no, ?God would not approve of such things.?
At the time of the Revolution, the Dutch immigrants of New York and New Jersey were divided when it came to the legitimacy of the rebellion. A minority could not bring themselves to rebel against the King. The majority joined the patriot side, including some of the clergy. Nick, who attended school for eight years, sided with the majority. He dealt with this simply by extolling the virtues of liberty and condemning the vices of the British.
Nick felt that it was right to honor the heroes, but he reminded his audience that it is God who equipped them. Above all, Nick believed, we must give praise and thanks to God. He made reference to the War being waged in Europe. He said, ?We may believe that the Lord is chastening the world on account of [of the fact that] they depend on themselves, and our God is a jealous God for His Glory sake.?
It was not listening to a speech that made the day exciting. Rather, it was the fun and games. There were all kinds of games and contests: ?egg on a spoon,? ?tug of war?, potato races, pole vault, and running broad jump. One contest involved knocking targets down for which one received a cigar or prize. The targets were made to resemble African-American babies, and they were known as the ?nigger babies.? It is astounding that such racism was not seen as inconsistent with the faith of these pious people. If these targets had been dressed as Dutch kings and queens, they would have objected to the impropriety. [Note from Ruth: My father talked often about these games, having participated in them was a stain on his soul, in his own words.]
There was ice cream, pop, Wrigley gum, and Cracker Jacks. Of course, there was a good supply of hot dogs. At the end of the day, riding home in the back of horse and buggy and exhausted, the children compared the tin toys they had received in their Cracker Jacks. Some got whistles.
William Recker was a correspondent to the Columbus News-Democrat. When he heard allegations that the Hollanders in the Settlement were Pro-German, he responded with an article in the paper. He called them false charges and stated that anyone who looks at the facts ?will find the Hollanders law-abiding and as true to the Stars and Stripes as any immigrant group.? He pointed out that they per rata have bought as many Liberty Bonds as anyone, despite their debt. He challenged his readers to go to the Settlement where they will see many thrifty stamps and Dutch mothers knitting socks for men in the front. Said Recker, ?I cannot see why we should be branded as Pro-German when we have given our boys as cheerfully as any.?
In March, 1918, a patriotic meeting was held at the church, at which a Columbus attorney encouraged the farmers to increase their purchase of Liberty Bonds, a maximum production of wheat, and a collective pledge of non-support for the Non-Partisan League. The talk met with enthusiastic applause.
Whether some of the older farmers were Pro-German is open to question. We do know where Nick?s father stood in this matter; he abhorred war but was more Pro-German than Pro-English. Bartel Hans hailed from Friesland near Germany, and he had some German friends. What about the English? Yes, he had heard of the atrocities they committed against the Dutch Boers in South Africa.
Historian David Zandstra, a grandson of Bart, believes that the motivation to send Nick to Montana was, in part, to keep him from the draft. No father wants to see his son go off to war, but to fight along with Johnny Bull was a real negative. Young men like Nick, who had attended school for eight years and was born in the States, were truly patriotic, but some of their parents found it difficult to support the war effort.
In a letter to Gert, Nick expresses the hope that he will avoid the draft; but, if drafted, he hoped he would do clerical work.
PIONEER LIFE WAS HARD
The farmers had to deal with grasshoppers, drought, and hail storms. There were many untimely deaths due to stillborn babies, accidents with horses, and a variety of diseases. When people got sick, doctors were miles away.
Case in point: the widow Minnie Vander Pol. Shortly before she left Highland, her husband took his own life. Soon after she arrived she lost her dear Johnnie, age 9, a victim of diphtheria. In 1918, she rushed back to the Illiana area to aid her son-in-law, only to find that her daughter Minnie was already a widow. When she returned to the Settlement, she learned that her 22-year old son Willem had died of the flu. All the while, her eldest son and mainstay, Peter, was serving in the army. Two years later her daughter Grace did not survive childbirth. Minnie was not like Job?s wife but could testify with Job that her Redeemer was living. In addition to farming problems and deaths, there was dissension among the little flock. That and the vast expanse of emptiness resulted in stressful living. There were no trees, only rocks and soil.
Take the case of Ype Kingma, age 42 and father of six young children. Ype was a kind, sensitive, and sincere man, well liked among the Hollanders and the Americans who lived near by, and one who had served as deacon for 11 months. Standing around talking and smoking their cigars one evening, some men noted a difference in Ype, who seemed to be more jocular than usual. One of the men commented, ?What?s up with Ype??
That night he hung himself, which sent shock waves to the entire community. Why did this kind man, father of six young children, take his life? Who knows? Was it clinical depression that today could be treated? Ten weeks before he had made a trip to Minnesota to check out the land. He probably had given up on farming in the Settlement.
The consistory was divided about whether or not to call a pastor. Did the quarreling in the consistory contribute to the stress? In his home was the forceful presence of a mother-in-law. Were there family problems? Some speculated that his economic reverses may have been harder to take than for the others ?because he was from a higher social class in the Netherlands.? The funeral was held in the church with an elder in charge. His remains are in the church cemetery, now on private land inaccessible to the public.
At last, in 1918, the weather conditions were ideal; water from the previous winter snows filled the streams and a spring rain came at just the right time. The farmers of the Settlement were ecstatic; the four crops [winter wheat, spring wheat, oats and flax] indicated a good crop; no, a bumper crop! The happy bankers confidently loaned money to the farmers so they could build more granaries.
The Hollanders said to themselves, ?Now, we can build a parsonage and call our own minister.?
?Some people back in Indiana and Illinois will no longer laugh at us,? they said among themselves, and they repeated the motto: ?Let them crawl; we will ride.?
AN UNEXPECTED EVENT
In some of Nick?s letters, he reported about this unexpected event, which immediately preceded the beginning of the harvesting of the bumper crop. However, his friend William Recker gave more details in his report. Since William lived through this event, I will let him tell the story.
It was Sunday morning, sunshine and white fleecy clouds in the sky. Yes, it was a beautiful morning and fine harvest weather. That was what was being thought and said as the people went to the house of God that day. The minister was also inspired by the promising outlook and preached a healthy Reformed sermon that morning. But the large crowd came in the afternoon, as the distance was too great for some to come twice. That afternoon, the church was filled to capacity. Those people were faithful church goers, and especially so on a Sunday when a minister filled the pulpit. So all were there to hear a sermon of gratitude, and how that old man of God prayed and thanked God for the crop that was ready to harvest.
While in church we noticed the sky getting cloudy, the air became hot and sticky, and the people glanced at the sky as they came out of church and hooked up their teams to their wagons. Oh, it will blow over, says the weather prophet. ?See, it is getting lighter in the West.? These people were not afraid of some rain, but it was well known by all of them that sometimes hail would fall at this altitude. [4900?]. All went home soon after the service, and the minister went to an elder?s home that stood within a mile of the church.
We will follow the minister to the elder?s home. First, a cup of tea was served while the sky kept getting darker and inside of a half-hour the sky became black. Suddenly, the wind began to blow and a few splashes of rain fell against the windows of the room in which the elder and family were entertaining the minister. The women began to set the table for an early supper, some dishes had already been set, when suddenly a blast of wind smashed both windows and a driving hailstorm struck the house. The elder and the minister picked up the table and slammed it against the broken windows. The wind was so strong and the hail hit so hard that they dared not let the table go, so they stood holding the table against the storm, while the hail stones were rattling inside around their knees. Not a word was spoken while they stood there, although they glanced at each other from time to time. All of their strength was needed to hold the table in place; the water swished four inches above the floor. The women and children retreated to other rooms at the east end of the house. Would the house hold out? That was the question in the minds of these men as the wind drove with increasing fury. If they let the table down, the wind would have free play inside and then? So they hung on and five, ten, fifteen minutes have gone by. The noise was deafening; a continual drumming as the huge hailstones hit roof and siding. Not a window in the west side of any house or church in the entire settlement stood up under that bombardment.
As suddenly as the storm began, so it stopped; just a few drops of rain and it was all past. The table was let down, their arms lame of holding it up so long. They glanced outside, and oh, what a sight! The hailstones were piled around the house even up to the windows and were frozen together in a solid chunk. Not a word was spoken as the elder glanced toward the church.
The storm devastated an area 50 miles wide and 100 miles long. It seemed that men from another planet had harvested the vast fields of wheat with giant machines not ever imagined by men of earth. Millions of bushels of grain had been pounded into the ground. Hundreds of chickens lay dead in the yards, and cows and horses were killed as they rushed or were driven into barbed wire.
The small community of settlers asked themselves some agonizing questions: ?Does this mean that we have sacrificed in vain to build our church?? ?Does it mean that we should not go ahead with our plans to build a parsonage and call our own dominee?? ?What is God telling us??
Strangely, not a hailstone had fallen on the property of William Recker. A small stream that ran near his house became a raging torrent by 6:00 p.m., but he only lost a granary, some tools, and a block of salt.
Some farms nearby were miraculously spared and produced 45 bushels of wheat and 90 bushels of oats, per acre.
It was not so with Nick. After the sun came out, he went out to see dead chickens all over his yard. He glanced at his fields and estimated that he lost about 75% of his harvest. Nick was in spiritual turmoil: ?Why did God send this or permit it to happen?? ?What is God telling me??
He desired spiritual counsel. ?Had not I prayfully considered the request of Pa to come here?? ?Did not I work my buns off, sometimes in loneliness, to support my family of 16 people only to have 75% of my first good harvest destroyed in 20 minutes??
Now Nick and his father had another thing in common: both tried farming in the West, and in their second year their crop was damaged in hail storms.
Nick wrote to his parents. His father had purchased a train ticket for his sixteen year old son Charles to come to help Nick with the harvest. Nick said that Charles was not needed and that he hoped that the train ticket could be redeemed.
He penned a rather long letter to Rev. J. W. Brink, pastor of Sister Gertrude in Rehoboth and one who had made a number of visits to the Settlement. In a way, as he prayed and wrote, he became his own counselor.
Rev. Brink responded promptly with words of comfort and reassurance. Then, on August 24, Nick wrote again:
Dear Brother in Christ,
I received to my surprise a letter from you this week, and many thanks for the same. And also for your encouragement regarding my trials. It sure was sad for me as you may know the condition of the settlement and then being alone to send to this place. I sure was discouraged that Sunday night when everything was taken away in about 15 or 20 minutes. And to be sure the Devil tries to get the best of us on those occasions. And it sure cost me hard trials. Yet, brother, as I went out on a horse to chase a flock of stock out of the field which were driven by the storm through the fence. I sure prayed, ?Oh Lord, save my mouth from murmuring against Thee.? And I may say He alone strengthened me. A Holland neighbor was so disgusted he said, ?I don?t believe there is a merciful Lord.? I took my lesson from him and prayed for his disposition also. It sure is a trial for now two years being failures in succession besides the people are financially weak.
But, as you say (and I agree too), only through the grace of our Lord I can say it. Everything shall work to our good. It?s difficult to understand. It just requires faith, I thought to myself. Where will the worldly seek their courage? I heard one say in a joke, ?We sure have our threshing done quick.? Oh, how the world plays with God?s chastisements. Several farmers have lost their crops and some partly. The damages range per farm from $1,000 to $50,000.
We may be urged to raise big crops (which is our duty) and we may see a big harvest in store. And how the Lord can take it away in so little a time. And oftimes how little this is considered that God must do it all.
According to my estimate, I may harvest 25% of my crop yet. How happy I was to see that I could have helped my folks out with the large family and now all gone, or rather most of it. But now I may say the Lord has also taken that idea off of my mind.
At present I have been helping some of our Holland people thresh, whose crops are not damaged and where there is so little encouragements at times here for as the Holland saying says (buurman leed verzacht). I may say this hinders me but little. I sure prayed for it also. And even at times it seems as though the Lord is afar. Then I can feel (if I ask) the Lord comes to us and helps us. . . .
But the resilient farmers continued. Soon life went back to normal. At church Nick heard talk about going ahead with plans to build a parsonage.
On his way to his tractor early one morning he saw the three Kortenhoven children on their way to school on a pony and horse. The older boy, an eighth grader, had a 22 rifle hung over his shoulder, which he used to kill rabbits and squirrels or just do target practice during the noon recess. Yes, life was back to normal.
A DISTURBING LETTER
On September 23, 1918, Nick wrote again to Gertrude: ?Yesterday morning I was in church, but I felt sick so in the afternoon I stayed home. I believe it came of working so hard Saturday and being soaked of sweat and chilled in the evening. But now I feel better, but I feel weak.?
During the next month Nick experienced fever and fatigue. Later, he had muscle and joint pain. At first, he was cared for by Mrs. Oostema, but his health worsened; he became weak and his throat was so sore he could hardly speak. He then was nursed by the widow Minnie Vander Pol, one well acquainted with sickness and tragedy. Back in Highland she had been a friend of the Zandstra family. Another consideration was that she was already nursing one of her ill sons.
Nick was dying of the flu. He asked Minnie for a piece of paper, on which he scribbled a note to his father in the Dutch language:
You shall not see me again. I have suffered much during the week. Oostema knows pretty well how our things are here. He will be glad to put everything in order. It grieves me that I won?t be able to see you again. The Lord?s ways are other than our ways. I feel I am going home. I shall say goodnight. Hoping to see you all there soon. Keep courage Pa, Ma, and the children to strive for His kingdom. Bid Gertie with my warmest kiss and tell her that I am going to Jesus. Son, Nick
Word cannot express the sorrow of the Zandstra family. The thought of their son and brother dying hundreds of miles away without a family member present cast them down in unspeakable grief. Nick?s brother Charles, who idolized his brother, cried off and on for week and hardly wanted to live for a year.
Nick?s mother Trientje played a gospel record on the hand-cranked Victrola until the grooves wore out. The song was ?We?ll Understand It Better By and By? composed by a Methodist minister.
?We?ll Understand It Better By and By.?
We are often tossed and driv?n on the restless sea of time,
Sombre skies and howling tempest oft succeed a bright sunshine,
In the land of perfect day, when the mists have rolled away,
We will understand it better by and by.
By and by when the morning comes,
When the saints of God are gathered home,
We?ll tell the story how we?ve overcome,
For we?ll understand it better by and by. . . .
Nick?s remains were sent by train to Highland, and the funeral was held in the Highland Christian Reformed Church. Rev. De Boer, who thought highly of Nick, led the service. After the funeral the family and friends met in the basement of the church for refreshments. Case Van Til recalled that it was in that same space that Nick had led his last lesson in the Young People?s Society. In fact, he remembered that Nick had explained an article of the Catechism. Nick had chosen an article which was especially meaningful to him:
My only comfort in life and death is that I am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head. . . .
Among the mourners was John Huizenga, who often led the singing in Young People?s. Later, he was to marry Gertrude, Nick?s favorite sister.
Jennie Plantinga, who had continued to hope for two years, felt that her life was over. At the gravesite, she stunned Nick?s sister Hilda by saying, ?I wish that I were in the casket with Nick.?
It is ironic: part of Bartel?s sending his son to the West was to keep him from fighting in a war in which he might lose his life. All the draftees from the Highland church returned home. Nick died at 22 years.
Nick?s headstone stands in the northeast corner of Hope Cemetery. The rather large headstone symbolizes the largeness of the Zandstra grief, not the size of their bank account. The words on the marble are ?Saved by Grace.?
Bartel sold the tractor to the De Vries Brothers who farmed along Ridge Road in central Munster. He took the deeds to the land to Spoolstra Realty Company in Roseland; Peter Spoolstra had assured him that his company would buy them back at the same cost, if asked. However, before Bart received payment, the company went bankrupt.
Interestingly, Bartel harbored no ill feelings toward fellow Friesian Peter Spoolstra. Bart said, ?He meant well.? The farmers in the Settlement were not so understanding. In 1922 the consistory finally sent a formal grievance to the editor of De Wachter. They complained of ?land agents [being] able to advertise their lies in official church papers, which were supposed to impart the truth.?
Mr. Spoolstra, as a land agent, had simply passed on information that he had received. He had never visited the Settlement and he had not made a study of climactic conditions in the region.
We don?t think that Trientje told her husband, ?I told you so;? she knew how deeply he was in grief.
William Recker returned to Highland a couple years later. In a conversation with Bart and Jake, Nick?s younger brothers, he shared some common experiences he had had with Nick in Montana. He told them about the year of the bumper crop and the motto of young men from Highland, who had gone to the Settlement. The motto, you will recall, was ?Let them crawl; we will ride.? However, Recker also reminded them of what happened afterward. Bart looked at Jake and felt that he was speaking for both of them when he said to Recker, ?We don?t mind crawling.?
Just weeks later, Jennie Plantinga got the flu. She was buried next to Nick. On her much smaller tombstone are the words ?Saved by Grace.?
APPENDIX 1: DID BARTEL ZANDSTRA GET HIS OWN FARM?
Bart got his own farm just two years later, with financial backing from Cousin Black Bart. The farm was just south of the Pennsylvania tracks on Route 41. The Zandstra family worked hard. The house was improved and more land was purchased in later years. Debt was a current problem. During the Depression they did better than most. Though there was a serious drought, they rented what formerly were wetlands in Knox and Cedar Lake where they raised turnip and mustard greens, which they sold on the Chicago market.
In 1939-40, when the estate was settled, the farm was still in debt. At that time three of the sons, Charles, Arnold, and William, took over the farm along with more ?sibling? debt. During World War II the farm prospered: they farmed almost a thousand acres and employed about 200 people. The farm became debt free in 1958. As a result of encroaching suburbs, the farm was sold in the 1990?s. The farm is gone: where vegetables from asparagus to zucchini grew, now stands upscale houses; and, where the farmyard was, stands a Meijer store.
APPENDIX 2: THE HOLLAND SETTLEMENT
The decline of the Holland Settlement began in 1918, speeded up during the 20?s, and ended in the 30?s. Historian David Kingma writes: ?The year 1931 was simply terrible, almost apocryphal in scope, and certainly the year that the Holland Settlement ceased to be an option.? Kingma?s research demonstrates that farming was no longer profitable: in 1923 there were grasshoppers; in 1926, smut; and in 1928 very low prices. Between 1921 and 1923 there were 62 foreclosures. In 1929 there was an exodus of 20 souls, and in 1931 60% of the congregation left. In 1935 Peter Lindemulder was able to buy five full sections of land for $2.50 per acre. Peter bought 3,220 acres for $8,050. His descendents farm the same land today.
People left for places such as Bozeman and Manhattan, Montana; Sumas Washington; Highland and De Motte, Indiana; and Lansing, South Holland, and Grant Park, Illinois. In 1937, the church pews were sold to the Sumas church; the cost, including delivery, was $130.00. The lumber of the church and barn was purchased for $500 cash; the lumber was used to build a modest house in Bozeman.
The last minutes of the church were dated May 28, 1940, half in Dutch, half in English. A significant contribution to the demise, as reported by Kingma, was the ?interpersonal conflicts between members. I cite one example, which Kingma explains in every painful detail on many pages: the Columbus case.
The Columbus case began in 1929, when the consistory appointed a building committee of one elder and two others to investigate the construction of a parsonage. The question whether to call a pastor or not was a very controversial matter. The elder chosen was Thomas Van Dyke, who had served many times as an elder and was a popular catechism teacher. The congregation rejected the plan that Van Dyke presented, and the consistory decided that he had ?exceeded his authority.? Van Dyke resigned from the committee. When he also resigned as elder, it was viewed as a censorable act. In time, he and his wife were ex-communicated. When his daughters and their husbands got involved, there were four more excommunications. The matter dragged on for years: three committees, six visits, five letters, and consultation with a committee of Classis Pacific.
After the demise of the Settlement church, Classis Pacific and Synod tried to pick up the pieces. They also sent a committee to the six persons who had been excommunicated. Finally, the Synod of 1943 reinstated the six who had been excommunicated. My friend Necia Kornelis Engbers, daughter of two who were excommunicated and granddaughter of Thomas Van Dyke, told me, ?Finally, we were vindicated.”
All that is left of the Settlement is a rectangular hole in the ground and some grave stones; some kicked over by cattle, on private land not accessible by road and not open to the public.
APPENDIX 3: A PERSONAL NOTE ABOUT THE NAME NICK
Nick?s sister Gertrude was married to John Huizenga in 1921, less than three years after Nick?s funeral. When her first son was born [their first grandchild], her parents fully expected him to be named Nicholas. Instead he was named Bartel Nicholas, but this did not ?cut the mustard.? After the second grandson was named Gerald, they registered their disapproval in no uncertain terms. After a third son was born, Gert?s parents learned of the intention to name him James Allen. This time they refused to talk to Gert. Gert loved her brother Nick dearly, but for some reason she didn?t like the name. As a result of the pressure, the son was named Nicholas.
I am that third son. My mother, unwisely, told me that she didn?t like my name; what I heard sounded like an apology. She explained how she was pressured into it. For years I did not like my name. However, in recent years, Cousin David Zandstra found some letters in the old homestead that Nick had written. That changed my attitude toward my name; when I read the last words that Nick wrote to ?Pa,? I cried. The words read, ?Bied Gertie mijn warmste kuss en zeg haar dat ik naar Jezus ga.?
Last Sunday, while singing in church, I thought of Uncle Nick. The words I sang were as follows:
Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come;
?tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home
When we?ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun,
we?ve no less days to sing God?s praise than when we first begun.
1. I have depended heavily on the historical research in David Kingma?s ?Possessing the Land, The Holland Settlement, 1915 ? 1940″. For his master?s dissertation, he researched the church and civil records and newspapers and governmental reports, and he interviewed adults from many areas who spent their childhood in the Settlement.
2. I have been dependent on three articles in the Origens magazine published by CRC Archives: (a). David Zandstra?s ?Paradise Lost: Columbus Montana? Vol. 11, No. 1 (1993) pp. 36-44. 11, No. 1, (1993); (b). William Recker?s ?The Trek to the West,? Vol. 17, No. 1 (1999) and (c). William Recker?s ?Montana ? Wrong Side Up,? Vol. 17, No. 2 (1999).
3. Crucial to my story are letters from Nicholas Zandstra to his parents, his sister Gertrude, and Rev. J. W. Brink, which Cousin David Zandstra placed in the CRC Archives. (My gratitude to volunteers in the Archives, who translated the Dutch letters.)
4. I have used previous works of mine: ?Surrounded by Witnesses? and ?Nicholas Zandstra (1896-1918), Reflections of a Nephew.?
5. David Zandstra wrote two unfinished histories about Bartel Zandstra, which I have found helpful.
6. I depended on conversations I had with my mother and many other relatives, such as Duane Zandstra, David Zandstra, and Arnold [Dick] Zandstra, the only remaining sibling of Nick Zandstra. At 101, he lives in a modest house in Munster with a live-in assistant man of Polish origins. Thanks also to Necia Kornelis Engbers, granddaughter of Thomas Van Dyke and to Sister-in-law Marian Huizenga.
I received helpful suggestions from Ruth Everhart and technical help from Jeni Hoekstra.
Last names of persons who spent time in Holland Settlement: Buxom, Kats, Kingma, Kortenhoven, Kikkert, Oostema, Poortenga, Recker, Staal, Vandeby, Vander Pol, Van Dyke, Zandstra, Zwier, and Zylstra.