I’d preceded my visit to Sioux County, Iowa, with a few phone calls to locals in hopes of finding a handmade pipe organ said to have been built by a Vander Maten ancestor who immigrated from the Netherlands. Armed with information from a helpful distant cousin, I’d believed I’d found where it was located. I was hopeful anyway.
Two kind people allowed me into where the organ is kept … a house built in 1900 and decorated with turn-of-the-century furnishings to preserve and honor the history of the community. The organ sits in a corner on the ground floor. It has no particular historical connection to the house, but it looks very much at home there. I had a chance to tickle the keys a little and produce some faint sound. I was impressed upon opening a side door that reveals the 300 or so narrow wood and lead pipes that produce the music. The stops are in Dutch.
The organ was built between 1900 and 1903 on a Sioux County farm. Apparently the builder himself did not play, but he loved music and the organ was kept in the family’s home, where they regularly gathered around it to play. Yet another discovery that makes one wish one could have known more of one’s ancestors.