My great-great grandfather arrived in America from the Netherlands in 1889 with his wife and three children, including my great-grandfather. In his letters from Iowa to family and friends back in the Netherlands, he seemed uncertain whether he would be able to return for a visit. He’d apparently been strongly discouraged by others from doing so because of the difficulty of making such a voyage. He was about 60 years old at this time. Below, as translated, are a few brief excerpts from two of his letters to Rijssen in 1889.
In August, he wrote of their trip to America: “… then the waves rise mountain high – at times dashing over the ship… [T]hat happened when we were aboard; our Jenken just happened to be on deck – the child came down soaking wet, and when she came down she was still smiling – but the sea is no pleasant sight …” Then, in September, he wrote: “If it is the Lord’s will and I live a few more years, I hope to visit you again and all of our friends – but the Lord knows whether this will come about – the end can come so soon … [M]ay we learn to count our days in order that we may we wise in heart – may the Lord grant us grace now and in the future – then all will be well … In the hope that you may receive this letter in good health – that is my hearty wish. Give hearty greetings to all the friends from us …”
These letters are part of a larger collection of Dutch immigrant letters in the archives of the Christian Reformed Church at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I am occasionally posting very brief excerpts in no particular order.
See other posts in this series: Letters to the Netherlands.