When our 2nd great-grandparents came to America from the Netherlands, they were following their eldest son to northwest Iowa and brought with them their three youngest children, two girls and a boy, including our great-grandfather. An adult daughter and her family remained in the Netherlands and were often the subjects of and the audience for our great-great grandfather’s letters. As the family in America settled in, they learned that their daughter back in Rijssen had become ill. They described their feelings with a Dutch expression: “Blood creeps where it cannot walk.” What a poignant way to describe the feelings of being separated from loved ones.
Some excerpts from an 1889 letter (as translated):
“Dear daughter and friends: We wish to inform you that we have received your letter in good health and saw that your friends were all still well. We were pleased to hear that but at the same time sad to hear that you, dear daughter, were not doing well. It broke our hearts to hear that because blood creeps where it cannot walk, especially in times of difficulty… Now my child, may the Lord grant you improved health. May he bless the the means used to that end …
“I hardly know what to write … I am heartbroken .. my wife is worried… Up to that time my wife was happy; she likes it here, and my children are all glad they are here… We are all doing well at present… We have never been so well off physically … The crops look fairly favorable at present. They suffered earlier this spring from drought and later by the night frosts, but now everything looks better again. May the Lord spare them further.
“Now, dear friends, I must stop. If you wish to know more about America, feel free to ask. Now, dear daughter, brother-in-law … and children … I hope this letter may reach you in good health. That is my sincere wish. The writer is your father and friend and brother.”
See other posts in this series: Letters to the Netherlands