Lucy Van der Maaten: Oldebroek to Iowa

LucyVDM4She was my mother’s mother’s mother’s mother. Lubbigje (“Lucy”) Van der Maaten, my 2nd great grandmother, was born on this day in 1840, in Oldebroek, a village in the province of Gelderland, in the Netherlands, to Frank Janszoon and Gerrigje Klijn.

Thus far, I know only a little about Lucy’s family of origin and her community of Oldebroek. The town is one of several communities outside the very old Dutch city of Elburg. The family’s history in the Oldebroek area goes back at least to the early 1700s, probably earlier. Lubbigje had at least three siblings, including a sister Janna. Lubbigje and Janna would eventually marry two men who were brothers, Harmen and Willem.

A third cousin recently pointed me to Dutch records that show a series of deaths in Lucy’s family of origin over a five-year span. It appears her two eldest brothers died at ages 26 and 24, just two years apart. I do not know the cause. Her father Jan died two years later, at age 71. Lucy was still only 20 at this time so had suffered some grief and loss at a young age.

LucyandHermanLucy was already married to Harmen (Herman) Van der Maaten when she arrived in America, most likely in the early to mid 1880s. She was reportedly his second wife and married him in Oldebroek in 1866 when she was about 25 years old. Most of their children were born in the Netherlands, including my great grandmother Mary, who was born about 1880. It is likely that a son born in 1881, Jan Willem, died in the Netherlands before the age of 2. Only their youngest daughter Stella was born in America, in 1885. At that time, the family lived in Sioux County, Iowa, a northwest part of the state that was already home to many Dutch immigrants and their descendants.

A Van der Maten family book published in 1941 speaks about the arrival in America of three of the Van der Maten siblings and their families, including Harmen and Lucy’s family, asserting that “God, in whose hand are all things, determines also the destiny of man. Therefore, we believe that it is not by chance that we are where we are. When our forefathers came to America from the Netherlands, the Lord led them.”


Lucy and Harmen are pictured together at right, seated, with their nine children. They likely had been in America for 5-10 years by the time this photo was taken. Their eldest daughter, my great grandmother Mary (Marrigje), is the serious-looking girl in the middle. I do not know many details about the lives of this generation of Van der Maatens, aside from what I have heard here and there. They lived on a farm a few miles south of Boyden and probably attended the Free Grace Reformed Church in Middleburg. It’s been said they had a regular pew, but to be honest, I don’t even recall where I heard that. Harmen, about whom I will write a birthday post next year, built a pipe organ that is now housed in a local historic home, and someone once told me that the family did enjoy music together.

LucyVDM2Lucy died in Boyden, Iowa, on May 4, 1897, at the relatively young age of 57, unfortunately not living to see the dawn of the 20th century. She is buried in the cemetery in Middleburg, not far from Boyden. The Americanized form of Lubbijge’s name, “Lucy,” did not get passed on to her own daughters but would be used again by the family for at least two subsequent generations, with my great-grandmother Mary giving the name to her eldest daughter … my great-aunt Lucy. None of the women named Lucy were my direct ancestors, however.

It almost goes without saying that I would love to know more about my 2nd great grandmother. One of these days I will do a mitochondrial DNA test to learn more about my direct maternal line. But mostly, I hope to learn more about Lucy’s life in Oldebroek and Iowa as I continue on the family history quest. Rest in perfect peace, Lucy Van der Maaten.

This is the eighth in a series, Birthday Profiles, which includes descriptions of ancestors on the anniversary dates of their births. It is one good way to slow down on gathering data and focus on individuals in their totality.

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3 Responses to Lucy Van der Maaten: Oldebroek to Iowa

  1. Amy says:

    Those losses must have been terrible for her and for her mother. I always am amazed by the strength of our immigrant ancestors—they dared to be so brave to make a change in their lives.

    • Laura says:

      Indeed, Amy. If I ever get to feeling sorry for myself, I try to remember how much tougher things were for them … with illness, lack of modern conveniences we take for granted, etc. And I often wonder what they weighed in deciding to come to America. I’m glad they did, though.

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