Today is the 89th anniversary of the marriage of my late maternal grandparents, Joe and Hattie Kreykes, in Boyden, Iowa.
Joe Kreykes married Hattie (Henrietta) Van den Bosch on Dec. 17, 1930. He was 23 and she 20. So young. At the time, my grandfather’s occupation was listed as farmer and his residence as Hospers, Iowa, which had been home to Kreykeses for two previous generations. My grandmother’s residence was listed as Boyden, Iowa.
It was the first marriage for both, and their fathers served and signed as witnesses. The marriage was officiated by Rev. John W. Brink, “Minister of the Gospel.” A little intuition and online research indicate that Rev. Brink was likely from First Reformed Church in Boyden.
Joe and Hat had certain things in common. They were each the first generation in their families to be born in America. Both also had parents who had been born in the Netherlands and had immigrated to Iowa as children or young adults. In fact, Joe and Hat grew up in a region dominated by Dutch immigrants and their descendants who were, at the same time, grateful Americans.
By the time of their marriage, which was at the start of the Great Depression, neither Joe nor Hat had wandered far from their birth places. Joe was born in farm country near Hospers. He was the fifth eldest of eight children. Hat was born in Capel Township near Boyden, the third eldest of eight children. She lost her mother when she was only 16, then took on more responsibilities at home. In the 1930 U.S. Census, the same year as her marriage, Hat was listed as living in the Van den Bosch family home in Boyden.
My grandparents would eventually have four children, with their first, a son, born in 1932. My mother was their second child, born two years later, and the family ultimately grew to two boys and two girls, all shown at right. My grandfather worked at various times delivering cream for the creamery, farming, and running a hardware store in town. Grandpa had grown up in the Christian Reformed Church and my grandmother in the Reformed Church in America. The former denomination had broken from the latter in the 19th century — the differences between the two, and their common origin in the Dutch Reformed faith, has a long and complex history. Joe and Hat would raise their children in the Reformed Church in America. They later were able to travel out of Sioux County on vacations throughout the country and even to the Netherlands to visit relatives.
I can’t really know much about their marriage, but I do remember my grandparents as people of deep faith, as were many in their community, and I like to think it got them through the inevitable difficulties of life in the era in which they lived. When we visited, Grandpa would read aloud to the family from the Bible every night after dinner. The man knew his Bible.
By the time I knew my grandparents, they were living in Orange City, Iowa, where they ran a hardware store and eventually retired. We’d go to the First Reformed Church on Sunday, visit friends and relatives, work in Grandma’s garden, go for ice cream, and occasionally visit the store. I’ve written before about my pleasant memories of those visits. My grandparents had high expectations for behavior, which may at times have seemed unattainable, but I don’t remember them being anything but loving toward us and I’m grateful for them still today. When I was in high school, we visited for their 50th anniversary celebration.
My grandmother battled health issues in her later years, including a bout with breast cancer and a form of dementia that may or may not have been Alzheimer’s. However, it was my grandfather we would lose first. He died in 1993 and my grandmother two years later.
I’m grateful for the legacy my grandparents left through their marriage and children and subsequent generations. I don’t know anything about how they met — maybe someone who knows will tell me. As with all of my ancestors, through good and tough times, I like to think Providence had a hand. I miss them. May they rest in perfect peace.