The following family history of Jacobus Kloosterman and his descendants is written by Theodore Markus Reuschel, a great-grandson of Jacobus (Theodore is a son of Jeanette Kloosterman, born (12-03-1923) from the marriage on 07-02-1942 in Zeeland, USA with Theodore Bruno Reuschel).

Jacobus KloostermanEmigrating to America

Jacobus, has specified his place of birth as Biezelinge, Records of the Netherlands show Kapelle as his birthplace, but the two villages lie very near each other. Biezelinge was a small village’ located on the long central peninsula of the Zeeland province. Several hundred years before. Biezelinge and surrounding towns had been situated on an island named Beveland, but by diking and draining the inhabitants had here, too, lowered the water level, creating instead a peninsula connected to the mainland, consequently much of the area around Biezelinge was actually below the level of the sea.

Growing up with Jacobus there, as a near neighbor, was Adriana Wabeke, born in the same village about two years later, on December 11, 1862, of parents Adrian (born in 1832) and Marynee Moerman. A number of years later, when Jacobus was 28 and Adriana was 26, the two were married in their home town. Most residents of the area at this time were employed as agricultural laborers, but to support his home Jacobus apparently worked in the bakery operated by his parents. A son John was born to them.

Jacobus and Adriana made a major decision about their future, one very likely reached with considerable difficulty. This decision was to leave behind their native land, their home village, their relatives and friends, and start anew in a growing and prospering new land – America. Similar conclusions had been reached all over Europe for some two centuries, but particularly in more recent decades, for a number of reasons. They included periods of destitution, crop failure, and depression; political instability and oppression; frequent wars; lack of religious freedom; and an industrial revolution which left many farmers, craftsmen, simple business establishments and small factories out of work. Overpopulation in map areas was also a factor. Often there was not enough agricultural land available for use by new families, or it was in the hands of rich landowners and unavailable to the common classes. The Netherlands itself was, in fact, one of the most densely populated countries in the world, with over 300 inhabitants per square mile in the late 1800’s.

For Jacobus and Adriana however, all of this was summarized in their desire simply to seek a better living for their family. For them and many others, life in the Netherlands could promise only a very poor existence, and what they had heard of the new land seemed to offer hope for considerable improvement. In fact, Adriana’s own brother Cornelius Wabeke had left with his wife and family some 10 years before, in about 1880.

SS SpaarndamAnd so, in 1891 Jacobus and Adriana and their 18-month-old son John embarked for America, Adriana’s widower father Adrian Wabeke aged 59, was convinced to go with them. They came over on the “SS Spaarndam”, from Rotterdam and arrived in New York June 19, 1891. Mrs. Kloosterman was again expectant at this time, and while making the Atlantic crossing she delivered a set of twins. Sadly, however, they did not survive and both were buried at sea. Upon arrival in America the Kloosterman’s set out for south west Michigan, probably traveling by train. They established their new home and life in Ottawa county, at Zeeland, a small settlement populated and named by earlier Dutch emigrants after their home province. Here they could feel somewhat “at home” even in a strange land. The area was quite flat, and in many portions rather poorly drained, but even in these features again reminiscent of their homeland and by experience readily dealt with.

In 1923 the family acquired their first automobile, a Model T Ford Touring Car. In spite of the availability of the automobile, horses continued to be frequently used for some transportation, and were the only source of power for field work, as John’s first tractor was not acquired until much later, in 1946.

Zeeland, Michigan, Ottawa County, USAJohn’s occupation was farmer, Phoenix Cheese Company, Milk Delivery. In the house there was daily cooking and baking for a family already numbering eleven. Washing was done by hand. There was housecleaning, sewing, mending, and babysitting, with no refrigerators, food had to be specially prepared or handled so it would keep for long periods of time. Pork was cut into strips, rolled in salt, and packed in wooden barrels with more salt. Both beef and pork were fried and then canned, milk had to be boiled and then kept. in the basement in a pan floating within a tub of cold water.

In 1914 Jacobus and Adriana decided that their 40-acre farm was too large and in February sold it to Lan and Case DeJongh for $2,000, moving instead to the smaller 20-acre farm at 8211 New Holland Street. Their second son, Edward, was married the following year (May 6) to Minnie DeVries and re-purchased as his family homestead this same 40 acre farm his father had just disposed of.

John lived to the age of 82 and died on May 28, 1972. His wife Lena lived another 8 years and died on August 5, 1980 at the age of 87. Both were buried in the cemetery in Zeeland.

By 1983, all their children and their husbands had settled within an equally eleven mile radius around the farm no farther than crows flying from where they were born. The house and farm on New Holland Street were sold to a neighbor in the fall of 1979.

Here is a complete list of John and Lena’s progeny in 2 consecutive generations:

ADA married Raymond Brower.
Their children: Harvey, Lois, Verna, and Karen.
ALYDA marries Alvin Prins.
Their children: Joyce, Betty, Ronald, Julie and Vicky.
JAMES marry Ida Elzinga.
Their children: Robert and Janet.
ROSELLA marries Willard Deys.
Their children: Shirley, Roger, Sandra, Bruce and Barbara.
EDWARD married Ella Westveld.
Their children: Carol, Danny, Luanne and Scott.
JEANETTE married Theodore Reuschel.
Their children: Theodore, Donald, Mark and Jeffrey.
MARY married Cornelius (Bud) Caauwe.
Their children: Sherry, Terry, Dawn, Mike, Ellen and Dennis.
JOHN jr. Married Elaine Zwagerman.
Their children: Rosanne, Lilah, Jack, Paul and Michael.
LESLIE married Marge Fockler.
Their children: Roxanne, Kim, Pamela and Lonny.
VIOLA married Frank Westveld. Their children: Kathy, Rodney, Tammy, Barry and Brent.
WILLARD married Arlene Windemuller.
Their children: Beth, Debra and Jayne
ESTHER married Lester Weenum.
Their children: Nancy, Larry, Bonnie and Jan.
ELMER married Dorene Romeyne.
Their children: Scott, Mark and Rhonda.

In total, the descendants of John Kloosterman and Lena Bakker in May 1983 consisted of these 13 children, 54 grandchildren, 78 great-grandchildren and 2 great-great-grandchildren. And in the tradition of Jacobus Kloostermannen Adriana Wabeke among the grandchildren one finds 1 pair of twins and between the great-grandchildren one finds 3 pairs of twins.

SS Spaarndam

In April 30, 1881, the steamship “Asiatic” was launched at the shipyard of Harland & Wolff for the White Star Line. The passenger ship (construction number 141) was handed over to the shipping company after being completed on 12 August of the same year. The ship was immediately renamed “Arabic”.
The machine installation consisted of 3 boilers (double end), an inverted direct-acting compound machine from James Jack & Co of Liverpool.
The maiden voyage took place on September 30, 1881, taking her from Liverpool to San Franciso. This voyage was chartered by the Occidental & Oriental Steamship Company in San Francisco.