Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ancestors in the 1930 U.S. Federal Census - Part 11

View historical documents and photos from America's Boom and Bust era (1920 - 1935) here.

April 1st was Census Day for the 1930 U.S. Federal Census. In honor of that census day, throughout the month of April I posted lists of my known direct ancestors and where they were residing during that census. I am continuing this series into the subsequent months. I'll also list who's missing; for us family historians, missing individuals on census records can be the most frustrating and intriguing challenges of genealogy!

In March, I posted a biography of my maternal grandaunt, Barbara Dorothy VALK, a missionary for 38 years in Africa. I mention her here because she was named for her maternal grandmother, Berber "Barbara" J. DeJONG, and in comparing the photographs of the two women, favored her in her looks as well.


Barbara Dorothy Valk, c. 1944


Berber "Barbara" (DeJong) Valk,
with grandson Gerritt John Heidema, Jr.
Winter 1919-20


My 2nd-great-grandmother's background is a bit of a mystery to me. Unlike my many other Dutch-Frisian ancestors, I have not been able to find her birth records listed in the wonderful online resources that the Dutch national government (Genlias) and the Frisian provincial government (Tresoar) have made available. Her death certificate gives her birth as 9 April 1858 in the Netherlands, and information found on U.S. Federal Censuses tends to mostly agree. Her death certificate also lists "Sjerd DeJONGE" as her father, mother's name unknown. The informant was Barbara's eldest daughter, Jennie (VALK) HEIDEMA VanderWAL.

The earliest record I have for her is her name on the passenger list of the ship, Surrey, which arrived in New York City on 2 June 1882. She is listed on page 7 as "B. deJong," directly beneath that of her fiancé, "T.j deVal(k)," Tjamme "James" Wiegers VALK. This couple was extremely difficult for me to find in Ancestry's New York Passenger Lists database. I have never before nor since seen Valk written as "deValk," and either the name was accidentally written on the passenger list without the final "k," or else the ink has faded enough that it doesn't appear. My grandfather had told me the story that James and Barbara had immigrated to the U.S. with his mother as chaperone, married on board ship (apparently by the captain) and then married again in New York City. They then made their way to Rock Island, Rock Island Co., Illinois, where the Dutch community held a wedding party and/or gift shower for the newlyweds. However, in digging a little deeper, I discovered that Trijntje "Kate" Gerrits (DOLSTRA) VALK did not immigrate to the U.S. until 1888, and Rock Island County records show a marriage record for this couple. Apparently they did not marry on board, nor in New York City...I haven't found evidence for either situation; but then again, I haven't found evidence to dispute it, either.

By using the Genlias, Tresoar, and also a municipal history and genealogy website, I discovered there was a DeJONG family in the village of Marrum, Ferwerderadeel (the municipal--or county--level), Friesland, the Netherlands, where Tjamme/James was born. The only Sjoerd or Sjerd DeJong I've been able to find was old enough to be Berber/Barbara's grandfather, and I cannot find a man by that name who is likely to be her father. James and Barbara had a number of infants that did not live, and using the Dutch system of naming, attempted several times to name baby girls for James' mother, as well as using the name Jennie several times before they had a daughter that lived. They also had a daughter named Geertje/Gertrude. Following the Dutch naming system, my theory is that Barbara's mother was likely named Jennie (Janna, Jantje, or other Frisian-Dutch equivalent) and she probably had a sister named Geertje. That is the extent of what I know--or think I know--about Barbara's family.

James and Barbara lived in Rock Island for about four years (1882 - 1886). They are not listed in any city or county directory for that area during this time. However, that is not so unusual, as immigrants and laborers often were ignored by city directory companies looking to promote names of potential customers for local businesses. While in Rock Island, they had four children: Chaterina T. (1883 - 1883); another Chaterina "Tryntje"(b. 1884); and my ancestor William James and his twin sister Jennie D. James (b. 1886). (I blogged about William's enumeration in the 1930 census here.) They moved to Holland, Ottawa Co., Michigan between August 1886 and April 1887, when Jennie died. The following year, another daughter, also named Jennie James, was born in their new location, Grand Rapids, Kent Co., Michigan. William's mother immigrated from the Netherlands and joined them. In 1890, Geertje "Gertrude" James was born; the following year, six-year-old Chaterina accidentally drowned. In 1895, a third Chaterina was born; she died four months later of "summer complaint," diarrhea in infants caused by spoiled milk. The following year, Tammie J. "Thomas" was born. He lived one year and died of measles. It really is heart wrenching to see how this family lost five of its eight children within 14 years, and yet this wasn't an uncommon occurrence at a time when poor immigrants did not have access to healthy living conditions and medical care, and in a day and age prior to simple antibiotics. Their three surviving children, William, the second Jennie, and Gertrude, lived into the twentieth century; William and Gertrude living into their 60s, and Jennie to the age of 88.

The photo below shows Barbara and James with their two daughters and sons-in-law at what looks to be some sort of lodge, church, or company picnic or outing, probably in Grand Rapids, between 1915 -1918. The date range has been determined by the date of Jennie and Gerrit HEIDEMA's wedding year and the year he passed away due to Influenza. The men are all wearing a badge on their left sides; if anyone recognizes what organization this is, please contact me. I find this unusual, because the Dutch Reformed Church, of which this family were members, frowned heavily and preached strongly against fraternal organizations. Missing from this photo is my ancestor, William. Perhaps he was the photographer.


Front, left to right: James and Barbara; sons-in-law, Gerritt John HEIDEMA, Sr. and Jacob YSSELDYKE.
Back, left to right: daughters Jennie and Gertrude.

For many of his years in Grand Rapids, James worked as a laborer in a lumberyard, working his way up to foreman. He died in 1922 of hepatitis. On 12 April 1930, Barbara was enumerated alone at her home at 1315 West Leonard Street in Ward 1, Block 70 of Grand Rapids, Kent Co., Michigan (ED 2, Sheet 21A):
  • Household 255, Family 267; Valk, Barbara; Head of household; owner of home worth $3500; No radio; Female; White; Age 71; Widowed; Did not attend school since 1 September 1929; Able to read and write; Born in the Netherlands; Parents born in the Netherlands; Language spoken before coming to the United States: Dutch; Year of immigration: 1890 [sic]; not naturalized; able to speak English; Occupation: none.
Barbara died of valvular heart disease and dropsy at her home on 1 June 1934. She was buried in Greenwood Cemetery in what was then Walker Township (now part of the City of Grand Rapids), Kent Co., Michigan next to James and his mother. Their graves were the first ancestral ones I ever visited, in October 2000.

(Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 12)
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