Do you like old photographs? I do. I love seeing pictures from the past and learning a little something about what life was like back then.
My family has a pretty strong sense of where we come from. This is in part thanks to my Uncle Dave, who’s done quite a bit of studying on the subject. I’ve always known that I have Dutch roots – I believe that most of my great-grandparents were originally from Holland, actually. My mom would occasionally fling Dutch words and phrases into our daily life, and we all knew what banket was at an early age. I love that I know so much about my family history. It gives me a sense of who I am. It makes me feel grounded.
My mom was given some vintage photographs during our last visit to my grandparents and was nice enough to share them with me. Here are some of the ones that she sent…
This windmill is located Holland. It was worked by my great-great-great-great grandfather, Bankeris Hoek. He was what was known as a watermolenaar, or water miller. My great-great-great grandfather, Jacob Hoek was born there and eventually took over it’s running before immigrating to America, where he had my great-great grandfather, William. William had a daughter Mary Hoek, who was my great grandmother. Mary Hoek later married Fred Postma, and they had 5 children, one of whom was my grandfather Raymond.
Here’s another family photo. My great-grandfather Martin Dykema (my grandmother’s father) is seated just left of the man holding the baby on his lap. They were working an onion field and had all stopped for a photo break.
As you probably know, Holland is sometimes referred to as the “Low Country”, so called because of it’s position below sea level. In order to keep the ocean out, dikes or dykes were built along the edges of the country. A man who lived near or worked on the dikes was referred to as a dyke man, or dykema, hence my great-grandfather’s last name of Dykema.
Do you see that first store with the great big awning? It’s a dime store owned by the aunt and uncle of my great-grandmother. She lived there after immigrating from Holland, and was with them through her teens and into her twenties. She eventually married my great-grandfather, Martin Dykema. That pictures was taken in the 1920s on a parade day through South Holland, IL.
This is the back of that same store. My great-grandfather Martin is the second man from the bottom, wearing his hat at an angle and a bright white shirt. Don’t they all look so serious?
This last one is of my grandfather Raymond. I believe that he’s the one sitting to the right of the baby, wearing the dark collared shirt. My great-grandfather died when he was fairly young, leaving his wife Mary alone during the Great Depression with 5 mouths to feed. From stories that I’ve heard, she turned into a very hard, difficult woman. You can only imagine why, going through such a terrible time in our country with no help and 5 children! My grandfather told me stories about going to school with lard sandwiches. That’s right – a sandwich made from lard. He developed childhood Ricketts from malnourishment, which isn’t hard to believe. Unfortunately, my grandfather was never in very good health. He went on to fight in World War II (as did my other grandfather), but had several heart attacks during his lifetime. He was a great man.
Most of the above has been about my mom’s side of the family. I know a little bit more about them than about my dad’s side. I can tell you one interesting fact about them, though. I was told (and I don’t know how true this is), that some of my paternal ancestors were originally from France but were banished or escaped to Holland after being found guilty of horse thieving. I do know that they later went on to become wealthy landowners and farmers in Holland. Interesting, huh?!
Well, I hope you enjoyed this little family history lesson. Do you have any family histories? Let me know! I’m naturally curious and would love to hear about them 🙂