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Roelof Sleyster (1815-1882)
Thomas > Thomas > Willem > Jan Jurjen > Jan Willem > Roelof > Jan Willem > Roelof

a historic roman by P.J. Risseeuw

This is an excerpt from the book "Landverhuizers" (Emigrants) by P.J. Risseeuw. 

The original of the book consists of three comprehensive parts. The language is sometimes a little old fashioned, but the story is beautiful and exciting.
Nearly all the passages concerning Roelof Sleijster and Johanna Liesveld I have included in this extract.
The rest is omitted, but there is yet a complete and legible and exciting story left, so that we get a good picture of this part of our family history.

The writer has processed, after careful investigation, many historical data in this book. That why it has become even to the smallest details, a historically reliable document.
In particular, the following details we find in the book:

- The theological study of Roelof in Arnhem
- its role of facilitator for an appropriate settlement to take place
- the letter for "the faithful in America"
- the letter from Roelof Sleijster of 25 August 1846 to The Netherlands
- the journey of Johanna Liesveld to Wisconsin, which started on April 1, 1847
- the residence of Roelof Sleijster in Alto / Waupun.

Preface by the author

In the trilogy "Emigrants" ("Landverhuizers") which after the fifth edition in 1953, now in a somewhat abbreviated form is issued, has been described the great exodus of the Dutch to America, which began in the years 1846-1847.

The main leaders of these emigrants were clergymen A.C. Van Raalte in Arnhem, H.P. Scholte in Utrecht, Brummelkamp in Hattem and C. van der Meulen in Goes.

The causes of this exodus were the social distress in The Netherlands and the shameful treatment of the so-called "secessionists".

The desire for complete freedom of religion and education in our country gave a religious character to the emigration fever, not only in the Netherlands, but also raged in Germany and England.
Once in the United States Raalte and Scholte found a warm welcome to the descendants of the seventeenth-century Dutch pioneers, which in New York (New Amsterdam) and Albany (Beverwijck) after two centuries had come to great wealth.

Van Raalte took his poor emigrants to the forests of Michigan, where he founded the town of Holland.

Scholte was looking for (more wealthy) farmers the oily prairie soils of Iowa. He named his town: Pella.

The passenger who over a century later visits these lands, beholds a rich and prosperous country, inhabited by the descendants of the pioneers of 1847, which have mined the howling wilderness under great hardships.

Emigrants (expert)
a historical novel by P.J. Risseeuw

1846 The Theological College of the Secessionists in Arnhem

Van Raalte is impatient, vehement. He still divagates, but is never boring as the Israelite Isaac Waterman, which Hebrew does. The lessons of Veenhuizen, who knows Paris and teaches foreign languages, have the charm of the international sphere, which are bound inseparable to his person.
He is the closest in age to the students, although Van Raalte and Brummelkamp belong to the thirties.

The most feared is the Friday sermon college. It is especially Van Raalte, who, standing beside the chair of Brummelkamp, can explode:
- Mr. Ten Bokkel ... you are not here on the boards of a theater ... Just do normal ... it is not necessarily to hold on more than one vote.
- Your attitude, Mr. Wildebeest ... and take notice of your hands. Try to control yourself ... you have at least ten times in this short time copied the frame of a moderateur lamp ...
- Too stiff Mr.
Sleyster ... too stiff. Make your voice a little looser ... try a little less preaching and more talking. I must also warn for your claim in prayer. There are, respectfully said passages in your prayer, which fit better into the sermon. It is not intended to preach in our prayers. Please read once more in the prayers of Calvin ... How sober, how urgently ... how much can we learn from it!

At half past one comes together for the climax of the day: lunch. Also Sitske and the resident students to sit on. It seems always the sweet invasion, thinks Sitske, accustomed to the austere meals at home.
It is always the host, that makes every meal a highlight of the day. Anthony Brummelkamp is generous - his friendly ruddy face, his brown curls, his keen eyes, his joy with the children and his sense of humor makes him a bright man.

At evening, in the intimacy of her simple room, welcomes Christien the small club of guests. As first steps in Anthony and Mary, with their old father John Brummelkamp, scratch for his eighty years and loving a party, courteous as ever in his claim to the hostess whose narrow hand he holds long in his.
- Dear Christine ... The Lord has wonderfully blessed you in a happy married life ... May God grant you both a long time being saved for another, for your dear children and not at least for the work in the vineyard of the Lord.
- Thank you, father Brummelkamp, she says moved, and kisses him into his gray beard.
Later comes Adrian Veenhuizen with his wife, Agnes Brummelkamp, Anthony's youngest sister.
Then the company is completed and they go after a liqueur before, at half past nine on the table for supper, on which Christine childish has delighted herself.
Together with Mary, she has discussed everything carefully and examined the cellars.
The biggest surprise has caused the Little Hilbert, an elder from Van Raalte's first church, who has beaten no year with his presence on their wedding day.

After a hearty prayer of Albert the napkins are removed and fine chicken soup smells to meet them from the open dish.
- Remind me, said Anthony softly against Albert, that I will become you to read a letter, so just received by
Sleyster from America. ..
- Good news? he asks eagerly.
- Excellent ...
This last he says louder, with a nod in the direction of the hostess, by which he kills two birds with one stone. Because the soup is excellent and about America may rather not be spoken for the moment.
And Christien, tired and happy that everything tonight now still goes so well,  grateful looks around the small circle with something of the melancholy, that seizes her ever at the end of a new pregnancy, that all this could be for the last time ever.
Then Jennigje, her maid, with a glimpse of understanding in her eyes, puts a large covered dish in the middle of the table. Here the meat dishes come around it and also the smaller scales with a select variety of vegetables.

But involuntarily the attention is drawn to the central dish. It is Christien, who, when the new course is on turn, with a fine smile lights up the lid.
- No, but ... Look over there ... How did you get that ...? the voices sound overjoyed interlacing, because what no one dared to suggest: the scale on which all eyes are focused is filled with potatoes, as beautiful and as wonderful as the guests have not seen or tasted in two years.
- Let it taste good to you ... invites the hostess, enjoying its success now since two winters potatoes have become a true luxury that only a rich man can afford.
After dinner there is still time for a cup of tea, that Christien wants to pour into the thin blue Delft crockery, which is only used in special occasions.
The men arrived at their favorite subject. When Mary looks at her brother Albert from aside, the barely concealed passion hits her with which he speaks about America.
As he stands next to his chair, small of stature, his head striking and lively gray eyes, which occasionally have slightly incisive, you would not say that he was only thirty-four years.

Anthony, though only three days older, makes a lot more posed impression, perhaps also because of his height and his curly hear, in any case he is much thickset than Albert.
- Is it true that
Sleyster's plans have been established?
- What is the with
Sleyster? Christine asks casually.
- O, nothing ... After all he wants for America?
- Call it anything but! she says with a nervous streak to her a wide mouth.
- Read the letter now ... invites Albert, who can no longer restrain his desire.
Anthony still hesitates a moment, but now the topic has already been touched and dominated the conversation, he overcomes with a quick look Christien his diffidence.
Father Brummelkamp, interested, in suits. Veenhuizen is all ears - the women talk more softly to each other, then begin to hear strange ...

- The letter is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and is addressed to Sleyster ...

"It struck me hard," said letter writer, "to leave Winterswijk, but I wish to be there never again. The little ones here are as much as the rich. One need to take off no one's hat. The rich honor us because we work for them. Religion is free and God's people is much, we united with them. Here is a people's government, one is five years landowner, then one citizen and voter! Nobility is not here. We have no officers like dogs at the door, which like with you, will assert the hard-earned wages, our bread, our fuel, our home, and the school education is so costly that the poor day laborer in his humble dwelling must be hungry and shivering, and under lack and deprivation misjudged. With you the women and children of laborers get no bacon or meat to taste. They eat their food from the water and sober, and in their poverty of peat, bread, salt and soap and what not have to pay taxes. Here they have three times daily bacon or meat and instead of rye excellent wheat bread.
Tarry no longer in that oppressed country. Do it for your children. On the ship you do not to have fear, just take care for good food. That we did not.
Again, religion is here freely, without intervention of the state. With you the divorcees have to pay double and they are excluded from the school board. With you they worship the money and the people that have a significant descent ... "

There is a silence as Anthony has stopped. It is Christine and Mary to see that they do not like the tone. From home they never had intercourse with the lesser man in the parish and they have remained the reverend lady, except the obligatory condescension still at a distance from the less fortunate. 
- For someone who does not know how ..., well ... says Christine measured. For Sleyster it would be better when he first graduated once quiet. Hasn't he yet Johanna Liesveld from the New Orphanage? Albert is drumming his fingers on the table. Whenever Christien takes more or less distanced from the subject "America" he feels that she is no way won and that it fails him of patience, missing the way to cultivate, that he, old habit, looks at her too much as he would wish her, but too little as she is ...
But h e will not stop with this work to continue. This work must be done .. there are thousands who wait on line like sheep without a shepherd. Anthony and he can at least help to pave the way and seek the people together, to keep order in its ignorance and not being scattered in foreign lands.

Fixed plans

The next evening the brothers are
sitting as always until late in the evening to talk about distribution for the poor. They are struggling with the climbing emergency and an empty purse and always creeps them the feeling that their help is only a drop on a hot stone ... Now that the plans for America shape firmer, Van Raalte and Brummelkamp also attend the meetings. Everything is tried: precaution, advances, people are held out of the Bank of Loan, there is support in natura: rye, preserves, bread and clothing, there is seen around to work ... and yet, still drops in living standards of the supported visibly ...
- And so it is now in the whole country ... Heldring has uncovered still other states ... Van Raalte drops sharp.
Brothers ... I noted the laudable plan that Wormser has designed. But it is my opinion that we can not wait for the developing of this comprehensive plan. We are called to do something for our poor on short term. There must be a beginning, it must be possible for a small group to send them ahead in the port cities to get work and wait for the others to fulfill.
- I would rather work out the plan of Wormser and not to go so hasty ... Donner says the cautious. It is not the first time that he encounters the energetic Van Raalte.

But also Roelof Sleyster wants a word.
- I can tell the brethren, he says that I am decided to take the trip to America this spring ... I feel I have been long pushed to join our country and fellow believers in Wisconsin, who, like the brethren is known, had previously have been departed, with whom I am in correspondence since long time.
It is Brummelkamp that
replies Sleyster, the teacher that sees node depart one of his most talented pupils.
- We know that it is brother
Sleyster not to do for earthly gain, he will also there serve the church of Christ, though we sorrow, to see him go before his training as a servant of the Word has finished.
Roelof Sleyster one of many who became the track to the country overseas to powerful, who obeys the mysterious impulse, to leave the country and to go an unknown future.
The brothers have the feeling that now here too the ice is broken. With God's help they will do valiantly.

Van Raalte was up early, he has woken up with the happy feeling that a big day had arrived.
The last few days he has been working on a pamphlet on emigration, which he Brummelkamp together has collected the matter. It is their intention with this brochure to shortly address to the Dutch people in order to give account of the motives which brought them to take the direction on them.
He thinks about it to provide in this book a copy of the letter to the believers in America and also a few letters of already departed compatriots from the Achterhoek.
Van Raalte feels himself this morning young and strong and again overwhelms him that peculiar feeling that they are making history, and that in this weeks and months is decided on the fate of hundreds, perhaps thousands of countrymen. There's something great to happen, although it is yet so simple and flawed. It is only to respect the flow of emigrants, which is not to return no more, to capture and lead in the right direction.
Their main concern is to find people in America that will take over the leadership. Will it be Sleyster? Or Barendregt or Scholte? Hein Scholte, who plans to travel with them? There is no issue of his favorite magazine, the Reformation, or there is an article about America.

The departure

Van Raalte is sitting in his study. The paper, in front of him, is still as good as blank and dated 25th May 1846. The salutation in his large handwriting is not lacking:

"To the believers in the United States of North America."

Our wish is that the interior of America has place for our people, and that by cultivating his temporary maintenance it may be able to find the salvation of his race from the moan energy of a doomed society.
We do feel that your shoulders also will be pressed by various vocations, but also we know that Christians in America are spared from those fearful unemployment, lingering in commerce and exhausting taxes, which our people so objects.
In full awareness that the kingdom of God does not exist in words, but in power, that we must love in deed and in truth, that we bear one another's burdens; the commandments of God at the expense of whatever they have to be heard, that therefore the commandment of
work and eating should not be separated, that every Christian should know itself guilty to care for his home, wherever it be, even more than that have to look to visit widows and orphans in their afflictions and serve God's kingdom of his wellness; that one has to save itself blameless of the world and shall raise its offspring not in general morality, but in exhortation and teaching of the Lord, and in full awareness that we, being surrounded by many obscurities and digressions, desire nothing warmer than to serve the Lord the time of our lives, we put our petition down for you, and recommend it to the Lord, who rules, bows the hearts and does whatever He pleases. "

Van Raalte takes a deep breath: the letter is ready. Then he sees that Christien brought coffee: she sits on a chair to wait until he stops writing. She knows his drive to work, his tenacity, his mood as something is laid in the road.
- See, he says. If Anthony now also have signed the letter,
Sleyster may take him next week. He is our mediator for the time and after his arrival he must make contact and if possible seek for a suitable place for the colony.
He sits in his chair and supports the head in the right hand. Christien suddenly sees that he looks tired.
- Haven't you worked too hard, Albert? she asks softly.
He nods, there has been done much work in recent months. In three days leave the Arnauds ... after a week the group
The Arnauds travel to Boston, where they certainly will find work of their craft and wait for the trailing assigns. But on
Sleyster depends much: he goes with contracts of the association.
Van Raalte has the feeling that he will get to rest as the first offspring is gone.

That last night.

Only the children are asleep; the parents are waking and sleep intermittently. Except two beds, everything is packed and already charged on the Rhine boat.
At nine o'clock they move themselves, completely finished, according to appointment to the church in the Varkensstraat, where a large part of the church has come together to make a christian send off. They have taken place in the front, Derk and Louise with the children. The little Janna sits between father and mother. Alongside them are Willem Strick and Francijntje with their sons Jan Jacob and Derk and daughters and Klazientje and Gertruida.

Ds. Brummelkamp has climbed the pulpit. In the full weight of this time he opens the Scripture and with agitated voice reads the hundred and twentieth Psalm. Word after word sinks into the hearts of attendees: balm for the soul and victuals on the road.
What is it good to be here, under the eyes of the Lord to greet each other, perhaps forever!
I lift my eyes unto the hills whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord of heaven and earth.
- Our thoughts multiply in this hour, says Brummelkamp in the deathly silence that followed the reading of the psalm.
- Here in this house of prayer, where you have heard The Word of God every day of rest, where you have been strengthened week after week in the difficult struggle of life, we want, brothers and sisters, in these last moments of separation, recommend you under the eye of the Almighty in His care.
And now, who back and see his hand to the plow, is not fit for the kingdom of God. Therefore, dear friends, look forward! He who has assisted you so far, will also be your God in far America. May it be already afflictive to leave much good, in particular we think of your parents and relatives, you have support to each other and go in the knowledge that many will follow you, with whom thou in God's time will unite, and then collectively move towards the land which God will have us.

Then Van Raalte rices for prayer. His prayer is urgent, all his moved heart speaks in his favor on the promises of God for his children. 
The short service ends with the singing of the 121st Psalm. They sing all the verses and most moving are the children's voices: The Lord will always observe, that He in danger, keep your soul for disaster. The Lord, if you mayest go in or out, or where you mayest hasten, will forever keep you.
Then proceeds the procession to the quay of the Rhine boat. People come standing for the windows and doors and show each other pityingly: emigrants.

Lipsoom puts the children a snack in their hand. The boys are full attention to the steamboat. It is not so bright spring day more, but their realization is the big party started. The women keep their nose cloths ready for the farewell. But than before they suspect the captain let sound the steam whistle and the ship begins to tremble.
Women fall in each other's arms and sobbing. The old Arnaud says moved: goodbye kids ... overseas either ... and his arm makes a timid, yet simultaneously powerful gesture upward.
He is not ashamed of the few tears that swells in his eyes.
Both pastors and the parents are the last to go over the gangway back.
- God bless you ...
- Bon voyage ... keep on coming ...
Slowly the boat sails down the Rhine. The distance increases between the small group waving departure and the left behind in dear good Arnhem ...

That evening Roelof Sleyster collects Johanna Liesveld off at the New Orphanage to visit for the last time the family Brummelkamp.
The spring evening smells intoxicating and Johanna is quieter than usual. He feels the warm pressure of her arm and hand and is looking for a good word.
- Another week, she says softly.
- Another winter, he says - than we are together forever, Johanna. You will be brave, I know.
She does not dare to argue with that, because Roelof is so sure of everything. He has a determination and great faith. As he, once held by his mother's inheritance, at twenty seven years of age, determined to resign his painters profession in order to study theology - as there is currently no one there who will be able to withhold to pull away to North America, where he, just as here, wants to serve the brothers in the faith, either as deacon or, God willing, once as a pastor.

Johanna, who has enjoyed an excellent education in the New Orphanage, knows herself equipped for life; also developing her musicality there is nothing she have come short; and secretly keen she had seen that Roelof had completed his studies with a modest parsonage as a reward for them together. But she has reconciled with the idea, when winter is over soon to follow him.

In the presbytery of Ds. Brummelkamp they learned toknow each other - they come as friends. Here the student and deacon Roelof Sleyster, who hitherto had kept far from any courtship, heard Johanna Liesveld sing. There was something in her voice that spoke to his inner self. So they had found each other and Johanna saw high up against her seven year older fiance.
Anthony and Mary Brummelkamp could relax. There was strength of character and esteem on both sides. This love would prove to file an uncertain and moved fate, with a crown of prosperity in the evening of life.

The organ remains closed tonight; with four they are sitting around the table with the map of Wisconsin and a list of the company that will soon be under the care and guidance of Sleyster and Brusse will depart.
- We keep on to Milwaukee as a venue. I count on you that you often write me about your findings. Roelof nods. What will it be strange, not to be under the care of his fatherly friend.
- Who knows whether or not we all still will be reunited on the other side, Brummelkamp says. We start with at least with learning English.
- I'm already doing, admits Johanna with a laugh.
Roelof and Johanna will meet each other not so often; in the shadows of the park they already provisionally take farewell.
- Roelof ! She clings to him and her voice betrays the tightly restrained emotion.
- Johanna, he says tenderly. We are in God's hands

One week later, the town of Velp and Arnhem send-off the second group of emigrants.
Anthony Brummelkamp, which is urging his family to learn English, does not know that his house the next few years will be only a halfway house to the new world, but that his own future will prove to be  bound to the churches of the divorce, which, against all expectations, would receive growth not only in the homeland, but in two continents.

The letter from Roelof Sleijster

The first Sunday's after Van Raalte's departure, Anthony Brummelkamp stands on the pulpit with lead shoes. It's like they now get a right good start to understand what happened, now there is like a hole has been beaten in the assembly and so many of the laggard inside already detached to ere the example of the first departed to follow.

Friday's are continuance entirely occupied with America Work. From Roelof Sleyster are addressed to his parents in Velp good reports about the journey and arrival, the wait is on his first, more detailed letter with information about Wisconsin, where Van Raalte now is under way. With love the expensive postage is paid.

Waupont also Waupun,
Wisconsin, August 25, 1846.

Dear Sir,

In my letter of 15 of these which I have written to my parents, ye have heard that I have arrived in good health in Wisconsin, and to my employment I chose Waupun residence, that is 86 miles above Milwaukee (3 miles is an hour), where live nine Dutch families. It is fertile heavy clay here, little wood but enough to build and burn, so the grounds are much easier to cultivate than other places, good water, good healthy climate, no taxes, no laws.
All tax that must paid is one dollar on eighty acres, for the maintenance of schools, two days of the year working on the roads, or to pay two U.S. dollars for every eighty acres that you own.
If one sells land, you take two friends as witnesses and one is notary himself, no costs whatsoever. Marries one, he goes to his priest and it is ready, without asking for money.
Is someone runs from his wife, which seldom occurs here, on state charges he is picked up where he may be, and brought back to his wife.
Toll on the roads are not here, each section has to keep his raods in order.
Is here or there in a town or city a bad mayor, he is deposed and is among them is chosen another, he draws no salary. Pastors also draw no salary here. That is why it is no surprise that on Sunday a carpenter, miller or painter should preach the glorious gospel. No preacher can be known by the clothing than on Sundays, most are very friendly, much more benign than in our country the secessionists are.
Methodists are many here. Say that you're a Christian and you walk as a Christian, one is in relation.
Most sincerely, one can gain by simply preaching without form; holding ecclesiastical council meetings is not good with them, but preaching; not trying to assemble a party and no salary, but work for the bread.
I hope this winter, when the Lord gives me health, to trace much for you. Dissuade all, which want to live in another state, because they who have lived there draw on here.
Tools are better here, except shovels or spades. House resources each must take with him, especially Haarlemmerolie, chamomile, flier and flour. 
You need to warn no one against the evening sky, which is healthy.
I have eighty acres purchased, 160 geclaimd; claimen is right to adopt for a year - after the year you should pay, no other can buy it, one can not claim more than 160 acres and must first become citizen. So brother! I am an American citizen and enjoy full voting rights in all matters, which is here for a Christian of high weight, if he wants to act Christian and to give Christian counsel, as in schools and other things.
Who has claimed land, must built a house within thirty days. When the Lord gives me health, I hope to have my house prepared in eight days, three days I have earned my fare with carpentry, one with painting and now eight with plastering.
The land is also not manured. Who has no money, I do not know to recommend; who has money and can bring in 1500 guilders in the interior, can become a big farmer in short time and help than many beyond. Immediate help over is all wrong, because one has to live here a year before one attracts, and everything is expensive here. Are there a few good affluent people, then such can give food to should who come over, and making effort - that I think is the best way.
Who wants to start alone, must count on having for four eighty acres land 1000 guilders; 3 yoke of oxen, which cost 375 guilders, a chariot of 125 guilders, a plow of 40 guilders; a year of living with four men 400 guilders and small tools 200 guilders. Do they come with more, it is more than half less, because 3 yoke of oxen, a wagon, a plow, is enough for four families.
But one can not plow with less than 6 oxen, says every one. The grass will cost nothing here. I have a piece of land where a small spring water goes through, it is 8 to 10 feet wide, and runs great, but I can see it only at two locations, because of the length of the grass; when in the autumn it is withered, I can at first see well how the spring water runs through my land. 
When I handpicked the place where I could build my house (which will stand on a hill, 5 feet above the water) I was forced to mow off the grass before me, because there was really no way to get through.
Now I make you a request, brother Brummelkamp. Wherever I go, I am invited to preach - until now I only have a sermon read, because I do not want to trespass without your consent.
If it is requested, it is not trespassing, but some people might think; that's why I remained here. Money is not to earn with it - but my desire is there, you do know that. In the week and on Sundays three times and at once Wednesdays sermon is the custom here. I can not do this, but I can speak a word.
The church here lasts but an hour, which is good for someone just to start. Here it is customary, that two preachers a sermon (chair) standing, and the after prayer with the application performs another mostly, not always.
Write me if you give me permission; as long as I hope to read a sermon. Greet all of my students and tell them that I count myself lucky, although I have every other day to cook my pot and to wash my own clothes.
It is pleasant to preach where the members do not live in contamination and the teacher is not caviled over the costumes and the party to which he belongs; a teacher here can also say with Paul: This hands have served to my necessities and with Samuel: From whose hand have I accepted a gift?
For students, who are raised wishy-washy, it is wrong here; work for a living, is the proverb.
All are greeted from me, especially your wife and brother Veenhuizen - again, I express to you my heartfelt thanks for the education received.
Your loving brother in Chr.
R. Sleyster

Will you send my inset letter to JL? Every letter from you, I would quite happy see with a note from JL - I hope not to require too much from you. If you know where the Arnaud's are, I hear that from you? Every man must be aware of William Phaff, Deutsches gasthaus 5. H.
Milton Road, Albany. The Germans are not to be trusted.
Here live a few from Dinxperlo and Winterswijk. I have noticed that many Dutchmen in magnification have written, I will, and always will write the concerns and the good.

In the afternoon at the table, the epistle was read out for the sake of the children, Jansje and Geertje and Sitske who is no less curious.
With the P.S. the first rules are read half muttered, she eagerly pricked her ears at the mention of the letters J.L. She knows
Johanna Liesveld. She always found the relation of Roelof and Johanna
A musical orphan girl who is asked by a seven year older man, who is using his mother's inheritance in his later years to resign his painter profession and to study theology and then, when the money runs out, decides to go to America, whither his bride hopes soon to follow him!

Arjaan nods again - oh - also for uncle Jacob he dares not to pour out his heart - the uncertainty of his future weighs double heavily on him suddenly. But this day will not end so sad for him as it started, because by a skipper a package of books from Tholen is send to him - it's the new book by Ds.
Brummelkamp, who has collected the letters of Van Raalte, Sleyster and Louise Arnaud under the motto: 'Voices of North America".
It could not have come on a better timing from the press.

In Borssele the letters of Van Raalte, Sleyster and the Arnaud's are already known, but it pleased Arjaan that he has a copy of Barendregt's letter with him.
Uncle Leen and his people are sitting down around the repast when Arjaan is ducking himself through the low doorway to step inside.


The journey of Johanna Liesveld, April 11, 1847

In the evening they see a ship arrive. It is the Maasstroom, soon followed by the Catherine Jackson.
It looks like that it will stands out the sea already the next morning. Arjaan is presently to be obtained for information, but on the crowded ships, no visitors are allowed no more.
The next morning, when the first two vessels already have departed, Arjaan sees the Nagasaki and Vesta arrive. On the last must be found also Ds. Ypma with are Friesians. If the Nagasaki for a moment is stationary, Arjaan runs restlessly along the wall side and tries again to contact the crew.
- Yes, one calls, Marcus is on board. Wait, I will call him for you if I can find him ...
It takes far too long, but when he thinks to find his friend between all the people, his eyes are resting on another figure ...
- Lipsoom! he shouts loudly, and raises his hand.
Yes - now also Lipsoom recognized his cousin. He comes forward, so that they can call to each other.
Arjaan learns that Aunt Liesbeth is on board with Sitske and the boys and also
Johanna Liesveld, the fiancé of Sleyster.

Johanna Liesveld reveals herself as a nurse; in the New Orphanage she has learned to use her hands; all the kids love her, because in the evening she sings the sick and healthy children asleep.

Pastor Scholte traveled ahead the four ships on which his followers are outfacing the ocean, via London to Liverpool. After a prosperous voyage of thirteen days with the rapid steamer Sarah Sand he will put in Boston his foot on the new world. The dull roar of the engine room has sound him like music, for him it can not be quickly enough.
Thousand and one preparations, precautions and discussions are still on his program as soon as he will  have arrived in America, for the few weeks that he is there before the emigrants, he needs to prevent stagnation in their overland trip. A new world he travelled ahead; a new life awaits him. With leaving the old world, he shuffled the dust of his feet. With the recommendation letter from the representative of the United States in the Netherlands, he travels to New York where he is warmly welcomed by the old-Dutch at the mouth of Ds. Thomas de Witt, and immediately is invited to preach for the descendants of the Dutch pioneers.
The first thing the passengers of Nagasaki see of America is the great port city Baltimore, where sin reigns supreme as in Rotterdam, but where Dutch cleanliness is missed too much. A big, grimy city, where prevails an incredible busyness. Lot of time is not allowed them there.

Scholte is everywhere and nowhere, he is busy day and night to get the people as soon as possible to St Louis, the temporary rest and gathering point, where the decision will be taken after a small committee will have come to Iowa to purchase land. Nevertheless Lipsoom succeeded to seize Scholte for a moment. At his side stands Johanna Liesveld and when he presents her as the fiancee of Roelof Sleyster, Scholte fatherly lays his hand on her shoulder.
- Young Daughter ... I have good news for you. In Albany handed Ds. Wyckoff me a letter of
Sleyster. He is still in Wisconsin. Although he crossed the lake to visit the settlement of Van Raalte in Michigan, but what I have foreseen happened: Sleyster returned to Wisconsin with the intention to remain there.
He hopes, as soon as we can somewhat overlook where we will establish, pick up his fiancée.

A thousand thoughts flow through both the head of Lipsoom as that of Johanna Liesveld. When they look at each other, Lipsoom performes their both feelings when he says sadly: 
- We had hoped for a large settlement. Now we get still from one another,
Sleyster in Wisconsin, Rev.
Van Raalte in Michigan and the followers of Reverend Scholte ...?
- In Iowa, if it please God.
- So you have definitely waived Michigan?
- Yes, brother Lips. Indeed. Not only I consider that region too northern, but also the lack of access roads  is one of the reasons for my decision. There is no building site, only dense and heavy foliage. Moreover, the Indians are still not disappeared and it is isolated from the outside world. My emigrants think of lánd, suitable for work and thus the easier the better! Drive harrow and plow through the country and lawns with dairy, there these people want to be, but don't talk to them to chose for the ax for the spade, neither they want to become wood traders.
There is something in the argument that Lipsoom against state.
- I am not a farmer, he says. You might be right ...
- Let us not misunderstand, says Scholte, who intuitively feels that his words are not well covered in the art Lipsoom. - Also craftsmen we desperately need, but most people of our association are farmers and more farmers. They don't want their good money flow into a jungle. So, Miss
Liesveld, you are free to travel with us to St. Louis. Then you are a long way to your groom.
- I am very grateful to you, Reverend, and I trust that
Sleyster has done a good choice, although I regret that we can not unite with the large settlement, she says mannered .
But then again Scholte is
seized by his next visitors.

Prey to the most diverse feelings, Lipsoom and Johanna Liesveld are leaving the hotel. Carefully they keep the wooden sidewalks, it is awfully busy and cluttered. Cows and pigs running through the streets and if they must cross, they sink to the ankles in mud. 
- Lipsoom, says
Johanna, I hope you also travel to St. Louis?
- If it were up to me, not, says Lipsoom frankly - but I'm devoted on the women, he says somewhat grimly. - My heart goes to the forest colony, but Elizabeth and I are not yet separated from Sitske ...
you know what I mean ... and to Liesbeth the prairie is probably healthier than the forests.

The train and boat trip

Mid-June, the first group can depart, their goods are stored at the station.
Life in Baltimore, that they have seen now for five days, goes his usual enthusiastic way. Hundreds of ships are coming and going and the inhabitants are watching hardly to the numerous groups of immigrants, who arrive and leave, although these Dutch, who in their cleanliness are remarkably different from the ragged Irish, are only attracting attention due to their large luggage, for which they have the greatest concern. They also exchanged gold. There are Americans who already identify these HolIanders with "Willempjes", though their tongues is difficult to bend to this most popular word in the unintelligible Dutchman jargon.

Lipsoom, who by his quiet performing and deacon function does have any awe, get all kinds of chores to refurbish. He has "The Little American" in his pocket with the pronunciation beside, but his hands and facial expressions speak the international language with which every immigrant is trying to make it.

The first goal where the train takes them, is Columbia in Pennsylvania. When the train has put in motion, passengers undergo a large and powerful feeling. They travel already on American soil and the cars rumble over the rails - faster, faster now and who is here able to break out of the care for the luggage and the kids will watch through the windows at the strange landscape, rushing past them.

If in the distance the blue hills become visible, Lipsoom gives by: the mountains! And all are crowding in front of the windows - children of the flat polder land behold the miracle works of God!
- How great are thy works Lord. How far does your discretion. Thou hast set with power every part its proper bounds! Also in traveling they live close by the Word.
some hearts are so full of ... so full! Sometimes they keep silence in deep emotion, then the lips flow over. 
In the long wagon, on either side of which the travelers had taken their seats (the luggage is piled in the aisle), is also a Sjoerd Sipma with his young wife Jantje the Vries, a shrewd Frisian peasant laborer who made the crossing with the Pieter Floris from Den Helder.
He is soon good friends with Jan Hendrik Marcus, and Jantje joins with Sitske and
Johanna Liesveld. Three young women, for whom the rigors of travel are to fall lighter, as they approach the goal.

That same day they arrive at Columbia. Here the canal boat waits with destination Hollidaysburg. The transshipment of passengers and baggage gives a cheerful but tense fuss. It runs against the evening - the children need to sleep.
Most are delighted to be out of the train before the night, but when some hours later they are pushed as sardines into the boat, there begins to seize a gradually sense of unease to them.

With hardly any seating and complete lack of sleeping, they go into the first night. Each conforms as closely as possible, but inevitable it is given all the appearance of a chaotic interlacing mixed mob.
The channel, which here runs along the river and is fed from there, goes higher and higher: more than a hundred sash locks they will still pass before they arrive in Hollidaysburg.
After a week they leave Hollidaysburg by train. The nature here has the appearance of wild beauty, though already made subservient to the ingenuity of man. The train rushes through the mountains, sometimes plodding uphill, sometimes at breakneck speed down. Once they shoot right through a mountain. That same day they reach Johns-Town, where again it is the canal boat where they will remain several days and nights before they will accommodate a Sunday in Pittsburgh.

Each must provide for its own costs, but there is no time for hot foods. The mothers have put their heads together, because it can not go on no longer this way: they have to cook porridge - there is no stopping it. It is already to see at the children that they begin to suffer under it. A few have succeeded during a short stop at a dock to prepare something warm with help of the locals, but the mood is becoming increasingly worse. Will there ever be an end to this journey? So often a child's mouth requires: Are we now live here? For them, the news has been long away.
The nerves are strained to the limit, not infrequently there are harsh words, followed by women's tears.

In Pittsburgh they are, after nine days, on the half of the journey, without being out of their clothes, but here, in this smoking factory town, there are, thank heaven, lodgings for who has money.
Scholte speaks on Sundays in a benevolent purpose abandoned church on the wise and foolish virgins, the lamps burning: for the bridegroom cometh!

Again, they soon sequentially driven like sheep. 
- When we are first in Ohio, says Lipsoom - then we course at the city of Cincinnati and we get to the Mississippi, he encourages.
He does not need to speak to them, because for most of the fellow travelers is a city a city and a river a river. They only know that it is long, too long, and that the voyage over sea was holy compared to this journey over land whereby they are so weary in body and soul. The zentiment is deteriorated; dull indifference begins to seize them.
- But that should not ... Lipsoom says, and he put in a psalm: The Lord has become my help and strength.
Yes - already there are singing along some more. O, what is the man, who released his God ...

Finally, the Mississippi!
The great river of which Barendregt has written. On this river, with its whimsical curves and vegetation on the shores, with countless ships, is also the city of St. Louis, the provisional refuge, where they will recuperate. And that will really have no redundancy.
The last boat is not the worst, so they can stretch their legs already.
It is full summer now and the nights are unforgettable beauty. When they in the evenings sit on the deck, it happens, that, to the amazement of foreign passengers, sing psalms: A net hindered our steps - God always at the highest praise - Praise God with deepest awe - You make ere me know the path of life, in which the prospect delighted me.

Arrival in St. Louis

At the port of St. Louis there is a man on the lookout. He is waiting for the boat with emigrants of Ds. Scholte, of which he has received a courier message.
He has a tiring journey behind him, his log house on the prairie hill is temporarily closed, his face heavily tanned, only his clothes betray that he is not yet a born American.
For two days he is waiting already - and these two days are longer than the fourteen months that separate him from his upcoming young wife, whom he at that fragrant Dutch May evening in Arnhem kissed goodbye.

It's Roelof Sleyster, for whom the safe arrival of Nagasaki meant the big moment, for which he had waited.
- Come meet me in St. Louis, wrote
Johanna Liesveld.
At any moment she can be here and within a few days she will be his legal wife. He already feels at home in Waupun.
However much his heart drew him to the brethren in the forests of Michigan, he could not decide to sell his property in Wisconsin. The great variety of forest and prairie, the fertile land - he would not trade it for the work of reclamation in the woods.
His house is ready to receive his bride ...

On the boat that sails into the port of St. Louis inland, state the orphan girl from Arnhem. Will he be there? Her heart beats in her throat as they tie the boat and she is sharply watching to find the beloved in the tangle of people on the wharf.
Then - suddenly, she sees him, he has the hat off.
- Roelof ... she cries and she moved waving her handkerchief. He also has recognized her, though she is bareheaded, like most American women.
Her eyes fill with tears, but then she laughs again. Lipsoom and Sitske stand beside her and share in her joy. 
He joins the ship, which has a gangway led out. Then they embrace each other - the sun of their happyness is high in the sky.

Visiting Roelof Sleijster in Alto, August 1848

As most residents of Pella, Lipsoom also has built a garden around his house. Apart from the shade trees, he has planted fruit trees and Sitske is a large part of the day busy in the garden where the beans beds must be weeded, the potatoes covered with soil, berry bushes be picked clean and a thousand other small jobs ask for a caring hand.
She plucks the ripe melons and throughout the summer there is the silent feast of flowers and fruits.
The land of Mark, of which she is the only heir, is uncultivated because Lipsoom and the boys stay in the carpenter profession. There have already been buyers, but at the insistence of Lipsoom Sitske still leaves the land. There's plenty of other land for sale. Each year it is worth more and it is Sitskes any property.
Once they might need, it may be the realization.

It has been Scholte, who, after the accident of Jan Hendrik, has brought Sitske in closer contact with his wife, to whom it is entrusted to provide the young widow some distraction .
Sitske, accustomed to the rectory living in Arnhem, knows quick to adapt wonderfully, though she soon observed the large difference between the spouses of Brummelkamp and Van Raalte and the second wife of Scholte, who certainly can be called a peculiar woman.
When Mareah does notice that Sitske has look on fashion plates, she asks her weekly to be a day at the parsonage to come to her and her daughters to help with the care of her extensive wardrobe.
Sitske resist the gossip of the women in Pella, she feels here, in the extraordinary atmosphere of the vicarage, utterly at home.
Every night she prays that God would pave her way to reconcile herself with Bas.
On a hot August day there comes a letter from Wisconsin, addressed to Lipsoom from Johanna Sleyster, which notifies that Bass Kraayvanger, after many wanderings, has arrived with them and that he is sick for weeks. For the rest, they make it well. There is born a daughter to them, and her husband also serves in all simplicity the Word.
- The poor boy ... aunt Liesbeth says. But Sitske only says: - I want to go there.
- What folly ... that again is really something for Sitske, though ... How would a woman travel so far  ...
- I can travel with a companion ... There are way enough to come in Wisconsin. If Bas has arrived there, I can also come there.

Lipsoom scratching with a short pencil in his hair. 
- From Keokuk there will sail a boat up the Mississippi toward Chicago. And then you can take the boat to Milwaukee on Lake Michigan. It is a great way off. We must first sleep on it ... he says. That night there are two awake: Lipsoom and Sitske, and as the day is dawn and Sitske yellow and green of the headache gets up, they meet at the waterhole, where Lipsoom cools his head.
- Lipsoom ... I want to Bas. You must help me ... I have prayed - I want to make it in order with him ...
- We go together, he says.
- Thank you, Lipsoom ...

When they step on the boat a week later in Keokuk and under a tight August sky watch the tingling of the ships on the Mississippi, Lipsoom begins to placate himself increasingly with the recklessness of this expensive trip. He has his black silk hat and is wearing a black suit. He could belong to the clergy, were it not that his hands betrayed him as the workman.  Hesitating Sitske has unearthed her canopy hat - on her green plaid dress she is wearing a dark summer jacket, a journey clothing that can take it. But she now regrets the hat, because the American women are bareheaded.
- All frills ... Lipsoom says, for whom to travel with uncovered heads belongs to the follies of this century. But Sitske attracts everyone's attention.
She has the 'folding basket' with which she went in Arnhem to Van Raalte and Brummelkamp on her arm.
Lipsoom also has some body goods in a small homemade wooden suitcase with him. More they do not bear, because Lipsoom hates luggage. The memories of the difficult journey of '47 are still alive ... What a swarming of people!
Yes, this is America, this restless crowd that is not anchored to a spot basis and every moment it is ready again to set in motion to raise the luck elsewhere.
Lipsoom lets no opportunity pass to cling countrymen, because no boat on the rivers in America or there are Dutch people on it.

On the second day he meets a Winterswijker, who knows Sleyster and who is on his way to Fond du Lac. Lipsoom sees a leading in it, because (although he concealed it to Sitske) he has already understood that the journey would not be without drawbacks without the help of a reliable guide.

For Sitske it looks as if they were on tour fot months, when they finally, arrived in Waupun, get the house on the hill in insight. 
How quiet is it here, she thinks all the time. Only the murmuring sound of a little water is all they hear. But there is also a female voice. It is Johanna, who sings.
The familiar sound of a psalm, sung quietly in the silence.
In a flash Sitske oversees the last years of her life since she left Arnhem. Bas, she thinks, and an insatiable emotion is welling up in her. How could she ever have been alienate him from her? Slowly they climb to the grassy hill. The house is already surrounded by trees - the fields on both sides are bare again. The harvest is in. 

It is Roelof Sleyster that, if he happens to look through the window, gets the two guests in the eye ...
- Visit, Johanna ... 
His wife, who has helped the child and still keeps it in her arm, looks over Roelof's shoulder, who is climbing up. 
- I think I see it ... says Sleyster.
Yes, now Johanna goes a light on. Intuitively, she puts the child down and follows her husband. Touched they are treading to their guests.

When Sitske that evening enters the small room where Bas Kraayvanger has layed himself down, not to get up again, she urgently prays for strength. Bas is prepared by Johanna and from that moment he has not lost sight on the door. She stands next to his bed as it is: young and beautiful. Life flourishes. In his weakness it has to wound him very much. But he looks radiant at her.
- Sitske!
She leans over him and kisses him on his forehead.
- Bas ... what have I done you much grief ... will you forgive me?
He bites on the lip and also Sitske must make every effort not to burst into tears. That she must find him this way back again.
- Is everything all right between us? he asks.
She nods vigorously and takes his hand.
- Do you forgive me, Bas?
- Yes, Sitske ...
A silence falls between them. From the next room they hear muffled voices sound.
- Father and mother ... he says difficult. 
- I have much thought about them ... We were like little kids all together ... Sitske says it with a sob, because it is the first time that she knowingly meets Bas in his "old rights". It breaks a smile at him and Sitske quickly regains her balance.
- I had much to worry about the why ...he says. - But Roelof will pray every night with me ... I hope to see mom and dad back again ...
Then Johanna enters within the sickroom.
- Yes ... I am coming ... Sitske says. Bas closes his eyes. What has his face become narrow, thinks Sitske yet. Before she goes he opens his eyes and sticks his hand to her. When his skinny fingers lay in her warm red hand, he looks at it. Then he turns his head to the wall.


- This accident has brought me to thinking. I could not grasp. I did not want to, you see. ... I must tell you what you may already know, that I doubted that Bas had done his very best to save him. I even thought of worse things ... I was not myself anymore. Never will I be able to tell what remorse I have had about it when Bas was gone. I could ask him for forgiveness before he died at Sleyster
Then Sitske is silent.
Arjaan has no desire to question her. Life itself has brought them together again. Sitske is free. She walks beside him, blooming like the spring on the prairie. The wall that stood between them when he came here this afternoon has been largely removed. It is as if they come constantly nearer, just by telling what they did not know of each other.

More information about the first settlers...

More info: Netherlanders in America - by Jacob van Hinte... 

Also read this page with halfway a Book Review of "Landverhuizers" and some excerps

Beacon Lights
by John Huizenga

This is the section with Roelof Sleyster:

The next day after their arrival in Keokuk, Uncle Lips met a man who knew Sleyster and who was also on his way to Wisconsin. He agreed to help them. It seemed to Sara that they had traveled for months before they finally arrived at Waupun and saw Sleyster’s home. “How quiet it is here” she thought. The only audible sound was the murmuring of a small brook. Then she heard a woman’s voice. It was Johanna, singing one of the familiar Dutch psalms.
Slowly they climbed the hill to the house, already surrounded by trees. On all sides were bare acres—the 
grain already harvested.
Roelof Sleyster looked out of the window and saw the guests coming. “Looks like we have visitors,” he said. Johanna, who had been tending the baby, looked over his shoulder to see who it might be. “I believe I recognize them,” said Roelof, getting excited. “So do I,” said Johanna, as she quickly put down the baby and followed Roelof outside. “What an unexpected surprise!” Roelof said as they all shook hands. Talking excitedly, they went inside.

Roelof | Shadowbox-1 | Shadowbox-2 | Alto | Landverhuizers | Aaron | Letter Jacoba | Interview JacobaOverview pdf