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The Dutch Connection

by Patricia Anne (McGuinness) DuLong

At first glance, it might seem strange to discuss Dutch relatives on an Irish family web site. However, many of the Dexter McGuinnesses who descend from John Parnell McGuinness and Petronella "Nellie" Bek also share the same Dutch ancestry.

John McGuinness and Nellie Bek were married 27 August 1912, Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan.. The Bek family of Grand Rapids was very close to the McGuinness family since that time. The couple was very family oriented and visited often to meet their respective families in Detroit and Grand Rapids. The Bek’s were always invited to the McGuinness Family reunions in the mid-1900s. I was very lucky to know my Bek relatives as I was growing up by meeting them at these picnics.

I would like to start my story with a little background and history of the Netherlands, especially the Province of Zeeland, where the Bek family originated. In the twelfth century, Zeeland was just a few small islands in the North Sea. The Dutch utilized their knowledge of the sea and the tides to figure out how to build dykes and use windmills to pump the water out to enlarge their farm land, recovering it from the sea. This process took about four hundred years to fully achieve what land is present today. The Province of Zeeland is almost completely below sea level.

The Zeelanders loved their freedom so much that in 1575, when threatened by Spanish take over, they flooded the province to defeat the Spanish. Once the Dutch earned their freedom, the Zeelanders started to reclaim the land from the sea again. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the main occupation was fishing and exporting the catch to various ports of Europe. They found the soil claimed from the sea so rich and fertile that farming was the second major occupation. They grew grain for cereal and "madder-wort", a plant that was used for its dye. They grew a variety of vegetables as well, artichokes and asparagus mainly for export. The Zeelanders of the past have been known to eat as many as four meals a day with the main staples of fruits, vegetables, bread, cheese, milk, and fish.

The men tended the farms but were also expected to help maintain the dykes, which were constantly eroding from the powerful tides of the ocean. The women were considered subservient to their husbands but masters of running the home. They were known to keep spotless homes. You can imagine them in their traditional costumes with starched white hats, bright colored skirts with aprons, and ribbons. However, the dress most often seen was that of the everyday worker.  The women wore simply cloths while working.   The dresses and nickers would be patched until they could be patched no more.   The men would wear sailor type black caps or knit long stocking caps and invariably be smoking a pipe.  Of course they would wear wooden shoes when working in the muddy fields.

The Dutch were considered friendly, peaceful people. They were one of the most literate countries in Europe where nearly all men and women could read and write. Yet, they carried some superstitions such as a woman fasting the last six weeks of her pregnancy to insure a safe labor and delivery. Around 1610, they would put their shoes upside down at the foot of their bed to ward off witches.

While most of the provinces in the Netherlands would become Protestant after the Reformation, many people in Zeeland remained Roman Catholic.  They suffered mild repression from the Dutch government, but in general were tolerated as long as Mass was not held publicly.  They would rotate private homes for services. Most of our Zeeland ancestors remained Catholic, even in the United States.

Most that we know about our Dutch ancestry comes from a book our cousin, Debra Moore, wrote entitled Family Passages (1980).  To her material, I have added some items from my own research, the research of J. Verdonk (a Dutch genealogist I had hired), and from family tradition.

I will start with our Dutch ancestors Jan Bek and Pieternella de Jong. Jan Marinusse Bek was born on 13 February 1816, s’Heer-Arendskerke, island of Zuid Beveland, Zeeland Province, Netherlands. Among the Dutch, the custom was for each child to carry the father's first name as a middle name.  For boys a final "se"or "z"denoting "son of" was added to the middle name, while for girls a "dr" was added to the middle name to denote "daughter of." Jan was the first child of Marinus Bek and Johanna de Winter.

The Dutch share with the Irish the custom of naming the first son after the father's father and the second son after the mother's father.  Likewise, the first daughter was supposed to be named after the father's mother and the second daughter was to be named after the mother's mother.  Although this custom was not strictly followed in every family, Jan was named after his paternal grandfather, Jan Bek, Jan Marinusse Bek, the husband of Adriana Huige.  

Jan had ten brothers and sisters (three brothers named Laurus, four sisters named Adrianna, and three brothers named Jacob, it was not uncustomary to give children the same names in the face of high infant mortality). 

The ancestry of Jan Bek and Pieternella de Jonge extends back to the mid-eighteenth century.  Verdonk (1985), a professional genealogist, did most of the research on their ancestry for us using the parish registers back in the Netherlands.  I verified and supplemented his work with my own at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.  As time permits, I will add their ancestry to this web page.

Jan was a farm hand at the time he married Pieternella de Jonge and she was a farmer’s maid. They were married 29 July 1840 in Heinkenszand, which is also on the island of Zuid Beveland.

Pieternella Adriaansdr de Jonge was born on the 21 March 1819 in Heinkenszand. Her parents were Adrian Janse de Jonge and Catharina Pieterse Priem. Her mother was 33 when Pieternella was born, but her father was 63, this being his second marriage. Pieternella had three sisters: Maria, born 1807, Jobina, born 1809, and Johanna, born 1822. On her father’s death certificate it mentions that he had left three children from his first marriage and four children from his second marriage. Pieternella was only five when her father died on 27 July 1824. She was raised by her stepfather, Cornelius Rentmeester whom Catherina had married on 19 May 1826. From this marriage Pieternella had one stepsister, Maatje, born 1828.

For Jan to court Pieternella he would have had to travel between s’Heer-Arendskerke and Heinkenzand.  This would have been a walk of about nine kilometers.  He most likely would have used a tree-lined route called "Clarenspad," or Clara’s Path.

So far only three children have been identified as being born to Jan Bek and Pieternella de Jonge.  They are Laurus, born 15 January 1845; Marinus born in 1850, and Hubertus born 23 April 1859. Hubertus's birth must have been bitter sweet for Pieternella because her mother had just died on 3 April 1859.

At this time, overpopulation was making life quite difficult for the farmers in the Netherlands. America seemed the best place to go for many because of the reasonable cost of farmland there and the need for workers in industry. All three sons of Jan Bek and Pieternella emigrated to the United States in the 1880s.  They settled in the Grand Rapids area. Laurus married Cornelia de Willigen and had nine children, Marinus never married, and Hubertus married Jacquamina Oostdyke and had five children. Jan and Pieternella were never to see any of their fourteen grandchildren.

There is an interesting family story about Hubertus (Americanized to Herbert) that I have not yet been able to verify. According to this story, when he was a young lad he was adventurous and joined the naval service. When he had served his term the boat was pulling into port and he saw a steamship getting ready to leave for America. He never went to the governing board to file his discharge because he immediately boarded the steamship and left for America, around 1881.  Thus, he was considered absent without leave,   Another version that I’ve heard says that he deserted the Dutch army in Indonesia and fled to the United States.

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Herbert Bek and Minnie Oostdyke, about 1930

Herbert worked his way to Grand Rapids where there was a large Dutch immigrant community. He found a room with the Cornelius Oostdyke family around 1881.   According to the 1880 census, the Oostdyke [sic] family was living at 615 Turner WS, Grand Rapids.

Not too long after, on the 27 March 1882, Cornelius Oostdyke suddenly lost his wife, Cornelia Pieters, to a ruptured appendix.  He was left a widower with three children. Herbert took a liking to his eldest daughter, Jacquamina "Minnie" who was only 16 years old. Her father gave his blessing for the two to get married so there would be a second income to help with the other two children. Herbert Bek married Jacquamina "Minnie" Oostdyke on the 2 May 1882 in Grand Rapids.

Oostdyke in Dutch is spelled Oöstdijk meaning East Dyke. This is also the name of the town in Zeeland where the family originated. Jacquamina’s father, Cornelius, was born 3 January 1833, Heinkenszand. He married 26 Apr 1865 Cornelia Pieters or Pieters, Americanized to Peters. She was born 20 March 1837, Hoedekenskerke, Zeeland. They had four children: Jacquamina born 11 March 1866, Jenny born 28 August 1867, Johannes Adriannus born 28 September 1869, and Jacobus born 6 December 1879.  They decided to leave for America around May 1871. There was an outbreak of diphtheria on the boat over and Johannes and Jacobus both died before reaching America. They had three more children in Grand Rapids: John born 24 June 1872, Martin Raymond "Rennie" born 29 October 1874, and Josephine Mary "Josie" born 1878. The family was hit with diphtheria again in August 1880 when they lost Jenny on the 21st and John on the 26th.

Herbert was a finisher and stainer at the Widdicomb Furniture Co. for many years. He then tried running his own business as a saloon keeper about 1915.  However, Minnie was not too pleased with that occupation.  Consequently, he abandoned the bar and started working for the Grand Rapids School district as a custodian. He also was custodian for apartments. He was a member of the Holy Name Society and St. Anthony’s Aid Society.

Herbert died on 23 October 1934, Grand Rapids.  He was buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery, Grand Rapids. Minnie died on 30 October 1952, Grand Rapids.  She is well remembered as a kind, gentle, loving person. John McGuinness remembers her baking delicious hot cinnamon rolls.

Herbert and Minnie had six children, all born in Grand Rapids:

  1. Katherine "Kate" Mary, born 2 May 1883, died 24 February 1966, married 7 June 1906, Grand Rapids, to James Kemp Blandford, born 16 March 1882, died 7 September 1967.   They lived in Grand Rapids all their life. He was a sticker for a lumber company and then foreman at the Clipper Belt and Lacer Co. They had four children:
  1. Roger James, born 24 October1908, died in Sun City, Arizona, married, 1 July 1944, to Margaret Lois Edwards, born 13 September 1909, Saginaw, Michigan, died in Sun City, Arizona. He was a commissioned naval officer in World War II. They had three children.

  2. Helen Katherine, born 15 April 1910, died 1 January 1997, married, 11 May 1935, to Elmer Charles Kampfschulte, born 5 August 1908, died 8 November 1991. He was a salesman in Grand Rapids.  They had six children.

  3. Lily Mae, born 15 March 1917, married in 1935 at Michigan City, Indiana, to Robert Jerome Maynard.  She divorced in 1952 and remarried 13 June 1953 to John Robert Schmidt, who died 29 April 1986. She died 29 November 1995 in Los Angeles, California. She had two children from her first marriage and one from her second marriage.

  4. James "Bud" Marvin Jr., born 27 December 1922, died 19 February 1987 in Big Rapids, Michigan. He fought in the army during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. He married 19 October 1946 to Margaret Darrah Freeland and adopted one child.
  1. Petronella "Nellie" Mary, born 17 May 1886, died 11 May 1964 in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. She was a school teacher and graduated from Kalamazoo Normal College about 1908. She continued teaching until she married 27 August 1912 to John Parnell McGuinness, born 19 February 1887 and died 8 October 1964. He too was a teacher, graduating with his teaching certificate about 1907 from Kalamazoo Normal College and received his Bachelors from University of Michigan about 1914 and Masters of History about 1935. He was a math teacher, boys counselor and Assistant Principle of Cleveland Junior High in Detroit, when he retired. The McGuinness family was recognized as the "teachingest family" in Michigan at the 1955 State Fair. They had seven children in which five are still living.

  2. Laura Cornelia, born 14 February 1888 and died 24 September 1974 in Grand Rapids. On the 1910 Census she was recorded as being an out of work bookbinder in a book store. She married in Grand Rapids 28 June 1910 to Richard Thomas Armock, born 7 November 1885 in Grand Rapids and died 18 December 1972 there. She played the organ in church, enjoyed flower gardening and he was an assembler for the furniture company in Grand Rapids. They had three children:

    1. Alice Wilhemina, born 15 April 1911 and died 11 October 1994 in Grand Rapids. She married in Grand Rapids 16 Feb 1929 to Edward Charles Klinkner, born 29 October 1909 in Grand Rapids and died April 1995 there. He was a furniture builder at a company and then he opened their own upholstery shop in their home. They had six children together in Grand Rapids and five are still living.

    2. James "Jim" Richard, born 1 December1913 and died 30 September 1997 in Grand Rapids. He married 11 May 1946 to Christine "Chrissy" Magdalene Hindinach, born 17 February 1915. He was in the air force in the Mediterranean Theatre during World War II. He owned an Automotive Warehouse in Grand Rapids. They had four children all living.

    3. Gerald "Jerry" Francis, born 26 August 1915 and died 1 December 1995 in Grand Rapids. He married in Grand Rapids 16 Aug 1941 Sylvia Christina Frank, born 27 February 1921 in Conklin, Michigan. He served in the army during World War II stationed in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He ran his own general store at Chippewa Lake, Michigan from 1945 to1959 and then worked in maintenance for Ferris State University until he retired in 1979. They had four children still living.

  3. Cornelius "Neil" James, born 5 April 1890 in Grand Rapids, and died 19 November 1974 in Los Angeles, California. Neil was an adventurous man like his father. He was a skilled machinist during World War I for General Motors. Then decided to go to California with his younger brother John after the war, about 1920. He met a woman named Pearl and married her. Not much is known between them.  He married again on 7 February 1928 in San Francisco, California, to Gladys Elsie Allen, born 9 April 1904 in Buffalo Center, Iowa, and died 18 August 1990. He left for Montana and was a shoe salesman, then a car salesman, then off to North Dakota to become owner of the Castleloma hotel/night club.  Guy Lombardo and Lawrence Welk played with their bands at his establishment. He worked at the University of North Dakota teaching a machinist class for a while.Then, in 1943, he left for Seattle, Washington, to work as a journeyman machinist. After his divorce in 1947 he moved back to Michigan to take a machinist job at Reynolds Aluminum in Grand Rapids until he retired in 1958 and moved back to California to be near his daughter and only child. He was married about five times.

  4. Jennie born 12 June 1891 according to the index in the vital records of Kent County, Michigan. I never heard anyone mention her so I believe she died young.

  5. John Martin, born 15 June 1893, Grand Rapids. He was baptized at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Conklin, Michigan (a suburb of Grand Rapids), died 6 June 1977 in Ventura Co., California. He married first a Frieda Loretta Dornberger. She was born 4 August 1900, Manhattan, New York. They married around 1924 and had two daughters before she died in 1953. He married secondly, 7 May 1955 in Los Angeles, to Amelia Sylvia Place. John was remembered as being very athletic and received a scholarship to Colgate University. He received a commission in the navy for World War I. He attended the Colorado School of Mines. After the war, he worked for an oil company digging wells. Then, around 1920, he went to California with his brother Neil and was a salesman for a furniture store. He later was working at a Dutch carpet wholesale store as one of their best salesmen. He was about 5' 8" with light brown hair according to his daughter. His brother Neil was about the same height and they both had similar voices.


Armock, Sylvia. 2000.  Telephone conversation with Patricia A. DuLong.   Plainfield, MI, 6 May.

Armock, Christine. 2000.  Telephone conversation with Patricia A. DuLong.   Grand Rapids, MI, 6 May.

Bek, Cornelius. Obituary.  Grand Rapids Herald, 22 November 1974, obituary section.

Bek, Gilles C.  1991.  Letter to Patricia A. DuLong.  Adenauerstede, Goes, Netherlands, 8 August.

Bek, Herbert, Obituary. Grand Rapids Press, Wednesday 24 October 1934, p. 22.

Bek, Minnie, Obituary. Grand Rapids Press, Friday 31 October1952, p. 47.

Bigbie, Betty Jean (Bek).  2000.  Telephone conversation with Patricia A. DuLong.  Thousand Oaks, CA, 10 May.

Grand Rapids City Directory 1883–1884, at State of Michigan Library, Lansing, MI

Grand Rapids City Directory 1884–1885, at State of Michigan Library, Lansing, MI

Grand Rapids City Directory 1885–1886, at State of Michigan Library, Lansing, MI

Grand Rapids City Directory 1887, at State of Michigan Library, Lansing, MI

Grand Rapids City Directory 1888, at State of Michigan Library, Lansing, MI

Grand Rapids City Directory 1889 at State of Michigan Library, Lansing, MI

Grand Rapids City Directory 1890, at State of Michigan Library, Lansing, MI

Grand Rapids City Directory 1934, at State of Michigan Library, Lansing, MI

Grand Rapids City Directory 1936, at State of Michigan Library, Lansing MI

Klinkner, Richard.  2000.  Telephone conversation with Patricia A. DuLong.   Kentwood, MI, 12 May 2000.

Klinkner, Charles. 2000.  Telephone conversation with Patricia A. DuLong.   Portage, MI, 20 May.

Lancaster, Joan (Maynard).  1979-1983.  Letters to Patricia A. DuLong.   Pacoima, CA, letters dated from March 1979 to 6 Feb 1983 including her family records on the Bek Family as of June 1980.

Landers, Mary (McGuinness).  1979.  Letter to Patricia A. DuLong.   Livingston, CA, 5 March.

McGuinness, John Peter.  2000.  Telephone conversation with Patricia A. DuLong.  Fenton, MI, 27 April.

McGuinness, Virginia. 1979.  Unpublished Genealogy Manuscripts.  In possession of Virginia McGuinness in 2000, photocopies in possession of Patricia DuLong.

Michigan, Kent County, County Clerk’s Office, Grand Rapids.  Marriage Register, book 6, p. 217, rec. no.11447, Herbert Beck and Minnie Oostdyke.

Michigan, Kent County, Clerk's Office, Grand Rapids.  Marriage Register, book 15, rec. no. 6015, Laura Bek and Richard Armock.

Michigan, Kent County, Clerk's Office, Grand Rapids. Death Register, 1882, line 1, Cornelia Osdyk [sic].

Michigan, Kent County, Clerk's Office, Grand Rapids. Death Certificate, 3225, Cornelius Oostdyk.

Michigan, Kent County, Court House Records, Grand Rapids. Naturalization Cases, vol. U, p. 130, Herbert Bek.

Michigan, Lansing, Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics.  Death Certificate, register no. 1415, state office no. 14122730, Herbert Bek.

Michigan, Lansing, Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics . Death Certificate, register no. 271, state file no. 4100 22376, Minnie Bek.

Moore, Debra Bek.  1980.  Family Passages: The Pedigree of Sara Lynne and Emily Mary Moore.  Grand Rapids, MI: Privately printed.

Moore, Debra.  1985.  Letter to Patricia A. DuLong.  Grand Rapids, MI, 4 June.  Contains notes on the baptism of John Martin Bek (with margin note of marriage to Amelia S. Place in Los Angeles, CA, stating that his first wife died).

Netherlands, Zeeland Province. Heinkenszand Civil Register. Births 1863–1868, rec. no. 14, March 1866, Jacomina Oostdijk.  Family History Library, Salt Lake City, UT, film no. 0244615.

Netherlands, Zeeland Province. Heinkenszand Acts of Marriage, rec. no. 7, April 1865, Cornelis Oostdijk and Cornelia Pieters.  Family History Library, Salt Lake City, UT, film no. 0244618.

Netherlands, Zeeland Province. Heinkenszand Civil Register. Births 1811-1842, rec. no. 2, January 1833, Cornelis Oostdijk.  Family History Library, Salt Lake City, UT, film no. 0122399.

Netherlands, Zeeland Province. Hoedekenskerke Civil Register Births, rec. no. 5, March 1837, Cornelia Pieters.

Oliver, Nell T.  2000.  Telephone conversation with Patricia A. DuLong.   St. Claire Shores, MI, 8 May.

Poortvliet, Rien.  1988.  In My Grandfather's House.  New York: Harry N. Adams.

__________.  1992.  Daily Life in Holland in the Year 1566: And the Story of My Ancestor's Treasure Chest.  New York: Harry N. Adams.

Spruit, Carol (Klinkner).  2000.  Telephone conversation with Patricia A. DuLong.  Comstock Park, 11 May 2000.

Spruit, Mari Ann (Klinkner). 2000.  Telephone conversation with Patricia A. DuLong.  Wyoming, MI, 22 May.

Swierenga, Robert P., comp. 1983.  Dutch Emigrants to the United States, South Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia, 1835-1880: An Alphabetical Listing by Household Heads and Independent Persons.  Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources Inc.

U.S. Federal Census.  1900.  Michigan, Kent County.   Micropublication ED 110, roll no. 723. Washington: National Archives.

U. S. Federal Census.  1910.  Michigan. Kent County.   Micropublication ED145, roll no. 656. Washington: National Archives.

Verdonk, John.  1985.  Letter to Patricia A. DuLong.  Hoogland, the Netherlands, 9 November 1985.

Mr. Verdonk is perhaps the best professional genealogist I have ever had an opportunity to work with in my research.  He did a thorough job and prepared a well laid out and documented report on our Dutch ancestors.

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This page, and all contents, are Copyright © 1999 by Patricia A. (McGuinness) DuLong, Berkley, MI.   Created 21 December 1999.   Last modified 28 July 2002.  This web site is best viewed with your display set to 800 by 600 pixels, at least 256 colors, and using Netscape 4.x or better.  Some of the graphics on this page are copyright © 1998, 1999 by Amanda Fisher and are used here in compliance with her terms.