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 Beks 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, sHeer-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 farmers 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 fathers 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 sHeer-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 Claras 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 Ive heard says that he deserted the Dutch army in Indonesia and fled to the United States.
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. Jacquaminas 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. Anthonys 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:
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 18831884, at State of Michigan Library, Lansing, MI
Grand Rapids City Directory 18841885, at State of Michigan Library, Lansing, MI
Grand Rapids City Directory 18851886, 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 Clerks 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, rec.no. 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 18631868, 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.
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.