John DeMaster and Wilhelmina Van der Jagt were both born in the province of Zeeland. Both their families emigrated to the United States when they were children. The families settled in the Sheboygan area, WI. As a young adult, John worked on de Vanderjagt farm and married the farmer’s daughter.
Life in the Netherlands
John DeMaster was born in Zierikzee in the province of Zeeland on 15 October 1844. He was the son of Pieter de Meester and Janna Blanker. His parents both worked on farms when they got married. Later, Pieter worked as a foreman on a large farm. Somewhere between 1844 and 1847, the family moved to Terneuzen, where Pieter the Meester had been born. On 30 July 1847, their daughter Cornelia de Meester died there at the age of 9.
Soon after the death of their dauger Cornelia, the family decided to emigrate to the United States. They left Terneuzen in 1847 together wiith their five children; three sons and two daughters. In the US, they changed their names to DeMaster. A sixth child, Peter was born to them in the United States. They spent the first years at Newport, N. Y. In 1850, they continued their westward course, making a final settlement one mile south of Cedar Grove, which then consisted merely of a post-office.
Early years in the United States
The family hardly had enough money to pay for the trip. For hauling the family from Sheboygan to their new home, Mr. DeMaster was to pay the teamster $5, but as that took all the money he had, he borrowed $1 of it to buy bread for his family, and later repaid it. Such incidents show how hard pressed the early settlers were for money, and also what inconveniences and privations they were compelled to undergo.
Having accumulated a small sum, Pieter de purchased forty acres of timber east of Cedar Grove, which, with the help of his sons, he converted into a farm. This was subsequently sold, and twenty acres bought on section 25, where he spent his last days. His death occurred in 1872, and that of his wife four years before.
John DeMaster was the fifth child in order of birth in the above family. He was only six years old when his parents moved to the county, but remembered many of the incidents of early days. As the schools during his boyhood were very inferior, and work exceptionally plentiful, he devoted more time to the latter than to securing an education. However, his experience in business affairs, and his acquisitions through reading, made him a well-informed man. After ten years of age he never entered a schoolhouse as a pupil.
When only eleven years of age, he hired to work on a farm, receiving for his services his board and $1 per month. Four years later, he hired to a farmer, John Kempers by name, who lived near Brandon, Wis. Though a lad of only fifteen years, Mr. DeMaster cradled forty acres of wheat, seven acres of oats, and five acres of barley during the first harvest. He would swing the cradle all day, while his employer bound the grain, and after supper they would put it in shocks. Working hard as he did, almost day and night, for the first year he received only $75, and for the second year $90. Returning home, he engaged in farm work and in running an engine in a grist and saw mill. The succeeding six years he worked on the farm, and teamed for C. M. Van der Jagt. As a teamster, he hauled wheat, pork, etc., to Milwaukee, Sheboygan, and Port Washington.
John DeMaster found a wife among the daughters of his employer. On the 15th of February, 1866, he Wilhelmina Van der Jagt (Mina) were married. She was born on the island of Schouwen, Zeeland, Holland, June 11, 1845, and when four years of age came with her parents to this country, settling in the town of Holland.
John and Wilhelmina have had five children. Jennie (later Mrs. H.J. Huenink), Cornelius, Peter, John and a child that died in infancy. In addition to rearing their own family, they also raised her niece, Martha Van der Jagt.
Work and functions
The same year of this marriage, John, assisted by his father- in-law, purchased eighty acres of land, upon which a portion of the village of Cedar Grove lies. For this tract they paid $2,125. Later, John became the sole owner, and has since increased his farm to one hundred and twelve acres, on which he built fine barns, and made other substantial improvements. Besides this, he owned sixty acres in Ozaukee County.
For seven or eight years he was a member of the Town Board of Supervisors. He then resigned, refusing to accept the position any longer. In 1889-90, he served as Deputy Sheriff, and was again appointed in 1893. He dealt in agricultural implements in Sheboygan and adjoining counties and was a great salesman.
John and Wilhelmina were also active members of the Presbyterian Church. John was a Trustee for at least eight years, a Sunday-school teacher for many years, and also served as Assistant Superintendent of the Sunday-school.
John DeMaster passed away on 21 June, 1904. His wife survived him for over 20 years before she followed him on 9 October 1925. They are buried in Cedar Grove Presbyterian Cemetery, Cedar Grove, WI.