The Family of Dirk Gerkes Postma

This is the second in a series of 12 articles about emigrants from the Frisian municipality of Dantumadeel, who settled in Pella, Iowa. This article was written by Kor Postma and translated by Thys de Jong.

Dirk Gerkes Postma was born on July 3, 1803 and baptized on July 25, 1803 in the Reformed church in Oudwoude [Kollumerland]. He was the son of Gerke Gerkes Postma and Tjitske Aans Wiersma. Gerke and Tjitske had 10 children.

Dirk married Tjitske Alberts Plantinga in Dantumadeel on May 11, 1834; she was the daughter of Albert Sijbrens Plantinga and Hinke Romkes. She was born in Wouterswoude on April 4, 1808 and was baptized on May 8, 1808 in the reformed church in Dantumawoude. [The baptismal record states she was born in Dantumawoude; the villages are close to each other]. The young couple settled in Driesum and their 4 children were born there: Gerke on March 17, 1835, Hinke on April 15, 1838, Tjitske on January 22, 1841 and Albert on January 22, 1845.

Emigration

The family left the municipality of Dantumadeel in search of a better life in the group that the Rev. H. P. Scholte led to the United States of America.

On April 3, 1847 they took the road to later step aboard the Pieter Floris. They too were not spared from grief aboard ship for their daughter Tjitske died from the croup and was buried at sea. [In all eight children died from this disease.] Great was their sorrow but they could not return. Just like the other Frisian families they sailed the Atlantic ocean for 12 weeks to set foot on land finally in Baltimore, Maryland on June 12, 1847. From there they continued right through America to settle in the state of Iowa.

The place where the Frisians settled was given the name Pella after the place to which Christians fled when Romans encircled the city of Jerusalem (A.D. 70 ). In 1852 and 1853 they purchased land west of the Porter Grove Cemetery where they farmed. In 1853 Dirk died suddenly; he was then living at Red Rock, Marion County, Iowa. Jitske, Dirk’s widow, remarried on March 5, 1854 Gosse Teunis de Vries. They knew each other because Gosse was also aboard the Pieter Floris in 1847.

They settled in Summit Township, just north of Cordova. Jitske Alberts de Vries, widow, age 72, was living in 1880 with her daughter Hinke and son-in-law Dingeman de Bok. She died after 1880 in Summit Township. Gosse died before 1880 but the exact date and place are unknown. (It’s thought he died around 1870.) He is probably the Gosse Teunis de Vries born in Hantum (Westdongeradeel) on March 16, 1800 and baptized there in the Reformed church on April 27, 1800; he was the son of Teunis Jans and Tjitske Egberts.

Gerke Postma and Sybrigje Leegsma

Gerke Postma married Sybrigje Willems Leegsma on February 16, 1862 in Pella . Sybrigje was born on January 10, 1836 in Eestrum (Tietjerksteradeel). She was a daughter of Willem Jenses Leegsma and Jantje Wijbes Kloosterman. This family had 5 children of whom only Sybrigje at the age of 19 crossed the ocean to North America in the year 1855.

Gerke Dirk Postma Sybrigie Leegsma
Gerke Dirk Postma and Sijbrigje Willems Leegsma

It was not only the Afscheiding (separation) or the poor economic circumstances that were reasons to emigrate. Sybrigje ran away from home, which could point to a really bad family quarrel. This was a wonderful chance to rid herself of her family. A man paid her passage in the hope that she would marry him, but this was not Sybrigje’s plan. She did not love the man and did not marry him once she arrived in America. She sought work and could in that manner repay the man for her passage. Together with her husband Gerke (and I assume she did love him) they brought 6 children into the world.

Tjitske Postma and Dirk Annes van der Ploeg

Tjitske “Sarah” Postma was born on September 29, 1863 in Red Rock. She married on March 10, 1885. Her husband was Dirk Annes van der Ploeg, who was born on January 18, 1858 in Dantumadeel. He was probably a son of the third marriage of Anne Ruurds van der Ploeg with Pietje Dirks Bosgraaf. He and Anne emigrated in 1869 from Dantumadeel with 2 children to America. His brother Durk Ruurds van der Ploeg had preceded him in 1857 along with his wife Stijntje Taedes Postma and 3 children, also from Dantumadeel. Tjitske died on March 30, 1896 in Rock Valley and was buried at the Valley View cemetery there. From their marriage 3 children were born: Gerrie, Bertha and Bennie, all probably born in Canada where they lived for some time. Dirk was somewhat older than Tjitske and already had 5 children from a previous marriage. He treated his second wife so badly that she became very ill and returned without children to her family in Iowa.

Tjitske Postma

Tjitske Postma

William Gerke Postma and Caroline Weideman

William Gerke Postma was born on December 8, 1864 in Red Rock. He married on January 7, 1892 Caroline Weideman and died on April 28, 1938 in Monroe, Jasper Co, Iowa. Caroline Weideman was born on August 2, 1870 in Galesburg, Jasper County, Iowa and was a daughter of Charlie and Margaret Weideman. Caroline Weideman died on July 15, 1956, also at Monroe. Beside farming William was also active as a restaurant and hotel keeper in Sully, Lynn Grove Township. William and Caroline were blessed with children.

Grave of William and Caroline Postma

Grave of William and Carolina Postma

Richard Dirk Postma

Richard Dirk Postma was born on December 24, 1865 in Red Rock, Marion Co, Iowa. He remained single and lived with his brother Harry till his death on December 13, 1934 in Sioux City, Woodbury Co, Iowa.

John Postma

John Postma was born on April 6, 1867 in Red Rock. He also remained single and died on March 9, 1927 at Rock Valley.

In 1869 Gerke and Sybrigje moved to Otley where 2 more children were born.

Benjamin Augusta Postma and Lucy Jane Kelly

Benjamin Augusta Postma was born on August 9, 1870 in Otley, Marion Co, Iowa. He was blinded through an accident in a coal mine in 1889. On May 5, 1893 he married Lucy Jane Kelly in Manchester, Delaware County, Iowa. They had met each other in a school for the blind in Vinton. Lucy was born on April 17, 1872. Benjamin Postman (he had put an “n” behind his name) died on June 28, 1954 in Chickasha, Grady Co, Oklahoma. He was buried there in Fairlawn cemetery. Lucy Jane Kelly died on May 1, 1894 in her birth place of Manchester, Delaware County, Iowa. The couple left 8 children. [Lucy's date of death has to be wrong. It was impossible to have 8 children in so short a time. A Rootsweb source gives her date of death as November 3, 1969 in Manchester.]

Fairlawn Cemetery

Fairlawn Cemetery

Harry Albert Postma and Maggie

Harry Albert Postma was born on December 11, 1876 also in Otley. In 1897 he married Maggie whose last name is unknown. She was born in 1874 in Wisconsin. He ran a restaurant and died on April 25, 1949 in Sioux City. Harry was buried at the Memorial Park cemetery there. The couple left 6 children. [A Rootsweb source lists his occupation as mail carrier in Rock Valley in 1898.]

Memorial Park cemetery

Memorial Park Cemetery

In various sources it’s mentioned that Gerke was a huckster. Which means that he earned his keep by selling a variety of goods mostly laden on a large cart.

In 1889 Gerke and Sybrigje moved to Rock Valley in order to enjoy their old age. On February 3, 1915 Gerke died and shortly thereafter on September 28, 1915 Sybrigje (Siebe) died. They are buried in the Valley View Cemetery in Rock Valley.

Grave of Sybrigje (Leegsma) Postma

Grave of Sybrigje (Leegsma) Postma

Hinke Postma and Dingeman de Bok

About daughter Hinke Postma we do not know as much, only that she married Dingeman de Bok on March 9, 1855 in Marion. Dingeman de Bok emigrated at the age of 16 to America. He was born on March 11, 1832 in the Netherlands. He had been in the area of Marion County for some time already and had his own farm. He also dealt in large tracts of land and was from time to time owner of a large number of good farms. The couple settled in Red Rock where they continued farming. They left 10 children: Jane born February 19, 1856, Jetske “Eula” born April 10, 1858, Elizabeth born December 29 1860, John born October 26, 1863, George born February 21, 1866, Johanna born July 8, 1867, Sarah born August 23, 1869, Mary born July 21, 1871, Charles born March 16, 1874 and William Henry born October 26, 1876, all of them in Red Rock. There was also a stillborn child on April 9, 1862. [The children are listed in World Connect with descendants for six of them.] Hinke died on July 15, 1905 and almost 5 years later Dingeman died on April 23, 1910, both in Red Rock.

Hinke Postma Dingeman de Bok
Hinke Postma and Dingeman de Bok

Albert Postma and Gertze Hoekstra

Last in the row is Albert Postma, who presumably married Gertze or Getze (Gertrude) Hoekstra on March 26, 1866 in Marion County. She was born around 1846 in the Netherlands, the daughter of Henry and Margaret Hoekstra. However, this data came from America and after much searching I believe it is more likely that Albert married Gertje van der Hoek, daughter of Hendrik Pieters van der Hoek and Grietje Gerrits Meyer, who was born on May 27, 1846 at Wouterswoude in the municipality of Dantumadeel and emigrated in 1857 with her parents and other family members to North America.

Albert and Gertze had 4 children, all born near Red Rock:

  1. Dirk born in 1867,
  2. Gertze born in June 1868,
  3. Yetske also named Maggie born June 1870,
  4. Henry born in August 1872.

Albert died on November 26, 1873 in Lake Prairie Township, Marion County, Iowa. After his death his widow Gertze remarried on April 28, 1875 with Garrit (or Gerrit) Buikstra or Beukstra in Marion County. Further data about them is unknown.

Postma Family

The sons of Gerke Dirk Postma and Sybrigje Willems Leegsma. From left to right: William, Benjamin, Jhn, Jarry and Richard Postma.

Two other noteworthy circumstances may be mentioned:

First, John de Bok, son of Hinke Postma and Dingeman de Bok, married in 1885 in Marion County Iowa Maggie, the daughter of Albert Postma and Gertze Hoekstra. If the dates above are correct she would only have been 15 years old. This young couple was blessed with 10 children.

Secondly, during the search for the Postma family it became clear that the name Postma was written in a variety of ways. On the passenger list of the Pieter Floris it’s written as Postuma and later 5 other variations occur. In one marriage contract Gerke Dirks Postma is named “Gerka De Postma”.

If you have additions or corrections I would like to hear them.

Book ‘Groeten uit Amerika’

This series of articles is also available in Dutch in the book ‘Groeten uit Amerika’. This book can be bought from Kor Postma for €25 including shipping and handling to the Netherlands.

Additions or corrections?

If you have additions or corrections please contact Kor Postma.

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