Hendrik Jan Warnshuis emigrated to Clymer, NY from Winterswijk. He was married three times. Hendrik Jan was not an agreeable man and had frequent problems with the law. His first two wives died under mysterious circumstances, although nothing was ever proven.
Life in the Netherlands
Hendrik Jan Warnshuis was born in Winterswijk on 19 April 1829 as the son of Garrit Jan Warnshuis and Catharina Grooters. He came from a family of craftsmen and farmers. His grandfather and one of his half-brothers were tailors, while Hendrik Jan and one of his other brothers worked as weavers. Father Garrit Jan was a farmer.
Hendrik Jan Warnshuis emigrated from Winterswijk in 1847. He settled in Clymer, NY, together with several of his siblings and their mother.
The mysterious deaths of Hendrik Jan’s wives
Carolina Meerdink, born in Winterswijk on 10 August 1836, was a daughter of Gerrit Jan Meerdink and Gesiena te Hofstee. She came to America in 1856 from Dorp 89 in Winterswijk with her widowed mother and twin brother, Jan Willem Meerdink.
Carolina made the mistake of marrying with Hendrik Jan Warnshuis. Circumstances of Carolina’s death are suspicious. She and their baby daughter accompanied Hendrik Jan to the woodlot when he went to chop wood. Supposedly, one of the trees which he was felling accidentally fell on her head and killed her. The child she was holding was not injured. Her family was suspicious, but nothing was proved. This happened at sometime between 1860 and 1865 in French Creek, NY.
Another Meerdink girl, Anna Geertruid, fared no better. Anna Geertruid was born in Winterswijk on 3 October 1841 Winterswijk as the daughter of Teunes Meerdink and Catharina Gesiena Wesselink. She came to America with her parents in 1866 and became the second wife of Hendrik Jan.
Hendrik Jan Warnshuis and Anna Geertruid Meerdink were the parents of Anna Caroline, known as Carrie, who was born on 22 March 1868. The family also lived in French Creek. The story, as printed in the newspaper, was that on Christmas Eve of 1870 Anna Geertruid set out from home to visit her parents, a distance of about one mile. She did not reach her destination. About three weeks later her dead body was found buried in the snow. Supposedly, she had lost her way in a blinding snowstorm and perished. Foul play was again suspected, but nothing was ever proved.
As the family story goes, Hendrik Jan’s third wife was Irish and he didn’t get the best of her. Hendrik Jan died at some time after the 1880 census was taken. He was a reprobate, arrested several times for stealing, but most times avoided being put in jail.