Haartman, Evert and Janna Berendina Beskers

Evert Haartman was one of the pioneers who settled in Sheboygan County. He came to the country as a young man and later married a wife who had come straight from Holland.

Evert Haartman was born in Aalten, Gelderland, on 24 May 1824 as the son of Derk Jan Haartman and Hendrika te Bokkel. He had 5 siblings: 4 brothers and a sister. His parents were farmers and relatively well-to-do. During the Secession, his parents left the Reformed church and joined the Seceders.

Marketplace with a church in the background


Like many Seceders, Derk Jan Haartman, Hendrika te Bokkel and their family left the Netherlands to go to the United States. They left Aalten on 4 August 1846. Swierenga lists their emigration date as 17 September 1846. This might be the date of their departure for Rotterdam. They arrived New York 46 days after they left.

At first they went to Rochester, NY, where they resided for six weeks. From that point they went by way of the Great Lakes to Milwaukee which at that time was village of just about 500 inhabitants. Derk Jan Haartman purchased 40 acres of unimproved land there. While living in Milwaukee, the family was stricken with sickness and Hendrika te Bokkel, three of her sons and her daughter died.

Settling in Sheboygan County

The remainder of the family settled in Sheboygan County, probably as early as 1846. A land patent still exists that records this land purchase by Derk Jan Haartman. On 1 July 1848, he bought 640 acres of land, the whole of section thirty two in township fourteen.

Scan of land patent

Evert Haartman is frequently mentioned as one of the earliest Dutch settlers in Sheboygan county. He bought one section of land, paying $1.25 per acre. This information was taken from his biography but may in fact refer to the land purchased by his father instead.

This property was in the middle of the forest and had never before been occupied by white settlers. They had to work hard to clear the land. The first home of the Hartman family was a rude log cabin, with puncheon floor, and the chimney was a simple stove-pipe thrust through the clapboard roof.

The family often went to Milwaukee to trade. All that the people had to sell were ashes and cedar shingles, which they would take to Milwaukee and exchange for provisions. There were no churches or schoolhouses, and the roads had to hewed through the thicket to Sheboygan and Milwaukee. Evert Haartman was involved in cutting trees for several of these early roads.

The D.J. Haartman letter

In an undated letter, Derk Jan Haartman wrote to his family in Aalten.

Dutch letter


gebruiken wij vleesch en spek tot verzading toe
dat gij voor het meerendeel niet kunt doen daar moet
te veel toe worden opgebragt van alle zaken daar men
hier niets mee heeft te maken daarom kunnen wij ook
meerder overwinnen wij hebben in den korten tijd dat
wij in Amerika geweest zijn meer overgewonnen dan
in in al den tijd bij uw daar al die opbrengsten zoo als
het bij uw plaats heeft daar wij maar ienmaal in het
jaar behoeven te betalen het wordt ons uit het huis ge
haalt en ik behoeven van al mijn land niet zoo veel
te betalen als van dat kleine plekjen grond haartman
daarom kunt gij wel weten daarom kunt hij wel weten
dat wij meer geld kunnen overleggen als bij uw op haart
man wij zijn door Gods goeden zegen zoo ver gekomen
dat wij zoo veel geld hebben uitstaan dat wij 300 gulden
alle jaar trekken aan rente die wij ook kunnen uit
zetten op rente zoo de Heere ons mag bewaren voor
rampen daar wij toch alle oogeblik voor blootstaan
daar hebben wij de proeven van gehad in zesenveertig
door het verlies van mijn vrouw en 4 kinderen
die mij na een lange ziekte door den dood zijn ont
nomen daar wij nog weer zijn hersteld daar wij ook al had
den kunnen overgestapt zijn waarvoor ons de Heere
nog bewaard heeft waarvoor wij hem onzen dank niet
kunnen toebrengen met onze stamelende tongen
gij zult wel zeggen van wegens het geld uitleenen daar het
toch zoo een goed land is van vooruitgang dat is ook
waar maar gij moet weten hier is veel werk te verrigten
daar hier planken wegen zijn spoorwegen worden
aangelegd kanaalwegen zaagmolens en korenmolens

Translation (interpunction added)

We use meat and bacon until we’re satisfied, which you for the most part can’t do because too much must be brought [paid, ed.] of all the business which is no problem here. That’s why we’re left with more and in the short time we’ve been in America we’ve been able to keep more than all the time with you. All the proceeds that you have from your farmstead we only have to pay once a year. It is taken from the house. I don’t have to pay as much for all of my land as I paid for the small piece of land called Hartman. That’s how you can know that’s how you can know [repeated in original, ed.] that we can save more money then with you on Haartman. Because of God’s blessing we have come so far that we have so much money lend out that we earn 300 guilders in interest every year that we can lend out again for interest as long as the Lord keeps us from disasters that face us all the time.

We have had the burdens of that in fourtysix [1846, ed.] by the loss of my wife and 4 children whom were taken from my by death after a prolonged illness. We have recovered from that again although we could have stepped over as well [he probably meant: stepped into death, ed.] for which the Lord has saved us yet for which we cannot thank him with our stammering tongues.

You must say because we lend so much money that it is a good country of progress there. That is true but you must know there is a lot of work to be done here. There are plank roads here, railroads are being built, canals, saw mills and cornmills.

Dutch letter


dat zaken zijn dat veel kost daar het dagloon hier
hoog is timmerlieden verdienen hier 10 tot 12 schelling
daag metselaars ditto dog daghuurders 1 dollar per
dag knecht 10 dollars in de maand meiden 10 tot 12
schellings in de weke en de geneeskunde belangd doctor
of vroedmeester gij zult wel vragen zijn die dan niet
bij und ja maar die komen er niet zoo veel over en
nog meest duishers en komen er niet zoo veel als
andere want daar zijn in de maand Februarij volgens
berigten van Newjork 8175 landverhuizers aan
gekomen waaronder 500 nederlander waren gij zult
wel zeggen gij schrijft van alles maar hoe staad het
met de Godsdienst die is hier ook vrij als het anderen
gij wordt hier niet gedwongen om te geloven wat
de kerk gelooft hiermede zullen wij …
wordt voorditmaal ofschoon ik nog veel meer had kunnen
schrijven als wij met elkanderen kosten spreken
dan zouden wij ons veel meer kunnen zeggen
Nu in afwachting dat hij ons omstandig zult weerschrijven
hoe of het nog al toe gaat met de familie als andere
zaken na minzame groetenisse blijven wij ende
dierbare vrienden tekenen wij ons als
zwager en neef en broeder
D.J. Haartman
en zoons
D.J. Haartman
E. Haartman

Mijn adres is
D.J. Haartman
Staat Wisconsen
Sheboigen Conty P.O.
Gijbbesville Town 14 Sec 32
Noord Amerika

Translation (interpunction added)

These are things that take a lot of money because the wages here are high. Carpenters make 10 to 12 shillings here per day, bricklayers ditto although daylaborers earn 1 dollar per day, a hired hand 10 dollars per month, maids 10 to 12 shillings per week.

And as far as medicine, doctor or obstetrician you must wonder don’t you have these? Yes but they don’t come over as often and most are Germans. There are not so many as others because according to news from New York in February alone 8175 emigrants arrived among whom were 500 Netherlanders.

You must say you write about everything but how is the Religion? That is free here too just like everything else. You are not forced to believe what the church believes here.

We shall… [end here?, ed.] for this time although I could have written a lot more. If we only could speak with each other we could say so much more. Now we’re waiting for your lengthy reply how the family and other business is doing.

After kind regards we leave you and our dear friends and sign as brother-in-law and cousin/nephew and brother

D.J. Haartman
and sons
D.J. Haartman
E. Haartman

My address is
D.J. Haartman
State of Wisconsin
Sheboigan Conty P.O.
Gijbbesville Town 14 Sec 32
North America

According to the biography of Evert Haartman, Derk Jan Haartman died shortly after settling in Sheboygan. Because the first page(s) of the letter is missing, we don’t know the date but it must be dated to 1848 at the earliest because that’s when D.J. Haartman bought the land he lists as his address. The way he talks about ‘fourtysix’ and the amount of money he has been able to save sounds like he’s been living in Sheboygan for longer than a few years so it’s unlikely he died in the 1840s.

Even though we don’t know when he died, we do know where he was burried. Derk Jan Haartman was one of the first people to be buried in Hartman Cemetery in Town of Wilson, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. The cemetery was named after this family. Although his stone still exists, it is broken so the death date is illegible. He was survived by his two sons: Derk Jan and Evert.

Marriage to Janna Berendina Beskers

On 12 May 1855, Evert Haartman was married to Janna Berendina Beskers by A.J. Hillebrands in Wilson Township, Sheboygan County.

Dutch advertisement

Janna Berendina Beskers was born in Winterswijk, Gelderland, on 15 June 1829 as the daughter of Jan Berend Beskers and Janna Gesiena Schreurs.

She emigrated to the United States together with her parents and her sister Johanna Willemina, who was married to Gerrit Jan Rauwerdink. Unfortunately, this sister died on the Atlantic Ocean during the trip and was given a seaman’s grave.

Janna Berendina must have arrived in the United States just before the marriage because the family is listed as having emigrated in May 1855. Those dates, based on the census records, are sometimes slightly too late because it could take the administration a while to find out that people had emigrated if they didn’t officially sign out.

Janna Berendina Beskers probably left the Netherlands slightly earlier than May 1855 in order to get married on 12 May 1855 in Sheboygan. Still, she can’t have been in the United States long before she married. We have to wonder how this marriage was arranged. Did Evert and Janna Berendina know each other before he left and correspond before she emigrated? Or did he write back to family in Gelderland to find him a suitable ‘mail order bride’, the way many single pioneers did? Unfortunately, unless these letters are found, we will never know.

It must have been an emotional time for her. Within a few weeks, she left her country, saying goodbye forever to family and friends, lost her sister and got married. She must have been a resilient woman.

Married life

Evert Haartman and Janna Berendina Beskers had 10 children, including:

  1. Hattie G., married Henry Hyink from Sheboygan County
  2. Hanna B., married Peter Dirks, a farmer in Wisconsin
  3. Derrick J,. who was involved in handling agricultural implements in Cartburg, WI
  4. Minnie, married Henry Huibregtse, a hardware merchant in Iowa
  5. Jane G,. married David Lemkuil from Sheboygan
  6. Delia, married Chester Mead, from Milwaukee
  7. Cena, born 17 February 1871, died 22 February 1898 from pulmonary tuberculosis after being married only 2 years to John Krayenbrink, son of Willem Kraijenbrink and Maria Johanna Kleinhesselink. They did not have any children.
  8. Henry E., born 2 September 1875, married Minnie Lemke, daugther of Herman Lemke and Mary Sandee. They had two daughters: Evelyn and Marie. Henry died in 1914.

Picture of an elderly man with a round beard sitting in a chairThe names of the other two children are not known (yet), but they died before 1894 (probably in infancy). The family was also called Hartman, and most of Evert’s descendants are known by that name.

The children were all taught English as well as Dutch. Evert Haartman was a firm believer in a good education and applied this to his own children as well. He was a man of strong convictions and principles. As such, he was involved in the erection of no less than three churches in Sheboygan County.

In 1894, his homestead comprised of 244 acres of good land, about 2.5 miles east of Oostburg. The family attended the Dutch Reformed Church of Wilson Township.

Janna Berendina Beskers died on 28 July 1896. Evert Hartman survived her for another 14 years. He died in the home of his daughter Mrs. P. Dirkse in Town of Wilson on 4 December 1910. He had been in good health for the largest part of his life. He and his wife are buried side-by-side in Hartman Cemetery.

Newspaper clipping


  • Portrait and biographical record of Sheboygan County, WI: Evert Hartman (online version)
  • Correspondence with Janice Hesselink
  • Te Bokkel family in Lichtenvoorde, Netherlands: Copy of the original letter by D.J. Haartman
  • E.M. Smilda: A voice from Aalten about the Phoenix disaster
  • Marriages Register of Deeds of Sheboygan County
  • Nieuwsbode
  • Lists of emigrants from Aalten
  • Lists of emigrants from Winterswijk
  • Biographical album of Lancaster County Nebraska: Portrait of William Rowerdink (online version)
  • Pioneer called to his reward – Death of Evert Hartman took place at home of his daughter is [sic] Town of Wilson — funeral Wednesday, Sheboygan Press 8 December 1910 (online version)
  • L. Beiersdorf, M. Jagler and C. Lutz: Hartman Cemetery, list of graves
About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She holds the Certified Genealogist credential from the Board for Certification of Genealogists and has a post-graduate diploma in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee. She has been doing genealogy for over 30 years and helps people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.

Leave comment