Photograph of a suitcaseWhenever I research emigrant families, I’m amazed by the distances that they travelled. People who previously probably hadn’t even left their province yet, ended up circumventing half the globe. Sometimes it didn’t stop there, and after a few years they packed up and moved again.

At the moment, I’m working with Thelma Heil from Clymer, NY and Mary Risseeuw from Madison, WI on some emigrants from Winterswijk. Some of them first settled in Clymer and went on to Muscatine, Iowa. Others settled in Sheboygan and later moved to Nebraska.

There were also extensive contacts between these settlements. When the people from Clymer needed a minister but couldn’t afford one, they wrote to Winterswijk if Jan Willem Dunnewold would be interested. They remembered him because he was always listening so carefully to the sermons. When they found out that Jan Willem Dunnewold had already emigrated, they went to Milwaukee where he was working in a quarry. They convinced him to come live in Clymer and he did.

For many people, the lower land prices encouraged (or forced) them to travel further. Sometimes the second generation of emigrants couldn’t find affordable land in the area where their parents settled and they moved west along with many of their new compatriots. A lot of what I would like to call secondary Dutch settlements emerged like Greenleafton, MN, Lincoln, NE and Lyndon, WA.

Knowing about the relationships between those settlements is vital in reconstructing family relationships. Not always did siblings travel to the same destination. When I visited the United States in 1997, I took some random pictures of gravestones, which can be found in the gallery-section. It was only when I got home that I discovered that I photographed the graves of two brothers: one in Clymer and one in Sheboygan!

Gravestone with text: Wander Damkot 1821-1870. Gertrude his wife 1828-1905.

Gravestone with text: J.H. Damkot born Oct. 19 1819 Died June 2 1896. Janna H. Damkot born March 10 1813 (?) Died June (?) 1898

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.

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