Warnshuis, Jan Hendrik and Johanna Konings

Jan Hendrik Warnshuis, brother of Hendrik Jan Warnshuis, was not at all like that brother. He was an upright, God-fearing, conservative leader in the church in Clymer. I have also concluded that he didn’t have much of a sense of humor. He was Dominie Dunnewold’s right-hand man and was a leader in keeping order among the congregation. He made home visitations with the dominie and, on occasion, substituted in the pulpit for him. Sometimes he read a sermon, sometimes he preached one of his own. It has been said that the congregation greatly preferred to hear him preach rather than read because he wasn’t a very good reader.

Genealogical information

Jan Hendrik Warnshuis, b.28 Oct 1817 Winterswijk, d.17 Jan 1893 Clymer, was a son of Gerrit Jan Warnshuis and Catharina Groters. He was married in Winterswijk on 4 November 1838 with Johanna Konings, b. 22 Jan 1817 Winterswijk, d.22 Jan 1910 Clymer. She was a daughter of Jan Hendrik Konings, who was also known as Jan Derk, and Johanna ten Hulsen.


In 1845 they and their children left from the "Kortschot" at Henxel 27 to come to America. They sailed on the "Caledonia," which reached New York City on 3 October 1845. They continued, by boat, up the Hudson River to Albany and then went by canal boat across the Erie Canal to Buffalo.

View of a boat on a river

The water part of their jouney was completed as they traveled on Lake Erie from Buffalo to Westfield in Chautauqua County. There they hired a wagoner to take them to Clymer. In Clymer they settled on a farm on Clymer Hill, a short distance from the church. Jan Hendrik was the first of his family to come to America. Although not a wealthy man, in 1847 he somehow managed to finance passage across the ocean for his mother and siblings.

Making this journey with the Warnshuises were, among others, Johanna’s sister Dora Konings (b.16 Jun 1821 Winterswijk, d.22 Feb 1906 Clymer) and the family of Jan Hendrik ten Hulsen and Maria Mentink. Their son Berend Willem ten Hulsen (b.16 Jan 1822 Winterswijk, d.13 Jul 1890 Clymer) would soon become the husband of Dora. Berend Willem bought a farm right next to the one Jan Hendrik bought.

Life in Clymer

Jan Hendrik and Berend Willem were not at all alike. Whereas Jan Hendrik was very serious and his goal was to spread the Gospel to all, Berend Willem was a jovial man whose goal appears to have been to acquire as much land as he possibly could. Throughout his lifetime here he bought land, one farm at a time, worked hard, and improved the land. When he came to Clymer he owned nothing but the clothes he was wearing. At the time of his death he owned over 500 acres of land, which made him one of the largest property owners in Clymer. He left a farm to each of his five sons and comparable sums of money to each of his three daughters. He loved talking with people and he loved horses, especially fast ones.

It has been said that when two Dutchmen get together they form a church and when three get together the church will split. That seemed to be true in Clymer. For a time in the 1850s there were two churches on Clymer Hill, located a short distance from each other. One was the conservative congregation, composed of seceders or seceder-leaning people, and it became the Clymer Hill Reformed Church that still exists on Clymer Hill today. The other was a more liberal congregation, probably composed of people who had not been dissatisfied with the church in the Netherlands.

Of course, Jan Hendrik and Johanna were members of the conservative church, as was Dora. Berend Willem would drop her off at that church and then drive the horse and buggy a few yards beyond to attend the other church. That worked well for a time, but then the liberal church disbanded because they were not able to secure a pastor. After that, Berend Willem didn’t go to church.

Toward the end of his life he was visited by the pastor of the Clymer Hill Reformed Church. Berend Willem said to the pastor that he regretted that he had not done more for the church. The dominie told him that he could remedy that by leaving money to the church in his will. Berend Willem’s regrets must not have been very strong as he left all his worldly possessions to his wife and children.

Jan Hendrik and Berend Willem, as different as they were from each other, did not get along together very well. One instance of this involved Jan Hendrik’s sheep. It seems that Jan Hendrik’s sheep had a habit of leaving their property to visit the farm next door. One Sunday morning, when the sheep were again grazing on Berend Willem’s land, he rounded them up and tied them in front of the church. He also left a little sign that said, "Feed my sheep." When Jan Hendrik came out of church and saw this he was not amused. He went to the church consistory and complained about Berend Willem and his actions, but there wasn’t much the consistory could do about it because Berend Willem was not a member. Eventually, Jan Hendrik sold his farm to Berend Willem and moved about a mile away.

I can only imagine how Jan Hendrik felt a few years later when his granddaughter married one of Berend Willem’s sons.


  1. Teresa Galoob says

    Fascinating story about Jan Hendrik Warnshuis-who was my great grandfather . His son-Gerrit Jan Warnshuis was my grandfather -whom I never knew -as he was killed in a car crash while his own family was still living at home. I had traveled to Alton, Iowa-to find the original Dutch Reform Church, of which I had understood, my gr, grandfather had been a pastor there for 20 yrs. I only found a book in the Dutch Library written by Jan Hendrik Warnshuis- titled “Living Among the Sioux “. , That was quite a thrill to find the book-however , I believe the original Church may have already been replaced by a newer building and was long gone. It may have been only in a model I discovered in a Historical Museum in town, but not sure. Not very many in the town could answer any questions I had , and I ran out of time , to consider making a visit to the newer Church in town. When observing Records of former Dutch Reform Ministers in the town of Alton, I also never did see my gr. grandfathers name listed . I think I did fairly well -considering I had gone on my search , even crossing the state of Iowa from east to west , and had done it before our access to computers and Googling had even been heard of .

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