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VanBeek, Gysbert and Gysbertje DeMots


Posted By: Wilma J. Vande Berg (email)
Date: 1/21/2016 at 06:55:32

The family of Gysbert Van Beek and Gysbertje DeMots came to the site of Sioux Center with the very first oxen driven wagon train led by Jacob Koster in October of 1871. They were with a group of 34 people who came from the province of Gelderland Holland by way of East Olive, Michigan and Greenleafton, Minnesota. The Gysbert Van Beek family lived just a little north of the Reformed church in West Branch township. Shortly after arriving they lost their home in a fire. Their early home was small with an attic loft where the five boys slept. The boys would climb up on a box and then on their mother's back and disappear through a trap door and in the morning would descend in like manner.

During a diphtheria epidemic in 1880 they lost their youngest son, Jacob, and many of their friends lost children, also. A month after the death of their son the Van Beeks were blest with a baby daughter, Jennie. The Sioux County Herald, a newspaper from Orange City Iowa, in October of 1880 related that Mr. Van Beek of Sioux Center feels as proud as the president of the United States of his baby girl. Jennie Van Beek later became Mrs. Henry Willemsen and was a lifelong resident of Sioux Center.

The five sons of Gysbert Van Beek made their mark in the early days of Sioux Center. Henry was the oldest and ran a store in 'old town', in which he had a post office. He was credited with naming the town of Sioux Center because of its location in the county. Four of the sons continued the adventuresome spirit of their pioneer parents and resettled in the wilds of the Dakota Territory, Emmons County North Dakota in the 1890s. The four were Henry Van Beek 1857, and his wife Clara Jansen; John Van Beek 1860-1924 and his wife Hermina Hoeven; Gerrit Van Beek 1864-1944 and his wife Anna Vanden Berg, and Evert Van Beek 1866-1899 and his wife Tillie Bieshuevel. Each of these families multiplied greatly in the Westfield North Dakota area.

Gybert’s first wife, Gysbertje De Mots, died November 2, 1886 when her daughter Jennie was only 6 years old. Gysbert then married a Mrs. Ettje Lever on September 22, 1887 and she died in a tragic fire in their home on June 11, 1889. It appeared that Mrs. Van Beek was sick so Mr. Van Beek and the young daughter, Jennie, were sleeping in a separate room. Upon awaking, the room in which his wife slept was filled with flames and he and his small daughter escaped through the window. It is believed that his wife had tipped over a lamp. Gysbert married a third time to Mrs. Jacob Van Thielen on June 26, 1890. This Mrs. Van Beek had a daughter, Lena, who was the same age as Jennie Van Beek. Gysbert Van Beek died April 28, 1903 in Sioux Center and was buried with his wives in the local cemetery where a small marker still marks his grave.

The two children of the Gysbert Van Beek family that remained and propagated in the Sioux Center area were the families of Cornelius Van Beek 1861-1945 and the family of daughter Jennie Van Beek (Mrs. Henry Willemsen) 1880-1962. There are separate family stories on Cornelius and Jennie VanBeek Willemsen in the Sioux Center Centennial book of 1991.

Gysbert Van Beek and Gysbertje De Mots were the parents of Jennie (Mrs. Henry Willemsen) who was the mother of Grace Willemsen (Mrs. John B. Vande Berg), who was the mother of Don Lee Vande Berg, husband of the author.

This family story was taken from the Sioux Center Centennial book of 1991 and was authored by Wilma J. Vande Berg . A separate Van Beek family history book was also done by Wilma on most all of the descendants and ancestors of Gysbert Van Beek and Gysbertje De Mots and is still available.


Sioux Biographies maintained by Linda Ziemann.
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