[ Return to Index ] [ Read Prev Msg ] [ Read Next Msg ]

Ramaker, Henry John 1894-1976 and Grace Vermeer Family


Posted By: Wilma J. Vande Berg - volunteer (email)
Date: 7/22/2021 at 16:08:23

Ramaker, Henry John 1894-1976 and Grace Vermeer Family

This family story comes from the Sioux Center Centennial book of 1991 pages 480 and 481, it was submitted to the book by Del Te Paske. It was transcribed for this BIOS by Beth De Leeuw and RESEARCH Notes were added by Wilma J. Vande Berg both of the Greater Sioux County Genealogical Society.

Henry John (baptized Hindrikjan) Ramaker, born at Prairie View, Kansas, August 2, 1894, died on September 11, 1976, Sioux Center, Iowa.

Grace (baptized Driestje Vermeer) Ramaker, born near Sioux Center, Iowa, August 21, 1891, died on September 14, 1978, Sioux Center, Iowa.

Henry J. Ramaker (Hindrikjan, according to the family Bible) was born near Prairie View, Kansas on August 2, 1894, the son of Steven and Lena (Dekker) Ramaker. Steven was born on September 12, 1860, in Oude Piccardie, Grafschaft Bentheim, Germany, just a few miles from the Dutch border. He emigrated to the United States on August 15, 1882. Lena was born in the Province of Overijssel, the Netherlands on April 10, 1870, and emigrated with her family on April 16, 1882. Both settled in the north-central Kansas farming community where they first met, were married at Luctor on March 29, 1888, and began raising their family in a sod house on the prairie.

Reports of the better farming conditions enjoyed by the Dutch community in Northwest Iowa led the Ramaker family to pick up their worldly goods and move to Sioux Center in March 1910. They came, husband and wife, eight children, their household goods, their cattle, and Ernest Ruys, a suitor to the eldest daughter, Fannie, who insinuated himself into the party by offering to be herdsman to the cattle on the train that brought them.

The elder Ramakers were apparently staunch believers in higher education, but only for approved purposes, the ministry being the first of those, with anything else being a poor second. By the time they came to Sioux Center, eldest son, John, was already on his way through college and seminary and when the younger half of the family began showing similar inclinations, Steven and Lena moved to Grundy Center, Iowa, so as to be near a desirable school that was located there at the time.

But when second son, Henry, wanted financing to take him through an auctioneering school, the parents balked, considering that such a worldly and frivolous pursuit was not worthy of their support. Herdsman Ernest Ruys into the breach! By this time he had become a brother-in-law and it was he who loaned the young farm hand enough money to take him to Chicago and through the Jones National School of Auctioneering, from which he emerged with a diploma on January 9, 1914.

(Steven and Lena remained in Grundy Center until 1933, when they returned to Sioux Center, and where both died.)

Following his auctioneering training, Henry returned to his parents’ farm and worked with them while also trying to establish his new business. He found time, in addition, to be part of a singing class at the First Christian Reformed Church but his courting activities were not directed toward the attractive young women in that group. Instead it was one whom he met at a party at the Menno Borgman home who struck his fancy. This was Grace (baptized Driestje Vermeer) who was born into the Evert Vermeer family on their farm in the Northeast Quarter of Section 16 in West Branch Township on August 21, 1891. Things progressed at the party sufficiently for Grace to permit herself to be escorted home by Henry, but her younger sister, Priscilla, was there too, so she too sat in the buggy on the way home. Nevertheless, it was the beginning of a courtship that culminated in their marriage at the Vermeer home on March 7, 1917.

(The antecedents of Grace Vermeer Ramaker are set forth in more detail in the history of the Evert Vermeer family in this same volume.)

Henry and Grace moved onto a farm three miles east of the “old Sioux Center” corner (E½ of SE¼ Sec. 2 and S½ of SW¼ and SW½ of SE¼ of Sec. 1, West Branch Twp.), and named it the Eastview Stock Farm. Here they carried on a full-fledged crop and livestock operation, usually with the help of a live-in hired hand whose life was often made miserable by the teasing and pestering administered by the three daughters who were born between 1918 and 1924.

The auction business grew rapidly. Henry proved to be aggressive in the pursuit of opportunities while Grace kept the detail work under control. In 1919 they formed a de facto partnership with Herman De Vries who had come from the same auctioneering school in that year. They proved to be a formidable team in the ring and developed a strong personal friendship as well as a thriving business. During 15 years of association the two cried more than 2,000 sales in the tri-state area where Iowa, South Dakota, and Minnesota join. During the depths of the Great Depression, they at times were forced to schedule more than one sale during a day, each one crying a sale single-handedly. It was on one such occasion that Herman De Vries, returning from the auction that he had conducted, was killed in an automobile accident just east of the Million Dollar corner. It was a sad end to a great friendship and a fine business partnership. The date was February 22, 1934.

During the Ramaker tenure on the Eastview Stock Farm, the Sioux County Farm Bureau was organized and they became charter members as well as active participants in the numerous progressive programs that characterized the organization’s early years. Grace became a militant campaigner for the betterment of the living conditions of farm families, not only in matters of housing, but also in those affecting the access of farm families to the cultural and educational activities of the town community.

Throughout this period they remained true to the de riguer community commitment to church and family, especially the Vermeer family whose very numbers exerted a strong gravitational pull. They taught Sunday school classes, joined missionary groups and were full-fledged participants in the round of family gatherings that formed the bulk of social activity for much of the farming community. Memorial Day and the Fourth of July were the big days for the Vermeer tribal conclaves. Well before noon they would begin to gather at one of the farmsteads, the ladies sorting out the contributions for the various food functions of the day and the men seating themselves in a circle to warm up the theology, philosophy, and gossip menu. Promptly at noon the elder of the day called for silence and pronounced the blessing, whereupon all proceeded to the feast; the children leading in order to pick and sniff and generally mess up the offerings, the men following to eat the bulk of it, and the women trailing to take what was left and then to restore order and reorganize for the next round.

After the food settled, fun and games commenced. Singles-versus-marrieds ball games were center-ring while the younger ones pin wheeled about in their free lance play and the ladies sat in groups, chatting or wiping noses/tears. On the Fourth there were firecrackers and crackerjack provided by one or more of the uncles.

Then about 3:30, it was “lunch” –– sandwiches, leftovers from noon, and cold drinks. The younger children would then continue to play but the men had chores to do at home. Early in the evening, all reassembled for the final session of coffee, cake, ice cream, display fireworks on the Fourth, and final clean up. Finally conversation faded away as the young families sorted themselves out and headed for their homes.

It was into this environment of large extended family, church, Farm Bureau cum 4-H, and a busy auction schedule that the Ramakers’ three daughters were born; Alene on April 22, 1918, Henrietta (always known as Yette) on December 17, 1921, and Sylvia on September 6, 1925.
Following the death of Herman De Vries, Henry continued his business on an independent basis, though often teaming up with other independent operators.

It was also during the thirties that he became active in real estate brokerage. It was a period of severe stress in the farm economy and many of the auction sales that he managed had a funereal aspect to them in that they signaled the failed end of a family farming operation. In other cases, the sale was only a part of a general restructuring of the farm operation and it was through these that the attendant land sales, trades, financings, and refinancing brought about a surge in his real estate brokerage business and earned him a reputation for helping numerous farmers reduce unmanageable debt loads and salvage enough assets to survive the Depression and regain their standing as successful farmers.

The demands of the auction and real estate businesses, the death of the partner, advent of tractor farming, and wifely urging led in late 1934 to a move from farm to “town”.

The school year had started and shortly after noon Superintendent Sandven noticed a group of his young charges headed south on Main Street. Sensing some impropriety, he set off in his car to investigate. Overtaking what turned out to be Alene, Yette, and a number of their cousins, he inquired as to their destination and purpose. He was promptly put in his place by one of the cousins who informed him, “It’s Uncle Henry’s sale.” Properly chastened, the superintendent loaded the troop into his car and delivered them to their destination. Such was the standing of “THE SALE” in those days.

There followed shortly the move to their home on the “old town” corner where Henry and Grace lived long enough to give the corner their name. Henry retired from the auction business in 1945, having compiled a career total of more than 6,000 sales cried and becoming one of the leading auctioneers in the Midwest. He continued his brokerage activity until 1955.

During their semi-retirement and into their full retirement years, the Ramakers devoted increasing attention to community and church affairs. Henry served for 10 years on the International Board of the World Home Bible League and, from 1952 until shortly before his death, as a trustee and member of the Northwestern College Board. In recognition of the long-standing and generous support given the College by the Ramaker family, the new library, dedicated in 1963, bears that name.

They were also leaders in the founding of the Sioux Center Community Hospital and Health Center. When that cherished institution became a reality, Grace was a charter member of its Board of Directors and remained on the board until failing health compelled her to withdraw.

Throughout their later years, the Ramakers traveled extensively, for many years wintering in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where they had also invested in some citrus groves. In addition to trips to Europe and Alaska, they particularly enjoyed taking escorted motorcoach tours to numerous destinations within the lower 48 states; the latter permitting them to continue moving about the country even after their own driving ceased to be advisable.

Henry Ramaker died after a short illness on September 11, 1976; Grace on September 14, 1978. Both died in the Sioux Center Hospital and both were buried in the Sioux Center Cemetery.

Their daughter, Alene Moret, died on August 15, 1977. Yette Te Paske continues to reside in Sioux Center. Sylvia Straatsma lives in Iowa Falls, Iowa.

Above was submitted to the book by Del Te Paske

RESEARCH NOTES – birth records and obituaries submitted by Wilma J. Vande Berg

OBITUARY of Henry J. Ramaker Sep 1976
Source: Sioux County Index issue of 16 Sep 1976.
Henry J. Ramaker, 82, Sioux Center, died Sept. 11 at a Sioux Center hospital after a long illness.
Mr. Ramaker was born Aug. 2, 1894 at Prairie View, Kansas. He married Grace Vermeer March 7, 1917 at Sioux Center. He moved to the Sioux Center area in 1910. He was an auctioneer and real estate broker.
Survivors include his widow and others.
Source: Funeral folder from Vander Ploeg's Funeral Home.
Mr. Henry J. Ramaker passed away Saturday evening in Sioux Center at the age of 82 years. On March 7, 1917, in Sioux Center, he was united in marriage to Grace Vermeer who now survives. To this union three daughters were born: Alene, Mrs. Henry Moret of Sioux Center; Yette, Mrs. Adelphos Te Paske of Sioux Center; and Sylvia, Mrs. Stanley Straatsma of Iowa Falls. He is also survived by seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and one brother, Gerald, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Three brothers and three sisters preceded him in death. Mr. Ramaker was widely known throughout this area through his business as an auctioneer and real estate broker. His passing is mourned by many friends and relatives.
From folder: Officiating were Rev. Wesley Kiel, Rev. G. Rezelman, and Rev. E. Van Engelenhoven.
Glen and Betty Vermeer sang "I Know Whom I Have Believed" and "Have Thine Own Way Lord". Congregation sang "Amazing Grace, How Sweet The Sound"
Organist; Frieda Vande Brake. Casket bearers; Arnold Kaemingk, Gerrit Gesink, Ed. H. Rozeboom, and Peter G., Lawrence, and Calvin Mouw.
Burial in The Memory Gardens Cemetery on Tuesday, September 14, 1976.

OBITUARY of Grace Vermeer Mrs. Henry J. Ramaker Sept 1978
Sioux Center News, Sioux Center, Sioux, Iowa, USA September 20, 1978
Sioux Center--Mrs. Henry J. Ramaker, 87, of Sioux Center, died Thursday at the Sioux Center Hospital.
Services were held Saturday, Sept. 16, in the First Reformed Church. The Rev. Dr. Thurman Rynbrandt officiated. Burial was in Memory Gardens Cemetery under direction of Vander Ploeg Funeral Home.
Mrs. Ramaker, the former Grace Vermeer, was born Aug. 21, 1891, at Sioux Center. She was married March 7,1917, at Sioux Center. Mr. Ramaker died Sept. 11, 1976.
Survivors include two daughters, Mrs. Adelphos (Yette) Te Paske of Sioux Center, and Mrs. Stanley (Sylvia) Straatsma of Iowa Falls; three sisters, Mrs. Priscilla Ramaker and Mrs. Jennie Muilenburg, both of Sioux Center, and Hattie Mol of Corvallis, Ore.; seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren ·

ANCESTRY.COM Ramaker family history on ancestry.com (by others) has Steven Ramaker born 12 September 1860Oude Piccardie, Grafschaft Bentheim, Niedersachsen, Germany. From the Kingdom of Hannover Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials 1684-1892 lists Steven Ramaker born 12 Sep 1860 Germany baptized 23 Sep 1860 at Veldhausen, Bentheim, Hannover, Germany. Parents were Hindrik Jan Ramaker and Fenne Ramaker.

Lena F. Dekker born 10 April 1870 Overijssel Netherlands, died 23 Apr 1959 Sioux Center IA, the daughter of Jan Dekker 1843-1931 and Hendrika Lena Teusink 1840-1916.

OBITUARY of Steven Ramaker July 13, 1944
Source: Sioux Center News (7-13-1944)
Birth: September 12, 1860 Death: July 5, 1944
Mr. Steven Ramaker passed away at his home in Sioux Center at about 9:30 in the evening of July 5, 1944 after a lingering illness due to old age and complication. He had reached the age of 83 years and 10 months.
Mr. Ramaker was born on September 12, 1860 in Graafschap, Bentheim, Germany and at the age of 21 years he departed from the fatherland, settling in Muskegan, Michigan, where he engaged in lumbering for five years. At the age of 26 he moved to Osborne County, Kansas to farm. In 1888 he was married to Miss Lena Dekker from Phillips County, Kansas to which 9 children were born, 8 of whom now survive him as also the mother.
The children are: Mrs. Ernest Ruys, Sioux Center; Reverend John Ramaker of South Glastonbury, Connecticut; Mrs. Ben Mouw, Sioux Center; Henry Ramaker, Sioux Center; Albert Ramaker, Sioux Center; Reverend Samuel Ramaker, Spencerville, Ohio; and Reverend Gerald Ramaker of Torresdale, Pennsylvania. Also an only sister, Mrs. H.J. Draght of Holland, Michigan, and a brother John Ramaker of Downs, Kansas, and 23 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by a daughter Mrs. Gus Koopman, who passed away in the year 1935 at the age of 31 years and also an infant son who passed away many years ago.
Funeral services were held on Saturday afternoon, July 8, 1944 at the home and at the First Christian Reformed Church with the Reverend Arnoys officiating. He was assisted by Reverend L.A. Brunsting of the First Reformed Church. Special music was furnished by Miss Henrietta Ten Harmsel who sang two vocal solos entitled "Face to Face" and "In the Sweet Bye and Bye".
Burial was made in the local cemetery and acting as pall bearers were his sons, Albert, Henry, Gerald and Sam Ramaker, Ben Mouw and Ernest Ruys.

BIRTH of Lena Fina Dekker to Jan Dekker, a turf shipper, and Hendrika Lena Teusink born 10 April 1870 at Vriezenveen, Zwolle Overijssel.

OBITUARY of Lena Dekker Mrs. Steven Ramaker. April 23, 1959
Source: Sioux Center News (4-30-1959)
Born: April 10, 1870 Died: April 23, 1959
Funeral services were held Saturday at 1:30 P.M. from the Christian Reformed Church here for Mrs. Steven Ramaker, 89, long time resident of Sioux Center, who passed away Thursday morning, April 23, at the home of her granddaughter, Mrs. Gerrit Gesink, where she made her home.
Reverend B.J. Haan officiated and burial was made in the Sioux Center Community Cemetery with Vander Ploeg’s Funeral Service in charge.
Pall bearers were Lawrence Mouw, Calvin Mouw, Peter G. Mouw, Adelphos Te Paske, Arnold Kaemingk, and Steven Ramaker.
Mrs. Ramaker, nee Lena Dekker, was born April 10, 1870, in the Netherlands and came to America at the age of 12. On March 29, 1888, she was united in marriage to Steven Ramaker at Luckter, Kansas, where they homesteaded and farmed for 22 years. They then moved to Sioux County, where they resided for nine years, and later to Grundy Center, Iowa where they made their home for the next 14 years. They then spent the remainder of their life in Sioux Center.
Surviving are seven children: Fannie (Mrs. Ernest Ruys), Hattie (Mrs. Ben Mouw), Henry J. and Albert, all of Sioux Center, Reverend John of Hartford, Connecticut, Reverend Sam of Storm Lake, and Gerald of Hollywood, Florida; two sisters, Mrs. T. Kuenbel of Ireton and Mrs. Peter Soodsma of Hull; 24 grandchildren and 58 great-grandchildren.
Mr. Ramaker preceded her in death July 5, 1944, a son died in infancy, a daughter, Bertha (Mrs. Reverend A. Coopman) died in 1935, and two sisters and one brother also preceded her.

The picture chosen here was of the family of Steven Ramaker, parents of Henry J. Ramaker.


Sioux Biographies maintained by Linda Ziemann.
WebBBS 4.33 Genealogy Modification Package by WebJourneymen

[ Return to Index ] [ Read Prev Msg ] [ Read Next Msg ]