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Cleveringa, Frederick--Century Farm, 1885-1986


Posted By: Lydia Lucas - Volunteer (email)
Date: 1/15/2017 at 12:58:24

From the Sioux Center News, September 17, 1986, p. 3:

Cleveringa Century Farm Award Recalls Pioneer Past

The following story gives details of the history of the Fred W. Cleveringa family. The family farm, located north of Sioux Center, was recently honored by the Iowa Department of Agriculture as being a century farm. The story was written by Lyle and Aldeane Williams of Knoxville (Aldeane Williams is a daughter of Fred W. Cleveringa).

One day in 1853, a 25-year-old Frederick Cleveringa, accompanied by his three sisters, embarked on a ship departing from Holland. Their destination was the brand new land of the United States of America. Thus, in the new land, Frederick Cleveringa began a pioneering history for the Cleveringa family, which ultimately took deep roots in Sioux County.

Initially, however, Frederick Cleveringa began his sojourn in Bloomfield, Illinois, and he later moved to Muscatine. While living in Muscatine, he met and married Wilhelmina Bauer, and of this union their first child, William, was born on November 3, 1869 (William is Fred W. Cleveringa’s father).

Walked 400 miles

In April 1870, Frederick and Wilhelmina, along with six-month-old William, undertook a 400-mile journey from Muscatine, traveling across sparsely settled prairie land, with the purpose of homesteading in Sioux County. This trip lasted three weeks. The Cleveringas and a family friend, who had accompanied them, walked nearly the entire distance, with two teams of horses and a few cattle pulling the covered wagon, which carried their supplies and all of their earthly belongings. This little group of pioneers later reported not a day had passed on their trip without some hardships—enduring the weather, fording streams and battling fatigue.

In Sioux County, Frederick’s and Wilhelmina’s first home was a sod hut, built in June 1870. It was located one mile east and one-half mile south of old-town Sioux Center. The sod walls of the hut were 12 inches thick, and the roof, which was made from timber brought from the Rock River area, was thickly covered with long slough grass.

Until a well was dug on the farm, Frederick Cleveringa had to drive his herd of cattle about two and one-half miles to West Branch Creek, in order to secure water for them. That same summer, however, water was found on the farm after a 20-foot well was dug.

Broke up 15 acres

During the latter part of May 1870, Frederick Cleveringa broke up 15 acres of prairie land and planted his first crop of corn. Kindling wood—for cooking and heating—had to be gathered on the banks of the Rock River, 12 miles away.

As time advanced, the family expanded when the couple’s second child, Frederick (uncle to Fred W. Cleveringa), was born in the humble sod hut.

Children often died

After Frederick, three more children were born: Annie died at two years of age and one little girl, who had no name, died in infancy. A boy, named Simon, died at four years of age. Another boy, Peter, died of typhoid fever. However, another girl was born and she was named Annie, after her sister who had died. Later, Annie was married to Albert Slobe of Sioux Center.

When the first child, William, was 16 years old, the Frederick Cleveringa family moved to the present farm site, two miles north of Sioux Center. Nine years later, William married Alice Cleveringa. For two years they farmed near Carmel.

After Frederick and Wilhelmina moved to town, William and Alice moved onto the Cleveringa homestead, where they farmed for 35 years. Eleven children were born to William and Alice. Three of the children died in infancy.

William and Alice were confessed members of First Reformed Church in Sioux Center. They were both always active in church and in other community affairs.

Celebrate wedding anniversary

William and Alice celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on February 24, 1944, and within the same year they both died—only a few months apart.

In March 1931, William and Alice Cleveringa’s oldest son, Fred W., with his bride, Mabel Van Marel, started farming on the home place. A special landmark on this farm is a windmill that is still pumping water to the farmyard about an eighth of a mile away.

Fred W. and Mabel remained on the farm until October 16, 1969, when they moved to Sioux Center. Mabel died on September 16, 1985, leaving Fred and the children with fond memories of how she actively worked in the home and on the land and how she helped maintain the pride of the Cleveringa homestead. It is well known by family and friends how diligently Fred worked on the farm from early childhood and took pride in its upkeep.

Fred and Mabel raised three daughters on the farm—Aldeane, Kathleen and Carole. The couple’s youngest daughter, Carole, and her husband, John Van Riessen, have lived on the family farm since 1969.

The family is very proud of the fact that the farm has remained in the Frederick, William and Fred W. Cleveringa family for the past 100 years. John and Carole Van Riessen and their family deserve much of the credit for the work they have put into the family farm since they have lived on it.

Members of the family remember and honor their forefathers. They came to the United States and to Iowa, not only because they had faith in this land, but also because of their faith in the Lord. Pioneering was a hard living. But they served the Lord, not for themselves alone, but for future generations of their family, that they may give God the honor and the glory for helping them through these times of struggling. The Lord said, “I will not leave or forsake thee if you put your trust in Me.”

These people were pioneers of the land and of the church. They put their trust in the Lord first. Frederick was a charter member of First Reformed Church in Sioux Center and he helped establish the First Reformed Church in Hull.

[Accompanied by several photos: William [i.e., Frederick] and Wilhelmina Cleveringa; William and Alice Cleveringa; Fred W. and Mabel Cleveringa; cattle on the farm 78 years ago (photo badly washed out); the Cleveringa farmstead today; and the Century Farm presentation ceremony, August 20, 1986.]

[NOTE: The pic at far left in the grouping below--is misidentified--Should be Frederick and Wilhelmina Cleveringa.]


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