Photos - People
HOSPERS, Henry 1830-1901
Hospers, Henry 1830-1901 ‘Founder of Sioux County’ and Families
Information for this BIOS of Henry Hospers was taken from many sources that are references throughout this narrative. He wore many ‘Hats’ from the time he came to Pella and throughout his life in Orange City Iowa.
His family was very involved in the pioneer and civic life of the early Dutch settlers. It is difficult to do him justice in a summary BIOS such as herein described.
This meager narrative was prepared by Wilma J.
Submitter has found a biography of sorts in the book ‘The Story of Sioux County’ by Charles Dyke 1942. Pages 313 -322. It covers all aspects of the personal, social, civic and financial qualities of Henry Hosper’s life of which Charles Dykes was good at revealing. It would be very worthy while for the reader to read the full book as it dwells on the human aspect of the early years in Sioux County as well as historical aspects. The submitter has taken the liberty to transcribe the pages 313-322 regarding the life of the Honorable Henry Hospers at the end of this narrative.
The following is his family genealogical data was well a chronological events mostly from the Orange City Centennial book 1870-1970.
Hendrik ‘Henry’ Jansz Hospers was born 6 Feb 1830 Hoogblokland, Giessenlanden, Zuid Holland Netherlands and died 21 Oct 1901 Orange City Iowa. He was the son of Jan Hendriks Hospers born 30 Aug 1801 Amsterdam Noord Holland Netherlands and died 21 Feb 1888 Pella Marion Iowa. His mother was Henderica ‘Hendrika’ ‘Henrietta’ Middelkoop born 21 March 1808 at Hoogblokland, Zuid Holland, Netherlands and died 3 Sep 1887 at Pella IA.
On 24 Jan 1851 Henry Hospers married Cornelia Welle at Pella Marion IA. Cornelia Welle was born 1 Apr 1827 at Gorinchem, Zuid Holland, Netherlands and died 12 Jan 1863 at Pella City, Marion County IA. She was the daughter of Peter Welle and Dirkje Van Aalsburg.
On November 11, 1863 at Pella, Iowa, Henry Hospers married Hendrina ‘Heintje’ Overkamp 1837-1907. She was the daughter of Gerrit H. Overkamp 1808-1894 and Aafje Kruyt 1803-1903.
Henry Hospers arrived in America 2 June 1847 at Baltimore Maryland. In the book “Souvenir History of Pella Iowa” page 37 lists Hendrik Hospers as arriving on the Good Ship Maasstroom which left Rotterdam Holland early in April 1847 for Baltimore. In the book Pella Centennial book page 372 relates that Henry was about 17 years of age and accompanied the group led by Rev. Scholte, their reasons for coming to America was for religious reasons. His parents joined the journey to America in 1849, they lost three children from the journey.
Page 5, book ‘Orange City Centennial Book 1870-1970’ The people who came to Pella and Sioux County at that time and in the succeeding years left established homes and loved ones behind. Many never saw their family or old friends again. In crowded primitive ships they braved the perils of the Atlantic Ocean voyage. Traveling emigrant class rather than first class on the voyage of up to two months, many families lost loved ones enroute, loved ones buried at sea. The family of John Hospers, father of Orange city Pioneer Henry Hospers, lost two children while crossing the ocean, and a third child died after they arrived in New York.
Page 6, of same book as above, has a picture of Henry Hospers, Mr. Van De Waa decided to sell his property in Pella and take advantage of the homestead benefits. He went to the newspaper office of Henry Hospers, then mayor of Pella, to have his auction bills printed, Hospers, who had been thinking for some time of starting a new colony, had his interest kindled anew. He also wrote to Storm Lake and received nothing but favorable replies. Meetings were called and so much interest was shown that it was decided to send a committee to investigate the possibility of obtaining a large, inexpensive tract of land for a new colony in northwestern Iowa. The pages 7 and 8, describe the initial trips to acquire land that was not without difficulties. They found out that land north of the intended location was open and proceeded to the Sioux county location. This proceeded the many pioneer wagon trains the left the Pella area to locate in the new colony.
Page 11, In 1871 Henry Hospers resigned as mayor of Pella. He sent contractor Gleysteen to Orange City to build a General Store on the lot where the Klay and Bastemeyer law office is now located (in 1970). John and Simon Kuyper operated the store until Mr. Hospers himself came in May to run the business. Butter and eggs were bartered and exchanged for merchandise. Mr. Hospers was the chief promoter of the colony, and he was its leader in post business and official affairs. He was a land agent, notary public, and counselor at law. Under his guidance, Orange City soon took on the aspects of a frontier village. The Tinch Hotel, a Blacksmith Shop, and a Livery Stable were built on what is now the Court House Square. A barber shop, and shoe and harness shop were added and more houses were built. In 1872, the court house was forcibly moved to Orange City from Calliope, some of the new elected officers included Henry Hospers and Tjeerd Heemstra, Board of Supervisors.
Also noted on that page was that, When Mrs. Henry Hospers went to visit at Pella that summer , she persuaded her husband’s younger brother Cornelius to return with her. He arrived in Orange city in early November and noted that there were no sidewalks and only about a dozen houses in the town. Cornelius had had some college, and his brother Henry appointed him as school teacher beginning with the winter term. He was paid twenty seven dollars per month, and he had sixty-nine pupils. A record of the students and their ages in the spring of 1873 has been preserved and listed on page 11.
Page 12, Relates the hardships the farmers experienced during the grasshopper invasions. Many people sold out for little or nothing to escape the scourge. “ Henry Hospers and Rev. Bolks did much to help these discouraged settlers. But more trials were in store...”
Page 13, Mr. Henry Hospers began publishing ‘De Volksvriend’ a weekly newspaper, in 1874. Translated the name means ‘Friend of the People’. The dutch language was used to help attract and encourage emigrants to come to Sioux County. By 1875 the Orange City settlement claimed 468 families….
Page 14. In 1882 Henry Hospers built a new bank building across the street east from the windmill park. It later became a Post Office and is now occupied by De Haan Electric.
Page 52. Has a pictured of Henry, Cornelius and William Hospers were brothers. All were leading citizens. Henry is referred to often in the history story, Cornelius and William were merchants who operated a general store where the Northwestern State Bank sits now.
Page 100. Numerous individuals played important roles in Northwestern’s (college) History. Henry Hospers donated the main campus site…..
Page 122. Lists the Mayor of Orange City. Henry Hospers served as mayor 1885-1887.
Page 135. Under heading Court House History - The new settlers, chiefly Chiefly of Dutch descent, in the eastern part of Sioux County, disapproved of the unlawful manner in which the county official business was being conducted. This was proven by the eastern settlers who insisted on honest government. At the election in the fall of 1871 a new slate of officers was elected, with only Henry Hospres re-elected as member of the board of supervisors. In 1872 an election was held with 250 votes for the court house to relocate in Orange city and 65 votes for it to remain in Calliope.
FAMILY of HENRY HOSPERS
Most of the information for the family was taken from a report on ancestry.com (information was done by others) the submitter can not vouch for the accuracy of the information used as clues as a secondary sources. Some erroneous information was found in that report and corrected here in. Additional information was then added from obituaries and other documents.
Children born to Henry Hospers and Cornelia Welle
1. JAN ‘JOHN’ HOSPERS born 14 May 1851 Marion County IA died 12 Feb 1900 Springfield, Bon Homme county South Dakota. His wife was Aarjte ‘Artie’ Naatje ‘Nancy’ Dingeman 1856-1931 In Sheldon IA
2. PIETER HOSPERS born Jan 1853 Pella, Marion IA died 24 Sep 1853 Pella Marion IA.
3. PIETER HOSPERS born 18 Oct 1854 Pella Marion IA, died 20 Aug 1855 Pella Marion IA.
4. GEERTRUIDA HOSPERS born 18 Oct 1856 Pella, married Oct 21, 1878 Pella died 13 Mar 1916 Sioux City
5. PIETER HOSPERS born May 13, 1858
6. HENDRIKA ‘DRIKA’ HOSPERS born 14 Oct 1860 Pella IA, died 10 Dec 1910 Orange City IA.
Wife #2 of Henry Hospers was Hendrina ‘Heintje’ Overkamp 1837-1907 They were married November 11, 1863 at Pella, Iowa.
7. GERRIT HENDRIK HOSPERS born 14 Oct 1864 Pella IA died 28 Jul 1949 East Williamson, Wayne, NY.
8. MAAIKE CORNELIA "MAGGIE" HOSPERS born 28 March 1867 Pella IA died 5 Nov 1953 Holland MI
10. AAFJE 'EFFIE' HOSPERS born Feb 1871 Pella IA died 11 Jan 1955 Minnehaha, SD
11. EVA ENGELINA HOSPERS born 22 May 1873 Orange City IA died 19 Aug 1914 Orange City IA.
12. AARTJE 'ARTIE' HOSPERS born 28 Sep 1875 Orange City IA died 19 Jan 1925 Pella IA.
13. ISAAC HENRY HOSPERS born 10 Jan 1878 Orange City IA died 19 Feb 1965 Rockford IL
14. HENDRINA HOSPERS 18 Sep 1880 Orange City IA died 27 Sep 1969 Albuquerque, New Mexico.
OBITUARIES of HENRY HOSPERS
DEATH OF HENRY HOSPERS. The Noted Sioux County Pioneer Passed Away Monday. He Was the Founder of the Holland Colony in This County.
On Monday morning, Oct. 21st 1901, Senator Henry Hospers of Orange City passed quietly away at about nine o'clock. Death came while the senator was sleeping. This is not only a great loss to his family and relatives but also for this town, this county, and this district. It is meet that under these circumstances we should give a short life sketch of the deceased.
Senator Hospers was born in Hoog Blockland, the Netherlands, on the 6th day of February, 1830, and emigrated to America in 1847 with many other Netherlanders and helped to found the town of Pella, in Marion county, Iowa. While there his more than average knowledge soon brought him employment, first as a surveyor and he also did common farm labor and plowed the fields with teams of oxen. He became justice of the peace, notary public and afterwards attorney at law. In his practice it was always his object to settle disputes, rather than work up litigation and this he soon became highly esteemed.
When a new colony of Netherlanders was to be started in the then far west of northwestern Iowa, it is therefore little wonder that his man was chosen to lead these people to their new homes, and so he became the founder of the settlement in Sioux county, a settlement that has grown until it has become the principal one of its kind in the United States.
Senator Hospers came to Sioux county in 1871 and was soon elected as a member of the board of supervisors. In 1873 he became chairman of the board and the recognized father of this colony. Soon after this, upon the advice of Mr. Rufus Stone, at that time the most prominent attorney in Sioux county, a suit was commenced against the bondholders of a large amount of fraudulent bonds, held against this county and by the winning of this suit [he] obtained the lasting gratitude of the whole of Sioux county.
In 1891 Mr. Hospers was chosen to represent this county in the state legislature, and two years thereafter he was re-elected. His many good services in this office are matters of public history. In 1895 Mr. Hospers was chosen as senator to represent Sioux, Lyon, O'Brien, and Osceola counties and served one term with honor and distinction. When the time for his re-election arrived his friends dissuaded him from making an active campaign for the reason that his health was then failing, and the germs of the disease that carried him away were then too apparent. Soon after that a stroke of paralysis incapacitated him for active work, and this ended in his death.
Senator Hospers was married twice. To his first marriage there were six children, of whom three survive him. By his second marriage he has eight children, all of whom survive him, as well as their mother. He was nursed with the tenderest care during all the years of his sad affliction. Two of his sons are prominent ministers of the gospel. A third, and youngest, is now old enough to take upon himself the work of looking after the banks owned by the late senator.
The funeral services were held from the Dutch Reformed church at Orange City this afternoon at 2 o'clock and were conducted in the Dutch language by Rev. N. M. Steffens, D.D. of Dubuque, and in the English language by Hon. Isaac Struble of LeMars. It was the most largely attended funeral ever held in Northwestern Iowa.
Source: Hawarden Independent, Oct. 24, 1901, p. 2.
HENRY HOSPERS DIES SUDDENLY.
Distinct Character of Northwest Iowa Who Accomplished Much. SAVED COUNTY $1,000,000. Long Fight Against Crooked Gang--Served in Legislature as Representative and Senator--Eight Children.
Orange City, IA., Oct. 23.--Hon. Henry Hospers, patriarch and one of the founders of Sioux county, died at his home here at 10 o'clock Monday morning [Oct. 21] aged 70 years. Few men in Iowa history can claim credit of greater contribution toward establishing a rich and prosperous community than is due Henry Hospers for his part in building up Sioux county. He was a member of the original Iowa Dutch colony at Pella. In 1869 he came here and, with other leaders, organized, secured lands and brought out a large colony of Pella people. They were largely of the younger generation, full of energy and from them and colonists who followed them have descended about half the present population of this county.
Little Promise at the Start. - When the first colonists came here there was hardly a bona fide resident in the county. A little group of professional bond manufacturers had come here before them, organized a quasi county government, and turned it into a machine for issuing county securities. They had elected themselves to the county offices and fraudulently issued many hundreds of thousands of county bonds without compensation. The new Dutch colonists found they must fight these issues and Henry Hospers was elected, by the newcomers, chairman of the supervisors. He remained in that position many years, fighting constantly against these issues in the courts. Many dramatic incidents are connected with that old litigation. Henry Hospers earned the complete confidence of his county by the long fight and his unswerving honesty. [Omitted a recap of the Dutch colonists hijacking the county records from the bond gang's county seat in Calliope and taking them to Orange City; it is covered in county histories.]
Mr. Hospers' Many Services. - Mr. Hospers at last won in his long contest. Every dollar of the bogus issues was declared illegal by the courts. Mr. Hospers was always afterwards the trusted counsellor of his people in all public matters. He was elected county superintendent, representative and finally senator from the "Big Four" district. In the banking and land business he aggregated a large fortune. He is survived by all of the eight children who were born to him. Six of them live in this county, one in Chicago and one in Cleveland.[Omitted a paragraph anticipating funeral arrangements.]
Source: Alton Democrat, Oct. 26, 1901.
At Orange City on Thursday Sioux county's most eminent citizen was laid to rest after a long and useful life. Henry Hospers is dead! This is the sad news that flashed over the county last Monday and carried sorrow to thousands of hearts. Henry Hospers was a man honored and respected by many. He was a friend of the people and the people revered and loved him. The stamp of his genius is upon one of the fairest spots in the world--the county of Sioux in Iowa. Such a man is not a man of one town or one county. His influence is wider than that. He belongs to the world for he helped to develop its wilds. He was a pioneer who blazed the way for others. His deeds are of history and in history they will be embalmed.
Seventy-one years ago the deceased opened his eyes to the light of day in the Netherlands at Hoog Blokland and spent the first seventeen years of his life in that historic land of the dykes. Then he came to America and labored upon the farm, beginning his official life--like many another eminent man--as surveyor. He helped to found the town of Pella in Marion county and from being one of her first justices drifted into law and was admitted to the bar. In 1870 he came to Sioux county with a party of Hollanders and founded Orange City--the site of which he originally owned. He was a leader in the political, commercial and religious interests of the county from the first and remained so until he lost his health a few years ago. As chairman of the board of supervisors from 1873 to 1888 he, with Rufus Stone and others, defeated the machinations of a gang of bond thieves who sought to fasten a debt of $100,000 upon the county. It was indeed fortunate for our county that she had so able an official to represent her and that he did his duty so well. In appreciation of his services the county twice sent him to the state legislature as representative and his record in that capacity made him the choice of Sioux, O'Brien, Lyon and Osceola for state senator in 1895. The completion of his term in the senate closed his official career with befitting honor.
Henry Hospers was a man of physical and mental strength and by these talents amassed a fortune. He was twice married and the father of fourteen children--two of whom are now ministers of the gospel. Of the six children by his first wife three have joined their mother in the land beyond. The second wife and eight children survive. The causes which led up to his death date from 1898 when he was stricken with paralysis. From that time he was rendered incapable of physical exertion but retained in large measure the wonted brilliance of his mind. A second stroke a little more than a year ago clouded his intellect and left him but a sad wreck of his former self. Last Monday morning his family thought him sleeping and did not discover that he had passed away until he had been dead for several hours. His end was evidently peaceful.
The funeral on Thursday was the largest in the history of Sioux County and probably in the history of the northwest. Services were conducted in Dutch by Rev. Steffens of Dubuque and in English by the Hon. Isaac Struble of Le Mars.
Cards of thanks are signed Mrs. Hendrina Hospers and family. Other obituaries, with similar information, were published in the Hull Index (Oct. 25, 1901) and the Sioux County Herald (Oct. 30, 1901).
OBITUARY OF HENDRINA, MRS. HENRY HOSPERS 1837-1907
After months of suffering Mrs. Henry Hospers passed peacefully away last Tuesday evening at about ten o'clock. Five days before her death she sank into a stupor from which she did not regain consciousness. She was born at Leerdam Netherlands in 1837 and came to this county with her parents Mr. and Mrs. G. H. Overkamp in l846 and settled in Marion county Iowa near Pella. In 1871 she came with her husband to Sioux county and endured the hardships of pioneer life.
Three of her sisters survive her. They are Mrs. Wormhoudt of Pella and Mrs. Walraven and Mrs. Vos of this place.
Her eight children who survive her are: Rev. G. H.Hospers Principal of the Academy at Cedar Grove Wisconsin, Mrs. W. J. Duiker of Gibbsville Wisconsin, Rev. Henry Hospers of Chicago, Mrs. A. Rozendaal of Oostburg Wisconsin, Mrs, W, W. Schultz of this city. Mrs A. P. Kuyper of Pella, and Prof. Isaac Hospers and Miss Hendrina Hospers who live here. The funeral services will be held this Friday afternoon in the First Reformed church conducted by Rev. Stapelkamp.
(From an ancestry.com account – Hendrina Overkamp born 25 Nov 1837 Leerdam Zuid Holland Netherlands died 21 May 1907 Orange City, Sioux, Iowa. She was the second wife of Henry Hospers and married to him Nov 11, 1863 at Pella IA. Her first husband was Gerrit Dingeman with whom she had three children. Her parents were Gerrit Hendrik Overkamp 1808-1894 and Aafje Kruyt 1804-1903)
THE HONORABLE HENRY HOSPERS
Probably the name of Henry Hospers has been mentioned more often in the story of Sioux county than that of any other individual connected with the settlement of Sioux County, Iowa. And this is natural and eminently proper, for his was the guiding hand of the enterprise that peopled most of Sioux County with Hollanders from Pella, Iowa, and from elsewhere. He was their counselor, advisor and helper in the times of strom and stress during the early years of pioneering.
Jan Hospers, father of Henry Hospers, came from Hoog Blokland, the Netherlands, during the religious troubles there, and settled on a farm a little wast of Pella, Iowa, in the summer of 1849. This farm was purchased and made ready for his occupancy by his son Henry. Who had come to Pella with the first e migrants in the summer of 1848 . Jan Hospers was a man of considerable learning. He was a schoolmaster, and spoke the French language as well has his native tongue. He had held several important governmental and church positions in the Netherlands. As he was well advanced in age when he came to America, he led the life of a country gentleman while his sons, Klaas and Gelder, did the farming. His other sons, Henry, William and Cornelius were pioneer business men of Sioux County.
It was related of Jan Hospers the he was aristocratic in his ways. He always wore a white shirt. While he liked gardening and loved flowers and all things beautiful, he never touched the soil or pulled a weed, but employed a gardener, over them he stood watch, shielded from the sun by a large umbrella, and gave directions. He paid this gardener a dollar every evening, this was more than the gardener asked.
His oldest son, Henry, went to school in the Netherlands until he was twenty years of age, and then went to Pella, (Note elsewhere evidence he was 17 years of age when came to America) While in Pella he taught school and read law and was admitted to the bar, and started Pella’s Weekblad, the first Holland newspaper in Iowa.
Like his father, the Honorable Henry Hospers was an aristocrat, to the manner born. From this it must not be construed that he was arrogant and looked down on or despised the poor or ordinary person. On the contrary, he was willing to lend an ear to the troubles and woes of the poorest and lowliest and would generally point the way out. His home was always the finest in Orange City. It set the pace in everything. It had the first piano that ever entered Orange City and Sioux County. As he was fond of flowers and birds, he wad a conservatory where plants bloomed in mid winter, something unheard of in early days and where canary birds warbled in brass cages. Our neighbor Peter Roelse, who raised canary birds and sold a singer to ‘His Honor’, told us jokingly the the bird would not sing a first, as it was overawed by its fancy brass cage hung among the beautiful flowers.
His first home was ‘Maple Corners’ now occupied by the W. f. Rieckhoff family. His second and last home stood where is now the Clarence Oelrich Dairy farm home. It burned to the ground a few years ago. This home was up to date and had a steam heating plant, something very unusual for those times. The home, with horse and cow barns and carriage house and other buildings, stood in a beautiful park planted to ornamental and shade trees, shrubs and flowers where a fountain played. The grounds now occupied by the homes of Lee Barks, Mrs. Anna van Meeveren and William Westra were included in the park, and the land as far east as where now stands the home of Hidde De Vries. In the park were graveled paths, and a rustic bridge spanned the depression in about the center, where in wet times flowed a little stream. The park and gardens and grounds were planned by and in the care of Douwe S. Westra, a gardener from the Netherlands and assistants.
Often in the morning and in the evening His Honor with gold headed ebony cane would be seen walking in the park enjoying the cool air and contemplating nature. Most of the park is now a cow pasture and all that remains of the beautiful trees and shrubs are a scrawny elm or two, a hackberry, a couple of soft maples, a walnut and a lone some dying pine. The residence of auctioneer Willam Westra grandson of Gardener Westra, stands in the north western corner of the former park.
Socially, ‘he was like a star and dwelt apart,’ but while he was not on equal terms with the ordinary citizens of Orange city , his home was open to all decent people, and prominent farmers were occasionally invited to dinner after the morning church services. But his social relations were always as one of condescension. His Honor never returned a visit or a call. All the visiting he did was when he went out for a walk in the afternoon after Church. He would then occasionally drop in at the home of a close relative for tea, That was as far as it went. He was a great home man, and after supper the family would spend the evening with reading and music, unless he had an appointment. When His Honor was reading, the family conversed in almost inaudible whispers if at all. His will was their law, and the law was gentle yet strict. At the hour of ten in the evening he went to bed, no matter who was there, unless they were special guests who he had invited himself. He would then say, ‘Ten o’clock in my bed time. Have a good time with the folks. I bid you goodnight.’ When foreign dignitaries like the Rev. Mr Stuart of Rotterdam and Dr. Abraham Kuyper, premier of the Netherlands, came to Orange City , they were entertained at the home of the Honorable Henry Hospers.
In business it was the same. He stood far above any other man in Orange City or even in Sioux County. He was sometimes assailed, but always at a distance and behind his back, never to his face. We got to know him fairly well as we were with him on the executive committee in one of the courthouse campaigns, and it would amuse us to see those of lesser breed who had told us of the terrible things they were going to do to Henry Hospers, quail in his presence and wilt as if in a frying pan. While suggestions as to the campaign would be diplomatically tendered, he passed on everything, and his last word was law. The subscription list would be handed first to him. We can still see him taking up the pen with his pudgy hand and signing at the top an amount which no other was known to exceed; he set the pace.
In business he was liberal. He always bought his vehicles of the firm of Dyke Bros., of whom the writer was a member. He would ask the price of a vehicle he liked and that was all. But he knew what he wanted, and if we had nothing to suit him, we had to order it. And we were happy to say that we never took advantage of his confidence in us bestowed nor of his liberality. We once sold him a beautiful Russian style, two seated sleigh with plumes, and a former implement dealer laughed at us for not asking a much higher price. We also sold him a fine Henny canopy top surrey which he used until he died. While he was liberal In business, he could brook no waste. If while out walking he found an ear of corn on the road he would take it along and throw it to the chickens.
When we had just started in the implement business in Orange City, and the writer clad in overalls was arranging repairs, in walked the Honorable Hospers, entirely unexpected, swinging his gold headed ebony cane. Brother Theunes, who was working on the books and was in presentable clothes, arose to grasp his outstretched hand, and after a few words turned him over to us, and abashed us, we also shook hands, and received his ‘Welcome to Orange City’ like a benediction. This unexpected meeting with the grand old man so unnerved us and our knees so weakened, that we had to lean heavily on the back of a chair for support.
In political service and honors, he got everything he wanted without making a campaign and was never defeated. At first he held several small county and town offices, and was soon elected representative to the lower house of the Iowa legislature. When a representative, the Republican state senator for this district did not please the people of northwestern Iowa, and the Democrats in convention assembled at Sheldon, nominated the Honorable Henry Hospers of Orange City for state senator without his or consent, for a nomination of Henry Hospers was as good as an election. While this pleased him immensely, he declined the honor, as he would not change his political colors. Then later nominated by the Republicans, he was swept into office by a overwhelming majority, and remained a senator until he died.
As in business, he was generous in his charities, and donated liberally to every worthy cause. He was one of the founders of the First church. He also was one of the founders of the Northwestern Classical Academy, and gave the park in which it stands and a substantial donation.
He was a lover of learning and gave all of his children the education they desired. Two of his sons finished their education in foreign universities.
He loved his church and attended services regularly, and had the most expensive pews (pews were then sold to the highest bidder). We can still visualize him and his stately wife leaving the church, she proudly erect, with clasped hands before her, looking straight ahead; he with gold headed ebony cane, a gift from his admirers, with stately swinging gait, bowing graciously to the right and to the left to the people on both ides of the walk and the people nodding respectfully in return. By the curb at the end of the walk, his carriage would be waiting, and red whiskered De Haan, his coachman, steadying the spirited horses chafing a their bits. When His Honor and his wife were seated in the rear seat and he gave the word to go, the equipage would dart forward, throwing the occupants back into the soft cushions and then home to tea.
In the early times Henry Hospers was the wealthiest man in Sioux County. The Orange City Bank, of which he was the sole proprietor, did a lucrative business lending money at eighteen per cent per annum, eight per cent interest and ten per cent commission. His great name and fame put him in touch with settlers and buyers of lands and as land was considered good property, the price went up about ten dollars a year per acre. After he went to Des Moines as a senator, he had a special man, Anthony Kuyper, still living in Chicago, to handle that part of his business. He made a fortune in land alone.
He was a generous citizen who subscribed to everything he though would benefit the community, and as husband and father he spent money without tint for the good of the family. The education of his children alone cost him a small fortune. And he not only educated his children, but he also set some of them up in business, and that was partly his undoing.
His oldest daughter married Albert Smeenk who, with the help of his father-in-law, started one of the largest stores in Sioux County, at Boyden, in partnership with a man by the name of Meredith, and built a big square house in the northeast corner of Boyden. The store did an enormous business.
At that time there lived a man by the name of Asa Bruce Frame in Boyden, who invented a water wheel to run machinery, This wheel was built on a raft so that it needed no dam, it simply floated on the water while the current of the stream acting on the lower half of the wheel was supposed to create power. As Smeenk was also of inventive turn of mind, the invention interested him, and Smeenk and Frame were much together. And the more Smeenk studied the possibilities of the invention, the more enthusiastic he became, and he saw millions in it. But invention is intense thinking, and it got on the nerves of Asa Bruce Frame and he claimed that it almost wrecked his health and he told his best friend Smeenk about it and said that he was going into the mountains of northern Montana to fish and rest and steady his nerves. As he wanted to hear as little as possible about business, he and Smeenk agreed that Smeenk would open all letters addressed to Frame at Boyden, and acquaint the inventor with the contents of the very important ones only. After Frame had left Boyden there came a letter from parties in Canada, offering $350,000.00 for the Canadian rights for the use of the water wheel.
When Smeenk received this letter, he sent a telegram to Frame, in the mountains which read: “Fifty thousand dollars offered for the Canadian rights of the water wheel,” to which Frame replied: Offer accepted,” and Smeenk telegraphed him the money. After Smeenk had sent the money, he tried to get in touch with the enterprising Canadians, but they could not be found.
When Smeenk failed to find the parties who made the offer, he went to Montana to discuss the matter with his friend Frame. He found that gentleman attired in a Prince Albert coat, almost down to this heels, and white vest and striped trousers, all of which was then the height of fashion. He was sitting in an easy chair, with his feet on the railing of a swanky mountain resort, mingling with wealthy summer boarders, and keeping a boy busy supplying the group with mint julips and cherry cocktails and other cooling and invigorating drinks.
When Smeenk took him aside and told him that there was a mistake and that he could not locate his Canadian parties who made the offer, Frame replied in substance that while there might be a mistake between Smeenk and his parties that made the offer, there was no mistake between Smeenk and himself, as it was the understanding before he left that Smeenk would report to him any offers made for the invention, and in taking the matter in his own hands he voluntarily shouldered all responsibility. He had relied on Smeenk’s honesty, integrity and business acumen, and knew nothing about the matter of the sale, and Smeenk should not look to him to clear the matter up. With this short conversation Frame dismissed Smeenk and would not have further speech with him. And all the Smeenk could do was to go home beaten and cowered.
When the offer of $350,000.00 came to Smeenk, he undoubtedly sensed rich pickings and as he did not have the money, he laid the matter before his father-in-law, the Honorable Henry Hospers, who let him have the money or part of the money until Smeenk could realize on this $350,000.00 deal with provision that Smeenk would turn in the transfer of the Canadian rights to the bank as collateral. While this has been denied, we can vouch for the truth of this statement, as we have seen the deed of transfer. This instrument was a wonderful example of the printer’s art, with impressive gold seal and red, white and blue ribbons and high sounding phrases, but financially not worth the paper it was written on.
The transfer of the Canadian Water Wheel Rights began as follows” I ASA Bruce Frame of Boyden Iowa, Hereby sell, transfer, convey and set over to Albert Smeenk of Boyden, Iowa, all my interests in the Canadian Rights of Patent No…. For the sum of $50,000. etc. etc.” As this document was utterly valueless, it remained in the vault after the affairs of the bank were closed up, where a relative found it and showed it to the writer.
What happened between Smeenk and his father-in-law when he returned from his wild goose chase in the mountains we do not know. But it was supposed that the bank demanded payment of the money advanced to buy the Canadian rights of the water wheel. Senator Banker Hospers advertised his personnel responsibility at $70,000.00 and a drain of $50,000.00 on his resources could spell nothing but failure. However this may have been, the general merchandise business of Smeenk and Meredith failed. Meredith became a painter and paperhanger of Boyden and Smeenk, not relishing the jibes and jeers of his countrymen about the water wheel, went to Florida everglades and tried to raise lettuce for the northern trade, and dealt in egret feathers which he bought from the Indians, but he also failed in this, as the crawfish and blight make short work of the lettuce. After several years in Florida, his father-in-law seems to have relented and again set him up in the general merchandise business in Orange City.
When Albert Smeenk had been in business for a while in Orange city, the Honorable Henry Hospers became unwell and took to his bed, and it was soon evident that his sickness was unto his death, and he became delirious. In his delirium he would cry out, “Oh God, deliver me out of the hands of the Philistines.” Whether these Philistines were the creatures of a disordered mind or if they were such like Smeenk, or those who threatened him with suits for heavy damages in affairs of a personal and privet nature, of which there was much rumor, but not proof, or if he feared the downfall of his financial structure, we do not know. But whatever the cause, the last days of his life’s voyage were stormy until this bark foundered on the rocks of eternity. The details of his funeral will be given in a succeeding chapters of this story entitled, “A Tale of Two Towns, Alton and Orange City.”
The loss to the bank in the water wheel deal must have been very heavy. Mr. Hospers also lost $20,000 on a ranch deal in California and $10,000 in an affair of a private nature, according to reliable information. This was more than the bank could stand, although no outsider suspected it. Everyone thought the The Honorable Henry Hospers was a very wealthy man.
When one morning we met his youngest son going to the post office carrying a large basket full of letters, we made some remark to him about the big load he was carrying and he replied that it was small in comparison with the stir and talk it would create, or words to that effect, but we did not get the meaning. When we stepped into the bank there was a strange man behind the teller’s window, who told us that he was a representative of the Iowa Loan and Trust Co. of Sioux City, and that the Orange City Bank had made an assignment to them for the benefit of its creditors. Then we understood. The back room was in an uproar with the explanations of the erstwhile cashier, J. M. Oggel and teller Anthony Kuyper, and with the angry demands of depositors, who did not want explanations but their money.
As the Firm of Dyke brothers, of which the writer was a member, had done a big threshing machine business and assumed the notes given for the machines so as to take ten per cent discount for cash, we had almost cleaned out our deposit at the bank, and all we had there to our credit was the sum of $275.00. Therefore we lost very little personally, but it was a severe shock to the people of Orange City, generally, However, the failure was not as bad as it was thought at first, for the bank paid out over seventy-five per cent on the dollar, and would have paid out in full if a little more time had been given, for the lands in which the bank had invested went up in price every year. If there is such a thing, it was an honest failure.
The fault lay with Honorable Henry Hospers, who in his declining years was all politics and paid little attention to his business, but left it to his subordinates, had he trusted too much in visionary relatives. If this, so Henry, who was an able man, had made a study of finance instead of theology, and managed the business, the Orange City Bank would very likely be doing business on the old corner today. But almost his entire family was deeply interested in theology and missionary work. Financial matters did not concern them, and this attitude was their undoing.
As it was an honest failure, the wife and heirs retained nothing but the home, which was exempt from execution. As this home was a costly on to maintain, the proud but helpless family lived together and practiced the strictest economy. Gradually, the children left and the rooms in the big house were given up one by one. In order to economize a stove replaced the steam heating plant, until finally Mrs. Hospers and one daughter huddled together in a couple of rooms, while the rest of the house as falling into disrepair. About five years after the father’s death, death also mercifully called the mother, and the daughter went to New Mexico as a missionary among the Indians, where she is still laboring at this writing. ‘Thus passes earthly glory’.
In spite of his faults ( and who has no faults?) the Honorable Henry Hospers was a great man, undoubtedly the greatest man who has lived in northwest Iowa until this day, and the fall of him and his house was and is deeply regretted by the people of Sioux County and Orange city. In recognition of his services to his town and his county, it would be eminently proper and fitting that a monument to his memory be erected in the Central park of Orange City, the park which he also gave to his town.
~Research compiled by Wilma J.
HOMECopyright 2022. These electronic pages are posted for the benefit of individuals only who are researching their family histories. These electronic pages may NOT be reproduced in any format for profit or presentation by any other organization or persons. Persons or organizations desiring to use this material, must obtain the written consent of the contributor, or the legal representative of the submitter, and contact the Sioux County Coordinator with proof of this consent.