Sioux County, Iowa

Bertha Jeanette Kooi married Gerrit Vander Lugt


Bertha (Kooi) Vander Lugt was born June 14, 1896, one mile west of the small village of Lebanon, IA. She lived there until Jan. 27, 1921, when she married Gerrit Vander Lugt, who lived on a farm across the same section. Gerrit and Bertha lived on this farm together until his death in 1968. Bertha continues to live there to this date, in a house adjacent to that of her son Raymond Vander Lugt.
Bertha and all of her nine brothers and sisters attended Garfield Township #8 Country School. Her six children also graduated from this elementary country school. She is a charter member of the Lebanon Chr. Ref. Church, where she and her husband Gerrit were married. The Church was organized in 1904 and its members met for two years in the school building. The first minister was installed in 1907. He and all church members traveled to services by horse and buggy and therefore a horse barn was built near the church. On Jan. 31, 1921, the church was burned to the ground, due to what was believed to be a malfunction of the furnace in the basement. Services were held in the horse barn until the church was re-built. In June, 1944, the church was again destroyed, along with the parsonage, this time by a tornado. Meetings were then held in the basement of the destroyed church. The upper structure was rebuilt and a new parsonage was built on the east side of the church.

Mrs. Gerrit (Bertha) Vander Lugt.

Bertha learned early to drive the family's firstt automobile, a "Carter car." In 1910, when she was 13 years old, she drove her mother, Mrs. Remko Kooi, and her sister Gertie (Mrs. Peter Haverhals, Sr.) to Sioux Center to catch the train to go to a dentist in Sioux City. Since Bertha's mother and her sister would be gone overnight, Bertha was compelled to drive home over very deeply rutted, muddy roads with four younger brothers and sisters. A very heavy rain had fallen and the roads were a mess! The car slid from side to side with four (make that five!) screaming, frightened children inside. They did make it home safely.

As is the case today in the Midwest, weatherrelated events became historical landmarks in Bertha's memory. She recalls a cyclone in 1901. The windmill on her parents farm, many large cottonwoods and several farm buildings were destroyed. A Mrs. Johnson was killed in that storm when she came out of her cellar to get clothing for her young baby. The summer of 1902 was very hot - 107 degrees at times. A Mr. Shirter who worked for Bertha's father, suffered a sunstroke and died the same day. In 1914 a small cyclone hit close by.

In the early 1900's, Bertha's family shopped for groceries in Sioux Center at a store owned by Mr. Gerrit Klein. This grocery store later became the Sioux Center Meat Market. The children thought it quite a treat to be allowed a bag of candy at grocery time. The trip to Sioux Center took two hours one way, so the family would have to leave early. They would often stop to visit an uncle and aunt, Steve and Dena Campagne, in Sioux Center. Bertha's Uncle Steve was the town blacksmith.

Bertha's husband, Gerrit Vander Lugt, was born Aug. 3, 1896, in Schipluiden, Holland, the second of eleven children born to William and Greitje Vander Lugt. All eleven children were born in the same house, which still stands and is over 300 years old. Gerrit went to school in Schipluiden until he was eleven years old, and then went to work for a farmer, starting at 3 o'clock in the morning and working until 9 at night. He received very little to eat and small pay. Is it any wonder he had no desire to return to Holland? When he was seventeen years old, Gerrit's Uncle in Iowa advised his father to send Gerrit and two brothers, ages fifteen and fourteen, to America. They, in turn, would earn the money to pay for their passage after they arrived. In 1914 Gerrit worked on farms near Hudson, South Dakota; Colton, South Dakota; and Hawarden, Iowa. Near the end of World War I in Sept. 1918, he was drafted into the Army. He was sent to Camp Dodge, Iowa, where he stayed for three months until the war ended.

Gerrit suffered a stroke on Dec. 22, 1967, and died shortly thereafter on Jan. 8, 1968.

Gerrit and Bertha were blessed with seven children: Margaret (Mrs. Andrew VanDer Stoep) of Hull, IA; Raymond who lives on the family farm near Hawarden; Grace (Mrs. Severt A. Haverhals), Sioux Center, IA; Allen of Grand Rapids, MI; Lois (Mrs. Tony Hooyer) of Sioux Center, IA; and Dorothy Bennett of Denver, CO. An infant son William died soon after birth. At this time Bertha also has 36 grandchildren and 52 great grandchildren.

by Bertha Vander Lugt

Source: Sioux Center Iowa 1991 Centennial Book--Family Contributor, Mary Haverhals


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