Berendena Keddeman

By Patricia Gemmen

Hand-drawn map of Itterbeck, where Albert Walkotte was born in 1873

A portion of General Major von Le Coq‘s Grafschaft Bentheim map (1805) depicting Ratzel/Itterbeck. Berendena Keddeman was born here in 1851.

Berendena Keddeman was born in Ratzel on February 25, 1851. Her parents were Arend Keddeman (Kedding, Keddink) and Zwenne Teusink (Theusing), and she had two sisters, Gesina and Miena. Berendena’s father died on October 26, 1866 in Ratzel. Five and a half months later, the remaining family members emigrated to the United States, where they settled in Graafschap, Michigan, in late April of 1867.

Berendena Keddeman Marries Albert Dyke

On March 26, 1868, 17–year–old Berendena married Albert Dyke (Dijk, Dyk), another recent immigrant from Grafschaft Bentheim. Albert was 31 years old and working in Graafschap as a carpenter. Their first two children, Zwaantien and Gerrit, were born here in Graafschap.

A couple of years later, Berendena and Albert moved to Allendale in Ottawa County, where they purchased 40 acres of land along the Grand River. Their house was located on what is today called Lincoln Street. Over the next few years, they purchased land bordering their original farm until they owned 150 acres. Their next ten children were born here on their farm in Allendale.

Berendena and Albert Dyke’s Children

Albert and Berendena had twelve children:

  1. Zwaantien—born 1869, died 1873 at four and a half years old;
  2. Gerrit—born 1870, died 1953, never married;
  3. Johanna—born 1872, died 1908, married Jan Albert Gemmen;
  4. Arend (Harry)—born 1874, died 1950, never married;
  5. Dirk—born 1876, died 1951, married Dena Eling;
  6. Johannes (Joe)—born 1878, died 1941, married Tillie Pippen;
  7. Zwaantje (Susie)—born 1880, died 1961, married Simon Piers;
  8. Hattie—born 1882, died 1883, died at about ten months of age;
  9. Hendrika (Reka)—born 1884, died 1975, married 1. Peter Luurtsma, 2. Gerrit Berghorst, 3. Frank Northouse;
  10. Gezina—born 1886, died 1957, married Peter Knoper;
  11. Egbert (Happy)—born 1889, died 1970, never married; and
  12. Minnie—born 1891, died 1976, married John Peter Miedema.

Moving to Pearline in Allendale

In 1905 Albert and Berendena Keddeman Dyke purchased land in “Pearline” along the River Road (today’s Lake Michigan Drive) in Allendale and built a new house. This new residence put them close to their church, the Allendale Christian Reformed Church. Their sons Gerrit and Arend (called Harry) now operated their original farm as the Dyke Brothers farm.

  • “Pearline” was a community in Allendale Township centered around the intersection of 56th Avenue and Lake Michigan Drive. Its main buildings were the Christian Reformed Church and a general store.

Life as a Widow

Five years later, in 1910, Albert died at the age of 72. Berendena, now 59, found herself a widow.

With twelve children, Berendena was bound to experience some lows as well as highs. On December 3, 1941, son Johannes committed suicide by inhaling carbon monoxide after marrying and divorcing his wife, and then marrying her again. But surely the most tragic event Berendena experienced occurred in 1924, when her son Egbert, nicknamed “Happy,” killed his girlfriend of four years by striking her twice on the head with an axe.

Berendena’s pastor, Rev. Keegstra of the Allendale Christian Reformed Church, said that when Berendena told him about what Egbert had done, she was crying so hard that the front of her dress was soaking wet.

Berendena Keddeman Dyke died in 1935 at the age of 84. She had been a widow for 25 years. Both her husband and she were buried in the Allendale Township Cemetery.

Black and white portrait of Albert Dyke and Berendina Keddeman Dyke, Julia Gemmen Kraker's great-grandmother.

Albert and Berendena Keddeman Dyke.

Black and white photograph of Albert Dyke and Berendina Keddeman Dyke with ten of their twelve children

Albert and Berendena with ten of their twelve children.

Black and white photo of around 100 people at a family reunion in the 1930s.

Berendena’s direct descendants at a family reunion in the early 1930s. Berendena is at the bottom left (wearing a dark hat).

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