Fenne Schoemaker

By Bentheimers International Society

Some information for this biography is taken from "The Lemmen Family of Grafschaft Bentheim," by Lloyd J. Lemmen and Loren J. Lemmen.

Hand drawn map of Klieinringe where Fenne Schoemaker was born.

A portion of General Major von Le Coq‘s Grafschaft Bentheim map (1805) depicting Kleinringe. Fenne Schoemaker was born here in 1823.

Fenne Schoemaker was born on May 21, 1823 in Kleinringe to Geert Werlink and Hermina Schoemaker. Geert was a day laborer. On May 12, 1848, Fenne married Berend Jan Lemmen. Berend Jan ran the small family farm in Laar and was a weaver as well. They would have four children in Laar:

Fenne Schoemaker And Family Emigrate To The U.S.

On August 11, 1857, Fenne, her husband, and their four children boarded the Bark Laura in Bremen and set sail for New York City, arriving on October 5. Before leaving, Berend Jan had sold the Lemmen farm and a parcel of land in the Netherlands. With them on this voyage was Berend Jan’s mother Fenigje Lemmen, a widow.

Photo of man and woman in a formal portrait

Fenne Schoemaker and her husband, Berend Jan Lemmen.

The family settled in Laketown Township, Allegan County, just west of Graafschap. With the money from the sale of their property back home, they were able to purchase 120 acres of uncleared land. By 1870, 50 acres had been improved, while 70 remained wooded.

In Michigan, Berend Jan and Fenne had five more children:

  • Hannah—born in 1860;
  • Jantje—born in 1861;
  • Benjamin—born around 1863;
  • Lambert (Bert)—born in 1862; and,
  • Ida—born in 1869.

After retiring from farming, Berend Jan and Fenne moved to a house in the village of Graafschap. In his later years, Fenne’s husband desired to return to Grafschaft Bentheim, but Fenne feared the ocean voyage.

Fenne Schoemaker Lemmen died in 1899 and was buried in the Graafschap Cemetery. Following her death, Berend Jan married Jennigje Velthuis on March 9, 1901. Berend Jan died on November 2, 1916, just short of his 93rd birthday, and was buried alongside her.

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