Fennegien Lemmen

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 Laar where Gerritdina Lemmen was born in 1856

A portion of General Major von Le Coq‘s Grafschaft Bentheim map (1805) depicting the settlement of Laar. Fennegien Lemmen was born here in 1849.

Fennegien (Fenne) Lemmen was born on July 7, 1849 in Laar, the first child of the weaver and farmer Berend Jan Lemmen and Fenne Schoemaker. Her parents would have three more children in Grafschaft Bentheim: Gerrit, Hermannes, and Gerritdina.

Emigrating T0 Michigan

In 1857, when she was eight years old, Fenne’s parents decided to leave Grafschaft Bentheim and join father Berend Jan’s brother Jan Harm Lemmen and sister Lamberdina Lemmen in West Michigan. The family left from Bremen on the sailing ship Bark Laura on August 11, 1857, arriving in New York on October 5. From there, the family made its way to Laketown Township in Allegan County, where her father purchased 120 acres of uncleared land just west of Graafschap.

Fennegien Lemmen Marries Jacob Weersing

On April 16, 1871, Fenne married Jacob Weersing, a widower with four children. He had emigrated in 1870 from the Netherlands, but his first wife, Jakobie Boelens, had died from childbirth complications shortly after arriving in Holland, Michigan. Jacob brought four children to this second marriage:

  • Jan (John)—born July 20, 1862, died November 17, 1930;
  • Trientje (Kate)—born March 26, 1866, died November 9, 1930;
  • Jantje—died 1871; and,
  • Jacoba (Cora)—born June 12, 1870, died March 20, 1949.

Together, Fennegien and Jacob had six children:

  1. Fanny—born 1872;
  2. Benjamin—born 1876;
  3. Johannes (Joe)—born 1878;
  4. Jacob II—born 1879;
  5. Martin—born 1885; and,
  6. Child—died at birth 1889.

The family lived in Holland Township, Ottawa County. Their farm was on land that supported fruit–growing, and grandchildren recalled their stone cellar as “something to see … pans of milk stood to be made into butter, rows of cans with fruit, jams and jellies, big crocks of pickled peaches, apples, pears, and cucumbers, and still larger crocks with pork. From the ceiling hung rows of cured, smoked ham, bacon and beef. Then there were barrels of potatoes and varieties of apples. You toasted them beside the big heating stove in the evening.”

After her husband’s death in Zeeland, Michigan on May 28, 1921, Fennegien lived with her children’s families. She was living with Martin’s family in Chicago, Illinois when she passed away on April 23, 1925. Fennegien Lemmen and Jacob Weersing were buried in the Zeeland Cemetery.

Portrait of Fennegien Lemmen standing next to her husband, Jacob Weersing, sitting.

Fennegien Lemmen and Jacob Weersing.

Photo of Fennegien Lemmen and Jacob Weersing in front of their farmhouse.

Fennegien Lemmen and Jacob Weersing in front of their farmhouse. “It was a most interesting pioneer home in many ways: sturdily–built of wide pine lumber and joined together with beams and wooden pegs. Always well-painted, inside and out.”

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