Hendrik Lotterman

By Patricia Gemmen

map of Emlichheim, where Lucas Veldink was born

A portion of General Major von Le Coq‘s Grafschaft Bentheim map (1805) depicting the city of Emlichheim. Hendrik Lotterman emigrated from here in 1881.

Hendrik Lotterman (Lüttermann) was born in Coevorden, Netherlands on March 15, 1859. There is a Lüttermann farm by Emlichheim which can be seen on Bentheim records already in 1440 and is still owned and operated by Lüttermanns today in 2019. However, Hendrik’s direct ancestors were obviously not the inheritors of this ancestral farm, and there is no evidence that Hendrik’s parents ever lived there.

Hendrik Lotterman’s parents were Berend Jan Lotterman from Emlichheim and Hendrickien Scheerhorn, who had four sons: Albert, Hendrik, Willem, and Evert, and for a brief time a daughter, Engelina. (Engelina lived from March 1863 to April 1865. She died in Germany and is buried with her father, Berend Jan.) German records report Berend Jan’s occupation to be a day laborer (Heuermann). Financially, the future of Hendrik and his three brothers did not hold much promise in Germany.

A New Life in America

In 1881, the 22–year–old Hendrik Lotterman left Emlichheim for Amsterdam. There he boarded the S.S. Castor, which departed on May 4, 1881 for New York City. He first lived in Zeeland, Michigan for a time, but no further information about his situation there is available at this time.

In 1882, his three brothers and his mother Hendrickien, who was a 56–year–old widow by this time, joined Hendrik in Michigan.

In 1883, Hendrik and his brother Albert bought 30 acres of farmland in Allendale for $850. This farm is located on 52nd Avenue just north of Pierce Street. A primitive house, possibly a log cabin, was already on the property. In 1885, they purchased two adjoining ten–acre lots, for a total of 50 acres.

On April 19, 1889, Hendrik married Grace Broene, daughter of Harm Hendrik Broene and Jennechien Dyke. Grace moved into the Lotterman house with Hendrik and his mother, as the three brothers had since moved to Grand Rapids to pursue other careers. By this time, Hendrik had also built a new two–story farmhouse to replace the original dwelling.

Here, Grace and Hendrik had four children:

  • Berend Jan—known as Benjamin J., born on May 18, 1890;
  • Harm Hendrik—known as Herman, born on July 30, 1892;
  • Hendrickien—known as Hattie, born on August 25, 1894; and
  • Jennechien—known as Jennie, born on September 14, 1896.

These four children attended the Curry School, a one–room country schoolhouse located across the road from their house in Allendale.

Tragedy Befalls Hendrik Lotterman

In the late afternoon of Saturday, July 9, 1898, Hendrik went out to the barn to begin chores. His brother Willem and his sister–in–law Alice remained in the house, visiting with Grace. Glancing out a window, Grace saw Hendrik staggering to the house with great difficulty. Years later, Willem and Alice recalled her exclaiming, “Hier kommt Hendrik!” (“Here comes Hendrik!”). One of their horses had kicked him in the lower abdomen. Dr. Wenger from Coopersville was contacted and paid a visit, but he could not treat the injury. Hendrik passed away the following Monday night, July 11, 1898.

Hendrik’s obituary written by his widow states the following:

“Today I suffered the hardest blow of my life, as the Lord suddenly took from my side my beloved husband Hendrik Lutterman. On Saturday he was kicked by one of our horses and on Monday night, after calmly saying goodbye, he went to eternity. In March 1859 he was born in Koevorden.

“Difficult is my loss. God gave him who passed away mercy to die prepared and has promised to be a judge for the widows and a father to the orphans. And that is my consolation.”

—Geesje Broene Lutterman

Later, his widow Grace Broene Lotterman married another emigrant from Grafschaft Bentheim, Jan Hendrik Gemmen, and they would become the parents of seven more children. Jan Hendrik Gemmen proved to be a wonderful stepfather to the four Lotterman children, Berend Jan, Harm Hendrik, Hendrickien, and Jennechien. Hendrik Lotterman’s mother Hendrickien continued to live with the family.

Black and white photo of Hendrik Lotterman and Grace Broene Lotterman

Hendrik Lotterman and Grace Broene Lotterman.

Photograph of one-room schoolhouse

The one–room Curry School in Allendale, Michigan, where Hendrik Lotterman’s children attended school. The schoolchildren are posing with a portrait of President George Washington.

Death certificate of Hendrik Lotterman.

Ottawa County death certificate listing Hendrik Lotterman’s immediate cause of death as, “kick from a horse in lower abdomen.”

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