Jan Harm 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. Jan Harm Lemmen was born here in 1826.

Jan Harm Lemmen was born in Laar on September 15, 1826, the second child of Geert Jan Ranters and Fenigje Lemmen. He had an older brother Berend Jan and two sisters named Lamberdina (the first having died after living only a few days).

As a boy, Jan Harm worked in the Netherlands on “The Weaver’s Farm” owned by Geertruid Bruggeman, a widow. Besides doing farm work, he helped out in the cottage industry of weaving during the winter months.

Jan Harm Lemmen Leaves For America

On October 2, 1846, Rev. A.C. Van Raalte and his group of 53 colonists departed from Rotterdam on the Southerner, bound for the United States. This created quite a stir among other like–minded people in the Netherlands and Grafschaft Bentheim. When Jan Harm heard that a large group from the Emlichheim area was planning to follow Van Raalte, he joined in.

On February 19, 1847, Jan Harm applied for immigration in Neuenhaus, citing religious reasons. He was 20 years old and on the draft list for the German army. He included 100 marks with his application. The assumption is that he crossed the border into the Netherlands and left without the authorities knowing about it.

Thus, on March 23, he and 69 other passengers boarded the Antoinette Marie for New York, finally reaching Holland, Michigan on June 20. Five years later, on September 2, 1852, Jan Harm Lemmen bought a 46–acre farm in Laketown Township for $58.37.

Marriage With Lammigje Vredeveld

On March 27, 1853, he married Lammigje Vredeveld. She was born on May 13, 1835. Together, they had ten children, nine of whose names have been found:

  1. Gerrit—born 1856;
  2. Hendrick—born 1857;
  3. Benjamin J.—born 1859;
  4. Frederick—born 1862;
  5. Alice—born 1864;
  6. Henry—born 1867;
  7. Frederick—born 1870;
  8. Leonard—born 1870; and,
  9. John J.—born 1876.

Jan Harm Lemmen died on August 8, 1911 on his farm and was buried in the Graafschap Cemetery. His wife Lammigje Vredeveld passed away October 4, 1924 and was buried alongside her husband.

Portrait of the Jan Harm Lemmen family.

The Jan Harm Lemmen family in Graafschap, Michigan. Front row: Leonard, Lammigje (Lucile), Jan Harm, John. Back row: Fred, Benjamin, Alice, Gerrit, Hendrick.

1873 plat map showing Jan Harm Lemmen's 80 acre farm in Laketown.

Portion of the 1873 plat map of Laketown Township showing Jan Harm’s farm in Section 13. It had increased to 80 acres. Below: Jan Harm and Lammigje’s gravesite in Graafschap Cemetery.

Photo of Jan Harm Lemmen gravesite

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