The Bielefeld Story

The Evert Bielefeld Family Moves From Hoogstede to Holland, Michigan

By Emily Bielefeld Mouw

By Emily Bielefeld Mouw

Emily Bielefeld Mouw from Holland, Michigan, researched the ancestry of her parents, Albert and Carrie Raak Bielefeld, for more than thirty years. Visiting and corresponding with relatives in Germany and in the United States demonstrated Emily’s love of her heritage and her desire to pass it on to future generations. This article was submitted by her daughter, Society member Mary Mouw.

Colorized studio portrait of Albert, Ennegien, and Evert Bielefeld, taken around 1892.

Family portrait of Ennegien Schültink Bielefeld, Albert Bielefeld, and Evert Bielefeld, taken around 1892.

There was a little boy running in wooden shoes on a deck of the Steamship Friesland on 20 August 1892. This person was Albert Bielefeld, the 3 1/2–year–old son of Evert Bielefeld (32 years) and Ennegien Bielefeld born Schültink (35 years). This courageous little family left their home in Hoogstede–Bathorn, Kreis Bentheim, Germany, to come to America.

Adult- and children's-sized wooden shoes worn by Albert Bielefeld and his mother Ennegien

The wooden shoes that Ennegien Schültink Bielefeld and Albert wore. Learn more about wooden shoe making by reading “Albert Kraker’s Spoons.”

Evert had an Aunt Aaltje Slenk born Hardger and Uncle Jan Hendrik Slenk who lived in East Saugatuck near Holland, Michigan. Frau Slenk came to America in 1873. A letter from them, written on 15 June 1892, gave information on what they should bring along and what was unnecessary.

Quote from Albert Bielefeld's aunt and uncle's letter: "...Bring your overcoat.... Bring your feather beds ...  also woolen underwear, a pair of boots.... Buy a good shovel, they are better over there. Buy one for us also.... Take along a cured ham.... On board the ship food is plentiful, but some dishes did not appeal to us."

After working hard and saving money, on 30 July 1892, Evert and Ennegien were able to purchase a ticket for 450 guldens, a considerable sum, to sail on the Steamship Friesland, the Red Star Line. On 20 August 1892 they departed from Antwerp, Belgium, sailed to New York, and then directly to Philadelphia. From there they boarded a train to Grand Rapids, Michigan, and then to Holland, Michigan. This was a small but thriving city, only forty–five years old. It was founded in February, 1847, when a group from the Netherlands settled here under the leadership of Dr. Albertus C. Van Raalte.

Photograph of the S.S. Friesland, which the Bielefeld family sailed on.

The S.S. Friesland departed Antwerp, Belgium on 20 August 1892 and arrived in New York City on 29 August 1892.

Above left: The Bielefeld family’s proof of booking passage on the S.S. Friesland, indicating that they paid 450 guilders. The writing is in Dutch.

Above right: The proof of booking, translated into English.

Left: Their certificate indicating that they paid 50 guilders to reserve passage on the S.S. Friesland.

Click on a document to enlarge it.

All of their lives the Bielefeld family lived in Holland, Michigan. They joined the First Reformed Church as this was their church affiliation in Germany. In the tannery Evert worked diligently and, in time, purchased a nice home.

Photograph of Evert, Ennegien, and Albert Bielefeld in winter overcoats and hats. Son Albert appears to be a teenager.

Above left: Evert, Albert, and Ennegien Bielefeld after a number of years in Holland, Michigan. Above right: First Reformed Church in Holland, Michigan (where Albert and Carrie Bielefeld were active members and where their 3 daughters were baptized and married). Right: Evert and Ennegien Bielefeld.

Young Albert attended school and soon learned the English language. He was a talented and creative boy and soon acquired many skills. As a fine Christian he became an elder and deacon at First Reformed Church. Here he sang in the choir, played the piano for more than fifty years, and was a Boy Scout leader for twenty–five years. In addition, photography, including developing, was a fascinating hobby for Albert. He worked over fifty years at the Holland Shoe Company, most of the time as a welter by trade.

Right: Albert Bielefeld as a young man.

Portrait of Albert Bielefeld around 1920

On 23 September 1915 Albert (born 4 November 1888) married a lovely young lady, Miss Carrie Raak (born 20 August 1893), daughter of George Raak and Anna Madderom Raak. They were married in their new home with afternoon and evening celebrations. Fifty years later they observed their 50th wedding anniversary in their same home with an Open House in the afternoon and evening.

Wedding portrait of Carrie and Albert Bielefeld
Portrait of Carrie and Albert Bielefeld on their 50th anniversary

Left: Wedding picture of Albert and Carrie Raak Bielefeld (23 September 1915). Right: Carrie and Albert’s 50th wedding anniversary picture (23 September 1965).

To them were born three wonderful daughters—Emily, Dorothy, and Elaine. Two sisters, Emily and Elaine, were graduated from Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and became teachers, while Dorothy earned her nursing degree from Butterworth School of Nursing in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Right: The Bielefeld family: Emily (Mouw), Carrie and Albert Bielefeld, Dorothy (DeRoo), and Elaine (Walchenbach).

Black and white photograph of Emily, Carrie, Albert, Dorothy, and Elaine Bielefeld

Emily married Rev. Henry A. Mouw and had three daughters: Carol, Mary, and Barbara; Dorothy married Rev. Harold De Roo and had three sons: Mark, Todd, and Dirk; and Elaine married Mr. Donald Walchenbach and had four daughters: Lynne, Cathy, Carrie, and Nancy. All the grandchildren became college graduates, eight from Hope College. In addition, five great–grandchildren obtained college degrees from Hope College: Lynne and Dennis Hendricks’ children Jennifer and Paul, Cathy and Brian Koop’s daughters Carrie and Sarah, and Carol and David DeVos’ son Aaron.

Albert passed away on 24 March 1966 at 77 years and Carrie on 12 August 1976 at 83 years in Holland, Michigan.

The Evert and Ennegien Schültink Bielefeld Genealogy

The genealogy of the Bielefeld family can be traced back to 1752 when a son, Harm, was born to Jan Wiegmink and Hille Klein Lambers. Harm (born Wiegmink) took the name Hartger after his wife’s name, Ale Hartger. Harm died 18 August 1840 in Scheerhorn, Germany, at 88 years. Ale died in 1819. They had a son, Jan Hartger (born 1785), who married Jenne Raterink (born 1792). Jan died 22 February 1854 in Scheerhorn, Germany, at 69 years, and Jenne died 7 March 1838 at 46 years.

Jan and Jenne had a son, Albert Hardger (born 13 June 1816), who married Harmtien Bileveld (born 12 February 1807). They were married in Hoogstede, Germany, on 7 June 1839. Albert changed his last name to Bileveld, his wife’s name, as he took over the Bileveld farm, the custom of that time. They had two children who died in infancy. Harmtien died 21 December 1842 in Hoogstede at 35 years.

Albert married a second wife, Everdina Mulder (born 27 Nov. 1822), in Hoogstede on 2 August 1844. She was from the Netherlands. They had six children—five sons and one daughter. One son died in infancy. Everdina died 20 March 1859 in Tinholt, Germany, at 36 years. Albert married a third wife, Hindrikkien Warmer (born 9 September 1825), in Hoogstede on 26 August 1859. They had three children: Evert Dieks (Evert) (born 5 July 1860, died 18 Nov. 1939); Gertien (born 22 November 1863, died 23 May 1864); and Gerrit–Hindrik (born 4 March 1866, died 21 Nov. 1943). With the third marriage the spelling of Bileveld changed to Bielefeld, perhaps spelled after the city of Bielefeld, Germany. Albert Bielefeld died 6 January 1891 in Tinholt at 74 years. Hindrikkien died 5 October 1887 in Bathorn, Germany, at 62 years.

The Bielefelds lived in their home in Tinholt, County Bentheim, 106 years. It belonged to a German Count, so the Bielefeld family could not actually purchase the farm. This is where Evert, my grandfather, was born 5 July 1860. He was the older son of Albert Hardger Bielefeld and his third wife, Hindrikkien Warmer Bielefeld. Evert married Ennegien Schültink, my grandmother, on 24 November 1887 in Hoogstede. Ennegien, born 20 February 1857 in Emlichheim, Germany, was the daughter of Hindrik Schültink (born 3 June 1816, died 14 November 1893 in Emlichheim) and Gertruida Lubbers Schültink (born 9 April 1818 in Tinholt, died 11 April 1889 in Emlichheim).

Hindrik and Gertruida Schültink had two sons, Gerriet and Albertus, and two daughters, Zwaantien and Ennegien. The younger daughter, Ennegien, became the wife of Evert Bielefeld, therefore my grandparents, as their son Albert, born 4 November 1888 in Hoogstede–Bathorn, was my father. Albert was baptized in the Evangelisch–reformierte Kirche in Hoogstede. He was named after his grandfather, Albert Hardger Bielefeld.

I am so thankful that this brave couple, Evert and Ennegien Bielefeld, with their little son Albert came to America on 20 August 1892. Evert passed away on 18 November 1939 at 79 years and Ennegien on 11 February 1927 at 70 years in Holland, Michigan.

I praise God that Albert became my father. He was truly a father to be proud of—industrious, talented, loving and kind. Together with my dear mother, Carrie Raak Bielefeld, they established a beautiful Christian home with high ideals and moral principles. Their memory, a testimony to their faith in Jesus Christ, will always remain with us, their children, and grandchildren.

Carrie and Albert Bielefeld with their children and grandchildren at their daughter's 50th anniversary.

Albert and Carrie Bielefeld’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration with their family. Carrie and Albert Bielefeld are seated.

Illustration of the original site of the Bielefeld home in Tinholt, Germany.

Original site of Evert and Ennegien Bielefeld’s home in Tinholt, Germany.

Illustration of the Evangelisch-reformierte Kirche in Hoogstede, Germany (Evert Bielefeld and Ennegien Schultink were married in this church on 24 November 1887, and their son Albert was baptized here on 9 December 1888.)

Evangelisch–reformierte Kirche in Hoogstede, Germany. Evert Bielefeld and Ennegien Schültink were married in this church on 24 November 1887, and their son Albert was baptized here on 9 December 1888.

Photograph of the Reformed Church in Emlichheim, Germany, where Ennegien Schultink Bielefeld was baptized.

Reformierte Kirche in Emlichheim, Germany. Hindrik Schültink and Gertruida Lubbers Schültink and family belonged to this church. Here Ennegien was baptized on 29 March 1857 and made profession of faith on 24 April 1874.

The farm where Albert Bielefeld was born in 1888. Pictured are his granddaughters Mary, Carole, and Barbara.

Evert Bielefeld (age 70) returned to Grafschaft Bentheim in 1930 to visit his brother Gerrit-Hindrik Bielefeld, age 64)

Evert Bielefeld (left) with his brother, Gerrit-Hindrik Bielefeld. At the age of 70, Evert visited his brother Gerrit–Hindrik (age 64) in Grafschaft Bentheim in 1930.

From 1974 to 1995 my husband, Henry Mouw, and I have had the opportunity to visit Germany six times. Our daughters and a son–in–law joined us on several occasions. We are thankful we could visit the communities from which our ancestors came. Warm hospitality was shown us by relatives in Emlichheim, Hoogstede, Lage, Nordhorn, and Wilsum.

We are most grateful to Fräulein Gesina Borgman for arranging our itinerary each year as well as for being our interpreter and guide and also to Fräulein Geertien Bielefeld, Herr Albert Klinge, and Herr Ferdinand Harmsen for genealogy information.

About This Story

Swenna Buter Harger had asked Emily Bielefeld Mouw if she would write an article of her Bielefeld ancestors for a book entitled Aus der Grafschaft Bentheim in die Neue Welt: 1640—2002 A.D.  by Dr. Gerrit Jan Beuker, Swenna Buter Harger, Loren Lemmen and other contributors. She readily agreed. It has been translated into German and appears in Chapter 3, page 291.

This article also appeared in the Bentheimers International Society’s Newsletter in January 2019.

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