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Book lifts veil on (Kleine) Deters clan

History of Veldhausen family highlights cross-border ties

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill Immigration Genealogy HistoryThe road from Veldhausen in Germany's Bentheim to Noordbarge, near Emmen in Drenthe, the Netherlands, is as the crow flies rather close but Frederik Kleine Deters made a huge detour to get there. He first crossed the Atlantic Ocean to check out life in the United States in the mid 1860s before he - for reasons not explained in the book - settled in the Netherlands, in the small Eastern Dutch village of Noordbarge to become the ancestor of the Dutch branch of the Kleine Deters clan. Frederik's integration into Drenthe society likely went fairly smoothly since his hometown in Germany lay within the area where - in the pre-German unification era of Prusian Prime Minister Prince Otto Von Bismarck - the Dutch language was commonly understood and used. The local dialect did not differ much either from the one used around Emmen. Frederik also married in that location. Frederik and his brothers Lambert (p.80), Jan*1 (p.86), Jan Hindrik (p.88), Steven (p.89), Jan (p.94) and Jan Hindrik*2 (p.98) all left hometown Velthausen for the United States with Jan*1 and Jan Hendrik*2 blazing the trail right around the time that Bismarck completed his bloody and unsettling drive for the unification of a politically still very fractured Germany. Jan and Jan Hindrik arrived in the U.S.A. just as the American Civil War ended. Unfortunately, there is no mentioning why these brothers all flocked to Allegan County, Michigan. Alte Piccardie Untill then back home, the Kleine Deters clan farmed in the peat reclamation of Alte Piccardie which had been drained by 1663 on orders of Count Ernst Wilhelm of Bentheim. To oversee the project, the Count had hired Dr. Johannes Piccardt, a locally-born preacher and medic but who received his university training at Franeker and at Leiden. Serving a congregation at Egmond aan Zee for twenty years, Piccardt often had been pre-occupied with his hobby of studying water management and land reclamation. Considering Piccardt's fascination with hydraulic engineering, it is not surprising that he approached the Count with ideas how land in the northwest corner of his realm could be used to his advantage. A Dutch nobleman by marriage, Piccardt subsequently was appointed to supervise the Count's peat harvesting and reclamation project while pastoring in his third congregation in Coevorden (Rolde, also in Drenthe, was his second). Piccardt paid attention to a lot of detail, including those for the infrastructure of the area: roads, waterways, drainage, cattle density, how and where to build farmsteads and to tax incentives. However, once the first parcels of land in the reclaimed marsh were ready for agricultural use, Piccardt found it difficult to find suitable settlers. Advertising them did not help much. After the general settlement offer - called a letter of "octrooi" - was published in 1657, Gerd Lefers became the first farmer to take the Count up on his offer of an initial tax holiday in the colony. A second "campaign" now in all the Dutch provinces in 1663 also proved to be a failure. The Alte Piccardie project - which straddled a similarly named new waterway - finally received a boost when the Squire of Coevorden leased some parcels which he then sublet to settlers (perhaps contracted in his vicinity?). Among these was Detert Hermsen, who gave his name to farm #0. Some decades later, in 1725, a Lambert Engbers adopted the Deters surname upon his marriage to Gese Deters (the practise of assuming a name associated with the farm was also fairly common throughout the Achterhoek, Twenthe and Salland regions of the Netherlands, a practise which today is a nightmare to genealogists) to become the common male ancestor of the Deters clan. Along the way, due to joint tenancy on the farm one of the two families had the adjective Kleine added to its surname, presumably to identify the family with the smaller parcel or buildings. The (Kleine) Deters, both in Bentheim and in the USA (in Michigan and Kansas) were farmers. Frederik in Noordbarge went into carpentry and construction, however. His sons who mostly stayed with their father's new trade, settling in nearby Klazinaveen, Emmercompascuum and in the more distant industrial town of Enschede while one son stayed in Noordbarge (in 1840 the village counted 50 homes and about 350 inhabitants and was then a bit smaller than Emmen) to become a farmer. Both Emmen and Enschede long were hubs in the Kleine Deters family experience but since then they spread out all over the Netherlands. Some of Frederik's offspring emigrated to Canada, New Zealand and Switzerland where now family branches are found. Larger context A few observations are in order for the benefit of others undertaking similar efforts. Regrettably, the family history in the book has not been placed in a larger context which means that some interesting and even key aspects remain unexplored in the book and obscure to the reader. Among these are: 1) the commercial harvest of fuel (peat bricks) from the moors which was undertaken in many places in the Netherlands and likely prompted Piccardt's interest. But was there peat in Alte Piccardie and who harvested it?; 2) the general lack of reference to the unsettling political climate in Germany (and the Netherlands) which specifically in Germany gave rise to an ongoing mass exodus to America but also to the Netherlands; 3) the Deters likely were Secessionists from Bentheim's mainline Reformed Church and faced religious intolerance at home. Did this issue - or lack of land - prompt them to join Van Raalte's colony in Holland, Michigan, which - after all - included Graafschap named after Graafschap Bentheim (the book just refers to Allegan County and Filmore Township as a settlement area yet features some excerpts from fellow Bentheim-descended Dutch-American historian Henry Lucas' book Dutch Memoirs)?; 4) although church affiliation is stated in most genealogical entries, Dutch information simply has been translated to North American denominational terminology which will confusing when someone in the futere wants to present an indepth family history and needs to translate the information back to the Dutch situation. Is Christian Reformed then synonymous with "Christelijk Gereformeerd" and Free Reformed with which? A legend to explain this and other terminology would have been helpful. Various North American family branches contributed (too) brief an overview of their branch history which really plead for more detail. Could it be that loss of contact over the decades requires more time for renewed interest in identity and family ties before enthusiastic participation in such a book can be expected? Therefore, first generation emigrants who value ties on both sides of the Atlantic are well advised to leave behind a written family history and genealogy. The above concerns aside, the Kleine Deters book is an example of how one dedicated individual (in the Netherlands) with a bit of help can pull together in one volume a lot of family history. A low-budget, English-language volume translated from Dutch, it surmounts a language barrier many North Americans of Dutch ancestry find difficult to manage. May many others follow this example! My name is Deters, Kleine Deters, Family Tree-research on the families Deters and Kleine Deters by Frank Laurens, coil-bound, 166 pages. May be ordered from author at: Hannie Schaftrode 79, 2717 HT Zoetermeer, the Netherlands, phone (01131)79-35 12 545;; captions: Frederik Kleine Deters returned from the U.S.A. in 1870 to settle and marry in Noordbarge, near Emmen. He and his wife Zwaantje Zwiers are the ancestors of a numerous Dutch clan. The offspring of Frederik's brothers largely live in Western Michigan. Frits and Alberta (van Veen) Kleine Deters with their family emigrated from Enschede to Edmonton in 1951. Their descendents largely live in Western Canada. Another branch settled in Ontario.