News Articles

Local centennarian community group spearheaded numerous initiatives

Village formerly colony of peat diggers

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

SINTJOHANNESGA, the Netherlands - The typically Dutch linear village of Sintjohannesga, once a migrant peat diggers colony built along a dike, recently celebrated the centennial anniversary of its local village booster, “Plaatselijk Belang” (PB). The group over the decades spearheaded numerous initiatives which made the community more livable. In 1901, PB was founded by members of a club “Eens-gezindheid” (loosely translated, Common Purpose) which looks after the open-air skating facility.

PB’s founders were not favourably impressed with their communities’ circumstances. Sintjohannesga, which was a community of labourers, a few entrepreneurs which supplied local needs and several farmers, lacked most basic amenities and services. PB wanted im-provements but realized it had to take the initiative itself. The roads were in an extremely poor condition, the community lacked a local family physician, an undertaker and a midwife. All projects were realized and positions filled.

Following WWII - the war still is a faultline in Dutch consciousness - PB took in adjoining Rosterhaule and nearby Rohel and obtained gymnastics’ facilities, meeting facilities and restored the local windmill landmark. Nowadays, expanded sports facilities and building lots are on the top of PB’s agenda. Both are needed to keep young people from moving away.

Located in a “far-flung municipality” in the Frisian heartland but near the town of Heerenveen, Sintjohan-nesga came into being when peat diggers from neighbouring Overijssel settled in the area in the mid 1700s to literally carve out a living for themselves. When the peat ran out, many moved on but others stayed. Among the latter were local bakers Wieger Ketellapper (1900) who achieved fame with his breakfast cake (WK) and (Minne) Modderman (1916) with his widely distributed pumpernickel. Items from the product lines of both companies also are sold by importers in North America.

The three villages currently jointly have about 2,000 inhabitants.