News Articles

The Bekins - real movers and shakers - meet in Michigan

Family's original surname was Bekius

Tags: Genealogy

BEAVERDAM, Michigan - An extended family of 'movers and shakers' in the business world recently gathered at a family reunion held at the farmstead where their ancestors settled in the 1850s. More than 700 of the nearly 2,000 descendants of Sjoerd and Tiertje Bekius converged on the 90-acre farm in Beaverdam now owned by a sixth-generation member of the family.

Records show that Sjoerd Douwes Bekius left the municipality Het Bildt in his native Friesland as a single 22-year-old in 1853, sailing aboard the 'William and Mary' from Liverpool, England. Two years after arriving in the U.S., he married Tiertje Berkompas, who had emigrated from Friesland with her parents in 1847. The young couple settled in Beaverdam, and went on to raise 11 children. At some point, the family name was 'Americanized' to Bekins, and it is this name that soon rose to prominence.

Business and pleasure

Three of Sjoerd and Tiertje's sons, Martin, John and Daniel, founded 'Bekins Van Lines' in Sioux City, Iowa in 1891. The Bekins boys were innovative and ambitious; their company grew and expanded, eventually specializing in the moving and storage of household goods, and becoming 'Bekins Moving and Storage'. Different offices and branches, many operated by family members, opened across the country, spreading the Bekins family throughout the U.S.

To keep in touch with one another, the clan began to hold family meetings at which business concerns could be discussed, as well as family ties maintained. Out of these business meetings grew a tradition, and now, although the moving business has long been sold, the family gatherings are still held annually.

In the last few years, the family meetings have been held in such places as Vale, Colorado; Monterey, California; Iowa, and even the Netherlands! This year's reunion was very special, however, taking place at the farm where the whole clan has its roots. Bekins and their relations from all across North America came to visit the homestead where it all started. The 700 attenders swapped stories, toured the recently remodelled house in which the Bekius family lived, and picked up an updated version of the family tree.