Tibbe - From Grafshcaft-Bentheym to Michigan, USA


 revised 08/09/2010 – Added pictures from Gordon Tibbe and John A. Tibbe, including WWII and post-Korean War; updated family tree charts. Click here for new additions

Click here for Photo gallery

Click here for family pedigree charts

Family Gathering Photos with Names


Detailed information on individuals within the family tree is stored at Rootsweb, a free internet genealogy database that anyone can access. Go to http://wc.rootsweb.com/~tibbe. I follow standard genealogical practice by not publishing personal information on persons who are or who still may be living to protect their privacy. If you should find errors, or wish to revise information or add your relevant family photos, please contact me at [email protected].

Once at the Rootsweb database:

  • To see ALL members of this family tree at once, click on the eldest family member (Harm Tibben), then click on Index.
    Click on the other buttons on the webpage:
  • Descendancy - to see all descendants of a particular person
  • Register or Ahnentafel - for information in story format
  • Pedigree - tree chart
Sincerest thanks are given to Jan Boerrigter (Netherlands), Rosalie Joan Brown-Essing (Moddersville) and my Uncle John A. Tibbe for their valuable assistance during my research.  And God bless those who were early keepers of our family trees that helped get me started -- Dorothy (Tibbe) Reinink, Shirley (Reinink) Graves, and John Courtz Tibbe (via Carol Borg).


Are We German or Are We Dutch?  - We are Grafschaft-Bentheimers !

This has been a question since I was a little girl ... Great Grandpa John Tibbe's immigration papers stated he was from the Netherlands, but there were these old stories of the family coming from Germany.  Both are actually correct.  Great Grandpa's parents had moved from Bentheim to Hardenberg, Overijssel, Netherlands (only a few miles west of the German/Dutch border) in 1851, and Great Grandpa John and his 5 siblings were born in the Netherlands.  But our family roots go back many more generations to several small villages in the County of Bentheim. This very small northwestern territory of present-day Germany was once its own country prior to the reign of Napoleon. People from this region were neither German or Dutch, but called Grafschaft-Bentheimers. The land borders the districts of Overijssel and Drenthe in the Netherlands. The people today still call themselves "Bentheimers". The local language of the people on both sides of this border is the same, it is a Bentheim language (plattdeutsch), not German, but closer to Dutch. Baptism, confirmation, marriage and death records for the TIBBE family were recorded at the Evangelisch Reformierte Kirche (Reformed Church) in the villages of Laar, Wilsum, Emlichheim and Vorwald of Bentheim.

Coat of Arms

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Coat of Arms
Today, the Bentheim countryside is dotted with cottages, farms and fields of heather. Towns are filled with small shops of rustic character. Ages ago, it was a medieval state. Bentheim became an earldom as early as the year 1050. The small Vechte River offered the opportunity to establish settlements along the banks. In the following centuries it became a regional power by annexing the neighboring earldoms. Sandstone was the major export in medieval times, ensuring the wealth of the earldom. In later years, weaving linen from flax was the primary method of income along with farming.

Photographs of the Bentheim countryside

The border between the Netherlands and Bentheim was an open border until 1800, which meant people frequently and freely moved from town to town between the two countries. Napoleon made it a more closed border, but people still crossed it as if it did not exist. Because the County of Bentheim was relatively poor and sufficient work was not available for the younger sons of farmers, boys often went across the border to the Netherlands to find a job as a farm hand cultivating the rural farms and peat bogs or digging canals.

Photograph of a typical border crossing between Bentheim and the Netherlands


A little further south in Bentheim in the town of Uelsen, is this statue called the "Pikmäijer". The statue was placed in the 18th century in remembrance of the "Hollandgänger". The Hollandgänger (literally: Holland walkers), called "Pikmäijer" by the locals, were a sort of cross-border commuters. They sought to escape the economical situation in the county of Bentheim, the neighboring Emsland or in the region at Vechta-Osnabrück. The travel route led them through Uelsen to the Netherlands, where they got work as peat cutters or agricultural laborers. Several of our ancestors went across the border to the Netherlands for employment.

In the mid-1850's some of our direct ancestors moved from Bentheim to the town of Hardenberg in Overijssel, Netherlands (just 8.5 miles west following the Vechte River), about 30 years prior to immigrating to the United States, and the first of their children were born there -- which is why their naturalization papers and census records stated they were Dutch and from the Netherlands rather than Bentheimer or German.

Life in Bentheim
Dr. Jellema's Visit to Bentheim
The Villages of Emlichheim and Wilsum in Bentheim

The village of Emlichheim is first mentioned in written text in the year 1312. Artifacts have been found in the region dating back 3000 years. The Emlichheim Reformed Church is made of Bentheimer sandstone, and the north wall of the church built around 1150. The tower dates to the 14th century. In 1484 the church was widened on the south side and is inscribed MCCCCLXXXIIII (1484) above the door.

The industrial time period of the 20th century brought a paper factory to Emlichheim which was later converted to a very large potato processing facility, the largest in Germany today employing over 500 people. Drilling for oil and natural gas are common sights today.

Emlichheim Reformed Church (photo at left)

The village of Wilsum is 47 square kilometers, and has a population of 1500. The Reformed Church has a membership of 1200. There is also a Christian Reformed Church, Lutheran and Roman Catholic. The Reformed Christians see themselves as mediators of the Reformers Calvin and Zwingli. These Reformers wished to see the Church taken off all glamour and built solely upon the basis of the Lord. Accordingly, the services are markedly plain and the church  building is of austere beauty.

Wilsum Reformed Church

Many of our family births, baptisms, confirmations, marriages and deaths are recorded at these two historic churches in Bentheim.


My TIBBE Family --
* Grafschaft-Bentheim to
** Hardenberg, Overijssel, Netherlands to
*** Holland (Graafschap), Allegan County, Michigan to
**** Moddersville, Missaukee Co., Michigan to
***** Grant, Newaygo County, Michigan and beyond

(My direct ancestors are bold & underlined for quick reference. A simple numbering system is used throughout such as (5-2), i.e. 5th generation, 2nd child, to help distinguish the men, since many of them were named the same, especially the frequent use of Albert, Gerrit and John)

The earliest ancestor I could trace through the early church records was (1-) Harm TIBBEN (my great-great-great-great-great-grandfather) born in the first quarter of the 18th century.

The surname TIBBE is believed to be a derivative of the surname TIBBEN based upon research in Bentheim church records going back to the mid-1600's. In those days there was not a correct spelling of family names. It was written as it was spoken, and only by those who could read and write. Sometimes this was difficult because at a baptism (which is where a child received their name), the minister was Dutch (or educated at a Dutch school) and the farmer bringing his child to be baptized spoke only the local Bentheim dialect. Also, some people had, and used, more than one family name, such as the name of his parents, the name of the farm he lived on, or a nickname people gave him. Now days, the "N" at the end of the surname TIBBE (N) is not considered relevant, it is considered to be a surname case ending such as the letter "S".  Today, the surnames TIBBE and TIBBEN are both found in local telephone directories predominantly in Bentheim, other German territories, the Netherlands, Australia, South Africa, the United States, and to a lesser degree in several other countries.

Harm TIBBEN and his wife (name unknown) had two sons -- Albert and Jan Hindrick.

2-1 Albert TIBBEN (born about 1752 Bentheim; confirmed 9 April 1770 at the age of 18 at Emlichheim Church; lived in Laar, was a landman (farmer) and tenant farmer at the Volkerink farm; in 1812 at the age of 60 he was mentioned 3 times as a witness of a neighbor's death in the village of Emlichheim; died May 1821 at the age of 69)
2-2 Jan Hindrik TIBBEN (born about 1772 Bentheim; confirmed 1790 at the age of 18 at Wilsum Church on Pentecost; in 1790 he lived in Wilsum; death date unknown)
Albert TIBBEN (my great-great-great-great-grandfather) married Fenne BAARLINK. She was baptized 25 January 1756 at Emlichheim Church and was the daughter of Hindrik BAARLINK who lived at Vorwald. Fenne died sometime before March 1818. Albert and Fenne had 4 sons, 3 of which died as young men.
3-1 Harm TIBBE (baptized 30 December 1786 Bentheim; confirmed 1815 at Emlichheim Church; was a soldier and a weaver; died 11 March 1818 at the age of 31 in Vorwald; buried 13 March 1818 in Emlichheim)
3-2 Hindrik TIBBE (baptized 15 May 1793 Bentheim; confirmed 1812 Emlichheim Church; he was a territorial army man and in 1815 at the age of 22 was a member of the Bentheimer Army Battalion Company 4E that participated in the Battle at Waterloo which defeated Napoleon; died 16 May 1821 in Vorwald at the age of 28; buried 18 May 1821 in Emlichheim)
Involvement in the Battle at Waterloo, 1815
3-3 Garrit "Jan" TIBBE (went by "Jan" according to church records) (born in 1796 in Vorwald, Bentheim; baptized 26 June 1796 at Emlichheim Church; confirmed in 1815 at the age of 19 at Emlichheim Church; lived in Emlichheim; was a carpenter and a tenant farmer (meaning he worked another man's farm) at Broekman farm in Laar; died 3 August 1838 at the age of 42 in Laar)

In 1874, long after the Battle at Waterloo, there are church records which state that Garrit Jan Tibbe (age 21) is in active military service and that one of his brothers has asked to be free from military service. Since military service was compulsory and the number of sons to go into service from one family was limited, proof has been asked that Gerrit Jan is really in active service.

3-4 Hindrik Jan TIBBE (baptized 2 April 1799 Bentheim; was a weaver; died 23 May 1819 at the age of 20 in Vorwald; buried 27 May 1819 in Emlichheim)
Garrit "Jan" TIBBE (my great-great-great-grandfather) was engaged to Harmine (or Hermina) BRUNGERINK (some records spell as BRUMMERINK). Publication of the "banns" (their engagement) was 12 January 1821. They were married 10 March 1821 at Wilsum Church with a certificate from Emlichheim Church. Garrit and Harmine had 3 sons - Albert Jan, Harm and Frits (or Frederick), and 2 daughters -- Fenne and Hendrikien.
4-1 Albert Jan TIBBE (born and baptized 24 March 1822 Laar, Bentheim; confirmed 7 April 1841 age 19 at Laar with a certificate from Dedemsvaart, Overijssel, Netherlands; was a day laborer in Laar; immigrated to U.S. 1882-83 at the age of 58-60) Further details follow.
4-2 Harm TIBBE (baptized 24 July 1824 Laar, Bentheim; death date unknown)
4-3 Frits (or Frederick) TIBBE (born 6 October 1826 Bentheim; baptized 8 October 1826 in Laar; confirmed 29 April 1847 at the age of 21 with a certificate from Dedemsvaart, Overijssel, Netherlands; immigrated to U.S. on 1 May 1854 at the age of 27) Further details follow.
4-4 Fennigjen (Fenne) TIBBE (baptized 14 December 1828 Laar, Bentheim; married Jan Hendrik OLTHUIS 7 May 1857 in Hardenberg, Overijssel, Netherlands)
4-5 Hindrikje TIBBE (baptized 4 July 1832 Laar, Bentheim; death date unknown)
Harmine's Involvement with the "Separatists"

When my great-great-great-grandfather Garrit Jan TIBBE (3-3) died at the young age of 42, he left behind his wife Harmine and 5 children ages 6 through 16. One year after he died, third son Frits, age 13, was sent away to the Netherlands to live with a tailor and learn the trade. The church paid for his schooling, church education, and for the tailor's services. At the age of 16, the eldest son, my great-great-grandfather Albert Jan Tibbe, would have assumed the responsibility of caring for his widowed mother and younger siblings. During Harmine's 10 years as a widow, there is church documentation which shows early on she asked for and received money on several occasions from the church "diaconie" (poor fund). Another documented record states that together with others, she was sentenced to pay a penalty due to her regular presence at "forbidden religious happenings." She and the others were called "separatists" as they had separated themselves from the official state church (the Reformed Church). Later they received the right to set up their own church (the same to which the famed Rev. Albert VanRaalte of the Netherlands belonged - the Christian Reformed Church). He was one of the earlier separatists and led the immigration to the United States for religious freedom.

Harmine was still struggling financially and another year later she asked if the church could pay the rent of her room, but they declined. It was common that a parish support the poor as every church had a poor-relief board, and no other social system existed in those days. The poor were given money, food and wood to heat their homes, and some of the elderly were placed in a special house for elders or in a room in a house of one of the wealthier church members. At every church service money was collected for the diaconie. It is possible they no longer supported her because of her attendance at the "forbidden religious meetings." Harmine died 10 years after her husband in 1848 at the age of 53, just 6 years prior to the first member of the family emigrating to America, son Frits.

The Story of Frits Tibbe - The First to Immigrate to America

In 1854 at the age of 27, Frits was the first of our family to immigrate to America. Perhaps working as a tailor gave him the means to afford the voyage, and the others could not. He was on the tail end of the large wave of Dutch separatists which began in 1847 to the United States, particularly to the Michigan area. He was on board the ship Challenger, departing from LeHavre, France, traveling without other family along, and arrived in New York on 1 May 1854.  He states he was from Holland, as he had been living there since the age of 13 learning the trade of a tailor.  His name and immigration date is also mentioned in the book by Swenna Harger and Loren Lemmen "The County of Bentheim and Her Emigrants to North America."
Photocopies of the ship log for the ship Challenger arriving 1 May 1854
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An artist's rendering or details of the ship Challenger have not been found to date.

Most west-Michigan bound immigrants who came in through New York during that time period took the Hudson River steamer to Albany, then the Erie Canal barge across New York state to Buffalo. In Buffalo they boarded a sailing ship for the trip through Lake Erie, up the St. Clair River, through Lake Huron, past Mackinaw Island and down Lake Michigan to the mouth of Black Lake (present day Lake Macatawa). There were no landing facilities in the area and the sailing ships would anchor out while the passengers were ferried ashore by small boats. This was a particularly dangerous part of the journey and several of the immigrants were drowned during the landing. Many immigrants were not prepared for what they found when they arrived on the shores of Black Lake.

The website of Jack Van Den Eijkel, Netherlands, contains very good information on the conditions of early Holland, Michigan.

"They were led to believe that there would be cleared land and a city at their journey's end. Instead they found thick forest stretching for miles in every direction, streams and ponds with no paths or bridges. There were oaks, beeches and pines, many measuring six feet and more in circumference. The early colonists improvised shelters by setting up posts and covering them with bed sheets, lengths of cotton cloth, bark or reed mats. The first concern was the building of a log house. Because logs were the only available material with which to build, this proved a tremendous task for the inexperienced hands with the ax and saw, both of which were scarce tools. Most of the log houses were one-room structures with cloth partitions and dirt floors. The walls were not always wind or watertight. The problem of food was even more serious. Most of the colonists who arrived were poor farmers who had borrowed the money for immigration. Wheat bran and corn was the most readily available food. Burnt corn, pulverized, served as coffee. Food was prepared in open kettles suspended over an open fire outdoors. Pancakes were baked of bran, and cornmeal was baked in balls, buried in hot ashes. Due to the shortage of food, the exhausting work of clearing land and wet and cold weather conditions caused tremendous sickness. Nearly every cabin was affected and mourned the loss of one or more members."

With Frits arriving 7 years after the majority of Dutch immigrants, hopefully these harsh conditions by that time had lessened.

Frits settled on the south side of the city of Holland, and later in Laketown Township (Graafschap), Allegan County, Michigan. Many of the small towns in this area of Michigan were named after their Bentheim and Netherlands home-land towns, such as Graafschap, Holland, Overisel, Zeeland, Vriesland, and Drenthe.  Rev. Albertus C. VanRaalte was known for placing new immigrants in a community where they would find others of similar background and dialect, so it is fitting that Frits would end up in Graafschap. In 1856 he was married to Zwantje HOFMEYER by Rev. VanRaalte. Also in 1856 be filed a Declaration of Intention to become a U.S. Citizen. In 1865 he made profession of his faith at Graafschap Christian Reformed Church. Frits was indeed a tailor in Michigan, and was also the church bell ringer at Graafschap CRC.

Click on image of map for larger view


Graafschap Blacksmith Shop

Walking to church - Graafschap CRC in background

Graafschap Christian Reformed Church - 2004

Replica of the original Graafschap log church erected
directly across the street from the present-day church - 2004

Mother church monument and
memorial plaque - 2007

Close-up of memorial plaque - 2007

First pioneers monument
and memorial plaque - 2007

Close-up of memorial plaque - 2007

Original grave marker of the first pioneers
in Graafschap - 2007
Brief History of Holland, Graafschap and the Christian Reformed Church
Frits' wife Zwantje died in 1886 at the age of 68. One year later Frits was married to Truida Geertraida (Gertrude) Frantsen by Pastor Roelof Kuiper. Frits died in 1910 of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 83. He is buried in Graafschap Cemetery, Holland, Allegan County, Michigan with his first wife Zwantje. Frits and Zwantje are believed to have had one child, born and died August 17, 1861, buried in the historical Pioneer Plot at Pilgrim Home Cemetery, Holland, Ottawa County, Michigan.
Frits Tibbe's Naturalization document to become a
U.S. citizen (and typed version for easier reading)
Click on image above for a larger view
More information about Frits  

More information on Voyage and Settlement

The Move from Bentheim to Overijssel, Netherlands - The Story of Albert Tibbe (my great-great-grandfather)

Frits' oldest brother Albert Jan TIBBE (4-1), did not immigrate until about 30 years later - perhaps to care for his younger siblings, perhaps due to lack of money for the voyage. In 1851 at the age of 29, Albert became engaged to Jantje (Jennie) KOLLEN. He earned a living as a day laborer (hired farm laborer). About the time he married Jennie, he and his family moved from Laar, Bentheim to Hardenberg, Overijssel, Netherlands, just across the country border. Their route followed the Vechte River.

Click on image above for a larger view

Overijssel Coat of Arms

Hardenberg Coat of Arms

This is their 1851 "Banns" (engagement) Publication.  The Banns was published 3 times for any public objection prior to the wedding.

09-04-1851 - Albert Tibbe, dagloner te Laar, geboren aldaar op 24 maart 1822; zoon van Jan Tibbe te Laar en Harmine Brummerink, beide overleden.
- Jantien Kollen, wonende te Lutten, geboren te Steenwijksmoer op 10 november 1826; dochter van Jan Jans Kollen, arbeider te Lutten, en Roelfien Albers Oost, beide in leven.

Translation: Albert Tibbe, day laborer of Laar, born there on 24 March 1822; son of Jan Tibbe of Laar and Harmine Brummerink, both deceased. Jantien Kollen, living in Lutten, born in Steenwijksmoer on 10 November 1826; daughter of Jan Jan Kollen, worker in Lutten, and Roelfien Albers Oost, both living.

Below are photographs of Hardenberg, Overijssel, Netherlands. Note the picture of the peat farmers third row down - many of our ancestors were day laborers, it is quite possible they worked the peat bogs.

Several of our ancestors went through confirmation at the Reformed Church in Dedemsvaart, Netherlands, which is located just west of the larger city Hardenberg, or at another church with "papers" from this church. They also lived in the Dedemsvaart area for a time.

Dedemsvaart Reformed Church

Netherlands typical home interior

Dedemsvaart street scene

Dedemsvaart farm

The Overijssel church records do not specify which of the two Reformed Churches in Hardenberg (St. Lambertus or St. Stephanus) that our ancestors would have worshipped at, so I have included photographs of both. (The Reformed and Christian Reformed recently merged into one body in Hardenberg, and are no longer called Reformed, but they do follow the Reformed teachings - they are now called the "Protestant Churches of Hardenberg".)

St. Lambertus Church (commonly referred to as "de Witte", or the white church). Built 750-762, is the oldest standing structure in the area, and is still used for worship services today. It's awesome to think that our ancestors may have been baptized in the historic baptismal font.

Photographs of St. Lambertus Church in Hardenberg (present day)



St. Stephanus Church. Built 1725. In 1847, the old medieval church building was taken down due to deteriorating conditions, and a new structure was built. There were originally 3 church bells and 1 was sold to help pay for the reconstruction. Recent renovations included re-gilding the rooster at the top of the cross finial.

St. Stephanus (original 1725 church)

St. Stephanus (present day)

Albert and Jennie remained in the Hardenberg, Netherlands area for 30 years, having 5 sons and 1 daughter born in the Netherlands.  Between 1882 and 1883, Albert, Jennie, their children and grandchildren all emigrated to Michigan (several voyages). Details which are not listed here on their children and their descendants can be found at http://wc.rootsweb.com/~tibbe

5-1 Gerrit Jan TIBBE (born 19 March 1853 Hardenberg, Overijssel, Netherlands; married Hendrika BOSSINK; married Martha TENBRINK; died 1931 about age 78 Fremont, Newaygo County, Michigan)
5-2 Jan (John) A. TIBBE (born 30 August 1855 Hardenberg, Overijssel, Netherlands; married his first wife Hendrikje (Hattie/Henrietta) VELDSTRA 11 February 1876 in Hardenberg, Netherlands; married second wife Dena HUISKEN 4 March 1888 in Allegan Co., Michigan) Further details follow
5-3 Roelof (Ralph) TIBBE (born 15 December 1856 Hardenberg, Overijssel, Netherlands; married Fennigjen KLEINLUGTENBELT; married Eberdine WOLTERS-BREMER; died 8 May 1934 age 77 Holland, Ottawa County, Michigan)
5-4 Harm TIBBE (born September 1859 Hardenberg, Overijssel, Netherlands; married Hendrika DUNNEWIND; married Gertrude BECKMAN; died 17 December 1909 age 50 Allegan County, Michigan)
5-5 Jacobus (Jacob) TIBBE (born 26 May 1863 Hardenberg, Overijssel, Netherlands; married Grietje HOUTJES; married Katie WESTVEER; married Alida SHARDEMA; died 21 October 1953 age 90 Missaukee County, Michigan)
5-6 Roelofje (Rolly or Ruth) TIBBE (born 4 January 1867 Hardenberg, Overijssel, Netherlands; married Herbert DERIDDER; died 22 June 1955 age 88 Holland, Ottawa County, Michigan)

Other Family Members Begin to Immigrate to America - 28 Years After Frits

Albert and Jennie's youngest son Jacob (5-5), was their first child to immigrate to the United States from the Netherlands. He was 20 years old, single, and arrived in New York on 6 April 1882. He traveled without other family members along. He was on board the ship W. A. Scholten, steerage class, from Rotterdam, Netherlands, and settled in the town of Graafschap, Allegan County, Michigan. The reason stated for immigrating on his papers was "arbeider" (for a better life). Presumably Jacob came first to set up living arrangements and pave the way from the remainder of the family - they followed in the next 2 years.

Ship W. A. Scholten and photocopies of the ship log arriving 6 April 1882
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Specifications of the Steamship "W. A. Scholten" and her Tragic Ending

Albert and Jennie's second and third sons were the next to emigrate.  On 25 April 1883, my great-grandfather John A. TIBBE (5-2) age 27, and his wife Hendrika (Hattie) age 29, and their three children Albert age 6, Margje age 3, and son Jan age 1, arrived in New York. Also on board was his brother Ralph (5-3) age 26, and wife Fenni age 30, and their son Albert age 4 months. They traveled on the ship Schiedam from Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Ship S. S. Schiedam and photocopies of the ship log arriving 6 April 1883
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Specifications of the Steamship "Schiedam"

The exact date and voyage details of my great-great-grandparents Albert and Jennie, are not yet known, but we do know they arrived in New York between 1882 and 1883, Albert age 60, and Jennie age 57. Also emigrating during this same time period was their first son Gerrit Jan (5-1) age 30, and his wife Hendrika age 26, their two children Albert age 5, and Fannie age 2; fourth son Harm (5-4) and his wife Hendrika; and youngest child, daughter Roelofje (5-6), age 17.

Albert and Jennie TIBBE (4-1) and their extended families made their first homes in Michigan in the small town of Graafschap, Allegan County. He was a farmer and carpenter, and a member of the historic Graafschap Reformed Church (the same to which brother Frits belonged), which later became Graafschap Christian Reformed Church. In 1883 he made profession of his faith at this church. Graafschap was a small farming community comprised mostly of Dutch immigrants, just south of the city of Holland, Michigan.

The Move to Moddersville, Missaukee County, Michigan

Three years later in 1886 at the age of 64, Albert, Jennie, along with their 5 sons and their families moved from the Allegan County, Michigan area to the northern pioneer settlement of Moddersville, Holland Township, Missaukee County, Michigan, to work the lumber camps in that region.  Moddersville is located between the City of Cadillac and Houghton Lake. Only Albert's youngest child Rolly (Ruth) remained in the Holland, Ottawa County area with her husband Herbert DeRidder.

Note: To avoid confusion (or possibly add to the confusion), there are 3 communities called "Holland" in Michigan:

  • the City of Holland and Holland 'Charter' Township, both of which are on the dividing lines of Allegan and Ottawa Counties in western Michigan (the City of Holland is partially in Allegan County and partially in Ottawa County).
  • Holland Township (Missaukee County in northern Michigan).

Click on the image for driving directions
to Moddersville MI

Click on the image for a
larger view

Moddersville one-room school
(now Town Hall) - 2000

Missaukee Co. logging

Missaukee Co. logging

Vogel Center
- the "larger" town nearby

Historical Background of Moddersville and Missaukee County

At the time the TIBBE's moved to Moddersville, the town still had no formal roads, no school, no church, and no post office. It was truly rustic. The TIBBE family was instrumental in the building of the church, school and post office. Three of the TIBBE brothers (including my great-grandfather) and their wives were charter members of the Moddersville Reformed Church.
Moddersville, Michigan Click on article for larger view Moddersville Reformed Church - 2000

Rosalie Joan Brown-Essing (a descendant of the Modders family) wrote a paper in 1991 called "A Step Back in Time (Life in Moddersville, Michigan)". Click on the links below for her recollection of the TIBBE families and life in Moddersville, and copies of 3 personal letters she wrote me in 2002 and 2003 which included this hand-drawn map of Moddersville designating who lived where.

Letter 1 Page 1, Letter 1 Page 2

Letter 2 Page 1, Letter 2 Page 2

Letter 3 Page 1, Letter 3 Page 2

R.J. Brown-Essing Moddersville Story Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5

R.J. Brown-Essing Tibbe Story Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4

R.J. Brown-Essing
recollection of Moddersville
Moddersville 1906 Plat Map
Click on image above for a larger view

Conditions were extremely harsh and the long winters took their toll in this rustic lumber town. Shortly after 1900, work in the lumberwoods in this area ended. Farming on the cutover forest was very difficult. Some men went west to Montana to continue lumbering (I have not found any information that any of the Tibbe men went to Montana). Families were left behind in Moddersville for over a year while these men worked in the woods out west. Although Albert stayed in Missaukee County until his death in 1903, most of his children and grandchildren left the area for other parts of Michigan, except Ralph and Jacob who remained for many years in Missaukee County. Sons Gerrit and Ralph owned and operated the Moddersville General Store for a time. Son Jacob lived in the Moddersville area the longest, and eventually relocated not far to the Falmouth area. Listed are Albert and Jennie's six children and where they eventually made their homes in Michigan:

Gerrit Tibbe - Fremont, Newaygo County
John Tibbe - Grant, Newaygo County
Ralph Tibbe - Moddersville, Missaukee County - later Holland, Ottawa County
Harm Tibbe - Holland, Allegan County
Jacob Tibbe - Clam-Union and Holland Townships, Missaukee County - later Falmouth, Missaukee County
Rolly (Tibbe) DeRidder - Holland, Ottawa County

Great-great-grandfather Albert TIBBE (4-1) died 15 November 1903 at the age of 81 in Moddersville. He is buried in the West Moddersville Cemetery. Widow Jennie returned to Allegan County and lived with son Harm until her death 2 February 1906, at the age of 79. She appears in the Graafschap Cemetery listing, but a marker is also in the West Moddersville Cemetery with Albert.

It is interesting to note that all five of Albert and Jennie's sons outlived their first wives, and remarried. The youngest Jacob, was widowed twice and married three times.

My Great-Grandfather John A. Tibbe

My great-grandfather John A. TIBBE (5-2)  was a farmer in the Netherlands, and he continued farming in Michigan, also taking on the trade of carpenter.  He was instrumental in building several structures in Moddersville. A year after he and his first wife Hattie and their children had moved to Moddersville, Hattie died bearing their 5th child, she was just 33 years old. John is left with 5 children to care for ages 10, 8, 5, 2 and newborn (named Hattie after her deceased mother).

John A. Tibbe
John A. Tibbe and first wife
Hendrika (Hattie) Veldstra

John and Hattie's 5 children were:
6-1 Albert J. TIBBE (born 4 March 1877 Hardenberg, Overijssel, Netherlands; married Louise THOMPSON; died 17 February 1959)
6-2 Margje (Mary) TIBBE (born 3 September 1879 Hardenberg, Overijssel, Netherlands; married George Benjamin WYMA; died 8 September 1951)
6-3 Jan (John) J. TIBBE (born 13 January 1882 Hardenberg, Overijssel, Netherlands; married Jennie COURTZ; died 8 May 1922)
6-4  Jantje (Jennie or Jane) TIBBE (born 3 February 1885 Moddersville, Missaukee Co, Michigan; married John VANDYKE; died 22 April 1977)
6-5  Hendrikje (Hattie) TIBBE (born 9 April 1887 Moddersville, Missaukee Co, Michigan; married John William NAGELHOUT; died 18 December 1950)

Details of their families are at http://wc.rootsweb.com/~tibbe

A year after Hattie died, John returned south to Allegan County, Michigan and married his second wife Dienna (Dena) HUISKEN, my great-grandmother. John and Dena are listed as members of Graafschap Central Park Reformed Church coming from Moddersville.  Dena was born 19 June 1859 in either the Netherlands or Germany (conflicting information, and I have not traced this family line yet). Her parents were Henry H. HUISKEN and Jinnigje KIP. She immigrated in 1880 about the age of 21.

John A. Tibbe and second wife
Dena Huisken

Dena must have been a strong and courageous woman to take on the challenge of being a new wife, and raising his 5 children. They returned to Moddersville, and John was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1889 Click here for Declaration of Intent or Citizenship document. In 1891 John was elected Elder of the Moddersville Reformed Church and was also elected to the Moddersville School Board. They stayed in Moddersville until 1896 when they returned to Allegan County.

John and Dena had 4 children together, all born in Moddersville, Michigan, of which two survived:
6-6 Jennigje TIBBE (born about 3 January 1888; died 24 January 1888)
6-7 Hendrick (Henry) TIBBE (born about 13 May 1890; died 28 September 1891 of summer complaint)
6-8 Henry TIBBE (born 7 April 1892; married Albertha TIMMER; died 5 July 1950 age 58 Grant, Newaygo Co, Michigan) details at http://wc.rootsweb.com/~tibbe
6-9 Gerrit John TIBBE (born 2 April 1894; died 5 February 1960 age 65 North Hollywood, California) details follow

1949 - Five of John A. Tibbe's children:
Albert J. Tibbe, Henry Tibbe, Gerrit J. Tibbe
Mary Tibbe-Wyma, Jane Tibbe-VanDyke
(missing are John J. Tibbe who died 1922, and Hattie Tibbe-Nagelhout)
(Henry and Gerrit are the 2 children from John A. Tibbe's second wife Dena)

The Move to Grant, Newaygo County, Michigan

Between 1900 and 1906, John, Dena and their children left Allegan County and settled in the small farming community of Grant, Newaygo County, Michigan. Grant was a train station on the branch of the Chicago and Western Michigan Railroad. The town was originally named Grant Station in honor of General U.S. Grant by Andrew Squier, who built a sawmill there in 1882. Grant Station received a post office in 1892 and was incorporated as a village in 1893. The name was shortened to Grant on January 10, 1899.

John was an onion/muck farmer and worked along with his sons in the rich, black soil fields. He was a charter member of the Grant Reformed Church.  Dena died 3 March 1935 at the age of 76 in Grant. John died a year later on 18 May 1936 at the age of 80. They are buried at Hillside Cemetery in Grant.

Grant Post Office

 Grant Fire Department

Grant Depot Water Tower - 2007

Grant Civic Center - 2007

Grant Street Screen

Grant, Lake St.

Grant Street Screen

Click here for the History of Grant Reformed Church

John and Dena's youngest child, my grandfather Gerrit John TIBBE (6-9), married Jennie HYMA on 4 March 1918 in Grant, Michigan. He followed the path of his father and operated a large onion and muck farm in Grant and worked with his sons in the field. In his early days he was a laborer at a furnace factory.

Jennie's parents were Abe HYMA and Dieuwke (Dora) BROUWER. They were from the Friesland and Groningen areas of the Netherlands. Abe and Dora HYMA had also immigrated and lived in Grant.

Gerrit J. Tibbe
as a young man

Gerrit J. Tibbe & Jenny Hyma
1918 wedding photo

Gerrit J. & Jenny Tibbe

Gerrit J. Tibbe farm
136th and Thornapple, Grant - 1940's-50's

Former Gerrit Tibbe farm - 2004

Gerrit Tibbe barn
and Trixy - 1950's

Former Gerrit Tibbe barn - 2004

Gerrit died 5 February 1960 at the age of 65 while his visiting daughter Dorothy in North Hollywood, California. Jennie died 13 November 1967 at the age of 67 after a long illness, in Grant. They are both buried at Hillside Cemetery in Grant, Michigan.

Gerrit and Jennie had 7 children, all born in Grant, Newaygo County, Michigan. Further information is at http://wc.rootsweb.com/~tibbe

7-1 Dorothy Dena Tibbe (born 17 April 1919; died 26 March 2005 age 85 Fillmore Convalescent Hospital, California; buried Oakwood Memorial Park Chapel, Chatsworth, California)
7-2 John A. TIBBE (born 10 March 1921)
7-3 Adrian TIBBE (born 2 November 1922; died 6 September 1993 age 70; buried Hillside Cemetery, Grant, Michigan)
7-4 Gerald TIBBE (born 3 September 1926; died 10 April 2007 age 80 Bailey, Newaygo Co., Michigan)
7-5 Donald Garrett TIBBE (born 7 August 1928; died 15 October 2003 age 75 Grand Rapids, Michigan; buried Hillside Cemetery, Grant, Michigan)
7-6 Jeanette Elaine TIBBE (born 28 July 1930; died 6 August 1930 Grant, Michigan; buried Hillside Cemetery, Grant, Michigan)
7-7 Gordon Arnold TIBBE (born 13 June 1936; died 6 September 1994 age 58 Grand Rapids, Kent Co., Michigan; buried Hillside Cemetery, Grant, Michigan)

Gerrit & Jenny Tibbe family - 1942
L to R: Donald, Dorothy, Adrian, John, Gerald
Gordon front and center

Gerrit & Jenny Tibbe family - December 1957
(taken at Gordon's wedding)
L to R: Gordon, Donald, Gerald, Adrian, John, Dorothy

Is There a Connection to the H. Tibbe & Son. Co. (Missouri Meerschaum) Pipe Factory?

Although many in Michigan believe we are related to the Missouri TIBBE's (known for the patent of the corn cob pipe and subsequent factory there), I have not been able to find a common link to tie the families together. The earliest member of the Missouri family found to date was Hendrik Tibbe born 1819 in Enschede, Netherlands -- we were from Overijssel and Bentheim. It is possible we are very distant cousins. I acquired a Missouri Meerschaum corncob pipe in June 2003 at a flea market. Unique in shape, a very long smoke stem, it still has the label attached to the bottom. It was manufactured after 1907, when the factory changed names from H. Tibbe & Son Co. to the Missouri Meerschaum Co.

The family charts below were created August 2007. I am aware of many updates that need to be incorporated. Updates to these charts will be coming.
Family of Gerrit J Tibbe & Hendrika Bossink/Martha TenBrink Family of Jacob Tibbe & Maggie Houtjes/Katie Westveer/Alida Shardema
Family of John A Tibbe &  Henrietta Veldstra/Dina Huisken (1) Family of Ruth Tibbe & Herbert DeRidder
Family of John A Tibbe &  Henrietta Veldstra/Dina Huisken (2) Family of Fennigjen Tibbe & Jan H Olthuis
Family of Ralph Tibbe & Fenni Kleinlugtenbelt/Eberdine Wolters
Family of Harm Tibbe & Hendrika Dunnewind /Gertrude Beckman
Chart of my pedigree
Gordon Tibbe - military photos, post-Korean War John A. Tibbe - military photos, WWII
John A. Tibbe - military letters, WWII Family pictures from Gordon Tibbe and John A. Tibbe
John A. Tibbe - military postcards, WWII Jacob Tibbe and son James Tibbe – Pictures and Story
John A. Tibbe - Post War Interview by Grand Valley University 2008 Albert J. Tibbe – Pictures and Story
Wyma Family Photos  


Click here for Research Resources  

Many more photos may be seen at the Photo Gallery.  If you have additional information on the family or photos you would like to contribute, please contact me at [email protected].  I hope you enjoyed your visit to this website - stop back for a visit again as new information will continue to be added.  A huge thank you is given to my husband Jeff for his technical abilities in creating this website, cleaning up the old photos as best possible, and posting this story to the internet.

If you would like to have your own family line researched and/or published, you may contact me.  Thank you.
Cindy (Tibbe) Turner, Rockford, Kent County, Michigan