Jarig Egbert Binnes DeVries, a.k.a. George Edward Benjamin DeVries (1887 - 1959)

Jarig Egbert Binnes DeVries
 George Edward Benjamin DeVries

(1887 - 1959)

My step-ancestor, Jarig Egbert Binnes DeVries, was the first child born to Binnes Egbert DeVries and Adriaantje Wieringa on 5 February 1887 in the county of Smallingerland, the province of Friesland, the Netherlands.  Family tradition says the family was from the city of Drachten, which is indeed in Smallingerland, but Dutch birth records found online only give the name of the county.  Jarig's father was a shoemaker and barber.  His parents had two other children, Hendrick "Henry" DeVries (1890 - 1968) and Kornelia "Cornelia" DeVries (Mrs. Henry Niemeyer) (1895 - 1973) before his father died in 1896.

Click here to learn more about the SpaarndamIn 1897, Adriaantje emigrated to the United States with her three young children.  They departed from the Netherlands from the port of Rotterdam, South Holland on the Spaarndam, one of the ships of the Netherlands-American Steam Navigation Company (Holland-American line), and arrived at Ellis Island, New York on 29 March 1897.  Adriaantje had their belongings in a trunk, along with bread she had made for the trip.  While they were waiting at Ellis Island, a man tried to steal the trunk.  Ten-year-old Jarig let out a hue and a cry in order to save what was most precious to him...his mother's homemade bread!  The theft was prevented and the bread (and their belongings) were saved!

Adriaantje must have had a pre-arranged marriage as the basis for her emigration, for ten days after arriving in the U.S. (8 April 1897), she married John Hoogstra in Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan.  Jarig was one of the witnesses, and listed his name as "Egbert DeVries" on the marriage record.

When the 1900 Federal Census was taken, the John Hoogstra family was living in their own home in Ward 12 of Grand Rapids (no specific address was given).  The individuals were referred to as John, Adriana, George, Henry and Cornelia.  In addition, there was John and Adriana's infant son named Harry Hoogstra (1900 - bef. 1974).  The enumerator for the 1910 Federal Census recorded the family living at 502 Caulfield Avenue (Ward 12), Grand Rapids, with the addition of Eplena "Lena" Hoogstra (later Mrs. Anderson) (1901 - bef. 1974) and Walter Hoogstra (1902 - 1974).  George was still living at home when on 11 May 1911, he married Johanna Bos (a.k.a. Josephine Bush) in Grand Rapids.  At the time, he was employed as a machine hand, a position he held at least through 1916.

George and Josephine had five children, including Benjamin J. DeVries (1911 - 1966); Millard "Mel" DeVries (1913 - 1957); my grandfather, Adrian "Ed" DeVries (1916 - 2007); Catherine Josephine DeVries (Mrs. Clarence Gebben) (1918 - 2002); and Calvin J. DeVries (1924 - 2003).  (See more information about these children at the bottom of this page.)

As late as 1931, George and Josephine lived at 1024 Caulfield Avenue, S.W. in Grand Rapids.  This was a small house which George had built in the back of the lot he owned.  The larger house at the front of the lot was first known as 502 Caulfield; in 1912 the homes in Grand Rapids were renumbered, and it was subsequently known as 1022 Caulfield.  The smaller house was often rented out, but it seems that occasionally, the family would move into it and rent out the larger one.  In 1927, George was employed as a mitre sawyer for a furniture shop.  By 1930, he was a bench hand in the furniture factory.  He worked for John Widdicomb Furniture at least by 1931, leaving there on 24 May 1954. He also worked for Fine Arts Furniture of Grand Rapids from 3 August 1954 until the end of 1956.

On 27 March 1946, Josephine died of a stroke in their home at 1022 Caulfield (obituary).  In 1958, George went to live in the home of his son, Adrian.  My mother recalls how George would doff his hat at the dinner table, bow his head and pray the Lord's Prayer in Dutch, before donning it again (in the Dutch culture, men wear their hats in the home).  One Sunday morning, on 22 February 1959, George was getting ready for church.  He was sitting on the side of his bed while his grandson tied his shoes for him when, suddenly, he laid down on the bed and gave a large sigh.  He was gone.

George's body was buried four days later at Garfield Park Cemetery, Paris Township, Kent County, Michigan, next to his wife's grave. (obituary)

Deceased children:

Benjamin J. DeVries was born 10 October 1911 and was named for his paternal grandfather, Binne Egbert DeVries.  On 18 January 1936, he married Ruth J. Good (deceased) in Mattoon, Coles Co., Illinois; they had two children.  He died 24 February 1966 in Grand Rapids, and was buried in Garfield Park Cemetery. (obituary)

Millard "Mel" DeVries was born 27 October 1913 and was named for his maternal grandfather, Millard Bos.  He was a jeweler who lived in Denver, Colorado.  He never married or had children.  One a trip to Vera Cruz, Mexico, he was killed in a two-vehicle collision on 4 February 1957.  He was buried in Garfield Park Cemetery. (obituary)

Adrian "Ed" DeVries (my grandfather) was born 10 June 1916 and was named for his paternal grandmother Adriaantje Wieringa.  He married Ruth Lillian Hoekstra on 3 October 1947 and had two children.  He also raised my mother, his step-daughter.  He died 6 January 2007 in Grand Rapids and was buried at Fairplains Cemetery. (obituary)

Catherine Josephine DeVries was born 31 July 1918 and was named for her maternal grandmother and mother.  She married Clarence Gebben (d. 20 June 1990) and had three children, including David Thomas Gebben, an infant who died 15 September 1958.  I remember visiting her when I was twelve years old, and enjoying her books of Norman Rockwell paintings.  An avid needlewoman, she knit a beautiful baby sweater, cap and bootie set for me when I was pregnant with my first child.  She died 12 February 2002 in Kent County, Michigan, and was buried in Garfield Park Cemetery. (obituary)

Calvin J. DeVries was born 23 December 1924 and was named for President Calvin Coolidge.  During World War II, he served as a Tech 5 with the Headquarter Battery 766th of the U.S. Army from 14 July 1943 to 5 February 1946.  He also served as a field lineman in the North African, Middle Eastern and European Theaters, earning two Bronze Battle Stars.  He and his first wife, Margaret "Peggy" Neve, had three children.  After Peggy passed away 17 August 1969, he remarried and became a step-father to two more children.  He lived most of his adult life in Ellwood City, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, where he passed away on 14 May 2003.  He was buried in the Lillyville Church of God Cemetery, Pennsylvania. (obituary)

More about my great-grandfather, Jarig Egbert Binnes DeVries, a.k.a. George Edward Benjamin DeVries, can be found in the upcoming AnceStories of his parents, Binnes Egbert DeVries and Adriaantje Wieringa, and his wife Johanna Bos, a.k.a. Josephine Bush.

I would like to acknowledge the research help of Susan McGaughey Barillas for this biography, as well as my late grandparents, my mother and my Uncle Brian.  This page is dedicated to the memory of Uncle Cal DeVries.

Miriam Robbins Midkiff
created: 25 Jul 2003
updated: 12 Nov 2007

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