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John Martin Hoekstra (1892 - 1975)

John Martin Hoekstra
(1892 - 1975)

My great-grandfather, John Martin Hoekstra, was born 2 September 1892 in Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan to Martin Hoekstra and Jennie Ton.  He was the third of their four children.  His siblings were:  Grace Hoekstra (Mrs. Adrian Klap) (1887 – 1975); Maude Mae Hoekstra (Mrs. Frederick B. VanHartesveldt) (1890 – 1991); and Peter Louis Ton Hoekstra (1895 – 1955).

During the 1900 census, John, his parents and siblings were living at 477 Logan Street in the Tenth Ward of the City of Grand Rapids.  Some of the information I have about John was taken from his own “Short History of John M. Hoekstra”, written in the Family Record Book that he and my great-grandmother had.  Here is an excerpt:

“I went to various schools and graduated from 8th grade in 1908, then started to work in a print shop for $3.00 per week.  I was errand boy, swept out the shop, and learned to feed press in my spare time.  However I did not stay at the print shop, as the proprietor went bankrupt.  I worked at a lot of various jobs.  At 24, [I] married Lillian Fern Strong, who I got acquainted with, while working as a grocery clerk, and delivery man.”

John and Lillian (or “Mary”, as she preferred to be called) were married 20 Dec 1916 in Grand Rapids.  Their first daughter, Ruth Lillian Hoekstra, my grandmother, was born 16 January 1919 in Grand Rapids.

“In 1919 we decided to go to Tacoma, Wash., where my father and mother were.  My brother Louis and [his] wife had also moved there.  I worked at the Northern Pacific R.R. shops as a painter, painting boxcars.  After I worked there 3˝ years the shopmen called a strike.  I found a job in a grocery concern in downtown Tacoma but the job only paid $15 a week, so we decided to sell our house on So. “G” street and move back to Michigan.  I worked at the Pennsylvania RR shops in [Grand Rapids] as a car painter, but around the fall was laid off.”

I found John, Mary and Ruth on the 1920 Federal Census in Tacoma, Pierce Co., Washington, living on 58th Street.  John’s brother Louis, sister-in-law Reatha, and niece Reatha Jane were living not too far away on 54th Street.  By the time John and his family returned to Grand Rapids, their family had increased by one:  Hope Mildred Hoekstra (Mrs. Richard Vern Loveland) (1920 – 1968), who had been born in Tacoma.  Several years later, their last daughter, Mary Louise Hoekstra (Mrs. John Peter Glashower, Jr.) (1923 – 1994) was born in Grand Rapids.  We continue with John’s story:

“I had taken a civil service exam in 1924, and started as a sub postal clerk in Feb. 1925.  In time I got a regular appointment at a beginning salary of $1800 a year.  This I worked at for 31 years getting raises every so often.   The last eight years I worked as a supervisor, with a salary of $5400.  Then at 62 years of age, I retired, but worked at office work part time at Carl Forsland & Sons for three years retiring from that at 65 years.”

John’s wife Mary had been an invalid for many years and so Anna Stulp did the housekeeping.  Before her death, Mary told John to marry Anna after she was gone.  But after Mary’s death in 1967, John lived for a little over a year at Clark Methodist Home.  On 5 October 1968, he married Anna in Jenison, Ottawa County, Michigan.  They lived in John’s home at 2710 Forest Grove, S.W. in Wyoming Township, Kent County, Michigan.  I remember visiting him and Anna there in the summer of 1972, when I was five years old.  They offered us root beer, and I was horrified that my parents accepted.  I had no idea that root beer was soda pop, and my parents, as Salvation Army officers, were strict teetotalers!

John died 27 December 1975 from angina, and three days later was buried next to his first wife in the Grandville-Wyoming Cemetery in Kent County, Michigan.  During his lifetime, he had been a member of first the Christian Reformed Church, and later the Methodist Church.  (obituary)


Ruth Lillian Hoekstra - my maternal grandmother

Hope Mildred Hoekstra was born 26 November 1920 in Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington.  She married Richard Vern Loveland (1921 - 1976) on 6 December 1949 in Silverdale, Kitsap County, Washington and had four children.  She died 10 July 1968 in Tacoma, where she had been a long-time resident, and was buried at Mount View Memorial Park in Pierce County.

Mary Louise "Mary Lou" Hoekstra was born 5 June 1923 in Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan.  She married John Peter Glashower, Jr. (1908 - 1997) on 26 January 1946 and had four children, including Alan Larry Glashower who died in infancy in 1947.  She was a resident of Cedar Springs, Kent County, Michigan for many years before moving to Punta Gorda, Charlotte County, Florida in 1977.  She died 15 May 1994 in Punta Gorda; her cremains were laid to rest 2 June 1994 in the same lot as those of her husband's and infant son's at Grandville-Wyoming Cemetery, Wyoming Township, Kent County, Michigan.

More about my great-grandfather, John Martin Hoekstra, can be found in the upcoming AnceStories of his parents, Martin Hoekstra and Jennie Ton, his wife Lillian Fern "Mary" Strong, and their daughter Ruth Lillian Hoekstra.

Miriam Robbins Midkiff
created: 4 Jul 2003
last updated: 29 Aug 2004

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