|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
Once at the Rootsweb database:
|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.
|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
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.
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
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.
|Involvement in the Battle at Waterloo, 1815|
|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.|
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."
|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.
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
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.|
|More information about Frits|
|The Move from Bentheim to
Overijssel, Netherlands - The Story of Albert Tibbe
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.
This is their 1851 "Banns" (engagement) Publication. The Banns was published 3 times for any public objection prior to the wedding.
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.
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".)
Photographs of St. Lambertus Church in Hardenberg (present day)
Other Family Members Begin to Immigrate to America - 28 Years
Specifications of the Steamship "W. A. Scholten" and her Tragic Ending
Specifications of the Steamship "Schiedam"
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.
|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.
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.
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:
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.
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 and Hattie's 5 children were:
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.
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
of Intent or
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.
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 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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.