Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The history of identity

Cornelius Cornelis Schaap, born April 26, 1835, at Formerum, Tershelling, married Neeltje (named “Neeke” in Terschelling) Kuiper, (born, November 30, 1837 near Midsland, Tershelling), on August 9, 1858, on the island. They immigrated to America in 1865, after burying two daughters at home. When they left the Netherlands, they came with one daughter, Mary, who was only a year old. Their reason for leaving?--family history has it that they were part of a new church movement called the afscheiding, the "separation," and no church on the island met their rigorous expectations of what a church should be.

Along with other extended family members and fellow separationists, C. C. and Neeltje Schaap came to German Valley, Illinois, before, a few years later, moving west to Sioux County, Iowa, an area then being settled by Dutch Reformed people.

By the late 1880s, they had moved again, farther west, with others, to Harrison, Charles Mix County, South Dakota, where they lived only a few years. Drought made farming difficult, so the family moved back east to Ackley/Parkersburg, Iowa, where they lived until C. C. retired. Three more children were born in America—Emma, Cornelius, and John Clarence.

Perhaps because his son Cornelius made his livelihood back in Sioux County, C. C. and Neeltje moved to Orange City, IA, somewhere around the turn of the century. C.C. died in Orange City on March 13, 1905; Neeltje died in Hull, eleven years later, at the home of her daughter, on June 16, 1916.

They are buried in the Orange City, IA, cemetery.

What part of who they were am I?--their great-grandson? What part of their legacy still holds me, if anything at all? Who of what they were am I?

Just one of a barrel-full of life's great mysteries, I suppose.

No matter. This morning I'm off to Holland, and this morning I'm especially thankful for them, for what they were, for what they did, even though I know so very little of about them, so very little--even though they are, undoubtedly, very much a part of who I am.

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