Our ancestors came from a small village in Northern Germany* called Oldersum which means Old Home. The village grew up around two small castles first mentioned in the year 1381.

Oldersum began as the home of a nobleman and because of its proximity to the Ems River, it became a market town, a center of trade and commerce.

From the early 1800’s, Oldersum had a school, a doctor, a pharmacy, a midwife, trades, brick factories, and the shipping industry. Farming, dairying, and gardening provided the food. Of course, the church was the center of the village. It was a Roman Catholic Church until the Reformation when it became a Reformed Congregation.

The landscape is very similar to that of neighboring Holland. Much of Osfriesland is flat and drained by canals. The areas along the river and coast are protected by dikes because this land is below sea level. The dikes have been in place for centuries.

The first Hassebroek mentioned in Oldersum history is Casper Harsebruch. From 1621 to 1624, he was the town magistrate. (He was probably the grandfather of Anthony Harssebroek.)

Two other Hassebroeks are mentioned in Oldersum History. They are Johannes Harsebruch, who was the notary of Oldersum from 1642 to 1647, and a second Casper Harssebroek and brother to our Anthony. This Casper was a lieutenant in a local military company from 1690 to 1724.

Caspar Anthony Harssebroek and his wife had three children – Geeske, Jan, and David Kaspers. David Kaspers and his wife had two sons – Kasper Davids and Antoni David.

The next Hassebroek we learn about is Kasper Davids Hassebroek. He was a master blacksmith and senior member of the Guild of Smiths in 1828. He had been an apprentice and journeyman before he passed his master test. This meant that he probably worked and was an apprentice in a larger city. He and his wife had three sons – David, Willem and Wilke.

*In Europe, Friesens are divided into three distince groups, each with its own geographical area surrounded by non-Friesens. The West Friesens occupy the northwestern part of the Netherlands. The North Friesens occupy offshore islands and coastal areas in Germany. The East Friesens, or Ostfriesen, occupy the north- western corner of Germany from the Dutch border to the Wesser River and from the North Sea 30 to 50 miles inland.

From 1807 to 1809, Kasper Davids Hassebroek was also the Superintendent of Canal Pumps, Bridges and Roads. He was succeeded by Freerk Sweers. (in 1825, Freerk Sweers’ daughter, Antje Freerks Sweers, married Willem Otten Kasper Hassebroek.)

Willem Otten Casper Hassebroek is mentioned only once in Oldlersum history. Shortly after he marrired, he and his wife, Antje Freerks Sweers, rented the castle in Oldersum. Later, they would make their home two miles west of Oldersum in a village called Petkum. Ten children would come from this marriage and this family’s occupation would be farming.

After an unusually hard winter, the first spring breeze off the coast of the North Sea was noticeable. The little ship, the Roland, lay at the dock at Bremerhaven ready to carry 108 passengers to the New World, of which eight were East Friesens. Among them is Freerk Hassebroek, eldest son of Willem Otten Casper Hassebroek. He is only 19 years old and is traveling alone. The ship they board is small, only 110 feet long, and the journey will take eight weeks, departing on March 21, 1847. It is the 3rd of May when they reach New York. While the cost of this trip is unknown, we do know that, in general, people paid around $40 per person for the crossing.

Departing must have been difficult, for each of them knew they would never see their homeland again. The Roland was designed to be a cargo ship, not a passenger ship, so the passenger area was in the belly of the ship. In the course of the trip, the food was mostly spoiled, the drinking water stinking, the ventilation poor, and the sanitary arrangements even worse. For these reasons, seasickness and other severe illnesses were very common. Passengers had to remain below deck day after day during stormy weather. The stuffy air made it difficult to breathe. And, too, as the ship’s walls beat against the water, the walls of the ship and all its joints cracked. Whenever the ship lay on its side or was thrown deep into a wave, all the passengers were gripped with fear.

Letters from America had told these people of the wonderland they were about to see. Everyone could own land in this new world, even the common people. Their plan upon arrival in New York was to set out for St. Louis. But, while on the ocean, they changed their destination. On the ship they met a high German named George Mengel. This man had lived in America for two years. He returned to Germany to bring back his bride. Mengel advised the group to avoid St. Louis. It was not a desirable place to live. It was often polluted and humid, and as a result, many there were sick with the fever. He suggested instead that they join him in locating in Northern Illinois. Northern Illinois had an excellent climate and one could amount to something much sooner. Then, he added, if you do not like it there, you can still make the journey to St. Louis. After much consideration, the little group embraced the far reaching decision to follow Mengel’s advice.

Safely on land, the journey was not over; these families still had over 1,000 miles to travel. While arranging for the next part of their trip, people in New York City were calling them “Klumpers”, referring to the sounds their wooden shoes made as they walked the streets.

From New York City, the trip went up the Hudson River to Albany on a river boat.

In Albany, the immigrants were packed onto a canal boat. Canal boats were just open barges that were pulled through the water by a team of horses that followed the trail along side a canal. Twice as many people were taken aboard then could find comfortable places and there was no regard given to health or privacy. The canal boat would take them from Albany to Buffalo.

In addition, the people had to prepare their own food. Usually, the boat stopped at eating time and all the passengers had to climb the river bank to make a fire and, if possible, prepare something warm. Often, they had nothing to cook or eat. Then, Freerk Hassebroek and two other men from the group would beg for bread or potatoes from the scattered farms in the area. Having to beg for food was hard enough, now realize that they spoke and understood no English.

One time Freerk was nearly left behind. While out begging for food, the trail he took lead him astray and his way back disappeared. The captain of the boat, despite the anxious pleas of the East Friesens, gave the order to depart. By good fortune, Freerk was seen just as the boat was disappearing on the horizon. He had to run quite a foot race to catch up to his companions.

Finally, in Buffalo the wearisome travelers transferred to a little steamer. Traveling across Lake Erie, up Lake Huron, and down Lake Michigan, they landed at last in Chicago.

At that time, Chicago was only a little nest in comparison to today, but still it was the commercial center and market for farmers for hundreds of miles. Farmers came here to sell or exchange their products.

Outside of the city boundaries, these farmers occupied a camp. Here, the East Friesens could meet with drivers and wagons from their area and for $10 to $12 they and their boxes of clothing, bedding and tools would fill two empty wagons as they traveled the final 100 miles to Oregon, Illinois.

This four-day trip over magnificent prairies and wide streams renewed their hearts. Tired and shaken, the group was fortunate to find an empty house immediately, which would serve all eight immigrants as home for a while.

This area was mostly inhabited by Pennsylvania Dutch. But, Northern Illinois had only been inhabited by white settlers for 15 years at this point in time. In looking for work, the group learned of some land in the area that was available for purchase. One of the group, Arend Arends, took a look at the land and decided to purchase it right away. The very next day, he signed for the land. He bought 80 acres at $1.25 an acre.

These 80 acres lie two miles south of German Valley. One of their neighbors plowed up two acres for them so they could sow some of the field and garden seeds they had carried in their coat pockets from Germany. In return, Arends made his new neighbor a wheelbarrow.

But, what were they to eat before the harvest came? They had no money to purchase food… there was only one answer. Carrying a sack, they would walk as many as eight miles to beg for potatoes from their neighbors.

The news of these eight East Friesens’ successful arrival in the New World would be shared through letters with their families in Germany. By 1850, there would be 66 East Friesens living in this colony.

Now with the land purchased and their two acres planted as supplies for the coming winter, the next project was to build a home. They would not have a comfortable brick home as they had known in Germany, but a simple log cabin with one room, one door, and a little window. They had to be well covered at night because as it frequently happened in winter, the snow blew in and by morning they found themselves covered with a light snow and exposed to an ice cold breeze.

As the colony grew in size, so did the desire to have their own church. At first they gathered in the homes of each other for “read worship services”. Finally, on December 25, 1851, it was decided to build a church. Church records show Freerk Hassebroek among the 61 charter members. The church would be called the Silver Creek Reformed Congregation of German Valley, Illinois. A preacher would be hired and a parsonage built. Unfortunately, in 1953, the church was destroyed by fire.

In 1850 and again in 1852, cholera visited the colony. The first time only a few cases were deadly. But, the second time it was an epidemic that took whole families. In Freeport, now a town of 3,000 residents, as many as 18 people died each day. Finally, in the fall this Black Death disappeared. Some years later, a smallpox epidemic would spread among the settlement. Again, large numbers of children and adults would be carried to their grave.

Disease was not the only misfortune these early settlers encountered. Well organized bands engaging in murder, robbery, horse stealing, and the making and passing of counterfeit money operated north of the Illinois River. The largest number of these bands was located in four counties of which Ogle was one. These bands became so numerous and powerful that any conviction for crime was nearly impossible. Groups of vigilantes known as “Regulators” took the law into their hands.

In 1853, Freerk’s parents, Willem Otten Kasper Hassebroek and Antje Freerks Sweers Hassebroek, came to American on the ship “Adonis”. Accompanying them were their children, Janna, Wiemke, Kasper, David, Grietje, Margareta and Wilka. The eldest daughter, Fentje, and her husband, Henry Kampen with son Weert, joined the family in Illinois in 1855.

When asked why our family left their home for America, Hassebroeks still living in Germany remember hearing of one family in the mid 1800’s who moved to the United States because they had lost all their livestock to an illness. This was a bold move to follow their son, Freerk, as his parents must have been about 50 years of age when they made their journey to America.

In April of 1857, a young girl of only 14 named Jelkelena Pommer, and her widowed mother made the journey from East Friesland to Illinois on a ship named “Antje Brons”.

Two years later, on September 6, 1859, Jelkelena married Freerk Hassebroek. Freerk had lived alone for his first 12 years in America. At the age of 31, he married Jelkelena who was 16 years old.

During their first years together, Freerk and Jelkelena faced financial disaster. The Life Insurance and Trust Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, went bankrupt and its loss of $5 million caused many other financial institutions to become entangled in general bankruptcy. Everywhere the factories stood still; commerce and trade ceased. No one had any money, so cattle, butter and eggs were sold for cut prices. For these first two years together, life was lean and difficult. They lived on a farm at Baileyville, Illinois, and later the family moved on to Shannon, Illinois. Life would begin to get better as the demand for products increased with the start of the Civil War in 1861.

Life for a pioneer farm wife included all kinds of work. While wearing self-made clothes and wooden shoes, she worked in the fields, fed the cattle, milked the cows, sheared the sheep, spun and dyed the wool, and wove cloth to make the clothing for her family. She baked and cooked, washed and wove, and in the evening read aloud out of the Bible, and on special occasions, told her children stories of her homeland. By 1861, church records show Jelkelena Hassebroek to be among eight people to form a new church. The Reformed Congregation of Forreston, Illinois. This is also the cemetery where she and Freerk are buried.

Finally, life would get better. All the land would be cleared and the crops would be plentiful. Next, a bigger home would replace the narrow log cabin. Beautiful wind breaks were planted to protect the home from the cold north and west winds. Fine horses were now seen in the fields instead of the slow oxen, and machines began to take the place of hand workers.

The Hassebroek family grew and grew. In total, they would have 13 children. One child, Martha, died at age 2.

Suddenly, on December 1, 1882, Jelkelena Hassebroek died of a heart attack. Her youngest child, Casper, was only three months old. A year and a half later, Freerk Hassebroek, would also pass away. Both are buried at Forreston, Illinois, next to Martha.

In 1887, the land would be sold for $8,190 and was divided among the children of Freerk and Jelkelena. The young children of this family were now orphans, and a young family they most certainly were. Casper was only 2 years old, David was 4, Fred was 6, Jelkelena 10, Elbertha 12, Mary 14, and Fannie was 16. They would move to George, Iowa, to be raised by the older members of their family.

Beginning with our first descendant on American soil, Freerk Hassebroek, almost 150 years later, we count over 1,800 of his descendants on American soil.

Who were these East Friesens? These determined pioneers, our ancestors, were obviously people of great perseverance, faith and courage. They were best known as quiet, inward looking people. They held their family and home life in high regard. They were famous for being reserved. It is said their decision making involved considerable effort at building consensus, and East Friesens were not easily ordered into things they did not wish to do. For the most part, they were not the primary players or leaders of their community. Rather, they were hard working farmers whose interest and concerns centered around being good christians, good citizens, and good parents.



Freerk W. Hassebroek


Jelkelena Pommer
*1827.12.17, Oldersum, Germany


*1843.08.28, Oldersum, Germany
+1884.08.17, Shannon, Illinois  

+1882.12.01, Forreston, Illinois

Son of
Willem Otten Kasper Hassebroek


Antje Frerks Sweers
1799.01.19, Oldersum, Germany


*1805.03.21, Ostfriesland
+1853.12.25,Mt. Morris, Illinois   +1865.05.25, North Grove, Illinois
Son of
Kasper Davids Hassebroek


Fentje Willems de Vriese
*1761.01.11, Oldersum, Germany


*1768.06.14, Simonswolde, Germany
+1847.02.04, Oldersum, Germany   +1825.01.21, Oldersum, Germany
Son of
David Kaspers Harssebroek


Grietje Egberts
*1718.05.15, Oldersum, Germany


+1792.06.18, Oldersum, Germany   +1805.02.03, Oldersum, Germany
Son of
Caspar Anthony Harssebroek


Styntje Davids
*1686.12.25, Oldersum, Germany

(1712.12.23, Oldersum, Germany)

+ (Not known)   +1753.12, Oldersum, Germany
Son of
Anthony Harsebroek


Geeske Gerridts
* ? 1645-50, Oldersum, Germany   *1655.05.13, Oldersum, Germany ??
+before 1712



Willem Otten Casper Hassebroek b. 1-25-1799; d. 12-25-1853 at Mt. Morris, Ogle County; married to Antje Freerk Sweers b. 3-25-1805; d. 5-25-1865; buried in North Grove Cemetery


Fentje W. Hassebroek b. 1-27-1826; d. 3-22-1907; married in 1853 to Henry Kampen b. 10-24-1827 at Oldersum, Germany; d. 12-4-1913 at Baileyville, IL Fentje and Henry Kampen came to Baileyville, IL, in 1855 with their son, Weert. Their daughter, Anna, was born 11-12-1856 in Illinois. They had seven children.

Freerk William Hassebroek b. 12-17-1827 at Oldersum, Germany; d. 8-17-1884; married on 9-6-1859 in Freeport, IL, to Jelkelena Pommer b. 8-28-1843 at Oldersum, Germany; d. 12-1-1882 at Forest Grove, IL. Freerk came to Oregon, IL, in 1847. Jelkelena came to Illinois in 1857. They had 13 children. Both are buried at Forreston Grove, Illinois.

Janna Hassebroek b. 12-19-1829; d. 3-3-1910 near Forreston, IL; married in 1856 to Sient Doyen b. 12-25-1825; d. 1-18-1918; buried at Prairie Dell Presbyterian Church Sient and Janna had eight children.

Wiemke Hassebroek b. 1-25-1832; d. 10-6-1927 near Forreston, IL; married 8-5-1855 to Heye Reints b. 8-25-1825; d._____________; Wiemke and Heye had ten children.

Albertja Hassebroek b. 4-19-1834; d. 12-31-1860;

Casper Hassebroek b. 8-23-1836; d. 6-13-1913 at Riley, KS; married 1-13-1862 to Ida B. Groenhagen b. 11-23-1838 at Hanover, Germany; d. 11-10-1929. Kasper and Ida came to Illinois in 1853 and moved to Kansas in 1874. They had ten children.

David W. Hassebroek b. 2-12-1839; d. 4-5-1903 in Manhatten, KS; married to Mary Dora Otto b. 8-12-1847 at Lippe, Germany; d. 9-19-1922 at Manhatten, KS It is believed that David moved to Kansas along with Casper.

Grietje Hassebroek b. 8-23-1843; d.__________; married 11-7-1854 to Sikka (Siecka)Reints b. 10-24-1927; d. 9-17-1864; Buried at Silver Creek Reformed Church Cemetery, German Valley, IL

Grietje Hassebroek Reints, remarried to Conrad Aiken Kruse b. 9-10-1841 in Rorichum, East Friesland, Germany; d. 9-21-1913 in Grundy Center, IA. Came to America in 1865 with brother Jan and settled in Ogle County, Illinois. Ship records show the two young men (Konrad and Jan) sailed on the "Harzburg" from Bremen to New York on May 4, 1865 - destination: Illinois. Lived in Foreston, Illinois until 1883 when he moved to Grundy County, Iowa where he took up farming. He farmed until 1900 when he retired and moved to Grundy Center, Iowa.

Margareta Hassebroek b. 8-28-1844; d.__________

Wilkea Antjetiana Hassebroek b. 6-19-1850; d. 11-20-1872




(The family histories of the following children are found in this book)

William Hassebroek b. 2-20-1860 at Baileyville, IL; d. 8-29-1940 at George, IA; married to Martha Temple b.9-30-1864 at Shannon, IL; d. 2-27-1955

Arend Hassebroek b. 8-6-1861 at Baileyville, IL; d. 5-13-1940 at Sibley, IA; married to Alice Jans b. 10-17-1865 at Florence, IL; d. 6-13-1897;

Arend Hassebroek remarried to Ida Geisemen-Fox b. 10-18-1870; d. 3-16-1963

Annie Hassebroek b. 1-13-1863 at Baileyville, IL; d. 2-3-1939 at Baileyville, IL; married to William S. Dooyen b.____________; d. 4-22-1932 at Baileyville, IL

Margaret Hassebroek b. 9-15-1865 at Florence, IL; d. 9-1-1918 at Ashton, IA; married to Peter Ackerman b.6-3-1861 at Baileyville, IL; d. 7-24-1938

John Hassebroek b. 5-4-1866 at Shannon, IL; d. 11-24-1935 at Ashton, IA; married to Dena Jans b. 1-12-1870 at Florence, IL; d. 6-19-1910

Fannie Hassebroek b. 4-10-1868 at Florence, IL; d. 7-1-1931 at George, IA; married to Harm Spieker b. 6-2-1871 at Florence, IL; d. 11-8-1915

Mary Hassebroek b. 3-11-1870 at Florence, IL; d. 11-23-1961 at George, IA; married to Mike Ackerman b. 6-11-1865 at Baileyville, IL; d. 12-1-1939

Elbertha Hassebroek b. 2-13-1872 at Forreston Township, Ogle County, IL; d. 1-26-1937 at George, IA

Jelkelena Hassebroek b. 2-27-1874 at Florence, IL; d. 6-23-1944 at Little Rock, IA; married 3-10-1897 to Klaas A. Klaassen b. 6-16-1871 at Stephensen County, Ridott, IL; d. 7-7-1939 at Little Rock, IA

Martha Hassebroek b. 3-20-1876; d. 11-20-1878 at Florence, IL; buried at Forreston Grove, IL

Fred Hassebroek b. 7-2-1878 at Florence, IL; d. 5-31-1964 at Huron, SD; married to Fannie Theresa Veenker b. 3-21-1876 at Grundy Center, IA; d. 10-2-1962

David Hassebroek b. 9-19-1880 at Florence, IL; d. 9-10-1957; married to Dena Pommer b. 11-12-1878; d. 12-4-1976

Casper, Hassebroek b. 9-6-1882 at Florence, IL; d. 11-8-1906; married to Marie (Mary) Daniels b. 5-10-1882; d. 3-1-1965; buried at White Oak


Submitted to IaGenWeb by Sherrilyn Klaassen

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