The Illustrated Historical Atlas of Sioux County Iowa

Part III Section 2 Page 2

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committee reported, great interest was shown, and the excitement was great. At that time government land could be bought for $2.50 per acre every alternate section, the other section belonging to the railroad company and could be bought when the company built their road. A motion was made and carried that all who were willing could go and homestead 80 acres, or pre-empt 160 acres. 

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Orange City.
Born in Netherlands, June 21, 1822.
Settled in Sioux County, 1872

It was also then and there agreed to buy a half section for a town sight, and several men wanted to buy land for themselves, so a few thousand dollars was deposited for that purpose and 120 names were given for homesteads, who were willing to go; then a committee was appointed to buy a town site, and also buy land for those to purchase. The names of the committee chosen were Henry Hospers, L. Van der Meer, D. Van den Bos and H. J. Van der Waa. It was decided that Henry Hospers should go by rail, and the others by wagon, and the same mule team was taken on the second trip. It was also decided that the homesteads should be drawn by the committee, and the head of every family should have his relatives on the same adjoining section. After arriving at the land office in Sioux City, what a disappointment it was for us to find that the land for miles west of Cherokee had been taken by speculators, and they were there to sell to us at a great profit; we also found that the government had taken their land out of the market, so no land could be bought for those who wanted to buy, and the town site fell through. So the next thing to do was to take a surveyor with us, and go and look at land in Sioux County. When we came to where Le Mars now is, we found one building, in which Blodget and Flint had a store; from there to where Seney is now located along the Floyd river there were few settlers, the Reeves and Mr. Dayton. Soon after leaving Mr. Dayton's we struck Sioux County, and began the survey and throwing up high knolls so that we could find our way back; those knolls served us as land marks the next time, and also the next spring when we moved our families. After two days we got back to Sioux City, being satisfied that where Orange City, Sioux Center and Alton now stand would be the place for the colony: most all the homesteads were taken in Holland and adjoining townships. The next day the committee secured the office room of Mr. L. Wynn (our surveyor) and proceeded to select the homesteads. The committee seated themselves around the table, the number of the section was put on a slip of paper and placed in a box, then the names of those who wanted a homestead were written on a separate slop and put in another box; one of the committee would draw the number of some section, and then a name would be drawn out of the other box, one would call off the number of the section while the other would read the name in this wise: Section 30 was drawn and J. Smith's name was taken out, so J. Smith's homestead was in the northeast of section 30 and he was allowed to name his relatives or friends to take for themselves land in the same section, and sometimes the question is asked, how is it that you have taken homesteads and have your relatives around you? We also named the township Holland. Having done all we could at this time, we started for home. After arriving in Pella, we called a meeting and reported what had been done, so the Holland colony would be located in Sioux County, Holland Township 95-44, but today the settlement covers at least two thirds of Sioux County. The next meeting was called for the purpose of having our homesteads, or preemptions surveyed, and some breaking done in order to hold the same, and comply with the law; about eighteen or twenty teams went with from four to six men to each team and Mr. Wynn, our first surveyor. This time surveying and breaking took from one to two weeks.
     Early in spring of 1870, the first train of five families started for Sioux County, H. J. Van der Waa taking the lead as he and his team had traveled the road three times: G. Van de Steeg, Sr., H. J. Luymes, A. Van der Meide and the Beukelman Bros. Old lady Beukelman and her daughter were the only women that came along, and were the first women of the colony to settle in Sioux County; Chas. Draayom married the daughter. The second train was from Sand Ridge; their leader was J. Pelmulder, one of the committee; this train consisted of several families, I think all were Frieslanders.

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The third train started from Amsterdam, three miles south of Pella, leaders L. Van der Meer and D. Van den Bos. There were from twenty to twenty-five teams and from two to four yoke of oxen to each wagon. Other trains followed during the spring and summer, all from Pella and vicinity. I also recollect two families coming all the way from Chicago: we met them on the road with their teams tired out but they were helped along by our party; their names were W. De Voss and Simon De Bruin.


By A. Van der Meide

     Having read the foregoing article written by Mr. H. J. Van der Waa, I do not think it out of place to add a few incidents to it, since we were with him on his trip to Sioux County in 1870, he being considered our leader, as he had been over the road before.
     At the start of our trip he showed poor generalship, as it was only the second day, I think, that he led us onto a bridge in Polk County that proves my assertion as to his generalship. Five teams were in our party: H. J. Van der Waa, G. Van de Steeg, Sr., who died some time ago, and his three sons - John Van de Steeg, who is now a merchant in Orange City, G. L. Van de Steeg, postmaster at present in Orange City, and Gerrit Van de Steeg, who was recently killed in a railroad accident in Minnesota, H. J. Luymes and his three sons - Robert, Johannes and Teunis; Robert and Johannes having died some time ago and Teunis at present janitor in our Sioux County Courthouse, Arie Beukelman and his mother and only sister, all of whom have passed away from this earth, and the writer, making the fifth team. As stated before, we were led on the bridge following Mr. Van der Waa as closely as we could. Crossing it in a zig zag way, four teams managed to get over it in safety. The fifth team belonging to A. Beukelman, his mother and sister, they not being accustomed to driving horses, having been in the country but a little over a year, did not fare so well. He had three horses with him, two hitched to his wagon and one led on behind, and between them they had only one eye they could see with. The result was that he did not keep the same track the others had done but intended to drive straight across the bridge, and the flooring being loose, having worked to the north by traveling over it, tipped and the whole outfit came down twelve feed in the creek, horses and all, where there was about two feet of water. 

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REV. S. BOLKS, Deceased
Born in Netherlands, April 30th, 1814.
Settled in Sioux County, 1872
Died June 16th, 1894

It did not take us very long to hitch our teams and go to their rescue, expecting to find some of them dead under the heavy load they had, but we were happily surprised when we go to them to find that the old lady and her daughter had fallen outside of the wagon and Mr. Beukelman was held on the wagon box with his legs, receiving only slight bruises, and the others not as much as a scratch. The only death loss was the chickens that were drowned before we got to them. This was in the forenoon of the second day of our trip, so we stopped for the day to make repairs to the wagon and to dry the goods which they had with them by spreading the same out on quilts and blankets on the grass, and the old lady was kept busy drying the few greenbacks she had with her. By the following morning, all was repaired again so that we could go on with our journey, and by so doing Polk County was saved several thousand dollars for damages.
     After the accident we must say that we never had a better leader and general than Mr. Van der Waa. From then on we moved along slowly as the roads were bad and there was a great deal of swampy country to pass through and we did not venture on any more bridges without examining them before we undertook to cross them so that we were sure they were safe.

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We preferred to get stalled rather than to have a fall. It took us nineteen days to make the trip of about two hundred and fifty miles, and hard work at that, as I well remember that there was one day when we only made three miles, and working from daylight to sundown, by loading and unloading our loads, and in crossing sloughs and swamps. But it did not affect us as it did the Israelites of old, as we did not murmur or care to go back home. We had faith in what our leader said: "There is no fairer country or better land under the sun than Sioux County," and correct he was, having finally arrived in Sioux County it proved to us that his statement was true.
     The first night we reached Sioux County, we camped on what is now called "The Orange City Slough," three-fourths of a mile north of Orange City. The next morning we started out to look up our lands, going as we thought, with our map in our hands, northward and northwest, following as near as we could the section lines. After having traveled all day and when the sun was fast sinking away in the west, we started for camp, thinking we had seen most of our claims and being well satisfied with the same. Having gone but a short distance towards our camp as we thought, we noticed someone with some horses to the west of us who were grazing along a slough. Of course we wished to know who else was in Sioux County except our party, and going to where he was we found it to be one of our own party whom we had left with our horses and wagon, and we were not a little surprised to find out that we had been going southeast and south all day instead of north and northwest. If it had not been for meeting him we do not know where we soul have landed; probably we would still be going south and would never have reached our camp. After having been here a few days, a good many more colonists arrived and we all got busy breaking prairie and raising a crop the following year. The winter was mild and there was no snow so that in early spring we commenced our work by putting in our grain and we raised a very good crop. By fall we had to have sheds, cribs, etc., so most of us went to Rock River to get some wood, there being some timber along said river. Of course it all belonged to the government or Uncle Sam, as we supposed, but there were a few settlers on the Rock by this time who thought and claimed different and claimed to be the owners of some of the lands. The result was that some of our people were driven away with pitchforks and others were cut down with axes and laid up for several weeks but no one was fatally hurt. The hauling of timber continued just the same. The meanest thing that was done by these people claiming the land was this: they would take fire wood from some of the piles that were prepared by the settlers, make a hole in it with an auger, place a certain quantity of powder in it, and plug the hole with a wooden plug and then place it back again in the pile so that it could not be detected, in order to be exploded in the cook stove, which happened several times.
     During this winter, the courthouse war started which lasted for almost thirty years, off and on. The county seat was at Calliope at the time we came here, and at our first election, Tjeerd Heemstra was elected as member of the Board of Supervisors from our district and served one year. Henry Hospers was elected the second year to fill his place and J. W. Greatrax as treasurer and A. J. Betten, Jr. as Auditor. On January 1, 1872, Henry Hospers took the oath of office and was seated with the Board of Supervisors, but when it cam to approving the bonds of Mr. Greatrax and Mr. Betten, the Board refused to approve the same: Hospers voting to accept and the other to reject, claiming that the bonds were illegal, not duly signed, amount not sufficient and various other reasons, all in order to keep them out of office. They undoubtedly saw that it was the beginning of the end of their career as office holders of Sioux County which had been very profitable to them as the county had a good many bonds...

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