SIOUX CENTER , IOWA
By T. Wayenberg
In connection with the facts of history of Sioux County , concerning its past of 25 years, which we are going to celebrate, to remember how we as a small group of Dutchmen settled on these vast prairies. It was under God's providence, that the population of Pella , Iowa , realized the necessity to prepare a new settlement. The result was that attention was focused on Sioux County by those who had been appointed as a committee of investigation as to where the settlement would be made. The chairman of this committee was Mr. Henry Hospers, who is still amongst us. And he has faithfully helped us in the difficult time we went through. And he is still busy looking after the interests of this settlement.
So it happened, that under his guidance the first small group of settlers came to Sioux County , in the Spring of 1870. This settlement expanded and many people from elsewhere settled here.
Being here, we soon felt, (like our Dutch fathers), that material things were not sufficient for man, and that we needed Religion and education for the youth. Because of this a congregation was established and further a school was built which was used as a church on Sunday and where settlers from all directions came together.
They began to multiply and one felt the necessity for a religious leader. So the people came together and decided to call a minister. Therefore it chose the Rev. S. Bolks who has now passed away. He was called unanimously. He accepted the call, though some people had not expected the he would. And he proved to be the right man for this position, especially in oppressing times that the people here went through. He knew how to encourage and cheer up the people, with the rich promises of the Gospel, so that their faith was renewed and they could go on in the struggle of life.
And so we see what can be achieved under the blessing of the Lord and under a faithful guidance of those, who are called by God and let themselves be used by Him.
In 1872 the Rev. Bolks started his ministry in Orange City, a small, weak community, which then consisted of people spread all over the prairie of Sioux County, except for some people who belonged to the Dutch Christian Reformed Church, which was later organized into a congregation.
We can see now (1895) how from a little start in these surroundings eleven Reformed Congregations were established, one which we recognize and may call Sioux Center .
Sioux Center . We here in Sioux Center , may not really boast of belonging to the first group of settlers of Sioux County , June 17, 1871 , we came here and settled with 3 families on this vast plain, west of the small stream, the “Branch.” If we would not have met W. v.d. Zalm, we would hardly have found our place of destination. After we arrived there with his help we put out the horses, which perhaps, (If they could speak) would have said: “We are glad to be here.” But this was not the case with me. On that lonely, desolate plain, not knowing if there were people living further to the west and separated in the east by a stream. I felt like being cut off from communication with people. Besides, my first encounter on my land was with two prairie wolves. Fortunately, they were afraid, just like me, and so we did not get into a fight. But all this caused, me to tell my wife, that I could not stay here, though the gold may be ever so abundant here. However, I could not just leave. And fortunately: for it was not long before more settlers came and this made my hope revive that we would live again in communication with others.
And what happened? The settlement expanded so soon, that the following year a school was built for our children. On Sundays we gathered there for a religious meeting and the old Mr. Bolks spoke many times the blessing to us. This led to the Rev. urging us to form a congregation and soon we did so. The organization took place May 17, 1874 , with 24 members. This was not, because there were not more members then, but as is often the case in such circumstances: “so many men, so many minds.” There was a difference of opinion about where the church was to rise and so several people withdrew and the Rev. Bolks went through much trouble to prevent the break. But by his work and the Lord's blessing he achieved it. And the first church was built here: a building of 16 x 24 feet, which was enlarged four times later.And now one felt the need for a private pastor. Though the old Rev. Bolks served us faithfully, we yet saw the need for our own pastor, so we decided to build a parsonage. Dr. West, who had observed our are encouraged us in this matter. Thus on June 12, 1880 one started it, and after we made good progress the congregation came together on March 30, 1880 under the leadership of the Rev. Buursma, who was at the time the pastor at Orange City, and the Rev. Warnshuis was called. After he declined the call the Rev. Jan de Pree was called. He accepted it and he had worked here since. He came June 17, 1880 .
Since that time the congregation grew so rapidly, that there was not room enough in our small building, though we tried to give everyone a place. So on March 14, 1884 one decided to build a new church, to provide place for 600 people and this church was built that very year. We then thought we had room enough for a long time, but we were disappointed, but not unpleasantly. Therefore we were compelled to build a gallery in 1893, providing places for 100 people.
In connection with the expansion we mention that recently, July 28, part of our congregation formed a separate group with 26 members in full membership. It is situated 7 miles northwest of here and called the “ Carmel Church .” So we see how from a very small seed a large plant can grow.
Beside the Reformed Congregation, a Dutch Christian Reformed and a Presbyterian Congregation exist: the latter consists of mainly Germans and Americans.
So far as the town is concerned, it has 650 inhabitants. Its foundation is mainly due to the railroad through our area, the Great Northern, in 1890. Now we have 16 businesses, consisting of two banks, two lumber yards, and four elevators. Also there is a public school with 4 teachers.
Though one did not think much of it at first, Sioux Center is one of the busiest places in the County, and it is still growing. Finishing this writing, I think of Deut. 6:23.
Rev. J. De Pree
Reformed Church of Sioux Center
The Sioux Center School Building
Reformed Church Parsonage
Home of Joseph Hyink
Home of Prince (Prins)?
Home of Schoep
Home of N. Balkema