Letter # 15 - This erudite letter appears to be from a school principal. It appears that Jan Rubingh was highly thought of by him and others. It also appears that Jan was one of the few who left Wildervank for America. The letter is in horrible condition: flimsy, water-stained, torn, pieces missing, and nearly illegible.
Zwolle, April 15, 1873
Dear Friend and Brother,
You can easily imagine that I have looked forward to a letter from you for a long time. It was a pleasure finally to receive one from you and even more that I received an answer concerning much of what I wanted to know. You asked for a swift answer and I also do not want to postpone even though we are on vacation right now and at this moment are in Zwolle at my wife’s parents. I’ll take this opportunity to inform you of a number of things. I don’t have to tell you about Zwolle, except that if I’m not mistaken, your wife is well known there and surely knows my wife as well as her parents. Just ask her once whether she knows Tietje Soeter. Tell her that father and mother are well and that my wife greets her heartily.
Furthermore: yesterday evening Rev. Dosker bade the congregation here a blessed farewell, in order speedily, on the 26th of this month, I believe, to leave the Netherlands in order to take up the work in Grand Rapids as pastor and teacher. For our church, particularly for Zwolle, this is a great loss, but for America it is a great gain to receive such a man. Rev. Gispen, who will follow him here, was the spokesman for the congregation and said approximately the following: I think, dear brother, that God prepared you in Zwolle to bring to America what is so necessary, namely to unite what is separated. If anyone can do it, I do believe Rev Dosker is the man for it. God has given him many gifts and talents, not to bury them, but to obtain profit. May God bless his work there
Now a bit about Wildervank. The congregation grows slowly….. and the teaching of Rev. Kuiper is blessed…..young girls are seeking Jesus and they say: Jesus is my savior…..
On Sunday morning the church is full and the Word is respected and desired. The school numbers nearly….students, who to their and the school’s great detriment, are not always faithful and in general leave school far too soon. Veltkamp is head teacher; Jurrien Huizenga stays with his parents in Staats- kanaal and doesn’t come to our church at all. Barius Bos went to Doetichem and sadly drowned there. Remko de Jonge died last year and Berend Korfker is working as assistant teacher in Leeuwarden at a ….. school where the …..So there is a completely different staff working at the school. As assistant teacher is a young man from Grootegast, as student teachers are Trynko Derks Joosten, Hendrik Jans Scholten, Christiaan Hendriks Munnieke, and Hendrike Koos Scholten. Also here the old rule pertains that nothing is more certain than uncertainty, and if we seek the world and the earthly we will be bitterly disappointed in our expectations.
Thank you for the news that the practical Americans from a financial point of view place more….. In our schools it is constantly said that things are done from a pedagogical point of view because the first….. and see whether in the end the teaching is better or worse.
In the Netherlands there is a need for teacher assistants. Some congregations give 400 guilders, others 500. Around there they are looking for female student teachers and assistant teachers, but….. that they are not doing it…..but for better teaching ….. in America.
….. that you stated I find too low. I think that a dollar in America….. has as a guilder in the Netherlands. In other words, that there with a dollar one can get as far as here with a guilder. Perhaps here there are many erroneous notions about America, because for many it is a very strange and unknown land. Few, almost no one, has the courage to go there, which is sad because there are too many hands and in America too few.
That you find the percentage of people from the northern part of our province who have gone to America to be disappointing, I can believe, but you might find it otherwise if you knew the situation of those people as well as I do, where they have spent their entire lives. If you take this into consideration, then you won’t be so amazed by it. It will be difficult for them to change and rise to a higher point of view because their moral sense is so stunted. No moral means, external culture, or national prosperity is able to bring it about; only the Gospel of the grace of God can do it. That is why it must be brought everywhere. That is the understanding of the congregations of Staatskanaal and Wildervank, who together at the first chance built an Evangelization Hall where Revs. Hulst and Kuiper take turns during the week and where I hold a Sunday School for about 150 children….. and also instruction is given in reading and writing.
I can give you some news about specific people, but I trust that you are pretty well informed by your family and Rev Kuiper. However, I should tell you that Tjakke Schuringa suffered from his stomach illness this winter, but is somewhat better. Evert Bos is in Doetichem at Rev. Van Dyk’s where he, if his wish is realized, will be prepared for the Academy in Utrecht in order later to become a minister in the Hervormde church….. is at school in Kampen where he is doing well.
April….. We are well and arrived here again. As you certainly know, an agent has been appointed in the Netherlands to promote emigration to Minnesota. I was invited to be a subagent for it, but I declined. I perceived that….. would see that the subagents were trying to persuade them to go there. In addition, it’s been going on for about four years and few have sufficient desire or courage to go to America. They like to hear about it and would like to have you write more about it, especially about the social conditions and prospects for immigrants. Most of them think: I would like to go there if there was money to scoop up for it and I could come back to the Netherlands with a pocket full of cash. What is your feeling about Minnesota? The newspapers tell us that many are going. Is it truly a thing to recommend for many? You will probably say that for those who can and will work hard, and in addition are gifted with good judgement and keep their eyes open, they can do well anywhere; but I mean ordinary people.
One last question: Would you, if you still could choose, choose for America or the Netherlands, and why?
I greeted your Mother for you. She would like to be there with you, but since that is impossible….. She encloses a little letter. I hope you won’t make me wait so long for a letter. And don’t forget….. In addition, everybody wants to know…. is ready and you are living in it or if you still are working on the…..
Our heartfelt wish is that you and yours….. and that your way may prosper, and that in soul and body you may do well. Receive, together with your people, our hearty greetings and may the Lord bless you. Your friend and brother. K. Olthoff and wife