Letter # 39 - This partial letter recounts the arrival of Wildervank’s minister in Graafschap, Michigan. Did Jan Rubingh have something to do with his emigration to America? In his book (A Voice From America About America), Dominee Kuiper states that on his arrival he saw only one familiar face in the crowd, that of Jan Rubingh! And a couple of years later, Jan Rubingh moved from the Fremont area to Graafschap. Could one reason have been to be near once more to his respected Dominee?
I’m puzzled by the references to “Grandfather” and “Grandmother”. Haijo Beerents Rubingh was born in 1786, so he would have been 93 if he were still living! “Grandmother” is 81 in 1879, so she would have been born in 1798. It’s all possible. (They were my great-great-grandparents).
Wildervank, July 24, 1879
Dear loved son and Daughter and child,
Your letter of May 26 has been received in fairly good health through the underserved goodness of the Lord. It was a joy, dear ones, to understand that you all were living in the joy of good health and that you also experienced that Dominee and his family all arrived safely. May the Lord grant that we acknowledge these blessings thankfully. As I sit here and write this down, then so quickly there rises in me the realization of our great distance. May the Lord grant in his mercy that we shall once, on this side of death and the grave, see one another. But then I fear it will just stay with wishing. The time goes by so swiftly and in July I am 66 years old. My desire reaches out so often to you, but the journey would likely be too difficult for me, otherwise I would be so inclined. Oh, that the Lord may grant us to rest in the path he gives us. But sometimes I feel so incapable of that. May we remember each other much in prayer.
Uncle Hendrik Rubingh passed away. He had a lot of chest pain lately, and that was also the cause of his unexpected passing. I’ve written you that he has been married for eight years to Vrouw Ligger - you surely know her: she lived up there near us. Now he made his will. She may hold on to his money as long as she lives and keep the profit and interest. Often it goes like that.
Dear ones, if he had not married, it would probably have been better for you. She is 74 years old and _____. The will is being formally read, but the amount was not established or summed up, and so it cannot quickly be monitored. I do not know how much there is altogether and if it will be made public. We think it will be 5 or 6 thousand guilders. I don’t dare to state it precisely; it could be more or less. It was said at one time that there was more, but that’s how it goes so often. Dear ones, so much is taken off for the land and the notary. But now it is formally read and it won’t change. He could just have given her everything, and then there would be 6 heirs - I think you can figure it out: Boelma, Berend, Henderikus, Geugien, Henderieka, and Annegie. I don’t know if I can later write you more precisely. The heirs must all go to Zuidbroek to sign, but his personal possessions can be distributed. They all came together for that and it amounted to 72 guilders. Each heir received 12 guilders. Each of you will receive three guilders. You can figure it out, too. If Dominee was still here then he could show you his church book and it would show three guilders, but that is past history. Now, dear ones, you must write what to do with the three guilders.
I asked grandfather if he wanted to write, but he told me just to write, but I should ask you to write him once. __________ to write, then he wanted to write you too once. She greets you too. Grandma is 81 years old.
We have no dominee here as yet. Two have declined. One was a Dominee van der Sluis and one was a Dominee Wielenga. It doesn’t go as quickly as one might have expected. As for me, I miss Dominee Kuipers every day and so do others, but the Lord rules. If you have opportunity greet them all from us. We are glad you have a chance to converse with Dominee. You and the congregation won’t get tired of him.
Dear ones, you must write how it goes with your (Jaantje’s) aged Mother and the rest of your family. Are they all well? We heard that Evart Bos was not very well out there. Is that so or don’t you know? People here often don’t believe that it can go very well over there. As far as we know, all of our family is well. Detmer is in Retirsburg and Hendrik and Griet are in Holland. They write saying that if we write to you we must send you her greeting. The barge business is still very bad………….