Introduction to The Jan Rubingh Letters Collection

Jan Geuchien Rubingh was born on April 16, 1845, in Wildervank, Groningen, The Netherlands, the son of Geuchien Rubingh and Mettje Jans Boer Rubingh. Geuchien died in 1863, only 49 years of age, while Mettje, the author of many letters in this collection, lived to be 93 and died in 1907.

In 1869 Jan left for America at the age of 24 and began farming near Fremont, Michigan. He purchased eighty acres of land for $100 and six years later he and his wife Jaantje sold forty of those acres for $275. Two daughters were born to Jan and Jaantje. Around 1880 they moved to a farm near Graafschap, Michigan, but in April of 1882, Jaantje died. In February, 1883, Jan married Hendrikien Walkotten and they had seven children. Their youngest son John was my father.

In 1906 Jan Rubingh brought his family to Ellsworth, Michigan. He wanted his family to be near the church, and there was new opportunity in the north. So at age 61 he set out to build the house and barn. On Thanksgiving Day of 1906 the family came up by train and moved in. The house that Jan built still stands and Janís great-great-grandchildren live there. The church and parsonage have long since moved from his land into the village and the horsebarn is no more.

Jan Rubingh died on June 6, 1918, at the age of 73. Hendrikien lived until 1935, and her letter to my parents (and me) closes this collection.

Jan Rubingh was the only Rubingh to emigrate to America. His life is truly a saga of fierce determination and great devotion to his family and his faith. These letters from his mother and his three sisters (Grietje, Marchien and Heigiena) form an enduring account of their faith and struggles. They tend to begin with this opening sentence, ďThrough the underserved mercy of the Lord we find ourselves in fairly good health and hope that the same may be true for you,Ē and they have a nearly formulaic conclusion, ďNow having wished you the Lordís indispensable blessing for body and soul, I amÖĒ These were staunch believers, conservative Calvinists, but warm in devotion and love.

The difficulties encountered in the translation of these letters surpass adequate description. First of all, the writers seldom used periods or capital letters! Secondly, many of the letters are in horrible condition, yellowed with age, water-stained, torn, and sometimes quite illegible. Thirdly, some of the language is archaic and the terms so strange to me that I had to hazard a guess now and then. And my command of Dutch leaves much to be desired. The task spanned most of a decade. As perhaps the only Rubingh in North America still somewhat fluent in Dutch, I felt it would be a shame if these letters would remain unread and basically lost forever. They are presented to the four hundred or more current descendants of Jan Rubingh as a legacy testifying to the rock from which we are hewn.


Index of the letters collection

Note: In order to limit the size of the website only the English translations of the original (Dutch) letters are included. An exception is made for Jan Rubingh's farewell letter and the first letter sent; from these scans are included. Please send an e-mail if you like to receive scans of the other original letters.

JAN RUBINGHíS FAREWELL  - In 1869, at the age of 24, Jan Rubingh left Wildervank, for America. He delivered this solemn farewell address to the Young Menís Society of his church. He left it with his sister Grietje, who gave it to her son Geuchien, who gave it to me in Rotterdam in 1955. The sentences go on and on, in the style of the apostle Paul.

Letter # 1 - This first letter is from Jan Rubinghís older sister Marchien, who at this writing is not yet married. Jan Rubingh married his first wife Jaantje the same year he emigrated (1869) and apparently made profession of faith as well. Quite a year for him!

Letter # 2 - This is the first letter from Jan Rubinghís mother, Mettje Jans Boer Rubingh. She had already been a widow for seven years. The letter is in horrid condition, brown with age and water-stained. Jan Rubingh has been in America less than a year.

Letter # 3 - Jan and Jaantje Rubingh have now settled on their farm near what was then called Fremont Center (today called Reeman), west of Fremont, Michigan. Janís sister Heigiena never married, I believe, and her few letters are usually very brief and she shares very little about herself in contrast to her mother and two sisters.

Letter # 4 - Janís sister Grietje and her husband operate a barge on the canals of Holland. Their sister Margien and husband Detmer operate an ocean freighter. Apparently Jan and Jaantje have been quite ill.

Letter # 5 - This typical little note from Heigiena was on the back side of the previous letter from Margien.

Letter # 6 -This is a letter to Jan Rubinghís mother, Mettje Jans Boer Rubingh, from Janís older sister Marchien and also one from her husband Detmer Dekker, who was a seafarer and owned a freighter. They had just docked in Hull, England, after a stormy voyage. Mother Mettje must have sent the letter on to Jan.

Letter # 7 - This letter is from Janís mother Mettje, who was born in 1814 and is now 56 years old. Janís father Geugien died in 1863 at age 49, when Jan was only 18. At this writing he is 25, has been in America a year and married his first wife. Already the tender heart and longing of mother Mettje is apparent. Her repeated desire to visit Jan in America was never realized, nor did he ever see her or his sisters again.

Letter # 8 - This double letter is from Hendrik Joosten and his wife, Griet Rubingh Joosten (Janís sister). They operate a barge and are stuck in the ice.

Letter # 9 - Jan and Jaantje have just had their first child Mettje. Sadly, Mettje died in childbirth at the age of 20.

Letter # 10 - Janís sister Marchien has married Detmer Dekker and they have their first child Elziena.

Letter # 11 - Although this letter has no legible date, it appears to be from 1871. The author is Rev. R. T. Kuiper, the pastor of the Wildervank church. Jan Rubingh must have kept in touch with him, because in 1879, ten years after Jan emigrated, Rev. Kuiper also emigrated to America and became the pastor of the Graafschap Christian Reformed Church. Rev. Kuiperís book (A Voice From America About America) states that when he arrived, the only person to greet him that he knew was Jan Rubingh. In 1879 or 1880 Jan Rubingh moved with his family to Graafschap, likely to be under the ministry of his former pastor. (Rev. Kuiper came to Wildervank in 1854, so he had been Jan Rubinghís pastor there for 15 years before Jan left for America.)

This letter is addressed to Ferrisburg, Michigan. Jan Rubingh purchased a farm near Fremont, Michigan. The letter is badly water-stained, and almost completely illegible. Rev. Kuiperís script may have been deciphered by Jan Rubingh, but I could comprehend very little of it. Also the years have made the writing very faint. Its importance lies not in its contents, but in its very existence.

Letter # 12 - This letter tells of the birth of the second child of Marchien and Detmer less than a year after their first. Janís father had already died in 1863 at the age of 49, but his grandfather Heije Berend was still living. He was born in 1786. Jan and Jaantje Rubingh are living near Fremont, Michigan.

Letter # 13 - Sister Griet is married to Hendrik Joosten, and they operate a barge. Sister Heigiena appends a note and signs Rubing without the -h at the end.

Letter # 14 - Last page is missing. This letter from Janís mother recounts the passing of my great-great grandfather Heije Beerents Rubing, who was born in July of 1786. When I researched my ancestry in the birth registry in Veendam, I saw Heijeís son (my great-grandfather) Geuchienís actual birth registration. Heije was 28 years old in 1814, and it reads in my English translation: ďHe declares that on Tuesday, December 13, of this year at one oíclock in the morning in the house number 487 on Westerdiep there was born a child of the male gender who shall be named Geuchyn Hayes Rubingh, of whom the mother is Marchijn Boeles and the father the aforementioned.Ē Signed: Haye Beerents Rubing

Note that he did not use the final -h, but he did give it to his son. Incidentally, he outlived his son Geuchien by eight years.


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.

Letter # 16 - This letter, in terrible condition, likely dates from 1873. It is a joint effort of sisters Griet and Marchien, and Mother Mettje. Griet and husband Hendrik Joosten operate a barge, and Marchien and husband Detmer own a ship and live on it. Marchien and daughter Elziena have just come home for a bit.

Letter # 17 - This double letter is from Janís sister Marchien and her husband, Detmer Dekker. They are at sea, writing from a place called Inver Gorden. Living at sea, one wonders how they got mail.

Letter # 18 (fragment) - This final paragraph is all that remains of this letter from Janís younger sister Griet. It likely dates from 1874. Griet was born in May, 1847.

Letter # 19 - This letter from Jan Rubinghís mother consists of six fragments. Only the first one is surely in its place since it contains the salutation. The fragments are badly water-stained, but the handwriting is quite clear. Janís mother, Mettje Jans Boer Rubingh, is 61 years old as she writes this letter. Though the mood is somber amid lifeís trials, her faith is clear and strong.

Letter # 20 - This undated fragment from Jan Rubinghís mother, Mettje Jans Boer Rubingh, precedes 1879 when Janís daughter Betje was born, since there is reference only to Mietje or Mettje, who was born in 1871. Hence this letter likely dates from before1878. It might even be from 1874 or 1875, since it contains greetings from the minister and the school principal. Jan emigrated in 1869.

Letter # 21 - Janís sister Marchien and her husband Detmer are at sea and their daughter Elziena is staying with Janís mother. Another sister, Griet, is also unwell and living there now. Grietís husband operates a barge on Hollandís canals.

Letter # 22 - (undated). This short letter to Jan is from his two younger sisters Grietje and Heichiena. Grietje is two years younger than Jan (she was born in 1847), and Heichiena (or Heigiena) was born in 1849.

Letter # 23 - The first sheet of this letter from mother Mettje has the bottom portion torn off. As usual, no periods or capital letters are employed. Sister Marchien and husband Detmer are at sea.

Letter # 24 Wildervank, December 5, 1875

Letter #25 Wildervank, February 7, 1876

Letter # 26 - This letter is unique in that it is from Jan Rubingh to Dominee R.T. Kuiper, who is still in Wildervank, though in 1879 he will move to Graafschap, Michigan. This very revealing letter just trails off in the middle of the page, so it may never have been sent.

Letter # 27 - Janís mother Mettje tells that ďUncle Harm BoerĒ put out to sea from London, and was never heard from again!

Letter # 28 - This double letter from Janís sister Marchien and her husband Detmer Dekker is written on board ship. Part of his letter is missing. It was difficult to translate in spots, so if some parts make no sense, I did the best I could, given the complete lack of punctuation in all these letters. When people went to sea, sometimes they never came back and apparently this is being described. No phones or radios! Just anxious waiting.

Letter # 29 - In this letter we have a real glimpse of Jan Rubinghís motherís faith and theology, very typical of the Old Reformed adherents. If a letter didnít come now and then, she worried whether or not they were still alive! Sister Heigiena hardly ever writes, but she can certainly scold others

Letter # 30 - This double letter is from Jan Rubinghís older sister Griet and her husband Hendrik Joosten. They operate a barge and are spending the winter of 1877 in Wildervank. The second letter is practically illegible, but itís basically a copy of the first. Notice how these letters follow the same pattern, and all speak of a godly life and faith.

Letter # 31 Ė This letter is from Jan Rubinghís brother-in-law, Hendrik Joosten, married to Janís older sister Griet. They operate a barge and ply the canals carrying inland freight. I met their aged son in Rotterdam in 1955.

Letter # 32 - To review: Jan Rubingh has three sisters, Griet (married to Hendrik), Marchien (married to Detmer Dekker), and Heigiena, unmarried. Hendrik and Griet have a barge business, Detmer and Marchien have a ship.

Letter # 33  Muskegon, April 4, 1878

Letter # 34 - This letter from sister Marchien is nearly illegible because on the second page she wrote a section vertically from bottom to top, on top of the horizontal lines she had already written! She is 34 now and apparently has 5 children since marrying Detmer in 1870, eight years earlier.

Letter # 35 - Jan Rubinghís mother, Mettje Jans Boer Rubingh has been a widow for 15 years, since 1863. This letter like the others, does nor bother with periods, or capital letters at the beginning of sentences. The Grietje referred to is Janís younger sister, born in 1847, and 31 years old at the time of this letter. She, like sister Marchien, married a seafarer. Iím struck by how this letter, like the preceding ones, is so full of piety and love.

Letter # 36 - This letter likely dates from 1878 or 1879, since Betje has not yet been born. The letter is from Janís sister Heichiena. It is an amazing story of anguish, for they all feared Jan was dead! No phones or e-mail then.

Letter # 37 - Jan Rubingh is now 33, and little Mettje is 7. The minister of Wildervank, Rev. R.T. Kuiper, a widower with 7 children, has just accepted the call to Graafschap, Mich. He later wrote a book, ďEene Stem uit America over AmericaĒ (ďA Voice from America about AmericaĒ), and mentions in it that when he arrived there, the only one to meet him whom he knew was J. Rubingh. This letter so full of love and longing is from Mother Mettje Jans Boer Rubingh, now 66.

Letter # 38 - This letter to Jan Rubingh is from the Muskegon CRC. Apparently he was a member there and had asked for his membership attestation, but then decided to stay there after all. Later when he moved to Graafschap, he became a member there, and his minister was Rev. R T. Kuiper, his former pastor in Wildervank! Rev. Kuiper has just arrived in America and is preaching in New York.

Letter # 39 - This partial letter recounts the arrival of Wildervankís 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?Iím puzzled by the references to ďGrandfatherĒ and ďGrandmotherĒ. Haijo Beerents Rubingh was born in 1786, so he would have been 93 if he were still living! ďGrandmotherĒ is 81 in 1879, so she would have been born in 1798. Itís all possible. (They were my great-great-grandparents)

Letter # 40 - This letter from Janís mother is full of news, but it is in terrible condition. Its yellow leaves are falling apart. Since Janís daughter Betje was born on Oct. 19, 1979, he wrote his mother the very next day. Janís sister Griet is also pregnant. That child was born in Jan., 1880, and was named Guechien (after his grandfather, and my great-grandfather). I met that Geuchien in Rotterdam in 1955! He gave me Janís farewell address to the Wildervank Young Menís Society, which Jan must have given to his sister Griet.

Letter # 41 - This letter from Janís brother-in-law Hendrik Joosten and his older sister Griet note the birth of Janís daughter Betje (Bessie) and also their own son Geuchien. Darlene and I met Geuchien in Rotterdam in December of 1955, and he was then 75 years old. Hendrik and Griet operated a barge, plying the canals of Holland. The final page of the letter, so full of faith and piety, is missing.

Letter # 42 - This last half of a letter likely dates from around 1880. It is from Janís younger sister Marchien. Her husband Detmer is at sea with his ship. Itís interesting how people are identified by who their minister is!

Letter # 43 - This short letter from Janís mother bears no date, but was probably written in 1880. She was then about 66 years old, and had been a widow for 17 years. Janís father Geugien died in 1863, at age 49, when his mother was also 49 and Jan was 18 years old. Like all the other letters in the collection, it does not use periods or a capital letter to begin a new sentence.

Letter # 44 - This undated double letter from Janís older sister Griet and her husband Hendrik Joosten probably dates from 1881. They operate a barge on the waterways of Holland.

Letter # 45 - This undated letter was probably written in the autumn of 1881 by Janís younger sister Marchien, wife of Detmer Dekker, whose letter is not included.

Letter # 46 - This letter is from a Jan Witte, who is likely married to the sister of Jan Rubinghís first wife Elizabeth Kramer (but known as Jaantje). There are 3 or 4 letters from him around this time, and he seems to refer to his wife as Jana. In a later letter, after reporting Janaís death, he calls himself ďyour brotherĒ. These letters are almost illegible because Jan Witte was a horrible speller.

Letter # 47 - This letter is from Jan Witte, who is Jan Rubinghís brother-in-law. He was married to Jaantje Rubinghís sister Jana, who died only two months earlier. His 14 year old daughter Appelonina has just died as well. Jaantje is with him at this time and she also was ill. It is an incredibly tragic account.

Letter # 48 - This double letter is from Jan Rubinghís sister Grietje (born 1847) and her husband Hendrik Joosten. He is a sea captain. In 1955 Darlene and I met one of their sons, Geugien (my dadís cousin, born in 1880 and named after Grietjeís and Dadís father) in Rotterdam; he was aged and, like his parents and grandparents, of the ďold ReformedĒ persuasion. That is, he would not presume to go to the Lordís table, considering himself far too unworthy, even at his advanced age and clear piety. From this letter we see that the Wildervank congregation is rent with horrid quarreling and dissension.

Letter # 49 - This letter is written to ďbrother-in-lawĒ Jan from a Geesje Kuiper and her husband Joh Cooper. So this Geesje must be either Janís first wifeís sister or else his first wifeís brotherís wife. Janís wife Jaantje has just died. She passed away in 1882. So Janís daughters Mietje (now age 10 or 11) and Betje (likely age 2) have no mother and Jaantjeís relatives are taking them into their homes. I do not understand the reference to shillings (schellingen).

Letter # 50 - Jan Rubinghís first wife Jaantje has just unexpectedly passed away, and his sister Marchien responds in this fragment of an undated letter. It must be around May 1, 1882.

Letter # 51 - Janís mother Mettje extends her sympathy to Jan in the loss of his wife Jaantje, and describes an inheritance hopefully coming his way.

Letter # 52 - From this fragment of a letter we see that Jan has shipped a small trunk and some potatoes from his home near Holland (Graafschaap) to the in-laws.

Letter # 53 - Jan Rubinghís first wife, Jaantje, died in April, 1882. Jaantjeís relatives are caring for the two daughters, Mettje and Betje. In this letter, Janís mother tactfully responds to his letter stating that he intended to seek a new wife and inquired from her whether she thinks it may be too soon.

Letter # 54 - This undated fragment from Janís sister Grietje may be out of chronological order since it contains a reference to Rev. Henry Walkotten, a brother of Jan Rubinghís second wife, Hendrikien Walkotten. He was a CRC minister, but at this point he apparently is Methodist, to the dismay of Grietje. As with all the other letters, this one does not use periods, paragraphs, or capital letters at the beginning of sentences.

Letter # 55 - There is more to this letter, but I could not find it. Janís first wife Jaantje has passed away. Some huge disappointment has occurred in Janís life. Perhaps a housekeeper stole things. Mother Mettjeís warm heart and love is evident. Jan has received an inheritance of 355 guilders.

Letter # 56 - Jan Rubinghís former pastor in Wildervank moved to Michigan in 1879, as a widower, but has returned to Wildervank for a visit with his (new) wife.

Janís mother Mettje tells him of Janís plans to marry.

Letter # 57 - This letter is from Janís sister Marchien, author of several of the earlier letters. She is now 41 years old and has apparently just moved with her children into a house in Wildervank, rather than living on the boat with husband Detmer, a seafarer. Three years have passed since the previous letter and Jan is now married to Hendrikien Walkotten.

Letter # 58 - Jan Rubingh married Hendrikien Walkotten in 1883. She was 22 and he was 37. Their first child, George, was born in 1885, joining Betje and Mettje in their new home in Graafschap. More deaths have occurred among the relatives in Holland and there is more fussing about the estate.

Letter # 59 - Jan Rubinghís marriage to Hendrikien Walkotten resulted in the birth of their first child, named George, who is called Geuchien in Holland, as we shall see in this letter from this letter from Janís sister Marchien. She has a lengthy complaint about the poor state of the economy.

Letter # 60 - Janís mother is writing once more and her handwriting is more firm and better than ever. Jan has been in America eighteen years and is living with his second wife Hendrikien on their farm near Graafschap.

Letter # 61. This letter was a trial to translate. It was water-stained, faded and yellow with age, and so I had to guess now and then. No periods or capital letters. Itís from Janís sister Marchien.

Letter # 62 - This touching letter, full of grief over the loss of a baby, is from Janís sister Marchien. Jan and Hendrikienís first child (George) is now two years old and although a second child (Gerrit) has also been born to them (in January of 1887), Marchien apparently does not yet know this.

Letter # 63 - Janís sister Marchienís husband Detmer is a ship captain and in this unfinished letter, Janís mother describes his shipwreck. A final page is missing, but her beautiful testimony shines through it all.

Letter # 64 - Jan Rubinghís brother-in-law, Detmer Dekker, gives a moving account of his shipwreck in which his profound faith is very evident.

Letter # 65 - Jan Rubinghís mother, Mettje Jans Boer, has strong handwriting, and seems more vigorous than ever, as you will see. The quarreling in the church does not leave Wildervank unscathed. Itís a sad but all too human story.

Letter # 66 - This fragment is in terrible condition: itís yellow, torn, and faded. Itís from Janís sister, Marchien, whose husband Detmer is outfitting a new ship following the shipwreck of his previous vessel.

Letter # 67 - This undated and partial letter from Janís mother may be out of chronological order. The ďDomineeĒ referred to may be Dominee Kuiper, in which case this letter would be much earlier (before 1879), and Janís wife would be Jaantje.
Letter # 68 - This is a fragment of a letter from Jan Rubinghís sister Marchien, which I think dates from around 1889. Her husband operates a freighter on the high sea, while their sister Griet and her husband operate a barge within Holland. Marchienís concern for husbandís safety is touching indeed.

Letter # 69 - This delightful letter was one of the best preserved and easiest to translate of the entire group. Janís mother is 75 at this time, but her handwriting is better than ever! She asks about Janís daughter Mietje (or Mettje), his first child, now 18 and married. She is well, but sadly two years later Mietje will die in childbirth. Janís mother will live for many more years and pass away in 1907 at age 93.

Letter # 70 - This fragment is undated, but it is a letter of condolence to Jan Rubingh and his family on the death of Janís daughter Mietje. Since we know she died in childbirth on March 28, 1891, the letter must be dated in April of that year. The authors are Janís sister Marchien and her children Grietje and Berendina.

Letter # 71 - This sad letter from Janís sister Marchien tells of the death of Janís oldest child, Mietje or Mettje, 20 years of age and married. For several years Marchien has been Janís most frequent correspondent, next to his mother. Her husband Detmer captains an ocean-going freighter. The letter was water stained and very hard to read in spots.

Letter # 72 - This sad letter relates the death of Detmer Dekker, the husband of Janís sister Marchien. The writer is Marchienís daughter Elziena. The letter also mentions eight-year-old Berend Geuchien whom Darlene and I met in 1955 in Rotterdam when he was 71. I knew basically nothing of the family history then and did not appreciate that living link to our past.

Letter # 73 - This incomplete letter from Janís mother is written in her 83rd year. Her hand is firm and her mind is clear, though she mentions her infirmities. She has been a widow for 29 years. Her strong faith is obvious, as always.

Letter # 74 - Four years have passed since the previous letter. This letter is from Janís sister Heigiena who is not married and lives at home with her mother. She has written very few letters to Jan. Heigiena is now 48 and Jan is 53.

Letter # 75 - Janís motherís handwriting is firm and clear in this fragile and stained letter. Heigiena is not married and drops the -h on Rubingh.

Letter # 76 - This undated fragment was likely written after 1881 because Jan has apparently moved to Graafschap. It has a rather dim view of ministersí pay. Only a portion of each page survives, hence the break in the middle.

Letter # 77 - Several years have passed since the previous letter, and this item is not a letter. It contains the unfinished will of Jan Rubingh, dated Nov. 8, 1909. He died nine years later on June 6, 1918 at the age of 73. At this writing four of the children were under 21, and three were under 18 (Mettus, John, and Mettie). I wonder if he ever finished the will.

Letter # 78 - This fragment dates from December, 1911, and is from the pen of Janís sister Marchien. No letters exist from the 1890s and the 1900s. In the interval, Janís mother, Mettje Jans Boer Rubingh, has passed away in 1907, and so has Marchienís husband, Detmer Dekker. She signs herself as the Widow D. Dekker.

Letter # 79 - There is a gap of 3 years since the previous letter. The writer of this incomplete letter is Janís younger sister Griet, who is now 68 years old. She and her husband Hendrik operated a barge. The First World War is raging, and her son Geuchien has just been drafted. At this point Holland seems to be allied with Germany. I met Geuchien (my dadís cousin!) in Rotterdam in 1955. At that time I knew nothing of these letters. The third convoluted sentence of this letter seems absolutely Pauline!

Letter # 80 - Jan Rubinghís youngest son John (my dad), born in 1895, has decided to enter the ministry and father Jan provides advice.

Letter # 81 - This is the last letter I have to Jan Rubingh, and he is unwell. It comes from Rev. Henry Walkotten, pastor in Hudsonville, a brother of Hendrikien Walkotten Rubingh, Janís wife. Twice he mentions Rubing without the -h. Jan Rubingh died on June 10, 1918.

Letter # 82 - Met Jan Rubingh died on June 6, 1918, at the age of 73. This partial letter to his widow (my grandmother) Hendrikien Walkotten Rubingh is from her sister, who resided in Hudsonville, Michigan.

Letter # 83 - This sad letter describes the passing of Janís beloved sister Marchien, the author of many letters in this collection. It also reveals the very conservative faith of these ďold ReformedĒ Christians, daily burdened with their sin and unworthiness, seldom presuming to profess that Godís forgiveness had covered those sins so that they could call Him their Savior. Few would dare to take the Lordís Supper. Finally, as you will see, Marchien on her deathbed claimed the assurance that Christ was her Savior. This last letter from the Netherlands is filled with tender love and is a poignant testimony to Godís love for the family of Jan Rubingh. One letter remains - from Janís widow (and my grandmother) Hendrikien.

Letter # 84 - This final letter brings us full circle, and was composed 65 years after the first letter to Jan Rubingh in 1870. Jan left Wildervank for Michigan in mid-1869 and died in June of 1918. This last letter is written by his widow to their youngest son, John, and to his wife Fannie, and their son, Eugene, who translated all these letters. Six months later Hendrikien Walkotten Rubingh died, and this rich legacy is left for all of us who are their progeny. These letters form a unique treasury of trust in Godís leading through the vicissitudes of life and death. They provide a lasting chronicle of one familyís faith, from Janís mother, Mietje Jans Boer Rubingh, down to her 3-year old great-grandson Eugene. Soli deo gloria.