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


Thursday, April 5 (1882)

Dear Brother-in-Law,

We came over yesterday in the best of health and with no cold or rain. We were really warmly clothed, and with the umbrella above and on the side we were warm as toast, except for my feet, which were a bit cold. Betje slept the whole way right into the city except for the last little bit. She is joyful and wound up and sometimes calls me Mama and sometimes Auntie, and she slept really well.

Now to our business. I spoke to Joh, and because it’s Jaantje’s child, he will take Betje so long as it’s necessary, including board and care, for no charge, but would find it fair that you would help a bit with shoes and clothes, because you are not poor, and then it’s not too much for all of us. Then Marie is willing to take Mietje because she too is Jaantje’s child and obedient and submissive. She is willing to bring her up as her own daughter. She will teach her housework, knitting and sewing and above all the Sunday School lessons and the catechism and her further upbringing, so that she may become presentable as a decently brought up child.

She prefers that she goes to school, however, because she together with mother can easily take care of the work. She desires nothing more than that she can cover the cost if she can do it for 10 shillings per week. If she can do it for a dollar, she’ll give you the rest back. But if it’s not enough, you have to add some shillings. If you would rather have her stay at home in the summer, you can decide that. However, you must pay for the books yourself. She wants no profit from it, not one penny, only to cover the costs.

Joh prefers that you board by someone else. I think that you can board by someone in the neighborhood, and then frequently in the evenings or on Sundays you can come over to us.

The workers unanimously decided that up until today they will work 10 hours daily for 2 dollars, and if they wait any longer, it will be 10 hours and eighteen shillings, so that’s a good wage for you. However, the sooner you come the better. So now do according to your wish with all this. If you clear out, then send us 4, I say four, bushels of potatoes, and reply to this letter, and when you send us the potatoes let us know beforehand.

Betje is in good health and eats well. Now, brother, we wish you the Lord’s help and support in everything, and when you decide, it will be totally fine. On behalf of Joh who can’t write so soon. Further, the greetings from all of us, your dear sister Geesje Kuiper, and Joh Cooper