JAN RUBINGH FAMILY (1660 - 1991)

Prepared by:

Eugene Rubingh

March, 2004


All  Rubinghs in North America are the descendants of one man, Jan Rubingh, who was born in Wildervank, Province of Groningen, The Netherlands, on April 16, 1845. He emigrated to Michigan in 1869, and died in Ellsworth, Michigan, on June 6, 1918, at the age of 73. These annals have been compiled by Eugene Rubingh, son of Janís youngest son, John. My purpose is to leave to my children and any others who may be interested, a chronology and genealogy of events and people, to testify to Godís covenant keeping through more than 300 years.

This chronology begins with the earliest known ancestor of Jan Rubingh, a man named Addeke Jans, who was born in Oldenburg, Germany, around 1660, and concludes with the death of his youngest child, Mettie, on June 6, 1991.

Fascinating research still remains to be done on the ancestry of Addeke Jans. The Addeke name appears in Oldenburg throughout the 16th century, and in the Dutch province of Groningen from 1630 onward. It is likely that Addeke Jans (that is, Addeke, son of Jan) came to Wildervank in Groningen with his brother Geert on the advice of their uncle who was living there already. The invitation was to come to the peat moors and market the peat ("veen"). The first official note we have of Addeke Jans is his announcement of marriage to Geseke Geerts on June 23, 1695. Veendam and Wildervank were neighboring towns.

Geseke was born in 1661 and died on July 25, 1713, about five years after her husband died. Their union produced three sons, Jan, Berent, our ancestor Haijo, and one daughter, Grietien. The fascinating thing about these names is that Geseke had earlier been married to a man named Haijo Beerents! Our august mother memorialized her first husband in the names she gave the children she had with her second husband - and these names recur over and over down through the generations of our Dutch cousins. Meanwhile the name Addeke disappeared.

But what about the Rubingh name? Apparently in earlier times using your surname was considered uppity and "putting on airs". Our Dutch webmaster has a section on this and is very sure that Addeke Jans actually had the name Rubingh before he came to Wildervank, but did not use it for that reason.

And the -h, where did that come from? Apparently the suffix -ing or -ingh is fairly common in the northeastern Netherlands and nearby Germany (cf. also names such as Huizingh and Zantingh). It is said that the suffix -ing may mean "son of". It can also refer to an estate or castle or place and thus mean "from the area of or from the house of". In our case it would mean "son of Rube" or "from the house of Rube". (Hey, maybe weíre from the house of Rueben). Adding -h to the name was a sign of prestige or elegance; some might have considered it snobbish. Several of the earlier ancestors did not add the Ėh. We donít know what form of status or prestige warranted the adding of the Ėh.

But now to continue. Addeke and Gesekeís third son Haijo, was born around 1700. Haijo lived and died in Wildervank. His first wife passed away and he then married a widow, Antjen Hindrix, in Wildervank on October 13, 1748. Their youngest son, Beerent, was born in 1752 (when daddy was 52!). The first official use of the name Rubingh can be attributed to Beerent.

Beerent married Hendrikje Ottos Sap in Veendam on Nov. 5, 1775. Their fourth child was born in 1786, and was named (what else?) Haijo Beerents! Now Haijo was a seaman, and was shipwrecked near Denmark. So he settled there for a time and married a woman named Marchijn Bolles Haller on June 14, 1805. (Haller sounds Danish to me.) Later they returned to Wildervank and he became a farmer.

Haijo and Marchijn had four children, of whom the second was my great grandfather, Geuchien, born on December 13, 1814. Geuchien was a farmer, and with his family joined in the traumatic division of the Reformed Church known as the Afscheiding in 1834, when he was 20. The guiding spirit of the Afscheiding was Rev. Hendrik De Cock, born in 1801 to the mayor of Wildervank. This Afscheiding movement, a protest against the deadness of the state church, swept like wildfire through the Netherlands. By the end of 1836 there were over 125 congregations throughout the Netherlands that followed De Cock in his protest.

De Cock was joined by five other ministers, and of these six, one was Hendrik Scholte (who with his followers later founded Pella, Iowa) and another was Albertus Van Raalte, founder of the colony in Holland, Michigan. Thus, the Christian Reformed Church finds much of its roots in the Afscheiding movement. Geuchien probably knew Hendrik De Cock personally.

On June 5, 1840, Geuchien married Mettje Jans Boer, and their son JAN, was born on April 16, 1845. Geuchien died in 1863, but Mettje lived until 1907 and died at the age of 93. Translated are all the 84 precious letters she wrote to Jan after he left for America in 1869 at the age of 24. He listed his occupation as boerenknecht or farmhand. As far as I know, he was the only Rubingh to have emigrated, and he never saw his Dutch family again.

Jan Rubingh settled initially near Fremont, Michigan, and married Elizabeth Kramer that same year, 1869. Two girls were born to them: Mietje (born February 28, 1871, died in childbirth on March 28, 1891) and Betje or Bessie (born October 19, 1879, died July 3, 1955). Around 1880 the family moved to a farm near Graafschap in Laketown Township, near Holland, Michigan.

I have a hunch about this move. The name J. G. Rubingh is mentioned in the book "A Voice from America About America", written by Rev. R.T. Kuiper in 1881 and issued in English in 1970. In his book Rev. Kuiper says that he was the minister in Wildervank from 1853 to 1879. Thus he was Janís pastor there for 16 years until Jan emigrated at the age of 24. In 1879, Rev. Kuiper, then a widower with seven children, accepted the call from Graafschap. When he arrived, he states that the only one he knew was J. G. Rubingh from Fremont who was on hand to greet him!

My hunch is that Jan Rubingh wrote his former pastor between 1869 and 1879 and urged him to come on over to America. When he did, Jan himself moved to Graafschap in late 1879 or early 1880, perhaps to be with his former pastor once again. In the 1895 Atlas of Allegan County, the 40 acre farm of Jan Rubingh is located on 62nd St. midway between 140th and 142nd Avenues. Today I 196 goes right through the property.

Hereís how to find it: As you drive south on I 196 it is joined by US 31 just past Holland. A bit later there is a sign announcing a Rest Area a mile further. This sign marks the beginning of the old Rubingh property, running one-fourth mile south from that sign. Going north on I 196, you will see a sign announcing the Holland Exits. This sign is at the 140th Ave. overpass. A half-mile later there is a similar sign just where the Rubingh property ends. The mile 43 mile-marker is on this property.

Elizabeth Kramer Rubingh did not live long on this farm, for she died in 1881 or 1882. Jan Rubingh married his second wife, Hendrikien Walkotten, on her 22nd birthday, Feb. 12, 1883, when he was 37. All seven of Jan and Hendrikienís children were born from 1885 to 1897 on this farm. They also for awhile had with them the two children from Janís previous marriage.

Hendrikien Walkotten was born in Georgsdorf, Bentheim, Germany, though Dutch was widely used there, especially in the church, which was Dutch Reformed. The Walkottens were members of the dissident or conservative branch known as the Kleine Kerk or Old Reformed. They walked eight miles to church in Veldhausen both on Sunday for church and on Wednesday for catechism.

Hendrikienís father Gerhardus or Gart was born in Georgsdorf in 1822 and died around 1881. He married his first wife, Geertien Masselink, in 1855, but she died soon after that - death was common in those days. (When Hendrikien migrated to America in 1882, it was in the company of the Masselink family.) Gart then married Anna Vrijman, who was born on July 18, 1839, in Veldhausen. They married in 1860 when she was only 21 and he was 38. (How like Hendrikien and Jan: she was 22 and he was 37 when they married). Hendrikien was the first child to be born to Gart and Anna, coming along in 1861, just a year after their wedding. They had five more children in the next decade, but two daughters died in childhood.

Gart Walkotten died in 1881 or 1882, leaving Anna a widow with four children. Soon Hendrikien decided to emigrate to America, and shortly after that her mother Anna remarried. They then all decided in 1884 to go to America, including Hendrikienís two brothers and the remaining sister. The two brothers later became ministers in the Christian Reformed Church and the sister became the mother of Conrad Veenstra, also a CRC minister. Hendrikien had already emigrated in 1882 and married Jan Rubingh in 1883. Her mother Anna kept the name Walkotten(!) and died in Grand Rapids on Nov. 30, 1907. She is buried in Oakhill Cemetery.

After Hendrikien (better known as Hattie) married Jan Rubingh, she lived with him in Graafschap and bore him seven children there.

    1. George, b. July 14, 1885, d. Dec. 29, 1945.

    2. Gerhard (Gerrit), b. Jan. 29, 1887, d. Mar. 31, 1972.

    3. Henry, b. June 21, 1888, d. Jan. 20, 1978.

    4. Anna, b. Jan. 6, 1890, d. Nov. 29, 1973.

    5. Mettus, b. May 4, 1892, d. Oct. 13, 1962.

    6. John, b. March 18, 1895, d. Jan. 25, 1985.

    7. Mettie, b. March 2, 1897, d. June 6, 1991.

In 1899, the Rubingh family moved from Graafschap to a farm near Hamilton. The farm is located on the corner of 133rd Ave. and 52nd St., three miles from Hamilton and five miles from the East Saugatuck CRC (Section 10, Manlius Township, Allegan County). Aunt Mettie told me that my dad John said to her on that momentous moving day (when she was 2 and he was 4), "Take a good look, Mettie, because youíll never see that house again." And she never did.

In 1906, Jan Rubingh decided that that the family should move to Ellsworth. He wanted his family to be near the church, and there was new opportunity in the north. The five sons were from 21 to 11 in age, and they could work the land. He himself was 61, but he set out to build the house and barn. On November 26, 1906, the family came up by train and moved in, though the house was not yet plastered.

The house that Jan built in 1906 still stands, and Janís great-great-grandsons and great-great-granddaughters live there. It is a fine house, larger than when Jan first built it, and it is the same barn, there on Rubingh Road, a few miles outside Ellsworth. The house was situated next to the parsonage, and the church was just across the road. The church and the school have long since moved to the village and the horsebarn is no more.  

Geugien Rubingh + Metje Jans Boer               Gart Walkotten + Anna Vrijman

                  |                                                        |      

Jan Rubingh + (1) Elizabeth Kramer               +(2)  Hendrikien Walkotten

(1845-1918)                                                         (1861  -  1935)

(married 1869, died in 1882)                                 (married 1883   


                                   + (1) Elizabeth Kramer

  1. Mietje

  2. Betje (Bessie)


                                   + (2) Hendrikien Walkotten                                                          

  1. George

  2. Gerrit

  3. Henry

  4. Anna

  5. Mettus

  6. John

  7. Mettie

Standing: son Henry Rubingh, daughter Anna Rubingh, son George Rubingh, son Gerrit Rubingh, son Mettus Rubingh.

Sitting: spouse Henderkien Walkotten, son John Rubingh, Jan Rubingh, daughter (from his 1st marriage) Elizabeth (Bessie) Rubingh.

In front: daughter Mettie Rubingh

Jan Rubingh was blessed with 21 grandchildren. They are:

From Betje (Bessie):       Helen, Lucas

From George:                 John, Charles, Henrietta

From Gerrit:                  Harriet, Marvin, Carol

From Henry:                  Harold, Gerald, Lee, Eleanor

From Anna:                    Sidney, John, Metta

From Mettus:                 James, Henrietta, Julius, Henry, Martin

From John:                    Eugene

By 1970, the 21 grandchildren of Jan Rubingh had given birth to 76 great-grandchildren. At this writing, in 2004, the youngest Rubinghs are ten generations removed from Addeke Jans, and in the fifth generation since Jan Rubingh made the momentous decision in 1869 to emigrate to the new world and discern Godís will for him in North America. The life of Jan Rubingh is a saga of fierce determination and great devotion to his family and his faith. He brought both with him across the sea and planted them in the soil of Michigan. His children and all his progeny are the benefactors of Godís grace to Jan Rubingh.

By: Eugene Rubingh

March, 2004