The New Sharon Years (1895 to 1900)

Sometime after 1895, the Van Wyk family moved from Pella to a farm in Mahaska County in the New Sharon area. They rented a farm in Union Township, and piecing together the 1900 census records and the 1905 plat map, it is speculated that it was located southeast of New Sharon. Again, this was not an area of strong Dutch influence, repeating the pattern that occurred when Willem and Trijntje moved to Jasper County. The 1900 census shows that son Jan Van Wyk was also renting a farm in Union Township. In 1897 he had married Jacoba Kloosterman, and, therefore, established his farming operation in the same vicinity as his father. It appears that Hendrika did go with the Van Wyk family to the New Sharon area, but it is not known if she went as a single person or a married woman. In 1898 she married her fellow Haarlemmermeer native Willem Lanser, and they did begin their married life near New Sharon. But they didn’t stay there for long, as a February 1899 newspaper account reported that the Lansers were moving from New Sharon near the unincorporated settlement of Murphy in Buena Vista Township to Jasper County.

While all of the unmarried children likely called this Union Township dwelling their home, the 1900 census shows the older unmarried children had already gone off to work as farmhands. Marion and Lambert were living in Jasper County, with Lambert having the better deal as he was living with his sister and brother-in-law, Hendrika and Willem Lanser. Dick (Dirk Jan) Van Wyk was living in neighboring Pleasant Grove Township, the township to the east, where Barnes City is located. But the surprise was who he was living with—Willem Huibert and Aletta Van’t Sant, his uncle and aunt. It is hard to view this as a coincidence that these related families were again living so close together. It is speculated that Willem Van Wyk and Willem Van’t Sant purposely chose to settle near each other again. In this manner, Aletta could continue in her role of offering household assistance to her deceased sister’s children, if requested. If the typical Dutch pattern of children working out held true here, Marion, Lambert, and Dick handed over their earnings to their father Willem for his use on the farm.

As the Dutch settlements spread from Pella and beyond, it was common to have a correspondent send a column to one of the Dutch-language newspapers being published in Pella. Many people kept a subscription to a Pella Dutch-language paper in order to maintain contact with their fellow countrymen.  At the time of the Van Wyk stay in the New Sharon area, there were two Dutch-language papers being published in Pella—the Nieuwsblad and the Weekblad. For a time the Nieuwsblad had a correspondent in the New Sharon area and there were weekly columns describing the happenings among the Dutch population in and around New Sharon. The Van Wyk family was often reported in these columns.  Here is a sampling from the Nieuwsblad:

  • 23 September, 1899: Jan Van Wyk had the misfortune to lose one of his best work horses via its death.
  •  21 February, 1900: We have heard that G. Van Wyk (Gysbert) will probably run the huckster wagon out of Sully for Spanckeren & Welle.
  •  25 May, 1900: Wm. Van Wijk has been visiting friends and acquaintances in Pella
  •  1 June 1900: Marion and Lambert Van Wyk, who have been employed in the Newton area, were back visiting their father for a week.
  •  3 August, 1900: Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Lanser are visiting their father Wm. Van Wyk for a couple of days.

One of the reasons for a visit from the Lansers would be to visit Grandpa. While in the New Sharon area, Willem van Wyk would get the first of many, many grandchildren. Arie Lanser came into the world in March of 1899, just a couple of months before Willem turned 50 years old. He was soon joined by a cousin who would become Willem’s first namesake—William Van Wyk of Jan & Jacoba Van Wyk was born in October of 1899.

As Willem’s years in the New Sharon area came to a close and he began contemplating a move back to the Pella area, he had the unusual situation of holding two farm sales within a year. On February 21, 1900, the New Sharon correspondent reported to the Nieuwsblad that Willem Van Wijk was going to hold a public auction the following week. The same reporter gave the following report and opinion on February 28: “Everything went fine by the auction of van Wyk. And it is no wonder: Porter from Pella was the auctioneer.” Given the timing of these events, it almost appears that Willem was trying to get rid of items prior to the traditional March 1 moving date. However, he did farm in the New Sharon area for one more crop season, as the Nieuwsblad of October 26, 1900, reports: “Last week Thursday there was a public auction at W. van Wyk, who will be moving to Pella before too long.”

Precisely why Willem decided to move back to the Pella area is unknown. But there are some indications that as he was aging, the loneliness of being a widower and the task of raising so many children was taking its toll. The reporter for the Nieuwsblad took note of this, and in his New Sharon, Iowa, column of June 1, 1900, he gave this somewhat humorous account: “Last Sunday the Widow van Dijk from Pella visited Wm. van Wijk. It is easy to understand that the old gentleman was as pleased as punch.” Apparently sparks didn’t fly, as the September 21, 1900, issue states “After having had a several-week stay here, on Friday Mrs. Van Dijk returned to Pella.” It is believed that this Mrs. Van Dyk was not staying by Willem but had children in the New Sharon area that she was visiting. In any event, the problem of Willem being a single father was not solved by this Mrs. Van Dyk; however, this situation would soon change alter his move to Pella.

East of Pella ->

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