West of Pella (1905-1915)

On December 11, 1905, a very unusual deed was filed at the Marion County Recorder’s Office in Knoxville. That deed was to a married woman, but her husband’s name was not on the deed. The typical pattern of the time was just the opposite—in that era, virtually all property purchased by married couples was placed in the name of the husband alone.

That woman was Taekje Van Wyk, who purchased 40 acres in Section 8 of Lake Prairie Township South. As the 1894 De Goey judgment was against Willem alone since he had not yet married Taekje, and since the resolution of that judgment was still up in the air because of all the court actions still taking place in Mahaska County, the titling of this land in Taekje’s name alone was obviously a means to shield the Van Wyk family from further risk of loss should the De Goey judgment not be satisfied via the Sheriffs Deed of the Mahaska County land. This new purchase was on the west side of Pella and is now part of the Bos Landen development and golf course. The selling price was $2,400, with the sellers being Willem and Antje Veldhuizen. However, given the financial difficulties just experienced by the Van Wyks, it is logical that they didn’t have the money to purchase it. As a result, the Veldhuizens kept their money in the land, with Taekje giving them a mortgage on it the same day she purchased it.

With at least a place to live and with a strong labor force, the Van Wyks began the task of starting over. Their general farming operation began concentrating on the dairy industry, with the close proximity to Pella providing a ready market for milk. The younger boys Neal and Harry were in charge of the milk delivery route in Pella, using a horse and buggy for deliveries. Being close to Pella also allowed them to cut and deliver wood to the Pella bakeries. With the dairy operation, the Van Wyks had a need to provide a significant amount of cattle feed over the winter months, and their farmstead contained a silo, which was not a common farm structure at the time.

With modern farm implements, corn is chopped into fine pieces in the field and brought by wagons to the silo to be blown into it by means of an auger and big fan. But in those days the entire corn stalk would be cut in the field and brought on wagons to the silo site, where a steam engine would provide the power to a machine that would chop the com stalks into small pieces, and blow it up into the silo. The Weekblad of September 29, 1911, reported an accident that occurred at the Van Wyk farm during this time of filling the silo. For whatever reason, the corn chopper suddenly exploded, sending shards of metal left and right through the air. Fortunately, the paper reported, no one was injured in the accident which could easily have resulted in a tragedy.

The 1910 Federal census reports showed the continual shrinking of the Van Wyk family. Adding to the list of married children that had left the nest were Henry (married Christina Mathes in 1908) and Marion (married Anna Van Genderen in 1908) who were now engaged in farming operations on their own in Jasper County. They joined their brothers Guy and Dick who had moved their farming operations from Mahaska County to Jasper County during the early 1900’s. The single John Will and Tenis Van Wyk were also in Jasper County, working as hired hands. Also, John Van Wyk had moved from Union Township and purchased a farm in Prairie Township in Mahaska County, with Lambert also there working as a hired hand and boarding with a widow and her daughter.  In contrast, the census also reported the additions to the Van Wyk family—“Bennie”, who just missed the 1905 State of Iowa census, is now a 4-year old on the 1910 census. Three-year old twins Johannes and “James” (Gerrit) show up, as does the new daughter Tillie, just over a year old. As time marched on, it is somewhat surprising to calculate that Tillie was born when Willem was 59 and Taekje was 44. By this time, Willem had a number of grandchildren who were older than his own children. This 1910 census shows that the only other two Van Wyk children living with Willem and Taekje are Kasper H. (Harry), aged 18, and Hendrina, aged 6. Neal and Will, aged 17 and 22, were on their own somewhere, but not found on the census. Harry was likely reluctant to leave the parental home because Johanna Paltzer was living just a few houses down the road, and she would become his bride a few years later. All of the Bontekoe children also had left the nuclear family, with the whereabouts of Peter at age 13 especially a mystery as he was too young to be on his own. Ruurd (Robert) Bontekoe was 25 and he could not be located either. Tunis and Jerry (Gerrit on the census) could be found working for nearby farmers in Marion County. Tunis was working for the Eysink family and he may have been instrumental in introducing one of the Eysink daughters, Grace, to his step-brother Tenis, with this introduction turning into marriage.

During this time period, Taekje experienced the loss of her mother, Dieuwke Tigchelaar, who died in 1911. The Tigchelaars had operated a small farm in Lake Prairie Township South in Marion County, but by this time had moved to a house in South Pella. The loss of a mother is always hard, but Dieuwke had lived to be quite elderly at 79 years old. While unbeknownst at the time, this lifespan would be nearly 30 years longer than what Taekje herself would have.

This era appears to have been a time when the Van Wyk family prospered. The children received their primary education first at West Amsterdam School and then later at East Amsterdam School. They continued working on the farm and working out, providing income to the Van Wyk household. In March of 1912, the Van Wyks saw their way clear to expand their operation by purchasing the 40 acres from C. J. and Cornelia Kruseman that was just to the north of them, for the price of $1,400. To do this, they consolidated some of their debt and borrowed $2,800 from the Christian Benevolent Association of Pella, Iowa. This organization was the forerunner of the present retirement home Fair Haven, and, apparently, it was able to accumulate enough funds to take on the role of being a creditor in the community. It is speculated that the Association may have operated by requiring its residents to pay a lump sum of money upfront, in return for the promise of a lifetime of care. This would have given the Association funds to use for investment purposes. Willem and Taekje not only mortgaged the 40 acres they were purchasing, but also the 40 acres they already owned.

While the Van Wyks still had debt, it is assumed by this time the era of financial problems was behind them. They were readily finding credit and took the title to this property in both of their names, indicating that all risk of loss to any remnant of the De Goey judgment was long gone. This is also evidenced by the fact that at the same time they took joint title to this new 40 acres, Taekje deeded half of her interest in the original 40 acre tract to Willem, putting his name on the title for the first time.

Just a few months after the farmland acquisition, Willem and Taekje made another purchase – a house with three lots in southeast Pella. This property was located at the corner of South Street and Prairie Street, with the house possibly at the west end of the property and facing South Street to the south. The property was 180 feet long and 150 feet deep, and, as was typical in those days, it is expected that this large property contained an outbuilding or two for the resident’s horse and buggy, chickens, and possibly a milk cow. Just to the west of this property on two lots, at the corner of South and Carson Streets, was the Todd Hotel, owned first by Jacob Todd and later by Mark Todd. All of this property, including the former Todd Hotel land, is now owned by Brumark Properties, which is affiliated with Heritage Lace. The exception to this is the lot furthest to the east which was along Prairie Street. This lot was divided into two separate lots, with new smaller houses built on them in 1947 and 1948.

The Van Wyks purchased this property for $1,200 from B. and Dirkje Goemaat, and obtained 100% financing for it by again taking out a mortgage of $1,200 from the Christian Benevolent Association of Pella, Iowa. This mortgage and note called for interest-only at 6%, payable once a year on July 1, with the entire $1,200 balance due July 1, 1917. In addition to taking a mortgage on this town property, the Association required that the Van Wyks again mortgage their 80-acre farm for this new purchase.

The Weekblad of June 28, 1912, made note of the house purchase from the Goemaats. It is not known why the Van Wyks decided to make this purchase at this time, but it is known that Taekje suffered from tuberculosis, which eventually became her cause of death. This is a disease that can take its time to develop and run its course, and Taekje may have been starting to experience declining health. The Van Wyks probably took a liking to this particular property and decided to buy it so they would have something to move to when forced to by their inability to remain on the farm. Little did they realize how soon their decision would become reality, because within five years of the house purchase, both Willem and Taekje had passed away.

The Final Years ->

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