Johannes Ambuul, one of the founders of Roseland

Welcome to my new family history blog! I will be posting about my four family lines, Ooms, Bass, Kros and Schoudel. My goal is to share with others what I have learned about my family and to make sure and save all of this information for future generations. I hope you join me on this journey and also share with me what you know. Let’s go!

Since this first post is the beginning of my blog, I will start with another beginning. Johannes Ambuul was one of the nine men who founded Roseland in 1849 and my great-great-great grandfather on my mother’s side (Bass family). At that time, Roseland was known as High Prairie, located in the very far south side of what is now Chicago. Although we moved from the area when I was only two years old and don’t remember much, I have been told by family and have read that Roseland was an idyllic place for families. Unfortunately, the collapse of the steel mill and automotive industries and other issues led to decades of economic decline, blight, and high crime, and it is sadly not what it once was. As most of my ancestors are from Roseland, look for more posts about it in the future!

In the middle of April 1849, at the age of 31, Johannes said goodbye to his relatives and home of Schoorl, a little town in North Holland in the Netherlands, to seek a new life in America. With him were other families also looking for a new life, 62 people in all. The group first left from Rotterdam by steamboat to Le Havre, France and then set sail on the “Massachusetts” of Boston. Johannes was not alone, also traveling with him were his wife, Aaltje (maiden name Van der Veen), age 28, and their two children, Willem (“William”), aged 3, and Saakje (“Jacob”), aged 1. Unfortunately, during the voyage tragedy struck which took may lives — the dreaded Asciatic cholera. In all, 19 died, including Willem and Saakje, and to try to contain the spread of the illness, all who died were buried at sea. It has been reported in other sources that one child and Aaltje died, however, that is incorrect. Aaltje indeed made it through the voyage but died three years later in 1852, two months after she had given birth to their baby, Wiebe. Sadly, the baby died not long after the mother. How do I know this? Through the South Suburban Historical Society I obtained copies of the actual membership records from the Thorn Creek Reformed Church, aka The First Reformed Church of Roseland, which was the church that this group formed once they were settled. In that document, Aaltje’s death is listed as July 19, 1852 (thank you to Glen DeYoung for the records and also for the photo!). After a forty-two day voyage, the group arrived in New York, and then traveled by steamboat along the Hudson River from New York City to Albany, NY, and then by canal boat to Buffalo, NY, through the Erie Canal. The final part was a steamboat to Chicago.

After they settled in High Prairie, as this time period was before the advent of modern medicine, death was very common, especially in young children. Johannes and Aaltje sadly lost a total of 5 children during their marriage. Besides Willem (born January 8, 1846) and Saakje, (born March 3, 1848), another baby named Willem who was born on August 20. 1850, died on October 19, 1852, only a couple of months after Aaltje and Wiebe died. Pieter died on December 28, 1857 (according to family history passed down from the Albert Bass family).

By the way, if you’re confused by all of these children named Willem, look for future posts on Dutch baby naming practices!

On October 21, 1852, three months after Aaltje died, Johannes married Neeltje (“Nellie”) Oudendijk, 22. Neeltje was also new to America, joining her father and mother, Pieter and Jannetje (Nieuwenhuizen) Oudendijk on the same ship as the others in 1849 — unfortunately her father died during the voyage.

Johannes and Neeltje had a total of four children during their marriage: Pieter (“Peter”), born July 30, 1853; Trijntje (“Katherine”), born September 24, 1854; Willem (“William”), born January 15, 1856; Jannetje (“Jane”), born June 14, 1857; and Pietertje, born June 4, 1859 (my best guess for her name is “Petra”, but I have found no translation yet for Pietertje). All of these dates were confirmed through baptismal records from Thorn Creek Reformed Church. Once I’m able to figure out how to post documents, I will include the records in the documents section (well, once I figure how to set up that section, I’m having some issues).

Now here’s the connection to me: Trijntje (Katherine) married Pieter Bass. One of their sons, William Bass, married Bertha Conner. Their son, William Peter Bass married Madeline Schoudel — their daughter, Patricia (Bass) Ooms, is my mother.

To get back to Johannes, The First Reformed Church of Roseland retained him as its first janitor and caretaker of its cemetery from 1849 until sometime during the 1860’s. Although he kept handwritten notes of the locations of burials (located at 107th and Michigan Avenue), the notes were lost, and thus, many grave locations and the names of those buried were lost. The property was eventually sold and bodies needed to be moved and the decision was to bury them at Mt. Greenwood Cemetery. However, Mt. Greenwood Cemetery wanted proof of ownership/identification or it could not accept the bodies. For any bodies where there was no identifying paperwork for, they were buried in a mass grave in Mt. Greenwood. When 107th Street was widened, more bodies required relocation and were moved to a different location in the churchyard. This undertaking is described in detail in “The Trail South Out of Chicago” by Ross K. Ettema.

On November 22, 1887, Johannes was once again left a widower when Neeltje died at the age of 57 from chronic nephritis. Johannes lived until the age of 75, dying on April 7, 1894. Both are buried at Mt. Greenwood Cemetery — once I get photos of the tombstones I will post them!

So that’s my first post, hope you enjoyed it and will keep coming back! Feel free to subscribe to my blog by clicking on the follow button.

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