The other day I was looking at a copy of a letter a Vellenga family member sent to me decades ago — the Vellengas are from my father’s side. And I kept thinking, why is the letter to a Vellenga from someone talking about the Bass side? That’s my mother’s side. I was mystified. Finally, I figured out this puzzle a couple of weeks ago when I was doing more research on the Jonkers. A Vellenga married into the Bass side by marrying a Jonker!
I only discovered this because I was looking on Find a Grave, and then put two and two together (of course always checking sources!!!). Jane Yonker, granddaughter of Jan Jonker/Yonker (and the niece of my maternal great-great-great grandmother Grietje (Jonker) Bass), married Harry Vellenga, son of Age and Johanna (Van Mijnen/Ooms/Rieve) Vellenga. Johanna is my paternal great-great grandmother. Here is a schematic to help make more sense:
Wasn’t that fun? Hahaha. Anyway, on to the letter. The letter was written by Simon Benchop in 1966 and includes a short narrative about the Bass family and when they came from Holland, as told to him by his mother. He is the son of Martje Bas and Henry Benchop and his mother is one of Grietje’s daughters. In the letter, Simon refers to the family as Bas before the name changed to Bass so I am doing the same. I’m going to quote and leave out the grammatical and typographical mistakes:
“Now this is what Mother told me about the Bas family, they left North Holland for America and landed at 115th Street at the J.G. depot, from there they put them on hand cars and took them to Riverdale to old Jon Yonkers. There was my mother Martje Bas, her mother, Grietje Jonker Bas, sister to old Jon Yonker, also my mother’s grandmother, the mother of old Jon Yonker…She was 84 years old. She passed away soon after she arrived in Roseland. Old Jon Yonker’s wife was named (Tillie) Tetje Velthuis. Their oldest son’s name was Garrit Yonker, later years he lost one leg. He had a grocery store on 115th Street just west of Michigan Avenue. His second son was Nick Yonker…And his sons would fish the Calumet River where the Washington Ice house used to stand. Another son was an engineer, he worked on steam shovels. He went to Wisconsin and got killed in an accident, his wife came back and lived with Garrit Yonker for awhile.”
I don’t know what year Garrit had his store, but here is a photo from the corner of Michigan and 115th in 1910:
I’m thinking the son who died in the accident is the youngest son, Cornelius. There is another note attached to the letter that Simon made that says Jan and Tillie had 8 babies who died in infancy, and one boy drowned at the age of 17. There was an older son, Cornelius, and he died somewhere between 1860 and 1863, I’m surmising this from census records. The older Cornelius was 16 years old in the 1860 census, and then a younger Cornelius appeared in the 1870 census, age 7, so we have to assume because of Dutch naming standards that the older Cornelius died somewhere between 1860 and 1863. So then, it would make sense that the boy who drowned at 17 was Cornelius. The other two sons were John and the younger Cornelius. John died in 1943 at the age of 89, so it would be the younger Cornelius that died in the accident, but I haven’t found any death records for either of the Cornelius boys yet.
This is where some of the letter gets a little interesting:
“As for the Bas family, my mother Martje Bas had 6 brothers and sisters. Katherine was the oldest girl. She married Jake Ton, he was a no good old box hand.”
All of my records and the records through Ancestry show that Jane Bass married Jacob Ton, and I don’t find a Katherine anywhere, so I believe he is forgetting a little bit. And was that guy ever opinionated, lolllll.
“Grietje Yonker Bas, the sister of old Jon Yonker lived with us and died on 16 August 1885 when I was 3 years old. She was buried in the front part of Mt. Greenwood cemetery. There were 2 sons in the Bas family, Peter and Nick. Peter worked in the Michigan grain transferring, and got dust in his nostrile, which gave him trouble with an infection. He had to have it removed.”
Thanks for reading!!