Arie Dekker

Simon Dekker’s book “History of Roseland and Vicinity” written in 1938 is a goldmine of information about Roseland and what some of its early inhabitants were doing. Simon arrived with his family (his sister is my paternal great grandmother Gertrude Dekker) in Roseland in 1865 when he was 11 years old, just sixteen years after the original founders arrived. He goes into detail about the founders, their lives, and also touches upon almost every aspect of early Roseland: businesses, schools, churches, stores, roads, railroads, and other aspects.

Simon Dekker

Some of his passages are an interesting look into what life was like for his their father, Arie Dekker. Talking about his father in the early days they were there after arriving in America, he mentioned they lived in a shack on Klaas Madderom’s land for nine months:

My father was a laboring man, working at whatever he could get. For quite a while he worked for an American, Mr. Murray by name….But when fall came father was laid off. Then he applied for a job on the Illinois Central Railroad, where he was taken temporarily, and when winter came he was again laid off, getting a job here and there. And when the spring came into the land he got a steady job on the railroad again. But the distance from his work, and from church and school was too great to remain in the shack in the woods, so we got the privilege to put up a little house, or call it a shack on Railroad company ground on ninety-five street, which he did and so in the early spring of 186(number cut off), we left the shack on the edge of the woods to go to our new home on company ground. Father had only five minutes to walk to his work. My father worked on the Illinois Central for five or six years straight not missing a day if he was well, and this was necessary for coming to this country, and the expenses all paid by an uncle of mine, there was some hard thinking to be done to get the debt paid.

I tried to find old photos of exactly where this “shack” may have been with no luck, and believe it to be in Burnside, which used to be part of Roseland. There is a triangle where all of the railroads meet and 95th Street is on the lower bottom end of the triangle, now near where Chicago State University is located.

My father confirmed that the “IC” ran north and south approximately somewhere around Cottage Grove Avenue on 95th Street, and that 95th Street is/was definitely part of Burnside. I did find this photo of the area, this is at 9500 S. Cottage Grove:

Continuing on:

One summer he worked for the town of Hyde Park and he also worked in the brickyard at Burnside. The children grew up and earned something by working out or taking onions to share and so all our debts were paid…Our parents got new courage and went into debt again by buying five acres of land on Wallace Street at 106th for $1600.00 without a house on it. Our next door neighbor was building a new house and we bought his old one which had to be moved only a few feet.

The home he built no longer exists, but this is the area of the land that Simon described, at 10600 S. Wallace Street:

Continuing on:

He did not have the money to pay for the land, only a small payment down, so there was a lot of debt to work for again. He rented the five acres next to it and started market gardening, and the children all doing their best to help along. The Lord blessing the labor of our hands, that debt was soon paid and at old age father had accumulated enough retire. He had learned gardening in the old country, a work to his liking. In that we differed. I never did like it. Our tastes were not alike. When father retired he built a small cottage nearer to church to spend the last years with mother there.

Simon’s mother, my great-great grandmother, Aaltje (Alice) (Schoon) Dekker, died in 1894. There is no 1890 census, but in the 1900 census, Arie is listed as living at 117 W. 110th Place, and by that time, he had remarried to Maartje (Mary) Hart, in 1897. I’m assuming this is probably the same place Simon is referring to since it is less than a mile from the church (if he’s referring to the First Reformed Church of Roseland, which I am assuming he is). There is no house left at this address, but here is where it would have been, I’m assuming there used to be a house there because of the sidewalk leading up from the street:

All of this helps to show some of the things Arie Dekker was doing after he came to this country, what kinds of jobs he had, etc. Information from records help to shape a story or a glimpse of someone’s life, but Simon Dekker told the entire story and I just added some pictures. I’m sure I’ll be including more of his pages in future posts.

Thanks for reading!

Roseland founders at a Ton reunion

This photo was taken in 1898 or 1899 in Thornton Grove as part of the Ton Reunion. Those Ton reunions were famous because it was such a huge family, and news of the reunions even made the cover of Life Magazine about 60 years ago. Anyway, at this one, they honored the final five surviving founders of Roseland (all in black):  Mrs. Peter Dalenburg (aka Lijntje VanderSyde); Goris VanderSyde (her brother), and his wife, Engeltje DeJong; Cornelis Kuyper; Nicholas Madderom. Fabulous photo!

Source:  Marie Eenigenburg

I remember saying in a previous blog post that I am not related to two of the Roseland founders, one of them being Leendert VanderSyde — that is incorrect, I am connected in a way. Goris VanderSyde is his son, and Goris’ wife, Engeltje, is Hendrik DeJong’s daughter. He’s the one I just posted a blog about that founded South Holland. Hendrik DeYoung was married to Jannetje (Jane) Ambuul, one of the daughters of my great-great grandfather, Johannes Ambuul.

Again, we are all connected – especially the Dutch!

Thanks for reading!

Monarch Laundry

Monarch Laundry was one of the largest laundries on the south side of Chicago. In Roseland, it was very popular and many people on the Roseland Facebook thread have commented they worked there. In fact, my father said he worked in the laundry area for a few months, my mother worked in the office for a few years, and her mother worked in the office for many years.

I don’t know the exact year, but it was founded by Bernard Vellenga, Sr., who is the son of my paternal great-great grandmother, Johanna Ooms Rieve, from her third marriage to Age Vellenga. He is a half-brother to my great-grandfather, Adam Ooms. A great-uncle or grand-uncle is the brother of one’s grandparents, so that technically would make him my (half) great-great-uncle or great grand-uncle then?

According to Robert Swierenga in his book, Dutch Chicago, Monarch Laundry had more than fifty trucks in service at one time. Simon Dekker mentioned Monarch Laundry in 1939 on page 225 of his book, History of Roseland and Vicinity, written in 1939:

“It has been built some twenty or twenty-five years ago by a stock company, but gradually the stockholders sold their stock to Mr. Ben Vellenga. Then it was only a small concern, a one story building fronting on Wentworth Ave. After it had been operating for a few years it was ruined by a fire on a Sunday morning. It was then rebuilt and a story added to it, later extending it on the north side. Business expanding they enlarged again, adding an addition on the south side. So it now fronts on 111th St. also, where the main office is now located, that street being more prominent than Wentworth Ave. How many hands they employ I could now say. I guess quite a few. The Monarch Laundry has a large garage on 104th Street near Michigan Ave. which will hold more than 50 trucks, and room for washing and repairing them. The Monarch Laundry is one of the largest if not the largest laundry on the south side.”

So that makes it sound as if it was built about 1919 or before that time.

I remember my father telling me and I mentioned it in an earlier blog post, that when the Ooms store was sold, Monarch Laundry had bought it and tore it down to make a parking lot. He also mentioned that when he worked at the gas station (now I can’t remember which one), that station had a contract to provide gas to Monarch’s trucks and he spent many afternoons doing this and got to know a lot of Monarch’s drivers. There was also a store on the southeast corner of 111th and Wentworth, which is still standing, where people could drive up and drop off/pick up laundry and dry cleaning. He said he spent much of his time in the backroom there hanging out with Ben, Sr.’s grandsons, Dave and Dan Vellenga (his cousins). He also mentioned that Dick Van Beek’s father owned the Mattmiller laundry on the south side.

About two decades ago, I corresponded with one of Bernard, Sr.’s children, Florence (Vellenga) Spindler, and saved her letter. She was a very nice lady who was so helpful with the Vellenga side. She told me that Bernard, Sr’s sons, Bernard, Jr., Arthur and William (Bill), her brothers, worked there, along with Dick Van Beek. After Bernard, Sr. and Arthur died, Dick Van Beek and Bill carried on until they sold the laundry in 1967.

This photo is from Calvin College’s Origin’s magazine from 1987, not sure what year it was taken:

Three weeks ago, my father gave me a Roseland area directory from August 1971-72 and I found an add for Monarch Laundry:

Thanks for reading!


The other day my sister, father and I were texting about Roseland and my sister included a link to the Dennis DeYoung song “Goodbye Roseland“, which is a pretty, sad song when thinking of how much Roseland has changed. Anyway, I said wouldn’t it be really cool if we were related to him as I know we have DeYoungs in our family????

Well, I am sad to say I have found no connection yet to Dennis DeYoung. However, one of our DeYoungs was the founder of another very Dutch enclave in another south side area of Chicago, South Holland. Roseland was known as “DeHooge Prairie”, or “The High Prairie”, and South Holland was known as “DeLaage Prairie”, or “The Low Prairie”.

Source:  Glen H. DeYoung

This is Hendrik Arie DeJong, and he is the grandfather of my great-great uncle, Harry DeYoung. Hendrik (Harry) DeYoung was married to Jannetje (Jane) Ambuul, one of the daughters of my great-great grandfather, Johannes Ambuul. DeYoung is the Americanized version of the DeJong name, but some still keep the DeJong name, as I noticed on my DNA match list.

Apparently Hendrik and his wife, Guurtje (DeVries) DeJong had a massive brood of children (12), and they, along with 11 of them, emigrated from Noordeloos, Netherlands to America in 1847. What I’m amazed at is none of them died, what with cholera being a huge threat on those ships during that time. They were originally going to settle in Wisconsin, but according to the Village of South Holland’s website, Hendrik DeJong purchased 300 acres along the Little Calumet River which is now in what is known as South Holland. They became its first settlers. The community’s first post office came about as a result of Pieter DeJong, Hendrik’s son. In 1860, Hendrik built a combination general store and post office and the post office was recognized by the federal government in 1870. DeLaage Prairie officially became the village of South Holland that year.

The area settled by the Dutch in the south side area includes the communities of Roseland, South Holland, Lansing, Munster, and Highland. So, that makes THREE ancestors I am related to that founded three out of five of these Dutch communities:

     Johannes Ambuul — Roseland
     Hendrik Arie Dekker – South Holland
     Jacob Monster (Munster) – Munster

Have a great fourth!

Thanks for reading!

William Bass – Draft cards

Today’s post is about the WWI and WWII draft cards for my maternal great-grandfather William Bass. He never served in the military, but draft cards can be interesting and have some good family history information in them.

WWI Draft Card

At the time he filled out his WWI draft card in 1917, Bill listed his birth date as February 8, 1889, so he was 28 years old. He worked as a Switchman for the New York & Chicago St Louis Railroad in Stoney Island, was married and had a wife and three children to support. They were living at 11020 State Street in Roseland – unfortunately with all of the changes and desecration that occurred there, that property is now vacant land and I’d rather not show the picture. On his card, Bill described himself as tall and slender, with grey eyes and blond hair. Here is a photo of him when he was older:

Thanks for the photo Mom!

In 1942, at the time he filled out his draft card for WWII, Bill was 53 years old and working for the Chicago West Pullman Southern Railroad. 

WWII Draft Card

At that time, he was living at 11832 Stewart Avenue in Roseland with his wife, Bertha and kids.

Thanks for the photo Dad!

Bill died at the age of 70 on October 24, 1959 of a perforated duodenal stomach ulcer and peritonitis, which really sounds agonizing. He is buried in Cedar Park Cemetery in Calumet Park, Illinois.

Thanks for reading!

Grietje (Margaret) Jonker Bas (Bass)

Grietje (Jonker) Bas (now Bass) was the sister of Jan Jonker, one of the founding fathers of Roseland. She is my maternal great-great-great grandmother and one of the reasons why the Bass line continued in America and, of course Roseland. Her parents were Gerrit Jonker and Jannitje Van Lienen and she was born in 1810 in Schoorl, a village in North Holland. Grietje married Albert Bas on June 6, 1835 in Zipje, North Holland when she was 24 years old. Here’s their marriage certificate—

The next document is an undated population register from the Netherlands. It is apparent from the record that Albert died on January 7, 1857 when he was only 47 years old. Sadly, Grietje became a widow with many young children. Nine children are listed in this record, some alive and some deceased.

However, when I was going through WieWasWie, I found records of more children. There are a lot of confusing dates and names, but this is a list I put together from actual Netherland birth registration records from through WieWasWie (I added known death dates as well) —

Jan Bas, Dec. 22, 1835 – Dec. 15, 1852
Gerrit Bas, 1838 – June 25, 1839
Pieter Bas, April 18, 1939 – May 23, 1919 (my great-great grandfather)
Jannetje Bas, 1840 – March 10, 1892
Gerrit Bas, 1841 – Nov. 16, 1852
Gerritje Bas, March 1843 – death date unknown
Maartje Bas, 1845 – Nov. 16, 1852
Aagje Bas, 1845 – 1927
Maartje Bas, 1847 – Feb. 8, 1915
Klaas Bas, Jan. 1849 – May 30, 1849
Unnamed stillborn, died Jan. 31, 1849 (assuming twin born with Klaas)
Klaas Bas, May 30, 1850 – Dec. 2, 1908
Jantje Bas, April 7, 1854 – death date unknown

Grietje gave birth to thirteen children!  Very sadly, as you can see, more than half of them died very young.

Some years later, Grietje emigrated to America with her remaining living six children and her mother Jannetje:  Pieter, Klaas, Jannetje, Aagje, Maartje, and Jantje. They sailed on the Duisburg of Prussia and arrived in New York on June 16, 1866 (Grietje is listed on the next page of the emigration record but here are the children and their ages):

This journey was described in the book Journey Homeward: Blokker, Ton, Zilligen, Mayer, by John Jay Blockker. I’ve only seen bits and pieces of it and would love to get my hands on the entire book. Because Jannetje eventually married a Ton, it has some good information about her family in it.

Eventually everyone’s names became Americanized and Grietje was known as Margaret. The name of Bas also changed to Bass.

I had quite a bit of trouble locating information on Grietje after she and her family arrived in America. I cannot confirm exactly where she was in 1870, in fact, I cannot confirm where any of them were living that year as there are no census records on them. Unfortunately some 1870 census records are missing and most 1890 census records were destroyed in a fire. Also, many times names were transcribed incorrectly.

I did find her in 1880, living with one of her daughters and her family at 800 Worbach Avenue in Roseland. One thing I haven’t figured out yet is what the name of that street is now, many of Chicago’s streets were renamed but this one is a mystery. Anyway, Grietje is listed as Margret Bass, age 70, living with her daughter Maartje (Mary), Mary’s husband Henry Benschop, and their family. The spelling in the transcription is Renochop. Sure it looks like that in the census because of the handwriting but that is incorrect (again, incorrect transcription).

Grietje (Margaret) died on August 16, 1885 in Roseland at the age of 75 and is buried in Mt. Greenwood Cemetery.

Thanks for reading!

Nine Founding Fathers of Roseland

My first post on this blog was about Johannes Ambuul, my maternal great-great-great grandfather, one of the nine founding fathers of Roseland. Little did I know that I am connected in some way to not just him but SEVEN of the founders!  See if you can keep up!!

Johannes Ambuul:  You already know about this, but I’ll repeat the connection – Johannes married Neeltje Oudendijk; their daughter Trijntje (Katherine) was married to Peter Bass, they are my maternal great-great grandparents.

Pieter De Jong:  Pieter and fellow founder, Jakob DeJong, were brothers. Pieter was married to Trijntje Dalenberg. Their daughter Antje (Annie) married Simon Dekker, brother of Gertrude Dekker, who is my paternal great-great grandmother.

Jakob De Jong:  See above. Also, Jakob was married to Geertje Eenigenburg, who was the sister of Gerrit Eenigenburg. Gerrit was married to Jannetje (Jane) Ton, daughter of fellow founder, Jan Ton (whose brothers were connected by marriage to both of my maternal and paternal lines, see below).

Klaas Dalenberg:  Brother of Trijntje Dalenberg, whose daughter married Simon Dekker, brother of Gertrude, my paternal great-great grandmother.

Pieter Dalenberg:  Brother of Trijntje Dalenberg. See above.

Jan Jonker:  Jan Jonker is the brother of my maternal great-great-great grandmother, Grietje (Margaret) Jonker (mother of Peter Bass).

Cornelis Kuyper:  No connection.

Jan Ton:  Jan Ton’s brother Jacob married Jannetje (Jane) Bass, daughter of my maternal great-great-grandmother Grietje (Margaret) Jonker and sister of Peter Bass. Jan Ton’s other brother Cornelis married Grietje Schoon, sister of Aaltje Schoon Dekker, my paternal great-great grandmother. AND…….their daughter, Hillegonda Ton, married George Dekker, who happened to be the brother of Arie Dekker, Aaltje Schoon’s husband.  Huhhhhh?

I did a schematic for that one because I was really confused, here it is.  

Leendert Van der Sijde:  No connection.

Wow, I am disappointed that I am not connected in some way to the remaining two founders, I was really on a roll there for awhile. When my father said the Dutch were clannish, he was really right about that. Then again, all of these people were just starting out in a new country and knew no one outside of their whole group. It is seriously mind boggling — who knew how deep my family’s roots really go into Roseland!!

Adam Ooms, Sr.

Yes, we’re still in the middle of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and it’s very hard to keep my mind off of it. Lately, I’ve been cross-stitching a lot because it keeps me calm (and helps me to ignore the news stories which seem to get worse and worse). At this point, we are in for a long haul, estimates are Illinois will peak sometime in April, but other states are different as the governors of about 10 states have not ordered shelter in place so who knows when this thing will end? 

I’ve been doing a little less family research but it’s still really important during this time. It always fascinates me how information is gleaned through other people in various ways, even non-family members. This is a photo of the land where Adam Ooms had his house in Roseland. This is not Adam Ooms, the grocer, but his grandfather, and I will call him Adam Ooms, Sr. just to differentiate between the two.

Adam and his wife, Neeltje (Nellie) Hogendijk Ooms arrived in our country on June 15, 1849 from the Netherlands on board the Franziska or Franzelia, with their son Johannes (John) and daughter Neeltje (Nellie). According to a later published biography of his grandson, the family first lived on Prairie Avenue near 35th Street, where Adam had a dairy. About 1850 they moved to Calumet Township and he bought forty acres of land in what was West Roseland. The 1880 census lists him as being a farmer.

This map shows where Adam Ooms and his family lived on Wallace Street (see left lower coroner). This came from Paul Petraitis, who runs a Roseland thread on Facebook (thanks for telling me about it Dad!) Paul said the house of Adam Ooms was torn down about 1969. My Dad said that he and his father used to walk there.

Simon Dekker, who in 1938 wrote History of Roseland and Vicinity, included some of this information in his book:

“Now we will go to school section road now Wallace Street. We will take the east side first…Now we will take the west side of Wallace Street and go north again. The first one we find is Adam Ooms (grandfather of Adam Ooms who has a store on the corner of Wentworth Ave. and 111th St.) He lived near 110th St. Next was his son Johannes Ooms near 109th Street.”

I believe when my father and I visited the Chicago Historical Society decades ago we found this. The book is about 300 pages and very interesting.

I didn’t know until a few years back that Simon Dekker is also related to the Ooms family — he is the brother of my great-grandmother, Gertrude Dekker Ooms, the wife of grocer Adam Ooms.

Adam Ooms, Sr. was born on December 1, 1807 in Ouderkerk aan den Ijssel in the southern part of the Netherlands, and died on July 2, 1900 at the age of 92. He is buried in Mt. Greenwood Cemetery.

Roseland and the Underground Railroad

One of the most fascinating things about Roseland I recently learned is that it was a part in the Underground Railroad for runaway slaves passing through northern Illinois. According to Larry McClellan in “Crossing the Calumet River: First Settlers and the Underground Railroad”, after Roseland was settled in 1849, leaders in the community wanted to help these “freedom seekers”. One man, Cornelius Kuyper, helped many who had traveled north on railroad lines. After 1853, Jan (John) Ton’s farm became a regular stopping point on this path. Apparently, Ton would hide them and wait until night to take them by wagon three blocks to the next stop on their way to Detroit, Hohman Bridge in Hammond, Indiana.

John Ton — photo: Wikipedia

In a Chicago Tribune article from February 26, 2017 by Matt McCall, an estimated 3,600 to 4,600 freedom seekers passed through this southern Chicago area. It was an open secret that Ton and Kuyper participated in the Underground Railroad and it was just simply something they did, believing in freedom for all.

According to the article, Hohman Bridge was located where the current Indiana Avenue bridge crosses the Little Calumet River.

Hohman Bridge is gone and so is John Ton’s farm. As stated in the article, what is very sad and ironic is the area is now economically depressed, prone to poverty and violence, while once being a gateway to freedom for many African-Americans.  

Johanna Van Mijnen Ooms Rieve Vellenga

Wow, look at that name! I don’t know anything about my great-great-great grandmother, but from this photo she appears to me to be a tough, grim woman. People never smiled in old photos for a variety of reasons, but I wonder sometimes if Johanna didn’t smile much given the tough life she must have endured. I don’t have a date for this photo, but she appears to be in her late 60s or early 70s.

Johanna was born in Woubrugge in the southern part of Holland on July 11, 1845, to Barend Van Mijnen and Aagje Kroon. In the records from Dutch Immigrants to America, it is noted her father, Barend, sailed on the Arnold Boninger of Prussia ship leaving Rotterdam, arriving in New York on June 26, 1856. Barend is listed as husband and I presume that his family was with him. Johanna would have been 11 years old.

In 1863, Johanna married Johannes (John) Ooms, a local Roseland veterinarian, and they had two children:  Adam, born 1865 (my father’s line), and Aggie, born 1866. On September 11, 1866, John died at the very young age of 28. There is no information on his death, but given the fact illness was very common back then, it wouldn’t surprise me if that was a reason. Johanna was left a widow with two very young children.

A couple of years later, Johanna married Kasper Rieve, and they had three children:  Antje (Annie), born 1869; Barendina (Dina), born 1871; and Casper Willem, born 1873. Unfortunately, Kasper died in January 1873 at the age of 41. Johanna was left a widow once again, now with three more very young children – five children under the age of 10. Very sad indeed.

However, one year later on May 12, 1874, Johanna married again, to Age Vellenga. This marriage produced five children:  Andries (Andrew), born 1875; Lysbert (Elizabeth), born 1876; Bernard, born 1878; Kate, born 1879; and Harry, born 1886.

This marriage lasted much longer. In June 1917, when Age was 77 years old, he died of a stroke. Johanna was left a widow once again, but she passed away the next year on August 12, 1918 at the age of 73 in East Grand Rapids, Michigan.