Bade – Ch. 5 – History of the Church at Holland, Nebraska


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The people of Holland, Nebraska, are adherents of the Reformed Church of America. This is the Dutch Reformed Church which the colonists of New Amsterdam brought with them from the Netherlands, as modified by its subsequent development here. This church has its origin in the medieval history of the Netherlands. The church originated about 1576, when the first synod of Dort assembled and defined the four ecclesiastical bodies of the Reformed Church of the Netherlands.1 This same Synod also limited certain conditions of church membership. In 1581, a Synod assembled at Middleburg to complete the organization of the church and to determine certain matters relating to the church officials and doctrines. A few months after the Synod adjourned, the Reform­ed Church declared itself the established Church of the Netherlands.2

The Church in the Netherlands has three Reformed Standards. The standards are the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confes­sion, and the Canons of Dort.3 In a study of the standards, it is well to keep in mind their history. They, as most documents of like nature, were the product of trying and dangerous times. These standards or symbols came into the Reformed Church of America through the Church of the Nether­lands. The political and religious nature of the mother country at the time these standards took form must be borne in mind when one considers their teachings. It was during the period known in Dutch history as the “Eighty Years War” that these standards were written. They were written in a Catholic country which was extremely hostile to the reforma­tion. They were written at the time when the protestant religion was taking root and being formed. That is why there are some extremely strong statements. That is why the docu­ments were so odious to some. That is why the persecution of the authors was so common.4

The Reformed Church of America, generally known as the Dutch Reformed Church, was founded on Manhattan Island in 1628 by the colonists of the Netherlands. The church was organized with fifty communicants by Reverend Jonas Michaelius, the first missionary minister in the Dutch colony. In 1819, the church was incorporated as the Reformed Protestant Church. In 1867, this official title was changed to the Reformed Church of America.5

During the middle of the 18th century, the need of ministers for the steadily growing American church became more urgent. There were no Dutch colleges or seminaries available in America to prepare students for ministerial services. Few young men could afford the time and expense necessary for seven years of academic and theological study in Holland. Another condition limiting the growth of the church was the continued and exclusive use of the Dutch language. Thus, the Dutch Reformed Church in America was retarded in growth and progress during the early stage of its development.6

During the middle of the 18th century a controversy arose in the church. The cause of this discord was due to three issues. First, whether the ministers for the church must be educated in theology in the Netherlands. Second, whether the Dutch language ought to be the exclusive language in the pulpit. Third, whether the church should continue under the authority of the Church in the Netherlands. These questions split the organization and its ministers into two groups. The one favored, the other opposed, the changes discussed.7 Follow­ing the split, one group secured a charter, as the Reformed Church of New York City, which permitted the minister to preach in the English language. The church remained divided for several years. A plan of union was adopted in 1771, which removed the American Church from the jurisdiction of the Classis of Amsterdam.8 In 1792, absolute independence came with the adoption of a formal constitution and the three standards of the second Synod of Dort.9 These were merged into the constitution of 1833 and revised in 1874 and 1916.10

The growth of the church was not confined to places of early Dutch settlement. It extended westward with the moving population. The greatest increase in the church, however, was in the Midwest. Its members migrated from the Netherlands since 1847. They established themselves in Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and other states farther west. The two chief centers are Holland, Michigan, where Hope College and Western Seminary are located and Pella, Iowa, where they have Central College. Today there are several states in which the Reformed Church of America (Dutch Reformed Church) is established.11

The Reformed Church of America follows the organization of its parent church. In America, the church recognizes four ecclesiastical officers; the ministers, professors of theology, elders, and deacons. There are also four ecclesiastical bodies: The Consistory, the Classis, the Particular Synod, and the General Synod.12

The Consistory of each church includes the minister with the elders and deacons in active service. The consistory is charged with the spiritual functions, care of the poor, and the supervision of church property. The consistory meets as often as its church demands. The elders and deacons are elected by the church members for a term of two years. The rotation in office changes half the consistory each year.

The classis must have representatives of not less than three churches. The classis meets twice a year. Its duties are to license, ordain, install, dismiss, suspend, or depose ministers. The classis legislates on the affairs of the churches, trying all cases appealed to it.

The particular synod hes jurisdiction over its constituent classes, forms new classes, or transfers churches from one classis to another. The particular synod meets once a year. The general synod has a representation of at least two ministers and two elders from each classis. It sends to the classes proposed and desirable changes in the constitution of the church. The Reformed Church of America has a general synod, five particular synods, forty classes, and more than seven hundred churches.13

Ordination and installation of the minister are important parts of the ritualism of the Reformed Churches of America. Before a minister may be ordained, he must have completed seven years of schooling beyond the twelfth grade. This consists of four years of college and three years of seminary. The constitution of the Reformed Church of America directs that the name of a candidate for ordination or installation shall be published on three successive Lord ‘s Days previous to this ceremony. Since the ordination is usually performed in the church to which the candidate has accepted a call, the publication takes place before the congregation of that church. Usually three or more ministers participate in the ordination as well as in the installation of a minister. The ceremony for these occasions is very impressive.

The installation gives the minister a sense of security. He may be dismissed only for misconduct. Ministers are not given new charges periodically by the synod. They retain their post until a call is given from another parish and accepted by the minister. This accounts for the fact that ministers of the Reformed Church retain their positions for a number of years.

The Dominee (minister) is strictly the leader of his congregation. At times he even appears quite autocratic. The consistory, in which the Dominee is the presiding officer, disciplines members for offenses against the church. These consist of unseemly conduct and for blasphemy. When members are guilty of these charges and do not repent, they are not permitted to participate in the administration of the Lord’s Supper. They are even ostracized. The minutes for 1937 of the Particular Synod of Iowa report that nine were disciplined.14 Although there is no official record in the Holland church, one member, in the latter part of the century was punished by the consistory. Friction between members of the church is usually adjusted by the Dominee and one of the elders. If this fails, the consistory is convened, and the case is presented to it.15

The history of the Reformed Church located at Holland, Nebraska, is another story of the struggle of pioneers. Der Rede quotes, “These early settlers came west to better their material and temporal welfare. This, however, was not their only motive. A stronger impulse dwelt within their hearts to satisfy their spiritual needs.”16 Furthermore, they disliked the Americanization of the customs in their church in Wisconsin.17

No condition of society which did not satisfy their appetites for spiritual expression would be tolerable to them. Even during the earliest days of the colony, burdened heavily as they were with the most fundamental of economic and purely material problems of the physical life, they earnestly sought the spiritual solace of their church and creed. There was, of course, no minister. They lacked the means to build a church, but they gathered each Sabbath in the dugout of some individual settler, and there joined in worship and service at the home­made altar of their God. Printed sermons were procured from the Wisconsin Classis of the Reformed Church. These sermons were read aloud by a chosen member of the community. They sang the psalms of their church, read the scripture, offered prayer, and the services, in all respects, followed that of the native church with as much particularity as their limited resources permitted.18 Frequently, during the week these early settlers met at one of the pioneer homes for an evening of worship. These meetings consisted of offering prayers, reading the scriptures, and singing psalms. Many of these meetings were held in the dugout of J.W. Lefferdink and H. J. Lubbers.19

This, however, did not completely satisfy their desire. Therefore, they approached the Classis of Wisconsin and made an earnest appeal for an organized church. The request was taken up by the classis and they agreed to send Dominee J.W. Dunnewald, who came to the Dutch settlement in Nebraska June 25, 1870, for the purpose of organizing a church. He preached twice on that Sunday. On the 28th of June, the members of this settlement met at the home of Martinius Wissink. Eighteen members came with membership papers and twenty joined by confession of faith. The next business taken up was the appointment of the consistory. This was composed of Elders Christian Gysbers and E.B. Reimes. The deacons were J. W. Lefferdink and H. J. Lubbers. Three more joined the church at a later date which gave the congregation a total of forty-one members.20 This newly organized congregation continued their meetings at various homes for about a year. By the end of 1870 the membership totaled fifty-nine.21

The members then felt a desire for a permanent minister. They also felt the need for a place in which they might worship. They called a meeting on May 30, 1871, for the consideration of this question. Two ladies who lived in New York promised to give three thousand dollars for the erection of a church, parsonage, and the minister’s salary.22 The meeting to consider the erection of a church and the employ­ment of a minister was held at the home of J.W. Lefferdink and H.J. Lubbers.23 Dominee TeWinkle came from Oostburg, Wisconsin, and was present at this gathering. He was sent here by the Classis of Wisconsin to conduct the meeting. The members gave Dominee TeWinkle a call as permanent pastor and he accepted.24 The necessary arrangements were made to erect a building which when completed was a rude structure, resembling a barn rather than a church. Mr. Derk Obbink, driving an ox-team, was one of the pioneers who aided in hauling the material from Brownville for the first church at Holland, Nebraska, which also was the first Dutch Reformed Church in Nebraska.25 This church was built upon land belonging to the Burlington and Missouri railroad, but was eventually acquired by the Reformed Church at Holland.26

In 1871, twenty-three members were added to the church, and the congregation felt the growing need of a larger place in which to conduct their services. The same friends in the East gave forty-eight hundred dollars and the consistory borrowed thirteen hundred dollars from the Wisconsin Classis. This made a total of sixty-one hundred dollars with which to erect the new edifice.27 In 1872, the congregation began making construction arrangements. The new building was to be of the conventional architecture. The congregation employed Mr. James Burcham and Mr. Diedrick as contractors to put up the building. Both of these men lived within this settlement. After the contractors had completed the plans, the material was ordered. The pioneers made many sacrifices in building this church, and transporting the material to Holland was no easy task. The sand was hauled from Henry Sterpes, about two miles west of Firth. The limestone for the foundation had to be hauled from Roca. The lumber and other material was procured from Lincoln.28 Every man in the settlement put his horses or ox-team and wagon to use. The trips to Lincoln were made with ox-teams. It was customary to start from the settlement about ten or eleven o’clock at night, so that the return trip could be completed not later than the following evening. It was necessary to cross a branch of Salt Creek about a mile west of Holland and, as there was no bridge the teams were forced to ford the stream. Logs were put down on the bed of the creek to furnish a firmer footing and, as the water was shallow, the crossing was usually made without mishap. Men and teams were stationed on the Holland side of the creek, however, to aid the heavily loaded wagons in recrossing upon their return from Lincoln.29

The plan of construction, characteristic of the Dutch Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, was followed closely in the building of the Holland Church. It should be borne in mind that it is the custom of. the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands to seat the women on the left side of the church and the men on the right, as one faces the front. This plan was provided for in the building of the church at Holland, and a solid partition perhaps four or five feet in height extended down the center from the front of the church to the back to separate the two sexes. A balcony extended across the back of the church with benches for men and boys who preferred not to sit on the men’s side of the partition. The minister’s pulpit was on a raised platform about six feet above the floor level. In front and in one corner, benches were provided for the elders and deacons. After the erection of the second church in 1872, the first structure, to which an annex was built, was used as a barn fox stabling of the members’ horses during the services.30

Dominee TeWinkle remained at Holland four and one-half years. He went from there to Clymer, New York. During his pastorate at Holland, two churches and a parsonage31 were built. The congregation grew to eighty-three members.32 Dominee Rosendaal quotes in Der Rede, “Dominee TeWinkle proved to be the right man to lead the church in this new colony.”33 Dominee TeWinkle bought one hundred sixty acres of railroad land, one mile east of Holland, located in section twelve, South Pass Precinct. His farm is still in possession of his family.

In 1876 Dominee Huizenga came from Virginia to Nebraska to accept a call from the church at Holland.34 During his charge, the church membership grew to one hundred ninety. He remained here fifteen years, and then accepted a call from the Reformed Church at Rock Valley, Iowa. In 1891, Dominee Huizenga left the Dutch settlement in Nebraska to take up his duties in this new location.35 At this time the congregation arrived at an agreement that a pipe organ was needed in the church. Therefore, necessary arrangements were made for its financing. In addition to the pledges, free will offerings were taken, and in 1892 the instrument was purchased.36

A call then was given to A.M. Van Dine, who still was a student at the Hope Theological Seminary. Mr. Van Dine accepted the call. The congregation, however, had to wait until he had passed his examinations, which were held in June, 1892.37 Dominee Van Dine remained at Holland until 1900, and then accepted a call in Illinois. The church membership grew to two hundred fifty members. During his pastorate, the church repaid the thirteen hundred dollars which they had borrowed from the Wisconsin Classis. Dominee Van Dine was well liked by his parishioners. He was more autocratic, however, than his predecessors.38

After Dominee Van Dine had departed for Illinois, a call was given to Dominee DeBey. In 1900, he accepted the call and remained at Holland for eight years. In 1909, Dominee DeBey accepted a call from the Reformed Church at Lansing, Illinois. In 1903, during Dominee DeBey’s charge, the church was remodeled. Five thousand dollars were collected for this purpose.39 The plans of this undertaking caused a great deal of discussion among the church members relative to the arrangement of pews and the separation of sexes. The congregation grew to two hundred ninety-six members. Dominee DeBey was extremely autocratíc during his pastorate and held his congregatian very much onder his control.40

Dominee DeBey was followed by Dominee Rosendaal, who remained at Holland two years. He accepted a call from the Reformed Church at Valley Springs, South Dakota. During his charge, the church celebrated its fortieth anniversary.41 In 1911, Dominee Rosendaal was followed by Dominee Roetman. He remained at Holland till 1920. During his pastorate, the fiftieth anniversary of the church was celebrated. Dominee Roetman was followed by Dominee Van Zyle. The latter man did much to transform the customs at the church which had prevailed since its organization. Dominee Van Zyle remained at Holland fifteen years, and then accepted a call from the Reformed Church in Chicago. Dominee A.A. Shermer is the present pastor. He accepted the call in 1935. Today the church has a membership of one hundred thirty-five families or about four hundred members.42

The congregation and the minister of the Reformed Church at Holland, like its sister churches in America, rigidly observe the standards of the Reformed Church of America. On Saturday, the Dominee of the Holland church devotes his time to the children in a study of the Bible. This is a catechism in form of questions and answers. The children are grouped into three classes: first, second, and third. After they have completed each class successively, they are permitted to enter the Young People’s Class, which is usually held on Thursday evening. This class devotes its time to the study of the Heidelberg Catechism. The completion of this study, however, does not make them members of the church.43

Individuals who wish to become members of the church at Holland may do so upon the confession of their faith. They are required to appear at a regular business meeting of the consistory and ask for admission to the church.44 The consistory in turn instructs him or her relative to the duties of a Christian and the requirements of the church. The applicant is dismissed and the consistory passes upon his or her qualifications. If the answer is favorable, the party is taken into the church on the following Sunday.45 When the applicant appears before the consistory of the Holland church, that body is permitted to ask him whether he belongs to any secret lodge or society. Membership in a secret organization, according to the laws of the church, may, at the option of the consistory, constitute sufficient cause for rejecting the applicant. The consistories of the churches of the Particular Synod of Iowa have uniformly exercised this option, and it is definitely the policy of the churches in the Nebraska settlement to refuse membership to members of any secret organization.46

The remarkable progress of the early church was not entirely due to the efforts of the men of the community. The Dutch vrouws were not content to permit their husbands to shoulder all of the burdens of the church. Here, as in the early economic struggles, the vrouws performed their full share of the necessary work. The success of the Ladies’ Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church at Hickman inspired the ladies of the Reformed Church at Holland, to form a like organization in their church.

{At this point in the original Bade thesis there is a photo entitled “Mission Fest During the ‘Eighties'”, showing the people and listing all of their names.]

On July 9, 1886, ten ladies met at the home of Mrs. Cornelius DenHerder and organized the Women’s Missionary Society of the Reformed Church at Holland. Mrs. Derk (Martha) Liesveld was elected president and Mrs. J.G. Bade was elected vice president. It is doubtful whether a recording secretary was appointed, as no records of the society’s early organization and its meetings can be found.47 No doubt the vice president was vested with the duties of the secretary. This lady was placed in charge of all the buying and gave financial reports at general meetings.48 Often the vice president with her husband drove to Lincoln with a team and wagon and bought material at Millers (Miller & Pains) for the society.49 Various articles, as men’s shirts, aprons, quilts, etc., were made and distributed by the members. The ladies canvassed the Dutch settlement from house to house. They also held an annual picnic which took place in August. In 1901, the young ladies organized the second missionary society, with thirty-four members. In 1910, at the fortieth anniversary of the church, the societies reported ninety-seven members. The Women’s Missionary Society reported forty-five hundred dollars had been collected in the forty years for foreign and domestic missions.50 Through the influence of the societies, the church was blessed not only materially but spiritually. Several young people dedicated their lives to the Christian service.51 The members of the church at Holland have aIways supported the local societies with their liberal donations through free will offering.

By the early “eighties,” the Dutch settlement had not only occupied most of South Pass Precinct but had pushed well into Panama Precinct. The members of the local church who lived in the eastern part of Panama Precinct felt the hardship too great to drive this long distance to Holland. In 1883, these Hollanders held their first services in one of the homes at Pella. On August 11, 1884, the Pella Reformed Church was organized with fourteen charter members.52 Dominee Westing was their first pastor. Today this church reports a congregation of eighty-six families or about two hundred thirteen members.53

In 1887, approximately fifteen families separated from the church at Holland and organized a Christian Reformed Church at Firth.54 They termed themselves as seceeders but were commonly dubbed as the afgescheidenen or separatists. These members claimed that their severance from the mother church at Holland was due to the Americanization of its customs. Friction, however, was an important factor that caused some of the members to take this step. Other families were influenced.55 Their first minister was Dominee Breen. Financially, this church was not a success, and in 1917 was reorganized. It was the influence of some of the members of the Holland church, who lived near Firth, that made this transformation possible. This organization is now known as the Firth Reformed Church and has a congregation of seventy-six families or approximately one hundred eighty members.56

In 1890, a few Dutch families who felt the distance too far to Holland, organized a Reformed Church at Firth. This church continued for three years, when the congregation realized they were unable to bear the financial burden and, therefore, returned to the mother church.57

The customs and ritualism of the Reformed Church of America, Iike its doctrines, have their foundation in the Netherlands, and were patterned after those of the Dutch Reformed Church, the parent organization. The quaintness of many of these customs adds greatly to their interest, and the ancient ritualism of the Dutch church has charm even for the disciples of different and conflicting creeds. It is unfortunate, in some respects, that many of the ancient customs, in late years, have felt the force of modernism and have to a certain extent been abrogated. We shall, however, describe first the customs of the pioneer church at Holland, and shall then attempt to show the effect modern influences have had.

One who lived in the Dutch settlement was required to attend church on Sunday, preferably the church at Holland, if he or she desired to stand well with the community. The church at Holland has always been powerful in its demands. That is, the pioneers were requested to become members of the church, attend all its services, contribute to its budget, participate in the Administration of the Lord’s Supper, believe in the baptismal of children, and live as respectable citizens under the domination of the Dominee. Today, however, since the church has become Americanized, many of the Hollanders have become affiliated with churches of other denominations, particularly the Presbyterian churches of Firth, Panama, and Hickman. Consequently, much of this prestige has been lost.

Church attendance for the pioneer was no easy task. In addition to the long distance, which for some was more than six miles, many of them lacked means of transportation. Some of the members, driving their ox-teams, attended the morning worship. They took their dinners with them and remained for the afternoon services. After attending church all day, they felt satisfied that the Lord’s Day had been well observed.58

The Dutch pioneer firmly believed that God conferred their being and directed their lives. They were required to honor Him for His paternal goodness, which brought material fortune. They further believed that He interfered with their prosperity, bringing drought, the army worm, the grasshopper, and hail to plague their crops. This was done, they believed, to prevent their self-trust. Because of the Hollanders’ religious convictions, the congregation often assembled in the church and devoted its meetings to prayers and the singing of psalms. These gatherings were especially active during seasons of drought and grasshopper plagues. At one of these devotional exercises, which took place in the early “seventies,” the congregation met and prayed for deliverance from the grasshopper. Upon their return home, the people discovered the pests had disappeared.59 On another date, the congregation was called to assemble for the purpose of rain. Members of the congregation, however, failed to agree relative to the immediate time for rain. Consequently, the Dominee advised them to return to their homes.60

The separation of sexes in the church at Holland, which has already been mentioned, of course, was patterned after the church of the mother country. This arrangement continued until 1903, when the church was remodeled. This seemed quite a calamity to a few of its members, and even to some it was the subject of bitter disputes. One gentleman, disregarding the amusement of the congregation, managed to place his wife next to a member of the same sex. The congregation soon became adjusted to the change from the old custom as well as to the transformation from other customs that had long been established. Remodeling the church, also involved the removal of the gallery, which no doubt was a relief to the elders and deacons for often they were called upon by the Dominee to settle disturbances in the balcony caused by the young men who apparently used this as a place in which to have a good time.

The Dutch Ianguage was used exclusively during worship in the church at Holland until 1910 or a short time thereafter. The sermons were uninteresting to the young generation, partly because of their length and partly because of their failure to understand them. At the turn of the century many of the homes had become Americanized and the Dutch language was seldom spoken in them. Therefore, these young people desired to have a part of the church services spoken in the English language. One mother, who realized their handicap, sympathized with the movement. In 1904, she canvassed each home with a petition, asking the congregation to permit the services to be given in the English language one Sunday afternoon of each month. This idea not only seemed preposterous to the majority of the church members, but the mother was criticized for agitating this issue. The head of one family, whose members seldom spoke the native language, opposed the petition. He said that his family understood the Dutch services better than the English. Nothing was accomplished at this time. A decade later, however, the church was forced to change its policy. On every third Sunday, the afternoon services were given in the English Ianguage. The church continued the exclusive use of the Dutch language during the morning worship. Today, however, the church has been completely Americanized and all activities of the church are performed in the English language. The churches at Pella and Firth which were organized many years later have, however, continued the use of the Dutch language during the Sunday morning worship. The reason for this is that a few of their members are the pioneers of the settlement.

The pastor of the church was called the Dominee and his wife was called juvrouw. With the exception of a few remaining pioneers, one seldom hears this title used. During the early history of the church, the Dominee and the juvrouw were leaders in all social activities. Even though the ideas of the juvrouw did not harmonize with the vrouw, her opinion was the last word. Today, however, the Dominee and juvrouw do not hold that autocratic authority over the congregation, yet they still hold its respect.

The Dominee of the pioneer church at Holland, similar to the Heer Pastoor of the native land, delivered a very technical sermon in the most precise language, the length of which was not less than an hour and a half. He usually worked himself into a tremendous passion, beating his fists upon the Bible, and quite out of breath when he finally seated himself. The congregation was not in sympathy with any hysterical weakness. Today, however, the pastor does not work himself into such a degree of excitement and the sermon is much shorter.

Before the turn of the century, women were not permitted to enter freely in discussions in the business meetings of the church. At one of these regular sessions, a lady attempted to offer a suggestion relative to a question under consideration. Immediately a male member arose and informed the speaker that the church in conducting its regular business had not reserved a place for the women.

On Sundays during the early history of the Holland church one would see a very peculiar practice, that of the collection. The two collectors or deacons would solemnly rise and take down from the hooks two black bags on the end of long poles, and begin a tour of the pews. They would ship these bags under the noses of the men and women respectively, frequently striking the head of an individual. These black bags used by the collectors have been replaced with wooden plates.

There has been a distinct change in the Administration of the Lord’s Supper. Before the remodeling of the church, the communicants were seated around the table, upon which the elders placed silver plates containing bits of bread and one larger silver cup containing wine. Partaking of the wine out of the same cup, however, did not meet the vrouw’s approval, and it is doubtful whether the custom would conform with today’s sanitation laws. The remodeling of the church eliminated part of this ceremony, and it was through the influence of Dominee Van Zyle that individual communion cups were used. The transformation of this custom was of no little significance to the Dutch pioneer.

The ceremony of the burial of the dead was also a very peculiar practice in the church at Holland. The custom has its origin in 1887. Previous to this date, the bodies were brought into the church and the odors from them were very offensive and frequently fluid escaped through the coffin.61 It was through the death of a son of J. DeVries that this custom took form. Consumption was the cause of the lad’s death. The consistory, fearing the possibility of germs that this body might possess, informed the parents that their son’s body should not be brought into the church. The father, who was offended at this request had the services held in the Presbyterian Church at Hickman. The congregation made a ruling at the next general business meeting, which was held in January, to exclude from the church all bodies of the dead.62 There was one exception, however, that took place at the burial services of Mr. John Trompen. The reason for this was the fact that Mr. Trompen had previously been county sheriff of Lancaster County. Many of the county and city officials attended the funeral of Mr. Trompen. The minister knew that other churches, almost universally, permitted bodies to be brought in during the services. Therefore, in order to avoid an awkward situation, he deviated from the established custom and ordered the casket brought into the church. He further permitted the flowers to be placed on the casket, which also was contrary to the long-established custom of the local church. In addition to what has already been mentioned, the congregation discovered that Mr. Trompen had been a member of a lodge. This was too much for the members and caused no little controversy among them. The minister was asked to account for his actions.63 After the arrival of Dominee Van Zyle, and through his influence, this custom was abrogated.

Bonds of matrimony among the pioneers of the settlement were considered serious obligations, and only through death could they be severed. The doctrines of the Reformed Church of America do not forbid divorces, yet the church at Holland does not approve them. Records of the church show that only two divorces occurred among these early settlers. Today, however, divorces are not uncommon with the young generation.

In pioneer days, the paternal head of the family not only demanded that his daughter accept a young man of the settlement for her spouse, but also she was expected to ask his consent before she became engaged. This custom, however, is seldom observed today in the Dutch settlement, and the youths often seek outside the community, the persons whom they choose for marriage. It was often embarrassing for the young fellow to ask the consent, and it is known in one case that the father of the young man sought for his son this permission. The congregation became aware of an engagement when the young lady, accompanied by her husband-to-be, attended the afternoon services on Sunday.64

Marriage ceremonies were usually performed under the auspices of the church. The wedding took place at the bride’s home, and the day was spent in feasting and a liberal use of wine and beer. Usually one hundred guests or more were invited for the day and approximately the same number for the evening. The bride and groom ware usually subjected to many pranks.

In addition to the trousseau, the parents of the bride ware generous in presenting her with a complete dowry. This consisted of household furnishings, some livestock, poultry, and a sufficient amount of groceries. Because of the drought and other misfortunes, these pioneers during the “nineties,” not only found it difficult to fulfill their obligations relative to their daughter’s dowry, but also found it inconvenient in buying her trousseau. In one case, the father and mother of the bride-to-be were making a trip to Lincoln for the purpose of doing some shopping for their daughter. On their way the mother suggested that she ask Mr. Ed. Miller, who was associated with Miller & Paine store, to buy her jersey cow. The father inquired relative to the price she was asking. She answered him by saying, “I want seventy-five dollars.” The husband thought that was quite absurd, for a good milk cow could be purchased for thirty or thirty-five dollars. When they arrived in Lincoln, the lady immediately called upon Mr. Miller and stated her proposition. Mr. Miller accepted the offer, and agreed to come personally for the animal. On the following day, he and his wife made the twenty-five mile trip to the farmer’s home by means of wagon and team. There the farmer entertained Mr. and Mrs. Miller as well as his means would afford.65

One of the few remaining customs of the church at Holland is the huisbesuik or house-visiting. Once a year the Dominee and one of the elders visit each family of the parish. On Sunday, the minister annonces from the pulpit the hour and the names of the families whom he wishes to visit each day for that particular week. These visits consist of prayers, religious discussions, and confessions on the part of the families. Today, however, there is a great deal of discussion in favor of discontinuing this custom. The members of the church prefer the minister’s visit without the company of the elder.

The abrogation of long established customs has not, as some feared, left the church an empty and dead institution. It is, today, far from being a hollow mockery, but is a real living, and wide awake institution. It is filled to its utmost capacity every Sunday. Respect for their church has continued to be a strong characteristic of the Dutch-Americans of the settlement at HoIIand, Nebraska.

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1 These bodies will be explained later in connection with the Reformed Chur­ch in America.

2 Americanna, 23, 306.

3 Rev. Henry T. Rozendaal, An Exposition of the Reformed Standards for Young People, (Grand Rapids, 1933). Gives a history and complete review of the three standards.

4 Idem.

5 Britannica, 19, 44.

6 Americanna, 23, 306.

7 Britannica, 19, 44.

8 Americanna, 23, 306; Britannica, 19, 44. John H. Livingston, a graduate in theology of Utrecht came to the New York City church as one of its ministers. He proposed a plan of union which united the two groups, and, with the consent of the Church of the Netherlands, laid the foundation for an inde­pendent church government in the United States.

9 Rozendaal, op. cit., 20. The church in America adopted the standards of the second Synod of Dort and added seventy-three articles, more perfectly adapting the church law of the Mother Church to the requirements of modern Christian life in the New World.

10 Americanna, 23, 307.

11 ldem. New York, New Jersey, Maine, Pennsylvania, Maryland, South Carolina, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Colorado, Washington, and Manitoba.

12 Americanna, 23, 307.

13 Americanna, 23, 307; Minutes or the Particular Synod of Iowa, mss., (Hospers, Iowa, 1937), 5. There is the Particular Synod of New York, New Brunswick, Albany, Chicago, and Iowa.

14 Minutes of the Particular Synod of Iowa, 1937, 31.

15 Personal interview with Mr. Henry Wubbles; Dominee Shermer, Holland, Nebr., 1937.

16 Anthony Rozendaal, Der Rede, (Orange City, lowa, 1910), private possession. Privately printed in the Dutch language, but not accessible in public libraries.

17 Personal interview with Mr. Henry Wubbles, 1937.

18 Personal interview with Mrs. Dillie (TeSelIe) Wubbles; Mrs. Jane (Lefferdink ) Heitbrink, 1937.

19 Personal interview with Mrs, Jane (Lefferdink) Heitbrink, 1937.

20 Der Rede.

21 Personal interview with Mr. Henry Wubbles, 1937; Der Rede.

22 Der Rede.

23 Personal interview with Mrs. Jane (Lefferdink) Heitbrink, 1937.

24 Der Rede.

25 Personal interview with Mr. Henry Obbink, Lincoln, Nebr.,1937.

26 Personal interview with Mr. Henry Wubbles, 1937; Register of Deeds, Lancaster Co., Lincoln, Nebr. The first church was erected on the N.½ – N.E. ¼ – section 11 in South Pass Precinct, in 1871. According to the records of the Register of Deeds of Lancaster Co., the title to this land was, at that time and until 1873, in the Burlington & Missouri Rail­road Company. There is no record showing any legal tenure in the church prior to 1873, when a deed from the railroad company to the church appears on record conveying the ten acres upon which the church stands. It is not certain whether the tenure of the church prior to 1873 was that of a tennant of the railroad company, or merely that of a squatter. In 1881 Dominee Huizenga, purchased the remaining seventy acres of the N.½ – N.E. ¼ – section 11. Prior to that time the entire “eighty” was regarded popularly as church property.

27 Der Rede.

28 Personal interview with Mr. Henry Wubbles, 1937.

29 Personal interview with Mr. Henry Wubbles, 1937.

30 Personal interview with Mr. Henry Wubbles, 1937.

31 Der Rede.

32 Holland church record.

33 Der Rede.

34 Portrait and Biographical Album of Lancaster County, Nebr., 454.

35 Der Rede.

36 Personal interview with Mr. Henry Wubbles, 1937.

37 Der Rede; Personal interview with Mrs. Dillie (TeSelle) Wubbles, 1937

38 Der Rede; Personal interview with indivíduals who were members of the church during Dominee Van Dine’s pastorate, 1937.

39 Der Rede.

40 Personal interview with Mr. Henry Wubbles and various members of the church, 1937.

41 Der Rede.

42 Personal interview with Mr. Henry Wubbles, 1937.

43 Personal interview with A.A. Shermer, 1937.

44 These meetings in some churches are held monthly but in Holland they are held quarterly.

45 Personal interview with A.A. Shermer; Mr. Henry TeKolste, Firth, Nebraska, 1937.

46 Personal interview with Mr. Henry Wubbles, 1937.

47 Mrs. A.A. Shermer, History of the Women’s Missionary Society at Holland, Nebraska, mms.,private possession.

48 Personal interview with Mrs. Clara (Bade) TeSelle; Mrs. Anna (DenHerder) DeVries, Holland, Nebr., 1937.

49 Personal interview with Mr. Ed Miller, Lincoln, Nebr., 1937.

50 Der Rede.

51 Mr. Dave Ruigh and Mrs. Edith Walvoord went to Japan as missionaries. Mr. Ben DeVries went to India as a missionary. J.W. TeSelle, A. Klerk, C. Kuiper, Bernard Heitbrink, and Garret Doctor became pastors. Many others are teaching in the schools and missions of the Reformed Church.

52 Church Records at Pella. Antonie Bouwens and vrouw, Frederick Boevink and vrouw, Arend Mulder, Jr. and vrouw, Johannes Bouwens and vrouw, Adrianna Hendrika Sturrop, Arend Mulder, Sr., Gerrit Van Engen and vrouw, Ernst Zweegman and vrouw.

53 Personal interview with Mr. Henry Wubbles; Rev. Mat.J. Duven, Pella, Nebr., 1937; Records of the Pella Reformed Church.

54 Doctors, Schuleman, Van Engen, Hollanders, Kallemyn, Abbink, Kommers, TeBrinke, M. Klein, VanDiest families, and others.

55 A survey of descendants of Charter members; Personal inter­view with Mr. Henry Wubbles, 1937.

56 Personal interview with Mr. Henry TeKolste, 1937.

57 Personal interview with Mrs. Dillie (TeSelle) Wubbles, 1937.

58 Personal interview with Mrs. Hattie (Reimes) Onnink, 1937.

59 Personal interview with Mrs. Anna (Vanderwege) Liesveld, 1937.

60 Personal interview with Mrs. Clara (Bade) TeSelle, 1937.

61 Personal interview with Mr. Ed Vermaas, 1937.

62 Personal interview with Mr. Garret DeVries, Firth, Nebr., 1937; Mr. Ed Vermaa­s; Mr. Henry Wubbles.

63 Personal interview with Mr. Ed Vermaas.

64 Personal interview with Dominee Van Zyle, Holland, Nebr. , 1930.

65 Personal interview with Mrs. Clara (Bade) TeSelle; Mr. Ed. Miller, 1937.