Tomstone Photo

Willem & Sygje

The Last of Willem & Sygje

Willem died in early 1900, probably in April in Marion County. I find several land transactions in April 1900 between Willem and his son John during that time. I will do further research when I’m in Salt Lake City and see if I can narrow down the date.

Sygje is enumerated with older son Albert in Union Township, Mahaska County on 6 June 1900. She appears as Sallie on this census record and is listed as a widow. On this census Sygje informs us that she is the mother of 7 children – we only know about 5 – and only 3 of them are living at the time of the census. She’s living with Albert, Anna is in Sioux County, and John is in Minnesota, so Jantje and Goverdina are both deceased before this census. This record also confirms that Sygje still does not read, write, or speak English.

Sygje dies in 1901 according to her tombstone, and I have found an obituary for her that is a little confusing. The obit reads:

Died, Friday of last week at the home of her daughter in Rock Valley in Sioux county this state, Mrs. William Burgraaf, aged over 81 years. The remains were brought to Pella Saturday. Funeral services were hel Sunday forenoon at about 11 o’clock in the First Reformed Church by the pastor, Rev. H. J. Veldman after which the burial took place at the Porterville cemetery about six miles southeast of town, where they were deposited at the side of those of her husband, who preceded her in death only a few months ago.—Pella Blade.

This obituary came out of a loose group of clippings that someone had collected and has a handwritten date of 13 June 1902 on the right side. I believe either the handwritten date is in error or perhaps this is one of those “One Year ago today” or some type of compilation item. Notice it says her husband “preceded her in death only a few months ago.” Also, note that the name of the paper is at the end of the piece, indicating that this clipping is from another location and not from the Pella Blade. I have no idea of the actual date of death, but I’m sticking with the tombstone for now. I hope to clarify Sygje death date this summer.

While Willem and Sygje started out in the Porterville Cemetery they were eventually moved to Graceland Cemetery in Pella when Porterville was closed.

The Willem Burggraaf Family – Just the Facts

Willem Burggraaf was born 14 November 1822 in Schoorewoerd, Zuid, Netherlands.1 He was the eighth child of Jan Burggraf and Jantje Van Stenis and he left the Netherlands with his older brother Pieter and possible younger brother Peter (yes really) in April1847, arriving at the Port of Baltimore aboard the Maastroom on 2 Jun 1847.2

Also aboard that ship was his future wife Sygje Stek, and together they made the trek to Pella, Marion County, Iowa, with a large group of Dutch settlers. Here Willem and Seigje (known as Sallie or Sadie) would marry on 15 August 1848 and raise their family.

Willem Burgraff born 1822 the Netherlands – 1900 Pella, Marion County, Iowa,3
married Seigje Stek – 15 Aug 1848 Marion County, Iowa,4
Seigje Stek – 7 Mar 1820 – 1901 Sioux County, Iowa.5,6

Children of Willem and Seigje Burggraaf:
Jantje Burggraaf (1850-1928),
Albert Burggraaf (1853-1928),
Goverdina (Diana) Burggraaf (1855-1923),
Annetye (Anna) Burggraaf (1857-1921),
Jan Burggraaf (1858-1921)

There is a well documented path back 5 more generations to Hendrick Adriaense Van Den Burghgraeff (1572-1612), and I received a lot of guidance from an online tree Parenteel van Adriaen Hendriksz. I was searching for “Willem Burggraaf” Pella, Iowa when this site came up. Willem is “IXs” on this page and this site gave me the leads to his family. If you follow his father back you will see that it lists his children, including both Pieter, and Peter.

I’ll start the story of the family from here with the immigration of Willem and his brothers. Stay tuned for pictures and documentation.

1. Genlias database, Genlias ( : accessed 9 Jul 2009), Birth – Willem Burggraaf 14 Nov 1822, father Jan Burggraaf, mother Jaantje van Stenis; Civil Register – Nationaal Archief (Rijksarchief Zuid-Holland).
2. National Archives, Washington, D.C., “Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1820-1848,” database, Ancestry ( accessed 9 Jul 2009), Ship name: Maasstroom, Passenger: Willem Burggraaf, age 24, Farmer; Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Baltimore, Maryland
3. Graceland Cemetery (Marion County, Iowa), William Burggraaf marker.
4. Marion County, Iowa, marriage register, Wiillem Burggraaf-Sygje Stek, 1848.
5. Kedichem, Zuid, Netherlands, “Tienjarige tafels 1818-1842 Geboorten, huwelijken 1818-1842,” ( ), Geboorten (Births), Syke (Seigje) Stek, 7 Mar 1820; FHL microfilm 120,928
6. Graceland Cemetery (Marion County, Iowa), Sallie Burggraaf marker.