Kortlever Family Portrait

The Kortlever Family:
Seated: Jan Kortlever, daughter, Maaike Bel Kortlever
Back: Hugo Kortlever, daughter, daughter, Mary Kortlever Burgraff, John Cornelis Kortlever
The three daughters are Maggie Pen, Nellie Van Diest, and Jennie Noteboom, but I don’t know which is which.

Kortlever Family Portrait

Kortlever Tombstone

John and Maaike Kortlever Tombstone

Maaike Flora Bel Kortlever Dies

Maaike survived John by several years and was with her daughter Mary when Mary dies of tuberculosis in 1926. Maaike herself will die of the same disease on 15 September 19311 and is buried beside Jan in Monumenta Cemetery.

FINAL RITES CONDUCTED FOR MRS JOHN KORTLEVER
LYNDEN WOMAN PASSES AWAY SUDDENLY FRIDAY MORNING [Sat 15 Aug 1931 per Death Cert]
Lynden said farewell to another of its honored citizens Monday [17Aug] afternoon when funeral services were held at the First Reformed Church for Mrs. John Kortlever, who passed away at her home in this city Saturday at 11 am.
The Rev. Vaner Woods of Oak Harbor officiated at the services. Burial was made in a local cemetery. Knapp & Knapp had charge of funeral arrangements.
Although Mrs. Kortlever had not been in good health for some time, her death came suddenly and unexpectedly Saturday morning. She was 78 years, 6 months, 10 days old.
Mrs. Kortlever had lived in Lynden and vicinity for the last 31 years. She was born in The Netherlands on Feb 5, 1853, and was married there to John Kortlever. The couple came to the U.S. 42 years ago and settled in Kansas [should say Iowa] where they lived until 1900, when they moved to Whatcom County.
Mr. Kortlever died 9 years ago this month. Surviving relatives include 2 sons, Hugo and John C. and 2 daughters, Mrs. Ren Van Diest and Mrs. Herman Pen. All reside in the Lynden district with the exception of Mrs. Pen, who lives near Sumas. 29 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren also survive.”2



1. Whatcom County, Washington, death certificate no. 90 (15 Aug 1931), Maaike Kortlever; Washington State Vital Records, Olympia, Washington.
2. “Final Rites conducted for Mrs. John Kortlever,” (Lynden) Lynden Tribune, Thur., 20 Aug 1931.

John Kortlever Dies

On 15 August 1922 Jan Kortlever died at the age of 73 of a heart attack.1 He was buried in Monumenta Cemetery.

WILL HOLD KORTLEVER SERVICES NEXT MONDAY
Funeral services for the late John Kortlever will be held on Monday at 1 p.m. at the family home, and at 1:30 at the Reformed Church on Grover Street. Rev. H. K. Pasma will conduct the services.
Mr. Kortlever passed away suddenly Tuesday evening a few minutes after retiring. He had been in apparent good health and the news of his passing came as a shock to his many friends. He had resided in the Lynden district for twenty-two years, and was universally esteemed and respected.
Mr. Kortlever was 73 years, 6 months and 27 days old. He was born in The Netherlands. He was married to Maaike Flora Bell in 1873. He came to the United Sates in 1883, and lived in Iowa for 13 years. After being in Minnesota for four years, he moved to Lynden.
Besides his widow, he is survived by two sons, Hugo and John of Lynden; three daughters, Mrs. Mary Burgraff, Mrs. Rendit Van Diest of Lynden, and Mrs. H. Pen of Okanogan; two brothers in the The Netherlands, and on in Edgerton, Minn.; one sister in Pella, Iowa, and one in The Netherlands.”2



1. Whatcom County, Washington, death certificate no. 634 (15 Aug 1922), John Kortlever; Washington State Vital Records, Olympia, Washington.
2. “Will Hold Kortlever Services Next Monday,” (Lynden) Lynden Tribune, Thur., 17 Aug 1922, p. 2.

The Jan Kortlever Family

Mary Kortlever’s parents came from the Netherlands in one of the later wave of immigrants in the 1880s. Jan Kortleever was born 18 January 1849 in Leerdam, Zuid, Netherlands, to Cornelis Kortleever and Maaike den Besten.1 He was married to Maaike Flora Bel on 6 March 1873 in Kedichem, Zuid, Netherlands.2 Maaike was born 5 February 1853 in Leerdam, and was the daughter of Hugo Bel and Maria de Leeuw.3

Jan left the Netherlands aboard the Waesland, landed in New York on 15 May 1882,4 and proceded to Sioux County, Iowa. Maaike made the trip on the W. A. Scholten and arrived in New York on 15 September 1882.5 She travelled with her children; Cornelis age 11, Maria age 8, Hugo age 6, Bastian age 4, and John age 4 months.

The Kortlever family appears on the 1885 Iowa State Census and at that time is: Jan age 36, Magie Flora age 31, Maria age 10, Hugo age 9, Jan age 3, Cornelis age 1.6 There is some confusion about oldest son Cornelis who would be 13 or 14 at the time of this census. He is not with the family on that 1885 census and a baby boy has been given the name. Baby Cornelis (born about 1884) and the older Cornelis are never heard of again in this family group. An unsourced family group sheet lists only the older Cornelis with no death date.

A Cornelis of the right age (23) appears on the 1895 Iowa State Census, and then again on the census records in Lynden Washington. After further research I have conclude that this Cornelis is the son of Jan’s older brother Bastiaan Cornelis Kortleever (1847 – 1920).7 Bastiaan also immigrated from the Netherlands in the early 1880s with his wife Jannigje van Klei and his son Cornelis and daughter Maaike. Once again the repeating names makes searching a challenge. However, Bastiaan Cornelis and his family would take the same journey as his brother – first to Iowa, then to Minnesota, and finally to Lynden.

Jan and Maaike had three other children born in Iowa; Maaike (Maggie) in 1885, Cornelia (Nellie) in 1890, and Jantje (Jennie) in 1892.



1. Genlias database, Genlias (http://www.genlias.nl/en : accessed 11 Aug 2009), Birth, Jan Kortleever, 18 Jan 1849; Nationaal Archief (Rijksarchief Zuid-Holland).
2. Genlias database, Genlias (http://www.genlias.nl/en : accessed 11 Aug 2009), Marriage, Jan Kortleever age 24 & Maaike Flora Bel age 20, 6 Mar 1873; Nationaal Archief (Rijksarchief Zuid-Holland).
3. Whatcom County, Washington, death certificate no. 90 (15 Aug 1931), Maaike Kortlever; Washington State Vital Records, Olympia, Washington.
4. “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” online images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 Feb 2010), manifest, Waesland, 15 May 1882, Line 14, Jan Kortlever.
5. “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” online images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 Feb 2010), manifest, W.A. Scholten, 15 Sep 1882, Line 31, Maaike Kortlever.
6. 1885 Iowa State Census, Sioux County, Iowa, population schedule, Alton, p. 6 handwritten, 266 stamped, dwelling 32, family 37, line 26, Jan Kortlever; digital images, The Generations Network, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 Jun 2009); citing Iowa State Census Collection, 1836-1925.
7. Washington State Digital Archives, “Death Records,” database, Washington State Digital Archives (http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov/default.aspx : accessed 20 Feb 2010), Bartiaam C. Kortuver, died 29 Aug 1920.

The Wills

John’s will, dated 6 October 1916, was very simple.1 He left $1 to each of his children: Peter Burgraff, William Burgraff, Maggie Den Adel, Elizabeth Dyksterhuis, John Burgraff, Jane Burgraff, Hugo Burgraff, Albert Burgraff, Arie Burgraff, Bastjaan Burgraff, Marion Burgraff, and Sadie Burgraff.

The rest of the estate went to Mary and clearly stipulated that she could do what she wanted with it. He also named her as executrix of his will. I did not search out the probate files to look for an appraisal of the estate.

Mary’s will is dated 13 March 1926 and has a little more detail and two very interesting tidbits.2

Peter and William (sons of John and Elizabeth) each received $500.
John Jr. Hugo and Albert each received $500,
“…for the reason that they have given more of their services than the other children in accumulating my estate.”
This would be payable after the sale of real estate, but before the division of proceeds.

Everything left would be divided equally between: John Burgraff, Hugo Burgraff, Albert Burgraff, Arie Burgraff, Bastjaan Burgraff, Marion Burgraff, Maggie Hoekstra, Elizabeth Dyksterhuis, Jane Nymeyer and Sadie Burgraff – to share and share alike. There is one exception made to the property.
“I hereby declare that the piano in the home is the property of my daughter, Sadie Burgraff, and the same shall not be included as a part of my estate.”

Mary requests the courts appoint her brother Hugo Kortlever as guardian of the minor children: Arie, Bastjaan, Marion, and Sadie.

Interesting tidbit 1: Hugo and Albert are nominated as the executors. John Jr. is not named. She also provides a separate sum of $200 each for their services.

Interesting tidbit 2: In the final paragraph of her will Mary states,
“It is my further desire that my son John Burgraff do not remain on said farm with the other children but that he secure another place to board and room, and not take part in working or leasing of said farm, and I authorize my executors to take such measures as may be necessary to carry out this provision of my will.”

It sounds like John was persona non-gratis at this time. Several phone calls later I was able to determine that Mary wanted the boys (Hugo and Albert) to be able to ask John to leave. John was not a farmer and contributed little to the working of the farm, although he lived there and apparently did not hesitate to partake in all the benefits. He did not work much outside the home, but he perceived himself to be the wheeler-dealer that his father was. Sadly, according to my sources, John lacked the temperament and talent for this. Mary made it clear that she was aware of the problem and would not saddle the other children with a sibling that wouldn’t pull his weight.

On the 1930 census Hugo age 28, is listed as the head of the family and at home are: Sadie age 17, Bert age 20, Marion age 19, and at the end of the list is John age 31.3 Apparently Hugo did not ask John to leave.

Mary’s probate would not be closed until 27 April 1936. The drop in farm prices and products beginning in 1926 and continuing through the Great Depression made it almost impossible to sell the property. Hugo eventually bought the shares of the farm from his siblings. The following items are of interest in the probate file:4

In 1929 William entered an agreement with his grandmother Maaike Flora Bel Kortlever. She provided him the cash he needed and he signed away his $500 that would be coming with sale of the land. Her son Hugo Kortlever acting as executor, claimed her share after her death in 1931.

In 1934 Bert sold his share of the farm to his sister Sadie.

John’s shares (according to the 31 Jan 1936 document) were sold under Sheriff’s sale to satisfy a judgment at some time prior to that date.



1. Whatcom, Washington, Record of Wills and Probate, Vol 8 of the Whatcom Probate Index: p. 79, Will of John Burgraff; File No. 4445.
2. Whatcom, Washington, Record of Wills and Probate, Record of Wills, Vol 8: p. 237, Will of Mary Burgraff; File No. 5979.
3. 1930 U.S. census, Whatcom County, Washington, population schedule, Ten Mile Township, enumeration district (ED) 53, p. 7A, dwelling 165, family 165, Hugo Burgraff; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 7 Jul 2009); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T626, roll 2522.
4. Whatcom, Washington, Probate Files, 5979 – Mary Burgraff; Superior Court of the Sate of Washington, County of Whatcom, Bellingham, Washington.

John Burgraff and Mary Kortlever

Jan Burggraaf began to use the spelling John Burgraff in the early 1890s and never used the original spelling after 1900, so from this point on I’ll refer to him by the spelling we use.

John Burgraff found himself in fairly dire straits after the death of his wife Elizabeth circa 1890. He is a farmer with five small children at home. The youngest, Little Sadie, would have only been 2 or 3 at the time and he needed help. Apparently, several family members helped out for a little while, but eventually John hired a full time housekeeper – Maria Kortlever. [update – see the 16 May 2011 post for the correct information provided by a recent discovery.]

Maria (Mary) Kortlever was born 17 October 1874 in Leerdam, Zuid, Netherlands.1 She was the oldest daughter of Jan Kortlever and Maaike Flora Bel. [Maaike is pronounced Maw-key and becomes Anglicized to Maggie.] Jan Kortlever had arrived in May of 1882 and his wife and family followed, arriving 15 September 1882 aboard the W. A. Scholten in New York and then travelled to Sioux County, Iowa.2 She is enumerated with her family on the 1885 census in Alton, Sioux County, Iowa.3

One of our family stories is that Mary arrived in Iowa without being able to speak English. She attended school in Sioux County and by the end of the first year was speaking English with almost no accent.

I believe that Mary went to work for John sometime in early 1891 although there are no specific records. On 20 March 1893 daughter Maggie Burgraff is born.4 John and Mary Kortlever married on 12 August 1893 in Rock Rapids, Lyon County, Iowa.5 They may have been married prior to this date, but I have found no other record and according to their younger children, it was an open secret that Maggie arrived before the minister.



1. Genlias database, Genlias (http://www.genlias.nl/en : accessed 10 Feb 2010), Maria Kortleever, 17 Oct 1874, Kedichem; Nationaal Archief (Rijksarchief Zuid-Holland).
2. “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” online images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 Feb 2010), manifest, W.A. Scholten, 15 Sep 1882, Line 33, Marie Kortlever.
3. 1885 Iowa State Census, Sioux County, Iowa, population schedule, Alton, p. 6 handwritten, 266 stamped, dwelling 32, family 37, line 26, Marie Kortlever; digital images, The Generations Network, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 Jun 2009); citing Iowa State Census Collection, 1836-1925.
4. Burgraff Bible, family pages; Photocopy held privately. Maggie 20 Mar 1893.
5. Iowa District Court, Clerk’s Certificate as to Marriage Record, Rock Rapids (12 Aug 1893), John Burgraff-Mary Kortlever; Lyon County District Court, Rock Rapids.