Before I move on I want to talk a little about Sygje and her family. I found it fascinating that this tiny little woman would come to America all by herself. I spoke to a woman who specializes in Dutch history and research at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City about Sygje. She told me that Dutch women were notoriously independent, and in fact, many of the Puritans that had fled England found these women to be too independent. While they shared a religion they certainly did not share the same cultural norms. Dutch women experienced a large amount of freedom and equality in their history and the English were not interested in having their women influenced by this. The English moved on to America with the Great Migration in the 17th and 18th century.
Sygje was born on 7 March 1820 and I have attached a copy of her birth registration. She is the oldest child of Aalbert Stek (abt 1793 – 26 December 1829) and Anneke (Anna) Van Blokland (abt 1783 – 13 December 1842) and was quickly joined by brother’s Ruth, Jan, Kornelis, and Pieter, and then sisters Kornelia and Aafje.
After Aalbert’s death in 1829,1 Anna married Teunis Sprong. Sygje would have been 11 at the time of their 5 March 1831 marriage.2 Her mother Anna died in 1841,3 and I can theorize that she may have taken care of her younger siblings until they were old enough to care for themselves or married. Sygje left with the first wave of immigrants in 1847 at the age of 27. Did she leave because she had no future at home after her siblings grew up? Had she already met Willem Burgraff who came from Schoonrewoerd, a village only a few miles from her home? Whatever the reasons, I believe that Sygje made the trip alone. I find no evidence of a close relation with her even though I have looked for aunts, uncles, siblings, and cousins; but I find no relationships that I can pin down.
Sygje’s younger brother Jan Stek apparently makes the trip in 1870.4 He appears in several documents that discuss the later group of immigrants to Pella. Based on records from the Netherlands, it appears the Jan returned to his home country prior to 1880.
I have not yet been able to determine all of the siblings of Sygje’s parents. As Genlias loads older records I hope to someday be able to determine all of the family members and cousins to see if any of them immigrated.
1. Genlias database, Genlias (http://www.genlias.nl/en: accessed 9 Jul 2009), Aalbert Stek, death 26 Dec 1829, age 36, parents Jan Stek and Sijke Romijn; Civil Register – Nationaal Archief (Rijksarchief Zuid-Holland).
2. Genlias database, Genlias (http://www.genlias.nl/en: accessed 9 Jul 2009), Marriage – Anna van Blokland and Teunis Sprong 5 Mar 1831; Civil Register – Nationaal Archief (Rijksarchief Zuid-Holland).
3. Genlias database, Genlias (http://www.genlias.nl/en: accessed 10 Feb 1842), Death, Anneke van Blokland, 27 Dec 1841, Kedichem; Genlias database, Genlias (http://www.genlias.nl/en: accessed 9 Jul 2009), Marriage – Anna van Blokland and Teunis Sprong 5 Mar 1831; Civil Register – Nationaal Archief (Rijksarchief Zuid-Holland).
4. Gale Research, “Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s,” database, Ancestry (http:www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 Feb 2010), Jan Stek, 1870, Pella Iowa.