Harmanus and Johanna Janzen are pleased to announce the marriage of their daughter Hermina to Gerhardus Hendrik Van Leeuwen, son of Gerrit and Elsebina Van Leeuwen. Gerhardus and Hermina were married in Arnhem, Gelderland, Netherlands on 31 March 1880.
Gerhardus is a carpenter and the family will make their home in Arnhem.
That might be somewhat how the wedding announcement might have been like for the couple, except in Dutch. When referring to individuals in the United States, I have kept the English capitalization of Van and Der, while the Dutch individuals I have maintained the Dutch preference.
Gerhardus Hendrik Van Leeuwen (who went by George Henry in English) was born the fourth of nine children to Gerrit van Leeuwen and Elsebina Maria Catharina Weenig on 16 October 1856 in Oldenzaal, Overijssel, Netherlands. I have written of them at this link: Van Leeuwen-Weenig Wedding. He was a carpenter by trade, on the finishing side. He would also tune and service organs. After moving to the United States, he worked as a finishing carpenter.
We do not know anything about how they met, the courtship, or the marriage in 1880.
Hermina Janzen (who went by Minnie) was born the fourth of nine children to Harmanus Janzen and Johanna van der Meij on 19 August 1860 in Gorssel, Gelderland, Netherlands.
George and Minnie would eventually have 12 children born to their marriage (Here are some pictures of the children). Nine of these would live to adulthood and marry.
Gerhardus Hermanus Van Leeuwen was born 22 February 1881 in Arnhem and died 19 November 1883 in Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands.
Shortly after Gerhardus’ birth, the family moved to Amsterdam. The family moved around quite regularly, sometimes only living in one place for a couple of weeks. This may show the family was struggling financially.
Elsebina Johanna Van Leeuwen was born 5 January 1883 in Amsterdam and died 18 Mar 1883 in Amsterdam.
Johanna Hermiena Van Leeuwen (known as Annie) was born 30 January 1884 in Amsterdam and died 20 July 1958 in Ogden, Weber, Utah. She married Ibele Idsenga (known as Emil Edsinga) 3 February 1905 in Ogden.
It is assumed that around this time (1885-1886) is when George incurred a head injury. My Great Grandmother, his daughter Dena, indicated he fell from a ladder. Other siblings reported to descendants that he was struck in the head with a board. This is believed to be the reason why the family moved back to Arnhem, that due to his inability to work, this may be the reason they returned to Arnhem to be near family and rely on them for help.
Elsebina Maria Catharina Van Leeuwen (known as Elsie) was born 7 March 1886 in Arnhem and died 2 March 1927 in Ogden. She married Elmer Leroy Staker 2 May 1906 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah in the LDS temple.
The family then moved back to Amsterdam perhaps in pursuit of employment again. It was in Amsterdam that the Van Leeuwens met with missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. George and Minnie were both baptized 4 June 1887. The story goes that George saw some men running down the street with people chasing them. Concerned for their safety, he pulled them into his home. He learned they were Elders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The missionaries taught the Van Leeuwen the gospel and helped them convert leading to their baptism.
Gerhardus Hermanus Van Leeuwen (reuse of the older sibling’s name, known as George) was born 29 August 1887 in Amsterdam and died 21 January 1937 in Ogden. He married Maria Timmers 17 September 1908 in Salt Lake City.
A sponsor from Ogden,was to meet the family at the train depot in Ogden. But no one was there when they arrived. A man by the name of Mr. Dalbout, saw their plight, and he invited the family to go home with him. There was no place to stay for a long period, so they converted a chicken coop into living quarters. This is where the family waited until George could join them. She took in laundry from other families to support themselves until he arrived.
According to George’s 1932 death certificate, he suffered from epilepsy with psychosis for 45 years. That would predate his immigration to the United States. His mental health could have become an issue when immigrating, and it may have been easier if Minnie and the children had gone first and established their new home. That may have enabled George to follow the next spring without risk of having the family turned back. Epilepsy had a stigma of illness that the family had to deal with, everything from wickedness to a contagious disease. This way, only he could potentially be turned away from entering the county. The plan was that with the family already in Utah, he would be permitted to join them in Utah. George arrived 21 March 1889 in New York City, New York on the S.S. Veendam having left Rotterdam.
Minnie’s membership records appear in Ogden 1st Ward and Wilson Ward of the LDS Church by October 1888. The family settled in the area around Wall and 32nd in Ogden. A number of other Dutch emigrants were also in the area.
Hermiena Van Leeuwen (known as Minnie) was born 26 January 1890 in Ogden and died 21 August 1971 in Ogden. She married George Berglund 22 September 1915 in Ogden.
Jantjen Van Leeuwen (known as Jane and Jennie) was born 30 December 1891 in Ogden and died 27 July 1942 in Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California. She married Frederick William Bremer 10 December 1913 in Salt Lake City at the LDS temple.
Maria Van Leeuwen (known as Mary) was born 15 November 1893 in Ogden and died 16 August 1977 in Ogden. She married Andrew George Hewitt (known as Andy) 22 September 1915 in Salt Lake City at the LDS temple.
Hermanus Van Leeuwen (known as Herman) was born 10 July 1896 in Ogden and died 26 November 1973 in Ogden. He married Cora Edna Biddulph (or Lowe) 21 July 1916 in Ogden.
Berendena Van Leeuwen (known as Dena) was born 28 December 1898 in Ogden and died 5 March 1959 in Ogden. She married David Delos Donaldson (known as Dave) and I have written of their marriage at this link: Donaldson-Van Leeuwen Wedding.
Christiena Van Leeuwen was born 16 March 1901 in Ogden and died 20 March 1901.
Catharina Johanna Van Leeuwen (known as Kate) was born 2 December 1902 in Ogden and died 27 November 1975 in Ogden. She married Richard Leslie Collins (known as Les) 17 March 1920 in Ogden.
All the individuals who knew the family mention first how close the family was. The family was known that once a visitor was around, the food came out. Apparently Minnie was a master cook and all loved her food. She apparently made loaves and loaves of bread at a time. The neighbors knew what days she made bread and would regularly buy loaves from her. Friends of the children knew what day to come and eat some of Minnie’s bread. After she passed, her daughters had all learned well and continued the tradition and into their own families after marrying.
The family was also known for the practical jokes they would play on one another and the constant play quarreling. Even throughout life, some of the siblings would make up stories about other siblings that would make the sibling mad and things turned hot for a while and then the favor would return. All throughout the rest of their lives, the siblings met together oft and enjoyed meals together.
Five children in back (l-r): Minnie, Annie, Elsie, George and Jane. Second row: George, Dena, Hermina. Front: Mary and Herman.
The above photo placements are as follows. You can tell George and Minnie Van Leeuwen. Dena is sitting on the stool between the parents. The five children behind from left to right are Minnie, Annie, Elsie, George, and Jane. The two in front of George are Mary and Herman. Kate was not born yet when this picture was taken roughly in 1902.
George’s head and mental injuries continued to worsen as the years passed. The family either had to keep him safe during a fit and keep him calm to keep from inducing a fit. By the time 1911 rolled around, the family could no longer deal with his mental condition on their own. Dena referred to her “Daddy” as tender and sweet and then at the switch he would become angry and threatening. He had made enough threats and raised enough raucous that neighbors called the police. George was committed to the Utah State Mental Hospital in Provo, Utah, Utah in 1911. The family tried to get him out and succeeded. Unfortunately, he lost control again and ended up spending the rest of his life in the mental hospital. The family would drive down nearly every weekend to pick up “Daddy” and keep him for the weekend before taking him back. By the mid 1920’s, they could not even take him home on the weekends his condition was that poor and uncontrollable.
Photo from George’s Utah State Hospital file
“Momma Minnie,” as she was known to friends, died 9 June 1921 in Ogden. She was buried 3 days later in the Ogden City Cemetery. When Hermina died in 1921 she left a will specifying $1 to Gerhardus who was in state care and otherwise her estate was divided among her surviving children. Hermina died at Elsie’s home. George died 5 January 1932 in Provo, Utah, Utah. He was buried 3 days later beside his wife.