It Began in Holland a story from my family history

My father's family, the Hockema's originated from Hallum Holland.

The Dutch didn't introduce surnames until the early 1800's. Our surname originated from the family's place of residence. They were living in a place called Hallumerhoek. Hoek is the Dutch word for corner. Meaning that the family was living near "Hallum Corner". This area of Holland (Friesland) was known for ending the surnames with "stra" or "ema". Combing these resulted in "Hoekema" for the original surname of our family. Later changes, perhaps the American-ized version, gave us the current surname, "Hockema".

A piece of family history; as told by Emma Brantley, born September 1, 1896

This is the story of Gretchen. She left her home in Holland in the year 1884. Gretchen was 18 years old, borrowing $30 to make the six-week voyage to America. She settled in a Dutch Colony in Indiana with her uncle.

There, she reunited with a boy that she grew up with in Hollum. They were married and started increasing their family. They soon moved with their nine children to Minnesota.

Their home would be a 40 acre Dairy Farm. Gretchen raised chickens, and all varieties of fruit and vegetables on the farm.

Gretchen raised 14 children on the dairy farm. They helped with the farm chores, but had plenty of time for exploring the creeks and trees. Forts were built, fish were caught, arrowheads were found. Life was good.

The income from the dairy paid for most of the family's expenses. Gretchen would also trade her eggs and berries at the store for needed goods.

There was a wonderful storage house on the farm, so full, it was likened to a supermarket! Gretchen stored her canned vegetables of every kind, fruits and meats. There were bins overflowing with apples, potatoes, carrots, onions. Crocks of sauerkraut and pickles. Smokehouse hams and bacon. The family was well stocked!

All of the kids were involved in the gardening. They would prepare the seeds indoors during the early spring, in covered boxes. Once the time was right, Gretchen would plant the seeds and the kids would trail behind with a bucket of water and ladle the water on the seeds as they went down the rows.

In 1912, the family purchased their first car. Gretchen refused to ride in the contraption. Emma was the first to ride to town at the crazy fast speed of 30 miles per hour! It was pure freedom!

The family was also able to purchase a telephone. This gave them lots of excitement as the telephones were used by people to relay news to many people at once, much like a newspaper. The kids also learned how to have fun eavesdropping on the party line phone calls.

As a child, Emma was able to watch in awe and excitement as the Halley's Comet lit up the sky! At the time, there was a revival in town. The evangelist took advantage of this sighting to tell everyone that the end was near and all should be preparing for the Judgement Day.

After successfully raising her family and enjoying many grandchildren, she began to waste away. Gretchen's doctor informed her that she had diabetes. This was prior to the days of insulin. After several years, she slipped into a coma never to wake up in April 1926. She was 61 years old.

Gretchen lived a wonderfully quiet, useful and rich life. Her direct descendants numbered well over 100. Gretchen had a wealth of skills and knowledge to share. She was my great-great grandmother. I would loved to have been able to know her.

Thank you for reading.

Created by: Amy Chisman

March 2017


Created with images by John-Morgan - "Windmills of Holland" • earlybirdconsultants - "giethoorn chocolate box cottage netherlands" • cuncon - "windmill holland energy" • katerha - "Hey cows, thanks for the milk! #milk #dairy farm" • Marie Loughin - "farmland 1" • mier 1 - "DSCN1910" • edenpictures - "Root Cellar" • Karen Roe - "Snowshill Manor (NT) 10-08-2013" • beckstei - "Model A" • Boston Public Library - "Canada, United States. Hello! Hello! Everybody on the map! Willimantic is the best thread for sewing machines. [front]" • jot.punkt - "holland klassiker" • Skitterphoto - "windmill rural twilight"

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