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Gert J. Hilbelink, Page 563
GERT J. HILBELINK, one of the oldest living settlers of Holland Township, is a native of Alton, province of Guelderland, Holland, born February 19, 1813. He is a son of Aretyan and Henrietta (Hoopman) Hilbelink, who were natives of the same place. The mother spent her life in the Fatherland, but the father emigrated to the United States some five years later than his son, and located in the town of Lima, where the remainder of his life was passed. He was born in 1787, and died March 16, 1865. Of their family of six children, but two survive, the subject of this article, and Christine, who is the widow of Derk John.
Gert J. was reared in this native land, where he received a common- school education, spending his time, when not in the school room, in assisting on the farm. He remained at home aiding his parents until his marriage, which important event occurred October 4, 1840, when he wedded Gertyen Te Bokkel, a daughter of Avetjan and Jane Te Bokkel. Mrs. Hilbelink was born in Lindlow, Guelderland, February 26, 1820.
Of this union fourteen children have been born, four being natives of Holland, and the remainder of this country. All of the former are deceased, and one of the latter. Of the surviving, Hendrika, born March 15, 1849, became the wife of Arentje John Rensing, a farmer of Newkirk, Iowa; Arentjen J., born November 15, 1850, operates his father's farm; John W., born March 3, 1853, is a carpenter by trade, and resides in Newkirk; Jane, born January 20, 1855, is the wife of Derk Rose, of the same city; Grada G., born October 6, 1856, lives in Milwaukee; Gert J. Jr., born February 25, 1858, is a carpenter of that city; Hannah, born January 16, 1860, wedded John W. Rawlerdink, a farmer of section 22, Holland Township; Gertie, born February 4, 1863, is the wife of Jacob Leenhouse, also a carpenter of Milwaukee; and Aleida, born March 14, 1866, became Mrs. Gabe Ringoldus, of the same place.
In August, Mr. Hilbelink, accompanied by his wife and family, sailed from Rotterdam for the New World, landing some four weeks later at Staten Island. Continuing the journey Westward, by way of Buffalo and the Lakes, they arrived at Sheboygan. However, but one night was spent there; the next day, making the trip with an ox team, they proceeded to Holland Township, where they located on section 27, the land now owned by G. J. Te Linderl. On this farm they lived about nine years. The land was in its natural state, covered with a heavy growth of timber, in which not a tree had been cut, and inhabited by wolves, bears and deer. But few neighbors were about, though they were plenty of Indians. These dusky people often called on this old pioneer, and he in turn visited them. From this state of wildness, Mr. and Mrs. Hilbelink have seen the country grow to its present advanced stage. Changes that were then deemed impossible have been made real by those who came from homes of comfort in the older countries and States to aid in the development of the new, and to found homes for themselves and their posterity. All honor is due to the sturdy pioneers who brave the hardships and trials incident to life on the frontier.
In 1850, Mr. Hilbelink bought forty acres of land on section 26, where he now resides. This was also in timber, and he again took up the work of clearing and making a farm. A log house was built, and here his family grew into manhood and womanhood. Later he made an additional purchase of forty acres adjoining the former, and on the same section. However, he has disposed of some ten acres. Of this he has made a good farm, and has erected thereon substantial buildings, including a house, barns, and other needful structures. Mr. Hilbelink has not only developed his own farm, but has aided in the construction of roads and other improvements in his town.
In his political views, he has been identified with the Republican party. He and his good wife are members of the Dutch Reformed Church of America of Cedar Grove, in which they are pioneer members. While Mr. and Mrs. Hilbelink have reached the ages, respectively, of eighty and seventy-three years, they are still quite well preserved, both physically and mentally, and may yet enjoy for several years the fruit of former years of toil.
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