Wynand & Dirkje (Koster) Modders & their children

 

Wynand Modders was born to Martin Hendrick Modders (B. 1802, D.1890) and Margaretha (Hoekers) Modders (B. 1809, D. 1842) on June 15, 1831 in Harlingen, Friesland, The Netherlands.  Dirkje (Koster) Modders was born to Jacobus Koster (B. 1805, D. 1836) and Anna (Modders) Koster (B. 1806, D. 1881) on August 9, 1833 in Harlingen, Friesland, The Netherlands.  Wynand had 8 siblings, their names were; Hendrik (B. 1830, D.1830), Hendrik (B. 1832, D. ?), Nikolaas (B. 1834, D. 1834), Elsie (B. 1835, D. 1851), Louwrens (B. 1838, D. 1920), Dirkje (B. 1839, D. 1912), Nicolaas (B. 1841, D. 1841) and Margaretha (B. 1842, D. 1842).  We are not aware of any of Wynand’s siblings who lived to adulthood ever coming to the United States, but rather they spent their lives in The Netherlands.  Wynand made one trip back to Europe that we are aware of and that was in June of 1882, but for what reason we are not sure.   

 

Wynand and Dirkje were married on May 26, 1853 in Harlingen, Friesland, The Netherlands.  They had 18 children.  A number of children did not live to adulthood.  Their children were Martin, Dirk (Dick), Jacobus, Jacobus, Margarethe, Johan (John), Nicolas, Jacob, Anna, Johanna, Sijke, Elsje, Elsje, Catrina and Henry.  It is assumed that 3 children were stillborn and were not named.  It was not unusual to have a child die (i.e. Jacobus and Elsje) and then use the same name for another child.

 

Wynand and Dirkje emigrated to the United States in 1872, via ship and train to Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The steamship they sailed on was named the Nevada and it sailed on September 21, 1872 from Harlingen, Friesland, The Netherlands.  They arrived in New York, October 11, 1872 and on October 14, 1872 they arrived (via train) in Grand Rapids. 

 

Wynand in Dutch translates to William in English although he never went by William.  Dirkje in Dutch translates to Dora in English and she would use Dora at times.  Wynand and Dirkje were first cousins.  Wynand’s father and Dirkje’s mother were brother and sister.  Transportation was not as good as it is today and people tended to marry someone who they had met close to home.  This would lead us to believe that the families lived close to each other in The Netherlands. 

 

The Grand Rapids, Michigan city directory for 1873-1874 related that Wynand was a grocer and the city directory for 1876-1877 related that he was a peddler.

 

Wynand moved his family to Missuakee County, Michigan in 1877.  From the book, Netherlanders in America, comes this passage, “Among the newcomers who settled near Vogel Center was a man named Wijnand Modders.  He had been a butcher at Harlingen, in The Netherlands, but he had found it difficult to support his family of seventeen.  This fact, coupled with his desire to help his sons avoid conscription into the Dutch army, induced Modders to emmigrate to Grand Rapids in 1872.  There he ran a grocery until 1877, when he moved to Vogel Center.  He homesteaded some government land east of the town, and there he erected a log house, opened a store and, in 1890, became postmaster of the community, which was henceforth officially designated as Moddersville.  This place, six miles east of Vogel Center, prospered until the forest had been cut down.  The land, composed largely of thin sand plains, was useless for farming; settlers were no longer attracted and the development of Moddersville ceased.”

 

Some would disagree with the notion that there is no farming land around the Moddersville area today as there still is a fair amount of farming going on, but the passage does describe how Wynand came to Missaukee County and how Moddersville came into being.

 

Wynand became a United States citizen on December 16, 1884.  On June 12, 1885, Wynand received Homestead Certificate number 5887 to a Patent of 160 acres of land in Missaukee County, Clam Union Township.   This homestead certificate was issued under the testimony of President of the United States, Grover Cleveland.  It was for the South East quarter of Section 7 in township 21 North of range 5 West.

 

Wynand and his sons, Martin (the first school board Director) and Dick (the first school board Moderator) were instrumental in forming the first Moddersville school district in 1887.  It was known as District No. 4 and was located in Clam Union Township, Missaukee County.  The first meeting of the school district was held in Wynand’s home on February 7, 1887.  The first log school house (18 feet by 24 feet) would be built on one-half of one acre of land that Wynand rented to the district for $5.00 per year (for the next four years).  A total of $300.00 would be raised by the school district in 1887 for building purposes, teachers wages, and to pay for incidential items.

 

Wynand died November 25, 1907 in Moddersville.  Dirkje died June 10, 1910 in Moddersville.  They are both buried in the Moddersville East Cemetery.

 

In Dirkje’s obituary, it said that she was a loving Christian mother whose life was an inspiration to family and friends.  She was charitable and helpful to the sick and needy and many, traveling through the woods, were fed by her in pioneer days.  Her last words referred to meeting her husband in a better land. 

 

Martin William Modders was born April 20, 1854 in Harlingen, Friesland, The Netherlands and died November 8, 1939 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  He first married Anna Bouma November 28, 1883 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  She was born December 1859 in Vriesland, Ottawa County, Michigan and died May 30, 1901 in Moddersville.  His second marriage was to Jane VanDerWerff December 29, 1903 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  She was born 1867 in The Netherlands, and died April 7, 1956 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Martin and Anna had one child named William (B. 1984, D. 1963).  Martin and Jane had one child named Thressa (B. 1905, D. 1990).

 

Dirk (Dick) W. Modders was born September 1, 1855 in Harlingen, Friesland, The Netherlands, and died November 25, 1939 in Holland, Ottawa County, Michigan.  He married Jane D. Ferwerda July 3, 1887 in Falmouth, Michigan.  She was born October 26, 1864 in Herbeyn, Friesland, The Netherlands, and died November 29, 1912 in Moddersville.  Children of Dick and Jane were William (B. 1888, D. 1957), Anna (B. 1889, D. 1950), Dora (B. 1893, D. 1949), Nina (B. 1895, D. 1981), Theodore (B. 1897, D. 1932), John (B. 1899, D. 1965), Johanna (B. 1901, D. 1988), Beth (B. 1903, D. 1999), Sadie (B. 1905, D. 1997) and Susan (B. 1905, D. 1997).  Dick was a timber estimator and dealer in lands and real estate.

 

Jacobus W. Modders was born September 2, 1856 in Harlingen, Friesland, The Netherlands and died June 8, 1857 in Harlingen, Friesland, The Netherlands.

 

Jacobus W. Modders was born February 7, 1858 in Harlingen, Friesland, The Netherlands and died February 16, 1859 in Harlingen, Friesland, The Netherlands.  

 

Margarethe W. Modders was born March 30, 1860 in Harlingen, Friesland, The Netherlands, and died October 2, 1945 in Moddersville.  She married Henry Spitsbergen October 10, 1880 in Riverside Township, Missaukee County, Michigan.  He was born May 3, 1856 in Zeeland, Ottawa County, Michigan, and died June 12, 1938 in Moddersville.  Children of Margarethe and Henry were Dora (B. 1881, D. 1965), Hattie (B. 1882, D. 1899), Mae (B. 1883, D. 1935), John (B. 1884, D. 1967), William (B. 1886, D. 1973), Anna (B. 1887, D. 1971), Henry (B. 1888, D. 1888), Henry (B. 1889, D. 1960), Evert (B. 1890, D. 1890), Martin (B. 1890, D. 1890), Jennie (B. 1892, D. 1920), Evart (B. 1894, D. 1917), Martin (B. 1895, B. 1976), Carl (B. 1898, D. 1898) and Hattie (B. 1899, D. 1990).  Margarethe and Henry were farmers and enjoyed gardening.

 

Johan (John) W. Modders was born May 13, 1861 in Harlingen, Friesland, The Netherlands, and died November 1, 1937 in Moddersville.  He first married Minna Wyma April 7, 1885 in Falmouth, Michigan.  Minna was born November 10, 1867 in Nieukerk, The Netherlands, and died January 20, 1889 in Moddersville.  His second marriage was to Alice J. Wyma August 3, 1890 in Falmouth.  Alice was born May 25, 1870 in Nieukerk, The Netherlands and died November 5, 1931 in Moddersville.  Minna and Alice were sisters.  John and Minna had one child named Wynand (B. 1889, D. 1889).  Children of John and Alice were Wynand (B. 1891, D. 1891), Rena (B. 1894, D. 1959), William (B. 1896, D. 1963), Nicholas (B. 1898, D. 1971), Martin (B. 1901, D. 1976), John (B. 1904, D. 1981), Benjamin (B. 1906, D. 1994) and George (B. 1912, D. 1974).  John was the Moddersville postmaster and a Notary Public.  His store in Moddersville dealt in general merchandise, dry goods, groceries, hardware, boots and shoes, drugs, clothing and tobacco.  He also bought and sold land and estimated timber.  He had the central office located at his store for the Dolph and Butterfield telephone line. 

 

Nicolas Johannes W. Modders was born September 20, 1862 in Harlingen, Friesland, The Netherlands and died October 23, 1862 in Harlingen, Friesland, The Netherlands.

 

Jacob W. Modders was born December 27, 1863 in Harlingen, Friesland, The Netherlands and died January 9, 1864 in Harlingen, Friesland, The Netherlands.

 

Anna W. Modders was born February 13, 1865 in Harlingen, Friesland, The Netherlands, and died October 28, 1943.   She married Henry Wyma (brother to Minna and Alice mentioned before) April 22, 1885 in Moddersville.  He was born 1865 in Nieukerk, The Netherlands, and died September 30, 1932 in Moddersville.  Children of Anna and Henry were Dora (B. 1890, D. 1957), Rena, Minnie (B. 1893, D. 1909), Margaret (B. 1895, D. 1968), Ben (B. 1897, D. 1976), William (B. 1900, D. 1920), Alice (B. 1905, D.?) and Nick (B. 1905, D. 1970).

 

Johanna W. Modders was born July 22, 1866 in Harlingen, Friesland, The Netherlands, and died January 19, 1890 in Moddersville.  She married Evert Van Der Wal December 13, 1885 in Falmouth, Michigan.  He was born December 29, 1864 in Sttoobus, The Netherlands, and died July 30, 1942 in Moddersville.  Children of Johanna and Evert were Sietse (B. 1889, D. 1985) and Johanna (B. 1890, D. 1972).  Sietse was a barber, carpenter and farmer during his lifetime and was a long time resident of Stittsville, Michigan.  Sietse was married to Eva Crane on June 7, 1950.  Eva taught Sunday school for many years in Stittsville.

 

Sijke Marike W. Modders was born February 4, 1868 in Harlingen, Friesland, The Netherlands and died in 1881.

 

Elsje W. Modders was born October 24, 1870 in Harlingen, Friesland, The Netherlands and died December 3, 1871 in Harlingen, Friesland, The Netherlands.

 

Elsje W. Modders was born January 20, 1872 in Harlingen, Friesland, The Netherlands and died October 20, 1872 in Grand Rapids, Michigan just after the family arrived in the United States from The Netherlands.

 

Catrina Modders was born August 21, 1873 in Grand Rapids, Michigan and died September 28, 1873 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

 

Henry W. Modders was born July 7, 1875 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and died April 8, 1959 in Muskegon, Michigan.  He first married Effie Witherel December 6, 1895 in Clare, Michigan.  Effie was born March 11, 1875 in Clare, and died April 3, 1939 in Dover, Florida.  Effie was a teacher and taught in Moddersville.  His second marriage was to Ada Andrews on June 5, 1940 in Warren, Indiana.  Ada was born December 29, 1888 in Warren, Indiana, and died February 8, 1978 in Muskegon, Michigan.  Children of Henry and Effie were Eva (B. 1896, D. 1981), Ernest (B. 1898, D. 1977), Ruth (B. 1901, D. 1939) and Esther (B. 1905, D. 1906).  Henry and Ada did not have children together.  Henry was a farmer, carpenter, barber and minister.   

 

Descendants of Wynand and Dirkje Modders continue to reside in Missaukee County today.

 

 This family history was written by Donna (Modders) Goodwin and her son, Rick Ernest Goodwin on November 12, 2001.

 

Sources for this family history are:

 

Family research and memories

Lake City Journal newspaper, Tuesday, June 20, 1882

Missaukee Republican newspaper, June 16, 1910

Michigan census Missaukee County 1880, 1900, 1910

Netherlanders in America, a book written by Henry Lucas

Down Memory Lane, The Waterfront newspaper, April 2, 1986, written by William R. Modders

Down Memory Lane, The Waterfront newspaper, December 3, 1986, written by R.Joan (Spitsbergen) Brown

Down Memory Lane, The Waterfront newspaper, December 9,16 & 23, 1987, written by R. Joan (Spitsbergen) Brown 

Down Memory Lane, The Waterfront newspaper, August 19, 1987, written by R. Joan (Spitsbergen) Brown                 

 

© 2003 - 2011 of original content by Rick E. Goodwin

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