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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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Derk A. Voskuil

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 550 - 551

Derk A. Voskuil, one of the earliest pioneers of Holland Township, now residing on section 13, is a native of Wentesweck, province of Guelderland, Holland, born May 11, 1817. He is a son of John W. and Bernandina (Tolcamp) Voskuil, the father being a small farmer. They were the parents of five children, four sons and one daughter, of whom Derk A. is the only one living. The mother of the family came to this country, where she died January 30, 1884, and was laid to rest in the village cemetery at Cedar Grove.

The gentleman whose name heads this biography grew to manhood in his native land, where he received a common-school education. When thirty years old, in company with his sister Dora, her husband, Henry John Neuweide, and their five children, Mr. Voskuil sailed from Rotterdam for New York, landing in the latter city October 21, twenty-eight days after embarking. From New York they continued their way Westward to Buffalo, being eight days on the road. There they took passage on the propeller "Phoenix" for Sheboygan, a voyage which proved most unfortunate. They left the pier at Manitowoc and steamed toward Sheboygan. Just as they came in sight of the lights of the city, the cry of "Fire!" rang out, causing the greatest consternation among the passengers. Two of the ship's boats were pressed into service, into one of which twenty-five persons were lowered, Mr. Voskuil being one of that number. The vessel was abandoned about six miles off Sheboygan, to the north and east, and went down, carrying many precious lives. Mr. Voskuil says, for lack of oars, he aided in rowing the boat with a broom. The boat leaked, and was so rapidly filling with water, that it became necessary for him to turn his attention to baling, which he did, using, for lack of anything better, a wooden shoe. However, these efforts were rewarded with success, and the boat's crew was landed safely on the Sheboygan shore. Of his sister and her family, all went down with the ill-fated craft. The lady who afterward became his wife, Miss Hendrika Landerwaart, was aboard the ship in company with her parents, and brothers and sisters to the number of seven. Of that family, the parents and four children were lost, while four daughters were saved in the second boat. This frightful catastrophe occurred November 21, 1847, and is vividly remembered by many of the old pioneers.

Mr. Voskuil walked from Sheboygan to the town of Holland, where he purchased thirty acres of land, on which he now resides. On this he erected a log house, 16x20 feet, to which he brought his bride. The ceremony was performed November 19, 1848, by Rev. Mr. Sohne, in the old log church. Mrs. Voskuil was born in Holton, in the province of Overyssel, December 3, 1827.

Mr. and Mrs. Voskuil have eleven children, as follows: Jan W., born March 9, 1850; Hendrik, January 27, 1852; Berent W., April 6, 1854; Gerdiena, born April 4, 1856, the wife of Derk J. Meengs, a carpenter of Cedar Grove; Tonia, born January 22, 1859, w h o wedded John Renskers, a farmer of Holland Township; Gesiena, born December 21, 1861; Gerret, April 5, 1864; Derk H., April 30, 1867; Hannah, born March 21, 1870, and who resides in Sheboygan; Elizabeth, born March 21, 1870; and Johannes, November 21, 1873, who completes the family.

Since September, 1848, Mr. Voskuil has been a resident of this township. He has seen it develop from a wilderness into a fine agricultural section, and has been actively identified in the progress made. To the original purchase of land he has added twenty acres, and has made of this a fine farm. Covered with timber and wholly unimproved forty-five years ago, to-day it is under a high state of cultivation and has good buildings thereon.

Politically, Mr. Voskuil votes the Republican ticket, as do his sons, and with his family holds membership in the Dutch Reformed Church of Cedar Grove.

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