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History Lives Here Text

A Letter from Zinkepoel

Aware we are searching for first persondescriptions of life in Singapore for the exhibit this summer, Swenna Manger of Holland offered this letter written byGerman immigrant Albert Gensink in 1874, which shehas uncovered and translated. It is datelined "Zinkepoel" and Mrs. Hanger suggests that perhaps Gensinkhad never seen the name of Singapore written down, and was trying to sound itout phonetically, of course with his German speaking ear. He describes theprice of things in Michigan,and, apparently in response to a question, discusses whether he thinks therecipient of the letter, one Wilhelm Lubbers, should join him .Michigan.


Zinkepoel 26th March,1874


Beloved friend or beloved brother in theLord Jesus Christ, Wilhelm Lubbers. Your letter which you sent me, I received in well being and I washappy to read, that you are well. Health is such a blessingsbut the greatest blessing and comfort is through, that we are at peacewith and through Christ.


You wrote about sickness in your neighborhood. It is the Lord'spatience that has spared you, because we are not better than any of those whosuffer. May this bring forth thankfulness and repentance.We cannot do this of ourselves, because our ego is in the way and this is whythe Lord Jesus Christ says "without me, you can do nothing." If our human nature would only accept this, but it is only throughthe working of the Lord that we are awakened. Only then do we ask,"Lord, what do you want me to do?" Only then will we be acceptabletools in God's hands.


Otherwise,everything here is the same. Deaths and births come and go, but I have beenhere a year now. During this year, you had more deaths by you than we have had.

Much has happened during the course of the year. I will now quote yousome prices of farm product here: A bushel of wheat is 45 to 50 cents. A bushelof potatoes is $1.00, eggs are a penny each, butter is 34 cents and coffee if40 cents a lb. Milking cows are about $30 to $40. For $150 you can get a goodwork horse.


Brother, you ask about my opinion, what shall I say? I will tell youwhat I think, I cannot judge your circumstances, but looking to the future foryour children, they will have a better life here. Weighing the difference, theprices are low here, but if you have not mortgaged your land, you are allright. If you have to pay interest, that is high here; 8, 9, sometimes10 % mostly you pay 8% but there is land in abundance. This summerprices were from $600 to $900 and sometimes $1,000 for a 40 acre farm. An acres is about a Muddeland. You have 40 acres here in one piece. Oftenthere is a house with it, but them the price is higher, but you can move rightin. Of course, your brother probably wrote you all of this too. In my opinion,it is better here. But I do not dare encourage you. As far myself, I believethat it is better here. Albert Kannen has 2 horsesand part of his land cleared. He has a good house too. This summer, he plans onbuilding a new barn, so you can see that it is better here than by you. As ofnow, I did not buy land yet.


J. H. Pauls bought 20 acres from Lukus Ensing for $500. No, not 20acres but 40 acres. I bid on it too but stopped with $100. He left it to me for$150 because [illegible] Since I plan for a visit by you, if the Lord wills it, Icannot tell you at the present at what time I am coming. Then we can talk faceto face and do not have to rely on letters which is much more pleasant andcomprehensible. Yes, brother, I have to come to a close with the pen but notwith the heart.


Now receive heartfelt greetings, W. Lubbers, GesinaLubbers and the two little boys. I greet you altogether, Albert Gensink, that is my name.


There is no record of how longAlbert Gensink worked at the Singapore mills, but he eventually bought a farmon the corner of 144th Street and Blue Star Highway, the property is nowpart of the Tulip City Airport.He and Jantien Loeks, whowere married May 6, 1888, a month after her arrival in Michigan, raised five children.


Bird Correspondence

Saugatuck-area residents havebeen going to Floridafor the winter for more than a century. In this brief postcard Desiah (Van Hoesen) Bird, wife ofHenry Bird of Saugatuck writes to her daughter, Mary (Bird) Dean who lived in Ganges, that Uncle Harry and his wife, were headed southfor the winter. They had come for a visit on the A. B. Taylor, the first boatlaunched by Rogers & Bird. Desiah's son, CharlesE. Bird was part owner of the firm.

Saugatuck, Oct. 6th 1884


Dear daughter Mary;


Grandmother, Aunt Kate and Uncle Harry

are here. They came Saturday morning on the Taylor. Will be here thisweek. Hope you can come down to see them. They are as spry and happy asever. Uncle Harry especially, he sometimes calls himself The O1d Harry . All are well at present. Mother will stay with methis winter. Harry and Kate are going to Floridato spend the winter.

Your loving



Harry calls himself "The OldHarry" to avoid confusion with Desiah'sseven-year-old grandson, Harry Bird, son of Charles E. and Hattie (Moffat)Bird.

Below, a letter from about thesame time from Laura (Bird) Pride in Saugatuck to her sister Mary (Bird) Deanin Ganges. Ague was a kind of malaria thatwould return at regular intervals.


Thursday afternoon

Dear Sister:


You say that it is my turn to write but I have my doubts in regard tothat. Yes, I should think that you might divide your little clothing seeingthat you have a good supply and are not in need of it at present. All that Ihave got is not of my own [] more of it has been given to me. Eddie is not atwork at present as he has sawed one of his fingers so that it is impossible forhim to do anything. I guess that he will down to the farm in the morning to getcherries for me to can. We got half of a bushel of strawberries in Chicago and I put up twoquart this morning and I have two quart of cherries day before yesterday.


I had the Ague again but I have escaped it today and I wrote to you Ihave had a spell of having it every day then Uncle doctored me, but he is atSouth Haven now and I have to be my own doctor. .. Ancelialeft here last evening on the 5:15 train. I miss her ever so much and am muchobliged for the blocks. .. Well, I am tired out so I shall have to close. I amjust as weak as a cat so if you know how weak a cat is you will know how weak Iam. No more for this time.


Love to all.

L E Pride