Thursday, January 14, 2016

Braided Migration Streams: Fonkerts and Weedas

One of my favorite geographical features is braided streams. These are streams that run across terrain so flat that the they split into diverging channels that meander, wend back and forth across each other, and recombine as the stream works across a meadow or down a shallow valley on its way to the sea. Something like this happens to individuals and families as they stream across time toward the present. Paths cross, separate, and sometimes come back together in the most unexpected places.

John Fonkert-Monefay Hanson Marriage, Tingley, Iowa
Let's start with the easy part. John Marion Fonkert married Monefay Grace Hanson 10 August 1946 in the wood frame Methodist church in tiny Tingley, Iowa.  Monefay had grown up in Tingley in Ringgold County along the Iowa-Missouri border. John had grown up in deeply Dutch Sioux County in far northwest Iowa.  Monefay's father and mother were Swedish and German, respectively. John's parents were 2nd generation Dutch immigrants.

It's not completely clear how John and Monefay met, except that it was in Seattle, a very long way from Iowa. John Fonkert, who had been in active duty since May 1942, shipped out for foreign service 7 August 1945, one day after the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and two days before the attack on Nagasaki. Actually, because the International Dateline was involved, I'm not completely certain of the exact timing of his departure relative to the dropping of the bombs. One wonders what was on the mind of the sailors aboard the ship -- I have in my mind that it was a hospital ship. He returned from foreign service in March 1946 and was discharged -- at Seattle, I think -- in April 1946. This is all from his World War II Bonus case file (State Historical Society of Iowa).

I think it was the summer of 1946 (1945 seems unlikely, given the status of the war) that Monefay Hanson and some high school or college friends took a road trip to Seattle. How they managed this, I have no idea. Anyway, the story is that John and Monefay met in Seattle.  If it was the summer of 1946, it was a short engagement.

Thus concludes the front end of this story. Now for the short middle part. Monefay's mother was Eda (aka Edith) Romkee, daughter of William Romkee and Cahta (aka Kate) Gerloff. Edith had a sister named Cahta (aka Kate) who married Dick Weeda in Ringgold County in 1903.

Now, the back end of the story. While researching my Fonkert ancestors, I found my great-grandfather -- John Marion's grandfather -- living in Pella, Iowa, in 1870 with the family of Dirk and Maaike Weeda. I wasn't aware of the 1903 Weeda-Romkee marriage at this point, but the Weeda name was familiar from childhood visits to Tingley. It seemed there were Weedas everywher. Now, I wondered, could this Pella family be the Weeda family that Kate Romkee married into in Ringgold County?

1870 U.S. Census, Pella, Marion County, Iowa

Indeed, it was. In 1870, Dirk and Maaike Weeda had a son, Arie, 18.  In March 1871, Arie married Aaltje van Vliet in Pella. Dick (actually, Dirk) Weeda was born in December. The Arie Weeda family was living in Tingley, Ringgold County in 1900; Dick, 28, headed a separate household including his brother, Neal, and his sister, Maggie. Then, in December 1903, Dick Weeda married Kate Romkee, daughter of William Romkee and Katie Gerloff.  The bride was Monefay Hanson's aunt.

Kate Romkee and Dick Weeda
Put in personal terms, my great-grandfather, Peter Fonkert emigrated to Pella, Iowa, in 1870, where he first boarded with the family of Dirk Weeda. More than 75 years later, my father, John Marion Fonkert, married Monefay Grace Hanson, a niece of Kate Romkee, who married Dirk Weeda's grandson, Dick.

Weeda is a Dutch name. Arie Weeda was born to Dirk Weeda and Maaike Waardenburg 21 November 1851 in Oud Beijerland -- where Peter Fonkert was born in 1845. There is no evidence the Fonkerts and Weedas were related, but the families likely knew each other in Oud Beijerland. It is possible Peter knew he had a place to stay when he arrived in Pella.

No comments:

Post a Comment