Pelmulder Story
By Craig Jennings
10/29/04

In the summer of 2004, Albert Geurink, Winsum, The Netherlands, researched the archives in the Province of Groningen, The Netherlands for Pelmulder family records. Using the facts uncovered by these records, the following narrative, attempts to describe the story of the Pelmulder family and their neighbors (and eventually their relatives) the van Dijks.

We know from their marriage certificate that Jelle Jans (Mulder), (born about 1748) and Anje Pieters (born about 1757) were married 7 August, 1784. He was 36, and she was 27. We have no knowledge as to who Jelle Jans (Mulder)'s parents were. Anje Pieters, even at this young age, had been married twice before and had a son by her second husband named Pieter Roelfs, later called Pieter Roelfs (Mulder).

In 1785, this couple had their first child, a daughter named Jantje Jelles. When she was 20, (on 3 June 1805) she marries Derk Fokkes Fokkens. He was a gold and silversmith, money lender, and property appraiser and Alderman of the town of Appingedam. He was a very influential member of the community.

On 9 May 1792, Jelle Jans (Mulder) and Anje Pieters bought a windmill from Elizabeth Beerents, for 9,000 guilders. Jelle Jans (Mulder) also borrowed 500 Guilders from Albert Stoffers (later he added the surname "van Dijk") the same day. This is the first record of the relationship of the Pelmulders and the van Dijks. We believe the loan was needed to help finance the purchase of the mill.

In 1793, they had a son, Jan Jelles, and in 1798 they had a second son, Kornelis Jelles. Sometime, around 1813, when Holland was occupied by the French under Emperor Napoleon, all Dutch citizens were required to register a surname with the civil authorities. We believe Jelle Jans (Mulder)'s, three children (Jantje Jelles, Jan Jelles and Kornelis Jelles) adopted the name "Pelmulder" which describes their father's profession of "mulder" or "miller" using "Peel" or wind power for grinding corn to meal and cracking the shells of barley or buckwheat (called "groats"). The two words together result in "Pelmulder". Neither father Jelle Jans (Mulder) or his stepson, Pieter Roelfs (Mulder), were ever referred to as Pelmulder in the records.

In the Dutch Reformed Church in Opwierde, Province of Groningen, Jan Jelles (Mulder) was a "church-warden". This office was responsible for gifts such as "peat", clothes, food, etc., to the poor, in the "Armenhuis" or "house of the poor". He was a church-warden from 1800 to 1805. He was praised in the church records for saving the church hundred of guilders each year, but in 1806 his last year, he only saved two guilders and change. Albert believes that this is a reflection of the French occupation and the English naval blockade resulting in poor economic conditions that raised prices and reduced incomes. Jelles Jan (Mulder) remained involved in Opwierde church government (i. e., deacon) after his position as warden. These church records establish his belief in the Dutch Reformed tradition, a precursor of the Calvinistic Protestant Traditions such as in the United States the Presbyterian Denomination.

Then on 14 April, 1810, Jelle Jans (Mulder) dies. A month later both Albert Stoffers van Dijk and his wife Aaltje Hemmes die. No record of the cause of these deaths has been found. Jelle Jans (Mulder) was 62. Was there a medical cause, such as influenza? Now his wife Anje Pieters is the owner of the windmill. And Jan Jelles is probably the Miller.

In 1815 their son Jan Jelles Pelmulder marries Martje Alberts van Dijk. He was 22 and she was 23. She brought a 6,000 guilder dowry to the marriage.

She is the daughter of the man that Jelles Jan (Mulder) borrowed 500 guilders from in 1792. We believe the van Dijks and the Pelmulders knew each other either socially or from church. They lived on opposite sides of Appingedam and the river. Stoffers van Dijk apparently was a wealthy fanner. His daughter Martje Alberts van Dijk had a dowry even though her parents had been dead for 5 years. As before mentioned above, in another unexplained mystery, her parents died within 10 days of each other in May 1810.

By 21 July, 1819 when Martje Alberts van Dijk and her husband Jan Jelles Pelmulder bought the mill, she had inherited another 11,000 guilders through the division of her parent's property between herself and her brother Stoffers Beerents van Dijk. She probably used this inheritance to help her husband, Jan Jelles Pelmulder, to buy the windmill from his mother.

Jan Jelles Pelmulder and Martje Alberts van Dijk had two children: son, Jelle Jans Pelmulder, (born 1817 and who immigrated to Pella, Iowa) and daughter, Aaltje Jans Pelmulder, (born 1819).

But I'm getting ahead of my story. On 21 April 1819, Anje Pieters disposes of her property resulting in a total net income of 19,968 guilders. She keeps ½ (9984 guilders), and gives 1/3 of the other half (3328 guilders) to each of her children: Aaltje Jelles Pelmulder, Jan Jelles Pelmulder, and Kornelis Jelles Pelmulder). Her first son Pieter Roelfs (Mulder) gets nothing at this point, but after her death in 1821, he gets his rented house, a "bleach field" and a gift of 2400 guilders. A "bleach field" is a piece of land like a meadow, to put wet cloth in the sun to bleach before it is made into clothing.

Now, Anje Pieters is no longer in the mill business.

On the same day, her son Jan Jelles Pelmulder buys the windmill, house, building, tools, land for 10,019 guilders, and 4½ "grazen" land (probably a grassy meadow for cattle to eat or graze on) for 950 guilders. Jan Jelle Pelmulder probably used the 3,328 guilders from his mother and part of Martje Albert van Dijk's inheritance to help pay for the mill. We do not know that he could operate a windmill. He was referred to as a professional "Peel miller". He probably began to run the mill when he was only 17 and his father died.

Jan Jelles Pelmulder and Martje Alberts van Dijk decide to sell the mill at public auction on 4 November, 1819 for 12,200 guilders. Thats only 6 months later.

Jan Jelles dies 8 Dec 1820 at the age of 27 (9 months after the sale of the mill at public auction). His mother Anje Pieters dies in 17 Dec 1821 and his wife Martje Alberts van Dijk dies in 3 Dec 1847.

Eight years after his mother, Martje Alberts van Dijk dies, Jelle Jans Pelmulder a schoolteacher, his wife Trijntje Klazes Heeringa (married 1 May 1841) and their five children leave for Iowa. He states in his letters home that as a school teacher he was only making 200 guilders a year and couldn't support his family. Their trip from Holland to Iowa is contained it the letters from Jelle Jans Pelmulder to friends in The Netherlands which were later published in a book. These letters were originally written in Dutch.

In Summary, the years 1819, 1820, and 1821 were eventful, and leave many unanswered questions. Why did Anje Pieters divide her property, settle her debts, and sell the mill in April 1819 to her son? Then why did her son Jan Jelles Pelmulder and his wife Martje Alberts van Dijk only keep the mill for 6 months and then sell it at public auction in November 1819? Son Jan Jelles Pelmulder dies 9 months later in 1820, only 27 years old, and his mother Anje Pieters dies a year later in 1821, 64 years old. Did disease strike? We may never know."

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