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19th Century Emigration to the USA: A Journey Into the Unknown. The Destination
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19th Century Emigration to the USA: A Journey Into the Unknown. The Destination
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The Destination

 
First church at Little Chute
The first church in Little Chute was erected in 1836.
Having been on a rolling vessel for over 40 days, the settlers now travelled by train - in boxcars - to Albany and from there via Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan to Green Bay: a trip of approximately 20 days. Next the Libra passengers went on for two more days up the river Fox as far as Little Chute.

Here the American dream changed into a real nightmare: the arable land the emigrants had expected turned out to be primeval forest. There were no houses, so they were forced to live in makeshift huts of twigs and leaves. Many wished they had stayed at home in their good old Brabant...

Van den Broek built a primitive church and gradually social and economic life began to develop. Not far from Little Chute a Franciscan monk and van den Broek's rival, Adrianus Gothard, founded Franciscus Bosch, the present Hollandtown.

Whereas Father van den Broek persuaded many poor farmers from the province of Brabant to go to the USA to build up a new existence, it was a certain Johannes (John) Smits (Smith) who lured many Limburgers to Wisconsin.

Johannes Smits
Johannes Smits
Johannes Smits was born at Swolgen (approximately 2 miles west of Broekhuizenvorst) on 29 July 1845. When he was 11 years old his father - a poor local shopkeeper - died. Now John had to take a job as a cowherd to support his mother as well as his three younger brothers and sisters. They cannot but have been very tough years for all of them. Yet, doing business was in John's blood: at the early age of 16 he travelled to Rotterdam to sell the eggs he had bought from local farmers and took back groceries and other goods which he sold in his native village. After an 18-month compulsory military service, John became a bricklayer and moved to Little Chute in Wisconsin in 1869. He had been invited by an uncle who lived there. John arrived in the New World with only one shabby suit and 10 dollars.

For three years he worked as a bricklayer, building big ovens in Green Bay and De Pere. In the meantime he studied English and in 1873 became an agent of an insurance and steamship company, the 'Red Star Line'.

In the course of these years he started recruiting emigrants from North Brabant and Limburg. He regularly returned to the Netherlands to take back new settlers.

Smits' ad
John Smith
Dutch notary
Authorised Agent for the Sale of Land in America
in DEPERE (WI) North America
The friends who intend to emigrate to the US, but who have to remain behind now due to the fact that they will not be ready in time to join my trip on 19 March by SS "Belgenland" are advised to apply for tickets for the passage as soon as possible to the main agent of the "Red Star Line", Mr. Heerde in Rotterdam who will send you all information on request.


Being a mayor of De Pere as well as a lawyer and notary, he helped his newly-arrived American citizens to draw up official documents in English, Dutch and German. With these documents they could inherit goods and money at the moment their parents in the Netherlands died.

He did, however, not forget those he had left behind in Swolgen, his native village. He regularly sent letters to the local newspaper, the Venloosch Dagblad, to inform those who had remained behind of what happened to their relatives in Wisconsin.

Between 1865 and 1890 many villagers left Broekhuizen and Broekhuizenvorst: most of them went to De Pere.


The following list contains the names of those who set sail between 1869 and 1885.

Helena Achten
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 6 October 1840
Peter Bos
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 29 March 1833
Jacomina Burgers
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 12 April 1814
John van Baekel
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 26 September 1843
Peter van Baekel
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 5 November 1869
Christoffel Baeten
    born at Sevenum 2 March 1824
Francina Baeten
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 3 September 1857
Martinus Baeten
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 9 April 1859
Christian Baeten
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 8 December 1860
Gerardus Baeten
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 29 November 1862
Johanna Baeten
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 9 July 1865
Paulina Baeten
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 26 October 1834
Petronella Baeten
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 24 June 1867
Antoon Baeten
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 23 December 1869
Henricus Baeten
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 25 February 1872
Gertruda Baetsen
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 9 July 1849
Adrianus De Bijll
    born at Wanssum 14 May 1810
Johannes De Bijll
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 7 August 1837
Gerardus De Bijl
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 20 March 1840
Hendrina De Bijl
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 25 November 1852
Andreas Coopmans
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 30 September 1855
Antoine Coopmans
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 2 February 1861
Maria Coopmans
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 2 April 1865
Gerardus Coopmans
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 15 February 1871
Elizabeth Derix
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 10 May 1841
Anna Francken
left for the USA in 1873 aged 34
Catharina Francken
    born at Broekhuizenvorst aged 31
Christiaan Francken
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 23 December 1843
Willem Francken
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 17 July 1841
Christiaan Hendrix
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 15 May 1852
Maria Hendrix
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 9 April 1856
Willem Hendrix
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 24 January 1854
Maria Janssen
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 15 August 1830
Christiaan Keuken
    born at Lottum 4 April 1842
Maria Keuken
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 6 April 1872
Anna Keuken
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 7 February 1874
Peter Keuken
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 15 January 1876
Fransiscus Keuken
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 14 December 1877
Johanna van Lier
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 22 November 1824
Gerard Linskens
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 9 August 1827
Peter Linskens
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 6 September 1863
Johannes Linskens
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 26 October 1866
Hubertus Linskens
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 9 December 1867
Antoon Linskens
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 14 October 1872
Agnes Looyen
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 3 February 1830
Johanna Minten
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 14 November 1854
Jan Mathijs Minten
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 20 April 1837
Matheus Minten
    born at Horst 6 December 1812
Nicolaas Minten
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 11 March 1847
Gerardus Minten
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 11 March 1849
Anna Maria Minten
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 21 April 1851
Johanna Minten
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 14 November 1854
Elizabeth Munsters
    born at Swolgen 20 June 1830
Hendrik Nabben
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 20 April 1835
Helena Nabben
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 6 August 1863
William Nabben
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 23 September 1865
Mathijs Nabben
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 14 February 1868
Leonard Nabben
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 9 May 1873
Petronella Schneiders
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 29 May 1863
Anna Smeeten
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 7 August 1810
Jan Willem van Soest
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 6 May 1846
Anton Tiesen
    born at Broekhuizenvorst aged 30
Hendrina Tiesen
    born at Broekhuizenvorst aged 19
Jan Tiessen
    born at Broekhuizenvorst aged 30 ( + 2 children)
Johanna Tiesen
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 20 January 1855 aged 17
Henry Titulaer
? 23 November 1843
Leonard Schneiders
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 1868 aged 44 ( wife + 5 children)
Peter Schneiders
    born at Broekhuizenvorst aged 41 (wife + 1 child)
Peter Smits
    born at Maasbree 14 April 1814
Johannes Smits
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 27 September 1841
Helena Smits
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 7 November 1844
Gerardus Smits
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 25 June 1853
Anna Smits
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 5 December 1849
Jan Vergelt
    born at Broekhuizenvorst aged 30
Antoinette v den Wollenberg
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 16 April 1876
Catharina v den Wollenberg
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 3 June 1879
Gerarda v den Wollenberg
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 12 September 1882
Gerardus v den Wollenberg
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 30 April 1877
Johan v den Wollenberg
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 27 August 1845
Johan Albert v den Wollenberg
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 30 July 1880
Josefina v den Wollenberg
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 27 June 1878
Maria v den Wollenberg
    born at Broekhuizenvorst 22 April 1875

Many couples had children who, of course, accompanied their parents to the new fatherland. They, however, are not listed here, but there were families which had as many as 10 offspring.

Written by English for Business

Netherlands