I've always kept an eye on Jennie's headstone as she and 3 of my grandpa's uncles are buried in close proximity at Greenwood Cemetery in Grand Rapids MI. They are right as you pull in the cemetery and close to the road so easy to find. My dad remembers finding them when he used to work at the cemetery (he didn't know who they were). My grandpa took me here once to visit them and after my grandpa's health started to slide (and he's now since passed) I've taken it upon myself to be the caregiver.
I brought my grandma with me and as we were leaving the cemetery I told her I like to think my grandpa smiled with his approval that I came and did this. Jennie has very few descendants and even fewer that know she existed so I don't believe anyone else is going to do it.
Jennie was born Jeltje van der Ploeg 2/16/1871 at Hantum, Friesland Netherlands to Jan Folkerts van der Ploeg (1827-1879) and Etje Sjoerds Heeringa (1834-1917). She was one of only two children born to them, the other being her sister Folkje "Florence" (1867-1941) who married 1st to Jan Gerbens van der Woude (1862-1907) and 2nd to Anne Jans Machiela (1865-1949).
I know very little about Jennie's life. In 1861 her father's occupation is listed as farmer - in 1871 (at her birth) he's listed as a "roadworker". I'd assume they were just your average family. Upon his death the family stayed in Hantum until 3/27/1893 when they embarked (as steerage passengers) for Grand Rapids MI aboard the ship "Obdam" under the family name "van der Woude". Folkje and her husband had their children Gerben Jans and Ettje Jans, Jeltje and their mother Etje traveled with Jan Gerbens and his mother and 3 of his siblings. I'm unsure why they left the Netherlands or chose Grand Rapids as their new home. They arrived in New York 4/15/1893.
|Ship "Obdam" - source of photo unknown|
Jennie died 3/24/1918 at Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids. Due to the butchering of the Korstanje name (that I still deal with myself to this day with Korstange) it took me years to find the death record or an obituary. The Western Michigan Genealogical Society (wmgs.org) has it indexed as Korseanje (I've sent them a request to update). It's indexed even worse at www.seekingmichigan.org as "James Koestarve". Looking at the obituary I can understand the error there - the death certificate, not so much.
Jan went on to remarry but didn't have any more children. He's buried with his 2nd wife but Jennie's 2 young sons are buried near her and her son James within a few lots. My grandfather always told me that she died during the flu pandemic of 1918 which made him guess that's how she died. When I finally found her death certificate it showed she died of uterine cancer. I've been in touch with grandchildren of her sister Florence but I don't know of much contact between the families otherwise. I wish my grandpa could have known his grandmother and that I had a better story for Jennie.