Reasons For Immigration

Hendrik’s family was being persecuted by the ruling family of ‘t Zandt because of their religion, and jobs weren’t exactly available for Hendrik’s five older brothers either. It was about this time that a day laborer named Abel Schoonveld, Hendrik’s father, decided it was time for a move. Hendrik Schoonveld came to America when he was only 11. He traveled in a boat called the Rotterdam, sailing from the Dutch port of Rotterdam. His family traveled in the hold of the ship, or the steerage, and they may have even had to provide their own food for the voyage! During the long ocean trip, which took about 18 days, Hendrik’s mother was pregnant, and must have been very uncomfortable. After they arrived in New York, going through Ellis Island, they took a train to Chicago to meet Jacobus Smit, the husband of Harmke’s sister, who was their sponsor and their gateway into America. They had come to America a few years earlier, but are not part of my direct family tree. The Schoonvelds then went directly to their new home on Archer Avenue in Cook County, Chicago, Illinois. Hendrik was likely to speak Dutch, but most likely could not read or write Dutch because of his young age. It is also unlikely that he knew how to read, write, or speak English. He was taunted in the Summit school he attended for about two years, made fun of, and he had his name Americanized by the teachers there, who called him Henry instead of Hendrik. It was a hard first few years for the Schoonvelds, but they gradually adjusted, and got jobs selling produce at a market and working in various stores along an area of Cook County called Brighton Park.

See also Emigration from Groningen by Robert P. Swierenga

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