by Bob Reitsma

Andries Reitsma was born on April 14, 1869 in Reitsum, where he was raised. This city is still in the province of Vriesland in the Netherlands. He was the second son of eight children, six boys and two girls, of which one son emigrated to the United States in 1905.

His father had been active in the Dutch Reformed Reformation in 1886 when he had to carry a rifle in church because he was an elder, to protect the minister from the authorities.

One little anecdote that happened to Andries when he was a boy was when he was pushing a baby carriage with his older brother John and a baby in it, and pushed so hard that it coasted by itself near a canal! Their father was watching them, then lost “his cool” and proceeded to hit them on the head with his straw hat. But since Andries’ head was so small Andries ended up with the brim of the hat around his neck, like a collar. In other words, the top popped right off the hat.

Andries Reitsma got married in 1890 to a lady named Sjaakje Brems when she was seventeen. This shows that his wife was quite a bit younger than Andries. They had five children of which one is still living, Anne Vierzen.

In 1902 the Anti-Revolutionary Party was formed and Andries became a life long member. This political party was based on Reformed principles and got its inspiration from Abraham Kuyper, who became the Prime Minister in the Netherlands.

Andries’ best and favorite thing he liked to do was his occupation, farming. His father didn’t want him to be a farmer, but a carpenter. Andries became a farmer anyway, although he was skilled in working with wood. After he got married he moved to Finkum, Friesland, and specialized in growing clover seeds. On February 22, 1906, Andries was awarded a bronze medal by the Friesland Agricultural Society for growing the second best yield of clover seed. This was quite an honor because Friesland was pretty big and he got second best in it! He was awarded for this a second time, too! My father still has these bronze medals which were handed to him because he is name after him.

Later on, in 1910, he moved to a town called Vrowabuirstermolen and specialized in growing potatoes. In his spare time he liked to work with wood. He made various kinds of toys for his children like wagons, wheelbarrows and windmills.

In 1916 he moved to Anjum where he had many horses, and still grew crops. He was needed four horses to pull a plow because the ground was hard there.

Andries finally retired from farming in 1925 and moved again, to the city of Leeuwarden, and became quite active in the church until in 1940 when he passed away.

A few coincidences about this report are:
        (1) Andries Reitsma is my father’s name too.
        (2) My great-grandfather’s birthday is on my parent’s anniversary.
        (3) Where Andries Reitsma was born and raised was the city called Reitsum.

Prepared with the help of my father Andrew (Andries) Reitsma.