Nellie Vander Weit
Schwier, the fifth child of Abe and Jeltje
(Offringa) Vander Weit, was born in Friesland, The Netherlands on
She had a very hard life as a child because they were poor
a family of ten. She was never permitted to sit idle and
learned sewing, mending, knitting, crocheting at a very early age. An
of this is an incident she told me about how they enjoyed going ice
but so that they would not be idle, they had to do their knitting while
they ice skated, or they were not allowed to go. She only went to the
grade in school and used her Bible to guide her through the rest of her
years. As a young girl she taught knitting and crocheting at school one
afternoon a week.
Since Nellie could not afford a wedding dress, she remodeled
of her mother’s old dresses to get married in. On May 8, 1907, Theodore
Phillip Schwier became her husband and they came to America on their
They lived on 24th Street in Paterson. Her husband’s first job was in a
dye house. Nellie had a difficult time adjusting to this strange land
a strange language.
Theodore and Nellie then moved into their home which was
her cousin, Mr. Richard Zuidema, (a relative of many) on North 14th
in Prospect Park. Their family consisted of nine children: Phillip,
John R., Martha, Anna (Mrs. Jack Faber), Abe, Agnes (Mrs. C.J. Higby),
Richard and Jeanette (Mrs. William Faber).
Many trials came in their life. Their oldest son contacted
in his early teens and their oldest daughter, Elsie, who many people
to know and admire, was born with a rare bone disease called Ostea
In 1926, at the doctor’s advice, the oldest son and their
old daughter who had bronchitis, were sent to Colorado for their
Money was hard to come by and expenses mounted. Nellie had a very
but quiet faith and always maintained that the Lord would provide. She
returned in 1927 to bring their daughter back but their son had to
in Bethesda. In 1928, a telegram was received stating that their son
failing fast. Her husband, who had just begun to work after being
for several months, could not accompany her, so she returned to
alone. A strong desire to see his family and die at home was granted
doctors’consultation. However, while enroute through Nebraska, he
away. Arrangements were made for her to get off the train with the body
in Omaha. Once again she was in a strange place not knowing anyone, but
her faith never failed her as she knew in her heart that God was right
there to lead the way, and guide in her hour of need. The people were
kind and helped her with the necessary arrangements. Back on the train
they went for the long trip to New Jersey.
Nellie was a devoted wife and mother, never one to give up
encouraging her children to look ahead. If she needed help, she would
a certain shade down in their house on North 14th Street and her mother
could see that from her home on North 9th Street and would come over
they didn’t have a telephone.
Nellie spent many untiring hours caring for her invalid
yet a smile was always on her face and she appreciated everything. Two
of their sons were willing to serve their country in the armed forces.
One received a Citation Bronze Star Medal. A daughter became a Cadet
Nellie was one of the original members at the first meeting
7, 1933 to form the North Fourth Street Christian School Ladies’ Aid.
was a very willing and conscientious worker in spite of her busy
She also became an active member of the Eastern Christian Ladies’
another hard working school society. She was a charter member of both
when she died last year. The cause of Christian Education was always
she was working and praying for. She was grateful to see some of her
grandchildren and now even her great-grandchildren attend Eastern
Schools. The family were members of the Second Holland Reformed Church
now the Second Christian Reformed Church.
Soon after the death of her daughter, Elsie, she took up
in the Holland Home. She was thankful to be part of this home and the
of people sharing her same background. She still visited with her
regularly and attended church services as much as possible. She enjoyed
her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and they all enjoyed being
At the time of her death, Nellie had twenty-seven
thirty-two great-grandchildren. Incidently, I had the honor of being
She went home to be with her Savior on December 11, 1975 at
of ninety-two. She was truly a Christian to all who knew her and loved
her as well as those who came in contact with her. A great-grandmother
with the love of God in her heart – an example of faith to the end.