In April 1852 Dirk Jans Miedema, his wife Trijntje Gerrits Riemersma and their baby daughter Janke had left for America in search for a better life. They settled in Holland, Michigan where Dirk became a successful farmer. In 1881 he returned to his native village of Ferwerd to visit his brother and during this return trip he agreed to act as an agent for the N.A.S.M., in particular to the benefit of the less privileged. For that reason Dirk had put the following announcement in the local newspaper:

Dirk Miedema, for 29 years American citizen and now temporarily in Marrum, leaves on April 23, 1881 with the N.A.S.M. from Rotterdam to America. Everybody who wants to join this trip can get information and make application at J. Stroosma, innkeeper in Marrum, and J. van der Veen, agent in Dokkum.

No doubt that his status as a native son of Ferwerd along with being the exponent of a successful emigrant, increased his credibilty and thus also increasing the number of tickets he sold. At any rate, 54 "Ferwerdians" joined the group of travelers which Miedema assembled. They had signed up at one of the several and well attended meetings which Dirk organized in various towns of Ferwerderadeel and were deeply interested in what he had to say about economic prospects in America. Due to a.o. cheap American grain flooding European markets a large number of farm hands was rapidly getting unemployed and many of them were attracted to the U.S.A. where expanding agriculture required a growing work force. Even better: the possibility of becoming farm owners was real in America and wasn't Dirk Jans Miedema the living example of that potential? Still, some of those who joined the group were not interested to become farmers, one of them being Johannes Kornelis van Dijk from Ferwerd who came along in order to spend some time in America. Johannes worked and stayed in Michigan and Chicago and kept a detailed journal of his visit entitled Six months in America.

The Ottawa County US GenWeb Volunteers in Michigan published a biography of Dirk Jans Miedema on their website and generously granted us permission to copy it:


By Charles Armstrong

Dirk Miedema, an energetic general agriculturist and brave veteran of the last Civil War, is a native of Vriesland in the year 1823. His parents, John and Jane (Wiersma) Miedema, born, reared and educated in the Netherlands, after their marriage kept an hotel in a village of their native land, in which employment the father continued until his death, at thirty-eight years of age. The father was a son of Henry and Jante (Koopman) Miedema. The parental grandfather, beginning life as a poor man, through superior business ability and keen intelligence won his upward way to prosperity and wealth. He was a manufacturer of different varieties of extracts, and lived in a flourishing village, owning a farm of sixty acres adjacent to the place. His death he left to his family a fortune of $40,000. The father received a good education and began life for himself at the age of twenty-two, when he married. At his death he left to the care of his widow three children: Henry, deceased; Dirk, our subject; and Baarnd, yet living in the Netherlands. John Miedema was a devout member of the Reformed Church and a sincere Christian man. Our subject was about twelve years of age at the time of demise of his father, and dutifully worked for his mother in the hotel until he reached manhood.
Having arrived at his majority, Mr. Miedema hired out eight years to farmers, his mother meantime having married Dirk Terpstra. While working out by the month our subject was united in marriage with Miss Catherine Riemasma, daughter of Gerrit Anna Riemasma. The one child born of the union in the Old Country is Jane, married to Rinke DeVries. After emigrating to America in 1852, six children were born, four of whom died young. The two surviving are: Anna, wife of Jacob Dagger; and Maggie, wife of John Ter Beek. Our subject received some money from his grandfather’s estate and with his bequest paid for the passage of himself and family across the sea to the land of promise, America. When Mr. Miedema, with his wife and child reached Kalamazoo his capital consisted of $6 in money, supplemented by a large stock of hope and self-reliance. Very soon receiving employment, he worked by the day for one year, and then came to Holland, Ottawa County, where he has since continued to reside. Through hard work and prudent effort our subject was in a comparatively brief time enabled to purchase thirty acres of ground where he now lives, and to whose extent he has thriftfully added until he possesses seventy valuable acres, once heavily timbered but brought by Mr. Miedema up to a highly profitable state of cultivation and improved with excellent buildings.
In 1861 our subject enlisted in Company D, Second Michigan Cavalry, and was in the army of the Cumberland. Engaging in many decisive battles of the long campaign, Mr. Miedema fought with courage at Shiloh, Perryville, Boonville, Corinth, Franklin, Murfreesboro and Brandwood. During the latter battle our subject was severely wounded in the head, on the left side, by a Minnie-ball. Falling from his horse his foot caught in the stirrup and he was dragged some twenty rods. After remaining at the camp hospital about two months, he went to the hospital in Nashville a few days and was later taken to the convalescent camp, where he received his discharge in July, 1863. Mr. Miedema is an honored member of A. C .Van Raalte Post No. 262. G.A.R. He is in religious affiliation a member of the Seceder Church of Holland. Interested in all matters of mutual welfare and ever ready to assist in the public work of his home locality, our subject is highly respected and possesses the regard of many friends.

The above stories are based on information from:
- Annemieke Galema's book "Frisians to America 1880-1914".
- "Origin" magazine published by Calvin College Archives,Grand Rapids, Michigan.
- Many thanks to the Ottawa County, Michigan US GenWeb Volunteer Project.