Contributed by:

Andries Dijkstra

While collecting the archives of the Reformed Church at Marrum-Westernijkerk in 1981 in order to deposit them at It Ryksargyf in Leeuwarden, a notebook was found in the old pastorhouse which obviously was not part of the archives. The booklet contained notes of the “Maatschappij tot Nut van het Algemeen, depart Marrum-Ferwerd” (“Society to Benefit in General, department Marrum-Ferwerd”) covering the years 1853 - 1858.

When browsing the notes it appears that “ it Nut” met four or five times per year, generally in the months January, February, March, April and/or October, November and December. This happened by turns in both Marrum as Ferwerd which didn’t always work out the way it should: on January 5, 1857 a remark was made on the list of attendance that “all from Marrum and (Wester)Nijkerk were not present due to unfavourable weather conditions”. On these evenings the men (back in the ol’ days women were not allowed to participate!) discussed items such as wether or not to continue the “commission of the library for the purpose of completing and binding books available at the same”. Also some of them organized a "Rehearsal annex Singing school" for (older) children who had left or had to leave primary school. Furthermore they entertained each other by means of lectures and recitals. Becoming a member of “it Nut” was strictly subject to voting and it may be concluded that -at least in those days- the Society was of a somewhat exclusive nature.
Nowadays it may be interesting to read the minutes of one of the get-togethers:

“Meeting of February 3, 1858 at S. Mellema in Marrum”

After the opening the roll-call was made. Present were the Heeren (read: Gentlemen): Bokma, Hofma, Mellema, Metzlar, Osinga Sr., van der Woude, de Groot, Jensma, Baarda, Dr. Martens, Rev. van Velzen, Dr. van Velzen, Feenstra and Heijermans. Absentees: Rev. de Boer, Hovinga, van der Meij due to illness, Heeringa, Klazinga (ill) and Mulder (also ill). Next the minutes of the previous session were read and approved after which the secretary announced that the Singing-school at Marrum had been reopened. The following item was the foundation of a Boarding-school and after ample discussion it was decided to gather more information and keep this subject pending notwithstanding some words of recommendation by the chairman.
By now it was time for Dr. Martens -main speaker that evening- to point out the natural and moral value of smoking. His speech included various aspects and contemplations and was very well received by his audience. Dr. van Velzen was next and informed his fellow-members about: “Health, how to get it and how to keep it”. Then Mr. Heijmans contributed to the meeting by means of a Proclamation which he had given to his brother in order to pass on his wishes to his niece in connection with her upcoming wedding. Last speaker of the evening was Mr. Feenstra who recited a poem of van Koolbrugge: “ Aan mijne wieg” (“At my cradle”). The minutes note that all speakers gave the other members moments of great joy and pleasure.

At the end of the evening the chairman suggested to start the next meeting at 5 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. which proposal was postponed to be discussed next time at the home of Mr. Klazinga in Ferwerd on Monday, March 3 at which occasion Mr. Feenstra would be the main speaker whereas Mr. Metzlar and Mr. van der Woude would also contribute.