History of the First Settlers of Graafschap

(Article in the De Grondwet, a local Dutch newspaper June 10, 1913
from a series written by Gerrit VanSchelven)
(This article was sent by Denise Slattery who found it in a Oklahoma City library.)

The relative close proximity to Singapore, with its saw mills in the summer season and its logging camps in the winter, gave a great relief to the Graafschap settlement in the early days, and especially to the younger members of its families. It enabled them very materially in bridging over the first years of pioneering, when the labor in opening the first "clearing" and cutting highways through the dense forests did not bring in any immediate returns. Besides, the topography of much of Graafschap, while it was in the wild, and before draining could be resorted to, was not the most inviting, requiring as it did much hard labor.

Limiting this article to that part of Graafschap which lies in the township of Fillmore, I desire to make brief mention of its first settler, Anton Schorno. He was a native of Switzerland and spent the first years of his residence in these parts in Singapore, while that burgh was in it prime, arriving there in 1837. In 1843 he bought a tract of land in Sec. 26, and moved onto it with his family. This was in the south part of the town, and being located on the main trail between Kalamazoo and what is now Grand Haven, the home of Mr. Schorno served as a hotel and half-way house for the infrequent travelers, who were mostly settlers on their westward way. The size and capacity of his dwelling limiting it was often taxed to its utmost to accommodate the transients that applied.

Another settler, an American, who made himself very useful to the first Graafschap settlers, was George Harrington, Sr. he was one of those practical Eastern Yankees, and with his diversified experience was of great value to the early Colonits, in teaching them the first rudiments of American forest life how to wield the axe, fell the trees, clear the land, build brush fences, save the right timber for fence rails, handle an ox team, open roads, etc., etc. How he came to be located in the Holland Colony at this period has been told by his son, Edward J. Harrington.

Isaac Fairbanks was another who provided services and co-operation with the Colony.

Among the Graafschap colonists there were but few that had money, most of these having barely enough to secure the preemption of their land (The homestead law was not yet enacted.).

Many lived a while in temporary dwellings made of boughs, with leaky roofs, resulting in considerable sickness. The small pox at one time also prevailed to a considerable extent among them.

Among the early settlers in Fillmore Township we find the names of :


Arens, Geert
Bonselaar, H.
Bouws, Riekus
Boven, Pieter
Brouwer, Gerrit
Brouwer, Gerrit
DeFrel, Jacob
Deters, Jan
DeWit, Gerrit
Elenbaas, Johannes
Ellen, Pieter
Eskes, A.
Eskes, H.
Fairbanks, Stephen
Glupker, J. H.
Gravelink Family
Hellenthal, Johannes
Kamps, B.
Klomparens, Hendrik J.
Kooyers, G. W.
Kronemeyer, J. G.
Lenters, Derk
Lokker, Cornelius
Manting, Dr. G.
Manting, H.
Nies Family
Nyland, Evert
Oldemeijer, Willem
Otten, John
Overbeek, Johannes
Plasman, William
Russcher, N.
Schaap, Cornelis
Schaap, Jacob
Schaap, Otto
Schepers, Rev. Jacob R.
Schrotenboer, Johannes
Schutmast, Hendrik
Siebelink, Jan H.
Sluyter, T.
Smit, Harm
Strabbing, hendrik
Strabbing, Herman
Streur, Jan H.
TenCate, J. H.
Tinholt, Geert
VanAnrooy, Jan
VandenBelt, Jannes
VanTubbergen, Geert
VanTubbergen, Martinus
Verlee, Pieter
Vork, Jan


The first pastor was Rev. H. G. Kleyn, who came in 1848 from Middelburg, Netherlands. The first school teacher was Miss Martha Lamoraux, a daughter of Thomas Lamoraux, of Manlius.


Transcriber: ES
Created: 13 July 2006
URL: http://ottawa.migenweb.net/holland/history/graafschap.html