Munster, Indiana

Some of my Dutch ancestors not only founded Roseland, but also founded Munster, a small town in the extreme northwestern part of Indiana, 27 miles southeast of Roseland.

According to Munster historical records, the Monster family (anglicized to Munster) arrived in America from the Netherlands on July 5, 1855 on the ship the “Mississippi”. Eldert Monster and his wife, Neeltje, purchased some land north of Ridge Road and east of what is today Calumet Avenue and eventually the wilderness land was converted into productive farm land. Eldert’s son, Jacob, was an important part in the growth of Munster later on after opening the Munster General Store in 1870. The store not only attracted customers from Lansing to Highland, it also served as a gathering place. In the corner of the store stood a small oak desk, which served as the area’s first post office, with Jacob being the first postmaster. The town was incorporated and named after Jacob in 1907, eventually becoming a booming town that attracted many people.

Before opening the store, Jacob served in the Civil War. After the war, he returned and married Henrietta Van Mijnen in 1867, who was the sister of my paternal great-great grandmother, Johanna. They had a total of thirteen children.

Source: Munster Historical Society — around 1905

Other Dutch ancestors were also early settlers in Munster. According to a Chicago Tribune article dated April 2, 2016 by Nancy Coltun Webster, Jacob Schoon was born and farmed there until getting a job at U.S. Steel because the farming was so labor intensive. Jacob was a brother of Aaltje Schoon Dekker, my paternal great-great grandmother. Family members of his decided to stay, including Dirk and Dora Schoon. They owned almost all of the land south of Ridge Road to the Schoon Ditch along Fisher Street between Hohman and Calumet avenues.

My father and I planned to take a trip this spring to see Munster and where Jacob is buried, but that trip has been put on hold because of the pandemic. But something to look forward to when things eventually become normal again!

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