Schoon Family and Munster, Indiana

This is a photo of Pieter Schoon and his family. Pieter is a brother of my paternal great-great grandmother, Aaltje (Schoon) Dekker. The information in this post, the photo below, and the tombstone photo all came from the book The Dutch in the Calumet Region by Ken Bult, which is an excellent book and I only wish it was longer! According to the book, in 1867, the family left their home of Broek op Langendijk in the Netherlands, settled first in Roseland, then moved to Riverdale, and finally settled permanently in Munster, Indiana. The Schoons were early and important settlers of that area.

From left to right (first row): Pieter, Lizzie, Simon, Katie and Pieter’s wife, Mary; (second row): Hillegonda (Alice), Dirk, Cornelius, and Mary.

In 1890, Pieter and his brother Jacob (who had arrived earlier), each bought an eighth of an acre of land from Pieter’s son, Dirk. At first this land was where only Schoon family members were buried but eventually the name was changed to Munster Christian Cemetery and church member were included. I have counted at least 55 Schoon tombstones in the cemetery on Find a Grave, but there are probably more.

Source: Rita Figueroa

Here is the unusual but interesting tombstone of Pieter and Mary Schoon (you can also see it in the above photo). Impressive!

A ditch which Pieter and his sons dug along Fisher Street in Munster is called the Schoon Ditch and still drains much of the southwestern side of the town. Many, many Schoon descendants still live in the area.

I was doing some research in my DNA matches and found connections to a number of Bults at the 4th to 6th cousin level. Upon further digging, it turns out that I am related to Ken Bult’s grandfather, Hendrik Bult, who married Hillegonda (Alice) Schoon. Hillegonda is Pieter and Mary’s daughter. Whew, I am really having a challenging time keeping track of all of these interconnections!

Thanks for reading!!

Military Monday — Jacob Munster

Today we will focus on another military man in my family, this time a Civil War veteran, Jacob Munster — and I have always had a real interest in the Civil War. Last week one of my posts was about Jacob and his history as a founder of Munster, Indiana. Today I will do a short dive into his military background in the Civil War.

Cindy Watson Badten has written a fascinating history of Jacob Munster’s participation in the Civil War for the Munster Historical Society, and even included a photo of Jacob as a soldier.

Jacob Munster was born on February 28, 1845 in the Netherlands near Strijen. The name Monster was anglicized to Munster but Jacob used the original name when he enlisted. Jacob was recruited as a private into the northern army on October 18, 1864 in the 30th Illinois Infantry, Company K as a substitute. “Substitute” means that someone paid him to take his place and serve for him. At that time, Generals Grant and Sherman were pursuing Confederate General Hood into Alabama. Eventually Jacob was a part of General Sherman’s “March to the Sea”.

In February of 1865, the troops moved north into the Carolinas. Sherman and his men burned the City of Columbia and continued north into North Carolina. Late in March of 1865, they faced Joe Johnston and the confederate troops at the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina. On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered to Grant in Virginia. Then on April 26, 1865, Jacob was there during the historic moment when Johnston surrendered the southern Confederate troops. He was mustered out on July 17, 1865 in Louisville, Kentucky and discharged in Chicago on July 24, 1865.

Photo: Lawrence Varkalis

After the war, Jacob returned to his village to marry and raise thirteen children. He opened the Munster General Store in 1870 and became the first postmaster. Besides doing this and being a farmer, he was Road Supervisor, Town Trustee and School Board member. In 1907, the town was incorporated and named after him.

Jacob died on February 8, 1924 and was buried in the First Reformed Church of Lansing Cemetery.

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!