The band of seven Berghuis siblings. Four girls including my grandma who died a few days after giving birth to my mom and her twin brother in December of 1926. Adding the 3 boys Abraham, William and Floyd all born during the years 1897-1910 (including one set of boy/girl twins). The first born was Alida, born in 1897. She married Andrew in 1920 and started raising her own family on a farm near Sioux Center. Alida and Andrew had 7 children between the years of 1921-1937. Vera was born a few months before mom and Floyd, Norma arrived a couple days before the twin’s first birthday. It’s no wonder the motherless twins spent so much time at Alida’s house. She invited them over frequently to play with their cousins. It was aunt Alida who explained puberty and the facts of life to mom right along with her own daughters.
My grandma Coba’s youngest sister, also named Florence-with a twin brother named Floyd. My mom and Floyd were named after their aunt and uncle-it’s so confusing with 2 sets of twins with the same names-16 years apart. Aunt Florence got married in 1935 and moved to Sioux City (40 miles away). Mom and Floyd were allowed to take the train when they were about 10 and stay with aunt Florence and her husband Frank, including spending the night. Aunt Florence took the kids shopping and bought Big Little books for a dime each to read on the train on their way back to Sioux Center.
Mom’s aunt Lena was born in Sioux Center, Iowa in 1903. She was the 4th child born to the Pieter & Aafje Berghuis family and 3 years older than my grandmother. Both Pieter Berghuis and Aafje Beukelman (Americanized Peter and Effie) were immigrants from the Netherlands. Pieter was born in 1862 and immigrated when he was 19. Aafje was born in 1877 and was brought over before her first birthday.
There was a big age difference between Peter & Effie. They also differed a lot in their physical appearance. Peter was 15 years older and quite a bit smaller than his beloved wife. Mom said her grandpa Peter used to sit on Effie’s lap-hahaha. The reason mom was privy to so much information about her grandparents is she lived with them part time (the paternal grands had the twins the majority of the time-but they all had a hand in raising their grands). My grandma Coba was born in 1906, (the 5th child of their union) married in 1924 and died when she was 20 in 1926.
The aunt my mom remained very close to as a child and an adult was Lena. Lena was 23 when the twins were born and still lived at home. She was one of the reasons Peter and Effie Berghuis felt they should be in charge of raising the twins for the most part. They were both younger than the paternal grandparents, Guert & Jantje but the Wanningen’s had a bigger, newer house and agreed to hire a nanny for the first 2 years. But the twins spent a lot of time with both sets of grands.
Lena worked at the Dime store and cleaned a piano/music store in Sioux Center while living at home. She got married in 1941 when she was 38 (mom was a waitress at her wedding). Lena’s husband Steve owned a 2,800 acre ranch in Wyoming and only went to town for supplies every 3 months. He sold the ranch after they had been married a couple of years and he and Lena moved to Ireton where he did carpenter work. He was building a house when a gust of wind pushed him in between 2 rafters and he was paralyzed from the waist down. They moved back to Sioux Center where Steve started a business sharpening knives and saw blades. In 1959 after 18 years of marriage Steve passed away at age 64. They had no children.
Lena continued to live in Sioux Center in a small house close to downtown. I remember she had a beautiful antique oak kitchen cabinet filled to the brim with brightly colored Fiesta Ware, and a very fancy china closet. She died when she was 93 in 1997.
The only paternal aunt of mom’s was my grandpa Lakey’s sister. Jantje (Americanized Jenny) was 7 years older than her brother, born in 1889. She married Paul and was very ill (cancer) during her first pregnancy. She had a stillborn son, then she died the next day. Jenny and the baby were buried together. This was in 1918 so 8 years before mom and Floyd were even born.
When studying our family’s history you realize how fragile life is and how many times tragedy struck…