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THE 9th Annual

of

Whatcom County

The Z w eegman F amily Vanessa H elder | The W eidkamp F amily A supplement of the Ferndale Record and Lynden Tribune | July 2019


124th Annual

Old Settlers Picnic

July 26, 27 & 28 | Pioneer Park in Ferndale BEER GARDEN

FREE ALL AGES EVENT

OPEN ! AY E EV RY D

LIVE Entert -mentain

Daily

12PM-11 PM Fri | 12PM-12AM Sat | 12-4PM Sun: BEER GARDEN, Barr Red Barn 12PM-9PM Fri & Sat | 12PM-4PM Sun: Pioneer Cabins, Arts, Crafts, Food Vendors 1PM-7PM Fri & Sat | 12PM-3PM Sun: Children’s Pioneer Passports (education, fun, prizes!) 6:30PM-7:30PM Fri |1PM-6:30PM Sat: WAGON RIDES (pick-up in the parking lot by the Tillicum Bldg)

Friday

1PM-8PM: DUPI Flower & Garden Show, Tillicum Building 1:30PM: ELVIS IMPERSONATOR (Danny Vernon), Main Stage 6PM: WALLY AND THE BEAVES, Main Stage 6PM: Junior Parade, Downtown Ferndale 8PM-11PM: ROCKY VASILLINO SHOW, Barr Red Barn

Saturday

8 AM: Registration for 5K, 9AM: 5K Fun Run 9AM-3PM: Old Settlers CAR SHOW, Corner of 1st & Cherry Streets 11AM: GRAND PARADE, Downtown Ferndale 12PM-4PM: ZigZag & Rags Clowns (free face painting and balloon sculptures) 1PM-8PM: DUPI Flower & Garden Show, Tillicum Building 1:30PM & 6PM: Bill White as George Strait & Kimberly Hall as Reba, Main Stage 9PM-12AM: Dance with SUNSET SUPERMAN, Barr Red Barn

Sunday

10:30AM: Church Service, First Congregational Church 1:30PM-3:30PM: Entertainment with Chris Anderson, Main Stage 2PM: Old Time Hymn Sing, First Congregational Church 4PM: Closing of 124th Whatcom Old Settlers Celebration

Washington State’s Oldest Continually Running Celebration!

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A legacy on Double Ditch Road

Thick forest had to be cleared and swampland drained to make way for the Zweegman farmhouse on Double Ditch Road. Through various improvements over the years, it looks much the same today. (Courtesy photo/Leon and Loraine Zweegman)

The Zweegman family It’s hard to talk about Lynden’s Double Ditch Road without mentioning the Zweegman family. The family first homesteaded on Double Ditch Road in 1901. Ernest Zweegman started his life in Holland in 1848. An orphan, Ernest eventually married Teuntje Van Mersbergen on March 28, 1871. Their son Jacob was born a year later. Ernest met a man from America while attending a wake; this man suggested that Ernest and Teuntje consider moving to Kansas, where a friend of his could provide work. They sailed for America on Sept. 9, 1872, using tickets paid for by the man who had first suggested the move. Several few hard years later, the family moved again, this time to Nebraska. The family traveled via covered wagons, five chil-

dren in tow, taking 10 days to reach Firth, Nebraska, where the family stayed with the Lokhorst family. Soon they found a house not far from the children’s school and just seven miles from a Dutch-speaking Christian Reformed Church. A daughter, Helene, was born in 1885. In 1892, their son Robert, who had traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska, to study for the ministry, contracted typhoid fever and died. Robijna, nicknamed Ruby, was born in 1895. While the Zweegmans resided in Nebraska, three of their children were married: Leonard to Margaretha Schuyleman in 1898, Julia to Gerrit Vander Griend and Nannie to Jacob De Boer. The family spent 20 years in all in Nebraska, and in 1900 Ernest decided the family should move once more. Ernest traveled to north Whatcom County where he purchased 160 acres from a Mr. Weiberg and another

Pioneering Families of Whatcom County July 2019

160 from the estate of Daniel Anderson. Ernest paid $4,500 for each. This land was uncleared, and was located between Guide Meridian and Double Ditch roads extending north from the Blaine-Sumas Road, now known as Badger Road. Ernest traveled back to Nebraska to collect his family, and the following spring they made their way to the Lynden area. He would divide the 320 acres between his four oldest children, setting aside 8.5 acres near Double Ditch Road where he wanted to build his own house. Jacob, Ernest’s oldest son, received the property adjacent to what is now known as East Badger Road. North of Jacob’s land, the next 80 acres became the property of Gerrit and Julia Zweegman Vander Griend. The third parcel of eighty acres was given to Jacob and Nannie Zweegman DeBoer. The fourth portion went to Leonard and Maggie

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Logs are hauled in for construction of the Zweegman farmhouse on Double Ditch Road. (Courtesy photo/Leon and Loraine Zweegman)

Schuyleman Zweegman. Ernest would eventually purchase another 160 acres west of Guide Meridian Road. All of the land purchased by Ernest was covered by trees, brush and swampland, although a fire had ripped through much of it, leaving blackened logs that could be used in building the family’s barns. Trails needed to be cut into the land so the materials for construction could be hauled in and used. Once the land had been cleared, the homes of Ernest Zweegman, Jake DeBoer and Leonard Zweegman were quickly built. The burned land on which these homes were built experienced an abundance of wild blackberries. Leonard and Maggie wasted no time in getting their farm

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up and running. Maggie planted trees, rhododendrons and other shrubs, along with many flowers and plants around the property. She was very knowledgeable in this area and eventually became a horticultural superintendent at the Lynden fair. Canning of fruits and vegetables was done, about 400 quarts per year. Beef, pork and chicken were canned, along with sausage and spareribs preserved in stone jars with fresh lard poured over. Ham and bacon were cured and smoked in Leonard and Maggie’s smokehouse. In 1910 Leonard began building a new house. It was completed in 1911, with improvements coming later. It had water piped in by a hydraulic ram put in the ditch from where

it was pumped into a covered tank on a 30-foot tower. This is the house that Leon and Loraine Zweegman currently live in at 9265 Double Ditch Road.    Leonard and Maggie had four children: Ernestine, Marie, Louis and Francis, all of whom attended Ebenezer Christian School. Ernestine was a member of Ebenezer’s first-ever graduating class, having attended Ebenezer’s high school when it existed for a short time.    Leonard and Maggie’s kids spent much time fishing for trout in the ditches nearby, and the men speared salmon when they were in season. The farm produced milk, meat and honey, as Leonard kept several beehives on the property. He served on the North Prairie School Board and on the

Ebenezer School Board after it was founded in 1910. Leonard was a deacon at First Christian Reformed Church in Lynden, which the family attended. In the winter of 1917-18, now living in town, Leonard’s health declined, and he died on March 24, 1918. After his death, Maggie and her family continued work on the farm with the help of a hired hand until their sons became old enough to help. Louis and Francis bought the farm from their mother in 1929. Francis married Dena de Roon in 1945 and Marie had left for a career in California. Ernestine, Maggie and Leonard’s eldest daughter, married carpenter and contractor Herman Bouma in 1921. Ernestine, having graduated high school at 16, became a teacher at

Pioneering Families of Whatcom County July 2019


These photos provide views of various Zweegman family members. (Courtesy photos/Leon and Loraine Zweegman) Ebenezer at age 17 after attending Bellingham Normal School, now Western Washington University. They lived at Silver Lake and had children named Floyd, Leona, Ruth, Margery and John. Ernestine later lived in Lynden. Marie had married Claude Yates in 1934, and they ran the Zweegman Medical Secretaries’ school in San Francisco. Marie died in 1974. Louis and Maggie eventually moved to Lynden, and Maggie died in 1967.

Amidst all the moves, Francis and Dena, along with their two sons, moved to the farmhouse. The eldest of these two sons is Leon, who graduated from Washington State University and served his country in Germany before returning home to farm. His brother, Marvin, attended Whitworth College in Spokane and returned to the farm. Francis and Louis developed their farm into Rozelyn Farm, nationally known for its

Pioneering Families of Whatcom County July 2019

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Polly the Parrot

  One of the most widely known members of the Zweegman family wasn’t even human, but it did speak some English — and Dutch.   Polly the parrot was known for singing Dutch hymns to the schoolchildren who would visit. Polly was first purchased by Marie Yates, formerly Marie Zweegman, and given to her mother, Margaretha Zweegman, in 1925. The bird was known for shouting and bellowing “Whoopee!” between Dutch songs and hymns.   A Lynden Tribune reporter wrote about Polly, then 50 years old, and her love for hymns and coffee in December 1970, writing “Polly is a good listener and took in all the conversation while this reporter was getting her life story. She then, acting like a prima donna, refused to say a word. But Mrs. Yates was prepared. She had a tape recording of all of Polly’s expressions and singing. The parrot looked puzzled as the evidence of her talents was presented.”   Polly is now stuffed (shown above), hanging on a wall near the front door of Leon and Loraine Zweegman's farmhouse.

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Members of the Zweegman family at a Guernsey showing event in 2017. From left are Maddie, Greg, Brian, Loraine, Case and Leon Zweegman. (Courtesy photos/Leon and Loraine Zweegman) high-producing Guernsey cows, today one of the best herds in the country. In 1972 Leon and Marvin acquired the farm. They added a milking parlor, loafing shed and two large silos. Leon and Loraine raised their four children in the home built by Leon’s

grandfather. Francis and Dena lived nearby, and Marvin and Janet and their daughter lived across the road. The partnership between Leon and Marvin was dissolved in January 1981 when Marvin asked Leon to buy him out, and Leon and Loraine have been farming along with their

children ever since.   Showing the Zweegman Guernsey cattle has been an onand-off tradition for the family, and it returned from dormancy in a big way when Leon and Loraine’s children (Lisa, Brian, Lance and Greg) showed animals through 4-H and FFA.

Pioneering Families of Whatcom County July 2019


Greg still helps Leon and Loraine around the farm, and they still reside in Leonard's classic farmhouse, a mainstay on Double Ditch Road that hearkens back to a pioneering legacy from the turn of the last 19th century.    "We've been fortunate to farm here for 46 years," Leon said.    Loraine was a nurse at St. Joseph Hospital until their first child was born. Lisa, a paraeducator at Lynden Middle School, is married to Kent Erickson, they operate a century farm in Ferndale. Brian, a local stainless steel welder, helps with maintenance projects on the farm in his off time. Lance has driven for Cowden's Gravel and Ready Mix for more than 20 years and also helps sometimes with crops. Their youngest son, Greg, farms with Leon and Loraine.    "We thank the Lord for his many blessings and for giving us the strength to carry on," they said. — Brent Lindquist The Zweegman farmhouse circa 2003. (Courtesy photo/Leon and Loraine Zweegman)

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Lynden native Vanessa Helder, American watercolorist

She is especially known for her artistic rendering of Grand Coulee Dam construction

"Grand Coulee Dam, Looking West," 1940

Her ‘Laurel Hill’ painting has been with the Lynden Library since 1947 8

  In 1948 when West Coast watercolorist Z. Vanessa Helder was invited by American Artist magazine to write about her method of work, she hardly knew how to begin. She replied, “Having painted since I first held a brush in my small fist at the age of 9, it seems to me that

telling how I paint is like trying to explain ‘breathing.’ One simply does it.”    So intimately and personally was the Lynden native bound to her chosen craft.    At the time Helder was 44 years old and past her period of greatest productivity.

She was likely living in Los Angeles with her architect husband while remaining active in state and national watercolor societies and in the National Association of Women Artists. But she was looked to as someone in the art world who should share with other professionals

Pioneering Families of Whatcom County July 2019


"Sand and Gravel Works," 1939-41 what her values and methods were.   Zama Vanessa Helder was born in Lynden in 1904 to Rynard and Anna Wright Helder. Her parents were of

early settler families to the area, the Wrights in 1887 and the Helders by 1898. The young girl disliked her first given name (Zama being a reference to an ancient Greek battle site) and so settled on

Vanessa instead.    Rynard was among the older of 11 children in the John and Tryntje Helder family that emigrated from the Netherlands in 1879. Recently married to Anna and living

in the Lynden area, he stated his occupation as farming in the U.S. Census of 1900, but later that changed to the shoe repair trade. Anna’s father and brother had opened the first hotel and drug store

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Above: "Bright Spring, Vermont," circa 1940; left: Vanessa Helder, circa 1940 in Lynden, and her mother taught piano and had a talent for china painting and wood carving, according to Dorothy Koert’s “Portrait of Lynden.”    By 1920 the Helder family had moved to Bellingham, and Vanessa graduated in 1922 from Whatcom High School. Her senior photo in the Kulshan yearbook was accompanied by the Shakespeare quote “There’s language in her eyes, her cheeks, her lips.” Vanessa went on to attend the University of Washington and in 1924 was briefly married to a Carl Riddell.    By 1930 the whole Helder family including son Wright was living in Seattle, where Vanessa listed her occupation as commercial artist.    In 1934 Vanessa won a two-year scholarship from

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the Art Students League in New York City and she traveled cross-country to study with Frank Vincent, DuMond, George Picken and Robert Brackman. By the time of her employment at the launch of the Spokane Art Center in 1938, Helder had exhibited so regularly in the East that she was well-known to gallery-goers there, said one art critic.   And so she had the opportunity to be not far from the 1933-1942 construction of Washington’s Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River, and Helder produced a body of artwork on this event of massive human transformation of the natural terrain of land and water, and she made the most of it as an artist.    She gained an unusual access to the construction

Pioneering Families of Whatcom County July 2019


Vanessa Helder, as a girl area itself and would make field sketches that she later turned into full watercolor paintings. At the time of the 1940 U.S. Census, Helder was living in a lodging house in Spokane with some who were involved in the dam project — one being a construction superintendent and another an agent “After the Storm (Laurel Hill)” is the painting Helder did on a trip back to Whatcom County with the U.S. Bureau around 1943, and it was acquired to be displayed permanently in the Lynden Library. SALES • SERVICE INSTILLATION

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"Red Earth and Spotted Cows," circa 1942 of Reclamation — who no doubt aided her in her artistic interests at the site.    Helder’s notable talent was an adeptness at “coloring and lighting,” said Robert Engard, an associate at the Spokane Art Center at the time. He often joined her in venturing out into the surrounding region in search of artistic subject matter, travels that took them as far south as the Snake River and Lewiston, Idaho, and as far north as Kettle Falls.    As told in an account in the summer 1990 edition of Columbia magazine, Engard recalled that Helder owned a 1935 Ford V8 car, and the two artists traveled with “wa-

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tercolors and sketching materials, used dinner plates for palates, and the steering wheel and a piece of plywood for easels.”   Engard thought that Helder’s “best work was of the Palouse country,” even as she continued to do commissioned watercolor work for exhibition and sale through the Macbeth Galleries in New York, Columbia reported. Engard said Helder was “a good teacher, well liked by her students, and was able to interest many local residents in art.”   The construction of Grand Coulee was wrapping up just as the United States was being propelled into

World War II in early 1942. National magazines such as Life and Fortune were interested in using Helder’s artwork as illustrations to go with articles on the completion of the big project. But wartime security prevented such publication of her work.   Vanessa married architectural engineer John S. Patterson in 1943 and they moved to Los Angeles.    Although she was more interested in the “art challenge” of her chosen subjects than simply recording them, fortunately a folio collection of Helder’s 1940-41 watercolors was maintained and in 1954 about 20 illustrations were sold to the Eastern

Washington State Historical Society in Spokane.    At the time a local newspaper columnist described her aesthetic contribution to the region with these words: “In her portrayal of the Coulee industrial scenes, one can feel the vigor and immensity of the project. Her colors are consistently the tawny beige and brown tones of the familiar hills. In working with the stark masses of building and dam construction, she uses her medium in a forceful manner.”   Back in Whatcom County the prolific native artist was not forgotten.    In the 1940s a Women’s

Pioneering Families of Whatcom County July 2019


"Palouse Barnyard," late 1930s Study Club was formed in Lynden for literary and civic promotion. Its members included the writer Dorothy Koert and Jessica Young as art chairman.    Around 1943 Vanessa Helder had made a trip back to her origins in order to visit an aged aunt here. As she was leaving the haunts of her childhood, so the story goes,

she turned for one last look at the Nooksack valley behind her. It must have been at about Laurel hill, where Laurel Road crosses the Guide Meridian. “Her eye was caught by the old Richardson homestead — the barn, the snow, the large trees in the foreground,” the Northwest Farm News reported.    And the scene was cap-

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tured by Helder in the painting “Laurel Hill.”    That watercolor, valued at $150 then, was acquired by the Women’s Study Club to be hung on a wall of the Lynden public library, the club’s gathering place. It was hoped that Helder herself might be able to attend the presentation in 1947, but the artist, from Los Angeles, sent her

regrets.    “Dear Lynden and all the people who contributed and helped to purchase ‘Laurel Hill,” she wrote. “One of the greatest thrills of my life has been the purchase of my watercolor to be presented to the public library in my birthplace. This usually happens after one has gone to meet a just reward. I am still very

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"Pool Below Kettle Falls," 1939-41 much alive and thoroughly appreciate the honor accorded me. ‘Laurel Hill’ is your own country and through the painting I am happy to make the acquaintance of all of you I do not know from years ago. All good wishes, and I’ll come to visit you another time.” It’s not known if she ever did find her way back.   The Helder painting continues in the possession of the Lynden Library within

the Whatcom County Library System, confirmed assistant branch manager Wendy McLeod, and it has typically been hung past the double doors beyond the foyer.    Recently it was absent, however, to be in an exhibit of three Northwest women artists at the Cascadia Art Museum in Edmonds. The painting was due back in Lynden in July, and its framing will be looked at that point for

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any upgrading, said McLeod. “We want to be good caretakers of it.”    The painting has been at various locations of the Lynden public library, going back to the upstairs room of the old City Hall building that is now the Jansen Art Center. The library keeps a folder stocked with information about Helder and stories written about her.    The organization Wom-

en Painters of Washington was begun in Seattle in 1930, inspired by a portrait class at the Art Institute (now Seattle Art Museum) led by the noted Canadian painter Frederick Horsmon Varley. Vanessa Helder was not one of six founding members, but she was a member soon.    On the 75th anniversary of Women Painters, the Whatcom Museum of History and Art created an exhi-

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bition celebrating Washington’s female painters across the years, with the financial backing of Peoples Bank, and of course Z. Vanessa Helder was one of those featured artists.    She did not work just in watercolors. The anniversary booklet shows an oilon-board portrait, now in a private Seattle collection, of a young woman done by Helder in 1939.    Her connections were broad. The anniversary program notes that, in addition to teaching painting and lithography in the Works Progress Administration program in Spokane, Helder later was an instructor at the Los Angeles Art Institute and the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. Her exhibition history included the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, all in New York City, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. — Calvin Bratt

"Old Joshua Green House," circa 1939

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Digging deep into family connections

The Weidkamp family, back row: Henry, Pauline, Barney, Lizzie and Theodore; bottom: Frank, Magdalena and Edward.

The Weidkamp family came here in 1883 Gay Weidkamp has always had a general interest in history. It’s part of what drove her to dive into the history of

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looking out the window and trying to imagine where things were. This further ignited her desire to find out more about the family. Henry Weidkamp History on the Weidkamp family

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goes back to 1824 when Henry W. Weidkamp was born in Germany (Prussia) on June 17. The family found its way to the United States in the early 1860s, although it’s not known exactly when and where that was at first. Henry lived in Illinois, Kansas and Colorado before coming to Washington. The first official record of Henry living in the United States is his marriage to Crescenz Schropp on June 5, 1867, in St. Clair County, Illinois. They lived in Johnesburge, Illinois, for some time while Henry ran a flour mill there. They had two sons, Edward and Frank, and one daughter, Anna. Henry remarried in August 1871 to Magdalena (Lena) Schober in St. Louis, Missouri. They had three children together. The family moved again to Kansas for a year and then to Denver for four years where they had a market garden and a dairy. They had two more children before settling in the Delta Township, five miles northwest of Lynden, in 1883. The land they homesteaded was 160 acres covered with brush, trees and stumps. In 1884 Henry cleared up the land and built a log cabin where the family lived until his death on Aug. 9, 1891. The property was valued at $2,000 at the time. Lena died on Feb. 25, 1910 in Lynden and the homestead was sold in 1922 to JP and Lomie Delp. It was

The gravestone of family forbearer Henry W. Weidkamp.

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Five Weidkamp sons, Barney, Theodore, Milton, Chauncey and Harold, are in this photo at Delta school. (Courtesy photo)

valued at $3,348. Theodore Weidkamp One of Henry and Lena’s sons, Theodore, born Oct. 4, 1874, married Minnie McPhail on Sept. 21, 1898. Her father was a farmer and her family had come to Washington in 1896. The couple

had seven children together. Theodore was highly involved in the community. In 1920 he was elected a member of the board of supervisors of the Delta township. He was also chairman of the board of school trustees of Delta. A businessman, he also belonged to the Whatcom

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“He keeps a number of good cows and has been very successful in all of his operations, being methodical and up-to-day in everything he does,” according to the Roth history. In 1929, Theodore built a farmhouse, doing most of the carpentry work himself. Vernon Weidkamp, one of Theodore's youngest children, recalled his father building the house. He said someone came in and helped with the chimney and hanging of the doors while Theodore and his boys went out and poured the basement with a little hand mixer. The farm eventually grew to 80 acres, with 35 of them being planted in hay, other grains and produce. The family kept dairy and beef cattle along with some pigs. The most intriguing part of digging into the family history was seeing how the land was divided after the original homesteader’s death, Gay said.

Theodore Weidkamp built the family farmhouse in 1929, taking on much of the carpentry work himself.

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Theodore Weidkamp, above and below, was a Watkins Remedies dealer, selling products door to door. “How they determined who would get what and what happened in those years after that and following the story of the land, I thought was interesting,” she said. Gay said her great relationship with her Uncle Vernon through husband Dave is also part of what inspired her to research the family. She said her hope is that this information will always be available. “I think it’s important that the stuff isn’t forgotten,” Gay said. “By having it written down somewhere with people having access to it, it keeps it alive and hopefully future generations will understand how the family developed. That’s important, I think.” — Hailey Palmer

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Pioneering Families of Whatcom County July 2019


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Pioneering Families 2019  

An in-depth look at local history

Pioneering Families 2019  

An in-depth look at local history

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