Book tells the story of Zeeland's history - March 30, 2009

By Kristin Austin | 


Zeeland Historical Society members Dorothy Voss, left, and Marlene Veldheer re-edited the stories of Zeeland teacher and historian Anthonette Van Koevering Wildschut and published them in the new book "Grandma's Stories."


Teacher and historian Anthonette Van Koevering Wildschut had so many enjoyable memories about her family's life in Zeeland she wrote them in a collection of work before she died in August 2003.


Now those stories are available again in a re-edited and re-published book titled "Grandma's Stories." Zeeland Historical Society members Dorothy and Judy Voss and Marlene Veldheer re-edited the book. Brian Van Hoven, of the Zeeland Print Shop, printed the book, which is now available for purchase.


Dorothy Voss and Veldheer said they spent many pleasant hours reading aloud the narratives of distant ancestors, family relationships, teaching experiences, and friendly neighbors outlined in Van Koevering Wildschut's stories. 


"As with all excellent teachers, Toni has opened a way for each person, each family to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboards, cameras to action, tapes to record, scrapbooks to completion, in order that the histories of families can live forever in words and photographs," Voss and Veldheer said in the book's preface.


Also in the book's preface, Van Koevering Wildschut's daughter, Ellen Hutt, praised her mother's devotion to researching Zeeland's early days as part of the historical society and sharing her own stories with children at local schools and the Dekker Huis/Zeeland Historical Museum.


"We hope that through this book future generations will learn about the history of Zeeland, and the great courage and faith of the early settlers," Hutt said.


The book tells the stories dating back to the area's first settlers among the Indians to the first automobiles to the development of downtown Zeeland along with personalizing the immigrant experience of the Van Koevering, Van Hoven, Vande Luyster, and De Jonge families.


Veldheer said one of her favorite stories in the book is "Elm Street Long Ago and Now." The story is a narrative of what Elm Street once looked and sounded like from Van Koevering Wildschut being able to squint her eyes from her grandparents' farm on North Fairview Road and see the canning factory where the De Bruyn Seed Co. now stands and Van Bree's Drug Store being moved brick by brick a little south on Elm Street to the "rat-a-tat-tat" of a telegraph machine at the train depot.


Van Koevering Wildschut also writes of her life and family, from starting kindergarten at Zeeland Christian School in 1923 to returning there to teach in 1964.


Dorothy Voss said she enjoyed reading and editing Van Koevering Wildschut's stories about first teaching job in Byron Center, specifically where she searched for clean socks and shoes without holes for a student in need.


Books can be purchased by sending a $13 check to the Zeeland Historical Society at P.O .Box 165 in Zeeland.