Renze and Auke Douma

The search database on continues to be a great source for the history of Dutch Americans. The database includes the Sioux Center Nieuwsblad of Iowa.  For years, the Nieuwsblad had correspondents in Dutch-American hamlets who gave monthly reports.  One of these correspondents lived in Randolph, Wisconsin, where my great-grandfather Renze Douma, and his brother Auke Douma lived.

Mostly the correspondents wrote about the comings and goings of their neighbors.  The notices seem pretty straightforward, except it is difficult to know the motivation of the writer. Are they chiding Auke Douma for going hunting, picking on him for chopping wood for the summer (instead of the winter?), are there some inside jokes here about their personalities?  One theme I’ve noticed from other clippings is that the Dutch and Frisians in this area of Wisconsin  (and perhaps elsewhere) seemed to receive cash gifts at the birth of a child. Some other clippings mention money and baby gifts from a stork.

Volksvriend, March 13, 1902   “Ouke Douma, who has been in the Netherlands for a while, returned, and is now not well. With him came Sietse Visser, who is now working for Joe Dykstra for $20 a months; a good start in the new world.”
Volksvriend, Oct 16, 1902 “R. Douma is thinking about making a short trip to the Netherlands to visit his parents. O. Douma and Jennie Westra shall soon be married and are living at H. Cupery’s farm.”
Volksvriend, April 30, 1903 “Ouke Douma is busy nowadays with hauling wood for the summer.”
Volksvriend, Oct 15, 1903 – “Ouke Douma received one thousand dollars ( a boy) in the busy bean-harvest.”
Volksvriend, February 8, 1906 “Auke Douma disappeared. He took his horse and cutter to the city Saturday and without giving any reason he left his horse there and took the train to the west. He left a sick wife and two small children behind.”
Volksvriend, February 15, 1906 “Auke Douma is in Northern Minnesota in the woods and would now like to come back home as soon as possible; he discovered that it is not everything out there; with him it is “home sweet home.”
De Volksvriend, March 8 – 1906 “Auke Douma returned from Minnesota”
Volksvriend, May 21, 1908  “With R. Douma and P. Westra and R. Alzum, family additions; bij D a son, by the others, daughters.”
Volksvriend, February 15, 1923 “Renze Douma took the train to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to work for a few months. If it is better there, he will bring his wife and children over.”[/caption

Volksvriend-March15-1923 Volksvriend, March 15, 1923 – “Renze Douma came back from Grand Rapids, Michigan. And Doede Douma went there again.”

Volksvriend, Sept 19, 1929  –  Andries Westra has died. His daughter is Mrs. Auke Douma.
Volksvriend April 23, 1931 – “Auke Douma will have a filling station. We already have five, but, the more the better.”



  1. Marla “Douma” Slinger · · Reply

    Hi Michael, Auke Douma was my great grandfather. I have heard about how he left the family. Do you have any information about why he left? I am interested in family history? I am assuming you have copies of the “Douma” history in Wisconsin. I was in Pella Iowa this week and saw Douma’s buried in the cemetery there. A relative in Holland confirmed they are related as well. His name is Doede Douma and he lives in Friesland Netherlands. He is rich in Douma history.


    1. Hello Marla, Yes I have that book. I am am friends with Doede (both Doedes) and have stayed in their houses in the Netherlands. A few years ago we found a lettee from Auke in the 1960s, shortly before his death. I can find the digital copy and send you more info. Please write me at to remind me. Thanks.


  2. Marla (Douma) Slinger · · Reply

    Michael I just saw this. Yes please send me the digital copy. So are you related to Doede in the Netherlands? He visited my family in Wisconsin on several occasions and is in contact. My nephew recently moved to Holland Michigan and learned his neighbor was a Douma. He hailed from Iowa. It’s a small world. Am I able to get any of your writings from a library or would I need to purchase via this site? I am definitely interested in reading a few.


  3. Marla Slinger · · Reply

    My email address


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