Autobiography of Hermannus Thiessens

For as far as I can collect my thoughts, I can remember that I went to kindergarten.  In the winter when the snow was deep, my father took me to school in a sled; one of the old-fashioned kind.  A little stove was put in the sled to keep my feet warm.  When I became six years old, I entered a grade school.  As the time went on, I kept getting promoted into higher grades.

There was one outstanding thing that happened; namely that every year at promotion time, there were three books given to the three best pupils of that grade.  Queer it was that every time it was the same three that got the books, of which I was one.  One could get through with grade school work at the age of twelve, but I had made some special credit and had all of my grades completed at the age of eleven.

Yet I remained in school one other year.  Then I started to work in a store.  It was hard work for a boy my age, and many a time did my deliveries crying because of the lot I had to carry.  It made my arms ache and the days were very long and sometimes I was brought home by an officer of the law.  This was for being out so late.  I got paid $1.25 a week.

When I was thirteen years old, I started to work in a chair factory.  This I did not like at all, and after working there for a week, I decided to run away.  I was taken back by my mother.  There I stayed until I was eighteen.  Then I entered a furniture factory; all where I learned to make cabinets.  When I was 23 years old, I got married and a couple of years later I started a business of my own.  This was a hard struggle, at first, but as time went on, I conquered and later had a good business.

Shortly after I joined the Church, I was asked to go visiting with the Elders which I joyfully accepted.  This had been the best part of my life.  I labored faithfully for over 4 years and gained a knowledge and firm testimony.  I soon developed a desire to go on to Zion.  I emigrated in the year 1909 with a disappointment awaiting me.  I found I had left Zion behind.

Everything was strange to me and the people and the language were hard to master.  Many trials and troubles awaited me.  Through all this developed a divorce.  Her name was Hendriktje Mulder.  She was born 19 April 1870.  She was the daughter of Hendrik Harms Mulder and Fokje Kloosterman.  She was born in Niebert, Groningen, Holland.  She died in Salt Lake City, Utah 13 March 1937.

I was born in 1876 in Groningen, Groningen, Holland.  My father's name was Antoon Thiessens and my mother was Willemke De Jong.  Hendriktje and I were married 5 November 1900.  From this marriage we had six children.  Our first boy, Antoon Fokke Thiesssens, born 7 April 1902 in Groningen, Groningen, Holland was followed by another boy, three girls [actually two from the birth records] and another boy [birth records show two boys].

Our second son was born 29 December 1903.  His name was Hendrik Thiessens.  Our third was a girl born 20 November 1905 and her name was Foktje Wilhelmina Thiessens.  Our fourth was also a girl [birth certificate shows it as a male child]. H[is] name was Willem Thiessens born 6 February 1907.  Our fifth was a girl named Melvina Thiessens born 16 October 1908.  The last one was a boy named Herman Thiessens and he was born 6 March 1910.

After being separated for about a year, I married again.  This marriage I have never been sorry for.  I had 6 children from my second wife--three boys and three girls.  First, three boys and the remaining three were girls.  My second wife was Henderika Folkers, now changed to Henrietta.  She was born 20 December 1888 in Groningen, Groningen, Holland.  Her mother was Hilje Mulder and her father was Folkert Teunis Folkers.  We were married 6 March 1914 in Evanston, Wyoming.  We were later sealed on May 27, 1925 in the Temple at Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah. 

The family is as follows:

(1) Boy, named Folkert Teunis Thiessens and goes by the name of Ted.  He was born 7 January 1915 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Baptized on 28 April 1923 and married Margaret Ellen Barnes.  He was sealed to his parents on 27 May 1925 in Salt Lake Temple.

(2) Boy, named Herman Henry Tihessens who is called Hank.  He was baptized 14 November 1929.  He was born 1 December 1919 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He was sealed to his parents 27 May 1925 in the Salt Lake Temple.  He married Phyllis Jensen.

(3) Boy, Joseph Hyrum Thiessens was born 13 January 1924 in salt Lake City, Utah.  He was baptized on 26 November 1932 and was sealed to parents on May 27, 1925 in the Salt Lake Temple.  He died at the age of 14 in Salt Lake City, Utah on 30 April 1938.  He was buried there.

(4) Girl, Hilda Henrietta Thiessens was born 24 September 1925 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  She was baptized 13 December 1933 and was born in the covenant.  She married James Grayson Edney.

(5) Girl, Ruth Lenore Tiessens, born 13 April 1927 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  She was baptized 13 May 1935 and was endowed 24 June 1943.  She, too, was born in the covenant.  She married Golden Virgil Adams June 24, 1943.

(6) Grace Lois Tihessens, girl, was born 19 June 1928 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  She was baptized 17 June 1936.  She was born in the covenant.  She married David Caleb Sheldon.

I have labored in the Church with joy and have made many new friends.  I lost a lot of relatives when I joined the Church. My own father closed the door on me when I told him I was leaving for Zion.  None of my brothers or sister want anything to do with me.  One brother will write now and again, but is not interested in the Gospel.

I have not yet been able to trace my ancestry, but hope to see the way open to this end.  My father and mother were both orphaned when very small and were placed in an orphan home.  It burned down, papers and all.  Thta's why I have not been able to get any of my ancestors.  I have a patriarchal blessing given me where it tells that the Lord will reveal them unto me in due time.

Epilogue:  Antoon Thiessens was two years old when his mother died, and only nine years old when his father died.  Willemke was 2 1/2 years old when her father died, and her mother lived until Willemke was almost thirty years old.  However, she and her mother were charged with vagrancy when Willemke was in her teens, according to criminal records of Groningen.  In the years between 1962 and 2012, the ancestry of Hermannus Thiessens was traced several generations, so the ancestry was extended in due time.

You Can Put Time in a Bottle
Reflections of 2012


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