The van der Kleed Family.

The known history of the family name Vanderkleed or van der Kleed begins in 1811. Napoleon had conquered the dutch and desired to tax them. However, he quickly discovered that most all Frisians, the inhabitants of Friesland a north province in the Netherlands, didn't have last names. They use patronymic naming conventions. Many societies used similar conventions. Scandinavians named Andersen, were sons of Andrew. O'brien was a child of Brien in Ireland. In Friesland, all children took the plural of their father's name as their last name. If your father was Jan and you were named Klaas you would go by Klaas Jans. Your children would have taken Klazes or Klazens as their middle name. Complicating the naming convention, but later a great tool to genealogists, was the tradition that the oldest son toke the name of the father's father, the second son took the name of the mother's father, the oldest female took the name of the father's mother and so on, to even include great grandparents if more names are needed. It will take too many examples and take too long, but by the 4th generation, there could literally be 20 males with the same names.

Napoleon decreed that all dutch must take last names and register them with the government.

Klaas Gerbens lived in the town of Ternaard in northeast Friesland. He was born in 1785 and was 26 years old. The Registration, found in Dutch Archives doesn't list who his wife was, but we know that he had one son, Gerben who was born in 1810. And, as you would expect by tradition, Gerben was known simply know as Gerben Klazes. That was until Klaas had to pick a last name. Some folks didn't get very creative in their selections. The most common last name chosen was de Vries (the Frisian). Fortunately, for those of us who are his descendants, Klass chose van der Kleed. And coincidentally, it appears that he was the only one to do so. My last name, Vanderwielen, was selected by 11 families and most are not related, just a coincidence of selection. The decision by Klaas means that all van der Kleeds are related.

In the US, we would say our last name is Vanderkleed. But, in fact, in the dutch phone book, we'd have to look under K to find our phone number. the van der part is overlooked as just a preamble to the real last name. van der means 'of the' and a kleed is a garment, or an article of clothing. Plantengas are 'ones who plant', Roosevelt means 'field of roses'. My 3rd great grandmother's family took de Bildt because the family was from Het Bildt, a larger city in Friesland. Occupations, towns of residences, or objects were used as last names. We could reasonably assume that "Klaas Gerbens of the Garment" was a tailor or weaver or in some way dealt with garments and articles of clothing.

Also beginning in 1811, births, marriages and deaths were required to be registered with the government. So, after 1811, we discover that Klaas had other children. They were:

  1. Wieger van der Kleed, a son born March 8, 1813 (my ancestor)
  2. Sjoerd van der Kleed, a son born February 27, 1815
  3. Jelle van der Kleed, a son born January 31, 1818
  4. Syke van der Kleed, ga daughter born December 23, 1819
  5. Sjoerdtje van der Kleed, a daughter born October 23, 1822
  6. Jeltje van der Kleed, a daughter born April 1825

Records indicated not only the child, but the parents. Trijntje Wiegers Posthumus is listed as the mother and wife of Klaas.

Records indicate that Jeltje died at age 3, Sjoerdtje died in 1892, but Syke lived until 1903 dying at the age of 83. Sadly, Trijntje dies in 1827 at age 40. In my research, alot of women died due to child birth complications. One has to wonder if that was why she died. You can see by the ages of the children, it meant that Klaas was left with quite a task...raising the children and no doubt working. In 1835 he did remarry and lived until 1853 dying at the age of 67.

In 1840, Wieger married Neeltje Tjepkes Poutsma. They had the following sons in Friesland:

  1. Klaas van der Kleed, born march 5, 1841 (my ancestor)
  2. Tjipke van der Kleed, born march 5, 1841 (a twin brother who died 2 days later)
  3. Tjepke van der Kleed, born july 17, 1843
  4. Jelle van der Kleed, born march 28, 1846
and 1 daughter:
  1. Trijntje van der Kleed, born October, 19, 1848
At about this same time in the United States, the dutch were discovering the rich soils and opportunities in Lafayette, Indiana. Starting in 1847, 20 families had immigrated and had sent word back of their conditions. By 1854, Klaas and Trijnte, the parents of Wieger, had died. Having no parents to worry about or to leave back in Holland, he and his entire family left and immigrated to Lafayette.

Wieger was 41 years old.  He was indigent and looking for economic improvement.  We know at that time he was a member of the dutch reformed church.  Ship records are found of his 1854 passage with 3 children and his wife.    Surprisingly, Jelle Klaas Vanderkleed, Weiger's brother accompanies him on the same ship.  Jelle is 36 years old and a coach driver.  He has no family.  That leaves only their brother Sjoerd in Holland left to carry on the Vanderkleed name.  Soon, you'll discover why there are no Vanderkleeds left in Friesland.

Sjoerd married Altje Gerrits Holwerda and they have 3 children.  Only their son Klaas Vanderkleed, born in 1847,  lives to adulthood.   He marries Elisabeth van der Wagen they inturn have 4 children, Sjoerd, Ate, Gerrit, and Aaltje.  In 1891, Sjoerd and Altje along with all 4 children immigrate to the US listing their destination as Indianapolis.  Thus, no more male Vanderkleeds remain in Friesland.  Sjoerd the elder, brother of Wieger stayed in Friesland dying February 23, 1887 at the age of 71.
The dutch in America always changed their first names.  The English speaking people didn't know how to say Wieger (Vee' Ger) or Jelle.  Wieger becomes Walter and by 1860 he's a farmer in Fairfield Township, near Lafayette, Indiana.  The 3 children still living at home become Klaas, Charles and Catherine.  By 1870, Klaas has left home and has married Rebecca DeJong, the daughter of Sitjske de Bildt.  Rebecca and Klaas are my GG grandparents.  They settle in Wayne Township near Lafayette and farm.

By 1880, Jelle now know as Charles has married Elizabeth Devries.  They farm in Wea Township.  William and Jennie Devries, Elizabeths children from a previous marriage and their son Charles live with them.  By 1880 Wieger, now know as Walter is living with Neeltje, know Nellie...still farming and living next door to Charles and Elizabeth.

Jelle, now Charles Vanderkleed is found in 1900 selling insurance, living with his wife Elizabeth at 400 Columbia Street in Lafayette.  Their son, Charles E. Vanderkleed age 22, lives with them and is an Instructor or Teacher.  Fred O. Vanderkleed is 19 and a Machinist living there also.

Remember Klaas the son of Sjoerd.  He's Walter's nephew who came over in 1891?  By 1900, He's changed his name to Nicholas.   He and Elizabeth, now called Ella, are living in White County, north of Lafayette.  He's 51 and a day laborer, which was a common occupation to describe a hand for hire.

No record is ever found again for Jelle Klazes Vanderkleed, the Brother of Walter.  After he immigrated with Walter he simply disappeared.  I'd like to find more out about him.

Well, that's about all the farther I'll take the Vanderkleed line.  On my web page at, you'll find that I've got about 100 other VDKs of subsequent generations.  My line ends with my Great Grandmother, Celia Vanderkleed married John Albert Torrenga.  So now I'm off to chronicle that line.

Rick Vanderwielen
Cicero, Indiana
January 2002