For Jannes Vande Luyster the expending of both his life and his assets to the settlement of Zeeland in 1847 was simply the overflow of his generous heart and willing hands. Selling all his physical assets in the Netherlands, Vande Luyster provided passage for those lacking the means. Upon arrival, he was also well equipped to select and purchase land and extend credit to those in need. The familiarity of the Vande Luyster name and the recollection of his vision and efforts, however, has often overshadowed the Ottawa Indians--a present and prominent source of aid to the Zeeland immigrants
Early Log Cabins - 1848
Friendly, peaceful and helpful, the Indians taught the first Zeeland settlers the skills of wilderness living; the snaring and hunting of wild game and , in particular, the unaccustomed work of felling trees, for "the land was a majestic wilderness - an unbroken forest of tall pine, monster oaks and cedars, with Zeeland in the depths of this forest." (Zeeland Record, 1934)
The early immigrants, therefore, found their hardship lessened and their success advanced through the methods which the Indians taught for survival in such a harsh environment.
The early months for the Zeelanders held poverty, disease, and a scarcity of food. By the fall of 1847, however, their perseverance in the midst of these hardships resulted in the clearing of forest land for both the planting of crops and the building of 120 log homes. This job of clearing the dense forest was an all-consuming task, demanding weeks and months of daily effort as their tools were few and manual labor exhausting. Once cleared, the building of their homes could begin.
Construction of these log homes consisted of a general plan. Most were about 18 x 20 feet in size, with the use of split logs for flooring. A table, chairs, bedstead and fireplace completed the interior of these one-room homes.
- Couple married by Rev. C. Vander Meulen --- Jan Wabeke and Martina Glerum.
- Log cabin was built by Jan Steketee.
- School teacher --- Elias De Young, who couldn't speak Dutch.
- Church dedicated in May 1848 was made of fitted cedar logs.
- Preacher, Rev. C. Vander Meulen, who came in 1847.
- Bank organized by Jacob Den Herder in 1878.
- Industries such as saw mills, copper, blacksmith and stave making shops.
- President of the village of Zeeland --- Dr. Daniel Baert.
- Mayor of the city of Zeeland --- Henry P. De Pree.
- State representative from Zeeland --- Hon. C. Van Loo.
- To arrive in Zeeland --- Jannes Vande Luyster and his group.
- Sunday School organized in 1872 by Rev. Wm. Moerdyk.
- Church service held in August 1847 in Jan Steketee's log cabin
- 86 Zeelanders who became American citizens in July 1851.
- Postmaster was James Walker.
- Families to settle in Zeeland --- J. Steketee, J. De Hond and C. Den Herder.
- Spans of oxen owned by Rev. Vander Meulen and Jan Wabeke.
- Horses were purchased in 1855.
- Time Zeeland's School District was recognized --- December 26, 1850.