The Rotterdam was built for Holland American Line in 1908 in Belfast, Northern Ireland and served thru 1940 when it was broken up in Holland. It flew the Dutch flag and was 667 feet long and 77 feet wide. It had twin screw quadruple expansion steam engines and had accommodations for 3,575 passengers: 520 first class; 555 second class and 2,500 third class. It traveled at 17 knots. Hermine “Erma” Grotenhuis is listed on the passenger manifest in 1924 and is also shown as a documented arrival. File photo


erma-grotenhuis-gift-opening

File photo


Gardner’s oldest resident, Hermine “Erma” Grotenhuis, and one of the oldest Kansas residents, passed away Oct. 10 at Vintage Park.
Services are being handled by Bruce Funeral Home, 106 S. Center, Gardner with details pending.
Grotenhuis had been resident of Vintage Park, Gardner, for the last 16 years,
She emigrated to the United States in 1924.
From the family history:
Hermine Loois Grotenhuis, known as Grandma Erma, was born in Apeldoorn, Holland 107 years ago on January 17 to Johanna and Arnold Loois. Queen Julianna of Holland was born the same year.
The Loois family moved to Amsterdam when Erma was six weeks old. Arnold and Johanna operated a small grocery store on a canal in the heart of Amsterdam, incidentally a few blocks away from the home where Ann Frank and her family were hidden from the Nazis during World War II.
World War I raged in Europe from 1914 to 1918. Holland maintained neutrality in the war, but suffered severe food shortages and hardships. Arnold, however, was able to invest in real estate and Russian bonds which paid a good rate of interest. Unfortunately, with the Communist Revolution in Russia in 1917-18, the bonds became valueless. Runaway inflation in Europe following the war also took a huge financial toll on the family. The family emigrated to America in April, 1924, when Erma was 15. Erma recalled that they drove to the ship dock at night in their Benz automobile and left it for the creditors to fight over.
The family began life in America in the tiny town of Hospers, Iowa, but they soon moved to Hollandale, Minn. It was primarily a Dutch town, including the Grotenhuis family. Erma graduated high school and met John Grotenhuis . She said it was love at first sight, and they married in 1927. The family farmed potatoes in Hollandale, which turned out to be a cold, wet and backbreaking enterprise. John and Erma, with her parents “Pop and Pooah” decided to make a fresh start and moved to Independence, Kan., about a year later. With a mortgage from “Uncle Fritz” they bought a small 80 acre farm where Ikey was born in 1929, followed by Arnie in 1931.
The 1930’s were years of the Great Depression in America and around the world. “Pop” maintained a large garden. There was not electricity, freezers, televisions or telephones. Water came out of a hand pump from the cistern in the yard. The family canned beef, pork and vegetables, and made sauerkraut and brined green beans – all of which were stored in the underground cellar.
In Europe, Hitler took power in Germany in 1935, and began an arms buildup that would lead to World War II in 1939 with the invasion of Poland.
In 1935, as the family continued to grow, John was able to get a loan to buy another 160 acre farm to be called the Grotenhuis Dairy. They sold fresh, raw bottled milk to the Independence Mercy Hospital, and to small grocery stores and a few home delivery customers. Initially all farming was done with horse drawn equipment, then a steel wheeled fordson tractor and next a homemade contraption (called the puddle jumper) that was a semblance of a tractor made from the engine and frame of a 1928 Chevy.
According to the family narrative, when D-Day came in 1944, Erma ran down to the hay baling operation in the alfalfa field crying that the war would soon be over.
The war ended in 1945, and shortly thereafter the Grotenhuis farm received electricity – first in the form of a gas powered generator – and city water – in the form of a hand buried pipe about a mile long to the nearest hookup. Later came an electric milking machine, and some good crop years that brought the money for a new truck and combine. In 1949, Erma declared she no longer wanted to drive a truck to town, and prevailed upon John to buy her a brand new three holer Buick Special.
The Grotenhuis farm was sold in 1970, and they bought a house in town before moving to Gardner to be near family.
During her life, Erma saw women get the right to vote; airplanes evolve from wood and fabric crates to Jumbo jets, rockets and spy planes. She saw no car families change to one, then two car families. She saw the Vietnam war, the death of President Kennedy, civil rights for African Americans – all in all – there were 17 American presidents during her first 105 years.
(History supplied by Grotenhuis family.)