Methodology Spotlight

Jan Herm Kalmer’s trip to Illinois

In the middle of the 19th century many families from the Dutch province of Overijssel emigrated to the United States. One of them was Jan Herm Kalmer. He and his whole family left the Netherlands because of their religious background.

Civil registration (Ambt Hardenberg, Overijssel, Netherlands), birth records 1831, record no. 40, Jan Herm Kalmer, 25 April 1831; “Netherlands, Overijssel Province, Civil Registration, 1811-1960,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 12 August 2020), digital film #004570412, image 363 of 748.


Today, 25 April 1831, appeared before the civil registrar of the municipality of Ambt Hardenberg: Jan Berend Kalmer, 38 years, farmer, living in Slagharen.

Two witnesses accompanied him: Jan Hendrik Stegeman, 46 years, farmer, living in Heemse, and Hendrik Willem Zweers, 32 years, cooper, living in Heemse.

He declared that his wife Anna Maria Krieger in Slagharen on the 24th at 5.00am gave birth to a male child, named Jan Herm.

The informant and both witnesses signed the birth record.

The Kalmer family grave in St. Damian Catholic Cemetery, Damiansville, Clinton County, Illinois. (photo credits: Clinton County Illinois Genealogy Web Project)

From Slagharen to Illinois

This birth record shows few remarkable facts. A farmer and his wife, who live in Slagharen, have a son. Nothing special about that. But when we look for the Kalmer-Krieger family, we are not finding much about them in Dutch records. Another child was born in 1835, a daughter named Anna Maria. With that second birth record, the trail of this family in the Netherlands comes to an end. What happened to them?

In September 1837 a group of twelve persons stepped on the Charles Henry, a ship that brought them from Bremen in Germany to New Orleans. Jan Berend Kalmer, Anna Maria Krieger and Jan Herm Kalmer were members of that group. From there they moved on to Illinois. The family lived in Clinton County. Jan Herm Kalmer died in New Baden in 1908. His grave is in St. Damian Catholic Cemetery, Damiansville. [source]

As we wrote in a previous article, emigrants had different reasons for giving up their life in the Netherlands. In the case of the Hardenberg emigrants, most left because they were looking for religious freedom.


If your family emigrated from Hardenberg to the United States in the 19th century, we recommend you read an article by Dinah Hesselink-Zweers, called Landverhuizers, emigranten uit Hardenberg. In this article she lists many emigrants, with names, dates and places.

The Clinton County, Illinois Genealogy Web Project has many resources for family history, such as biographies, civil records, cemetery indexes, maps, obituaries, photos and wills.

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