News Articles

Community bought farm for hard-hit Dutch family

Fire Claimed Lives of Six Children

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

SOUTH HOLLAND, Illinois - The Hoogewoning tragedy of November 1944, in which Rijnsburg-born John Hoogewoning lost six of his eight children in a fire, prompted an outpouring of sympathy and neighbourly support. Hoogewoning who had rushed up a stairway engulfed in flames to try and rescue his children, lost nearly all of his worldly possessions in the fire. People far and wide donated money, more than replacing the lost household effects and livestock. 'South county folks,' the local Tribune reported, 'purchased a 10-acre farm with trim buildings' for the Hoogewonings, a tenant farming family, from mainly $1 donations. The campaign was led by county officials who later presented the deed to the $4,000 farm property. In addition, the stricken family received clothing and furniture from the Chicago Heights Legion auxiliary which temporarily put its concerns for the WWII effort aside. Others, including the pastor of the Grace Reformed church, brought kitchen equipment and cash.

Relief work for the Hoogewonings was led by a committee which had set up headquarters in nearly Lansing. Hoogewoning tried his hand on crop farming and held different jobs, including one at a slaughterhouse. He also worked for the county from time to time. Hoogewoning died at the age of 90, October 13, 1985. He was survived by daughter Gerritje and son Carl. Earlier, scant details of the Hoogewoning tragedy were published in an article on the clan's genealogy book, the Windmill, March 7, 1996 issue. Illinois Dutch-American historian Ross K. Ettema assisted in further researching the story.