The Van Koeverings have a legacy.
In 1847, after Albertus Van Raalte, Jan Rabbers, and Jannes Van de Luyster led their followers from the Netherlands, Izaak and Adriana Sonke Van Koevering and family arrived with Jacob Wabeke, who financed the trip.
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Izaak and Adriana’s son, Anthoni (a builder) married Cornelia De Jonge, daughter of Jan De Jonge and Jannetje Den Herder De Jonge. Two of their children were Adrian and William, who at a very young age contracted polio.
The disease weakened Adrian’s left arm and right leg and weakened both of William’s legs. On the recommendation of Zeeland’s first doctor, Dr. Daniel Baert, Adrian was taken to see a specialist in Cincinnati who attached six leaches to his arm in an attempt to remove the “poisonous blood.” The treatment didn’t work.
As they got older, it became clear because of their disability the boys could not join their father in the construction business. So, in 1893, the boys’ mother, Cornelia, approached her uncle, Jacob Den Herder, for a loan to help Adrian open a printing business.
After Jacob obliged, Adrian spent $50 for a bench printer from the Kelsey Printing Press Company of Meriden, Connecticut. He then opened his shop in his parents’ building at 149 E. Main Ave. One of his customers was Dr. Bart, who ordered 100 business cards.
The same year, at the behest of local politician and temperance supporter, Cornelius Van Loo, Hiram Potts of Grand Haven leased a storefront at 207 E. Main Ave. to print a newspaper called The Zeeland Expositor. The man hired to run the shop and do the printing was Lewis Hartwick of Hart, Michigan. By 1894, Hartwick owned the business and took on a new partner, Evert Prium.
They moved their operation to Prium’s vacant storefront at 50 E. Main Ave. and renamed their paper The Zeeland Record. Then Alfred Ringe and his wife opened a printing shop at 122 E. Main Ave. and started a newspaper called The Zeeland Enterprise.
After only three months, The Zeeland Enterprise failed. Ringe tried to sell his printing equipment to Adrian for $300 — then accepted $150. A few weeks later, Adrian started publishing a newspaper entitled The Weekly News.
Also in 1893, Adrian’s brother, William, purchased a photography business from EJ McDermand, who moved back to Tennessee. The business was then located at 211 E Main Ave. — where Don’s Flowers is today.
The Van Koevering boys were a team. William would help Adrian during the first half of the week and Adrian would help William the second half of the week.
In 1897, Adrian’s parents sold the building at 149 E. Main Ave. and the house and lean-to at 211 E. Main purchased Ave. Both Adrian’s newspaper and William’s photography business were moved to that location.
In 1898, the Van Koeverings razed the lean-to and built a two-story building and moved the brothers’ businesses upstairs. Given the brothers’ physical conditions, this must have been a challenge. Sometimes, Adrian would carry William, who would hold the camera; and, after an exhausting day at work, Adrian would carry William home.
In 1899, Adrian bought The Zeeland Record.
In 1902, the VanKoeverings built a new residence and photo gallery at 52 E. Main Ave. — next door to VanBree’s Drug Store.
In 1908, Adrian hired Abe Van Hoven, who eventually launched his own shop. Also, in 1908, McDermand moved back to Zeeland and repurchased his photography business, renaming it “Mac’s Art Studio.”
In 1909, VanBree of VanBree’s Drug Store built a new building at the corner of Main Avenue and Elm Street. The Van Koeverings then bought and moved Van Bree’s old two-story brick-veneered building to the newly created S. Elm Street.
By 1925, the VanKoeverings were printing several Sunday School publications and The Modern Poultry Breeder. Needing more space, they built a one-story addition.
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In 1955, Adrian sold The Zeeland Record to his sons, George and Cornelius (“Corey”) Van Koevering. In 1958, George left the business to become a railroad lobbyist in Lansing. Corey’s sons, Keith and Paul, joined The Zeeland Record. One generation later, Paul’s sons, Kurt and Kraig, also joined the business.
In 1941, Nicholas deVries purchased McDermand’s photography business; it stayed in the deVries family until 2016. It’s now owned by Carmel Brown.
Information from this article comes from the DeVries Studio and Zeeland Record websites, the Zeeland Record Archives, Randall Dekker’s “Main Street Memoir” and an interview with Kurt Van Koevering.
— Community Columnist Steve VanderVeen is a resident of Holland. Contact him through start-upacademeinc.com.