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Vogelzang, John (1877-1966) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: Vogelzang, John (1877-1966)

Historical Note:

"Two Worlds of Mercy"

100 Rolls of Shelf Paper: Family History; Written by Rev. N. Vogelzang at BFK Commons, Synod and Multi-Ethnic Conference, 15 June 1992

Of my two parents John Vogelzang Sr. and Klaasje (Niehues) Vogelzang, John was by far the person with the most gifts of description.

One day I asked him, "Dad, couldn't you put some of those wonderful stories that you tell us round the table-could you write them down?"

(Dad was such an avid storyteller that he would regale us eight children around the supper table.  At times, he would get up from his seat in his excitement, stride back and forth between the kitchen stove and the pantry, and capture our youthful imagination with his stories of days gone by-or even of stories he had read in the Saturday Evening Post. Pastors were his favorite subject: the great orators-Dr. Proosdij and Domine Gispen-and how that appealed to my youthful heart. His 6'2" frame and his pointed jabbing of his partly cut off index finger all added color and liveliness to our dinner hours.)

"Write them down?" Dad said.  "Who would read them?"

"I would," I said.

A month later he presented me with a half-inch pack of 8½ by 11 paper written on both sides and said, "Son, I can't do it anymore."

"But why not Dad?"

"Oh, son, those short sheets stop my flow of thought!"

Almost on a lark, I said, "But Dad, why don't you take a roll of shelf paper and begin on one end and keep writing until you finish the roll?"

That sounded good to him.

A month later he gave me a roll completely filled (all 25 feet) and every month or two or three weeks until he had written approximately one hundred rolls!

And what a deposit of both church history and family history it was!  He tells of Napoleon's retreat from Moscow-all tales told to him by his grandfather-and told to grandfather from his grandfather. Tales of horses commandeered from all of the farms for miles around; how the Cossacks took a glass of vodka sprinkled it with pepper, drank it down, threw their horses on the ground and slept in between their legs during the blizzard.

He tells of the split of A and B-of the Doleantie, how our name came to pass-their immigration to Michigan.

It was two worlds of God's mercy.

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