Herbert vanDam, son of Maargje Exalto in Jan Cornelis VanDam was born in Heukelum, Holland April 24, 1853. 18 months later, a baby girl was born to Maargje and Jan and she lived only six months. She was named Geertje. January 8, 1856, another baby girl was born and as was the custom in the old country when one child died the next one would be given the same name. So this baby was named Geertje and she became known in America as Kate.

Heukelum was a small village of only several hundred inhabitants with but one main street paralleling a canal. From Rotterdam one goes about 20 miles south to Dordrecht then eastward about 20 to 25 miles to Leerdam, then across the river a mile or two south to Heukelum. The records show that nearly all of the vanDams living in Heukelum were shippers, their occupations being that of a sea faring nature.

The Jan vanDam family:
Huibert born 24 Apr 1853
Geertje born 16 Oct 1854 – died 22 Mar 1855
Geertje (aunt Kate) born 8 Jan 1856
Adriana (aunt Lottie) born 25 Jul 1858
Cornelis Dirk born 31 Dec 1860 – died Feb 4, 1861
Dirkje (Aunt Nellie) born 29 Apr 1862
Cornelia born 6 Apr 1864 – on the plains

We can well imagine that Herbert's childhood was a happy one and full with brothers and sisters, schooling, fishing, herding cows, helping with the canal boats, bridging the canal, gardening, repairing the dikes, ice skating, etc. The family had known sorrow with each death of two of their children but Holland was a beautiful country and they had a lot of faith.

Every inch of land is cultivated in Holland and it is a fertile, productive land with meadows like velvety green carpets stretching as far as the eye can see on the flat landscape. The highest point in Holland being only 400 feet above sea level.

Herbert's education began in Holland and must have been very good and gave him a fine basic foundation. The Dutch schools are outstanding academically. They were all learning and not much playing. The emphasis was placed on reading, writing, mathematics, history, geography, etc. School is held every day of the week including Saturday with half days off on Wednesday and Saturday. It was held practically the year-round with a few weeks vacation in August. School was thorough and intensive, so it was no wonder Herbert had little trouble when he came to America and later qualified to teach school.

The Bible was an important part of the education of all Dutchman and Herbert was known to treasure a New Testament one of his teachers gave him which he brought with him to America.

The vanDams were good, solid, sturdy, “typical Dutchman” which was one of the most complementary names that could be given.

Wooden shoes were no doubt worn by all members of the family. In Holland 's wet and marshy farmlands, as well among the workers who toil along the canals, rivers, wooden shoes are worn even today. They were used as a practical measure to keep the feet warm and dry. Heavy woolen socks, or soft linings, or even a bit of straw gave needed warmth and softness which made the wooden shoes very comfortable. Wooden shoes are called "klompen." It is a common sight to see a row of various sizes lined up on the stoop, because they rarely are worn inside the home.

In 1863 Mormon missionaries were proselyting in Heukelum and Herbert's parents were converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and they were baptized on November 1, 1863 by President John L. Smith of the Netherlands mission. His grandparents, Cornelis Dirk Exalto and Geertje van Eck Exalto and his grandfather Herbert vanDam were also baptized along with 16 other people.

Imagine the excitement among this group of converts during the winter as they talked about going to Zion in the spring. Herbert remembers that his parents weren't eager to leave Holland for Utah because his mother was expecting another baby and they knew it would be born before they would arrive in Utah. This caused them much concern but rather than have their elderly parents go alone they decided to leave their home and native land and take the journey with them.

When the family left Holland, Herbert had just turned 11 years old. His father was 35 and his mother 33. His sister Geertje or Kate was eight, Adriana or Lottiee was six and Dirkje or Nellie was only two years old.

The family left Heukelum for Rotterdam May 4, 1864 and joined with a group of 50 or 60 making up the first group of Mormon emigrants to leave the Netherlands for Utah. On the first day of June 1864 this group of men, women and children saled for Liverpool, England on the ship Hudson, a sailing vessel. After three days at sea it was discovered that a Jewish family had brought the measles on board and that many of the other children had been exposed. This proved to be a serious consequence, for before the trip was over nine children had died.

Grandfather said: “I remember the weather was good most of the seven weeks it took to cross the ocean, one time being so calm the ship practically stood still and did not travel but a short distance in two or three days. On one occasion everyone was ordered below, the hatches closed, and it was then that the motion of the boat affected people.”

We landed at Ellis Island, New York and then went by rail to Florence, Nebraska. I remember bringing my New Testament with me that my school teacher gave me before leaving Holland. It seems that the train was so crowded that most of the men were compelled to ride on top of some of the cars. It was while riding this way one stormy night that my father became wet and as a result sick, and died several weeks later. I don't know just where on this trip that he died and was buried.”

“At this point we were organized into companies under Captain Hyde. We, the Dutch people had our own equipment consisting of five ox teams and wagons. None of us could speak a word of English and Mr. Metz acted as interpreter.”

The trip was very slow but sometimes we made about 15 miles in one day. Most of the way I walked beside the wagon. Many times around campfires in the evening we had good times. Some of the men had fiddles and others who wanted to would dance and there would be singing and merriment.

Herbert's father had never been a very strong or healthy man it seems and this sad passing was a terrible shock to his wife and the four children and was almost too much for her to bear. Several weeks after he died, his mother grieving over the death of his father and ill with the hardships of the troupe, gave birth to a baby girl, September 6, 1864. She was named Cornelia.

Herbert said, “I well remember the terrible shock one day as I was leaving camp to gather wood. I inquired how my mother was and was told that she was some better. On returning found them carrying her out to bury her. Grandfather and grandmother Exalto also grandfather vanDam helped to care for us along the trip and many times afterwards as long as they could.”

“When we arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah in October 1864, we drove onto the eighth Ward Square now occupied by the City and County building. Some of the residents came to meet us having prepared things to eat. Among these people were two young women carrying large boilers of boiled potatoes, along with other good things to eat, which they passed around. This I never forgot.

Bishop Edward Hunter, a very old man, arranged for the care of the children by placing Herbert and Nellie with the Moses Thurston family. Cornelia was given to a family that lived in Morgan who had just buried their own baby and wanted one. She spent most of her life with these people who evidently took her to Arizona where she later married and had two children. Kate went to live with a family named Rydalch in Grantsville, but could not stand to be away from her people and so came to live with a Thurston family.

Grandfather vanDam lived in Salt Lake City keeping in touch with the children when he could. Grandfather and grandmother Exalto went to Morgan to live and afterwards decided to accompany Mr. Mets to Arizona . The Exalto's were very fine people and before they left Salt Lake City they had their endowments. Grandfather Exalto was a very good man having always maintained a fine standard, never having used tobacco or liquor and was never known to profane. Grandmother was a very religious woman. Before they left for Arizona, I remember they used to get a Dutch paper from Holland every now and then and the Dutch friends would gather with them all around and spend a grand evening going over the doings. Grandfather would read all the news to them from the paper.

While living with the Thurston's, I used to do the chores and help with the family and then went to school about three months of the school year. My first school in this country was the old seventh Ward school on fifth South between West Temple and first West. Daniel G. Brian was the school teacher, out of school he ran a sawmill in Mill Creek Canyon . I used to study by candlelight and the lights had to be out by nine o'clock . Franklin S. Richards was a later teacher and the best teacher I ever had. C.B. Holly Sr. was the last teacher. I had many difficulties that native born children never had and it worried me very much. Every mistake I made was laid to the Dutch. Not being able to talk plain I was ridiculed a great deal and one of my best friends during this trying time was Orson Whitaker, who helped me many times.

The English language was the hardest thing I had to learn as the foundation of my education received in Holland was very substantial and I never had many difficulties getting good marks, in fact in arithmetic I could work many problems that some of my teachers could not.

The Thurston Homestead stood up where our post office now stands and it was here that my sisters and I nearly lost our identity. The Thurston's chose our first names as nearly as they could make out from the Dutch and our last name was replaced by Thurston although we were never legally adopted. I worked on the farm cutting wood, taking care of the livestock, farming and riding the range for cattle through Riverton and Draper. My sisters did the housework.

Herbert didn't take his own name back until he was married. At the time this part of the history was written Herbert was living at 517 North ninth West and was 85 years old and in fair health. Lillieth vanDam wife of Herbert vanDam Jr. visited with him and he related the incident's recorded thus far. The direct quotations are things he told her at this time. She said that his memory was very good and that he was taking a splendid interest in the goings on throughout the world, church, state, city and family. He always met people pleasantly and jokingly and had a keen sense of humor. Herbert was well-known for his keen sense of humor and his droll wit. He was remembered to have said, “yes I am a very remarkable fellow, I missed it by just one of being twins.”

A double wedding took place on November 8, 1875 . Herbert married Mary Elizabeth holding Evans and her brother, Edward Holding Evans married Herbert's sister Kate. The marriage was performed in the Salt Lake endowment house as the temple was not yet finished. Herbert went to get married as Thurston but the judge told him that if he did not take his own name that the marriage would not be legal. From then on he went by the name of Herbert vanDam.

Mary Elizabeth Evans was the daughter of Mary Holding and David Minshall Evans who were converts to the Church in England and had then come to Utah . Mary Elizabeth was born in Salt Lake City March 15, 1857 .

Kate and Edward became the parents of 10 children and lived in Salt Lake City Utah .

Herbert built an adobe house on second West and 6th South and this became their first home. At this time, he played in the Tenth Ward Band.

Herbert began teaching school at the old seventh Ward school house and continued as a teacher or principal for the next 20 years. He was well known in the field of Pioneer education and was one of the first school teachers in Salt Lake . He taught all grades in one room. In the winter he had to go early and build the fire, sweep the snow off the walks and prepare the building for school.

Their first child, a baby daughter was born June 20, 1876 and was named Abigail later nick-named Abby.

Herbert became active in civic and church and became well known among early day musicians. He had a robust voice and was prompter with the Andrews string band and the Olsen string band and is believed to have been the last survivor of that organization. He played the trombone and also called for the old-time square dances for many years, and was much in demand. He traveled by wagon with the Andrews band to Park city, Brigham and many outlying towns, always playing to crowded houses.

He and Mary Elizabeth were the parents of nine children, four boys and five girls. They were Abigail, Herbert, William who died at 10 months, Josephine and Mary the twins, Lewis, Raymond, Luella, and Sarah.

Herbert and Mary Elizabeth made their home in Salt Lake City until the early 1900s.

Mary Elizabeth had a busy life rearing the children and keeping up with her home. The children went to school at the old seventh Ward where their father taught.

Herbert had always wanted to own a farm and about 1892 he and Mr. Beasley bought a farm of about 160 acres a mile and a half southeast of Sandy Utah. They paid one half of the purchase price of $10,000 and give mortgages back for the balance (this property is now worth a million or so). They expected to pay these obligations off with the profits of their operation, but there were no profits and they could not pay and they were obliged to deed the property back to the former owner and move off.

When they left the farm, Herbert bought a lot in Sandy and with the help of his son built a brick home and moved his family into it.

Herbert used to take his son Herbert with him and go to the canyon and get wood out for fuel. This was a period of hard work, little income in what at that time was considered to be hardships.

At this time Sandy was a vigorous mining town preparing to become a city. Herbert was active in civic affairs and served on the city Council and the one time was Sandy city recorder he was a beautiful penman.

The children attended schools in Sandy and were active in church, school in civic affairs. Herbert was very methodical and diligent in his services. The children were busy with their activities and graduated from school in Sandy .

Herbert and grandfather Evans helped haul rock down little cottonwood canyon to build a wall around Temple Square in Salt Lake . Herbert tells how they would tie or block the wagon wheels to keep them from coming down the canyon too fast. At night they would make a bet on the ground and sometimes in the mornings or blankets would be covered with snow.

August 22, 1896 Abby married Albert George White. Their marriage was very short as he contracted pneumonia and died April 16, 1897 after they had only been married about eight months. Every gave birth to a baby girl on September 25, 1890 75 months after Albert's death.

March 26, 1898 Mary Elizabeth gave birth to a baby girl and they named her Sarah. She became known as Sadie. A few weeks after city was born her mother Mary Elizabeth died April 19, 1898 .

Abby then moved in with her father in the home in Sandy and cared for the two babies and helped take care of the rest of the family. Abby was just 22 years old, the Twins 16, Lewis 13, Ray 9, and Ella was just 7. Abby was a bride, a widow, a mother and lost her own dear mother in a year when 's time. This was a very sad time for this family and they felt keenly the loss of their mother.

Later Herbert became acquainted with Annie Berg and began dating her. This upset Abby as Annie was younger than she was in so she left the home of her father and opened a boarding house. It was there she met Benjamin Farrer and they were married January 31, 1901.

March 20, 1901 Herbert married any Berg. John R. Winder performed the marriage. Annie was sickly and she had no children.

In 1902, Herbert took some of his family and moved to Canada. Those going with him were Ben and Abby Farrar, Josie and may the twins, Lewis, Ray, Ella and Sadie. Annie did not go with them as she was ill. They went to Canada with Bob Bowler and they traveled in a box car with their cattle, some horses and their furniture. Abby, May, Josie, Ella and Sadie went up on the train.

According to the history book, “The Roundup,” published in 1967, a Mr. Christiansen and Herbert vanDam had a Brickyard in Raymond Alberta Canada. While living in Raymond, Herbert helped build the Raymond city jail.

February 12, 1904 Andy Berg died in Salt Lake City and Herbert borrowed money to go to Salt Lake for the funeral. He then returned to Canada but after the family did not stay long but returned to Sandy Utah.

About the time Herbert went to Canada , a family by the name of Seth Jedediah Johnson Sr. had come to Canada from Arizona to establish a home there. The Johnson family had a son named Seth Jedediah Johnson Jr. and on November 23, 1904 May, 21 years old married him. They lived in Raymond Alberta Canada and their first son Seth Herbert Johnson was born there on February 1, 1906 . They later moved to California where they raised a fine family.

May's sister Josie met Milton William Conrad in Canada and on the fourth of June 1906 and they were married in Raymond Alberta Canada. They homesteaded in old Wadena District 5 miles south of paper, Alberta and remained in Canada and raised their family.

Sometime in 1906 or 1907 Herbert joined a group of people in a peach farming venture in Vina Tehema County California. They formed a cooperative association and bought a large acreage of peach trees. Ray, Luella and Sadie were with their father along with 10 or 12 other families.

The men worked hard building cutting sheds and all picked apricots and peaches and cut and dried them. When their crop was harvested, they didn't sell them. Many of these people got sick with malaria and some of the men died. In 1908 the business recession, they called it the McKinley depression hit the country and there was no market for their crop. So after the harvest of 1909 the association was abandoned and the family returned to Utah . Soon after this Ella returned to California and married Frank Wilcox whom she had met while in California . She was married in the home of her sister May and Seth Johnson who had moved to California from Canada .

Once Herbert returned to Salt Lake City he got a job at Vogler's seed company and worked there for many years.

Herbert married Mary Solomon and when he quit working for Vogler's seed company he then became caretaker for a park until he was too old to work. After his wife Mary Solomon died, Herbert went to live with Abby and Ben Farrer and lived with them until he died at the age of 86 on October 14, 1939 and was buried October 17, 1939 . Funeral services were held at the Rose room of the Deseret mortuary under the direction of Bishop Catmill.


organ prelude

solo Oh my father - Henry Clark


Solo lay my head beneath the Rose Mrs. Peterson

remarks oscar van Cott

remarks Don H. vanDam

instrumental “The end of a perfect day

remarks Alonzo Blair Irvine

remarks John B. Mathison

Solo “going home” Mrs. Peterson


dedication of the grave President William D. Kuhre


Lowell vanDam, Charles H. vanDam, Jay vanDam, Richard W. vanDam, Kenneth Farrer, Harold Farrer.

Interment was in the city cemetery.

It was in March of 1931 when grandpa asked Ben and Abby to come and live with him for the rest of his years and said we would then turn the house at 518 North 9th West over to them. Ben Farrer, son of Ben and Abby, and grandson of Herbert writes at first when we moved in with grandpa, I spent quite a lot of time with him. He had an old Chevrolet touring car about 1915 model and when he drove he acted like he was driving a team of horses. When he wanted to turn right, he would holler gee and left haw and always expected it to stop when he said whoa.

A granddaughter writes: I would like to share with you some remembrances of great grand daddy vanDam when he visited Mary Evans May vanDam Johnson and us in Modesto, California in the late 1930s. I was very excited to think of seeing my grandmother's father and my great-grandfather. As I recall he was somewhere in his 80s at the time. The first morning he was there, we could not find him when it was time for breakfast, so a search of the neighborhood ensued. To our delight he was not far away; to our amazement, he was vigorously addressing the weeds with a hoe, to our astonishment, the weeds were our neighbor's who were less than tidy about the offending vegetation. His thoughts at the time were simply that weeds needed hoeing and he was up early and found himself a worthy morning pursuit.

The exciting part of his visit was his teaching me this song “In Jenny Jenks the kitchen made of hard work not at all afraid but yet particular to a shade for I must go out on Sunday.

I still have a letter that he wrote to me after his visit and I recall he is stressing the importance of education. Having the opportunity to think about him makes me want to find his letter which is in the trunk in Santa Rosa and reread his words. March 25, 1976 Nancy Johnson Gross daughter of Seth Herbert Johnson

His daughter said he said she could never remember her father having any hair and that he always told her, “you can't grow hair and brains too, so he chose the brains.”