The Next Generation: Roelf Jans Sjoeks

On 16 July 1871, Roelof Jans, the second child of Wytske Roelofs Hoogland and Jan Pieters Sjoeks, was born in Driesum, Friesland, Netherlands. At the age of 13 he along with his parents, 4 brothers, 1 sister and 7 servants set out on a voyage that ended in Georgetown Township, Ottawa County Michigan in the Spring of 1884.

By 1891 Roelof Jans and his brother, Pieter Jans, had left their father's farm and moved to the City of Grand Rapids in search of better jobs and wages. They resided at 104 W. Leonard Street and were listed as laborers in the 1891 City Directory for Grand Rapids. Roelof was hired by Thys Stadt as a bookkeeper and salesman at the Westside Hardware. In his later years he also worked as an interior designer as well as a salesman for various companies.

On April 4, 1894 Roelof married Elizabeth (Lizzie) De Bruine. They eventually lived at 2344 Madison Avenue in S.E. Grand Rapids. Roelof owned considerable land (about 25-30 acres) on which he built their home. In later years he sold the acreage off as lots at a huge profit!

Roelof, who became known as Ralph around 1900, and Lizzie had one son, John Ralph. They also had a daughter named Antonina who was called Nina. Nina married Bill Kloet, and during the last trimester of her first pregnancy died after a short illness which was accompanied by convulsions. Ralph was deeply saddened by this event. Nina was his only, lovely daughter.

Son, John Ralph Shooks, was born in 1895. He is described as having been a large, handsome man, about 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighing around 200 pounds. John married Tressa Crocker at the age of 20-21 years.

John and Tressa had a son, Robert, who died at an early age due to a reaction to an immunization. John was especially sad...losing his only son. They also had a daughter, Verle Jean, who was a few years younger than Robert. When Verle was 12-13 years old, she would spend four to six weeks each summer visiting her cousin, Mina June Shooks (now VanderArk) at John and Kate (Postma) Shooks' farm in Banks Twp., Antrim County. Verle Jean married Albert Barrett. John and Tressa were business oriented and operated several restaurants in Grand Rapids very successfully. When they both retired John built a beautiful brick home on Canal Street, complete with an apartment for his parents. After Lizzie died on 31 May 1963 at the Christian Rest Home, Ralph lived with John and Tressa for a short time before he died beyond the age of 92 on 19 January 1964 at the Christian Rest Home.

Tressa passed away on 12 July 1975 at the age of 78 in Newport Richie, Florida. John passed away on 14 November 1975, at the age of 80 at the Grand Valley Nursing Centre. In his obituary in the Grand Rapids Press, survivors listed include his daughter, Mrs. Verle Barrett, his grandson, William (Gaye) Barrett and two great grandchildren, Sean and Brian Barrett.

The above story was submitted by Donald T. Shooks, son of Anthony Shooks, Sr. and nephew of Ralph Shooks. Additional information was obtained from The Grand Rapids Press, a daily newspaper, and Winifred Shooks Green, daughter of Vet Shooks and niece of Ralph Shooks.