They sailed in October, the month after Hiram’s 14th birthday. His mother, Geertje Harmens DeJong had died in 1860 when Hiram was six years old. His only surviving full sibling, Hendrik, who came to be known as Henry, was just two days shy of his third birthday when his mother passed away. Their baby sister, only eight months old, had perished three months before their mother.
1860 was filled with tragedy for this family, leaving Hiram’s remaining parent, a school teacher, with two young boys to raise.
In 1863, his father, Bauke Hendrick Ferwerda (1830-1911,) with a surname that morphed to both Ferverda and Fervida in Indiana, remarried Minke “Minnie” Gerb ens Van der Koo. Their first two children were twin girls born a day apart, which probably means just a few minutes before and after midnight, in August of 1864. They were joined by another sister in May of 1867.
When they sailed for America in 1868, the family consisted of Hiram’s father, step-mother, brother Hendrik “Henry” who would have just turned nine, half-siblings Melvinda who was four, her twin Lysbeth who died during the voyage and was buried at sea, and Geertje, who was just 17 months old.
We have only six photos of Hiram Ferveda, even though he lived until 1925. Half of those photos are very distant. There’s only one of his brother, Henry, who led an incredibly sad, short life.
The photos I have of Hiram are second-hand copies from a booklet, so they are very poor quality. I reached out to a photo restoration group on Facebook, and VERY KIND volunteers worked on restoring the Ferverda boy’s faces, along with that of Hiram’s wife, Eva Miller (1857-1939), who I wrote about here and here. Unfortunately, to date, no photos of Hiram’s father have been located, although I still have my fingers crossed given that he lived until 1911.
Here’s the original photo of brothers Hiram and Henry.
I didn’t think there was much hope for restoration, as I had already tried, without much success. Fortunately, other people knew what they were doing.
A very nice man named Ray improved the photo, as did several others.
Then, a photo image genius who I’ll call Angel (a pseudonym, because Angel does not want to have photographic restorations requested) worked on the faces and literally brought them back to life.
I was dumbstruck.
Hiram’s brother, Henry, above.
Hiram Ferverda. Notice his left eye.
I think of Hiram as a dignified silver-haired man in photos with his adult family, not as a youth.
A few days later, I asked for assistance again. Requesters are not allowed to tag a particular volunteer, but I was extremely fortunate that Angel saw my request and once again, very graciously, worked their magic.
In 1876, Hiram married Eva Miller. They obviously went to a portrait studio for the photo above, which is recorded as either being a wedding photo, or near that time. She was 18, soon to be 19, and he was on the cusp of 22. That seems awfully young to marry today but was the norm back then.
Once again, I was incredibly amazed.
But Angel wasn’t finished.
Hiram’s stunning portrait.
I had to sit down and catch my breath. What an incredible gift.
Notice Hiram’s eye again. Whatever condition he had, it’s genetic, because my grandfather, his son, had the same “droopy” left eye, which has continued in some people in the following generations, but not as pronounced.
Here’s Eva Miller as a young woman, remarkably, without her Brethren prayer bonnet. Her hair is drawn back, but not put up on her head. I’d bet her family was very unhappy about this picture. Perhaps Eva was a bit rebellious, at least for a young Brethren woman.
I have to smile, thinking about this chapter in Eva’s life. She did not marry outside the faith, but her sons would unapologetically serve in the military and her husband was a Marshall in Leesburg, so this entire family was a bit renegade. Always Brethren though.
This restored portrait of Eva is so very real and literally made me cry. I can see my mother in her face, almost 150 years after this photo was taken. I wish I could show Mom. I can see myself and my daughter in Eva’s face too, especially when we were younger.
Mom told me that Eva came and cared for her when she was ten years old and terribly ill with rheumatic fever. They forged a special bond. Mom remembered her kindness, and her white prayer bonnet.
The only other photos we have of Eva are poor quality and when she is either older or elderly, with her adult children.
The best one is a chalk drawing. She doesn’t look very happy. I actually wonder if this is Eva or her mother, Margaret Elizabeth Lentz (1822-1903.) The family member who gave it to me identified it as Eva.
Regardless, that’s how I think of Eva – matronly and reserved, wearing her prayer bonnet, with her hair twisted into a bun on her head, not as an incredibly beautiful young woman. I much prefer to think of her as a lovely bride, sitting for her wedding portrait, despite what anyone thought, excited to set up housekeeping with her handsome groom. I’m so very glad that arranged this photo session, because, without that one remaining poor photograph, we would have had no prayer of recovering these wonderful ones.
I’m incredibly grateful to Angel, of course, for bringing my great-grandparents back to life through these stunning portraits as well as for the gift of literally being able to view them as vibrant young people.
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