Sijmensma, Ruurd Jacobs (1816-1854)

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Ruurd Jacobs Sijmensma, preacher of the Mennonite congregation at Balk in the Dutch province of Friesland, chosen in 1842, who because of his opposition to the general trend of liberalism developing among the Dutch Mennonites, and particularly because he wished to maintain the principle of non-bearing of arms, decided to emigrate. With Ruurd Johannes Smid, an elder of this congregation, and 17 of its members and a few non-Mennonites he left Balk on 9 April 1854; via Rotterdam and Liverpool (England) they arrived at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 6 May. On 1 June a few of their company including Sijmensma arrived at Goshen, Indiana, ten miles southwest of which they settled. In August their families, which they had left behind at Dover, Ohio, joined the pioneers. Sijmensma died in 1854, not quite a year after the emigration. Five letters written by Sijmensma and Smid to the Mennonites remaining at Balk, describing their travel and their settling in the United States, are printed in Doopsgezinde Lectuur. The first two of these letters were written by Sijmensma. His grandfather Ruurd Symens was an elder of the Balk congregation at the close of the 18th century.


Brüsewitz, Carl F. "The Mennonites of Balk, Friesland." Mennonite Quarterly Review XXX (January 1956): 19-31.

Brüsewitz, Carl F. "De Doopsgezinden van Balk." Stemmen uit de Doopsgezinde Broederschap V (1956): No. 4, 81-95.

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1861): 130 f.; (1887): 112.

Additional Information

The adventures of these Balk immigrants (the first group of April 1853 was followed by a few others; 19 members of Balk with their families, a total of 52 souls, moved to America) are related in the article by Marie Yoder, "The Balk Dutch Settlement Near Goshen, Indiana, 1853-1889." Mennonite Quarterly Review 30 (January 1956)

The five letters are found in Gorter's Doopsgezind Lectuur (1854): 261-300.

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Sijmensma, Ruurd Jacobs (1816-1854)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 1 Oct 2020.,_Ruurd_Jacobs_(1816-1854)&oldid=118728.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1959). Sijmensma, Ruurd Jacobs (1816-1854). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 1 October 2020, from,_Ruurd_Jacobs_(1816-1854)&oldid=118728.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 526. All rights reserved.

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