James B. Vriezelaar is prominent in various lines of activity in Otley, being a merchant, a stockholder in a
number of companies and also one of the leaders in public affairs. He was born in Pella on the 4th of January,
1859, a son of Gradus and Mary (Brain) Vriezelaar. The former was born in Lakement, Gelderland, Holland, in 1831.
When a young man he came to America and settled at Paterson, New Jersey, as there was quite an extensive Dutch
settlement there. About four years after his marriage to Mary Brain, which occurred about 1854, in Paterson, they
came to Pella. Mr. Vriezelaar worked at a number of occupations after arriving in this county, being employed by
the day at first and subsequently operating a rented farm a half mile east of Otley. In 1863 he had four yoke of
cattle. He later purchased land, becoming the owner of about one hundred and sixty acres, but before his death
he had increased his holdings to two hundred and forty acres. At his demise his sons took charge of the land and
assumed the debt of four thousand dollars against the property. They eventually paid that off and the land is still
in the possession of the family. Mr. Vriezelaar was killed in 1877 by a bull. His wife was born on the 4th of February,
1825, in Holland and was married there to William Laauwe. who died upon the ocean while they were emigrating to
the United States. By this marriage she had one son, William Laauwe. She arrived in this country in 1848 and, as
before stated, married Mr. Vriezelaar in Paterson, New Jersey. To their union were born the following children:
Arie, James B., Cornelia, Henry, Gradus and Nellie.
James B. Vriezelaar received his education in the country schools and was reared under the parental roof. In 1886
he began his independent business career by starting a general store in Otley. He commenced on a small scale but
has enlarged his business as his circumstances have permitted and now has one of the leading mercantile establishments
of the town. He owns the property in which his store is located and altogether owns about three business blocks.
He also holds title to his comfortable residence which he erected and which is well designed, being both conveniently
arranged and attractive in appearance. He is a stockholder in the Otley Telephone Company, in which he was also
a director, and he owns considerable farm land, including one hundred and seventy four acres in Summit township
adjoining Otley, a quarter section of land on section i and a fifth interest in a one hundred and twenty acre tract.
At the time of his mother's death there were eleven hundred.and twenty acres to be divided and Mr. Vriezelaar assisted
in settling up the estate to the satisfaction of all the heirs. Although he has been very active in mercantile
lines and has devoted considerable time to the supervision of his other interests, he has also taken a prominent
part in local governmental affairs. Since old enough to vote he has held office continuously. He has been elected
to all the township offices on the republican ticket and for two years was county supervisor. He has always given
the best of his thought and energy to theduties devolving upon him as an official and his record of continuous
service in office is proof of the confidence that his fellow citizens repose in him. He has always been faithful
to every trust and has safeguarded the interests committed to his care. Although he is one of the well to do and
substantial citizens of Otley, he has met at times with financial reverses, having been through two bank failures.
Mr. Vriezelaar was married in 1884 to Miss Mattie De Reus, a daughter of Arie De Reus, a resident of Pella. Her
birth occurred in this county in 1860 and she was educated in the country schools. To her parents were born fifteen
children, ten of whom survive. Mr. and Mrs. Vriezelaar have eight children living and have lost two. Gradus J.
married Miss Artie Heullaman and they have three children. Ira G. married Miss Sarah Klein, by whom he has two
children. William A. married Miss Carrie Van Bentom and they have one child. Maggie is the wife of John Van Der
Bard, a farmer, and is the mother of two children. Mamie and Henry, twins, are both at home, as are also Jimmie
and Martha, the last named being now sixteen years old. Henry, the first of that name, died August 23, 1890, at
the age of ten months and twenty three days, while another child named Mamie died November 18, 1892, at the age
of five years.
The family attend the Baptist church and can be depended upon to further in any way possible the moral advancement
of the community. Mr. Vriezelaar has other interests in addition to those already mentioned, as he has been secretary
and treasurer of the Pella Pipe & Tank Company from its organization. The concern is capitalized for twenty
thousand dollars and is well managed, paying good dividends. He also owns a coal mine near Otley and supplies a
big local trade. Whether in private or public life, he has invariably guided his conduct by high standards of ethics
and the greater number of his acquaintances are also his loyal friends.
History of Marion County, Iowa
And its People
John W. Wright, Supervising Editor
W. A. Young, Associate
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Marion County, IA
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