m. 2 Apr 1892
Facts and Events
As a boy Dirk learned English in school - Dutch (Frisian dialect) was spoken at home. As a teenager Dirk built the out-house that still stands on the Hamstra family farm. It had a "Daddy Bear" seat, a "Momma Bear" seat and a "Baby Bear" seat.
At the age of 16 Dirk left home (reportedly after quarreling with his older brother Joeke) and boarded with the Henry Wilson family, working as their farm hand. The Wilson farm was about 6 miles north of his home farm. The youngest Wilson daughter Nettie was too proud to eat with the hired hand so she ate in the kitchen. Eventually her mother Ezubah insisted that Nettie join the rest of the family at the dining room table.
Dirk went on to work and board at other farms in the area but did not forgot Nettie Wilson and her family. He also worked as a "Colporteur" distributing missionary literature.
A few years later Dirk heard that Henry Wilson had died suddenly, leaving his widow Ezubah and daughter Nettie alone on their farm. He went back to their farm and offered to help the Wilson ladies. The hired hand fell in love with the farmer's daughter - Dirk and Nettie were engaged in 1917. Nettie began to make her wedding gown.
Jacob and Dick (army names) Hamstra were drafted into the US Army in the fall of 1917. They were inducted into the 32nd Infantry Division (constituted from Michigan and Wisconsin National Guard units) and transported to Camp Custer, near Battle Creek, Michigan. The 32nd Infantry soon shipped to Camp MacArthur near Waco, Texas for training. The brothers did not believe in taking lives, so they requested exemption from weapons duty. They were assigned to the 107th Supply Train, Sanitary Squads (ambulances and stretchers).
Nettie and Dick planned to marry during his first leave from Camp MacArthur. However in mid January 1918 the division was ordered to Camp Merrit near Dumont, New Jersey to embark for France. In early February Dick sent a telegram to Nettie informing her that he was leaving Texas for New Jersey. Accompanied by her brother James Wilson and his wife Rose, Nettie traveled by train to Dumont. Nettie and Dick married on February 16. Dick boarded his ship on February 17 and the convoy departed for France an hour after midnight on February 18. (By this time his brother Jacob had already arrived in France after surviving the sinking of the Tuscania on February 5 .)
While in France Pvt Dick Hamstra and Sgt Carl Smith were awarded the Croix De Guerre for volunteering to rescue a wounded French soldier who was caught in "no-man's land" between the French and German lines near Juvigny. Both Dick and Carl survived the War - Carl lost an arm but Dick's injuries, though less visible, would prove to be more debilitating. After the war Dick suffered from "shell shock" (PTSD). He would have unpredictable (epileptic?) seizures where he would hear the booming of the guns and exploding of the shells. Whether the seizures triggered the flash-backs or the flash-backs triggered the seizures was never determined. Despite multiple stays at Veterans hospitals the doctors were unable to control the seizures.
While Dick was in Europe, Nettie and her mother Ezubah sold the Wilson farm and moved to Grand Haven. Nettie worked in a factory. When Dick returned he lived with Nettie and Ezubah in Grand Haven, where their first child was born. Soon they moved to Grand Rapids where three more children were born. Dick and Nettie bought land in Home Acres, a newly developed community in Paris Township (now part of of Grand Rapids). He built a house at 30 Maplewood (now Maplelawn) Street. After the first house burned he built a larger house with the help of his son. They also bought four acres of land about 1/2 mile Southeast of the house and operated a truck farm. Because of Dick's disabilities Nettie drove the truck to deliver the produce. During the 1930s Nettie's brother Uncle Jim Wilson and his family moved next-door. Around 1950 Nettie's oldest daughter and her family moved into the house behind on SE 43rd Street. This house had been built by Dick's son for someone else who apparently never occupied it.
Dick and his son worked as carpenters and were also excellent mechanics. In 1940 Dick, his son and his brother John were building a house south of Grandville. Because of Dick's seizures his son would drive them to the job. On November 5 (election day) Dick's son went pheasant hunting at his Uncle Bill's farm. Nettie was supposed to drive Dick to work; however he drove himself as he intended to run some errands during his lunch break. Around noon there was an electrical outage in much of Grandville. While driving into town Dick apparently had a seizure. His car broke a power pole before coming to rest at the bottom of a body of water (accounts differ whether it was a stream, a pond or an abandoned rock or gravel quarry pit). Extricating the vehicle and its driver from the cold water was a difficult process. By the time the pheasant hunters returned to the farm house word had already reached Dick's sister Aunt Jennie that he was dead.
After Dick's death Hendrik Meijer built the first Meijer's store  in Grand Rapids on the land between Nettie's house and South Division Avenue. Hendrik's son Frederik  expanded the family's chain of supermarkets into a multi-billion $ midwestern chain of super-stores. For many years Frederik wanted to buy the houses belonging to Nettie and her daughter so he could expand the Home Acres store. In 1966, shortly before her death, Nettie and her family finally sold their property to Meijer's.