Map of Chicago Neighborhoods
and Places of Interest
1 Moody Bible Institute at
Chicago Ave & LaSalle St
2 Siegel Cooper store at
State St and Van Buren
3 Later Poot residence
on Ashland Ave.
4 University of Chicago
and site of 1893 Fair
5 Gano, site in
1896 of Poot
CHICAGO, COLLEGE AND MARRIAGE
A PERIOD OF RAPID AND COMPLEX CHANGES
Many important events happened to the Poot family in the years following
1895. The children were growing old enough to begin to live independent
lives and start families of their own. Family events happened quickly and
in multiple locations. With fewer family limitations, Reverend JW Poot could
follow his restless spirit. JW and Fredericka moved frequently and it is
difficult to trace their lives. There may be some errors in the following
narrative, but most of the details have been verified.
Chicago was a city unlike any the Poots had lived in before. With about
1,700,000 residents, Chicago was the second biggest city in America. It
was the nation's busiest shipping port, even though it was about 600
miles from the ocean. It was a sprawling city with a dense core
surrounded by suburbs from which many people commuted. The city
displayed great extremes of wealth and poverty. The previous cities the
Poots lived in had been very religious. In contrast, only about half of the
people in Chicago attended church. The city's churches were heavily out-
numbered by the brothels. On Sundays there were as many people
drinking in the 6,400 saloons as were in church. Chicago had been
founded with a significant portion of its economy devoted to gambling,
prostitution, drinking, and crime. Chicago had many hard working and
successful people, yet graft, bribery, extortion and crime touched
everyone. For every honest businessman like Marshall Field, there were
several cruel "robber barons" like George Pullman. It was well documented
that nearly every politician and bureaucrat was corrupt. Some city leaders
and politicians were actually crime bosses operating their gambling and
prostitution businesses under city protection!
This dark side of Chicago upset many people who came to the big city
seeking a better life. Dwight Lyman Moody was one of these people. He
arrived from Boston in 1856, at the age of 19, planning to make his
fortune as a shoe salesman. His imaginative and aggressive sales
techniques soon earned him job promotions and seven thousand dollars in
savings. He had become a Christian in 1855 and also devoted his energies
to Christ. He established a YMCA in Chicago and started his own Sunday
Bible School for poor children. Soon the children's parents wanted to
attend church, so Moody built one. The Great Fire of 1871 burned
everything he had built, including his home. Instead of quitting, Mr.
Moody was inspired to expand his efforts. He not only rebuilt larger
versions of the YMCA, the church, and the school, but he also began large-
scale evangelization efforts. In 1873 he was invited to Europe where his
religious revival was a phenomenal success. In 1876, Dwight Moody held
a 3 month long revival in Chicago, and large crowds attended. His total
attendance was 900,000 in a city of then 400,000 people. In his home
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D.L. Moody and The Bible Institute
Founder, Dwight Lyman Moody Dr. R.A. Torrey in 1909. Dr. James Gray in 1928.
lived 1837-1899. W.F. Poot Superintendent of the One of Will Poot’s
was given a photo similar to school 1889-1905. professors. Supervised
this one. Founded Bible Institute the college 1905-1935.
of Los Angeles (BIOLA).
The first school building was This Moody Church was built in 1875 at Chicago
built in 1889. It became the Avenue and La Salle Street. The Bible Institute was
men’s building as the campus built around it. Church was replaced by the Moody
grew. Postcard circa 1911. Memorial Church. Photo made in 1880s.
town of Northfield, Massachusetts he founded a girls seminary and a boys
school. In 1886, Moody started the Bible-Work Institute of the Chicago
Evangelization Society. (This was renamed the Moody Bible Institute in
late 1898 shortly before his death.) When the 1893 Chicago World's Fair
was held, Moody organized another revival. Millions attended these
meetings and two million people signed his guest register! Moody is
believed to have preached directly to about 100 million people during his
When the Poots were still living in Friesland, they had become aware of
Moody's religious work. Mr. Moody was the most influential evangelist of
the 1800's and can be compared the Reverend Billy Graham of the 1900's.
Mr. Moody was an important leader and source of inspiration for the
evangelic religious movements in America and in Europe. His influence
was multiplied by the thousands of Christian ministers, of many
denominations, who attended the religious conferences he organized.
When Mr. Moody made his second tour of Europe in 1881-1884 he
strengthened the resolve of ministers like JW Poot to seek change in the
Reformed Church. This eventually lead to the Poots' decision to move to
America in 1887. You could argue that the corruption in Chicago set forth
a sequence of events that helped bring the Poots to America!
In Chicago, the period 1890 through 1892 was one of frenzied
construction and development as the city prepared for the World's
Columbian Exposition of 1893. Their famous "L" or elevated train was
built to improve city transportation. Another major project was the
construction of the University of Chicago. Both the Fair and the University
were located in the neighborhood named Hyde Park. The University was
funded in 1890, largely by donations from John D. Rockefeller and
Marshall Field. Prominent educators were recruited from around the world
and instruction began in October 1892. The University offered both
undergraduate (4 year) and graduate (Masters and Ph.D.) degrees. The
Poots would have read publicity about the new school and may have seen
it during one of their trips to Chicago. The Poots visited the 1893 World
Fair and they probably attended Moody's revival. The Midway
(entertainment zone) of the 1893 World Fair extended to the edge of the
University. The University of Chicago became one of the most influential
schools in America.
JW Poot's oldest son Will (or William or W.F.) was a young man of great
intellect and energy. He could be described as a budding "Renaissance
man", who loved life, athletics, music, art, mechanics, science, and
politics. Yet in spite of his many interests, he retained his childhood
desire to become a minister and preach the Word of God. To accomplish
his goals, Will may have moved to Chicago as early as 1895 while his
family was still living in Hudsonville, Michigan. In Chicago, Will Poot would
study at the University of Chicago and at the Moody Bible Institute.
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The 1893 World Columbian Exposition
The Court of Honor was the
center of the Exposition. Cruise
ship passengers entered at the
far end of the lagoon. Venetian
gondolas and power boats
offered tours within the lagoon.
View from the roof of the
“Manufactures and Liberal Arts”
The Court of Honor at night.
At the time, the greatest use of
electric lighting ever created.
Litte Egypt, the world famous belly
The mammoth Ferris Wheel dancer. She was a huge success,
debuted at the Fair. even though fully clothed.
When Will attended the University of Chicago, they were experimenting
with many new innovations in education. Students could enter the college
with advanced standing by certificate from a Junior College, or by
completing college level classes in High School, or by receiving passing
scores on University examinations. Many advanced students were able to
bypass their first year of math or English classes. Will Poot apparently
skipped most of the first two years of classes. He was able to complete
his studies for a college degree in only two years. He may have received
some college credits for his classes at Central High School in Grand
Rapids. He received special education there while the school was
developing a Junior College curriculum. At the University he scheduled an
accelerated study program and received credits by passing the final exams
for each course sequence. He may have completed his undergraduate
studies in 1897. (If he did not enter the University until after his family
moved to Chicago, then he would have graduated in June 1898.) Family
members remember seeing his diploma, but in 2005 the University of
Chicago was not able to locate his transcripts. The University Registrar
said that the early school records were stored in an old basement where
some records had been lost or damaged. There are few details known
about this phase of Will's education. During the first few months he could
have been separated from his family. In January 1896, William submitted
his application to the Moody Bible Institute.
At this time, Rev. JW Poot and the remainder of the family were seeking an
opportunity to move to the Chicago area. Their prayers were answered
when on February 11, 1896 the First Reformed Church of Gano decided to
issue a call for Rev. JW Poot. At the decisive church meeting, 41 votes
were given to JW Poot, and only 14 votes were given to the other five
ministers under consideration. The call was issued and Rev. Poot promptly
A brief conflict arose when the congregation in Hudsonville, Michigan tried
to keep Rev. JW Poot at their church. The congregation had grown rapidly
during his short term of leadership and he was very popular. JW was firm
in his decision, and the congregation reluctantly agreed to give their
The Poot family wasted no time moving to Chicago. Five weeks after the
call was issued, Rev JW Poot was officially installed on March 23, 1896. His
son Abe probably played music for the Gano church as he had done in
Hudsonville. The church went through the procedure of accepting JW's
wife, Mrs. Fredericke Sophia Poot, and his eldest son, William F. Poot, into
the congregation. This seems a curious formality, but William was 18
years old and considered an adult.
The Reformed Church of Gano was a young congregation when Rev. Poot
arrived. It had been sponsored in 1891 by the First Reformed Church of
Roseland. The parent church was just two miles north of Gano, but
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Reformed Church of Gano
The Gano church was
built in 1893. There
was also a parsonage
and horse barn. This
had many farms and
Gano’s main business
area was located nearby
on Michigan Ave. This
postcard was made circa
1900. There was good
public transportation to
Church Minutes in 1896
admitting Mrs. F.S. Poot and
Mr. W.F. Poot into the Gano
Congregation from the South
Blendon Reformed Church.
J.W. Poot signed at the bottom.
parishioners living in Gano complained about the great difficulty of
traveling to church over the frequently muddy unpaved roads. The new
congregation initially met in a meeting hall and then in a Methodist
Church. In 1892, four lots of land were purchased for a new church. The
property was bounded north and south by 116th and 117th Streets, and
east and west by Clark and Perry Streets. By October 1892 they had built
a church, a parsonage, and a horse barn. But in April 1893 the church was
struck by lightning and burned to the ground. With great devotion and
determination, the congregation completed a new church in October
1893. A lightning rod on the steeple now protected the church.
Photographs of the Roseland business district show it was also protected
by a number of tall lightning rods.
The church was recorded under differing addresses. During 1909 many
addresses were revised in a realignment of street names and numbers.
When Chicago expanded, it inherited addresses that were inconsistent or
repetitive. For example, the church's location was originally given as
111th and Clark, but the number address was 11623 South Clark Street.
In the South-Suburban region, most of the numerical east-west streets
were later assigned new names or numbers.
The church membership grew rapidly from 31 charter members in 1891,
to 185 members in 1895. How much it grew under Rev. Poot's leadership
is uncertain, but by 1906 the congregation's size peaked at 600 members.
The official church history records Rev. J.W. Poot as "a powerful preacher"
and stated "many young people made confession of faith during his
Most of the residents in the Gano neighborhood were Dutch immigrants
from Friesland. Many worked as farmers although some worked at the
nearby train stations in Kensington. The sermons and church records
were in Dutch until 1928. J.W. Poot served the Gano Church from March
1896 until April 1898. He was followed by Rev. Peter A. Bouma who
served 1898-1903. In 1972 the church merged with Trinity Church to
create the United Reformed Church. The church disbanded in 1977.
Gano was a small farming suburb on the far south side of Chicago, about
13-15 miles south of the downtown "loop". It remained surprisingly rural
in character into the 1920s and 1930s. The main streets resembled those
of a small city, but many side streets passed through nothing but empty
fields and small farms. Like other Dutch neighborhoods it was clean and
neatly organized. Community pride demanded that their churches and
other buildings be well constructed.
The old neighborhood name of Gano has faded into history. Gano was
located on the south side of Roseland and is now grouped into Roseland.
This general area is known as South Suburban Chicago. The older and
more industrialized Calumet Lake and Calumet River were a short distance
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east. The South Suburban region was incorporated into Chicago in 1889
during the period of aggressive city expansion in preparation for the 1893
World Fair. This region includes the neighborhoods of Roseland, Pullman,
South Holland, Dolton, Fernwood, Gano, Kensington, Riverdale, Rosemoor,
and West Pullman.
The first permanent settlement in the nearby Calumet region was made in
the early 1840’s by a small colony of Dutch immigrants. They came
directly from South Holland seeking a better way of life. Although they
retained their Dutch religious practices, they were not as strongly
motivated by religious politics as were the Dutch settlers of Michigan and
Iowa. They were mainly farmers and quickly purchased plots of land
throughout the area. Most of them chose to live in what they called "Low
Prairie" (South Holland). A few years later, another group of Dutch from
North Holland settled a few miles north in "High Prairie," later known as
Roseland. The Gano neighborhood contained mostly Friesian immigrants.
The greater Chicago area eventually held America's largest concentration
of Dutch and direct descendants, some 250,000 strong. Most Americans
remained unaware of how many Hollanders were in Chicago, partly
because the Dutch were hard working, kept a low profile, and had very
little crime compared to the other immigrant communities.
The South Suburban area prospered as a mainly farming community until
1880, when George M. Pullman moved his railroad passenger car company
and its employees nearby and founded the picturesque company town of
Pullman. Many Dutch farmers sold their holdings to Pullman for large
profits, and the land was then subdivided for businesses, churches,
residences and schools. This development enticed the City of Chicago to
annex the region in 1889. The suburban Dutch avoided this industrial
neighborhood. A few years later, Pullman became infamous for the way
his workers were held in debt-based servitude without any take-home pay.
The unhappy workers went on strike in 1894. With national controversy,
hundreds of Pinkerton agents crushed the strike by beating and shooting
the strikers. Courts later ordered Pullman to sell the town to the
The South Suburban area continued to grow and develop over the years
until the late 1950’s when many area residents began to move. The
Roseland area is now 98% Black American and the Dutch have moved to
After the Poot family moved to Gano in March 1896, Will Poot was able to
live with his family and commute to his school and work. The streetcars
on State Street or the local rail line could make quick work of Will's 15-mile
trip from Gano to downtown Chicago. The rail trip cost between 10 and
20 cents each way. To save money, Will walked the two miles between
work and the Bible School in the downtown area. The University of
Chicago was located 6 miles south of the Loop, placing it midway between
- Chicago, College, and Marriage - page 5 -
his home and downtown Chicago. He could have stopped at the University
on his trips to or from downtown.
William had already made inquiries to the Moody Bible Institute and
submitted his formal application in January 1896. Admission was based
upon spiritual maturity, personal character, interest in the ministry, and
academic capability. The application required transcripts from previous
schools, an autobiographical sketch, a pastor's reference, and a friend's
reference. William already had experience teaching Sunday School in his
father's churches. Rev. JW Poot submitted a letter of recommendation on
his son's behalf. Will also submitted a letter of recommendation from Dr.
Huizinga (also spelled Huizenga) of 11501 Michigan Avenue. This was in
the Roseland area and about 4 blocks northeast of the Gano Reformed
Church. The Huizingas were important early Dutch settlers in the Chicago
area, and were also prominent in Grand Rapids. In the 1890s, three
ministers named Huizinga were in the Reformed Church of America.
William was accepted by the Bible Institute and began his religious studies
there on 29 January 1897. The school was built next to the old Moody
Church at Chicago Avenue and La Salle Street. This was several blocks
north of the Loop District and 2 miles northwest of the Siegel-Cooper
Department Store. Moody's YMCA building was also on La Salle Street, but
several blocks south of the church.
Will desired to study Latin, Greek and Hebrew so he could read the
scriptures in their original texts. In 1897, these subjects were not
available at the Bible School, so he attended language classes at the
University of Chicago.
Will possessed a talent for learning languages. He already knew English,
Dutch, German and French. He maintained a reading ability in multiple
languages throughout his life. His knowledge of the classical languages
helped his theological studies and evaluation of Bible translations. He
found that difficult questions could sometimes be resolved by studying
the original Greek text, thus bypassing the vagaries of translation and
religious politics. His knowledge of Hebrew enabled him to discuss
theological issues with Rabbi's and he eventually became an important
liaison between the Christian and Jewish faiths. However, he did not know
the Frisian language, which disappointed immigrants from that area of the
The Bible Institute was different in several ways from traditional schools of
theology. It was non-denominational Christian. Although Mr. Moody was
said to have Baptist leanings, Superintendent Dr. Torrey was
Congregational and Rev. Gray was Protestant-Episcopal. They could work
together because they taught the Word from the Gospels and tried to
avoid interpretations that created religious controversies. Even the
Catholic Church issued no objection to Moody's campaigns. Another
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More About Moody in Chicago
Mr. Moody (center) and an
associate visiting poor street
children in 1877. Moody’s first
Sunday School Class was held in
the North Market Hall behind
“The Moody Gospel Mission”
in the stockyards district.
Bible School students
The entrance proclaims -
Do You Need A Friend
Jesus Loves You
Students shoveling snow in
front of the Moody Church and
Bible Institute on La Salle St.
Photo was made in 1918.
unique feature of the school grew from Moody's belief that the world
needed energetic evangelists who could preach about God to the great
masses of people living in the cities. Moody created a special curriculum
that taught theology, personal character, and the practical skills for
reaching out to diverse people. He used a "learn-by-doing" approach that
sent students out to the streets of Chicago to begin their ministry.
Students worked with evangelic enthusiasm in all areas of the city, from
the slums to the wealthy business districts to teach people about God.
This last strategy was criticized by some. Some people thought that if
people were poor it was a punishment from God and therefore the poor
were not deserving of a church. Many more people were uncomfortable
with Mr. Moody's policy of allowing Negroes into the same church service
as whites, even though the "colored folk" were segregated into the upper
balcony of the church. Mr. Moody was unyielding in his desire to preach
to all races of people and would not preach in any city that did not permit
him to do this.
Although Moody was deeply involved in the operation of the school, he
was also committed to a busy schedule of worldwide travel. He selected a
well-educated theologian, Dr. R.A. (Rueben Archer) Torrey, to supervise the
growth and operation of the Bible Institute. Dr. Torrey was educated at
Yale, Yale Divinity School, and at two German universities. He was
ordained in the Congregational Church, and this apparently influenced Will
Poot to first ordain in the same denomination. Dr. Torrey was a gifted
writer and speaker. He presented student lectures and gave guest
sermons in the Moody Church. After Mr. Moody died, Dr. Torrey became
increasingly involved in continuing Moody's evangelic crusades. Dr. Torrey
resigned about 1905 to devote himself to evangelizing. Will Poot
remained in touch with Dr. Torrey over the years, and eventually, they both
moved to southern California.
It is likely that Will gave occasional sermons in the Gano Reformed Church
as part of his training. He also spent part of 1897 preaching, probably on
the streets of Chicago and at Moody's Gospel Mission on 33rd street in the
Stockyard District. Moody was committed to the YMCA (Young Men's
Christian Association) as a religious organization. He may have urged his
students to be active at the YMCA.
The Moody Bible Institute currently offers four-year programs of study. In
the 1890's the usual course of study required three years. However, Will
Poot followed an aggressive study and testing plan that allowed him to
graduate in only two years.
His first exams in the Spring of 1898 were a bit shaky. The burdens of his
accelerated coursework, the additional classes at the University of
Chicago, his employment, distractions of the big city, and personal
romance, may have put him behind where he needed to be in his studies.
Undeterred, he worked hard and was able to earn glowing final
- Chicago, College, and Marriage - page 7 -
evaluations. The school declared that Will Poot was "greatly blessed" and a
"man of ability and consecration." He completed his theological studies
and graduated in October 1898.
Meanwhile, JW Poot's oldest child, Ann (Antonia), met a Dutch immigrant
named Lambert Noordhoff (sometimes spelled Nordhoff). They may have
met at a church organized social. Such functions were a common method
of bringing suitable young adults together. Ann's parents might have
arranged the introduction. "Moeder" Poot would have preferred her
daughter to marry someone from the North or South Holland provinces
rather than one of the Gano residents who had come from Friesland. Even
in America, most Dutch were selective about which province their mate
had come from. Among Dutch-Americans, women were in short supply.
More men migrated to America than women and there were about 130
men for every 100 women. Ann probably had a good selection of suitors.
Lambert's parents and his brother lived in the Calumet Township; a short
distance east of where the Poots lived. The Noordhoffs emigrated from
Holland in 1880 or 1881. Lambert, at age 23, was three years older than
Ann. He worked in the publishing trade as a bookbinder. Ann and
Lambert were married in Chicago on the 29 April 1897. Their first child, a
son named Henry, was born in Chicago in March 1898.
Immediately after the birth of his grandson, JW Poot moved his family 300
miles west from Chicago to the Dutch community of Pella, Iowa. At this
time, Abe, Dena, Frieda, Joe, and John were still living with their parents
and they also moved to Pella. Ann, Lambert Noordhoff, and their baby
remained in Calumet-Chicago. Will Poot now lived on his own in the big
Will paid money to live in a rooming house, but the woman who managed
it spent the rents on gambling and drinking. The boarders were left with
little or nothing to eat. Will moved out and lived above a store where he
may have worked part time for his room rent. With little or no money, he
would stretch his budget by eating only the special of the week, such as
peanut butter, beans, or overripe bananas. He thus developed a strong
dislike for several foods that lasted for the rest of his life.
During this period, Will appears to have been left on his own financially.
This may have been due to the expectation that he was now old enough to
pay his own way. It is unlikely that this was the result of declining family
finances, although JW's business investments could have left the family
temporarily short of cash. The Netherlands (except many of the farmers)
enjoyed a strong economy from about 1880 until devastated by the start
of World War I in 1914. JW Poot periodically received money from the
Netherlands. This money might have been a share of family business
profits. This money enabled the Poots to live far more comfortably than a
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Siegel Cooper Department Store
The entrance lobby of the store featured a
bronze statue of Lady Columbia standing in
a pool ringed by water fountains. Will Poot
worked here 1896-8. Photo circa 1896.
The Siegel Cooper store as seen from
State Street circa 1900. Electric street
cars gave good access. State was the
longest and busiest street in Chicago.
Large sign advertising the store’s 1st Anniversary Sale in 1897.
(Negative image used to improve legibility.)
meager minister's income could provide. He also used part of this money
to pursue some unsuccessful business ventures.
In 1896 (some say 1891) the retailer Siegel, Cooper and Company opened
an impressive new store at State Street and Van Buren in the famed
Chicago Loop. The Loop was an area one-mile square surrounded by a
loop of the Chicago River. The Loop was crowded and expensive because
it contained the central business district of the city. The store occupied
all 8 or 9 floors of a building that filled an entire city block, and claimed to
be the largest retail building in the U.S. It was nicknamed "The Big Store"
and employed 2,000 people. The main entrance featured an elaborate
water fountain encircling a large bronze statue of Lady Columbia, used as
a symbol of America. (The company eventually became Associated Dry
Goods; the parent company of America's leading department stores. The
building was later purchased by Sears Roebuck to become their flagship
One of Will's first jobs in Chicago was at Siegel-Cooper. The store was
conveniently located across the street from an L-station (elevated train)
and street trolleys passed by on State Street. He worked at carpentry and
building store shelves. He was a skilled wood carver and cabinetmaker,
although he may not have made much use of his finer skills until several
years later. This was a temporary job, and Will was soon pressed to create
his own work - as a portrait artist.
Will used his artistic ability to draw portraits in pastel. In one instance, he
drew a portrait from a photograph of a family's deceased daughter. The
parents were so moved by the lifelike portrait he created that they insisted
on paying Will considerably more money than his usual fee.
(At some time, perhaps years later, Will became acquainted with Wallace
Nutting. Nutting was one of the most widely published photographers in
the first third of the 1900's. Nutting was also a famous expert on
furniture design and on antique furniture. Reprints of Nutting's books on
travel and antiques are still available today. Nutting gave Will Poot some
signed and framed photographs.)
After his family moved to Iowa, Will needed of a steady income so he could
pay for his rent and increased living expenses. Will returned to the
prestigious Siegel Cooper Department Store. Now he obtained a good job
as floorwalker, which he described as "inspector and detective". A
floorwalker helped direct customers to where they could find items of
interest, supervised the departments to insure they were neat and
organized, and provided security against shoplifters and thieves.
Although most of Will's time was filled with work and school studies, he
also managed to find time for recreation. Chicago had great museums of
art and natural history. There were concerts by famous American and
- Chicago, College, and Marriage - page 9 -
Views Around Chicago
Aerial photo of the University of Chicago in 1907. The large green area was intended to
insulate the campus from the noisy city and leave room for future growth.
The old West Side Ballpark
was still in use when this
1910 postcard was made.
Will Poot was an avid
The elevated train or “L” is
shown at Wabash & Van Buren,
2 blocks from the station beside
the Siegel Cooper building.
Postcard circa 1900.
European singers. There were parks and ice-skating. Jackson Park, former
site of the World Fair, was next to the University and an excellent place for
athletic activities like baseball, football, and tennis. There were also
scenic gardens good for romantic dates. From Spring through Fall you
could rent rowboats and sailboats, or take cruises on the lake. Will
enjoyed sailing on the lake.
Best of all - there was baseball! Will became an enthusiastic baseball
player and spectator after moving to America. Chicago was the first city
he lived in with a "big league" team. The Chicago Colts were a founding
member of the National League in 1876 under the name Chicago White
Stockings. The Colts were the subject of controversy in 1898 when Cap
Anson, star player and manager for 22 years, left the team. The team
suffered so much they became known as the Chicago Orphans. It was not
until 1902 that the team took on its current name of Chicago Cubs. They
played in a large but aging wooden ballpark named West Side Stadium. It
was 2 or 3 miles west of the Loop and Will undoubtedly arranged his
schedule to include some afternoons watching baseball.
William updated his appearance. No longer the "little Dutch boy" of
Kalamazoo, he changed his hairstyle and grew a mustache. He was now
an American wearing the current fashions. He also wore small gold-
rimmed eyeglasses for farsightedness. The left lens had no correction
because he was blind in that eye.
Will saw a lot of a girl named Annie Alberda. He first met her in
Hudsonville, Michigan and continued to date her while he attended
college. Annie may have moved to Chicago, perhaps to go to school. In
its early years, the University of Chicago was one of the very few American
universities to admit women. (The school actually enrolled slightly more
women than men.) However, after getting to know Annie, Will decided
that he was not inclined to marry her. He decided she was spoiled or self-
Dr. James M. Gray was a close associate of Mr. Moody. Dr. Gray
precipitated Will Poot's first marriage. He was a forceful evangelist and
writer, and he led some of Mr. Moody's religious conferences. He worked
as a summer lecturer at the Bible School and was principle pastor at the
Moody Church. He later became head of the school from 1905 through
1935. It was probably late summer in 1898 when Reverend Gray gave the
students a stern and powerful lecture about their "shameful behavior."
The school had received letters from parents protesting how Bible
students had been taking advantage of the affections of young ladies,
even kissing them, only to drop the girls when the young men graduated
and left town. Reverend Gray warned that the next time he received such
a letter, he would see to it that the student would be expelled, disgraced,
and never be allowed to preach. Will was very intimidated by this speech
and feared the consequences of an emotional break-up with Anna. He
- Chicago, College, and Marriage - page 10 -
William F. Poot at College
His family found his hair-style and mustache amusing.
Front of his file card at the Moody Bible Institute.
decided he should do the "right thing" and marry her. He proposed to her
before graduating and she accepted. Their announcement may have been
published in the Chicago Tribune on 20 September 1898.
Anna Alberda nearly had the same birthday as William; she was just three
days younger. She was born in Michigan on 24 April 1878. Her parents,
Michael and Annie, were Dutch immigrants. Her family lived 3-4 miles
north of the South Blendon Reformed Church in Michigan. Her father was
active in the church and is recorded in the church minutes. The 1880 U.S.
Census listed two possible Annies, but the last name was spelled Albertie.
At that time there were several Albertie families living in Michigan, but
none spelled Alberta or Alberda. Only the name spelled Albertie was
found in the Netherlands. It appears that in 1880 they were using the
original Dutch spelling of their last name, then Anglicized it after the
1880 census. Later US Census records show only the surname spelled
Alberda. (Her name was misspelled Alberta in the Iowa Marriage Index.)
After William's graduation in October 1898, the betrothed couple traveled
west to Pella, in Marion County, Iowa. There were two important reasons
for this move. First, William wanted his father to officiate his marriage to
Anna. Second, William had received an invitation to join his father in a
new business venture. Ann (Poot), Lambert Noordhoff, and their baby
Henry traveled to Pella the same week as Will and Anna. Lambert was also
going to join J.W. Poot's business.
- Chicago, College, and Marriage - page 11 -