This journey would not even be possible without the support of several people, who have also been intrigued by their family ties.  So, I would like to particularly thank the following for providing the inspiration to embrace this quest:

  • First, and foremost, my mother, Mildred Reyst, for her stories, memories, and surprising stash of keepsakes
  • My community, specifically, the King, Kraft, Sowers, and Van Houzen families for their own family tree contributions that gave me a jump-start in documenting my own family tree
  • Hank Miller and his family for sharing their own genealogical research of the Elzerman family that revealed a tie with the Smouter family
  • The Berghout-Edwards families for their documentation of the Reyst branch of their family tree, which I stumbled upon during online searches, starting from their ancestors in The Netherlands to those descendents in Detroit, Michigan
  • Astrid van Meeuwen-Dijkgraaf, a recently discovered third cousin, for her extensive and well-documented genealogical research of the Smouter family, which she recently reposted publicly
  • Lastly, the Vink-Mallan family for their extensive genealogical research in The Netherlands of the Vink, Mallan, and Smouter branches which they have documented in a book written in Dutch (which I am getting better at interpreting!)


Realizing that time was growing increasingly short to capture precious memories from my 92 year old mother, I embarked on a project to not only record the known but also to unearth the unknown. I quickly realized that I knew very little about my mom’s English Canadian roots, and even less about my dad’s Dutch roots. With the passing of my Grandfather Reyst ten years before I was born, my Grandmother Reyst (née Smouter) at age 7, and 2 1/2 years later the loss of my father at age 9 1/2, I remained in the dark about most of my Dutch heritage until venturing on this quest. So for the 3 most important women in my life, my mother, Mildred Reyst, and my daughters, Erin and Kristine Klema, I hope to unfold the story of my Dutch heritage in loving memory of my father, Arie Russell Reyst.


Welcome to my dutch heritage quest blog.  Over the past 6 months I have been tracing my family roots on my father’s side.  Both of his grandparents immigrated to Detroit, Michigan in 1890 from The Netherlands.  But I knew little of his family other than his immediate family.  Little by little I have been able to piece together a lot of information on my ancestors, both those who immigrated to the US and those who remained in The Netherlands.

My hope with this blog is to not just identify those family members, but to learn more of who they were, how they lived, maybe even why they immigrated to the US.  I hope you will join me in sharing those memories.

Yours truly, Lynda Reyst Klema