The Story of Jacob Den Herder, Part II

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This is the second half of Jacob Den Herder’s story.

In 1878, at age 44, Den Herder opened a bank in Zealand.

In 1880 he was elected to the post of elder in his church, the First Reformed Church in Zeeland. It wasn’t his first time. He also teamed up with his son, Christian, then around 15, to buy a shoe business from Roelof Veneklasen, son of bricklayer Berend Veneklasen.

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In 1882, he lost $ 1,000 because of counterfeit banknotes. He collected $ 500 and, in gratitude, donated $ 100 to charity.

In 1883, burglars broke into his office on the bank floor. They punched a hole in the top of his safe, dropped a stick of gunpowder, and detonated it with a fuse. Fortunately, they didn’t do enough damage to get the money. But in response, Den Herder decided to join a mutual insurance company.

In 1884, he joined forces with his son-in-law, Albert LaHuis, married to Christine, to open a haberdashery. In 1887, a fire destroyed the store, but luckily the contents were insured.

In 1886, Den Herder was elected state senator. Even though he concluded that the position negatively affected his financial situation, he presented himself again. But he lost.

In 1891, Jacob recruited his son Christian, then 31, to join the bank as a cashier. In 1898, the bank lost $ 4,000 when burglars managed to blow up the doors of the Den Herder safe. But now he was insured.

In 1900, burglars tried again to rob his bank, but failed. At that time, the bank had deposits of over $ 1.5 million. Believing that his bank was too big to operate as a family business, and given a change in state banking laws, Den Herder increased his bank’s capital by incorporating it and inviting outside shareholders.

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In addition to son Christian and son-in-law Albert LaHuis, the new directors were Dr T. Huizinga, Roelof Veneklasen, Henry DeKruif (an agricultural tool dealer) and Frank Boonstra (a men’s clothier). Den Herder bank was renamed Zeeland State Bank.

In 1904, Christian helped found the Second Reformed Church, the first English speaking church in Zealand. During this time, Jacob continued to devote time to First Reformed Church, most notably as a Sunday School teacher.

Jacob Den Herder died in 1916. In his place, 66-year-old Frank Boonstra became president of the bank.

In 1923 Dirk (DJ) De Pree, director of the Michigan Star Furniture Company, persuaded his stepfather, Herman Miller, and his banker, Christian Den Herder, to buy the bedroom furniture business.

At the time, Miller managed the Colonial Clock Company, established in 1909 and owned by Christian Den Herder, Berend Veneklasen, Albert LaHuis, Thomas Huizenga and Henry DeKruif.

In 1923 Frank Boonstra died. In 1924, Christian became president of the Zeeland State Bank. At the time, he owned not only a significant stake in the bank, but also in the Colonial Clock Company, Herman Miller, a tile drain company and piano retailer.

State Bank of Zeeland

In 1927 he co-founded the Dr. Thomas G. Huizenga Memorial Hospital. It is also the year that Herman Miller joined the board of directors of Zeeland State Bank.

In 1932, Edward Den Herder, Christian’s 32-year-old son, joined the board of Zeeland State Bank. In 1937 Christian passed away – in his place Edward became president.

That year, in the midst of the Great Depression, Zeeland State Bank absorbed the State Commercial and Savings Bank, a bank founded by lumber company owner William Wichers in 1905.

In 1952, Edward passed away. In his place, Adrian Van Den Bosch became president. In 1967 Robert Den Herder, Edward’s 38-year-old son, was elected president.

In 1973, Zeeland State Bank became the First Michigan Bank Corporation (FMB), a holding company. Robert became chairman and Randall Dekker, who is credited with launching the bank’s fiduciary service, became chairman.

In 1992, FMB “owned” 12 banks from Boyne City to Zeeland and from Holland to Ionia. In 1997, Huntington National Bank acquired FMB. Immediately after, two new banks emerged: Mercantile Bank and Macatawa Bank. Jacob’s great-great-grandson Robert became Chairman of the Board of Macatawa Bank in 2009.

On a personal note, before marrying my father, my mother worked for Zeeland State Bank as receptionist, switchboard operator and then assistant to President Adrian Van Den Bosch. She later helped open a savings account there.

The information for this article comes from The Holland Sentinel, Zeeland Record, Jacob Den Herder’s own story through macatawa.org, and an interview with Robert Danhoff over 15 years ago.

– Community columnist Steve VanderVeen is a business professor at Hope College. Contact him at [email protected]


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