Karen is a member of Protestant Reformed Church in South Holland, Illinois, and a granddaughter of Rev. C. Hanko.
Editor’s note: Since his retirement, Rev. Hanko wrote about his life and work in various unpublished documents. These include one on his mother, some on his own life, and some on the history of the PRC as seen through the eyes of this charter member of the denomination. With my grandfather’s permission, I have attempted to merge all these documents into one. At times this required footnotes, background material, and transitions. However, most of the words in this and subsequent articles are his own.
Rev. Hanko begins his story with his own birth in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1907. He then takes us back to the Netherlands as he explains the circumstances in which his parents, Herman Hanko and Jantje Burmania, were born and raised. The Netherlands that his parents knew was one in which the State Church held sway religiously and class divisions governed social life. His narrative continues with his parents’ separate immigrations to this country, their meeting and subsequent marriage. The childhood of which he tells in Michigan must be understood in the context of turn of the century America, where the common American did not yet enjoy the luxuries of electricity, modern sewer and water, and automobiles. Life for these immigrant families was often hard; still it was a step up from the grinding poverty they had suffered in The Netherlands. Their need for community was satisfied by life in the closely-knit Dutch enclaves of Grand Rapids, most of whose members worshipped in the Christian Reformed Church. And so, his tale begins.