The Geerds Family: A Legacy of Service and Entrepreneurship

The Geerds family contributed to Holland, Michigan's economy and military efforts through various business ventures and military service from the late 1800s to the mid-2000s. They co-founded the Holland Ladder Company, served in World War I and II, and held key positions in local businesses and organizations.

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The Geerds Family: A Legacy of Service and Entrepreneurship

The Geerds Family: A Legacy of Service and Entrepreneurship

The Geerds family, consisting of Benjamin, Gerrit, Henry, and Joseph, made significant contributions to their community and country through various business ventures and military service from the late 1800s to the mid-2000s in Holland, Michigan.

Benjamin Geerds, born in Germany in 1866, married Susan Bode in 1892 and had three sons: Gerrit, Henry, and Joseph. By 1910, the family was involved in various businesses in Holland, including Steffens Brothers grocery store, C.L. King and Company wooden fruit basket factory, and Holland Shoe Company. Gerrit left for California, where he built homes for silent film celebrities, before returning to Holland and co-founding the Holland Ladder Company with Thomas Tasker in 1915.

Why this matters: The Geerds family's legacy serves as a testament to the importance of community involvement and entrepreneurship in shaping local economies and societies. Their contributions to the war efforts and community development also highlight the significance of civic engagement and patriotism in American history.

During World War I, Henry Geerds served as a first lieutenant and later helped establish a National Guard unit in Holland and build the armory at 16 W 9th Street. After the war, the Geerds family continued to make their mark on Holland's business landscape. In 1926, Gerrit joined Frank Bolhuis Lumber and Manufacturing, becoming a director of home planning, architecture, and financing.

By 1927, the Geerds family held key positions at the Holland Ladder Company, with Benjamin as president, Gerrit as vice president, and Joseph as secretary-treasurer and general manager. The family also operated Geerds' Shoes and Geerds' Electric, with Henry serving as cashier of the Holland City State Bank.

World War II saw Henry Geerds re-enter active duty, becoming a lieutenant colonel and leading soldiers in New Guinea. After the war, Henry helped form the Holland American Legion and co-founded two businesses: Holland Hitch and Holland Wire Products. Joseph became the sole owner of Holland Ladder, which was later sold to Richard Cotter in the 1960s and eventually to Green Bull Ladders in 2000.

The Holland Ladder plant was shuttered in 2005, and the building was purchased by Bob Byars of King's Cove Party Store in 2006. The Geerds family's contributions to their community and country are a testament to their hard work, entrepreneurship, and dedication to service. Their legacy continues to be felt in Holland, Michigan, where they left a lasting impact on the city's business and military history.

Key Takeaways

  • Benjamin Geerds' family contributed to Holland, MI's economy and military from 1800s to 2000s.
  • Gerrit Geerds co-founded Holland Ladder Company in 1915 with Thomas Tasker.
  • Henry Geerds served in WWI and WWII, and helped establish a National Guard unit in Holland.
  • The Geerds family held key positions at Holland Ladder Company and operated other businesses.
  • Their legacy continues to impact Holland's business and military history.