In 1847 Klaas Paarlberg and his wife, Antje, set off on a voyage from the Netherlands to America in search of freedom from religious persecution. They left North Hollannd, a province of the Netherlands with their seven children, the oldest being seven years old and the youngest three months old. Klaas died of pleurisy on the voyage and was buried at sea.
The Widow Paarlberg lost the three month old after they landed. The baby was buried in a small cemetery near Lincoln Park. She bought eighty acres of land at seven dollars an acre by Thorn Creek in South Holland, Illinois, a south suburb of Chicago. There she built a log cabin plastered with clay. She died of a stroke in October 1885.
The oldest son, Peter, built the frame house that stands today. He married Cornelia Van Oostenbrugge on October 31, 1870. They had eleven children together. Peter died on August 10, 1921, and Cornelia died on December 29, 1927.
The youngest of Peter's children was Cornelius, Ralph's father. Ralph married Margene in 1953. They had five kids: Gary, Bruce, Marcia, Linda, and Kevin. In 1974 they bought a farm in Kankakee County. Gary and Bruce stayed and farmed while the others pursued other careers. Gary and Bruce are both married and have two children each.
The stone reads, "This property is a part of the property purchased by the Widow Paarlberg in 1847. She was a main character in Edna Ferber's book, "So Big." The family of her son, Peter, presented this Homestead to the South Holland Historical Society in 1970."