HOLLANDERS OF IOWA
JACOB VAN DER ZEE
Submitted by Gayle Harper
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TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF DUTCH IMMIGRATION TO IOWA
EARLY in the spring of 1848 most of those who had been left to spend the first winter at St. Louis took leave of their generous American friends, engaged passage on a steamboat to Keokuk, and after spending nearly three weeks on the way, owing to heavy rains and impassable roads, joined their fellow-countrymen at Pella. During those first years the Pella colonists exerted every effort to procure the transportation from Holland of all the members of the association formed at Utrecht, and they succeeded in inducing many to leave the fatherland during the years 1848 and 1849 - some coming direct to Iowa, others stopping for a time at St. Louis.(96)
For the year 1849 there were recorded the names of two hundred and fifty Dutch immigrants who later settled in Iowa. They suffered the same hardships as their predecessors on the six weeks' ocean voyage, one man losing three children by death before he could reach Iowa. Many of the immigrants did not come straightway to Pella, but broke the journey by tarrying in eastern States. Very many of them were persons of wealth and education, accustomed to leadership in Holland. Cordially welcomed to the modest Pella homes they began life in the West with a degree of comfort unknown to the first comers of two years before. These immigrants were a desirable addition. because they brought the capital which alone could assure further progress in the colony. The years 1850, 1851, and 1852 brought very few Hollanders to Pella. The national census figures for 1850 gave practically all., the Holland-born inhabitants of Iowa, 1108 in number, to Lake Prairie Township in Marion County.(97)
Especially noteworthy in the history of immigration to nearly every part of Iowa were the years immediately following 1852. This is true also of Pella and vicinity, since the largest accessions to the Holland-born population of Pella were recorded during that period. In 1853 and 1854 there came nearly 100 and 250 Hollanders, respectively, while the names of 270 persons were added to the list during the year 1855, 330 in 1856, and 135 in 1857.
In the month of May, 1856, Scholte expressed himself as follows on the subject of immigration:
A glance at the census returns for 1856 reveals a foreign-born population of 2119 Hollanders in thirty-one counties of Iowa. It is of passing interest to note that the cities of Burlington and Dubuque contained about twenty-five Hollanders each; that Peru Township north of Dubuque had thirty-seven; while Keokuk, the "Gate City of Iowa", had almost one hundred and fifty. Fourteen hundred and eighty inhabitants of Lake Prairie Township told the census enumerator that their birthplace was "The Netherlands ", while forty-four answered that their birthplace was "Friesland" (a province of The Netherlands). This reply may be taken as characteristic of "De Vrije Vries" (the free Frieslander), for he has always shown a strong feeling of national pride and independence. Ever since that day a neighborhood northwest of Pella in Summit Township has been called "De Vriesche Buurt".
As early as the year 1856 the Dutch immigrants had begun to find the original place of settlement, Lake Prairie Township, too small for their accommodation. Many were forced to locate in the townships immediately to the westward, either as independent farmers or as hired men and domestics on the farms of American settlers. Not only did this advance spread westward in Marion County, but it also extended eastward into Black Oak Township of Mahaska County, where dwelt about ninety Holland-born settlers. Southeast of Marion lay Wapello County, where the census returns gave Green and Columbia townships twelve and seventeen Hollanders respectively. It will thus be seen that the Dutch were securing a foot-hold not only in Iowa's larger eastern cities, but also in townships adjacent to the site of the original settlement.(98)
New accessions to the Pella colony for several years after 1858 were almost negligible. The Dutch chronicler preserved the names of only 30 persons for the three years 1858-1860, and recorded the arrival of only 71 newcomers during the years of the Civil War. The United States census returns for 1860 gave Iowa 2615 Holland-born inhabitants. When peace had been restored, immigration revived and 44 Hollanders came in 1866, 69 in 1867, 53 in 1868, 115 in 1869, 67 in 1870, 46 in 1871, and 7 in 1872.
According to the United States Census for 1870 thirty-five Iowa counties contained no foreign-born Dutch, forty-one of the remainder had less than fifteen each, and twenty-three had more than fifteen. Benton County had 29 Hollanders, Butler 21, Dubuque 111, Grundy 56, Hardin 46, Humboldt 44, Jackson 746, Jasper 33, Jefferson 38, Lee 258, Mahaska 318, Marion 2077, Muscatine 185, Plymouth 15, Polk 21, Pottawattamie 16, Scott 46, Sioux 133, and Wapello 55. The number in Dubuque County had increased since 1856, as had also been the case in Lee County. But especially significant were the increases in Jasper and Mahaska counties to the north and east of Marion County. Plymouth and Sioux, adjacent counties in northwestern Iowa, now showed a Dutch population for the first time. The number in Wapello County had also increased, while the number ascribed to Jackson County can not be accounted for. Lake Prairie Township in Marion County contained a Holland-born population of 1892; while a majority of the 3066 native-born inhabitants were Dutch by descent. One-tenth of the foreign-born Dutch in the United States in 1870, or a total number of 4513, lived in the State of Iowa.(99)
NOTES AND REFERENCES
(96) Van Stigt's Geschiedenis, Part II, p. 39; and Scholte's Eene Stem uit Pella, p. 29.
(97) The voyage of the large number of
emigrants in 1849 lasted from the first of May until the fifteenth of
June. On board their sailing vessel, Franziska, ten persons died. Among
the leaders were A. C. Kuyper, Jacob Maasdam, A. E. D. Bousquet, and John
Hospers. The latter kept, a diary of the journey from bog Blokland to
Pella, which his son, Nicholas Hospers, kindly lent to the writer.
(98) Van Stigt's Geschiedenis,
Part II, pp. 67, 93-109, and Part III, pp. 15-29; Census of Iowa, 1856;
and The Pella Gazette, May 22, 1856.
(99) Van Stigt's Geschiedenis, Part III, pp:. 79-93; and the United States Census, 1870, pp. 340, 353, 354. In 1885 Jackson County had no foreign-born Dutch at all, so that there is strong probability that the number returned in 1870 was a printer's error. See also Donnell's Pioneers of Marion County, p. 165.
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