Submitted by Gayle Harper

Table of Contents




The author of this volume on The Hollanders of Iowa was admirably fitted for the task. Born of Dutch parents in The Netherlands and reared among kinsfolk in Iowa, he has been a part of the life which is portrayed in these pages.. At the same time Mr. Van der Zee's education at The State University of Iowa, his three years' residence at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, and his research work in The State Historical Society of Iowa have made it possible for him to study the Hollanders objectively as well as subjectively. Accordingly, his book is in no respect an overdrawn, eulogistic account of the Dutch people.

The history of the Hollanders of Iowa is not wholly provincial: it suggests much that is typical in the development of Iowa and in the larger history of the West: it is "a story of the stubborn and unyielding fight of men and women who overcame the obstacles of a new country and handed down to their descendants thriving farms and homes of peace and plenty."


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This monograph purports to be a history of origins and a sketch of present-day conditions in the principal Dutch settlements of Iowa. It is a study of immigration and colonization rather than a detailed account, year by year, of what has been in most respects a community life of commonplace respectability so characteristic of all large bodies of foreigners in America. In other words it is a series of chapters in the history of the Hollanders of Iowa. The story of the first years of the Dutch settlements in Marion and Sioux counties is one of suffering willingly borne: it is a story of the stubborn and unyielding fight of men and women who overcame the obstacles of a new country and handed down to their descendants thriving farms and homes of peace and plenty.

The history of the Hollanders of Iowa typifies the development of the American West and the spread of the American nation: it is full of details characteristic of the large rural settlements of European immigrants in America. It is a pleasure to trace the streams of immigration which have contributed to produce the American commonwealth. The Hollanders have shown a permanent interest in American affairs and institutions; they are now closely identified with the best interests of democratic government; and with respect to the qualities requisite to success in agriculture they are surpassed by no other class of immigrants from Europe.

Of the movement of Dutch immigrants into the State of Iowa, with a statement of causes and of the singular experiences which the Dutch pioneers underwent, no full or connected account has hitherto appeared in the English language. Concerning the Dutch settlements of Iowa the writer found much widely scattered material. From time to time fragmentary sketches written in attractive style have appeared in English newspapers, magazines, and county histories; but the most valuable and authoritative information is to be obtained from newspapers, pamphlets, and books in the Dutch language. To all these sources the writer has very largely resorted and to them he is greatly indebted, as numerous notes and references will show.

Desirable biographical data relative to Dutch pioneers have been almost entirely relegated to the notes and references for the fairly obvious reason that if the writer had undertaken to insert such material in the text, he would have found himself engaged upon an endless and ungratifying task.

The writer wishes to acknowledge the assistance which he received from many gentlemen (especially Mr. H. P. Scholte and Mr. A. J. Betten) now living among the Hollanders at Pella and in Sioux County they very generously gave him access to newspaper files and rare Dutch books, copies of which The State Historical Society of Iowa has not been able to add to its valuable collection of materials in the Dutch language. Thanks are due also to the editors of newspapers (mentioned in a separate chapter) for their willing submission to inconvenience while the writer was engaged in his researches: to all these and to other persons the writer is grateful for many courtesies. Especial thanks are due to Dr. Dan E. Clark, Assistant Editor of The State Historical Society, for numerous suggestions, for corrections in the manuscript, and for the index. Finally, this volume would not have appeared if the writer had not been a Research Associate in The State Historical Society working under the direct encouragement of its Superintendent, Professor Benj. F. Shambaugh.


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