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necessary in order that unprejudiced and truly scientific historical work may take the place of the biased sentimentalism which has often passed current for history and biography.
As a student of American industrial history, I cannot emphasize too strongly the desirability of aiding this Association in its laudable efforts to collect, preserve and catalogue the scattered material which relates to the period when Michigan was a frontier state of this union. Again, let it be noted, a knowledge of the home life, industrial methods, amusements, social life, ideals and beliefs is especially needed rather than the mere details of unusual events. Individuals and specific details are of importance to the historian only in so far as they aid in completing the picture of an epoch.
THE DUTCH PIONEERS OF MICHIGAN
BY MARTIN L. D’OOGE, LL. D.1 There are four motives that underlie colonization; that is, the love of adventure, the love of gold, the love of power and the love of freedom. All these motives may enter into the history of colonization, but a close study of this history makes now the one, and now the other of these forces most prominent. The impulse that brought the Dutch pioneers to the state of Michigan in 1847 was, as we shall see, essentially the love of religious freedom. And in this respect it was a movement quite like that of the Pilgrims and Puritans who settled on the shores of New England.
The emigration of the Dutch pioneers of Michigan from their native land was inspired by the best ideals and partook of the enthusiasm that has characterized some of the prominent events of history. It did not stand all by itself but it was a part of the larger emigration from Europe to America. The wonderful resources of this country, the privileges of its free government and the opportunity afforded here for personal advancement drew to these shores a mighty stream of population. The emigration from Holland was one of the events that swelled the stream. The modern spirit of freedom, of enlargement, came upon the people of Holland as upon the other nationalities. This modern spirit affected the people of the Netherlands in two ways; first, that of a liberalizing intellectualism, and second that of a moderate socialism. It created three parties in Holland, that is, the radical reconstructionists, the conservative nationalist, and the ecclesiastical separatist. Now
Read at the fourth midwinter meeting, January, 1909.
it is to be especially noticed that the Church and State stood in close connection. With the normal Hollanders religion, theology, and morality, are bound up with all his social and civil interests. A ferment arose. Consciences were tried, conflicts resulted, battles grew hot. The conflict was determined, the persecution bitter. Finally exclusions were contrived and separatists followed. It was in this atmosphere of conflict and trial that the "free church” of Holland was born—at first called the “Christian Reformed Church," later known as the Seceded Reformed Church in the Netherlands. (Seceded from the National Reformed Church.) And it was in connection with this movement for the free church that the emigration in 1847 to Michigan had its origin.
Before we trace the history of the emigration a few words may be added by way of explanation and comment upon this religious movement. The persecution officially on the part of the government and unofficially on the part of the leaders in political, social and religious circles to which the people who espoused the cause of the free church was subject, seems beyond credence. Says one writer: "The old days appear to have returned, days in which persecution flamed up against the "Reformed.” Then also the friends of truth saw themselves driven to surrender their church buildings to their persecutors, and to seek shelter in barns and stables where they might worship God according to their conscience. Even this was forbidden them and their efforts were liable to be punished with fines, deportation and exile. To be sure this was nothing new or unheard of in the history of the Fatherland, but it seemed best fitting to the chain of events that belonged to the fourth decade of the nineteenth century."
Among the preachers of the Gospel who became the object of the fiercest persecution was a young man who was destined to become the Moses that was to lead these children of a spiritual bondage into the new Canaan of freedom. This Canaan was in Ottawa County in this State and this Moses was Dr. Albertus C. Van Raalte. Dominie Van Raalte was a man small in stature, of indomitable will, of great executive ability, of penetrating insight, of unflinching courage, of unfaltering trust in God and of unselfish ambition. He was of the stuff that martyrs and apostles are made of. “A man mighty in words and in deeds” is the motto on the title page of his biography written by the Rev. H. E. Dosker, published in 1893. In his biography, written from original documents, are found recorded a number of outrages perpetrated upon the truthful pastor and his young bride. Several times his life was in danger. “The Newlighter” was cast into prison as a disturber of the peace and made to share the pallet of a common vagabond. In the midst of these persecutions and trials the "American Fever" began to make itself felt also in the veins of the young Dominie. The voyage to America in those days was a great event. An emigrant to America took leave of his kindred as a man on his deathbed says farewell to his kith and kin. The immediate occasion of Van Raalte's desire to go to America was the reading of a letter from newly arrived emigrants to a schoolmaster who lived near Arnhem. The idea of going somewhere to better the conditions of life and to escape from persecutions had been growing in his mind for some time. The alternative was America or Java, the pearl of the East Indies. Java promised more material advantages at the outset than America. Java was a Dutch possession, enjoyed a salubrious climate had a fertile soil and a luxurious vegetation. In estimating the relative advantages of this site it is interesting to find a brochure written by Van Raalte and his brotherin-law, Rev. A. Brummelkamp in 1845, that the prevailing motive that led them at that time to prefer Java to America was a most unworldly one. Since Java promised easier conditions of gaining a livelihood, the prospect was fair to having more time and strength to pursue the work of planting the Gospel and evangelizing this part of the world. To quote from the brochure named: “The thought that Java might be made a central point for the propagation of the Gospel in the far east, this thought burned in our minds, our prayers arose to Heaven frequently that this might be the issue of our plans.” At a mass meeting held at Utrecht of those who were in sympathy with the movement (of seeking a home elsewhere in order to be able to enjoy freedom of worship) two delegates were appointed to negotiate with the Minister of the Colonies with reference to a settlement on the Island of Java, on condition that they should be granted religious freedom and a certain amount of temporary assistance in meeting the expenditures required in building their homes. This proposal was summarily rejected. Certain it is that had these negotiations been successful the future of Java would have been a very different one. A stream of the best Dutch population, industrious, frugal, moral and religious, would have made this beautiful country the abode of peace and prosperity such as it has never enjoyed.
From this action on the part of the Minister of the Dutch Colonies, as an indirect consequence, resulted the emigration to this country led by Dr. Van Raalte in 1847. The question was for some time an open one whether this emigration should be organized into a colony or whether all and any who chose should emigrate as individuals or as families and settle wherever they deemed best. It is easy to suppose that had the latter policy prevailed, the Dutch emigrants would have been scattered over many parts of the country and would have had no strong band of union and no concentrated influence. The tide of emigration to America kept swelling and many Hollanders on their own account and for various reasons found their way to these shores during these years. They settled chiefly in Albany, New York, Patterson and Rochester while maintaining for a time their own language, churchservice and customs, they gradually became absorbed in the American communities and lost all individuality as Hollanders. To guard against this dispersion and also to obtain financial assistance, a sort of a general epistle was sent by Van Raalte and Brummelkamp, dated Arnhem, May 25, 1846, addressed to “The Faithful in the United States of North America.” This letter was sent to no one person because no one in this country was known to whom it could be personally addressed. Like a piece of writing in a bottle thrown among the billows by dispairing shipwrecked voyagers, this letter was carried by an emigrant without knowing to whom it should be given. It fell into the hands of Rev. Dr. I. N. Wyckoff” of Albany, a devoted friend of the Hollanders and himself of Dutch descent, who caused this letter to be translated and to be published in the Christian Intelligencer the official organ of the Reformed Church of this country. The result of this letter was the organization among the friends of the Hollanders in Albany of a league entitled "The Protestant Evangelical Holland Emigration Union.” This league was of great service, especially in aiding the newly arrived emigrant, ignorant of the language, the customs and life of this land, to find profitable employment and a home.
It was the latter part of 1846 that Dr. Van Raalte arrived in New York accompanied by a few followers to pave the way for the future emigrants. They sailed from Rotterdam, October 2nd, and arrived the 17th of November, a voyage of forty-five days. But now whither? It was Van Raalte's purpose to found a colony on a large scale. complish this with small means, it was necessary that he should take up such lands as he could get for the smallest outlay of money. He thought of Illinois and Wisconsin. But through acquaintances made in New York he fell in with certain prominent men in that city who had become interested in Michigan. Accordingly, Van Raalte set out on the journey of inspection and discovery in 1846. A few of the more adventurous accompanied him. Several of these found temporary employment in the shipbuilding yards of St. Clair while Van Raalte pro
?The Rev. Isaac N. Wyckoff was born in Hillsborough, Somerset Co., N. J., Aug. 29, 1792, and died in Albany, N. Y., March 28, 1869. He was pastor of the First Dutch Reformed Church, Leeds, N. Y., the Catskill Dutch Reformed Church and the Albany Second Dutch Reformed Church, the last place from 1836-1866. He was active in benevolent and educational enterprises and a volunteer commissioner of emigration to the numerous Hollanders who came to the vicinity of Albany from 1845-1865. His . wife, Jane K., died Feb. 29, 1848. He had a son, Theodore F. Wyckoff, who entered the ministry and died at the age of thirtyfive, Jan. 18, 1855, on St. Thomas Island, where he had charge of the Dutch Reformed Church. See Munsell's Annals of Albany, and Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography.
?Dr. Albertus Christian Van Raalte was born Wanneperveen, Province of Overyssel, Netherlands, Oct. 17, 1811. He gives an account of the settlement of Holland (New Haven) in Page's History of Ottawa County, Chicago, 1882, p. 77.
ceeded to explore the wilds of the western part of the State. From Detroit he journeyed overland to Allegan, where he was kindly entertained in a loghouse by Mr. and Mrs. Kellogg, who became his "never-to-beforgotten friends.” Soon Van Raalte and Kellogg with an Indian guide went on a prospecting tour in January, 1847 and came to Hope Haven, as the site was called, the site now occupied by Holland, on the borders of Black Lake. Here they found an encampment, put up by the only white man in all the region, who was a missionary to the Indians. The name of this missionary I have not been able to learn.5 Van Raalte hastened back to his little party at Detroit, to lead them to this spot which he had chosen as the seat of his colony.
Meanwhile other emigrants had been arriving who were awaiting at Albany the outcome of his decision. In February, 1847, a number of men, accompanied by one womane arrived in the heart of this wilderness. They were possessed of one mind and soul. Their purpose was fixed. Their faith in their leader and their trust in God were unwavering. They came ready for any sacrifice needed to secure their success. Van Raalte's wife and children had remained behind in Allegan until their new home was erected. A tribute is due to Mrs. Van Raalte who from first to last was a power of strength to her husband in the founding of this colony which, to use another's phrase, "She carried on her heart."
This enterprise of founding a colony of emigrants, unacquainted with the language and customs of the country, without any experience of pioneer life, with slender financial means, was certainly heroic. As the Americans of the neighboring towns like Allegan, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, looked on and saw these Dutchmen disappearing in the woods they shook their heads and said "Settlements are good, but they are built on the bones of the settlers.”
In the town now called Zeeland was planted another colony which came as a regularly organized congregation. It came from Goes, Zeeland in 1848, under Rev. C. Van der Meulen. When the question of emigration came before them, the West Indies, and the Cape of Good Hope were considered. But reports from Van Raalte, who had gone the year before, decided them to go to the United States.
At a preliminary meeting about 200 of the persecuted Reformed Church fol. lowers were assembled. There they voted to go to America, and organ
*John R. Kellogg was born in New Hartford, N. Y., in 1793, and was a merchant at Marcellus, N. Y., until 1836, when he came to Allegan, Mich. He entered the real estate business and later became interested in the lumber business. See History of Allegan Co., Mich.
SThis was the Rev. G. N. Smith, Presbyterian missionary among the Indians located upon section 3, township of Fillmore. Page's History of Ottawa Co., p. 78. See Life of Rev. George N. Smith, Vol. XXX, pp. 190-212, this series.
Mrs. Grootenhuis accompanied these men having volunteered to do their cooking. History of Allegan CO., Mich., p. 78.