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10570Brother Van - my error and more from Galema on Frisian migration westward

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  • W. Aardsma
    Jul 2 10:35 PM
      Dear List:

      Last night I stayed up late trying to do too much before going to bed. I referred to "Brother Van" as being the first Methodist bishop of Wyoming. It occurred to me today that he was the first Methodist bishop of Montana. My apologies. Now I will have to get a reprint of that article.

      Here are some later extracts from the "Big Sky Country and westward" section of Galema's book Frisians to America, starting on page 219

      "The brothers-in-law Hendrik Haga and Jacob Balda, Frisians who came from Michigan to the Gallatin Valley, sold their homesteads and moved with their families to the more rainy Oak Harbor, Washington. In 1895 many Frisians who had experienced weather disasters left Charles Mix and Douglas Counties, South Dakota, to find their fortune further west. The real beginnings of Frisian immigration to Washington were the result of the succession of crop failures in the Dakotas and in Montana during the early 1890's. Although a few Netherlanders had settled in Washington during its territorial era, it was around 1894-1895 that Frisians settled in such numbers as to represent a sizeable Dutch immigration....."

      "A catalyst for immigration was the opening of the Northern Pacific and the Great Northern railroads which reached their Seattle terminal in 1883 and 1892, respectively. This drew the attention of Netherlanders in the Dakotas and Montana to the lands of the Puget Sound and Yakima Valley. Another catalyst was enormous lack of mortgage capital (and therefore high interest rates) that limited financial activities of Dutch businessmen in the West...."

      The author continued with some financial institutions that were created to meet this need in the U.S. and the Netherlands. "...In the province of Groningen the Nederlandsch-Amerikaansche Hypotheek Bank van Uithuizen was active since 1893, and in Leeuwarden, Friesland, the Noord-Amerikaansche Hypotheek Bank. This Frisian company operated mainly in Washington and Montana, and a brochure shows prominent Frisians on the list of commissioners in Friesland...."

      ".. As mentioned above, the real beginnings of Frisian immigration to Washington were due to crop failures in the early 1890's in the Dakotas and Montana. Yakima County, Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, and Lynden in Whatcom County, were the chief promotional areas of the Dutch in Washington. The realtors W.E. Werkman and Hein Te Roller, formerly residents of Holland, Michigan, wrote flattering reports of these areas to Dutch newspapers in America, like De Grondwet and De Volksvriend, and also visited the Dutch settlements in the Midwest and the Dakotas to promote Whidbey Island. They exhibited some of its produce like large vegetables, sheaves of wheat with kernals as heavy as peas, and excellent grains...."


      "The Dakotas" is a common American way of referring to both North and South Dakota. When the Dakota Territory qualified for statehood it was split into 2 states. North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Washington all became states between Nov. 2 and Nov. 11 in 1889. North Dakota today is still very rural with a very small population. Someone that I work with familiar with the state told me that you have expressway exits without any signs of civilization, and too bad if you run out of petroleum or have a mechanical breakdown.

      The Great Northern and Northern Pacific Railroads referred to were rivals for northern transcontinental business. I believe these were the two railroads who hated each other but had their headquarters in the same building. When they merged into the Burlington Northern in the early 1970's there was concern that the old hatreds would wreck the new company. Happily that did not happen.


      Walter Aardsma



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