The settlements of co-ethnics (the Dutch Midwest): Douglas Firth Anderson, ‘”We Are Now Americans”: Henry Hospers, Sioux County, Iowa, and Dutch Settler Acculturation’, Northwestern Review, 3, 1, 2018


Abstract: Henry Hospers (1830-1901) was the leader of the Dutch kolonie (colony) of Sioux County, Iowa. When Hospers named and platted Orange City in 1870, Hendrik P. Scholte of the Pella, Iowa colony was dead and Albertus C. Van Raalte of the Holland, Michigan colony was nearing the end of his life. Compared to the more famous Scholte and Van Raalte (who settled their respective Midwestern colonies in 1847), Hospers has received little critical attention as a significant Dutch American immigrant leader. Hospers’ relative historical obscurity is understandable. Scholte and Van Raalte were clergy, while Hospers was a layman. Moreover, he was a second-generation leader. Further, the surviving records related to Hospers are spottier than those related to Scholte and Van Raalte. Even so, there is plentiful evidence of Hospers’ significance. This study of Hospers as a colony leader documents that he was a tireless promoter of the colony in particular and Sioux County more generally, particularly as a land broker, banker, and owner of the weekly De Volksvriend (The People’s Friend). He was also an office holder representing all settlers, especially as Chair of the Sioux County Board of Supervisors and as a member of the Iowa House and then the Senate. Finally, he was a founder of “church and school” (kerk en school) for the colony in his work to organize Northwestern Classical Academy (later Northwestern College) and First Reformed Church of Orange City. His experience helps fill out the tapestry of Dutch Protestant settler acculturation: retaining Dutch identity and becoming American amidst the fluidity of modernity.

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