Booklet on the Wave of Immigration to the United States

Booklet on the Wave of Immigration to the United States

Driven by poverty and hopelessness, hundreds of Harderwigs and Hierodeners emigrated to the United States in the nineteenth century. In six years, 258 people made the big cross. Most of them never return. Their history is described in the booklet ‘Towards a Better Life’ published this week.

Writer John Wetzels takes the text to the nineteenth century

He describes what it was like to live in Harderwijk and Hierden. For most people it was hard work, often having to work for a bad sandwich. Probably the biggest problem: no chance for improvement.

In the United States, the ‘land of unlimited possibilities’, people thought they were making progress. In 1851 the first Harderwijker, David Engel, a merchant, left Hondecottstrod. In the ensuing years, more and more people followed. But especially from 1867 to 1873 the settlement began. Then 258 people sailed to the United States.

It was a long journey, expensive for many. Some died along the way, others were broken. Many Harderwigs have stuck with the experiences of previously fallen groups. The vast majority of immigrants eventually ended up in the state of Michigan. Reverend Albertus von Ralde founded the Dutch colony in 1842. Twenty-five years later, many harderwigs arrived there. Parts of this group founded their own hamlet, Harderwick. The hamlet was swallowed up by the small town of Holland in the twentieth century and still exists and now has a population of about 33,000.

The author not only outlines the situation of Harderwijk, but also puts it in a broader context. Because in most places in the Netherlands people are gripped by the dream of a better life. Apart from poverty, religious motives also played a role. Many in the Dutch Reformed Church no longer felt at home and believed that they could freely express their own faith in the distant United States.
The book was published by the Herderwich Historical Society. Members of the association receive the manual free of charge. The manual can also be ordered separately and costs 9.50 euros. You can order via [email protected]

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New members pay an annual subscription of 19.50 euros and receive the manual free of charge. Four times a year, these new members receive a well-maintained membership magazine full of articles on Harderwijk’s rich history. For more information: see

Photo caption: In the early 1990s, a group of Veluwe settlers visited Dutch settlements in the 19th century. Many Harderwijkers and Hierdenaren settled in Holland, Michigan. Harderwick is a small hamlet outside the city. But with its own church. Photo: Ice Van Ridge.

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