NOTE: The following is copied from page 738 of a book called "Netherlanders in America" and is a translation of "Nederlanders in America" published by P. Noordhoff in 1928.

 

Plants That Did Not Take Root

This ideal settlement was the Frisian colony in Whitinsville,
Massachusetts, located midway between the big cities of Providence and Worcester.
We already became acquainted earlier with this type of settlement, although
in a less conspicuous way. A few affluent residents in this beautiful
village of Whitinsville-despite the many factories, its hilly diluvial
landscape reminds one of Bussum and Zeist [in the Netherlands]-had some
Frisian cattle shipped over between 1880 and 1890 to stock their model
farms because the American cattle were very small and inferior. At the same
time, this cattle transfer created a demand for some Frisian farm hands, and
the first one went to work at the Castle Hill Farm. He liked it so much that
he urged his friends and relatives in Friesland to join him; it was at a time
when conditions were deplorable in the Netherlands. Before long a few of
his friends came over, also unmarried. They were followed by several families
from the southwestern corner of Friesland and a few from the Wartena
area. Following up on this I found such family names as Bosma, Fennema,
Visser, De Boer, Feenstra, Frieswilk, Plantenga, Glashouwer, Workman, and
Kooistra. By 1904, after about a ten-year period, the settlement had in-
creased in number to about seven hundred.

They found employment on the farms, and others earned a good living in
the machine shops of Whitinsville, etc. Since they were well thought of
because of their faithful performance they began to work for a weekly wage
of $7.30 immediately after their arrival straight from the Netherlands, even
though they were still "plenty green." As a result, many a worker was able
to send money back for passage tickets. The travel expenses were repaid
later on and then others could have relatives and friends come over. There
were always openings for them in the factories, rather than on the rocky,
infertile soil. A similar "settlement" had been made at Lafayette, Indiana, in
the 1830s but there was this difference: the colony at Whitinsville grew far
more rapidly due to the much-improved transportation facilities.

But even these more "modern" immigrants still had some unusual expe
riences. For example, one family made the ocean voyage in third class and
arrived destitute in Worcester, having spent all its money on travel; not a
penny was left! The family found itself in a foreign environment without
funds and totally ignorant of the language of the country. Finally, at his
wits' end, the head of the household decided to walk to Whitinsville. After
many hours he arrived at the factory town, totally exhausted "with only one
shoe left."

Enroute he had been treated like a common "tramp." "He had been
snubbed as a dog and chased away like a vagrant, even when he asked for a
drink of water," so tells us the Reverend J. Jansen, who was later his
minister. Once he had arrived in the village, all his troubles were over;
relatives arranged for his wife and children to come from Worcester.

Many of the colonists were of a religious bent and soon gatherings were
held where sermons were read and psalms sung in the Dutch language. The
Presbyterian Church building was made available to them, at least its base-
ment, and later also the town hall for evening services. By coincidence the
sending of some money to a Seceder church in Wartena led to correspon-
dence with the leader of that little church, F. J. Drost, which resulted in his
arrival at Whitinsville in 1893. Here he again met some of his former
villagers. Drost succeeded in influencing his new congregation to give up
their original intention of setting up an independent church and instead to
affiliate with the Christian Reformed Church there. Drost himself, who had
formerly been a catechism teacher in the Hervormde Kerk, was later or-
dained into the ministry by Classis Hudson of the Christian Reformed
Church, after having first served the new congregation as a "preaching
elder." At its inception, thirteen families joined this Christian Reformed
group. In 1898 the congregation had its own building and Drost served until
1902; in that year he was called to the church in Eastmanville, Michigan.

Dr. J.Jansen, who had come directly from the Netherlands, followed Drost
and he served from 1904 to 1906. The church had four hundred members-
four-sevenths of the total number of seven hundred souls in the Frisian
colony, Jansen found it to be a pleasant place to work although there were
some restless and troublesome elements. But Drost had established the
church on a firm basis and that made Jansen's work easier, as the latter
gratefully acknowledged. Jansen returned to the Netherlands and years la-
ter, reminiscing about his time in America: "Yes, I found Whitinsville a
pleasant place to work! How inspiring was the sound of the Dutch psalms
echoing in our simple but friendly little church. Our services were con-
ducted entirely on the Dutch pattern and were very impressive; they caused
many a parishioner to be one in thought with their relatives and fellow
believers in the old home country, which most of them would never see
again."

Following Jansen, F. Fortuin and L. Trap served this isolated congrega-
tion. A Harvard student, (now Dr.) C. Bouma, led the first English evening
service. Since that time it has been a bilingual congregation. Now in 1923
it numbers 162 families and 732 souls. If the ratio between the Christian
Reformed congregation and the other churches and the non-churched has
remained the same, which is very likely, the colony should number about
1,300 settlers of Dutch descent, i.e., those born in the Netherlands or born
in America of Dutch parents.

There were 993 Dutch-born settlers living in Massachusetts in 1900; by
1910 there were 1,389, and in 1920, there were 2,063, most of whom lived
in Whitinsville. There was also a small number in Boston, largely cigar
makers, to whom reference was made earlier. This once Puritan city had
391 resident Hollanders in 1900, 486 in 1910, and 691 in 1920. There were
only a few in the industrial towns of Fall River, Lowell, and Worcester-3,
9, and 8 respectively in 1910. The famous town of Cambridge had a total
of 18 in 1910. In 1920 these last four cities respectively had 6, 17, 69, and
20 Hollanders.