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Dutch-American conference set

Dutch immigration to Wisconsin predate Michigan settlements

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill Immigration

SHEBOYGAN, Wisconsin — The Sheboygan County Historical Research Center will be hosting a conference titled "The Dutch-American Experience in Wisconsin: 1840-Present" on September 25 through 27. The Dutch immigrant experience in the state originates with those from in and around the province of Gelderland, near the border with Germany. Dutch passengers on the ill-fated ship Phoenix, of whom the majority perished in the 1847 disastrous fire near the vessel’s destination, had emigrated from that region as well. The state also attracted many immigrants from North Brabant who mostly joined the Roman Catholic settlement of Little Chute.

Experts from the Netherlands and the U.S. will work side-by-side with local historical groups and historians to present a picture of the vibrant Dutch-American culture, which thrives in Wisconsin but which largely has lacked the recognition it deserves from the wider Dutch American community.

These experts include authors Dr. Robert Swierenga and Dr. Elton Bruins, research professors at the Van Raalte Institute of Holland, Michigan; Dr. Hans Krabbendam, assistant director of the Roosevelt Study Center, Middelburg, the Netherlands; Dr. James Schaap, English professor at Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa and Yvette Hoitink, project manager at the National Archives, The Hague, the Netherlands.

These researchers and others will discuss Dutch immigration history, the various settlements throughout Wisconsin, differences and similarities between Dutch Roman Catholics and Dutch Protestants, the Dutch language as it exists in Wisconsin and Dutch-American authors will discuss their influences and publications.

Organizers promise that participants will gain an appreciation for life in the Netherlands prior to emigrating in the 1840s. They will hear about the fear immigrants had of a new world and a different language, but also stories of strength and success as they settled in Wisconsin and the new communities they formed.

Conference sessions will be held at The Bull at Pinehurst Farms in Sheboygan Falls. The third day will consist of a genealogy contact day, where organizations and individuals from around the state will showcase their resources and research. Genealogy workshops ranging from reading Dutch documents to internet resources available worldwide will be offered. There will also be historical bus tours throughout Sheboygan County, highlighting points of interest including cemeteries, churches and early settlements. Organizer Mary Risseeuw will gladly respond to inquiries and can be reached at (920)550-2215. Her e-mail address is mrisseeuw“at”