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Former post office worker visited ‘all’ U.S. places called Holland

Curiosity arose while redirecting mail

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

ZEELAND, Michigan - A Western Michigan couple has discovered that one can visit Holland without ever leaving North America. Vern and Bernice Ekema also have learned that one Holland is quite different from another. One Holland hardly rates a roadsign, another Holland namesake has no Dutch roots. The biggest Holland, down the road from Zeeland, both founded in 1847 by Dutch emigrants, now is home to many Spanish-speaking people in the originally exclusively Dutch community. The Ekemas so far checked out 18 Hollands in the U.S.A. and one in south-central Manitoba, Canada.

To keep their travel itinerary manageable, the Ekemas restricted themselves to places plainly called Holland. Dutch emigrant-founded communities such as South Holland (Illinois), Hollandale (Minnesota) and even Holland Marsh (Ontario, named after Nijmegen-born surveyor Samuel Holland) were left for others to explore.

To visit Holland (wherever) is not quite as easy as it sounds. For example, there is a continent-wide spread between Holland, Massachusetts and Holland, Oregon, and Holland, Manitoba is not next door to Holland, Texas. The Ekemas nonetheless did visit the far-flung Holland namesakes, all since 1990 when they retired, Vern from the post office.

Ekema’s curiosity arose while working at the Holland, Michigan post office, redirecting mail that had arrived in Michigan while it should have gone to another one of the 17 other Hollands in the U.S.A. At some point, Ekema checked each state for zip codes belonging to a Holland, and studied state maps for Hollands without a post office. He “collected” another eight or nine Hollands although none have a post office or can be found on maps.

Visiting all these Hollands, the Zeeland couple concluded that even a Holland without a Dutch connection still would often have a windmill within its border, and usually display business names on signs thad incorporated the word Windmill. Common to the many Hollands also was great hospitality and friendliness, with Holland, Manitoba rating as the best one.

Ekema has not visited Holland, the Netherlands.