Dutch American Voices: Letters from the United States, 1850-1930

By Herbert J. Brinks | Go to book overview

IV
Urban to Urban

Introduction

This part's correspondents represent less than 10 percent of the Dutch migration from 1830 to 1880. Only 20 percent emigrated from cities, and not all of these resettled in urban America. Furthermore, 10 percent of the urban-to-urban migrants were Jewish, and their correspondence has not been discovered and preserved. The letters in this section, thus, can describe, at most, only half of the interurban population movement. 1 Nonetheless, these four correspondents effectively illustrate a spectrum of small business activity and urban culture.

All the urban correspondents were spirited businesspeople with imaginative plans for enlarging the scope of their careers and the profits of their ventures. But only the Lankester family's fortunes can be traced over several generations. Pieter and his son, David, settled in as gentlemen farmers near Milwaukee in 1850, but they were quickly drawn into the more enticing bustle of commerce in Milwaukee. Ultimately, the family resettled in Grand Rapids, where its descendants managed small business ventures until the 1960s. The tobacco dealer Jan George Zahn died or at least disappeared during the Civil War, leaving no traceable descendants. Cornelis Mannee's family was left in, at best, moderate economic circumstances when he died in midlife. Similarly, Willem de Lange's wife and children became destitute following his untimely death in 1874. Nonetheless, each family's struggles, hopes, and achievements are plainly recorded in their correspondence.

These urbanites were clearly more cosmopolitan than their country cousins. Rather broadly informed and gifted with ample writing skills, all of them, but especially De Lange and Zahn, plunged into cross-

____________________
1
Swierenga, " Jews First, Dutch Second, Americans Third: Dutch Jewish Settlement and Life in the United States in the Nineteenth Century," in The Dutch in North America, ed. Kroes and Neuschafer, pp. 391-409.

-337-

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Dutch American Voices: Letters from the United States, 1850-1930
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Dutch American Voices - Letters from the United States, 1850-1930 *
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Introduction i
  • I - Rural to Rural: Sand-Soil Emigrants 23
  • II - Rural to Rural: Clay-Soil Emigrants 103
  • III - Rural to Urban 221
  • IV - Urban to Urban 337
  • V - Detached Immigrants 421
  • Appendixes 455
  • Selected Bibliography 457
  • Index of Personal Names 461
  • Index of Place-Names 468
  • Topical Index 472
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