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

By Herbert J. Brinks | Go to book overview

V
Detached Immigrants

Introduction

Unlike the urbanities in Part IV, nearly all the "detached" immigrants in this part were unmarried and all of them avoided close connections with their ethnic fellows in America. Apart from Henri and Margo van Hall, all the detached immigrants were single and lived in urban America. Thus, their letters refer infrequently to other Dutch immigrants but focus instead on their private experiences and novel surroundings. William Smith, for example, wrote only about his poultry farm, hunting, fishing, and a major hurricane. Ignaats Bunnemeijer provided a detailed description of his work on Wards Island, New York, and H. Koopman was constantly fascinated by Chicago. Jan Willem Nijenhuis explained the details of his work and the benefits of labor union membership and, like the others in this chapter, he wrote almost nothing about interpersonal relationships.

Although none of these correspondents elected to live in Dutch immigrant communities, several ( Anna Kuijt, Koopman, and Nijenhuis) were acquainted with them. Koopman was especially disaffected with Chicago's Dutch communities, and Kuijt, who worked briefly for a Dutch family in Maurice, Iowa, found that rural community unattractive. She had been a shopkeeper in Amsterdam before immigrating, and Chicago provided a more congenial setting. Nijenhuis, who deserted his family in Winterswijk, apparently preferred both anonymity and loneliness in Newark to risking the embarrassment of meeting acquaintances in Paterson or other Dutch communities.

The "detached" immigrants were more secular than their enclaved cohorts. Henri and Margo van Hall were devout Catholics, recently married. The others, however, wrote virtually nothing about their church affiliations, their pastors, their religious beliefs, or their pious feelings. Their salutations and closing lines, occasions where even moderately pious writers inserted a wish or word about God's favor, contained no religious reflections. H. Koopman who wrote much about religious hy

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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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