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Document Type

Article

Abstract

Henry Hospers (1830-1901) was the leader of the Dutch kolonie (colony) of Sioux County, Iowa. When Hospers named and platted Orange City in 1870, Hendrik P. Scholte of the Pella, Iowa colony was dead and Albertus C. Van Raalte of the Holland, Michigan colony was nearing the end of his life. Compared to the more famous Scholte and Van Raalte (who settled their respective Midwestern colonies in 1847), Hospers has received little critical attention as a significant Dutch American immigrant leader. Hospers’ relative historical obscurity is understandable. Scholte and Van Raalte were clergy, while Hospers was a layman. Moreover, he was a second-generation leader. Further, the surviving records related to Hospers are spottier than those related to Scholte and Van Raalte. Even so, there is plentiful evidence of Hospers’ significance. This study of Hospers as a colony leader documents that he was a tireless promoter of the colony in particular and Sioux County more generally, particularly as a land broker, banker, and owner of the weekly De Volksvriend (The People’s Friend). He was also an office holder representing all settlers, especially as Chair of the Sioux County Board of Supervisors and as a member of the Iowa House and then the Senate. Finally, he was a founder of “church and school” (kerk en school) for the colony in his work to organize Northwestern Classical Academy (later Northwestern College) and First Reformed Church of Orange City. His experience helps fill out the tapestry of Dutch Protestant settler acculturation: retaining Dutch identity and becoming American amidst the fluidity of modernity.

About the Author

Dr. Doug Anderson specializes in the history of the American West and American religious history. He earned a doctorate in the latter subject and spent a year studying at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming.

He is co-author of Pilgrim Progression: The Protestant Experience in California, and his articles and book reviews have been published in Western Historical Quarterly, Religion and American Culture, and Fides et Historia, as well as in encyclopedias of the Great Plains and American West.

He has also teamed with other religion scholars on a comprehensive and comparative study of the impact regions have on religion's role in American public life, which resulted in eight geographically based books.

In 2014, Dr. Anderson co-authored a history of Orange City, Iowa, the town where Northwestern College is located. Part of the "Images of America" series by Arcadia Publishing, Orange City traces the development of the town from its founding in 1869 through the present.

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