Dutch Immigrate to Iowa

Dutch immigrants came to Iowa from Holland for various reasons. Religious persecution was a major factor that contibuted to their migration.


In April of 1847 four ships left Holland carrying 800 immigrants ready to start a new life in America. They sought to escape the kind of religion the Dutch government impose on its subjects as well as the worsened living conditions there. Good farmland was scarce and the poor could not keep up with the heavy church taxes. After landing in Baltimore, a group of men headed west to search for land for the new colony. They chose Iowa because the gently sloping prairies reminded them of their homeland. In August of that year the 800 arrived in Marion County, led by Henry Peter Scholte, a minister who had rebelled against the religion of the Dutch government. Scholte was imprisoned there for his ideas and his followers, who continued to support him, were severely persecuted.

How different from my beloved country. There I was put in prison and despised. Here I am compared to a costly gift of God; sent here for the good of the country. The Bible called Pella ‘a place of refuge.' My Pella, where we witty Hollanders can find rest and worship God the way we please.

Although that first group of Dutch were happy to be in America, they still referred to Holland as their beloved homeland and they retained many of their old world traditions and skills.

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