Dutch culture area

DutchIn the latter part of the 19th century, Holland was overcrowded and in the midst of a depression. Texas, with abundant inexpensive land, seemed an ideal site for Dutch settlement. In 1895-1896 the Port Arthur Land Company was formed by a number of Dutch investors. They bought 66,000 acres of land in Southeast Texas and offered it for sale in Holland for $8 an acre. Advertisements portrayed Texas as a veritable paradise. In reality, the area was a low-lying marsh infested with mosquitoes.

In the summer of 1897, the Port Arthur Land Company began construction of the Orange Hotel to house the immigrants that they were bringing to the area. The hotel was named for the royal family of Holland and painted bright orange. According to an 1898 immigrant, “Those who traveled with me were thankful for the care that they received at a moderate price from Mr. Ellings, manager of the Orange Hotel.”

The first Hollander to come to Nederland was George Rienstra. He arrived in 1897 and chose what he considered the best farmland in the barren, uninhabited country to which he had come. He was joined by his sister, Fannie, and later, their brother, Dan. Given the farming experience of the early Dutch settlers and the plentiful fresh water, it is not surprising that early-day Nederland turned to rice growing for its economic survival.

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