Albertus Van Raalte, a 36 year old pastor from the (Netherlands) province of Overijsel, led 100 followers to emigrate to what is now Holland, Michigan on September 24, 1846. They sailed on the "Southerner" from Rotterdam and, seven weeks later, arrived in New York City. Initially, Van Raalte planned to plant his colony in Wisconsin, but ... he found temporary employment in Detroit for his countrymen and (he) took the Michigan Central Railroad west to the end of the line, Kalamazoo. There he met with people who convinced him that western Michigan would be an ideal location from his colony. (Source: paraphrased from an article by Larry B. Massie, abt 1993)
As immigrants arrived from the Netherlands, Van Raalte directed them to different localities, arranged and named as they are in the Netherlands. Thus a newcomer would be situated with people of his same background. That is how the communities surrounding Holland, Michigan received the names of Zeeland, Vriesland, Drenthe, Overisel and Graafschap. (Source: from the Tulip Time Tour Guides materials used at Pillar Church in Holland, MI.)
Because so many colonists died in the spring and summer of 1847, there were many orphans. The council decided to build an orphanage, but by the time it was ready to be occupied, there was no one to live in it. The orphans had been absorbed into the families of friends and relatives. (Source: from the Tulip Time Tour Guides materials)
"HOLLAND, MI was settled by passengers of the bark *Southerner* including Rev. Albertus C. Van Raalte, founder of Holland 'kolonie.' On September 24, 1846, the group left Arnhem and took a Rhine boat to Rotterdam. They left from there on October 2, 1846, and arrived in New York on November 19. A passenger list is available at:
"GRAAFSCHAP, MI was settled by Dutch-speaking people who lived at the border of Grafschaft, Bentheim, in Hanover Province of Germany. Here is a list of passengers on the *Antoinette Marie* who left Bentheim as a group on March 15,1847, and set sail from Rotterdam on April 4, 1847, arriving at New York on May 23, 1847, and in Michigan in June. Seventy were from Bentheim and thirty-four from the province of Drenthe, Netherlands.