Zeeland is one of the southern townships in the county, and is bounded north by Blendon, east by Jamestown, south by Allegan County, and west by Holland, and is about twenty-six miles from Grand Haven. The township was settled by a portion of the Holland colony at the same time that Holland was settled. Zeeland was organized in 1837, by taking a portion of the town of Holland, and in 1842 the vote was 141, the largest first vote of any township in the county. The first meeting was held in the church. It has three villages, the principal one being Zeeland, was platted in 1849, and incorporated in 1875. It has between five and six hundred inhabitants, and contains two churches, the Reformed and the True Reformed; five general stores; one clothing store, one hardware, and two boot and shoe stores, two furniture stores, one drug store, one book store, a butcher, wagon and blacksmith shop, two hotels, one tannery, two planing mills, one saw mill, one cooper shop, and an extensive flouring mill. It is situated near the west line of the township, on the C, & W. M. R. R., with depot and post office.


Is a small village on the same road, near the northeast corner of the township, and contains two stores, two churches, and a wagon and blacksmith shop, and has from 150 to 200 inhabitants.


Drenthe, a small village in the town, southwest of Zeeland, has two stores, one hardware store, two churches, one blacksmith shop, etc. The soil is varied, much of it very low and wet, but under the thrifty cultivation of the Hollanders, it was soon reclaimed, and is very rich and fertile. About two-thirds of the town is under cultivation. It stands first in the production of corn, pork and butter, and second in wheat.

This fine and fertile township is nearly all occupies by settlers from Holland and their immediate descendents. *This settlement was similar to that which settled Holland. In 1847, after Dr. Van Raalte had given impulse to emigration from Holland.


Rev. Van Der Mueler came in with about 400 souls. This man was a marked character, having a history in Holland aand in Michigan. He was born at Middlehamus, in the kingdom of the Netherlands, in 1800. His early life was not conspicuous, and his education but common. He engaged in secular business until he was about 35 years of age. During this time he was a free thinker and man of the world. At this period his mind was turned to religion, and for the rest of his life he was a devout and laborious minister of the gospel.

The religion of the State was too cold for such as he, and as there was at this time a secession from the State church, he joined heartily in it. He was made elder in the church then established and in 1838 became pastor. He moved to Utrecht, studied under Rev. H. P. Scholte, was ordained and went to Rotterdam. He became as apostle in the new movement, fearless and self-reliant he preached in fields, barns and private houses. Mobbed and persecuted he rose in enthusiasm, defying law and popular violence.

In 1847 many Hollanders, for religious freedom, left their country, and he was religious leader of emigrants from Zeeland who founded the village of Zeeland, and with them he labored until 1859 when he went to Chicago, and in 1861 to Grand Rapids, where he resigned his pastorate in 1873. He died August 23, 1876, and lies buried in Zeeland. He was an admirable man, genial and social, high principled and manly.

Rev. Yupena came in with two hundred into Vriesland, Elders Opholt and Wiggers settled 150m more in the colony of Drenthe; Rev. Bolks colonized Overissel; Graafschap with three hundred was planted by Elder Nierke; these, with the Holland colony, were all in 1847, and were known as the "Holland Settlement."

The first thing they did was erect log churches, and in 1847 in Zeeland one was built 26X40 feet, next year a block house was built 40X60, and now they have fine churches.

One of the generous men of the colony, deceased since 1870, was E. Vander Leuser, who brought at his own expense eight poor families, left his splendid mansion and farm in Holland to cast in his lot with the colonists. He was a big-hearted man giving away thousands. In 1847 Mr. Roberts erected a small saw mill, K. Smith opened a store, and I. Naayen a tavern. In 1848 the settlers had a good crops, but their hard times were in 1849, as their money had run out, in many cases, but the next year brought abundant crops.

In 1849 Elias Young was employed as English teacher, was first Supervisor, Justice of the Peace, etc. In 1848 Vander Leuser started Zeeland Village, laying out eighty acres and selling to settlers at $6 to $10 an acre.

The churches, which were all one, became split into :Reformed" and "True Reformed." The schism was commenced in 1856, by Rev. Klyne, pasttor at Grand Rapids, but in 1854 we find the True Reformed in Zeeland organizing. Zeeland was organized as a town July 14, 1851, separating from Holland. Ninety-three voters met in the church electing the first officers: E.J. Young, Supervisor, R.M. De Bruyn, Clerk, J.C.H. Van Hees, E.J. Young, J. Nieumandorf, Justices. Next year there were 141 voters.

It is a southern township, lying between Holland and Jamestown, and is full sized. The soil is generally fertile and there are a number of fine farms, and the marshes have been utilized and drained so as to yield abundantly.

Town officials 1881: Supervisor, C. Van Loo; Clerk, J. den Herder; Treasurer, J. Fox; Justice of the Peace, A. Van Zoeren; Commissioner of Highways, S. De Hoop; Superintendent of Schools, P. Borst; School Inspector, J.G. Van Hees.


In 1870 Mr. Wichers commenced on his own account, but subsequently took in partners, and in 1876-7 built their large establishment. Consisting of various shops, a planer and all the ,machinery necessary for carrying on their business, the machinery being propelled by a 25-horse power steam engine.

The size of the main building is 54X40. Blacksmith shop, 30X42. Engine house, 20X30. Shed for keeping lumber, 20X50, and turns out 150 wagons and 60 sleighs annually, employing eight men.


Was established in 1875 by its present owners. The size of the main building is 45X60. Lumber sheds, 40X80. The machinery consists of a planer, matcher, two rip-saws, turning lathes and boring machine, propelled by a 25-horse power engine, and turns out 300 pumps, 60 wagons, and a like number of sleighs, annually. The firm also keeps on hand an assortment of lumber for custom.


Are owned and operated by Keppel & De Roo. Formerly it was a water mill located about two miles south of Zeeland, but in 1872 it was moved to Zeeland and run by a 65-horse power steam engine. It runs three sets of buhrs, 4, 8 ˝ and 3 feet in size, with a capacity of 100 bbls. of flour and two car-loads of feed for each twenty-four hours.


JohnDe Kruif was born in Zeeland, Ottawa County, Michigan, May 24, 1850; labored on the farm til 1865, when he learned the blacksmith’s trade. Subsequently he carried on business on his own account till 1879, when he entered the firm of Wichers, DeKruif & Co., in the manufacture of wagons and sleighs, who are doing and extensive business in Zeeland. He married January 7, 1865, Maria Van Leeurven, and has three children.

Henry De Kruif was born in the Netherlands July 25, 1817. Emigrated with Dr. A.C. Van Raalte in the fall of 1846, and was among the very first to settle in Zeeland. Having studied the English language, he first acted as an interpreter for a years. Subsequently he was the proprietor of a meat market, and built and operated a tannery. At present Mr. De Kruif is engaged in farming on Sec. 17, Zeeland Township. He was married September 1, 1843, to Elizabeth G. Van Bekum, who died in 1846. Second marriage March 5, 1848, to Dina Van De Luhyster, who was born in the Netherlands November 28, 1824.

Dr. Daniel Baert was born in the Netherlands May 23, 1839. Settled with his father in Zeeland in 1848. His father, George Henry Baert, was born February 27, 1810, and engaged after his arrival in Zeeland in the mercantile business, which he followed till his death, which occurred May 30, 1855. The subject of this sketch received his primary education in Zeeland. Studied medicine with Dr. Van Den Berg, and commenced practice in 1862, which he still continues. He has been President of Zeeland Village since its incorporation in 1875. He married October 15, 1864, to Kate Boonstra, who was born February 26, 1839, and has four living children.

Jacob Den Herder, of Zeeland village, was born in Prov. Zeeland, Netherlands. At the age of thirteen emigrated in 1847 with his parents to the United States. The ocean voyage took sixty-three days to New York, and then by scow to Albany and canal boat to Buffalo took fourteen days; thence by steamer to Chicago and by vessel to the mouth of Black River taking again fourteen days, and by flat boat to the forest city of Holland. After a stay there of three weeks with seven families in one log hut, the final trip was taken by ox-wagon eight miles east into the Township of Zeeland. On arrival, not a house was built nor an acre of ground was improved in the whole township. Very soon, however, log huts were in construction and lands improved under severe hardships. His first occupation till the age of 18 was chopping trees and splitting oak staves; from 18 to 28 years was engaged in teaching school at Vriesland, Michigan. In 1856 he was married to Miss Aderiana Klasen, who was born in the same province and of same age. Issue thereof still alive, two sons and three daughters. Quitting school teaching, he commenced general country store at the same place for about seven years, moved thence to Zeeland into the gristmill business for four years, and thereupon opened a banking office at said place; has for many years occupied the office of Township Clerk, and for about three years the office of Supervisor. Was in 1876 chosen Presidential Elector for the 5th District of Michigan, on the Republican ticket. After election his citizenship was called in question, and he was by the Congressional investigating committee subpoenaed to appear before said committee at Washington; naturalization papers being found in order, the vote was confirmed.

Transcriber: Barb Jones
Created: 2 June 2010
URL: http://ottawa.migenweb.net/twprecords/zeeland/1882Zeeland.html