Captain George Vancouver Julia Butler Hansen Carlos Bulosan Ernestine Anderson Kurt Cobain Bill Gates & Paul Allen Home
Search Encyclopedia
Advanced Search
Featured Essay
Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search
7099 essays now available      
Donation system not supported by Safari     Donate Subscribe


Cyberpedias Cyberpedias
Timeline Essays Timeline Essays
People's Histories People's Histories

Selected Collections
Cities & Towns Cities & Towns
County Thumbnails Counties
Biographies Biographies
Interactive Cybertours Interactive Cybertours
Slide Shows Slideshows
Public Ports Public Ports
Audio & Video Audio & Video

Research Shortcuts

Map Searches
Alphabetical Search
Timeline Date Search
Topic Search


Book of the Fortnight
Audio/Video Enhanced
History Bookshelf
Klondike Gold Rush Database
Duvall Newspaper Index
Wellington Scrapbook

More History

Washington FAQs
Washington Milestones
Honor Rolls
Columbia Basin
Walla Walla
Roads & Rails

Timeline Library

< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Dutch colonists arrive at Oak Harbor, Whidbey Island, on March 17, 1894. Essay 5432 : Printer-Friendly Format

On March 17, 1894, 18 Dutch colonists, including a cheesemaker, arrive at Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island.

The Northern Pacific Railroad reached Puget Sound in 1887 and the Great Northern Railway pushed through in 1893. The railroads opened the floodgates of migration spurred by land speculators selling logged-off land and the railroads selling tickets and their own lands. The Northern Pacific acquired public land through grants from the U.S. government or by purchase at $1.25 an acre. The railroad sold off large tracts to land companies, which embarked on various schemes to attract farmers too late for free homesteads.

 In 1894, John "R.E." Werkman acquired the right to market land around Oak Harbor for one of the land companies and he visited Holland, Michigan. He placed newspaper ads in Dutch to attract buyers and he displayed foot-long potatoes to impress farmers. This resulted in the arrival of the steamer Idaho at San de Fuca on Penn’s Cove on March 17, 1895, with 18 Hollanders plus an expert cheese maker direct from the Netherlands. More colonists stepped off the boat the following November.  

Within two years a community of 200 Hollanders had made their homes at the north end of Whidbey Island. Many settled in Clover Valley to the north of Oak Harbor, along Crescent Harbor, in Swantown, in San de Fuca on Penn's Cove, and they quickly earned recognition for their thrift and industry. The influx of these energetic citizens helped the area recover from the Panic of 1893, the worst economic downturn in U.S. history before the Great Depression.

More Dutch settlers followed during the 1890s, and to this day Oak Harbor has a Dutch ambiance, and celebrates "Holland Happening Festival" each April. 

George Albert Kellog, A History of Whidbey's Island (Oak Harbor: Island County Farm Bureau News, 1933-1934); The Greater Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce website (; Dorothy Neil and Lee Brainard, By Canoe and Sailing Ship They Came: A History of Whidbey’s Island (Oak Harbor: Spindrift Publishing Co., 1989), 167-178.
Note: This essay was expanded on August 3, 2007.

Travel through time (chronological order):
< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Special Suite: Washington Islands |

Related Topics: Roots | Cities & Towns |

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You

Oak Harbor Wharf, Whidbey Island, ca. 1905
Courtesy UW Special Collections (Image No. WAS0714)

Jersey cattle on Bash Farm, Oak Harbor, Whidbey Island, ca. 1895
UW Special Collections (Neg. No. UW21498)

Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search is the first online encyclopedia of local and state history created expressly for the Internet. (SM) is a free public and educational resource produced by History Ink, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt corporation.
Contact us by phone at 206.447.8140, by mail at Historylink, 1411 4th Ave. Suite 803, Seattle WA 98101 or email