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Churches Bigger Than Windmills: Religion And Dutchness In Minnesota, 1885–1928

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Chapter Summary

Dutch-American Calvinist immigrants came to Minnesota in the 1880s intent on doing two things: farming new land and transmitting old values to their children. Houses and barns expressed the first and churches symbolized the second objective. The signboards on the Dutch churches carried the adjective "Gereformeerde" (Reformed), a word the settlers regarded as a synonym for "Dutch". This fierce religious loyalty had driven the Dutch Calvinist immigrants from the Netherlands to the United States starting in 1847, and inspired a schism among them within ten years. A modest wooden windmill standing alongside Minnesota Highway 7 tells the average motorist that this is a "Dutch" town. A much larger structure of stone stands a few hundred feet behind the mill, a Christian Reformed church. This building provides the answer to why the mill still marks the spot Theodore F. Koch sold to Dutch immigrants over a century ago.

Keywords:Dutch churches; Dutch-American Calvinist immigrants; Minnesota; religious loyalty

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