Robert Schoone-Jongen

Why Friesland Failed: The Rise and Fall of Pine County, Minnesota's Dutch Colony, 1896-1921

Most of the Dutch American colonies started in Minnesota during the period 1870-1920 developed into remarkably durable agricultural communities. Both their farmland and their Reformed churches were passed along for several generations. There was one exception to this pattern, a colony founded in Pine County in 1896 known as Friesland, Minnesota. What can we learn about the process of ethnic agricultural community development by studying a "lost" colony rather than looking at conspicuously successful and visible colonies? That is the question behind Robert Schoone-Jongen's reconstruction of life in Friesland through an analysis of tax records, contemporary newspaper accounts, census data, church membership roles, land contracts, memoirs, and geographical information. After twenty-six years as a history teacher at Southwest Minnesota Christian High School in Edgerton, Schoone-Jongen pursued his doctorate in 18th and 19th century United States history at the University of Delaware.

Robert's work produced three things, all of which were tied together. He produced a manuscript on the history of Friesland, wrote a seminar paper at the University of Delaware, and used the story of Friesland as part of his doctoral dissertation on the work of Theodore F. Koch, the colony's promoter.

Public presentation on June 7, 2001 at 11 A.M.

For more information, please visit the newspaper review of this project by Nancy Torner, which can be found at the Regional Journalism Home Page in the article entitled: "Fellow Seeks Answers to Failed Minnesota Colony".

Science and Technology 203
Southwest Minnesota State University
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Phone: (507) 537-6226
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Last updated: March 21, 2006