Holland Township began as a destination for Dutch ‘colonists’

When William Phil brooks came from Maine to become the first settler in Holland Township, he couldn’t have guessed what was going to follow him. Shortly after he had planted his roots there, Henry Rankans became the first homesteader to make Holland Township his home. Some very interesting things were about to happen. A real estate firm, Frederickson and Prins, brought five more settlers in 1886. The firm changed its name and personnel several times during the years it functioned in this area. First it became Prins and Koch, with a group of wealthy farmers in Holland to carry out their plan. Actually, it was a simple one. Young Martin Prins was sent to America to find sufficient good land to form a Dutch colony. When he arrived in Chicago, he teamed up with a Danish professor, named Frederickson, in his search for suitable land. They found it in Holland Township.

Prospective settlers in Holland could purchase land and transportation for their families to this country, where their own land awaited them. The 35,000 acres which Prins had purchased was just about right for the number of “colonists” who accepted their offer.

The first of those settlers arrived at Clara City in 1884, and were taken immediately out to take possession of their land.

There was a setback in 1885 when a prairie wildfire destroyed some of their buildings. They were quickly replaced and the settlement grew. It really became an entity in 1885 when a post office was established.

Two years later Prinsburg was platted near the center of the township, and the Holland Christian Reformed Church was organized in 1888, a school was built in the center of town. Over the years five school districts were established in the township.

Recently the community celebrated the centennial of what had started as the Prinsburg Christian School. It is now a high school, and attracts students from a wide area—even from other states.

While this was going on, one of the first, if not the first “Bonanza Farm” was set up in Holland Township by W.D. Washburn of Minneapolis. He bought about five square miles of the rich soil of Holland Township. The reality did not equal the dream for him. His property never became self-maintaining, much less profitable, so he sold it to one of the men who had managed it for him. The new owner couldn’t make a go of it either, so he broke it up and sold the land off that way. The first co-operative business in the township was the Prinsburg Farmer’s Mutual Telephone Company which was organized in 1904. Now business publications list 75 businesses located in and around Prinsburg. At least one of them operates internationally.

This is a far cry from the general store which carried a large stock of Dutch medical remedies and supplies.
For several years in the 1920s, Prinsburg was served by the Luce Line railroad which ran from the Twin Cities to western Minnesota. Unfortunately, all that remains of it now are some hiking or biking trails on the old road bed.

The 2010 census lists Prinsburg as a city with a population of nearly 500, living in 180 units. In addition to the school, the city has two churches and an active business district, devoted largely to serving the area’s largest industry — agriculture in its many forms.

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