Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fun Facts - Friesland

Fun Facts – Friesland

1. In December of 1895, the Theodore F. Koch Land Company printed advertisements to encourage Hollanders to settle in a new village just being developed four miles north of Hinckley. The village was named Friesland.

2. Koch promised fertile soil and good farmland. He even built a demonstration farm a half mile from the Friesland depot to show off the merits of the area. By May of 1896, Koch's 320-acre farm had a hog barn, a cow barn, 40 acres of fenced pasture, and two tenement houses with a boarding house under construction and a horse barn in planning stages. Koch hoped to clear 60 acres for crops and already had a workforce of 125 men.

3. Also by May of 1896, Friesland was home to 400 people, mostly Dutch immigrants. It had a depot; a boarding house run by D. Hoitenga, J.A. Johnson's hotel; the Davidson Bros. general store; Koch's land office; and a post office.

4. Friesland had its own newspaper for a few weeks in the autumn of 1896. The Friesland Journal was written primarily in Dutch. It endorsed William McKinley for president.

5. The Friesland Reformed Church was founded in 1897, and worshipers built their church on land donated by Theodore Koch.

6. The Friesland settlement was originally part of the Sandstone school district, but that didn't suit Friesland residents at all. So three wagons full of concerned Frieslanders traveled to Sandstone and cast their votes for their own school district. The first Friesland school, district #35, was built in 1898.

7. Already by 1901, Friesland was struggling. Koch had been trying to improve the area by working on roads and drainage systems. He tried to demonstrate how to grow potatoes and other crops. But the Dutch settlers lacked the funds to imitate Koch's techniques, and they were frustrated by the rocky soil, which turned out not to be so great for farming after all, despite Koch's assurances.

8. Over the next ten years, many settlers moved away from Friesland. Some went to work at the quarries in Sandstone. Others moved to better farming land. By 1910, Friesland's main street featured only the depot and one general store.

9. In spite of the village's troubles, Friesland residents worked together to build a new school in 1915. School trustees H. Weiner, Erick Troolin, Elmer Johnson, Louis Mottaz, Carl Johnson, and Nels Oakland oversaw the construction process. C.J. Hogland won the building contract. The new two-story school with a partial basement was dedicated in October of 1915.

10. Friesland residents continued to leave the area, however. The church disbanded in the early 1920s. The school lasted a while longer; it consolidated with Sandstone in 1968. Today, Friesland is another of Pine County's ghost towns.

Sources: “Friesland, Minnesota: A Little Town that Couldn't” by Robert Schoon-Jongen (in Origins, 1997); Memories of the Friesland School; newspaper articles


  1. Thanks Amy! We love any info about Friesland. Lived here my whole life and attended the Friesland school. As you know we own several of the early settlers homesteads. Fun to see some of the names listed. Thanks.

  2. I'm glad you're enjoying the blog, Ruth! I had fun writing it! :-)