Dutch Ohioans

From Ohio History Central

Numerous Ohioans are descended from Dutch ancestors.

In 1860, 328,249 immigrants lived in Ohio. These people accounted for fourteen percent of the state's population. By 1900, the number of immigrants in Ohio rose to 458,734, but the percentage of the population that was foreign-born declined to eleven percent. Most of these immigrants in 1900 came from Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, and other Western European countries, such as the Netherlands, yet a growing number of Eastern, Southern, and Northern Europeans were also migrating to the state.

In 1900, approximately ten thousand Dutch immigrants resided in Ohio. The immigrants or people claiming Dutch ancestry lived in practically every Ohio community. Dutch migrants began to arrive in Ohio in sizable numbers by the early nineteenth century. By 1850, nearly two hundred Dutch-born people resided in Cleveland alone. Their numbers grew to more than one thousand people by 1910. Initially, most Dutch migrants settled along Lake Erie, especially in Cleveland, where they found jobs in factories, worked as day laborers, or became farmers. Many Dutch residents also worked as sailors or fishermen. Immigrants who were more successful established businesses that supplied their fellow migrants with traditional Dutch products. The Dutch immigrants initially tended to settle in their own communities, preferring to live among people who shared similar cultural beliefs and spoke the same language as they did.

Most Dutch immigrants arrived in the United States prior to World War I, but a second large influx occurred in the years immediately following World War II. World War II devastated the Netherlands, prompting many Dutch people to seek greater opportunity in the United States. Over the succeeding decades, Ohio's traditional Dutch communities began to lose their cohesiveness and many Dutch communities began to disintegrate.  Many Dutch residents moved into other communities, while non-Dutch began to infiltrate the traditionally Dutch neighborhoods.  Second and third generation Dutch Ohioans also preferred the more open and free lifestyle of Americans, apposed to their traditional and more conservative customs and beliefs.  By the 1930s, the Dutch language was no longer used in the various Dutch churches in Ohio.

Today, Dutch Ohioans participate in various social and cultural groups that serve to promote and support Dutch beliefs and customs. The Netherlands American Society of Ohio works to promote and preserve the Dutch culture and language. The Society sponsors many cultural programs, festival, lectures, trips, and educational exhibitions.


See Also


  1. Van Tassel, David D., and John J. Grabowski, eds. The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.