by James C. Schaap
The collection here assembled includes 15 stories, all rooted in history, of Dutch immigrants and pioneers that aim "to illustrate the beauty of an ethno-religious heritage too grand to be sacrificed on the altar of American homogeneity." This is a reprint of the 1979 publication.
1979/2010, paperback, 274 pages, $16.00
From the back cover
The names of Van Raalte and Scholte are familiar to many North Americans of Dutch roots. These men and women led the new immigration into the United States, a movement that for them began in 1846. Many pages of history, and even some fiction, have been devoted to these and other powerful leaders of a quietly devout group whose wooden shoes and tulips have become the characteristic features that distinguish them from the broad mosaic of American ethnicities.
But what of the other Dutch immigrants? What of the Kuipers, the Boers, the Smids, the Timmermans, the Sneiders, the Bakkers, the Vissers, the Koks, the Kramers, and the Mulders? What of the men and women whose surnames distinguish their occupations, the laborers and the craftsmen whom history can so easily lose among society's notables? Their history-less often recorded, less often noticed-can be more rich and rewarding for subsequent generations, not because of prestige and power, but because of its simple humanity. Their story is a register of the hearts and souls of the common people whose life's task was to work the land, preach the Word, shape leather or iron, build barns and houses, or keep the home.
The collection here assembled includes 15 stories, all rooted in history, stories of men and women whose experiences are true human drama. Some are strong, unmoveable in the face of hardship; some are weak, too soft, perhaps, for the rigors of pioneer life. Some are devout, full of a piety that has often been a caricature of the Dutch immigrant; some are free-spirited, unencumbered by an ominous sense of human depravity. Together they comprise a story too warm and human to be neglected.
James Calvin Schaap is a fifth generation descendent of Dutch immigrants to southeastern Wisconsin. He is professor of English at Dordt College.
The first edition of Sign of a Promise was published by Dordt College Press in 1979-the author's first book.