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The polder Eierland

In the past Eierland was a separate island. There was a channel between Texel and Eierland, the socalled Anegat. It is said that until 1550 smaller boats could pass the channel. Later the ground was only flooded when the tide was unusual high.

Before 1600 there was already a ferry between Texel and Vlieland. The passengers were transported by wagon from Texel to Eierland, and then traveled further by boat. After serious floods in 1625 and 1628 the "Zanddijk" was constructed. This sand dike connected the old land of Texel with Eierland, parallel to the present coast line from De Koog to Eierland. The dike was finished in 1630.

Only a few people lived in Eierland. The "Eierlandse huis" was an important building for the mailservice between Vlieland and Texel. Goods that washed ashore were also stored in the house. The sea near Eierland was and is very dangerous, because several strong currents merge there. As a result, ships were regularly in trouble. Sometimes shipwrecked persons also stayed in the Eierlandse huis. There were many more animals than people. Thousands and thousands of birds, and also many rabbits. Part of the land was fit to be grazed by sheep.

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The reclamation

In 1835 Nicolas Joseph de Cock from Antwerpen, Paulus Langeveld Kzn from Giesendam, Willem Langeveld Kzn from Hardinxveld and Marcellus Leendert Plooster from Ameide bought Eierland. The "Sociëteit van Eierland" was founded in April 1835, and 200 shares were issued. A dike of 11.222 meters was constructed in only twenty weeks by 1500 polder workers from the Sliedrecht area.

The first farmers came in the spring of 1836. They were hired by the agricultural director Teenstra and by De Cock. The names of a few pioneers:

  • Pieter Roelofs Stoepker from Ulrum
  • Eelke Rens Sinia from Grijpskerk
  • Cornelis Arijsz Kievit from Stellendam (a cousin of the shareholder L. Kievit)
  • P.S. Noordhof from Zuid-Holland, he left Texel before 1840
  • Paulus Jansz den Bleijker from Ouddorp
  • Johannes van St. Annaland from Ooltgensplaat
  • Dirk Cornelisz Tanis from Ouddorp, who imported the madder culture
There were also farm hands and craftsmen necessary. De Cock hired the smith Adriaan van der Kloot from Middelharnis, his brother Jacob van der Kloot, who worked as carpenter, the cooper and wagonmaker J. van Houten from Wehe near Leens, and the Belgian tree cultivator Pieter Maris van Bulk.

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De Cocksdorp

De Cocksdorp started in 1835 near the small harbor, where de Roggesloot lead into the Eierlandse Gat. First it was called Nieuwdorp, but after only a few months it was renamed after Nicolas Joseph de Cock. On the first of June 1836 De Cocksdorp already had 323 inhabitants. There was an inn annex shop, a bakery and a forge. The "Sociëteit van Eierland" was busy with the building of farms and houses. The Dutch Reformed church of De Cocksdorp was finished in 1841 and in 1877 the Roman Catholics too had their own church.


Dutch Reformed Church De Cocksdorp

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For better or for worse

The agriculture was not immediately a success in the new polder. It was too sandy and a lot of manure was needed. The first farmers got a salary of f 300,- a year from the Sociëteit van Eierland, and also a free house, free food for four cows, four pigs, seven chickens and a cock, f 120,- a year for beer, and so on. So their income was guaranteed. Each farmer was assisted by five farm hands, who were hired from the first of March to the first of December each year. They were allowed to stay in the winter, but only got boarding during the the months December, January and February. There were also six agricultrural laborers for each 100 hectares. They got a salary of f 1,10 a day in the summer, and were paid f 0,80 in the winter. Women and children also were allowed to work, but got at most a salary of 0,50 a day. In the summer the laborers worked 12 hours a day, six days a week.

According to a report of 1846, the situation was not so bad. Compared with the laborers in the cities, the agricultural workers in Eierland lived a better life. Everyone had a job, and although there was a potato disease in 1846, no one in the polder needed support from the municipality or the churches. But the housing and education was unfavourable. Most laborers lived in huts, built with materials like sods or wood from the beach. The children usually did not get an education, but worked with their parents. There was not much contact with the original population of Texel, who had a different lifestyle. The Sociëteit van Eierland divided her properties between the shareholders, and the farmers became tenants. Some of them were able to buy a farm.

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Emigration

In the second half of the nineteenth century a lot of people left Eierland. Some of them moved to new reclamations in the Netherlands, like the Haarlemmermeer. The living conditions became worse, due to disappointing harvests and the mechanisation of the agriculture. Less people were needed. From 1873 on there was a big agricultural crisis in the Netherlands, caused by the import of cheap American corn. Between 1850 and 1920 about 1500 residents of Texel emigrated, half of them came from Eierland. In addition to the economic reasons, family ties were important for the emigration. Some of the emigrants were well-to-do, but the most emigrants did not have much property.

The vast majority of the emigrants went to the United States of America. There were concentrations of former Texel people in Holland, Michigan and in Paterson, New Jersey. A couple of oyster fishers continued this occupation in West Sayville, Long Island, New York. More detailed information organized by surname is available on the emigration section of this site.

Sources: "de Convexe Kustboog 1 en 2", " 't Lant van Texsel", "Boerderijenboek", "Hijijij ... is naar Amerika".

© Miriam Klaassen March 2002

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Miriam Klaassen