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.
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:
Dutch Reformed Church De Cocksdorp
For better or for worse
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.
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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