Zeeland ( ZEE-lənd) is a city in Ottawa County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 5,504 at the 2010 census. The city is located at the western edge of Zeeland Charter Township. Its name is taken from the Dutch province of Zeeland. In 1847, nearly 500 Dutch citizens sailed for America ostensibly to achieve religious freedom, although their decision to immigrate was probably also influenced by other factors, such as their failure to thrive under dire economic conditions in their home province of Zeeland, Netherlands and their opposition to modern scientific and social advances of the time. The emigrants were led by Jannes van de Luijster, a wealthy landowner who sold his holdings in the Netherlands to advance money for the members to pay their debts and buy passage to America. Their settlement, some 16,000 acres (65 km2) of land once occupied by the Odawa people, was named after their home province of Zeeland.
Van de Luyster arranged for three ships to sail for the United States. He came on the first ship, arriving on June 27, 1847. He was followed by the Steketee group on July 4, and Reverend Van Der Meulen’s group on August 1 of that year. The total number of settlers was 457. The first building was a church. The town of Zeeland was platted in 1849, and the school district was organized the following year. Within twenty-five years, Zeeland had acquired a sawmill, a wagon factory, blacksmith shops, grocery stores, and a post office.
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