|Baron de Bastrop|
The Kingdom of The Netherlands was fairly quick to recognize the Republic of Texas and establish full diplomatic relations. When the Kingdom of Belgium did so, the Dutch did not want to be left out and so did the same, opening a Dutch embassy in Austin and welcoming a Texan ambassador to Amsterdam. The Kingdoms of France, Belgium and The Netherlands were the only European countries to fully recognize the Republic of Texas as a sovereign state. Dutch settlers, however, were slow to come to Texas, though there was some trade between Texas and the Netherlands and Dutch colonies in the Caribbean and South America. Dutch settlement in Texas would never be extensive but it did pick up after the end of the American Civil War. One early group was led by Pieter Nieveen and a man named Mr. Roelofs who brought Dutch settlers to establish a farming colony in Denton County. Unfortunately, the enterprise was not a success. Another Dutch colony was attempted at Gothland but met a similar fate. However, in 1895 a group of Dutch businessmen started the Port Arthur Land Company and bought 66,000 acres of prairie land in southeast Texas for resale at $8 per acre. The first Dutch immigrant to buy some of the land was George Rienstra in 1897 and a few months later about fifty Dutch families followed him to start a new life in Texas. To house them while their new homes were built they constructed the Orange Hotel named in honor of the Dutch Royal Family. This little settlement became what is now the town of Nederland east of Houston.
Over the years the Dutch-Texans became known for their religious faith, family ties and uniquely Dutch habits. Unlike other Texans, they saved their horses for plowing and walked everywhere. They saved their money and never bought on credit and whereas most Texans love eating tomatoes raw with a little salt, the Dutch figured that, being a fruit, tomatoes should be eaten stewed with sugar and cornstarch. There were also a number of Dutch natives who became notable throughout Texas history such as David Levi Kokernot who was born in Amsterdam but later moved to New Orleans were he became a pilot and eventually bought his own ship. While hunting smugglers on the Texas coast, he shipwrecked at Anahuac and ended up joining the local Texas forces in the War for Independence. He became good friends with General Sam Houston who, after becoming the first President of the Republic of Texas, gave Kokernot a number of special jobs and he was even the captain of a company of Texas Rangers for eleven years. His sons later grew up to be major cattle ranchers in West Texas. Descendants of his are still working in the cattle business in the area west of Fort Davis. Another Dutch family who came to Texas was that of Maarten and Antje Koelemay who settled with their eight children in Nederland. After having no luck at the cheese business the sons became railroad workers while living at the Orange Hotel which their father managed until 1915 when a storm forced the historic hotel to close.