Yesterday, on April 18, a new historical marker was unveiled in Pender County honoring the farming community of Van Eeden. Van Eeden was located north of Burgaw and was owned by Hugh MacRae, who tried to start a farm colony with Dutch settlers there in the early 1900s that was named for Frederik Van Eeden, a Dutch psychiatrist and author, who helped MacRae recruit Dutch immigrants.
We digitized a pamphlet that was put out in the Netherlands to promote the colony in 1913. The pamphlet is in Dutch and English.
The colony was not very successful, but in the late 1930s, it fulfilled a new purpose. Alvin Johnson, the founder of the New School in New York, was working hard to bring as many Jewish refugees from Germany as possible, but was having difficulty working through the rules of the State Department. He found a loophole in the law though; there was no quota on those who came as farm workers. Working with MacRae, Johnson brought several Jewish families to Van Eeden to escape the Nazis. Susan Block wrote a book about the experience of those families who came from Germany and adjusting to life on a farm in eastern North Carolina titled Van Eeden, which we digitized as well.