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Holland entrepreneurs Pfanstiehl and Plugger

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Peter Pfanstiehl and Aldert Plugger are two unfamiliar but important early Holland entrepreneurs.

Aldert Plugger was born in The Netherlands in 1809. In 1850, at age 41, he married Heijltje Schaap, 24, in a ceremony performed by Albertus Van Raalte. Together, they had six children.

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In 1852, Plugger had a shipping business that carried passengers and commodities between Holland and Chicago. In 1853, he made 11 trips to Chicago carrying oats, hay, potash, shingles and bark. On the way back, he took processed food, such as flour. 

Steve VanderVeen

That’s noteworthy because Holland didn’t have a good harbor — its entrance was narrow and sand-filled, which prevented large ships from entering. It therefore didn’t provide safety during storms.

In 1853, Plugger employed 14 men to build ships. In 1856, he purchased a two-thirds interest in the flour and lumber mill White, Vyn and Company, located on River Avenue near Fifth Street. Because shipping flour was expensive, when farmers started growing grain, entrepreneurs built mills.

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