Seeking religious liberty and better economic opportunity in a new land, the Reverend Seine Bolks and a congregation of about two dozen families, left Hellendoorn, Province of Overisel, The Netherlands, on August 18, 1847. The group wintered in Syracuse, New York, before continuing its journey to "Black Lake County" (present-day Lake Macatawa) in Michigan. The Overisel settlers joined Dutch immigrants in the Holland settlement in June, 1848. They selected land and pooled the gold they had brought with them to purchase 2,000 acres of land from the government and speculators. Prices ranged from $1.25 to $3.00 per acre, and land assignments were determined by lot. The settlers then established the village of Overisel.
Overisel Reformed Church
The Dutch immigrants who established the Overisel congregation in June, 1848 worshipped in homes until a log church was built in 1849. The congregation affiliated with the Reformed Church in America in 1850 and built a larger, frame church in 1851. This Greek Revival Church was erected in 1866 and is one of the oldest extant Reformed church buildings in Michigan. The steeple was added in 1868. The value placed on education by the Overisel congregation is demonstrated by the unusually high number of members who have become ministers, missionaries, educators, scientists and other professionals. Among them was Dr. Gerrit J. Kollen, who was president of Hope College from 1893 to 1911.