During the Gilded Age in 1868, following the death of the woman he loved and their unborn child, HARKE De JONG flees his Dutch homeland with only a packet of old love letters and a promissory note from George Washington to claim his heritage in the New World.
Harke DeJong had loved Lainie Van Huel since the moment he first saw her, but her family were members of the liberal elite who ruled the Dutch government, and Harke's father was the leader of a group of Dutch Seceders who secretly opposed the liberal views of the state church. When Lainie's body is discovered floating in a rain-swollen stream, her brother, Dirk, threatens to bring ruin upon Harke's family in retaliation for her death. Haunted by grief over Lainie's death and consumed by guilt for the hardships now facing his family, Harke flees his homeland to seek a better life in America.
Armed with an old promissory note from George Washington and a packet of love letters written to his grandmother by a Dutch privateer, he sets out to pursue his fortune. On the way to America, he befriends Jelle Schippers, a naïve young man traveling to Wisconsin in the hopes of rescuing his uncle from financial ruin, and Catherine Weller, the independent daughter of an American railroad baron. Hank soon learns that his ability to survive in the American West depends on his ability to navigate a world filled with greed and graft, fueled by the siren's call of railroad speculation. When Catherine is kidnapped and Jelle is murdered in an attempt to recover the promissory note, Hark is forced to come to grips with his guilt and leave the past behind in order to find redemption and learn to love again.
The Dutchman is a heartfelt and moving account of a young man's journey to redemption and self-awareness set against the backdrop of the Gilded Age of railroad expansion in America. Award-winning author, Wanda DeHaven Pyle taps into an old family legend to create a portrait of a nation on the brink of change.