Along with a dose of Dutch goodies comes a piece of sad Pella history.
Maria Scholte, wife of Hendrik, came to Pella with her husband in 1847. A product of a European education in Amsterdam and Paris, and from a wealthy family, Maria had been reluctant to move the wilds of America. After all, she had a stately home and servants in the Netherlands.
But the situation there was one of persecution of her husband and his followers, who rejected the state religion and wanted the freedom to worship on their own.
Promising his wife a beautiful home in their new country, Maria alighted from her carriage at what is now Pella but was then a prairie landscape. “But Dominie [Dutch for “Pastor”], where is Pella?”
“Ah, Maria, we will build a beautiful Pella,” he replied.
Maria did not take well to this pronouncement and spent the next several weeks bereft in the log cabin on the site. Her one ray of hope was that her lovely Delft dishes would be arriving soon.
The portentous day finally arrived. Hendrik pried open the wooden-slatted box, and Maria dug anxiously, looking for her prized dishes.
Everyone stood aghast as she picked out pieces of her Delft, one by one. Only a very few of the plates remained in one piece. Maria was heartbroken.
Six months later, when the grand new home was built just a few yards away from the log cabin where the family had been living, Maria used the broken pieces to make a path of Delft from the cabin door to the door of the new home. Workers putting in what is now Highway 163 found pieces of the Delft in the 1950s and ‘60s.
Today we honor Maria’s story with a tea room in her honor, located inside the Scholte House. Pieces of her original Delft will be on display.
Maria’s Tea Room opens April 17 and will be open Monday through Saturday by appointment only, with seatings at 2:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. The pre-set menu will include Dutch "coffee time" items from bakeries and meat markets in Pella.
Reservations can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (641) 620-9463.
Photo courtesy Pella Historical Society & Museums, www.pellahistorical.org.