The history of the TeSelle family in Colorado can be traced back to Jan Willem TeSelle (1867-1945). Jan Willem TeSelle, son of Jan Hendrik te Selle (1838-1921) and Hanna Berendina Onnink (1841-1929), was born in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin in 1867. At age 3 his family moved to Lancaster County, Nebraska, where Jan Willem grew up on his father’s farm. In 1897 he married Geertje VanderBeek (1871-1922), and in that same year, Jan Willem graduated from Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan.

His first church assignment was in Carmel, Iowa. During his time in Carmel, Jan Willem heard stories about Yakima Valley, in the State of Washington, where many Dutch immigrants had settled. He eventually decided to transfer to a new church in the town of North Yakima, Washington.

However, Jan Willem soon became overwhelmed by all of his responsibilities as the minister — advisor, counselor, preacher, fundraiser, bookkeeper, etc, and his wife Geertje was the church organist. In addition, he said that the church women would gossip against each other and complain to him about the others. Finally, Jan Willem just couldn’t take it anymore. [1. From a history written by Johanna Margaret TeSelle Fries, Jan Willem’s daughter.]

While in North Yakima, Jan Willem had heard about the State of Colorado, and the fertile farmland that was available for homesteading. Sometime around 1904, he moved his family to Fruitland Mesa near Crawford, Colorado. where he planned to farm, grow fruit, and raise cattle. Jan Willem stayed in Colorado for almost 20 years. For more information, please read the Jan Willem TeSelle Profile Page.