The Johanna Margaret te Selle – Fries History
Recorded by her daughter
Jackie Tamas, Taos, New Mexico
Margaret Fries was born February 26, 1910, on Fruitland Mesa, Colorado, at home during a snowstorm. Fruitland Mesa is about 7 miles from Crawford and further away from Montrose. The mesa is separated from everything by canyons, more or less; there was a canyon between the Mesa and Crawford. When I was born, the doctor couldn’t get there, so Mrs. Hitna, a neighbor from across the road helped Mother. Lillie is 10 years older than I and Gene was… there was a little over a year between Lillie and Gene, I think. Gene must have been 8 or 9 years older and Edwin was 2 years older. There was Lawrence who was born between Edwin and Gene; he drowned in a ditch when he was 2 years old. Dad [Jan Willem TeSelle] and a friend of his had walked out to the field, Lawrence followed them, and they didn’t know it. My oldest sister, Amy, was three when she died of spinal meningitis; she was 2 years older than Lillie. Dad just adored that little girl.
I was 3 years old when Carolyn was born; a little curly redhead. A school teacher was living with us when Mother was carrying Carolyn and Dad always said that Carolyn was more like the schoolteacher than anybody else in the family; that hotheaded, redheaded schoolteacher. We always laughed about that, but she was a cute little thing, she was a darling little kid. When she was about 6 years old, she could sing so and she played the piano. She did everything and she sang “Santa Claus Brought Me a Dolly”. She was a little tyke, she started singing when she was little. I was more on the piano side, I didn’t sing a lot. Mother was a wonderful pianist.
What was your Mother’s name?
Her name was Gertrude Vanderbeeck. Her father was a musician. He conducted an orchestra, a haphazard thing, but nonetheless, an orchestra in….
Mother had learned to play when she was a young girl, she played for everything. She and Lillie used to play a song called “Storm”. And you could really feel the storm in that, the lightning and the thunder. I used to love to hear them play that song. Many times we had a bachelor called Freeman Schaap that used to come to play with us. We all liked him a lot. He played the violin real well, but he had asthma. He came to stay with us a lot because the air was clearer in Colorado than it was in Iowa. He played the violin. Dad played the clarinet, I believe. Edwin played the trumpet and Gene played the trombone. So we always had music in our house. Whether it was very good or not, but we all liked music. The house that I was born in was already built. We had to pioneer out there. Dad built the house.
Where did he move from?
The state of Washington, Yakima Valley, Washington. He was a minister in Nebraska or Iowa. [Jan Willem TeSelle’s first church assignment was in Carmel, Iowa.] He said that it made him awfully nervous to be everything in the church, the advisor, the counselor, the preacher, everything, and Mother was the organist. He felt he was getting close to a nervous breakdown. He couldn’t handle it anymore. He said that those women, the women would gossip against each other and complain to him about the others. He just couldn’t take it anymore. He had heard about Yakima Valley. There were a lot of Dutchmen, people from The Netherlands.
His family pioneered in Iowa. They lived in dugouts while their houses were built; Dad’s family. They came from the Netherlands and settled in Iowa. [It was difficulties at the Yakima church that prompted the move to Colorado.] Because that part of the country, Colorado, was just right for pioneering. You could get a homestead if you just lived on it and put a fence around it. They farmed.
He was born in Iowa?
I am pretty sure. From the State of Washington, he had heard of Fruitland Mesa where it was a good place to raise fruit and cattle. It was a dry area. They were putting in irrigation so you can get water from the mountains. So he and the Sipmas, the Grottenhauses; I think their daughter was a Sipmas-DenBestes. Their families all moved there.
He built our house. We had a basement with a furnace and a lot of storage space and the first floor had a living room, dining room, kitchen, and a bedroom, and space for a bathroom, but we never had a bathroom. We had to take our baths in a tub there. We did have running water because it came from a cistern up higher, but we had to go to the toilet outside, an outhouse. I think that was one reason Mother didn’t live past 53; she was just worn out.
The bathrooms, you know when you are pregnant and have a baby and all that, imagine, living that way with an outhouse and five children, to cook and bake. You couldn’t buy fresh bread, you had to bake it. Everything you ate you had to bake. She had to wash with a scrub-board and hang it on the line. Imagine in the winter hanging the wash on the line. It wasn’t bad in the summers. Washing for all those children, the sheets and clothing. She did the sewing for most of us. I don’t know how she did it. We have so many gadgets these days and we still think we can’t do it all.
Do you remember what year she died?
I was 11. She died the first of April. It was a cold day in 1921. She was pretty paralyzed about the last 6 – 9 months. She started having mild convulsions. You could tell something was wrong with her but we didn’t know what. They said it was her nerves. But I felt she had a brain tumor. The doctor thought it could have been pernicious anemia, from what I described her illness. We had to feed her and take care of her the last 6 months of her life.
This was all in Colorado?
Yes. I remember one time everybody got the flu except Dad and me and maybe Mother, whether Lillie was home or not. Lillie went off to school in Gunnison to college. She had graduated, she went to high school in Hotchkiss [Colorado], so she was gone 4 years in Hotchkiss. She stayed with people in Hotchkiss and went to high school and then she went off to college, and that is where she met Sherm [Sherman Neilson, whom Lillie later married], at a two-year college.
I never went to high school in Colorado. We moved to Iowa the year I was ready for the eighth grade. I was 13 when Dad went to [Matlock,] Iowa, he accepted a call for a church there.
Dad built the house, the first floor, then the top, the second floor had 3 bedrooms and each one had a balcony. He bought a Delco plant so we had our own electric light system. Then, he built the big, red, round barn.
Why did he build it round?
I don’t know, that’s the way he could put the lumber together without having long, long boards. The first floor had the cattle and extensions where you could lock the cattle in and they could feed there and that’s where we milked them, too. The second floor had hay and the silo was in the middle for storage. He had fixed it so that the barn was built with a ramp. I have an article on it somewhere. You drive up there and you had a sort of big, round barrel with spokes through it. A horse would pull that barrel up and he had his cement, sand, and water in that thing. As it rolled up that ramp, it made material for building the silo. So that’s the way he built the silo. He built the frame and then he filled it in by driving it up that ramp, putting it in the chute and poured down into the silo. That’s what we fed the cattle with. Gene helped him mostly. Of course, he had other people come, neighbors, with fall thrashing, etc. We had a machine shop. He did a lot of his own shoeing, branding of the animals.
You not only had cattle, but also had horses?
We had to farm with horses. We raised sunflowers and that’s what we mostly made our ensilage out of, for the silo to feed the cattle. Of course, we had some hay. They just fed hay to them, a lot of hay. We didn’t put that in the silo.
Different kinds of grain, lots of fruit – we had apples, apricots, and prunes. We dried them in the summertime so that we could have fruit for the winter, so we didn’t have to can them all. We dried them with cheesecloth in the sun. Colorado was dry, we dried them in a few days. We kids had to take care of that. Put them between two sawhorses. We had a garden. We raised all our vegetables, corn. We had chickens, and some beef. We canned them in the summer so we would have fresh beef in wintertime. I loved good canned beef. Home canned meat, there was nothing better.
We used a woodstove to heat our iron on. It would sit on the stove and you would be ready with a hot iron most of the time. That’s where mother boiled the clothes in a great big thing that you boiled the clothes in so they would get nice and white and clean. We always had clean clothes.
We had an oven. We used to sit with our feet on the oven door sometimes in order to be nice and warm.
We did have a furnace and the openings would come into all the rooms. So we did have heat, but our bedrooms upstairs would get pretty chilly. The furnace was in the basement and used wood. The electricity was used only for lighting. We used it for our separating machine to separate the cream out of milk because we sold the cream, most of it.
There was a man who would pick it up every week or so. We kept it cool in a concrete building. Dad had it fixed so that the water, a sort of container on the inside and the outside most of the way around that concrete building and it kept the building cool in the summertime as well as the wintertime.
How did he keep the water flowing?
There were openings at the bottom, various openings at different spaces and the water would circulate from the inside to the outside and vice versa. The water would come from the mountains. That’s where our water came from. It would be piped into that. It was a square building. Inside and outside you have container walls that that water was in. And at the bottom of the center wall, the water would flow back and forth between the two.
You’ll have to draw a picture, I don’t think I understand how he did that.
What did you use for lights before electricity? When did you get electricity?
We had kerosene lamps. We were the only ones in the area that had electric lights. Everybody else had kerosene. The machinery for the electricity was shipped in.
I went to school on the Mesa up to almost to the 8th grade. First it was a one-room school because we didn’t have that many children. Then later on we built a new school and we had a two-room school. This was in Fruitland Mesa.
There were a lot of families. We had quite a group. The Mesa was big. I remember when we were in the one-room school, we had our schoolhouse in a field where a man kept sheep. And I remember once there was a ram and he was kind of mean. He used to chase us. And one time he got away from the rest of the flock and he chased us into the room and knocked down the door. Were we kids scared. I don’t remember how that turned out, but he didn’t hurt any of us. He had horns. Then they built another schoolhouse. I believe that Dad gave part of his property to build the two-room school.
Of course, more people moved out there. Edwin remembers a lot of them, the newcomers, but I don’t remember them very well.
Then Mother died on a cold, April day, I believe it was the 4th of April, real cold. We buried her in the cemetery in Crawford, Colorado. There are one or two children buried there, also. Maybe Carolyn can remember about that. Then Dad was discouraged because he felt that he wasn’t really getting anywhere, wasn’t paying off the government for the property, so he accepted the call to a church in Iowa. We abandoned the house. You take all your property, all that you can take with you, and leave it. So, we shipped the cattle by train. Gene and Edwin went with the cattle. They sold them in Iowa at an auction. Gene never got to go to high school because he was needed on the farm. Lillie was the only one that went to high school, until Edwin was ready when we went to Iowa. He stayed with Grandpa and Aunt Winifred Bogaard. They lived in Orange City. That’s where Edwin went to school for a year. Next year I went to school there, too. Edwin was a junior or senior. Edwin ate his meals at a sort of boarding house but his room was at Grandpa Bogaard’s, Jeannette’s father, Amy, Muriel, and Phyllis’ mother.
[Website comment from Sarah Feisser, daughter of Amy Irene TeSelle Sheldon, on October 9, 2015: “Jeannette Bogaard was the mother of Anna Jean Bogaard and Paul Bogaard by a previous marriage. After Jeannette married Jan Willem TeSelle in 1923, they had four children together: a son James (1924-1945), and three daughters — Muriel (1925-1997), Amy (1926- ), and Phyllis (1927- ). Therefore, Margaret was the half-sister of James, Muriel, Amy, and Phyllis, and she was the step-sister of Anna Jean Bogaard Hoffmeyer and Paul Bogaard.“]
Grandpa Bogaard was a nice old gentleman, we got along real well. We kind of liked each other. We had to walk almost a mile to school and in northern Iowa, it wasn’t too far from Minnesota, in all kinds of weather. I remember I walked to school back and forth every day but sometimes I remember coming home for lunch. Why I came home for lunch I don’t know because Aunt Winifred didn’t make lunches. I stayed there, too. That’s kind of vague.
Edwin graduated and I stayed home the next year because Mother Te Selle thought that I wasn’t well enough because they said I had a heart murmur. As it happened I had the measles when I was in the 8th grade in Matlock and I really never got over it very well. Matlock is in Iowa, that’s where Dad got his call for church. We all got the measles but I had a bad case of it and just couldn’t get rid of the cough and I think that’s when my thyroid was damaged and they said I had a heart murmur.
But I had walked to school all that first year in high school and I don’t know that it hurt me all that much, but I’d get palpitations in my heart occasionally, not very often, but often enough that they scared me. I would go to an osteopath there and she would press on my chest and it would stop. I remember that she lived in a hotel about halfway between Grandpa’s house and the Academy [Northwestern Classical Academy, Orange City, Iowa], so when I would feel bad I would stop and she would give me a good massage and make me feel better.
Mother [Jeannette] thought that I ought to stay home the next year and not go to high school. I clerked in Westerman’s store. I started clerking for them right after I got back from school. By the way, before I ever graduated, I never really graduated from the 8th grade, I went to work for Uncle Arnold Bogaard, they lived north of Sheldon and I worked there all summer on the farm. That was about 4 miles west of Matlock. I really shouldn’t have been working that hard, I guess, but I did. I think it hurt me a little bit after having the measles. We got along real well.
So I worked for the Westerman’s. So Rhinert Westerman, he kind of liked me and his folks took me to their heart. They treated me just like a daughter almost, while I worked for them. They would take me to Sheldon to movies and shows and things. They saw to it that I was entertained.
Rhinert and Edwin went to air mechanic school. They learned all about airplane motors. They went to California and went to school there together. I think the Westermans treated me as nicely as they did and as well as they did because they knew that I never got any of the money that I earned. I worked from 8 in the morning until 6 at night. On Wednesday and Saturday nights I worked until 9 or 10. I never got any of the money because I countersigned the checks to Dad and Dad would put them in the bank. Dad supported the family on my income. I made about as much as he did a month. He was supposed to get $100 a month, but he didn’t get that much. These growing children, everybody needed money, so I guess I paid a lot of the grocery bill each month with my check. I think the Westermans knew that, even though nothing was ever said.
Anna Jean [Bogaard] and I, then, started school back at Orange City together again. I was a Sophomore and she was a Freshman. Anna Jean was my stepsister. There was a stepbrother, Paul. Anna Jean was 2 years older than Paul and a year younger than me. Paul and I got along real well, too. We used to ride bicycles together. Paul was a nice kid. While I was in high school and Edwin still went to school there. No, by the time Anna Jean went back, Edwin had graduated, I believe. But Edwin went to work on a farm not too far from Matlock. I finished high school there. Anna Jean got married to Harry Hoffmeyer, so she never finished.
My last year I was at Grandpa’s alone again. Then Rhinert had come back from California. He used to come every Sunday night to see me. The girls would go to Sunday evening church or young people’s meetings at churches throughout Orange City. Afterwards the girls would walk up and down the main street and the boys would come along and pick them up. Rhinert thought that was so funny. I never did, you know. He liked to ride down that street and watch the fellas pick up the girls for a date. He was so nice to me. I think the Westermans thought that we were going to get married, but they sold their store. He might have gotten serious, I don’t know, but I knew I didn’t love him all that much. I liked him. When we said goodbye, I knew that was the end of that.
Then I taught school, I graduated and taught school for 2 years in a one-room school about a mile and half east of Matlock. There, too, I had to walk in the cold winter weather and have the room warm enough for the children when they came to school. But then, the folks took a call to Little Rock, Iowa, which was about 20 miles away. Then I stayed with a family that lived close to the school and finished my second teaching year living with them. By that time I had my own money and saved some of it for college.
Gene married Hildegarde and Hildegarde and Gene were home one time. She said to me, “Would you like to go to college here in Ames?”, and I said that I would, I would like to take interior decorating. She asked Dean Roberts if she would hire me for a summer and get ready for the fall season. Dean Roberts was Dean of the junior college.
Hildegarde was leaving her job because she had Gene, Jr. by that time. Dean Roberts said she would try me. That was a riot. I went in there, I wasn’t a dumb girl, but I was brave enough to try anything. She asked if I could take shorthand. Well, the last year of high school I used the office to try and learn shorthand and typing. I learned typing pretty good, but I never could get the shorthand very well because there wasn’t anybody to really work with me on it. I told her that I could take a little shorthand.
One time she had a letter that was typed, but she wanted me to type a postscript on it and she said, “Here, take this down.” So, I took something down in short-hand and I couldn’t read it afterwards. It was horrible. I had to tell her. Then she said I was working for her for 2 weeks. I had to file and I had to do a little typing of envelopes and form letters. I did that pretty good. After I had been there 2 weeks she said, “Well, I guess we will keep you.” She put me in charge of the envelopes for the engineers. There were 6 counselors and I had to keep envelopes for them, all the material for all the junior college engineers.
[Postscript: Margaret TeSelle attended Iowa State College, Ames. While there, she met and married Jack C. Fries, an engineering student. Then she graduated in May 1936.]
Footnotes checked by
Ellen Te Selle – Boal
. Born: Carmel, Iowa, December 8, 1899
. Born: Hospers, Iowa, July 10, 1901
. Born: Crawford, Colorado, February 12, 1908
. Born: Hospers, Iowa, October 25, 1904; Died: Crawford, June 21, 1906
. Born: Carmel, Iowa, October 8, 1898: Died: Carmel, February 16, 1900
. Born: Crawford, Colorado, May 11, 1913
. Geertje van der Beek – Born: Roseland, May 12, 1871
Geertje van der Beek wrote in her own Bible that her birthplace was South Holland (Cook County), Illinois. Her death certificate says Rosland, IL. One place may be the post office, another where they lived. South Holland is on the map, and Roseland (or Rosland) is not. She was never called Gertrude, she was baptized Geertje, but was called Gertie since that sounded more American.
. Born: Oostburg, Wisconsin, January 31, 1867
. Dutch name: Te Grotenhuis
 Crawford, Colorado, March 4, 1922 (The death certificate says cause of death was Chronic Valvular Heart Disease)
. Crawford, Colorado, March 4, 1922
. Lawrence and an unnamed “baby”: The baby was born April 30, 1907, and died May 14, 1907 in Crawford, Colorado.
. Probably 1922 is correct.
. Jeannette W. Bogaard: Born on 23 July 1884; married J.W. Te Selle in Matlock, Sioux County, Iowa in 1923.
. Margaret Fries’ photo of Westerman spelled his name as “Rhinert”. Dutch: Reinaart/Reinard Westerman or German: Reinhard Westermann
Commentary by Ellen Te Selle-Boal: “I believe I found the answer to the questions “were the Westermans German or Dutch?” I asked Carolyn TeSelle Valentine, who grew up with Margaret and the Westermans in Matlock, Iowa. She didn’t remember if they were Dutch, but she definitely pronounced the name “Reinaart” and not “Reinard” or “Reinhard”, which seems to prove that they were of Dutch ancestry.”
. Hildegarde Christine Flynn: Born Postville, Allamakee County, Iowa, March 21, 1904