Dutch immigration to Iowa began with the settlement of Pella in the summer of 1847, founded by Hendrik P. Scholte. [1.]

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One of the earliest members of the TeSelle family to settle in Iowa was Harmen Jan te Selle (1839-1916). Harmen Jan emigrated from Winterswijk, Netherlands, in 1866, and settled in Holland Township, Wisconsin. He married Willemina Johanna Ormel in 1873, and they had three children by 1878. Sometime within the next two years, the family moved from Wisconsin to eastern Iowa, settling in West Branch, Cedar County, Iowa, where their fourth child, Benjamin, was born in January 1880, probably the first TeSelle family member born in Iowa. Sometime between 1880 and 1882, the family moved again, this time 300+ miles to the northwest corner of Iowa, where they settled in Orange City, Sioux County, Iowa. Five additional children were born between 1882 and 1889. However, their moving days were not over. By 1991 Harmen Jan te Selle and his family had moved to Manhattan, Gallatin County, Montana. Read the profile of Harmen Jan te Selle (1839-1916) for more of his story.

Another prominent TeSelle family member in Iowa was Jan Willem (John William) TeSelle (1867-1945). Jan Willem was born in Oostburg, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin. When Jan Willem was only 3 years old, his father, Jan Hendrik te Selle (1838-1921) moved the family to a farm in Lancaster County, Nebraska. Jan Willem learned farming skills as he grew up, but he chose to pursue a career in the ministry. In 1897 Jan Willem graduated from Western Michigan Theological Seminary, married Geertje VanderBeek, and was assigned to a church in Carmel, Sioux County, Iowa, where he served from 1897 until 1904. During that time in Carmel, Jan Willem and Geertje had four children.

Jan Willem left Iowa for a number of years. First, he transferred to a church in Yakima, Washington. Then he decided to leave the ministry entirely and became a farmer and rancher near Crawford, Delta County, Colorado. Jan Willem and his family stayed in Colorado for almost 20 years, during which time he and Geertje had four more children, one of whom died in infancy. Eventually, Jan Willem encountered financial difficulties on the farm, his wife Geertje died, and Jan Willem was left on his own with five children. At age 55 Jan Willem decided to abandon the Colorado farm and return to the ministry.

In 1923 Jan Willem accepted a call to serve a church in Matlock, Iowa. He married Jeannette W. Bogaard that same year, and they subsequently had four children to go along with the five children Jan Willem brought with him from Colorado. Sometime between 1930 and 1936 Jan Willem retired from the ministry in Iowa and moved his family back to his boyhood home in Firth, Lancaster County, Nebraska, where he lived until his death. Jan Willem was a creative man and a fascinating figure not only in Iowa, but also in Washington, Colorado, and Nebraska. Please read the profile of Jan Willem (John William) TeSelle (1867-1945). to get more details about his colorful life.





  1. Lucas, Henry Stephen, “Netherlanders in America: 1789-1950”  p. 151