The history of the TeSelle family in Nebraska is largely the history of three te Selle brothers that emigrated from Winterswijk, Netherlands, to the United States in the mid-1800’s:
- Jan Hendrik te Selle (1838-1921), aka John Henry TeSelle*
- Gerrit Jan te Selle (1841-1921), aka Gerrit John TeSelle*
- Harmen Jan te Selle (1844-1919), aka Herman John TeSelle*
Jan Hendrik and Harmen Jan emigrated in 1865, settling first near Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where their Aunt Janna te Selle Bloemers lived. In 1870 Jan Hendrik moved to Nebraska, followed by Harmen Jan in 1871. Those two brothers eventually settled in Lancaster County, Nebraska, south of Lincoln near the present day towns of Firth and Panama. The third brother, Gerrit Jan, joined them in 1873.
The three brothers had a total of 28 children that survived to adulthood, and those children gave the brothers more than 100 grandchildren! Many of the children and grandchildren remained in Lancaster County and were actively involved in the growth and prosperity of that part of Nebraska.
The story of these three brothers was compiled and preserved by Norma TeSelle Prophet (1923-2009) in preparation for a TeSelle Family Reunion in August 1989 in Lincoln, Nebraska. More than 230 descendants of the three brothers attended! For the reunion, Norma had prepared a series of large pictorial posterboard panels showing contemporary photos, lineage charts, farm production reports, census reports, plat maps, etc. After the reunion, these panels were stored in Norma’s attic. They were only brought out occasionally for interested family members.
In 2010 after Norma’s death, Norma’s daughter Su Zanna K. Prophet had the foresight to scan the panels into digital format, so that they could be preserved electronically and could be more easily shared with family members. She also prepared a printed book containing copies of the panels. She has generously shared the panels and the book with us so that they can be included as part of this website. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Norma for initially creating these panels and to her daughter Su Zanna for preserving these panels in a digital format that can be shared with many Te Selle family members for years to come. Please visit the website section called “TeSelle Family Reunion of 1989 – Lincoln, Nebraska” and enjoy the story of the TeSelle family in Nebraska.
*Note: In this website, we have adopted the convention that the family name is spelled “te Selle” for those individuals born in the Netherlands, and spelled “TeSelle” for those born in the United States. However, it was not unusual for early te Selle immigrants such as the three brothers to have their Dutch name Americanized as “TeSelle.”