Letter 3-b

Letters From America

Date (sent): 21 October 1867
Writer: Harmen Jan te Selle
Place: Wisconsin
Addressee: Derk Willem te Selle
Address (sent to): Fökkink farm, Winterswijk, NL


Harmen Jan inquires about his older brother Gerrit Jan, who was supposed to get married last May.

Harmen Jan describes the sale of some of his forest land, which apparently was not worth much since lumber is so abundant. He describes how he still has quite a lot of land remaining, as well as several types of livestock.

He asks his oldest brother Derk Willem to please send a large-size Bible like the one back on the Fökkink farm. Harmen Jan often thinks, "I wish I had that big Bible."

When you write us again, please let us know whether brother Gerrit Jan has already got married or not. When we left Holland, he was to get married in May afterwards. And still I have not heard anything about it. Please write where he is and what he does.

Some time ago we sold 30 acres of land. Most of it was forestland, because forestland does not fetch a great deal of money. Besides we have enough land to farm and lumber is not worth much here. And it would cost too much money to cut it and turn it into arable land, because day wages are too high here. Leaving it fallow does not bring in much and the earnest money is very high here. We got 750 Dollars for it and we have the money put out at 8 percent, which comes to an interest of 60 dollars. And that is more than lumber would bring in. Because the wood is just used for firewood. We have 15 more acres of that and before we have burned all that wood I think several years will have passed.

We still have quite a large farm: 40 acres of arable land, 10 acres of hay land and 10 acres of pastures for the cattle. We have got 2 horses, and 2 big heavy oxen and 2 young oxen over two years old and two-year-old oxen as well as 2 young calves and then 2 colts and 2 cows. We sold 4 sheep in May of this year, so we only have 2 cows left at the moment, because one cannot get any money for the butter here. Only shop goods. This means that one cannot keep so many cows and there is no need to keep any cattle for the manure. Just having yokes is the most important thing here. Altogether we have got 18 heads of cattle.

When you write me, please let me know whether some of the young folk, like my friends there, have already got married. And whether the boys down at “Harmshuis” are still at home. I have to end here, but I should like to make a request, Brother. Should there be an opportunity, I should like to have such a large-size Bible like the one you have. For, as often as I read and do not understand I always think: “I wish I had that big Bible”.

I have to end here. Greetings from me and my wife.

Harmen Jan te Selle

Written in the margin:  If you send me a bible, I shall give them the money back here.