Letter 20

Date (sent): 12 April 1881
Writer: Gerrit Jan te Selle
Sender: Gerrit Jan te Selle
Place: Firth, Lancaster County, Nebraska
Addressee: Derk Willem te Selle
Address (sent to): "Fokkink", Winterswijk, Netherlands


  • Gerrit Jan warns the family and others about the recruitment practices of former neighbor, Willem Lefferdink.
  • Gerrit Jan as bought 80 acres of additional land.
  • Agricultural machines are very expensive and the prices of the products are too low.
  • Warns again about Lefferdink: “an unscrupulous man”:  the sons of Derk Willem should not be persuaded by him.


Holland, Nebraska – (Firth area) [i]

April 12, 1881

Dear Friends,

Again I take up the pen to write you a letter. We still are rather well, but I had given a letter along with W. Lefferdink, an old neighbor of mine. He was very eager to take some letters with him. That way he had a better chance to go everywhere. For doubtless he will do everything he can to attract people. He has 10 guilders from the company, and what he makes in the taverns. His brother‑in‑law told me that he likely later will quietly go another way. Ask him whatever you want, but remember that with every light there is a shadow and that it’s not all gold that glitters.

I have also bought another 80 acres of land because 80 acres is too small for the living needs of a large family. I have it on a six‑year schedule. And I had to buy it because the railroad land is all gone. Also I only had 24 hours. I saw very often that people were looking at it.  Nowadays the newcomers have to buy from somebody else, who then again moves some 100 or 1,000 miles farther on.

Recently I also got a neighbor, a Hollander, who paid $2.500 dollars, $1.600 immediately, the remainder on time. And yet people are saying that he will never make it. There are hundreds here who have obtained a piece of land for nothing who are now so burdened that they have little or nothing for themselves. What is produced is too cheap and machinery unspeakably expensive. When everything is sold there remains little more as debts. For young people, it is sometimes good. For some months some get good wages, but let them take into account that they have to work very hard in these weeks, and in the time afterward they can scarcely pay for their board. For almost five months we could not do any work. It is still quite cold. It freezes awesome hard, even last night. One cannot yet sow or plow. There are those who have to plow 100 to 200 acres for corn with a span of two horses[ii]. And the middle of May is high time.

Wheat costs 65, corn 20 cents, butter 11, eggs 8 cents per dozen.

Don’t tell Lefferdink that you received this letter. He can tell you many things but remember, he is a churchless person. He just goes in order to get rich at the expense of another’s misfortune. For that reason I was afraid he would influence your boys people or others to come here. If they want to come, let them first seek advice from their families and whether it is profitable for them to go.

I must go to the post office.

With esteem, your brother,

G. J. te Selle


Norma Te Selle-Prophet: “In the 1880 Census report, Garrit Jan te Selle (Te Selle) is living in the Panama Precinct and was listed as a farmer.  In the 1885 Census report, he is also shown as being in the Panama Precinct and is listed as a carpenter.


A “span” of horses…..   Definition: “A pair of animals, matched in size, strength, or color”.