Letter 28

Date (sent): February 18, 1886
Writer: Harmen Jan te Selle with addendum by Jan Hendrik te Selle
Place: Firth, Lancaster County, Nebraska
Addressee: Derk Willem te Selle
Address (sent to): Fökkink, Winterswijk, Netherlands


Harmen Jan te Selle sends condolences to his brother Derk Willem on the death of his oldest son, also named Derk Willem (1859-1886). HJ also sends news from Nebraska:

  • HJ himself has received a daughter. Just like Jan Hendrik, Harmen Jan now has 9 children. Gerrit Jan has only 7 children. HJ gives news about all his children.
  • In December 1885 HJ spent three weeks in Wisconsin to meet old friends and to visit his Uncle G.W. Bloemers (92 years old). The trip cost him 125 guilders ($50).
  • HJ encourages brother Derk Willem to come to visit his brothers in Nebraska: 150 guilders from the Netherlands and back home. That should be affordable.

Jan Hendrik te Selle writes an addendum to Harmen Jan's letter. He devotes half his letter explaining why it took him so long to write it! He then reviews the agricultural prices, He encourages Derk Willem to write back promptly, and to come for a visit soon.


Firth,  February 18, 1886

Very respected Brother D.W. te Selle[i],

We received your letter of Jan. 17 in good health, but to our regret, we learned also that your son Willem[ii] has changed the temporary with the eternal and in this situation, which we may call very sad, and in view of the fact that he was just married, we can say that they didn’t have the chance to enjoy or have enjoyment on this earth. The enjoyments of this life sometimes last so short!  Death is feared by everyone. He (death) disregards nobody: not old, young, rich or poor, there is no difference. Everybody has to subject himself to Him (death), there is no escape, no delay.

But glad is he who is prepared when He (death) comes. Then death will not be a courier of terror, but a cart of triumph to carry us to Jesus. And that is how it is. At one place it’s going and at another place it’s coming. Because at about the same time on Jan. 20 we had a young daughter[iii] and both mother[iv] and child are well and healthy. So our family is rather large now, 9 children altogether: Four boys and five girls.  And we have enough food and work for them.

Jan[v], the oldest and my stepson, has bought 50 acres of land now and wants to farm himself. So I hired a farmhand who came three weeks ago from the Netherlands, from South‑Holland (a province in the Netherlands). For the rest, our other children are at home. Dillie[vi] (or Dela) is now 18 years old and very grown up. She and my wife do the house and they are pretty busy with it. William[vii] is 14 years old now and handles horses very well. Dina[viii] is 9 years old, goes to school and helps already a lot in the household. Evert and Albert[ix] also go to school. The other three are too small to go to school and are nicely able to make a mess of the house. Their names are Helena[x], Miena and Bertha. These are all of them. A nice household isn’t it? Jan Hendrik also has 9 children. The oldest is married, the others are still home. Gerrit Jan has 7 children, all at home too. For the rest all brothers and their children are very healthy.

We have had a hard winter and rather much snow, more than we are used to it here.  Now however it is very beautiful and spring will start soon, I guess. Due to the bad, severe winter and the lousy roads, business is bad. Prices for grain etc. are very low, and it is a tough time for the farmers. The one who needs a lot of money for supplies around this time of the year is more or less in a fix.

In December I went again to Wisconsin to visit old friends and acquaintances[xi].  Also G.W. Bloemers[xii] is doing very well considering his high age, because he is almost 92 and his memory etc. is still functioning very well. Berendina Kortschot is still very quick too at 72. So I spent three weeks, with a lot of pleasure between friends and acquaintances, where I had not been for 15 years. There were many changes, small ones have grown big, elderly people are gone. lt cost me over 50 dollars (or 125 guilders). Brother D.W., now your children are grown up, you should come and visit us here. It will cost you only 150 guilders for a round trip and that’s not a big deal. Awaiting you coming over here, I remain,

your respecting brother,

H.J. te Selle

Letter 28‑a

This is an added small letter. In view of the contents it is possible that it has been sent with another letter: that’s difficult to determine. This letter is not dated and signed but in view of the handwriting, it has been written, without any doubt, by Jan Hendrik te Selle.

                                  D.W. te Selle, Enschede  October 19, 1989

As I got the letter, written by you, from brother Harmen Jan, I started to write myself immediately. But then there was this, and then there was that, and on Sundays the church, and when I was a day at home, then I had other things to do and sometimes I did not fully like it, because it writing takes me a long time and in the day time I am very busy. But I ask you not to blame me for this. So please write me back immediately again if you want to. Drika, Hanna’s half sister, is serving as a maid in Lincoln. She earns two and a half dollars a week, that’s 10 dollars a month and those are nice earnings. We are 6 hours walking distance from that city and we have to sell seed over there as well. We have been there this summer 5 to 6 times with the oxen (oxcart). That costs us a day. Wheat costs 50‑60 cents. Corn (“Turkish wheat”) 25 to 30 cents.  I really hope that you will receive my poorly written, but well‑meaning letters in good health and wish you happy and blessed Christmas days and New Year, and please come visit us!






D.W. is Derk Willem te Selle , Harmen Jan’s eldest brother,  ¶ 1827, V 1904.


Willem’s full name was also Derk Willem. He was born September 22, 1859 and died January 7, 1886. His mother was Janna Berendina Weerkamp (1822‑1877).


The daughter, born on January 28, 1886, was Bertha Johanna. After her marriage to Jake Kallemeyn, she remained in the Firth, Nebraska, area.


The “mother” is Johanna Arnolda Brethouwer, Harmen Jan’s second wife.


“Jan” is Manus Jan Schreurs, born December 17, 1864, in Wisconsin, and Harmen Jan’s stepson. ‘Manes John’ was the son of Harmen Jan Te Selle’s first wife, Berendiena Aleida Reusink-Schreurs (1841‑ 1876).



“Dillie (Dela)” was the daughter of Herman John and his first wife. Dela was born on April 21, 1868, in Wisconsin. She was married to Dick Abbink.


William or “Bill” Te Selle, was the son of Harmen Jan and his first wife, Berendiena, who came to Nebraska in 1871. “Bill” was born in Nebraska on September 23, 1871.  He was married to Clara Bade and they lived around the Firth‑Hickman, Nebraska, area.


Dina/Dena was the first child of Herman John Te Selle and his second wife, Johanna Anolda Brethouwer. Dena was bc>rn on April 23, 1877, and was married to Dionisius Gerrit Van der Griend. They lived around Firth when first married and later moved to Lynden, Washington area.


Evert was born on September 2, 1878. He married Minnie Obbink; they lived in the Firth area for a while. Then later moved to Lincoln.

Albert was born July 2, 1880 or 1881. He married Alyda”Lizzie” Obbink, a sister of Minnie Obbink, Evert’s wife. Albert later moved to Lynden, Washington. (* 1881 ?)


Helena, known as “Lena”, was born July 10, 1882. She was married to Henry Obbink, brother of Minnie and Alyda /”Lizzie.” Helena lived in the Firth area for a while, but spent most of her married life in Lincoln.

Miena/Harmina was known as “Minnie.” She was born on July 5, 1884. Her husband was Ernest Dietz; they lived in the Firth area until his death in 1929. Minnie later moved to Lincoln.

Notes about Bertha are shown under item 3.


In December 1885, Harmen Jan te Selle went to Wisconsin to visit. He had lived there from 1865 to 1871. In 1871, he and his family came to Nebraska to homestead near Firth.


The “G. W. Bloemers” was married to Janna te Selle, sister of Jan Albert te Selle (born 1800), Jan Albert is the father of the three Te Selle brothers who came to Nebraska. (He died in 1845.) When Harmen Jan and Jan Hendrik te Selle first came to the United States, they went to Gibbsville, Wisconsin, where the Bloemers were living.