Letter 33

Date (sent): April 16, 1895
Writer: Jan Hendrik te Selle
Place: Holland, Lancaster County, Nebraska
Addressee: Derk Willem te Selle
Address (sent to): Fökkink, Kotten, Winterswijk, Netherlands


Jan Hendrik te Selle says that this letter to his brother Derk Willem is long overdue:

  • recently received the letter reporting the death of brother Jan Albert in Bredevoort.
  • doubts the quality of the Dutch postal service.
  • eldest son (Jan Willem) is studying in Michigan to become a minister. Two hundred dollars a year. The Lord has blessed him. Even for no less than $ 25,000 Jan Hendrik would step out....
  • two daughters have been married well
  • owns 480 acres now.
  • describes his farming activities

Holland, Nebraska April 16, 1895

Dear Brothers and additional Friends.

I take up the pen to write you a few lines. We are able to do that since by God’s grace we are all in good health, and hope the same of you. Since I have not written to you for years and I think the last letters did not arrive, I will try once more and find out if this one is received.

I have a poor pen and am a poor writer, but I think you will be able to read it if you receive it. You must not pay too much attention to errors. I have already made two and undoubtedly there will be more.

The last letter we received from you was about the death of brother Jan[i]. After that Gerrit Jan[ii] wrote a letter to you and also to Breedevoort, but there has been no answer.  At times we learn from newspapers about this and that, but not whether the letters arrive. We are beginning to doubt whether Holland makes sure that letters are delivered. I have never mailed a letter in America which did not reach its destination. I write more than one per month, I think at least every two weeks, and they are always delivered.

My oldest son[iii] has attended school for eight years. He is studying to become a minister. He has two more years to go. He will be coming home at the end of this month, if he is not sent out to preach. He himself does not know about that yet. He is attending school in Michigan. First, he attended a school in Iowa for four years, but could not continue there. Now he is almost three times as far from home. It costs us nearly $200 a year. The fare alone costs $40 for a round trip, but we can afford it, that is not much of a problem. The Lord has blessed us abundantly.  I would not be willing to sell out for $25,000.

We have reasons for gratitude to God physically but also spiritually, also for the children. They receive here a good education in English and Dutch. We still have four sons at home and one daughter.[iv]Two daughters are married[v] and one has six children, three sons and three daughters, and the other two sons and one daughter.[vi]  Two years ago we lost a daughter, eleven years old. [vii]

The husband of my oldest daughter has 160 acres of land of his own, and the other one has 193 acres. They both have many apple trees which produce a large amount of apples. They work with four horses, and one has a hired hand while the other rents land for one-third of the crop. Land here is worth $40 to $45 per acre, if it is cultivated. On the prairie where nothing ever has been done, it is worth $25 to $30 but such land nowadays is hardly to be found. All the land is has been plowed.

Between the time we came here and now, things have changed a great deal. No one who has not seen it himself would believe it. We now own 480 acres of which we work 280 acres ourselves and rent the rest for one-third of what it produces. They must market the grain for me. They pay me $2 per acre for hay land and pasture, and that includes a house and a barn, because that is usually ground which cannot be plowed easily, at least most of it.

We ourselves work 214 acres of plowed land. The rest we use for hay and pasture. We have 25 acres of winter wheat, 24 of oats, and 22 or 23 of flax. We sow flax for the seed only. We do nothing with the stalk. It is put through a threshing machine. The straw we feed to the cattle or we burn it, and where you are (Winterswijk) that is worth the most.

On the rest of the land, corn is planted. It was dry here during the past year, so little corn was produced, about 10 bushels per acre instead of the usual 40 to 50 bushels; oats 31 and wheat 17 bushels.  Wheat looked bad. We expected no returns, but it turned out pretty well. Corn, on the other hand, looked very good, we had high expectations of it, still it was disappointing. We had flax which was pretty good. We had 150 bushels. It was priced at one dollar, corn at 38 to 40 cents, wheat only 43 cents, which was unusually low-priced. Oats was 27 cents, that is for 32 pounds; corn 56 cents; and flax 56 cents at 56 pounds per bushel.

Potatoes and wheat are 60 pounds per bushel. Here everything goes by weight. A person rides onto a scale with a wagon and has it weighed. Then he unloads it and weighs the wagon to determine how much was on it. Unloading here is simple. A person drives on a floor. There is a place where the wagon is placed and the horses pass over it. Then one stops and at the end of the wagon is a square hatch which is loosened and the front of the wagon is raised and at the same time the rear end lowers and everything pours out.

The end board is hinged like a door. The catch is released and the contents are poured out. At the count of 30, the wagon is unloaded. A person remains on the wagon and keeps the horses well reined. He himself also hangs on, otherwise, he too would go into the cellar and some horses are also a little bit afraid at times when the wagon is raised behind them, but they soon get used to it.

I must close now. If this letter arrives I will write again later.

Greetings from all of us,

write back soon.

J. H. Te Selle

[i].  Brother Jan Albert te Selle * March 16, 1835 at “De Selle” Died  Bredevoort April 19, 1894.

[ii]. Gerrit Jan is Jan Hendrik’s and Harmen Jan’s brother who also emigrated to the United States (Sept 21, 1873)  directly to Nebraska and settled near his two brothers.

[iii]. John William te Selle (1867-1945)  Minister.

[iv]. These children were:

Jan Albert, born June 6, 1873
Hendrik (Henry) born Febr. 11, 1875
Gerrit (Garrett) born Febr. 2,  1878
Hanna Gesiena (Zena), born May 6, 1880
Benjamin Hendrik, born Jan. 9, 1884

[v].  Janna Geertruida (Jane) Te Selle (1866 – 1946)      married to David DeBoer (1862 – 1939)

Dela (Delia/Dillie/Dela) Te Selle (1869 – 1971)     married 1.   to Gerrit Ten Hulzen (1864-1912)

married 2.   to Henry J. Wubbels (1854-1943)

[vi].  “…and one has six children, three sons and three daughters, and the other two sons and one daughter…”

In April 1895, Janna/Jane Te Selle and David DeBoer had the following children:

Rendit DeBoer, born 1886
John Henry DeBoer, born 1888
Albert DeBoer, born 1889
Hannah DeBoer, born 1891
Anna DeBoer, born   ?
Della DeBoer, born   ?

Also in April 1895, Della/Dillie/Dela Te Selle and Gerrit Ten Hulzen would have had the following children:

John William Ten Hulzen, born 1890
Hannah Ten Hulzen, born 1892
John Henry Ten Hulzen, born 1893

[vii].  This was Miena Berendina (Dena) born Dec 31 1881. Records from the family show she died in childhood (1893).