Letter 34

Date (sent): December 12, 1903
Writer: Gerrit Jan te Selle
Place: Holland, Lancaster County, Nebraska
Addressee: Family and Friends
Address (sent to): Fökkink, Kotten, Winterswijk, Netherlands


Gerrit Jan te Selle thanks the Lord for all the blessings done to the family:

  • Everything is okay with his farm and his family.
  • Son in law Veneklasen and daughter Dela moved to South Dakota, where farm land is cheaper.
  • GJ has been the superintendent during enlarging and decorating the local church.
  • GJ describes the work of the newly appointed postman, and the daily delivery to post boxes at each farm.
  • GJ still has still contact with friends and family from the Netherlands now living in Kansas.


Firth,  Nebraska.  December 12, 1903

Very Beloved Friends:

After having to wait a long time before getting your letter, I want to let you know that we received your letter in good order and that we were privileged to know that you yourself are in good health and prosperity. Because in view of your high age[i] as well as my own age, we cannot thank the Lord enough for the many privileges he gives us.

If we consider our unworthiness and our revolt and denial against Him, and in view of the fact that he let His own Son suffer and die for us, so that we can be His children again, then it should pain our hearts that we let his Father’s heart (as we may call it) hurt so badly, and  that we crucify God again, and sadden the Holy Ghost!  lt actually makes us humble and makes us feel gratitude to consider the gift of Jesus at Golgotha and this is a beautiful consolation toward the end of our lives.

Everything is well here, although we had a very wet spring and the early planted corn had to be replanted again.

On September 16 we got a frost during the night at many places and then the late corn stayed at the land and was not salable any more. But we were spared! From my 150 acres, I had about 2000 bushels. Grain was 16  and oats was 25 bushels per acre, although damage was suffered due to the wetness. Hay was heavy, potatoes reasonable, apples not much because of the late frost, cattle is cheap, and no trade! Hog prices declined from 7 to 3½ cents, butter 13, eggs 20, grain 62, corn 30, oats 25 cents.

One of my sons‑in‑law, H. Veneklaasen[ii], is going in the spring to South Dakota, 250 miles north of here. There the land is still cheaper. For the land that I bought 1½ years ago from van Sikkink[iii] for 50 dollars per acre I now got an offer for 65 dollars.  This summer we enlarged and beautified our church[iv] a bit. That cost us almost 6000 dollars. I had to supervise everything and that gave me quite a lot of work, but yesterday it was finished.

We harvested the corn and worked on it with the whole family because it’s a lot of work. But my son, Jan[v], who lives close to us, had a good helper who picked 112 bushels a day. You can’t do this with your whole family. They had to pay 3 cents per bushel for picking, or husking as we call it here. Some gave already 4 cents, so now they can wait for the snow to come and put the cattle inside already until spring.

I would have written a bit earlier but our Post office was being remodeled already a year ago. But now, on the 2nd of last month, it opened. We get our letters now at the roadside in a mailbox close to the house.

Every day the delivery man brings the mail to about 100 families and he has to walk 24 to 28 miles a day. He puts a sign up if he puts something in the box and I put the sign up again if I put a letter in the box, or else he passes us up.  I just now see him filling my box. At least we now get a newspaper every day, as well as a message about how the weather will be for the next 24 hours, and that is advantageous and profitable! The mailman gets 600 dollars per year, but it costs a lot of horses. He departs at 8 a.m. and has to be back at 3 p.m.

We recently got a letter from Bruggers and te Selle out of Kansas[vi]. These people are from “het Mekes” from the “Brinkheurne” and they are very healthy. They live about 175 miles southwest from us.  They invited us, but we can’t go this year.

We would rather like to visit you, but that cost us 300 dollars and that’s a lot of money, even though we yearn to visit you. But we have to take consolation in our letters, though we love our native lands.

We have winter now, but no snow. Your previous letter I did not (8) show to the brothers. There were no lies in it, but nevertheless, I thought it better not to show it.

I want to finish now and wish you a very happy Christmas and a blessed New Year.  My best regards to you all

G.J. te Selle


The address of Brother J.H. is the same as mine as it is on the same route.


Our address now is    G.J. te Selle
Firth Route…….
Lancaster County
State of Nebraska
North America

[i].   Derk Willem te Selle would have been about 76 in December 1903. He died a few months after this letter on the 12th of February 1904.

[ii].  “One of my sons‑in‑law, H. VeneKlaasen..” was married to Della/Dela/Dillie te Selle, born September 30, 1873.

[iii].  Gerrit Jan’s daughter Dina/Dena married John Berend Sikkink, and her brother Albert (or J. A., or A. J.)… married Minnie Sikkink.

[iv].  Church … possibly the Dutch Reformed Church in Holland, Nebraska.

[v].   Son “Jan” (John) 1879 – 1958. He was married to Berendena Walvoord (* May 1880)

[vi].  “te Selle out of Kansas”   This is cousin Janna Geertruid  Aleida te Selle. Born in the Winterswijk Hamlet Brinkheurne at farmstead “Meekes” and married to Hendrik Jan Bruggers. Emigrated to the USA May 8, 1883.