Place: Nebraska, USA

Early te Selle Emigrants

Who were some of the early emigrants from the Netherlands?  Based on the genealogy records, we identified the following te Selle family members who were born in the Netherlands, and died in the United States in the location shown.  We don’t yet know exactly when they emigrated, but perhaps some of their American descendants will… Read more »

Reasons to Emigrate

Wisconsin Dutch Homestead 1855

Why did so many Dutch farmers decide to emigrate to America in the mid-1800’s? What would inspire two young farm boys in 1865 to leave their friends and family in rural Winterswijk, Netherlands, in order to undertake an uncertain venture across the Atlantic Ocean to an unknown future in America? Read about the powerful cultural and economic forces that motivated our ancestors to seek their future prosperity in a far away land across the sea.

Letters from America, 1865-1911

Dela ten Damme te Selle (1802-1883) at Fökkink farm

(Go directly to List of Letters) The 35 Letters from America to Holland provide a fascinating insight into the lives of the three te Selle brothers who emigrated from Winterswijk, Netherlands, to the United States, settling first in Wisconsin and then later in Nebraska.  The letters were written primarily to their mother, Dela te Selle-ten… Read more »

ten Damme, Dela (1802-1883)

Dela ten Damme te Selle (1802-1883) at Fökkink farm

Dela ten Damme te Selle was not a te Selle by birth, but rather by her marriage to Jan Albert te Selle (1800-1845).

te Selle, Jan Hendrik (1838-1921)

Jan Hendrik te Selle, 1838-1921

Jan Hendrik te Selle (1838-1921) emigrated from the “De Selle” farm in Winterswijk, NL, and eventually homesteaded farmland for himself and his family near Firth, Lancaster County, Nebraska.

te Selle, Harmen Jan (1844-1919)

Harmen Jan te Selle, 1844-1919

Harmen Jan te Selle (1844-1919) was born on the “De Selle” farm, near Winterswijk, Netherlands. He and brother Jan Hendrik te Selle (1838-1921) emigrated to Wisconsin in 1865, where they lived with their Aunt Janna and Uncle Gerrit Bloemers. Within a few years the brothers moved from Wisconsin to Lancaster County, Nebraska, where they homesteaded farm land, raised their families, and remained for the rest of their lives.

Emigration to America

Who were those early te Selle emigrants from the Netherlands to the United States in the mid-1800s? Why did them leave their homeland for an uncertain future in America? How did they make the perilous ocean crossings? Where did they settle? Now many descendants of those early immigrants are returning to visit Winterswijk, Netherlands and learn more about their family roots.

Letter 14

Gerrit Jan te Selle indicates that this is his second letter back home, but it is the first that has been preserved. He announces the birth of his third child, a daughter Dela (1873-1940). He then describes in detail the family’s journey from the Netherlands to Panama, Nebraska, by ship, rail, and finally by wagon for the last nine miles. Gerrit Jan next describes his purchase of 80 acres of land followed by the building of his farm house in just 7 days. Finally, he gives a detailed account of farming methods and crop prices. This letter is an excellent description of how Dutch farmers got their start in Nebraska in the 1870’s.

Letter 11

Jan Hendrik writes to his mother and brothers in some detail about the livestock, crop yields, and prices. He also itemizes some of his clever transactions to acquire livestock and machinery. He clearly seems proud of his accomplishments. He mentions his three young children, and a fourth child born that year who survived only a few months. Jan Hendrik asks about the health of his mother, whom he says is “already so far in her days.”

Letter 10

This letter is the first from Harmen Jan in more than a year. Very likely there are letters missing from our collection. Harmen Jan has now moved from Wisconsin to Nebraska, yet he makes very little mention of the move. He is focused on Nebraska crops and prices. He has a new 2-month old son William, born in September 1871. He also relates the tragic loss af a neighbor, Niklaas Vandervelde, who lost his oldest daughter in a prairie fire, along with his farmhouse, crops, and livestock.