NEELAND-JENSEN Family of Pea Ridge Township, Brown County, Illinois


These family members are cousins of my husband’s grandfather Henry WESSELS’ (b 1863 in Schwei, Germany) of Peoria, Illinois

Henry D. b 1817 and Meta b 1822 NEELAND were born in Aurich, Germany, and with two small daughters, Tulka b 1848 and Gretje (Gretchen) b 1850, came to America in 1854.  They lived in Quincy for two years, Mr. NEELAND working as a meat cutter in a slaughter house.  In 1856, they bought and moved to a 60-acre farm in Section 21 in Pea Ridge Township, which had a log house and an apple orchard.


They planted a larger orchard, and also raised hogs.  Apples and pork were their cash crops, which they took to Quincy to sell, using a team of oxen.  Starting very early in the morning, and camping overnight in the Columbus woods, they made the round trip in three days.


Four children were born in America, Johanna b 1857, Fenna (Fanny) b 1861, Richard b 1863, and Frouka (Frances) b 1866.  They added rooms to the house.  Richard, with the help of Reverend Henry HOLTKAMP (b 1824 in Ladbergen, Germany and whose son William F. b 1863 in Indiana married Richard’s sister Frances in 1910), built a granary over the cellar.

Fanny NEELAND traveled to Sheridan County, Kansas, and there she met Eric Christian JENSEN.  He emigrated to Kansas in 1880 from Germany, homesteaded a claim, and acquired his U.S. citizenship.  They were married in Illinois in 1893, but returned to Kansas to live, and there their first son, Henry, was born.


In 1897, Fanny's brother, Richard NEELAND (m Laura VEATCH in 1895) no known children, died, and Chris and Fanny, with their son Henry, returned to the NEELAND farm and the responsibilities there.  On this farm they spent the rest of their lives.  Three more children were born, Richard, Carrie, and Ernest.  From time to time more land was added to the farm.

Henry was never married.  After college he lived away from Brown County.  Richard JENSEN married Louise Clark; they lived in Florida.  Carrie married Orval TARRANT.  For many years they lived in Section 9 in Pea Ridge on land formerly owned by John HIPPEN; they later moved to Hersman.  Ernest married Florence CHRISTNER and they had one daughter, Roselyn.  Ernest was killed in 1965 in a tractor accident.


Although this family was of the Lutheran faith, the NEELAND-JENSEN homestead is now the property of the Central Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church, and is called the Jensen Woods Camp.  Its historic value is being preserved and it is being increasingly used by the youth of the church.  In 2005 it is listed in the Illinois Department of Public Health’s list of public beaches (  In 2006 Jensen Woods Camp has its own website address at


Most of these family members are buried at Beckam Cemetery in Pea Ridge Township.


The E. Christ JENSEN’s are listed in the 1918 Prairie Farmers Directory.


Source information for this brief history is from various sources including U.S. Census information, Brown County History information, Illinois Cyberdrive databases, Ken & Laurie Huffman’s wonderful work at the Brown County Rootsweb website, and family information.


Contact information for welcomed corrections or additional information.

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