Skip to main content

Kiesselbach, Family Papers

Identifier: MS-0398

Scope and Contents

The Kiesselbach Family Papers document several generations of the Kiesselbach family, including Follett, Hyde, Aufenkamp, Meinsen, and Greene families from 1838-2012. Materials consist of family genealogies, a Civil War diary and correspondence, land grant and estate records, multiple generations of family correspondence, news articles, and. autobiographies. There are World War II letters and military records, and records related to the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis Lancaster County Chapter, Ashland Rural Fire Protection District, and Meinsen Sisters Farm. Also included are a substantial amount of family photographs, photo albums, and scrapbooks ranging from 1861-1985.

Significant materials include the Melville and John Follett Civil War diary, correspondence, and military records that document their experience as Union soldiers and involvement in the 1863 Battle of Chickamuga. Also incuded are postcard books between newlyweds Theodore and Hazel Hyde Kiesselbach from 1908-1910 that contain a wide variety of images. Among locations represented are the University of Nebraska, the Nebraska State Penitentiary, the Lancaster County Courthouse, the 1909 Omaha National Corn Exposition, Lincoln, and Omaha, Nebraska cityscapes, Capital Beach, and Nebraska Wesleyan University. Valentine's Day cards illustrate the developing relationship between the Kiesselbach's.


  • Creation: 1838-2012


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights reside with the University of Nebraska. Copyrights are retained by the creators of the papers/records or their designees. For permission to reproduce or to publish, please contact Archives & Special Collections. 

Biographical / Historical

Follett Family

Brothers John Meacham (1832) and Melville Cox (1836) Follett were born to abolitionists Abram H. and Lorraine Meacham Follett in Essex County, New York. John married Hortense B. Hill in 1857 and they had two daughters, Florence Ellen and Nellie Lorraine Follett. John enlisted in the 33rd Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry and served in the Vicksburg Campaign during the Civil War. After being discharged from the Army in 1865, John returned to his farm in Illinois. He and Hortense remained on their farm until 1906, when they relocated to Lincoln, Nebraska, to live with their daughters. John Follett died October 5, 1908.

Melville "Mel" Follett married Jennie Jackson in 1871 in Rock Island County, Illinois. In 1856, he participated in the Bleeding Kansas anti-slavery campaigns organized by abolitionist John Brown as a response to the Kansas-Nebraska Act. A few years later, he enlisted in the 42nd Illinois Infantry and worked as a pharmacist and hospital steward during the Civil War. He was wounded in the knee and captured by Confederate soldiers at the Battle of Chattanooga in 1863. Melville Follett received a medical discharge from the Army in 1864, and died in Moline, Illinois, in 1903.

Kiesselbach Family

Theodore "Mr. Corn" Kiesselbach (1884-1964), University of Nebraska Professor of Agronomy, is internationally renowned for his pioneering work in corn crossbreeding, corn hybrids, and crop improvement.

Theodore Alexander Kiesselbach was born March 14, 1884 to Alexander and Caroline Bayrhoffer Kiesselbach on a farm near Shelby, Polk County, Nebraska. Tragedy struck in 1888, with the sudden deaths of his father, brother, and grandfather from illness. Wanting a new start, Kiesselbach's mother leased out the family farm and moved with her five children to Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 1895, after a drought severely reduced their income, the family returned to Custer County, Nebraska to help their bachelor uncle, Theodore Bayrhoffer, on his farm. In 1896, the Kiesselbachs returned home to the "Kiesselbach Brothers Farm" in Shelby, Nebraska, to raise hogs. Four years later, the family relocated to Lincoln, Nebraska, so the Kiesselbach sisters could attend the University of Nebraska (UN). Caroline died in 1901, and left 160 acres of farmland to each of her children with money to fund their college educations.

Intending to become a farmer, Kiesselbach graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelors of Science in agriculture from UN in 1907 and 1908, and received his Masters and PhD in agriculture in 1912 and 1918. He married high school friend and UN alumna Hazel Hortense Hyde, on June 30, 1909. They had four children, Theodore J. (1910), Max (1912), Katherine (1922), and Helen (1923). After finishing his degree, Kiesselbach had planned to return to his inherited farmland. He took a job in the Lincoln after being told by Hazel's father that farm life would not suit her. Kiesselbach accepted a graduate assistant position with E.G. Montgomery, head of the UN Department of Field Crops, on a project making thousands of plant growth measurements for corn experiments. Later, he worked as a field crops instructor and Agricultural Experiment Station assistant (1908), assistant in experimental agronomy (1909), professor of experimental agronomy (1912), and professor of agronomy (1917-1952).

In 1909, he attended the National Corn Exposition in Omaha, Nebraska, where he saw Connecticut scientists G.A. Schull and Edward East lecture on hybrid corn, seen at that time as dangerous. Kiesselbach and E.G. Montgomery initiated work on crossbreeding corn and in 1913, became the first scientists to develop corn hybrids west of Connecticut. After several devastating droughts, Kiesselbach's hybrid became popular in the 1930s, and by 1949, accounted for $42 million of Nebraska's crop income.

Kiesselbach published more than 140 publications on crop research. Plant scientists around the world widely referenced his article, "The Structure and Reproduction of Corn"(1949) published as a Nebraska Agricultural Experiment Station Research Bulletin. In 1980, the University of Nebraska Press republished the article as a book, and printed another edition in 1999 for its 50th anniversary.

Kiesselbach received the Hoblitzell National Award in Agricultural Sciences in 1951 and Nebraska Crop Improvement Association Agronomy Award in 1952. In addition, he served as a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and held memberships in the Nebraska Corn Improvers Association, Sigma Xi, Gamma Sigma Delta, American Society of Agronomy, Nebraska Academy of Science, and many other organizations. He died on December 27, 1964. The University of Nebraska dedicated the Kiesselbach Crops Research Laboratory in his honor in 1969.

Hazel Hortense Hyde Kiesselbach was born to teachers Frederick A. and Florence Follett Hyde in 1885. Hazel attended Lincoln High School, where she acted in theater, played piano, and became a member of the Normal Literacy Society. She received her teaching certificate from UN in 1907 and worked as a teacher in Newman Grove, Nebraska. She participated in several organizations including the University of Nebraska Faculty Women's Association and the Parent-Teacher Association. She died in 1975 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Aufenkamp-Meinsen Family

John Aufenkamp was born around 1815 in Dickel, Germany. In 1849, he and his older brother, William migrated to the Massac County, Illinois, from Bremen, Germany. He became a naturalized citizen in 1868. He married Sophia Buhrmann and they had 3 children, John (1856), Wilhelmina "Minnie"(1863), and Bernhardt "Barney" (1866). Sophia died in 1873 at the age of 47. John sold his farmland and moved to Dearborn County, Indiana, to live near his sister, Johanna Aufenkamp Myers in 1877. He later moved to his daughter Minnie's farm in Greenwood, Nebraska. He died in 1894.

Florence Meinsen (1886) and Blanche Meinsen Robinson (1895) were born to Sophia Wilhelmina "Minnie" and Henry Meinsen. Their father operated a blacksmith shop and purchased farmland in Greenland, Cass County, Nebraska, in 1894. He lived there with his wife until their deaths in 1937 and 1938, respectively.

Florence Meinsen graduated from Ashland High School and Lincoln Business College. She worked as a secretary and enjoyed traveling across the United States and Europe. She homesteaded land near Buffalo, Wyoming, from 1915-1921. She died on March 7, 1985.

Blanche Meinsen Robinson graduated from Ashland High School in 1913 and the Minneapolis School of Dramatic Art in 1917. She traveled around the country as an actress, and appeared in the 1919 play, "Experience: The Most Wonderful Play in America." In 1920, Blanche married New York City actor, Billy M. Greene and their son, William Henry Greene, was born in 1921. They divorced in 1922. Blanche received her Bachelors of Science in education and a teacher's certificate from UN in 1927, and taught English and Drama at Syracuse, Tekamah, and Everett Junior High Schools in the 1920s-1930s. In 1929, Blanche married census taker Francis Robinson, who later became a judge. She died on August 11, 1978 at the Meinsen Sisters Farm in Cass County, Nebraska.

Greene Family

William Henry "Hank" Greene was born August 25, 1921 to Blanche Meinsen and William "Billy" Greene on August 25, 1921 in Cass County, Nebraska. He graduated from Ashland High School in 1939 then from the UN College of Business Administration in 1943 During his college yers he enrolled in the R.O.T.C. program, the after graduation, he attended the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School and the Infantry Officer Basic Course. In 1944, Hank became an armored infantry platoon leader in Company C, 23rd Armored Infantry Battalion, and served in General George Patton's Third Armored Division. He received a shrapnel wound during the Battle of France and in 1945 returned to Camp Carson, Colorado. He married Helen Kiesselbach on March 11, 1945 in Colorado. The two had 6 children, Mary Helen "Molly" (1949), Susan Caroline (1951), Sarah Louise (1952), Christopher Henry (1954), Julia Marie (1956), and William Alexander (1965). In Lincoln, Nebraska, Hank worked in the financial office of the Goodyear Hose and Belt plant and later became plant comptroller. He died May 15, 2004.

Helen Kiesselbach Greene was born November 22, 1923 to Theodore and Hazel Hyde Kiesselbach in Lincoln, Nebraska. She attended UN in 1943 as a speech major and acted in several university plays. After a year of school, Helen relocated to San Francisco, California, and worked a script writer for the United States Office of Information until she married Hank Greene in 1945. Back in Nebraska, she worked as the Nebraska publicity chairman for John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign. She received a Nebraska State Safety Co-coordinator appointment from Governor Frank Morrison (1961-1962, 1964), served on the Nebraska State Board of Education, helped found the Ashland Arts Council, and worked as a freelance writer and journalist. She received her bachelor's degree in Great Plains Studies from UN in 1985. In 2003, she was honored as Queen of the Ashland Stir-Up Days festival. Helen died February 12, 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska.


12.8 Linear Feet (19 boxes, 1 OS folder)

Language of Materials


Related Materials

For more information relating to Theodore Kiesselbach's career see also Theodore A. Kiesselbach, Agronomy Papers (RG 08-05-10). For more information on Scott Laidig's research paper and online exhibits on the Follett family, see "The Later Civil War Perspectives of an Illinois Soldier as Reflected in his Letters: From Vicksburg to Montgomery," "The Later Civil War Perspectives of an Illinois Soldier as Reflected in his Letters: From Vicksburg to Montgomery," The Follett Brothers Letters, The Melville Cox Follett Diary at Ohio State University.

Information for Kiesselbach Family Papers biographies were taken from the following sources:

Follett Family: The Later Civil War Perspectives of an Illinois Soldier as Reflected in his Letters: From Vicksburg to Montgomery, Scott Laidig, (see Box 3, folder 3), "Follett Family Pictures, Letters, and Diary," (see Box 2, folders 13-16), and pension and military records (see Box 2, folders 8-10).

Kiesselbach Family: What's in a Life: Autobiography of T.A. Kiesselbach (RG 08-05-10, box 3, folders 8-9), "Mister Corn: A Report on Dr. T.A. Kiesselbach, Whose Research Career Spans Agriculture's Period of Greatest Achievement," University of Nebraska Research Report, 1950 (see RG 08-05-10, box 1, folder 2), "Highly Regarded NU Ag Research Bulletin on Corn Reprinted 50 Years later," UN Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources press release, 1999 (see RG 08-05-10, box 1, folder 13), and "Theodore Alexander Kiesselbach: Versatile, Prolific, Research Agronomist," Harvey O. Werner, Nebraska Academy of Sciences, 1967 (see RG 08-05-10, box 1, folder 11), and "Alexander and Caroline Kiesselbach," Helen Kiesselbach Greene (see Box 3, folder 13).

Aufenkamp-Meinsen Family: Henry, Minnie Meinsen biography by Hank Greene and death certificates and announcements (see Box 7, folder 18), Kiesselbach-Meinsen genealogy, 1993-1998 (see Box 2, folder 1-3), Aufenkamp legal documents and naturalization certificates (see Box 5, folders 12-14), and newspaper articles (Box 7, folder 12, Box 7, folders 17 and 19).

Greene Family: What's in a Life: Autobiography of T.A. Kiesselbach (RG 08-05-10, box 3, folders 8-9), "Hank's Account of World War 2," (see Box 9, folder 8), Tell Me a Story Grandpa: Autobiography of Dennis Greene (see Box 9, folder 22), news articles (see Box 9, folders 17-19), and Helen Kiesselbach Greene obituary (Lincoln Journal Star website, 2010).

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Archives & Special Collections, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries Repository

Archives & Special Collections
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries
P.O. Box 884100
Lincoln NE 68588-4100 United States