I originally started this blog because of the wealth of photographs and glass negatives I had in my possession that once belonged to my grandfather’s uncle, Joseph Peter DeKorn. This post is a revision and update of the 2nd post on this blog.Joseph Peter DeKorn

“Uncle Joe” was born to Richard DeKorn, local building contractor and brick mason, and Alice Paak DeKorn June 30, 1981, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. When he lived in Kalamazoo, he was an enthusiastic photographer, capturing scenes and people in Kalamazoo in the very early 1900s. Most of the photographs by Joseph which I have were taken between 1903 and 1918.  His draft registration for WWI is dated September 12, 1918.  He graduated from Kalamazoo College and the University of Michigan Engineering School in 1909.  Joe was a hydraulic engineer and worked for the City of Grand Rapids for over 30 years.  He retired as Superintendent of the Grand Rapids Water and Light Company.


Here is a commendation letter from the City Manager upon his retirement.


Personal life

Joe married Christina Blandford on December 9, 1919 in Kalamazoo.  He was 38 and Christina was 35.  She was born June 22, 1884 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Christina’s parents were Isaac Blandford and Lily Kemp, both born in Ontario, Canada.   She graduated from Western Michigan Normal College (now Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo).  She was a school teacher and taught at Walker Township School, District #1 (later known as Fairview School) and Godfrey School in Grand Rapids.

Aunt Tena, when Uncle Joe was still “Friend Joe” to her, wrote him this postcard in 1915:

Tena sent this postcard to Joe on August 3, 1915

Tena sent this postcard to Joe on August 3, 1915

Aunt Tena wrote from summer school in Lansing in her beautiful handwriting

Aunt Tena wrote from summer school in Lansing in her beautiful handwriting

Tena and Joe resided during their lifetime at 841 Cogswell Street, NW, Grand Rapids, Michigan, just three houses from the Blandford family homestead.  The couple raised their two sons, Richard and Phillip in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Richard was born on January 29, 1920, and Philip Eugene was born on August 4, 1922. Joe worked as a hydraulic engineer or filter engineer for the City Water & Light Department, Grand Rapids.  He passed away on March 24, 1962.

Joseph died March 24, 1967 in Grand Rapids and Tena died October 11, 1979 again in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember Uncle Joe as I was too young, but I remember Aunt Tena as an elderly widow. She was memorable for her intelligence, kindness, fine china teacups, and her elegant and decorative old-fashioned handwriting (see postcard above).


The header photo (above) of the Kalamazoo flood in 1904 and the photos of downtown Kalamazoo from this post are some samples of Uncle Joe’s photographs.


Maureen Taylor, photo detective, helped me with a couple of photos a few years ago. The other day I bought her book, Family Photo Detective.

The book gives a good overview of many topics associated with identifying old family photographs. I haven’t read it all yet, but I did read certain sections because of various questions I already have in my mind.

In my post Mysterious Antique Photographs I posted a painted metal photograph which is unidentified. I believe it is from the Remine family. Although it can seem that the Remines are very distantly related, in fact, Richard DeKorn’s mother was a Remine:



Johanna Remijinse


BIRTH 15 JUL 1817 Kapelle, Zeeland, Netherlands

DEATH 1864 Kalamazoo City, Kalamazoo, Michigan

* my 3rd great-grandmother *

The consensus seems to be that the photo below (of an unidentified Remine female) is a tintype.


However, according to Taylor, a painted photo like this would be a daguerreotype which is painted on its metal surface with colored powders which are brushed or gently blown.

One of the characteristics of a daguerreotype over a tintype is that the image needs to be viewed from an angle. Another important characteristic is a mirror-like surface. I had to pull out the original to examine it for these traits.

It’s impossible to tell if the image needs to be viewed from an angle because the image is so thoroughly painted. But the background is not mirror-like, but rather a matte dark gray with a slight texture.

I went to the internet about this mystery and discovered a site that showcases some hand-painted tintypes. Unfortunately, after 45 years, The Ames Gallery in Berkeley is closing this year. I wonder what will happen to their photographs. Click the name of the gallery to see the painted tintypes.

I think we were right that this is a tintype that has been painted. In fact, the painting is so well done that her face is very realistic. Years ago, I used to work with gold leaf, embossing leather and vinyl products, and I suspect that the jewelry has been painted with gold-leaf.

It’s frustrating that I have not had the time to work on the photos and genealogy for many months (for the most part), but I like to keep moving along, getting one little thing after another accomplished so I don’t lose my touch haha.

Without a doubt, this is the most beautiful photograph in the whole collection.



What to win a free copy of Doll God? It’s my first poetry collection, published by Aldrich Press:

Winner of the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards, Doll God, studies traces of the spirit world in human-made and natural objects–a Japanese doll, a Palo Verde tree, a hummingbird. Her exploration leads the reader between the twin poles of nature and creations of the imagination in dolls, myth, and art.

“Every day the world subtracts from itself,” Luanne Castle observes. Her wonderfully titled collection, Doll God, with its rich and varied mix of poems part memoir, part myth and tale, shimmers as it swims as poetry is meant to, upstream against the loss.
–Stuart Dybek, MacArthur Fellow and author of Streets in Their Own Ink

Enter the Goodreads Giveaway. If you’re not on Goodreads, it is easy to sign up–and it costs nothing to enter to WIN A FREE COPY OF DOLL GOD.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Doll God by Luanne Castle

Doll God

by Luanne Castle

Released January 10 2015

Enter Giveaway

This particular giveaway is open only to U.S. residents, unfortunately (blame the outrageous postage costs!).


General store of Lambertus Leeuwenhoek, Kalamazoo, Michigan

Standing in center of photo: Adrian Zuidweg

Aunt Jen and Uncle Lou’s (Jennie DeKorn Leeuwenhoek and Lambertus Leeuwenhoek) only child, Alice, married Clarence Moerdyk (Dutch spelling Moerdijk).


Clarence Dewey Moerdyk


BIRTH 24 MAY 1898 Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo Co., MI

DEATH 18 DEC 1985 Winter Park, FL

Clarence’s parents were Peter (Pieter) and Cora. His father immigrated from Biervliet, Zeeland, the Netherlands, when he was 2 years old, in 1867.

I once posted a photo of Clarence as a kid, but at the time I wasn’t sure who he was. Blog readers helped me discover that this is Clarence who lived at 120 W. Ransom in Kalamazoo. That address is directly north of Arcadia Creek, five blocks north of East Michigan Avenue. Would you say he is in his mid-teens?

Alice and Clarence were married in Kalamazoo on 12 September 1923 by The Reverend Benjamin Laman of Bethany Reformed Church.

Here is information about the church at that time from their website:


On June 5, 1905, in a tiny chapel near Burdick and Maple, the mission Sunday School that was to become Bethany held its first service. . . .

Growth under the leadership of these men was so great that less than two years later it was apparent that a larger building was needed. In 1907, a new church was built on the site of the original chapel. At this time the church had grown to include fifty-two families and seventy-seven communicant members. By the time that Reverend Kooiker left the church in 1910, Bethany had grown to sixty-nine families and one hundred eighteen communicant members.

Here is Clarence as I knew him in the early 60s:


I’ve heard that Uncle Lou (Lambertus Leeuwenhoek) loved to play games–and was very good at them. Where and when he passed away is fitting, in that context.


Uncle Lou “died at 3:15 Wednesday afternoon at the YMCA immediately after suffering a heart attack. He had just finished a game of checkers.” I bet he won the game.

I need to research where the Y was located.

He died on Wednesday, April 20, 1949. Coincidentally, my father-in-law passed away in 1984 on April 20. Notice that Uncle Lou and Aunt Jen were married on May 20. My birthday is July 20. My cousin was born January 20. I always notice the number 20.

Here is the funeral announcement in the newspaper:

And here is a beautiful memorial book from Uncle Lou’s funeral. I wish I knew how to create a slideshow that allows a reader to enlarge each photo, but I don’t know if there is a way on WordPress.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What I find particularly useful from a genealogy standpoint are the names of the visitors on the last two pages. They are as interesting as the names in the obituary, if not more so.

I’ve written about the Leeuwenhoeks, and in particular, my great grandmother’s brother-in-law, Lambertus Leeuwenhoek. He was called Uncle Lou by my grandfather, so he’s still called Uncle Lou by me today, although I never met him. I did know his wife, Aunt Jen, who survived him by decades.

Uncle Lou and Aunt Jen owned a general store. They had a store in Kalamazoo for a time and one in Vicksburg for a time, as well. In the 1910 and 1920 censuses, he and Aunt Jen are living at 110 Balch Street in Kalamazoo. His Kalamazoo store sold Gold Medal flour.



In the 1930 census, they live at 111 East Prairie Street in Vicksburg. In the 1940 census I find them with Lou’s first name mangled into Laonbatius. They are living with their daughter Alice and her husband, Clarence Moerdyk, at 1014 Gerdan Street in Kalamazoo. Could that be GARDEN Street? Because that would be a real house in Kalamazoo. One still existing, most likely.

I looked for city directory entries, and I found these–all date jumbled:

Leeuwenhock Lambertus (Jennie) household 110 Balch, 1926 City Directory: See Page
Leeuwenhoek Alice M, dressrnkr, boards 110 Balch, Kalamazoo City 1915: See Page
Leeuwenhoek Lambertus (Jennie) resides at 1014 Garden, City Directory 1935: See Page
Leeuwenhoek Lambertus (Jennie), grocer 110 Balch, residence same, Kalamazoo City 1915: See Page
Leeuwenhoek Lambertus (Jennie), grocer 110 Balch, residence same, Kalamazoo City, 1905: See Page
Leeuwenhoek Lambertus, compositor, 306 Wall., Kalamazoo City 1895: See Page

Compositor means that Lou was working on the Dutch newspaper. See here. But he had a grocery store in his house?

And if he lived in Vicksburg in 1930, but lived in Kalamazoo in 1926 and 1935, he couldn’t have lived in and owned a store in Vicksburg for very long. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a source for Vicksburg advertising yet.

I found this photo of Uncle Lou standing out in the front of the store, but I’m not sure which city this is:

Any ideas on the years, judging by the cars? Any idea if that looks like Kalamazoo or Vicksburg in the distance?

Likewise, I’m not sure which city Uncle Lou is in as he walks down the sidewalk? Does that window say “Russell” on it? In the city directories, there are many Russells, including ones owning businesses. There is one on Burdick Street, for instance, in my family’s neck o’ the woods, that is a variety store.

Here he is on a bench:

I wouldn’t be surprised to find this bench outside Richard DeKorn’s (his father-in-law) house on the corner of Burdick and Balch, judging by the design of the light colored stripe through the brick.

Here the photo is again–yes, it’s the same house. It’s hard to see Lou’s face up close. Below he is with his father-in-law, Richard DeKorn.

Uncle Lou with Aunt Jen and their only child, Alice:

Here is a closeup of young Uncle Lou.

And now this is a curiosity. This photo is labelled Lou Leeuwenhoek by the same person who knew that the man walking down the street was Lou, that that was Lou standing out in front of his store, etc. But IS it Lou?

This is not his brother, for sure. While it’s not the same hairstyle as the photos above, the features seem to be the same–except for the eyes which, in the other photos, seem to be deep-set. Is the difference aging (the style of tie is the same) or lighting?  Or is the photo mislabeled?


You can check out the Bibles Uncle Lou brought with him from the Netherlands here.

Unfortunately, I owe emails to a few very kind people about genealogy issues, but I have had no time to work on my leads. Instead, today, I thought I’d share with you some photographs of people unknown to me that I found in an antique store in Long Beach, California. When I go into antique stores, the old photos capture my attention more than all the other old discarded belongings put together.

I haven’t had the time to do much research on these photos either, but I post them here in case they can one day be matched with family or friends of the subjects.

Perhaps the most unusual is one of a cast of a woman’s face, rather than of a living subject. I will assume the woman was dead and hence the cast was made, but I can’t know for sure.

The photographer was Jordan, and the photo was taken in Washington, D.C.

The back helps more than most do.

Her name appears to have been Mercy (room to think Mary, but it seems pretty clearly Mercy to me) Ferries or Ferriss. Perhaps Ferris. She had eleven children: Adeline, Mary Jane, Caroline, Eleanor, John, Franklin, Luther, and four others.

A.M. Noble might be the name of the man (assuming) who made the cast.

A brief search right after I obtained the photograph yielded census information about a Mercy Ferris in 1900, 60 years old, a widow, one son living at home, a New Yorker. Unfortunately, there is no 1890 census as the records were destroyed in a fire. What is also unique, maybe, is that the photo was in Washington DC. I’m not finding much with a name like this for that area.

I judge the photo to be from about 1880-1915.

My next photograph I love for its peaceful scene of family or friends socializing in a beautiful porch setting.

I love the details of the mismatched chairs (including wicker one), the tablecloth, the sweater with tie, and the netting hanging down the side of the porch.

Unfortunately, nothing was written on the back of this photograph. Any ideas on how to research this photo?

And here is one more.

Maybe we can find the family of this young lady. The photograph is from St. Louis.

Her name was Miss Lena Buckhold and here is her address! In a quick search, I did see a Lena Taylor who died in California in 1980. Her maiden name was Buckhold, and she was born in Missouri on January 15, 1891. Could that be this Lena? It seems like a promising lead.

Please pass on this post, and let’s see if we can find the families!