Archive for April, 2013

After my great-great grandmother Alice Paak DeKorn passed away, Richard DeKorn remarried a woman named Jantje, called Jennie.  Her story begins this way . . .jenny j from ann marie

Once upon a time –well, in the 19th century–in the province of Groningen, the Netherlands, Martje Derks Wiltje married Harm Jansen.  They had two daughters, Kate and Jantje, who were both born in a town called Uithuizen. After Martje passed away, Harm and his daughters immigrated to the United States, where the family adopted the surname Johnson.

Harm Johnson

Harm Johnson
Probably a copy of his wedding photo from 1858 (copied 1891)

Jennie Johnson (eventually Sootsman and then DeKorn) and her family traveled to the United States on the SS Castor, arriving in New York on May 4, 1881. Below is a copy of the manifest and a photo of the Castor.SS Caster Page 1 Janssen immigrationSS Caster Page 5 Janssen Immigration name listMedia0050

Kate married Hemmens Edward Siertsema.  Kate and Hemmens had several children, including Annetta Lucile (Harmens) who was born in 1884 and died on 16 Dec 1974 in Kalamazoo.  Eventually Annetta had her own daughter named Annetta (born 1910), as well as a son, Lowell (born 1913).

Jantje (Jennie) married Oscar Sootsman.  They had two daughters:

1. MARION SOOTSMAN was born on 30 May 1892 in Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo County,

Michigan, USA. She died on 21 Apr 1948 in Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo County,

Michigan, USA. She married John Ewart McQuigg, son of Moore McQuigg and

Lizzie on 11 Aug 1928 in St Joseph Co. IN. He was born in 1894.

2. MAJORIE (MARGE) SOOTSMAN was born in Apr 1896. She married GEORGE OWENS.

3. There might have been a son, but if so, I haven’t been able to locate him yet.

Oscar Sootsman passed away in Kalamazoo in 1907. Three years later, Jantje married widower Richard DeKorn (you were waiting for the DeKorn connection, right?).  Richard died in 1930, eighteen years before Jantje, who passed on in 1948.

So these girls, Marion and Marge, were Richard DeKorn’s stepdaughters.  When Richard and Jennie married, the girls were 18 and 14. In the family photographs I have the girls are sometimes in family group shots.  Here is a photo of Alice Leeuwenhoek (Uncle Lou and Aunt Jen’s daughter) with Marge Sootsman.  To clarify, Alice’s grandfather was married to Marge’s mother.

On the following page, first photograph, you can see Jantje (Jennie) with her daughter Marion.  In between them is Jennie’s sister Kate’s granddaughter Annetta (1910 – 2005).  The top middle photo is Marge (Marjorie) and Marion Sootsman.  Below that is a photo of Marge by herself.  The next, or fourth, photo is Richard and Jennie DeKorn.  The man at the right is George Owen, who married Marge Sootsman.

In this next set of photos, we have the granddaughter of Kate, Annetta in two photos by herself and one perhaps with her brother Lowell (1913 – 2004).  There are three photos of Marion Sootsman.

The final set of photos shows Annetta at the piano and Lowell playing, Comstock, Michigan.  Then Richard (“Uncle Dick”) and Jennie DeKorn are pictured with Annetta, Lowell, and their parents, Everett William  and Annetta Harmens VanHoeve.   The center photo is Annetta at Comstock School.  The top right photo is in front of the Bath House at Ramona Park at Long Lake, which was owned by Richard DeKorn’s sister-in-law from his first marriage and her husband.  Annetta is seen here with her cousin Herman Harmens.  The bottom right photo seems to be Annetta with Lowell’s bicycle.

The following obituary belongs to Jantje/Jennie Johnson Sootsman DeKorn:

Blog reader Grady Ellis sent me these copies of scrapbook pages, as well as some family history from that family group.  These photos came to Grady from Susan A. VanHoeve McEwen, who owns the originals. He says that the Harmens family owned the Shell Service Station on Portage Street, just north of the Lovers Lane intersection.  He worked there while he was going to college in the early 70s “back in the days when you really received service in a gas station . . .  long ago.”

Grady shared the contents of an obituary in the Kalamazoo Gazette on July 19, 1907 for Oscar Sootsman:

“Funeral for Oscar Sootsman.

The funeral of Oscar Sootsman who was killed by being run over by the city sprinkling wagon Wednesday night, will be held at the home, on South Burdick street at 3 o’clock Saturday afternoon.  The Rev. William Pool and the Rev. Mr. Koolker will officiate.  Interment will take place at Riverside.”

Here is another:

What a sad death.  He was run over by the truck he drove. No wonder the paper said he was a man of great courage.  Here is his death certificate:

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I just found a photo which goes with one I posted last week.  Last week was the anniversary of my grandmother’s birthday and I posted a page from her high school graduation scrapbook.  Then I posted a photo my father had taken in the eighties of her with her four siblings and all their spouses–the whole Mulder family.

Here is a beautiful image of the four oldest Mulder children (Dorothy, Edna, Vena, and Pete) with their parents, my great-grandparents, Charles and Clara Mulder.

This photo would be before 1917 as Charles wasn’t yet born. Notice how Dorothy and Edna have matching plaid dresses on.  Although they were a year apart in age, they graduated high school at the same time.  It looks like they were almost treated as twins.  Vena (Alvena), the youngest daughter, is wearing an outfit which matches the older girls’ dresses, but appears to be a skirt with straps.  How do you like those “Dutch boy” hair cuts from almost 100 years ago?!

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Remember Lambertus Leeuwenhoek (Uncle Lou), husband of my great grand-aunt Jennie DeKorn Leeuwenhoek?  He’s the one who owned the Bibles I showcased in one post.  He and Aunt Jen owned a general market in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Grandpa gave me this photo of Uncle Lou’s younger brother Gerrit/Garrett (five years apart in age) and told me Uncle Lou and Gerrit were orphans, and that they both lived in Kalamazoo. Years later, I wondered why there were no more recent photos of him or stories of who he married or children he might have had.

In doing a newspaper search for the name Leeuwenhoek in Kalamazoo on Genealogy Bank, I discovered why.

He was a war hero who met an untimely death at age 21. (Yes, another family hero!)

As the July 26, 1898 Kalamazoo Gazette article states, Gerrit, who was born to Arie Leeuwenhoek and Mary Hoogedoom Leeuwenhoek in the Netherlands, had only been in the United States for a year when he heard the whistles blow in Kalamazoo that war had been declared on Spain (Spanish-American War).  He immediately enlisted in the army, was sent to Cuba, where he died of malaria.

Notice that it mentions Uncle Lou in Kalamazoo, but it also mentions two brothers and two sisters left behind in the Netherlands, as well as a brother who is in the Holland regular army in the East Indies.

I think it’s possible that my grandfather did tell me that Gerrit died in the war, but that I didn’t remember it and, if I took notes, I don’t know where they are.

His death even made the news in the Muskegon Chronicle on the same date.

On August 17, 1898, the Kalamazoo Gazette published a letter Uncle Lou received of his brother’s service and death.

To put the letter in the context of Uncle Lou’s life, he’d been married 26 months, and his daughter Alice was 15 months old, when he got word his young brother had died.

This letter makes it look as if Gerrit was buried in Cuba. Here is the interment control form which I found on ancestry.com.

Garrett Leeuwenhoek interment control form

What I suspected from this form is confirmed in the following article in the Kalamazoo Gazette on April 5, 1899.

Garrett’s body was re-buried in 1899 in Kalamazoo.  There are conflicting reports of his death date and name of his Company, but I feel pretty confident about the date of July 23, 1898 as the day he died.

Today he is honored with a brick at the Rose Park Veterans Memorial Park–a memorial park which my father Rudy Hanson and the Kalamazoo Sunrise Rotary Club were instrumental in bringing to the city.



If you would like to see first-hand newspaper accounts of the war from a Michigan newspaper, these links to articles in the Ludington Appeal show the general climate in Michigan at the time Gerrit decided to enlist.  These were provided by Jose at Enhanced News Archive.

Newspaper : Ludington Appeal – Apr 28, 1898
Ludington Appeal – May 5, 1898

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Photo by Rudy Hanson

After reading another post on Wednesday about Grandma’s high school graduation scrapbook, I thought you might like to see the Mulder family from Caledonia. Remember that in Edna’s scrapbook she memorialized the graduation of herself and her sister Dorothy. This photo must be from the 1980s.

From left to right, standing:

  • Conrad Plott
  • Edna Zuidweg
  • Ruth Ann Mulder
  • Chuck Mulder
  • Adrian Zuidweg
  • Alton Stimson
  • Dorothy Plott

From left to right, sitting:

  • Ruby Mulder
  • Pete Mulder
  • Vena Stimson

The five Mulder siblings in order:

Dorothea Rosa Mulder (1910-1996) who married Conrad Plott (1905-1889)

Lucille Edna Mulder (1912-2000) who married Adrian Zuidweg (1908-2000) [my grandparents]

Alvena Mulder (1913-2000) who married Alton W. Stimson (1911-1996)

Peter Godfrey Mulder (1915-1986) who married Ruby Elizabeth Ayers (1920-2007)

Charles Peter Mulder (1917-1989) who married Ruth Ann Holton (born 1924)

Ruth Ann, a very special lady, is the youngest of the group, and she lives near her daughter.

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Today would be the birthday of (Lucille) Edna Mulder Zuidweg, my wonderful grandmother, born April 17, 1912. We lost her on September 21, 2000.

In honor of Grandma, I’ll share more from her high school graduation scrapbook, which has quite a few goodies in it.  I wrote about it before in the post Who Put the Ring Stain on the ScrapbookToday I’d like to share one page of the scrapbook.

This page is my favorite because I learn more about my grandmother here.  In the upper left is a photo of my grandparents, which means that they were dating by the point she glued that photo in the book.  Aren’t they cute?  When and where did they meet?

In the upper middle is a photo of Grandma’s best friend Blanche Stauffer, Class Valedictorian.  Grandma was Class Historian and her older sister Dorothy was Salutatorian.  The newspaper clipping on the upper right explains all that.

The congratulations note by Elsa looks treasured.  At the bottom left is a newspaper clipping which is from April 1920:

Miss Edna Mulder celebrated her eighth birthday anniversary with a party Saturday.  Twenty little people were present.

In the bottom right corner is another clipping.  This one is also from 1920:

The first of the spring flowers again comes to our desk through the thoughtful kindness of little Edna Mulder.  Flowers while we live to enjoy them are far sweeter than those at death for does not some one tell us that “Flowers on the casket can cast no fragrance backward over life’s rugged way.”

One more scrapbook treat is the “entertainment” for Grandma’s 8th grade graduation, which took place  in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on June 12, 1925:

Happy birthday, Grandma.  I miss you! xo

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I’ve been chatting on about Kalamazoo, Michigan, for some months now, but if you don’t know the city or the area, you probably only know what I’ve been able to post.

If you would like to see more of historical Kalamazoo, here are some links:

Kalamazoo Public Library

The library has links to many collections, including one which displays this photo of 310 E. Michigan Avenue in 1893.

Vanished from Kalamazoo, County

This site allows people to send in photos of businesses and other places in Kalamazoo which have vanished from the landscape.  Here is a photo which was sent in by my brother of the family business.  At the time of this photo my father Rudy Hanson owned both the luggage store and Why Shoe Works located next door (you can see a bit of the sign).

The History of Kalamazoo, MI

This site provides history, but no photos.

Michigan Genealogy

At this site you will find photos such as the one below of the Upjohn Company, a very important part of Kalamazoo for decades, in 1933.

Portage District Library

This site is good for history and photos of Portage.

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I’m still thinking about Alice’s terrible accident.  She died in 1908, 17 years after it happened.  I looked through my photos to see if there are any of her after the accident, and this is the best one to see that her hands did recover.

Alice Paak DeKorn with her granddaughter Alice Leeuwenhoek (born 1897)

Until I have a chance to do some work on FindAGrave for my ancestors, I am paying my respects through this blog.

Here are photos of the gravestones of Alice Paak DeKorn and Richard DeKorn.   The grave sites are at Riverside Cemetery in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

The photos were submitted to Find A Grave by “Barbara from Michigan,” and I’m indebted to her for this service.

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