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.
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.
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.
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: