Click here for Part I.
In my post of July 16, I shared the beginning of the story pieced together by Connie Jo Bowman in 1994, when she interviewed my grandfather Adrian Zuidweg. Here is the next part. Today I am going to focus on just one paragraph–to try to unpack it.
Here is what Connie wrote:
His father owned a fish market and Adrian’s earliest memories were of going to his aunt’s house while his mother helped out at the market. He remembers playing with his cousins around the big woodburning stove and the “outside toilet.” This was before 1911 because that was the year gas and sewer lines were brought up the street to their house.
I’ve written before about Grandpa’s father’s fish market in the post “My Great-Grandfather Reinvented Himself as a Business Owner in the U.S.” I share photos in that post of the interior of the fish market and the interior of the ice cream parlor Adriaan Zuijdweg (Grandpa’s father) owned after the fish market.
So that’s where Grandpa’s mother Cora went to “help out” at the market. But Grandpa himself stayed at his aunt’s. There are two possibilities. One is his Aunt Jen, Cora’s sister. The other is his Aunt Johanna, his father’s sister. Before 1911, Grandpa was a toddler–maybe two years old. Some people don’t have memories from that age, but I also have memories from when I was two years old.
Let’s say the year was 1910. In 1910, Johanna Zuijdweg Van Liere had been in the United States for six years. She married her husband Marinus Van Liere in Goes, the town in the Netherlands they were both from. Johanna had two baby boys when she immigrated here, and by 1910 may have had six, seven, or eight boys. I’m not sure if they all survived infancy, but she was evidently quite busy.
Grandpa’s mother’s sister Jen, on the other hand, had one 13-year-old daughter in 1910.
If Grandpa played with his cousins around the stove and the outhouse in the yard, it would be Johanna’s children. This led to me to search out where Johanna and Marinus were living in 1910.
The 1910 U.S. Census shows Grandpa living with both his parents, Adriaan and Cora, his grandfather Richard DeKorn, and his uncle Joseph DeKorn in the Richard DeKorn house at the corner of Burdick and Balch: 1324 S. Burdick Street. Since the house still stands today, if it wasn’t moved, the address numbers have been changed on Burdick. The VanLieres, Johanna and Marinus, and their six boys lived at 1338 S. Burdick Street. It looks like another family lived between them. About four houses down from the VanLieres lived John and Mary DeSmit and their children. Mary DeSmit was Richard DeKorn’s sister.
I found it interesting that the census shows Johanna and Marinus speaking English, although they had only been in this country for six years. A few of the neighbors spoke Dutch, but most of them spoke English.
In this section of Grandpa’s story, he remembers that gas and sewer lines were brought up to their house in 1911. It must have made a monumental difference in the quality of their lives. Because his grandfather, Richard DeKorn, was a building contractor, would they have been quicker to get connected or was it something they had to wait their turn for, like everybody else?
On a personal note, I was surprised that Grandpa’s family was as close with his father’s sister and her family as this research shows. I knew that the family was often with Aunt Jen, as many of the family photos are of Jen and her husband Lou. But there aren’t as many photos of Johanna, nor do I know the history of that branch of the family as the children all grew up.