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Archive for March, 2014

One of the most frustrating aspects of this whole family photo/genealogy project is not being able to identify some of the photos. It’s bad enough to see the names and not know what the people looked like, but to actually have a photo in hand and not know which person or persons it represents is just maddening.

Take this one, for example.

This photo is from my the photographs my grandfather gave me, so these people were part of the Zuidweg/DeKorn/Paak family. But who were they? Is there a way to collect clues from the photo?

What do you notice about the photo?

And what could I investigate to learn more about it?

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When I was a little girl, my aunt was in college and still lived at home. Her dog, the family dog, was an English Springer Spaniel named Sandy. That dog had bitten me near the eye when I was a baby so everybody was always warning me not to go near the dog and to be careful of the dog. In kindergarten, my grandmother babysat me and I had to negotiate my way through the house with Sandy. I tried to make peace with him by making him a meat pie (with Grandma’s help) for his birthday.

What I didn’t realize was that dogs had been part of the family for generations.

Grandpa shared these photos and told me which dog was which. They belonged to Richard DeKorn, and Grandpa and his parents lived for some time with Richard (Grandpa’s grandfather). It means that they lived well over 100 years ago. I’m sorry the quality of the following photos isn’t better.

TOM AND CARLO DEKORN

TOM AND CARLO DEKORN

BOBBY DEKORN

BOBBY DEKORN

Is the dog running toward Richard DeKorn?

Is the dog running toward Richard DeKorn? Adriaan Zuijdweg in the background.

The dogs with Cora, Adrian, and Alice

The dogs with Cora, Adrian, and Alice

That’s Grandpa as a baby in his mother’s lap, so he grew up with the dogs.

Bobby in the yard

Bobby in the yard

For those of you who know about dog breeding or shows, can you tell me anything about the following?

I’ve owned dogs, too, but now I have four cats. Did my family have cats 100 years ago?  Here’s the answer:

Baby Alice playing with the kittens

Is that baby Alice playing with the kittens?

I sense that you want to know about my cats ;), so here is a slide show of my beautiful cats, as well as my grand-cats.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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Identifying the Klein sisters and others in the family photos on my dad’s side of the family is very difficult. It’s particularly difficult when sisters look very similar. So maybe you can help me?

To remind you, this is my dad’s Aunt Elizabeth.

Here is a photo of my grandmother:

Although my grandmother kept her long hair to a much later date than Elizabeth did, the picture of Elizabeth above with short hair was taken later. So I don’t want you to be swayed by the hair.

Which woman do you think is in the following photograph?

OK, here’s another one.

The above photo is the Van Gessel children again.  Which woman is this? Here she is in a close-up.

The man appears to be a friend of Peter’s.  How do I know that?  See below.

This photo of the two men with the boy was taken at the same picnic as the previous picture.

Now here are the two women together, but unfortunately, Grandma is looking down so you can’t see her face.

For fun, here is another Van Gessel photo.

That’s Grandma with her brother-in-law Peter Van Gessel.  The photo is around 1921.

Here is another question. How do we identify the building in the background of this last photo?

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Back in October I mentioned that thanks to meeting Adri van Gessel, an amateur genealogist who lives in the Netherlands, through this blog, I learned of an astonishing connection or coincidence in my family.  Adri first read my post, “Another Sailor in the Family,”  about my father’s uncle, Frank Klein.

I have been concentrating on my mother’s relatives on this blog. They are primarily of Dutch ancestry, mainly from Goes, a city in Zeeland, or the surrounding area. Before you read this blog, had you heard of Goes? Probably not, unless you’re Dutch. My mother’s father grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and her mother in Caledonia, Michigan. Kalamazoo and Caledonia are in different counties. It was quite the coincidence to learn that their relatives came from the same place in Europe.  Last spring I discovered that my grandparents, in fact, had an ancestor in common.

But my father’s family was in the Chicago area, and they weren’t Dutch, and there should have been no connections. My father and mother met when my father chose to attend Western Michigan University, which is located in Kalamazoo.

Imagine my surprise when Adri contacted me, and I learned that I have another connection to Goes through my father’s aunt, Elizabeth Klein. The grandfather of her husband, Peter Van Gessel, came to the United States (Grand Rapids, Michigan–same county as Caledonia!)  from a little village near Goes!

Is that not the wildest coincidence?!

Elizabeth was the oldest of my great-grandparents’ five children.  She was born in 1891 in Budesheim, Germany, outside of Bingen on the Rhine. Elizabeth married Peter Van Gessel, and they had seven children. Unfortunately, Elizabeth passed away in 1926 of “Edema of lungs due acute debilitative heart. CONTRIBUTORY:  Chronic myocarditis under my [doctor’s] care for 2 years.”

Elizabeth was about 34 when she passed away in 1926. Her youngest child was born in 1923, and according to the death certificate, she had been treated for myocarditis since her youngest was a baby. Since myocarditis typically is caused by bacteria or a virus, I wonder if his birth had anything to do with it.

I have photos of Peter and the Van Gessel children, but I wasn’t sure which woman in the family photos was Elizabeth. Nobody who knew her in person is still alive. But after studying the photographs and the contexts and ages of the children, and then asking my father and my uncle what they thought, it seems clear which woman is Elizabeth.

In the photo above, Elizabeth is the woman in the back, not the woman in front. That one is Aunt Anna, the sister one year younger than my grandmother–the 3rd sister. The two or three of the children belong to Elizabeth.  Notice how Elizabeth’s daughter, probably Colleta (maybe Josephine), has the same haircut as her mother.

Here is the same photo focusing on Elizabeth.

This photo was probably taken at the same time. Seated, holding the little boys, are Helen, my grandmother’s youngest sister, and an unidentified woman, probably a friend or neighbor. Anna is most likely taking the photo. Nobody looks very happy in this one!

Picture 610Does Colleta look about 11 or 12? If so, these boys would have to be either Robert and Laurence, the two youngest, or Robert (on Helen’s lap) and a child of the other woman. The thing with Robert is that he, unfortunately, passed away just short of 3 years old–of acute bronchitis. He was treated by the doctor for five days before he passed away.

Two years after her little boy died, Elizabeth also passed away.

So who is in the photo above and what year might this be?  The back row is Helen, Marie (my grandmother), Elizabeth, Margarethe (their mother), Peter Van Gessel.  In the front row is Frank (their father) and the Van Gessel children–Frank and Margarethe’s grandchildren. Anna, the other sister, is probably taking this photo.

Notice Peter: he had quite a sense of fun and joking.  Here’s another:

That’s Anna holding the baby. Peter (the oldest son of Elizabeth and Peter) is the boy standing, wearing glasses.

I am having a difficult time dating the photos based on the ages of the children.

Here is a photo where I feel confident, and so does Adri. It shows the 4 oldest Van Gessel children: Colleta, Josephine, Peter, and Elizabeth. Grace is probably the baby in the carriage. I’m actually not sure if the woman is Elizabeth or my grandmother. This photo would have been taken somewhere between 1917 and 1920. I think Elizabeth would have still had long hair at this early date.

Here is a photo of the four oldest children when they are older than the above photo: Colleta, Josephine, Peter, and Elizabeth.  I’m guessing this one to be around 1922.

A lucky happening is that, through Adri, I have “met” and been in contact with one of my Van Gessel cousins, the daughter of Laurence, the youngest Van Gessel child. Like me, she loves animals and likes to write.

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Last year, I published a post about a park that once belonged to family members and that had an inpact on me when I was growing up. Ramona Park, on Long Lake, outside of Kalamazoo, Michigan, featured a pavilion called Ramona Palace.  Ramona was named after the “Indian Princess” in Helen Hunt Jackson’s popular novel Ramona, which was published in 1884.

When I was growing up, the property was owned by a relative named Therese Remine.  Therese’s mother was Mary Paak (Peek), the sister of my great great grandmother, Alice Paak DeKorn.

Therese had inherited the property from Henry and Carrie Waruf, who had owned it for years.

Here are some photos of the pavilion and property that I inherited from the Waruf/Remine family:

Although these photos were taken before my time, not that much had changed by the time I hung out there–except that things had slowed down considerably. There were fewer picnic tables and fewer people.

You see that long dock in the 3rd photo? It’s so long it needs to be called a pier, I think! I don’t remember that either.

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