Archive for January, 2015

I often wonder why more documents and photographs aren’t passed down in families. After I received that beautiful scrapbook that belonged to the Culver sisters (you can read about it here), I realized that sometimes it is because branches of families die out. There is nobody left who cares about the history of the family.

But what happens in so many other families? Sometimes someone moves and loses a box of photographs. Or they pass away and leave documents in the care of a descendant who hates “stuff” and throws it away.

Sometimes, though, it is in the hands of nature. A tornado, hurricane, fire, or flood carries away these valuable family treasures. I’ve tried to protect as much as possible against these possibilities. A fire safe and a supply of acid-free envelopes and boxes helps with that.

Nevertheless, I had a little taste of the damage that can occur from nature the other day. Well, maybe not nature–more like repairman error.

Last spring I walked around the corner of the house and heard a raging fountain. Water poured into the hall, on my beautiful alder wood floor.  Our hot water heater had burst. We discovered that the repairman had set it down, covering the drain, so the water had nowhere to go but out into my house. Ultimately the entire large-sized heater contents poured into my house, flooding the hall and downstairs bedrooms. The only reason it didn’t get into the living room is that the hallway and bedrooms are three steps lower than the living room.

Professional dryers lined up by my pool

We got help cleaning up the mess, and because we live in Arizona, where it is dry, everything seemed fine.

Until Tuesday that is.

I keep a plastic mat in the walk-in closet where I store my scrapbooks, books, and old writing. That’s because, to make more room, I have a library cart full of books and need to be able to move it from in front of the file cabinet. Because it’s so weighted down with books, it sinks into the carpet and needs a mat to roll on. I keep another plastic mat under my desk for my chair. Well, what I didn’t know was that although the carpet was dry, the slab (no basement in Arizona) had absorbed moisture from the flood. So when I put the plastic mats down, over these ten months, moisture collected underneath. The carpet developed rust spots. And at the edge of the closet mat, on the wall hidden behind the file cabinet, black mold developed. It didn’t grow on my wall or in the carpet, but on the baseboard and on the scrapbook I had leaning between the cabinet and the wall. You see, that scrapbook was not a treasured heirloom, but something that belonged to me.

It was from 1989 and 1990, when I graduated from grad school (Western Michigan University). Because I have an iPhone and a camera, I was able to take photographs of the “treasures” in the scrapbook and throw them away. But years ago, that would have been very unlikely. Film was expensive and everyone didn’t have a camera.


I added the “My Graduation” ribbon to this photograph to cover up something I had written in my bad handwriting on that page ;). But I still have the photograph of the original page.


In the following photo you can see the black mold a bit better. It is a flyer advertising subscriptions to a literary magazine. The flyer featured a poem by yours truly, as well as one by another poet.  Look at the mold! I was wearing latex gloves to handle it.


Years ago, my mother-in-law’s basement flooded. She had a wonderful collection of antiques and childhood keepsakes that belonged to her and some to my husband. All gone in a flash. Every once in a while my husband remembers something else that was in the basement and is lost forever.

Have you lost photographs, documents, or heirlooms?

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I saw this video the other day and thought I should share it here. It’s a home movie of Kalamazoo in 1952. At first you can see a good view of the Inkster neighborhood, then there is a panoramic view of the city, including the KPH Water Tower built by my great-great-grandfather, Richard DeKorn.

I almost remember that Kalamazoo, although I didn’t arrive there until 1956, as I was a baby when my parents moved back to Kalamazoo. Here is the famous Kalamazoo mall from about 1960, which is as I remember it from my childhood.

Here’s a video of Kalamazoo today. Please ignore the RUDE comments people have written after this video. Note Paris Cleaners at 3:24. See how the building is purple? The Paris Cleaners near my grandparents’ house when I was growing up was even more purple. Grandma used to single “Purple People Eaters” to me every time we passed it. We danced a little, too.

And to round things out here is a video of the damage from the 1980 tornado that hit downtown Kalamazoo. I happened to be there that day, at work, and it was incredible. Five people died that day.

You can see from the second video that Kalamazoo has rebuilt after the tornado. It’s a beautiful downtown.

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I wondered when I could ever get back to Theresa Pake. Since I couldn’t make time, I thought I would share something about her anyway!

On January 20, 1928, Theresa married Roy Lawrence. I’m posting this late on January 20, 2015, so that it’s the date of their anniversary.  Roy was born 5 November 1884, about 9 years before his bride.


Roy was a cigar smoker, but he quit when he married Theresa.

Is Theresa’s hair marcelled here? And what is the corsage she is wearing?


A Series of Disasters

The Children After the Fire, 1902


Saved from the Fire

Who is George Paake, Sr.?

Curious about George

George Paake’s Legacy, Part I

George Paake’s Legacy, Part II: Theresa’s Pre-Professional Education

George Paake’s Legacy, Part III: Theresa’s Professional Education

George Paake‘s Legay, Part IV: A Letter to His Daughter



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Here’s another unidentified photograph. The cardboard frame says it’s from Kalamazoo, but of course, it could be a copy. That said, I have noticed that most of my photographs of adults have been taken in Kalamazoo, not brought from the Netherlands or mailed from the Netherlands either. Nevertheless, maybe my unidentified pix fit into that latter category!


I have no notes from Grandpa on this one. He’s certainly Dutch, even the frame is from a Dutch photographer.  He’s balding, but tries to make up for it with his rather wild mustache.  Looks like he uses a curling iron for it.

His glasses are noted. But what I find particularly interesting is the color and tie. Surely that is a style from a certain period? Maybe even the cut of his coat lapels?

His posture is ramrod straight, so he at least wants to give the impression of a business man or upstanding citizen.

Any ideas about this one? Decade? His age?

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Here’s an old photo that remains unidentified. 35 years ago I asked my grandfather who the people were and he didn’t know.  “I dunno. Mebbe some VanLieres” is what he said.

I actually have no idea what branch of the family these people perch on.


In order to track it down I need to figure out approximately what year it is. Are there any clues if this picture was taken in the United States or the Netherlands? There are no clues on the actual photo.

Any guesses on the ages of the people–or their relationship?

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How’s that for a weird title?! If you didn’t notice I’ve been on a break, please don’t tell me or I’ll feel bad ;). I am back, but only on a limited basis because of all these things like work and life that keep intruding on my genealogy research and blog reading! I wanted to stop in today to say:


Let’s make 2015 the best yet!!

I have a set of old glass negatives that have been digitized. I’ve shared a few on this blog. Here is one I have not shared. At first I thought it was a photo of a pig (hog? what is the difference?) with her very cute babies. I am quite certain this was taken by Joseph DeKorn at Brook Lodge in southwestern Michigan (I’ve written about the place here).

But when I looked more carefully I saw Grandpa sitting in the upper right corner! I wonder what he was thinking and if he was tired. He seemed to be visiting the resort with his cousin and uncle.

Here are some more pig photos from Uncle Joe.

These photos are 100 years old. What remnants of our lives will there be in 100 years? Maybe too many!


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