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Archive for June, 2016

Last week I was given the most wonderful identification of the church that I thought was in Seattle circa 1918. It turned out to be First Congregational Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1917!!!

The young lady in plaid is a Culver, I’m sure. I don’t know who the other lady is. All dressed up for travel. What does the caption say? STARTING FOR SEATTLE AUG. 20, 1918. Hah, you can’t ask for anything better than that in genealogy and family history research. The actual answer–to the day–complete with new outfits and a Gladstone bag in the hand of the older woman. Look it up. It was named after Prime Minister Gladstone, and it’s a very specific and stylish type of luggage. I know this because . . . ta dum . . . I used to own a luggage store. Look at how crisp their clothing was. These poor orphanage girls, daughters of a woman who had to figure out how to make a living for her family of divorce, looks like they are doing pretty well. No idea why . . . .

Here are other photos. Tell me: what does it look like. Are these other people traveling with the Culver women? If so, why are they going to Seattle? Are they all planning to settle there? They seem to be “of a group” because the man is carrying a bag. But what if he’s holding the lady’s Gladstone for her? Maybe they aren’t all going.  I’m confusing myself. What I do believe is that that is Jennie to our right (and their left) of her plaid-skirted daughter. And I think the boldly decorated young lady on plaid’s right (to us she is farthest left) is the other Culver girl. 

 

Remember that this date is before the end of WWI, which ended in November.

While I have solved the mystery of when the Culver women left for Seattle, I still do not know WHY or WITH WHOM.

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Last year I posted a photo that I believed was taken in Seattle. It was in the Culver-DeKorn photo album that was so kindly sent to me by a “caretaker” of the photos for decades. I wondered what the uniform was that the man was wearing and what the building was that is shown behind him. My assumptions have been shaken to the core. The old post is in quote marks, and below that is what I discovered!

First let me tell you a little more about Jennie DeKorn Culver, my 3rd great-aunt. She is a very sympathetic character to me. She went through a divorce when very few people did so, and she lost her daughters to the orphanage for a little while because of that. She was an artist when that was not approved of for a woman, especially from her background.

Jennie’s parents and two siblings were all born in the Netherlands, but Jennie was born in 1857 in Ottawa, Michigan.

When Jennie was 7, her mother died. When she was 16, her father died. The year before her father died, her oldest sibling, Richard DeKorn, married Alice Paak  on May 10, 1872. Her sister Mary married John DeSmit on October 4, 1872. So when their father passed away, that left Jennie alone. Jennie didn’t marry John Culver until she was 25. What did she do from age 16 to 25 and where did she live?

Here is the old post:

(The Culver-DeKorn family: my great-great grandfather’s sister, Jenny DeKorn Culver, and her daughters, Lela and Rhea, who moved from Kalamazoo to Seattle 100 years ago.)

In the scrapbook which I received from a blog reader I found this photograph. Any ideas on the type of uniform? Since this would have been around the time of the end of WWI, does the uniform have to do with the war?

I don’t know who the man is. Most of the Culver photos are of women.

But the clues would leave me to believe the photo was taken in Seattle in or around 1918. But did Seattle have old elegant buildings like this at that time?

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Well, my goodness! I had a surprise yesterday when a blog reader posted a comment that upset my whole way of looking at the photo album in general:

That building is the old First Congregational Church in Kalamazoo. It burned down in 1925. There is a colorized view of the building halfway down this page.

http://www.kpl.gov/local-history/religion/first-congregational.aspx

 

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I can’t find a Carl Sadler in Kalamazoo who would be born around 1915 or 1916. Since these photos were taken in 1917, I am estimating that he was born around that time.

Another thing to consider: how many other photos in the album are from Kalamazoo?!

But stay tuned for the next installment of Aunt Jennie. Because I have some more new info about her!

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Sunday is Father’s Day, and it will be the 2nd one without my father. If he were here he might like if I shared some photos from his time in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

These are all from a fishing trip he was able to make, probably to the Yukon, in Canada, when he was stationed in Colorado or Alaska. I chose these photos because of all the times I went fishing with my father when I was a kid. We would take the rowboat out on the lake and fish for perch and (often) sunfish. Not like these fish!

 

Here is his permit from September 1, 1949. Notice it says Dad is a resident of Colorado, but that was his army address–he was actually from Chicago. Was he really living in Colorado at the time–or was it Alaska? I say that because I know he was in Alaska from the stories he used to tell me.

Apparently he took time out to see the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, too.

Fish experts: what kind of fish did Dad catch?

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Two and a half years ago (how can it be that long ago?!) I posted a series of 12 “episodes” called “My Grandfather’s Story,” which was the results of an interview of Grandpa conducted by a social worker when my grandparents were living in a senior apartment complex. If you want to check the story out, just type My Grandfather’s Story into the search bar of this blog and you will be taken to links to all the posts.

But my own family interviewed Grandpa (and Grandma, too) about life in “the old days,” as well!

I thought I would share a very brief clip where Grandpa is being interviewed about where he was born, and a bit about the neighborhood he was family was living in. It relates to a post where I wondered about a house the Leeuwenhoeks may have lived in. This would have been Grandpa’s Aunt Jen and Uncle Lou and their daughter Alice. You can find it here: Did the Leeuwenhoeks Live Here? After getting information from a reader, I posted Library Research on That Little House in the Woods.

Now we hear in Grandpa’s own words what he has to say about the neighborhood. When my mother asks about “the brick house,” she means Richard DeKorn’s (Grandpa’s grandfather) house. See it and read about it here: The Richard DeKorn House. My aunt Alice is seated on our left, and she begins the questions. Uncle Don is in the middle, and that is Mom on his other side.

One of the interesting points Grandpa mentions is that his grandfather, Richard DeKorn, owned three houses in the first block of Balch. By first block, I believe he means from the corner of Balch and Burdick. One would be the “brick house” he built himself. One of the others might be the Leeuwenhoek house.

Grandpa liked to tell stories about the past, so I think he would have liked these blog posts.

 

Grandpa and his father

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My last post Is it Live or is it Memento Mori? relied on information about the dates of the photographer of the photograph in question (whether the lady is dead or alive in the photo).  I used information from a listing of late 19th and early 20th century Kalamazoo photographers on Bushwacking Genealogy.

I started wondering if I approached my photos from this perspective if I could add information to my identification of photos and dates.

For example, this photograph of Carrie Paak Waruf was taken by Evans. Evans is not on Bushwacking’s list, but notice how the photo says “Successor to Packard 120 E. Main St.” So I looked when Packard seems to have stopped being a photographer at that address: 1887. But wait. Mary H. Packard seems to have been in business at that address in 1899. (The lesson here is to pay attention to the photographer’s address if it’s on the photo–they moved around quite a bit and it can help identify a year). Her husband committed suicide in 1898. So who was Evans? And what year was this photo of Carrie taken?

Carrie was born 8 May 1862 in Lexmond, Netherlands. She was my great-great-grandmother’s sister. That means that if Mary Packard was out of business by 1900, Carrie would have been 38 years old. And even older if it was sometime after that point.

That is not possible. This photograph is of a young woman. This is confusing. I might have learned something, but now I have still more questions (is this The Family Kalamazoo refrain or what? more questions, more questions)

Here is another one:

This woman is Jennie Remine Meyer (Meijer, married to Klaas Meijer who became Carlos Meyer).  She’s my first cousin, 4x removed. How old do you think she looks in this photo?

She was born 12 April 1860 in Kalamazoo. Just for the record, she passed away in Kalamazoo on 20 September 1940.

This photographer also bills him or herself as a successor to C. C. Packard, the photographer who died in 1898.  You are correct if you are guessing that Kidney is also not on Bushwacking’s list of photographers.

This is where I wish I had a Kalamazoo city directory for every year right at my fingertips.

If this photo was taken in 1900 or after she would have to be 40 or older.  I think she looks pretty good for 40. No botox, no makeup, no hair dye. But she could be 40, whereas I don’t see how Carrie could be 38 or older.

Then there are the clothes to consider. My instincts tell me Jennie’s clothing and hair is from an older period than Carrie’s, but that would be impossible because she is older than Carrie in the photos, but these two women are only two years apart in age.

There is much work to be done on solving the mystery of these two “successors” to photographer Packard.

Let’s just spot check a couple and see if the information on Bushwacking seems to correspond with the information I have about my photos.

This is Gertrude, Richard, and Adrian DeSmit, the children of John DeSmit and Mary DeKorn DeSmit. Gertrude was born in 1889, Richard 1887, and Adrian in 1891. If we assume that the children are about 6, 8, and 4 in this photo, the year it was taken would be 1895. The photographer Wood was Thomas E. Wood (also went by T.E. Wood) who was in business at least from 1887 to 1895, according to Bushwacking. She says he was not in the city directory in 1899. From 1887-88 he was at 316 E. Main St. From 1889-1895, he was at 134 S. Burdick St. The address on this photo is 134 S. Burdick St. (way up the street from the neighborhood where my relatives lived).

 

OH WAIT, what does that say in the middle of the bottom of the photo? 1895!!!!!!!! So my calculations about their ages was correct, plus it means that my grandfather was correct when he identified exactly which DeSmit children are pictured (there were many, but these were the youngest).  This verifies my info about the photo, as well as the info provided by Bushwacking.

Here is one more. Gerrit Leeuwenhoek:

Photographer Philley is not a common one in my albums, but he is on Bushwacking’s list. Silas Philley, Jr. In 1895, he was in business at 303 E. Main, and in 1899 at 305 E. Main. This photo says 303 East Main Street.

Gerrit died in the service of our military 23 July 1898. If you want to break your heart, read this: he only immigrated to the United States on in April 1897.  I’ve written about him previously in several posts–his death, his life in an orphanage, and the court case he brought against a teacher. You can search his name in my blog’s search bar.

But look at these dates. Since this photograph had to be taken in 1897 or 1898, it means that Philley was still operating out of 303 E. Main Street through that period. This helps narrow down the Bushwacking information a bit more.

I wonder why this photograph was taken and who paid for it. Since Gerrit was a young immigrant, I wonder if his older brother Lou paid for the photo. And I also wonder if it was taken because he was leaving for Cuba for the Spanish-American War. Would the government have taken photographs of new enlistees? If this were true, there might be more photos of young soon-to-be soldiers taken by Philley at this time period.

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