Blogger buddy José at Enhanced News Archive sent me a link to the 1869-1870 Kalamazoo City Directory that lists only one person with one of my family surnames. His name was William DeKorn, and he was a laborer who lived right downtown (194 S. Burdick Street). This seems much earlier than my family came to Kalamazoo. “My” DeKorns first settled in Ottawa County, near Holland, Michigan, before they made their way to Kalamazoo.
I decided to see if this William DeKorn could be related to my family. There is another branch (connected much further back) that settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan, so I wonder if he connected with them or with my family that first went to the Holland, Michigan area. I wrote about the other branch in this post: The Confusing Saga.
First I went to Ancestry and discovered that this City Directory is the only item that comes up for the name William DeKorn, living in Kalamazoo.
Next I went to the Dutch genealogy website, WieWasWie , and there were not any William DeKorns or DeKornes, with or without a space between the De and the Korn. So, knowing that Willem is the Dutch version of William, I looked up that name. Only one Willem DeKorne who had any documentation in the years before 1869-70. He was from Hoedekenskerke, which is apparently 6.5 miles from Kapelle where my DeKorn/DeKornes come from. The Willem documents that come after 1869 are from a town in between these towns, so all the DeKornes seem to be in the same general area. The Willem I found is the son of Paulus. So I looked up Paulus, and they were all connected with those same three towns.
At that point, it would have seemed logical to try to connect Paulus with my ancestors. I have the DeKorns going back five more generations before Boudewijn.
Instead, I thought I would check to see if my ducks were in a row first. In other words, instead of searching farther outward, I went inward and took a peek at my family tree.
I was astonished to
see be reminded how early those first immigrants, Boudewijn and Johanna (Remijinse) DeKorn, must have moved to Kalamazoo. In the 1860 census, they were still living in Ottawa, four years after immigrating from the Netherlands. But Johanna died in 1864 in Kalamazoo. Boudewijn died in Kalamazoo in 1873 or 1875. As you can see, Johanna’s death predated the City Directory publication.
So I took a look at the 1870 census. There was William DeKorn, much as he was in the City Directory, except the census recorded that he lived with his three children: Richard, Mary, and Jennie. In short, William WAS Boudewijn. And why wouldn’t he have changed his name to an “American” one? With a name like Boudewijn . . . . Richard was already listed as a brick mason in the census, although he was only nineteen years old.
There never was an earlier DeKorn in Kalamazoo, after all. Boudewijn was the first of the family to venture to Kalamazoo, probably because of the housing boom. I’m not sure if there if a way to locate the address on the census since every entry is listed in numerical order, but apparently not tied to a particular address.
It did strike me as odd that there was only one Willem DeKorne listed before 1870 on WieWasWie because, for centuries, the Dutch consistently reused the same names, giving a child the name of a grandparent, most typically. If Willem had been a family name for the DeKorns I would have seen more Willems from earlier years.
Knowing that Boudewijn changed his name to William might make it easier to search for other traces of his life in the United States.
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