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Archive for June, 2017

Great photos of a tour of Henderson Castle in Kalamazoo from Pedis-n-Passports.

Pedis-n-Passports

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While visiting Kalamazoo for my son’s college orientation at Western Michigan University, we had the incredible opportunity to spend a night at The Henderson Castle.  This delightful step back in time was more than we could have hoped for and was an enchanting reminder of our trip to Europe a few years ago when we resided in an Austrian castle.  Immediately upon entering, our senses were ignited with the spark of history–the aroma of old wood, the creaking of the original flooring and the soft melody of piano transported us to a royal destination.

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Almost two years ago, I posted photos of my grandfather as a very young man with an unidentified female. I hypothesized that she was his girlfriend before my grandmother.

Here they are together–looks like a couple to me.

I was going through some papers and found memory books my grandparents had prepared (one of his memories and one of hers) for the grandchildren. Inside Grandpa’s memory book, the question is asked: WHO IS THE GIRL YOU REMEMBER THE MOST?

This was his answer: (2) Vander Weele and Garthe: Don’t remember first names

So I did a little research on these names. I figured out who I believe at least one of the girls is, based on the census reports and other documents.

Garthe turned out to be Margaret Christine Garthe, born 11 days after my grandfather in 1908. She wasn’t from Kalamazoo, but from northern Michigan. She had come to Kalamazoo to attend Western. I found her in the 1928 Western State Teacher’s College yearbook.

Tell me if this isn’t the girl my grandfather is seen with above. Back row, 3rd from left.

 

From Ancestry it looks as if Margaret married Hans James Knutson. She passed away in 1997 in Muskegon, Michigan. Grandpa lived until 2000, happily married to the end to Grandma.

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I was doing a little research for a post I want to write about my grandfather when I discovered this link to a historical photography project in Kalamazoo.

Students are taking old photos from the Kalamazoo Public Library collection and photographing the same scene from the same angle. Very interesting. It’s still a work in progress, and I can’t wait to see more.

Check it out here: KALAMAZOO THEN & NOW

Although I am so disappointed that Western Michigan University’s old campus was allowed to be destroyed for the most part, I do think Kalamazoo has a strong voice for history–in part because of the university and an active library and in part because so many people love Kalamazoo.

How about your community? How does it take care of its history?

downtown Kalamazoo, photo by Joseph DeKorn

 

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Since this is the week of Memorial Day, I thought I would share something about a veteran from my husband’s side of the family. His paternal grandfather, Isidore Scheshko, was born 24 December 1889 in Tiraspol, Moldova, but ended up serving the United States army in WWI (and survived the war).

Six days before his 24th birthday, Isidore arrived in New York City, planning to become an American citizen.

Four years later, on 23 November 1917, he joined the U.S. Army and two months later was sent overseas for 13 months. His discharge information states that he was not wounded.

What the paperwork doesn’t say is that he was gassed during WWI–something that happened to a great many soldiers during that war. After that, he had a bad stutter. The only person he could speak to without stuttering was his wife, my husband’s grandmother, Celia. Since the long-term effects of mustard gas don’t appear to include neurological problems, I am speculating that maybe PTSD caused the stuttering.

My husband says that Isidore was also in the Czar’s army before he immigrated to the U.S. I think he’s a hero for joining up again so soon after coming to this country. After all, he was trying to support himself and learn English and he had a girlfriend (yes, Celia).

Not sure what army uniform this is: any ideas? Note that X on his right sleeve and the bars on the bottom of his left sleeve. Why do his legs appear to be “wrapped” with fabric?

We have a couple of postcards he sent to Celia while he was away. Here is one from 8 September 1918.

Then two months later:

Notice that he spells Celia’s name Sealie. And his own first name without the E at the end. The fine print legible underneath Isidore’s handwriting is the printed card itself, not postmark information. I don’t know where he was when this was sent, but it was in the middle of the period where he was “overseas.” It might seem surprising that after only four years in the United States, Isidore could write so well in English, but we do believe he wrote these cards himself. From the first card to the second, he apparently learned that it’s “I before E except after C.”

There is no way to tell from these upbeat notes to “Sealie” that Isidore had been gassed or had, in fact, seen any “action.”

Get a load of that fur hat in the photo on the left! It looks like the coat collar might also be fur. Do you think that is a uniform of the Russian army?

Isidore’s trade as a young man in America was a house painter, and when I think of the fumes he dealt with after he had gone through the gas in the war, it makes me wonder how he lived until 1953. But he didn’t stay a painter; within a few years, he and Celia owned a candy store in Sutton Place in Manhattan where his daughter (my husband’s aunt) went to school for a time with Anderson Cooper’s mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. That didn’t make him rich, but he didn’t suffer by coming to the United States, other than what he went through in the war.

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