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Archive for the ‘Alice Paak DeKorn’ Category

Although I started this blog five years ago next month, and that sounds like a long time, I’ve been working (on and off–mainly off while raising my kids and teaching) on family history, family photos, and genealogy since I was just out of college and beginning a master’s in history (which I did not complete and ultimately switched to English and creative writing).

I was blessed with many antique and vintage photographs and a grandfather with a great memory and a talent for storytelling.

But it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I got the idea of putting my research and knowledge of our family history together with my creative writing. Then I began to write lyric poems, prose poems, and a few pieces in a genre that was new to me–flash nonfiction, which is a form of very short prose–based on individuals from my family’s past.

Ultimately, I pulled these pieces together into a chapbook (44 pages) which has been published by Finishing Line Press and is now available, not only on their website, but also on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites.

Kin Types looks at what the lives of my ancestors were like. The locales are mainly Kalamazoo (and other towns in southwestern Michigan), Elmhurst (Illinois), and the Netherlands. Using the fruits of my research, which included studying newspaper articles, documents, and the details of antique photos, I tried to “inhabit” the lives of some of the people who have come before me.

If you click through the link to the Amazon page, the book can be ordered for $14.99. To order through Barnes & Noble, try this link.

Here is a sample poem from the collection:

Genealogy

 

Tigers die and leave their skins;

people die and leave their names.  ~Japanese Proverb

 

The more relatives I unearthed,

the more Franks rose to the surface

like deer bones after a storm.

On the trails I could follow,

I found seven named Frank,

three Franz, three Francis.

Frans, Francois, and Franciscus.

Frances and Francisca,

the women peeking out

from under their fathers’ names.

The name passed forward

like a cross polished by many hands.

The verb frank means to allow free passage

for man or post. But these Franks

and Franciskas paid with their labor

and their babes buried along the way.

If you read this blog, some of the characters of the book might be familiar to you. And because the project is quite unique I think people passionate about family history, genealogy, history, and local history will probably be particularly interested. Some of the pieces have been published in literary magazines. Combined together, they tell a story of the history of “forgotten” women.

So what are you waiting for? 😉 Go to one of the links and place your order!  And thank you very much.

 

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I dug into the bottom of a file drawer and pulled out a book I forgot that I had. It was put together by the Kalamazoo Gazette and featured photographs sent in by individuals of Kalamazoo from the past up to the early 1960s.

My grandfather, Adrian Zuidweg, is listed as one of the contributors, so I went through and tried to find the photos he might have sent in.

Definitely these two photos. The little boy in the check dress and straw hat is grandpa himself. And the little girl on the hammock is his cousin Alice Leeuwenhoek.

Those are the relatives sitting on the front porch. Gosh, I own that photo! I didn’t realize that was Richard Remine (though I can see right now that it is, of course, him)–or his children Therese, Harold, and Jane either. It would fit that the two little girls are Alice (next to her grandma Alice Paak) and Therese. With Harold behind the children. But Jane doesn’t really look old enough in this photo. According to my records, Jane was 14 years older than Therese. Something is off here. That big gap in age between Jane and Therese bothers me, and it always has. And if you recall when I wrote about Frank and Jane Tazelaar, I had been confused for awhile about if there had been 4 Remine children and 2 girls of similar names.  This photo must be somewhere around 1901, based on the assumed aged of the 3 little children. Jane was born in 1881 and is not 20 here!

The known people: back row is Aunt Jen DeKorn Leeuwenhoek, Richard DeKorn, Richard Remine. Front row is Lambertus (Lou) Leeuwenhoek, Alice Paak DeKorn, and then the little girl next to Alice definitely looks like Alice Leeuwenhoek, Jen and Lou’s daughter. It would seem plausible that the three other children belong to Richard Remine, but Jane could not have been that small.

What else? Here is Harold Remine big enough to go fishing at Long Lake. The other photo is not from my family, but it does show off a great collection of hats!

This is the Ladies Library building that Richard DeKorn was the mason contractor for.

But I don’t think that is one of our family photos.

One of these photos could have been taken by Joseph DeKorn and been submitted by Grandpa. It is very similar to the ones that I own.

Take a look at the captions for the downtown views. Does it make sense? It doesn’t make sense to me for some reason.

Most importantly, Grandpa autographed this book!

Here is a bonus photo. It isn’t from my family, but isn’t it a cool reminder of the kitschy business architecture popular in those days?

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Over a year ago, I wrote a series of posts about Theresa (Tracy) Paak, the daughter of my great-great-grandmother’s only brother. Theresa was the mother of Professor Lawrence, who has been kind enough to send me photographs and information about his branch of the family. If you’ve been following along here for some time, you might remember my posts about Theresa Pake, the middle child (of five) of my great-great-grandmother’s brother, George.

You might remember that after the disastrous fire that destroyed the family home, Theresa went to live with Oliver and Una Pickard. Mrs. Pickard was Theresa’s Sunday School teacher. I wrote about the Pickards in George Paak’s Legacy, Part VI: Who Were the Pickards? What I discovered in my research was that the Pickards were married young, remained childless, and began their careers as nurses, both living and working at the State Hospital (psychiatric hospital).  Eventually Una became a private duty nurse and Oliver a postman.

I really tried to imagine this couple and what they were like because they proved to be so important to Theresa’s life. The other day I got my wish to see what they looked like when Professor Lawrence sent me photographs.

Una was 18 and Oliver 23 when they married. Could this be their wedding portrait?

Here is Auntie Pick, as she was called, in uniform.

And Oliver, or “Uncle Bob,”  in the classic “man walking down the sidewalk pose” (yes, we’ve seen it a couple of times already with other people in other photos).

Here is a photograph of Theresa herself taking a photograph of her foster parents.

 

Here is “Uncle Bob” with Theresa’s son Richard, or Dick, in Wisconsin. This is Professor Lawrence’s brother.

There was some confusion in the censuses over the address of the Pickards, but I think they lived in the same house for years at 1846 Oakland Drive.

And many years later. The house is no longer there.

As a bonus, here are photographs of Una’s parents and of Una as a baby.

She looks the same as a baby as at eighteen!

Here are the other Pake/Paake/Paak/Peek posts:

A Series of Disasters

The Children After the Fire, 1902

Paak-a-boo

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 Legacy, Part IV: A Letter to His Daughter

George Paake’s Legacy, Part V: Theresa Gets Married

 

 

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I’ll be taking a blogging break for the holidays, so I’ll leave you with this gift (that I first posted three years ago)  from Alice Paak (Richard) DeKorn to one of her children, possibly her daughter Cora, my great-grandmother. What a family and genealogy treasure–now 109 years old.

1907

Merry Xmas

from

MOTHER

In case you’re wondering about the use of the word “Xmas” instead of “Christmas,” this is what Wikipedia has to say:

There is a common belief that the word Xmas stems from a secular attempt to remove the religious tradition from Christmas by taking the “Christ” out of “Christmas”, but its use dates back to the 16th century.

I’m sure that this was just a way to fit it all on the tiny shell. What a lot of work to paint and letter this shell. I wonder if she made three, one for each of her children.

Happy holidays to you and yours! See you in the new year!

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I originally started this blog because of the wealth of photographs and glass negatives I had in my possession that once belonged to my grandfather’s uncle, Joseph Peter DeKorn. This post is a revision and update of the 2nd post on this blog.Joseph Peter DeKorn

“Uncle Joe” was born to Richard DeKorn, local building contractor and brick mason, and Alice Paak DeKorn June 30, 1981, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. When he lived in Kalamazoo, he was an enthusiastic photographer, capturing scenes and people in Kalamazoo in the very early 1900s. Most of the photographs by Joseph which I have were taken between 1903 and 1918.  His draft registration for WWI is dated September 12, 1918.  He graduated from Kalamazoo College and the University of Michigan Engineering School in 1909.  Joe was a hydraulic engineer and worked for the City of Grand Rapids for over 30 years.  He retired as Superintendent of the Grand Rapids Water and Light Company.

gr-press-sat-6-30-51-joe-dekorn-retiring-city-waterworks-chief-001-1

Here is a commendation letter from the City Manager upon his retirement.

joe-dekorn-commendation-city-mgr-retirement-001-2

Personal life

Joe married Christina Blandford on December 9, 1919 in Kalamazoo.  He was 38 and Christina was 35.  She was born June 22, 1884 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Christina’s parents were Isaac Blandford and Lily Kemp, both born in Ontario, Canada.   She graduated from Western Michigan Normal College (now Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo).  She was a school teacher and taught at Walker Township School, District #1 (later known as Fairview School) and Godfrey School in Grand Rapids.

Aunt Tena, when Uncle Joe was still “Friend Joe” to her, wrote him this postcard in 1915:

Tena sent this postcard to Joe on August 3, 1915

Tena sent this postcard to Joe on August 3, 1915

Aunt Tena wrote from summer school in Lansing in her beautiful handwriting

Aunt Tena wrote from summer school in Lansing in her beautiful handwriting

Tena and Joe resided during their lifetime at 841 Cogswell Street, NW, Grand Rapids, Michigan, just three houses from the Blandford family homestead.  The couple raised their two sons, Richard and Phillip in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Richard was born on January 29, 1920, and Philip Eugene was born on August 4, 1922. Joe worked as a hydraulic engineer or filter engineer for the City Water & Light Department, Grand Rapids.  He passed away on March 24, 1962.

Joseph died March 24, 1967 in Grand Rapids and Tena died October 11, 1979 again in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember Uncle Joe as I was too young, but I remember Aunt Tena as an elderly widow. She was memorable for her intelligence, kindness, fine china teacups, and her elegant and decorative old-fashioned handwriting (see postcard above).

 

The header photo (above) of the Kalamazoo flood in 1904 and the photos of downtown Kalamazoo from this post are some samples of Uncle Joe’s photographs.

 

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When Joost “George” Paak*  lost his wife in 1900 and then his mortgaged home in 1902, he must have been distraught and wondered how he would take care of five children. He was a laborer who was not even working at the time of the fire.

I know that he lost a mortgaged home because of the newspaper article (see post links below for the rest of the story) and because the 1900 census shows that he owned a mortgaged home. At that time, he worked as a farm laborer, but had been unemployed 3 months the previous year. I am guessing that this was a hard physical job and if he was sick he wouldn’t be able to work. I also think he had been unemployed for 3 months the previous year because of the winter. So he didn’t have a very stable job. He had immigrated to the United States at age 18 with his family. He was the oldest–he had 4 younger sisters. There was also a young brother who either died in the Netherlands or came here and would probably be known as William. Still checking into this.

In 1908, six years after the fire, George married Addie Amelia Gifford Wilder. This shows up on the 1910 census. At this time, George was listed as Joseph G. Peake (Joost could easily be Joseph or George, I guess), and he now had a stable job as a paper maker at the paper mill. He again owned a mortgaged home and guess where? At 1016 Trimble Avenue, the scene of the fire. So the house was rebuilt. And you know what? It still stands.

The 1920 census shows George still married to Addie. He owned his home free and clear. He was still a laborer for the paper company, earning wages, not salary. And he was 69 years old. Notice no retirement for George at that time!

Paper mills were big business in Kalamazoo, by the way. The city was known as The Paper City. There is a great article published online by the Kalamazoo Public Library. Click the photo of the paper vats to go to the article.

PaperVats_400

All three censuses show George immigrating to the United States in 1868, although in one of them it looks like 1860. He was naturalized as a citizen in 1891.

What the census does not show is that George married Esther M. Fields in 1906, gaining a 4-year-old stepdaughter, Florence Wilder! But a year and a half after the wedding, Esther died! (Professor Lawrence heard that George might have been married as many as five times, but I do not have the documentation yet on the other two marriages–or the timeline).

In the 1910 census, George’s household includes Addie, Fannie, and George. These are the two youngest Paak children. And the household also includes Esther’s 7-year-old daughter Florence A. Wilder! So George kept her in the household, which must mean she had no other family to take her in. But his own children, Theresa (Tracy) who was 17, Jane who was 20, and Cora who was 22 were not living at home. Theresa, as we know, was living with the Pickards as their perhaps unofficial foster daughter and being sent to boarding school.

Why did Theresa not live at home with her father and stepmother while a stepdaughter of George continued to live there? Maybe after the upheaval in the household after her mother’s death, the fire, and then the death of her first stepmother it was determined it would be better for her to stay with the Pickards permanently?

Professor Lawrence did tell me that he had heard that the children were farmed out to people, especially relatives, after their mother died. But at the time of the fire two years later it seemed that they were living at home with their father. I do wonder if my own great-great-grandmother helped out when her sister-in-law died or after the fire. The clipping about the fire was saved in the family documents, so she (she died 6 years after the fire) or her daughter must have kept it.

Why did Jane who never did marry and lived to be 107 years old (there might be a connection there haha) not live at home? Maybe she had a job and was providing for herself already. Jane lived in a nursing home near the end. In the photo there is a sign for her 100th birthday. I do have a photo of her at her 107th with cake, but she is in bed and obviously not well, so I don’t want to share that one.

Where was Cora? Was she married yet? Her first child might have been born in 1915, although I have not done much research on Theresa’s siblings as of yet. If she wasn’t yet married, I wonder if she and Jane were living together. That would be something to search.

This photo was probably taken in 1925 when George was 76 years old and a happy grandfather. The woman is Cora, his oldest daughter with her son John Rankin. John was not her first child, but the first by her second husband, John Rankin, Sr.

 

Here is another photo of George with two children. As always, I appreciate any comments about date identification or other important information.

* I’ve changed his surname spelling to the one that my great-great-grandmother used because I see that he did also use that spelling in addition to other spellings.

Here are the other Pake/Paake /Paak //Peek posts:

A Series of Disasters

The Children After the Fire, 1902

Paak-a-boo

Saved from the Fire

Who is George Paak, Sr.?

Curious about George

George Paak’s Legacy, Part I

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

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

George Paak’s Legacy, Part IV: A Letter to His Daughter

George Paak’s Legacy, Part V: Theresa Gets Married

George Paak’s Legacy, Part VI: Who Were the Pickards

 

 

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If you’ve been following along here for some time, you might remember my posts about Theresa Pake, the middle child (of five) of my great-great-grandmother’s brother, George Paak.

When we left off, Theresa had married Roy Lawrence.

I’d like to backtrack. Remember how her father’s house burned down two years after her mother passed away? It was 1902, and Theresa was only 8. The article in the newspaper showed how destitute the family was by the fire, George’s illness, and Lucy’s death. The paper emphasized that the oldest girl, Cora, had been running the household from the time she was 12 until the fire–when she was 14.

At some point after this, Theresa went to live as a foster child with Oliver and Una Pickard. It would have been hard to find this information strictly from documents, but I had a great lead in the form of Theresa’s son Professor Lawrence.

This is a quote from one of my earlier posts:

At some point Theresa lived with foster parents, Una Orline and Oliver Oratio Pickard.  Prof. Lawrence thinks she maybe have gone to live with them as early as age six, which would mean she wasn’t under the care of her older sister. However, the newspaper article about the fire in 1902 would show that she was still living at home at the time of the fire (nearly 8 years old). Regardless, at some point, the Pickards became the caregivers of Theresa. None of the other children in the family seem to have gone to live with the Pickards.

SO WHO WERE THE PICKARDS?

Professor Lawrence told me that Oliver was a postman and Una a nurse. He said he couldn’t find his mother with them in any of the censuses.

I did a little search myself to confirm and hopefully augment this information.

I found the Pickards in the 1900, 1920, 1930, and 1940 censuses.

1910 census Pickards

1900: living in a “home” with 74 other people. There is a couple that are the head of household and his wife. Then Oliver is listed as a nurse and Una as “wife” (incorrectly as the wife of the head of household). After that are 3 attendants, a cook, and a lot of patients. So were both Oliver and Una the nurses for the facility? I can’t find the address on the census document.

From there, I went to the previous page of the 1900 census. It’s a short page and this is how it ends after a listing of some patients: “Here rests the enumeration of that portion of the Michigan Asylum for the Insane situated in Kalamazoo township outside the City of Kalamazoo.”

But wait! the page with Oliver and Una is in Oshtemo Township. That gave me the idea to see if anything is written at the end of the Pickards’ “household on the page after the one listing Oliver and Una.”

Wow!!! Something was written and erased. I can barely make out anything, but it appears to say pretty much the same thing as the above quotation about the asylum but using Oshtemo instead of Kalamazoo!! Why was this information erased? So did the Michigan Asylum for the Insane have Kalamazoo Township AND Oshtemo Township facilities?!! I can’t go past that page because this section ends on page 36–and the Pickards are listed on page 35.

I looked up “Oshtemo township” with the Kalamazoo State Hospital, and I found that the hospital owned a farm in that township since 1888: Colony Farm Orchard. Some patients lived on and farmed the property. Could this be where Oliver and Una first worked together?

1920: living at 1846 Maple Street in Kalamazoo. They owned their own mortgaged home. Una’s parents lived with them. Oliver was a mail carrier and Una was a nurse at the State Hospital. At this point, Theresa was finishing up her education, still under the guidance of the Pickards. THERE! The State Hospital IS the Michigan Asylum for the Insane. The name was changed in 1911. So it looks like maybe Oliver quit nursing and became a mail carrier–and maybe they moved to their own home that way.

1930: living at 1844 Oakland Drive in Kalamazoo. They owned their home, worth $15,000. Notice that 1844 address here is similar to the address in the 1920 census. I wonder if it’s the same house and there is an error in the number and the street? Or are they two different “owned” homes?

1940: living at 1846 Oakland Drive in Kalamazoo. So it probably was 1846 Oakland Drive all along. Una is a registered nurse in “private work.” That makes sense because she is listed as 67, and she couldn’t possibly be providing care at the State Hospital at that age. Oliver said he worked 52 weeks in 1939, but his income from this work is listed as zero–but he has income from “other sources.”By now the house only valued at $8,000.

A look at the neighbors in the 1940 census does not show that preponderance of Dutch names that I’ve seen in the neighborhoods where my relatives lived. The surnames seem to be of English origin, for the most part. But in the 1920 census, the same neighborhood had more Dutch surnames. Maybe this reflects a change in the neighborhood–or in the demographics of Kalamazoo.

Professor Lawrence told me that Una was Theresa’s Sunday School teacher. She must have taken a liking to the girl. I think Theresa was an intelligent and hard-working child, so that may have appealed to Una who took her on either from affection or religious conviction or a mixture of both.

So who are these people who married young (she was 18 and he was 23) and worked and lived at the State Hospital until he left for a job as a mail carrier? Who never had their own children, but managed to provide a quality education and a religious upbringing to one of the Paake children? That would have been very hard work being a nurse at the “asylum.” It could also be dangerous. In approximately 1904, a resident doctor was stabbed to death.

I also think the Pickards were most likely Methodists as they chose to send Theresa out of state to a Methodist school.

What was it like for Theresa to live with the Pickards?

Here are the other Pake/Paake/Paak/Peek posts:

A Series of Disasters

The Children After the Fire, 1902

Paak-a-boo

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 Legacy, Part IV: A Letter to His Daughter

George Paake’s Legacy, Part V: Theresa Gets Married

 

 

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