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Archive for the ‘DeKorns’ Category

Since this post was published a few hours ago, I have heard from someone who has been able to help with some information. See near the end for the discovery.

I realized that it was far past time that I research the DeSmit family. To give you an idea of how they fit into my family, let me give you a little overview. My great-great grandfather, Richard DeKorn, had two siblings: his sister Jennie Culver and his sister Mary DeSmit. Well, they were born DeKorns, but took on their  husband’s surnames, of course.

Because of the beautiful gift of the “found” photograph album sent to me by a kind stranger I have posted quite a bit about Jennie Culver, her divorce, and her two girls, Rhea and Lela. Jennie is featured in one of the poems in my chapbook Kin Types“What Came Between a Woman and Her Duties.” This poem was first published in the literary magazine Copper Nickel.

Richard’s sister Mary DeKorn married John DeSmit, Jr., and that is my connection with the DeSmit family, so I will begin the story of the DeSmits with that of Mary’s father-in-law, John DeSmit, Sr., a pioneer of Kalamazoo, Michigan.

On 2 July 1912, the Kalamazoo Gazette published this article about John. Because it was his birthday celebration and not an obituary, I believe it has a good chance of being an accurate history of his life. There is even a photo!

John DeSmit, one of Kalamazoo’s oldest pioneer residents, celebrated his 87th birthday anniversary yesterday by industriously laboring all day in a celery patch in the rear of the home of his daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Hycoop on South Burdick Street.

For a man of his advanced years Mr. DeSmit is remarkably hearty and spry. Age has not dimmed the sparkle in his eye and at times they twinkle with merriment, as he laughingly comments on events of early-day or present-day Kalamazoo. To a reporter for The Gazette who asked him if he was enjoying himself on his 87th birthday he laughingly replied:

“Yes, this is my 87th birthday. I am feeling fine and having a lot of fun all by myself.”

Mr. DeSmit, accompanied by his wife and a baby boy, arrived in Kalamazoo on May 2, 1854. There were only about 1,200 inhabitants in the village then and money was not as plentiful as it is today.

ARRIVED HERE WITH EMPTY PURSE

“When I first came here,” said Mr. DeSmit, “I did anything I could get to do. I got my first job on the afternoon of the day I arrived. It was tending a mason. I was so near flat busted that I went to work without eating dinner. I was paid ten shillings a day to start. I picked up the trade by degrees and most of the time since then I have worked as a mason. I finally began to do contracting in a small way and some of the jobs I did were the building of the spring works in ’78 and the old Kalamazoo house in ’79. I also built the old part of the American house.

“In ’76 my friends induced me to make the race for alderman from the Fourth ward and I was elected. I served that year and ’77. In ’79 I was re-elected and served two years. In ’88 I was appointed to street commissioner.

It was Mr. DeSmit who dug Axtell creek in ’77-’78, draining a large section of marsh land, much of which is now included in the most valuable tract of celery land in Kalamazoo. In ’72 he built the sewer from the jail through the courthouse yard to Arcadia Creek. This was when little was known of the sewer building in Kalamazoo and when few would bid on a sewer job.

HELPED IMPROVE BRONSON PARK

In ’77 Mr. DeSmit raised $1,000 by subscription to fill in and improve Bronson park and the council–then the board of trustees–voted another $1,000 for the work. It was then late in the fall and as he left the council the following spring, being succeeded by George Kidder, it fell to the lot of the latter to complete the park work begun by Mr. DeSmit.

Mr. DeSmit came to America in 1850, arriving in New York on October 1 of that year with his bride and four other young married couples. They sailed from Rotterdam and were 113 days in crossing the ocean. None of the five couples had any money upon arriving in America, but the men of the party secured work in the woods of Long Island and after many hard struggles saved enough of their meagre wages to emigrate west to the land of promise. As far as he knows Mr. DeSmit is the only one of the five couples now living.

HE’S HAPPY AND CONTENTED AS ANY

“I’ve worked hard all my life,” said Mr. DeSmith, “and I’ve seen a lot of happiness. I’ve also seen some dog’s weather and some black snow, but it’s what we all get in this life some time or other. I guess for a man of my years I’m about as happy and contented as any.

Mr. DeSmit has five children living, all of whom reside in Kalamazoo. They are John, Adrian, and Martin DeSmit and Mrs. Elizabeth Hycoop and Mrs. Christine Flipse.

The aged man lives at 1017 South Burdick Street.

He lived on South Burdick. Of course, he did! That area of Burdick must have been quite the “Holland” or Dutch enclave.

Is this article not a windfall for a family researcher? Look at some of the facts I found.

  • He arrived in the United States on 1 October 1850
  • He left approximately 113 days before that
  • He lived on Long Island for awhile before coming to Michigan
  • When he came to Kalamazoo, only 1,200 people lived there
  • He was instrumental in getting Bronson Park off to a good start (Bronson Park is the town square of Kalamazoo)
  • They left Netherlands through Rotterdam; however, no info about where in Holland they came from
  • How he got started as a mason
  • How he happened to be in New York (because this is where John Jr. was born)
  • I am not the only person who persistent types DeSmith instead of DeSmit (ugh)
  • I learned some new expressions: “dog’s weather” and “black snow”–“dog’s weather” or hondeweer is a common Dutch expression meaning bad weather, such as rain or a storm. I was given help for this through a kind Facebook group. The answer to “black snow” can be found here. It means: “misery, experiencing poverty” and is better known in Belgium. This in interesting because one of my helpers with the DeSmit family believes they came from an area very close to Belgium.

There are several newspaper articles about John DeSmit gifting celery to the Gazette, particularly at the time of Thanksgiving and Christmas–so much so, that they expected it. This one is 30 November 1893:

This theme is repeated over several years. Here is one from Christmas day 1896.

Although the year 1851 is probably incorrect (1854 fits with the chronology better), you have to love the details: “clothed in wooden shoes and corduroy.”

Three years later, the paper commemorates John DeSmit’s 90th birthday.

Here we learn that he came to Kalamazoo in 1854 and that he served in the Dutch army in 1845. And that his birthdate is 1 July 1825. We also get an overview that tells how important his construction work was to the formation of Kalamazoo’s streets and sewers. John belonged to the Reformed church.  Best yet, the photo is better in this clipping than in the first.

John DeSmit was still going strong for his 91st birthday party.

 

Even back in 1899, the paper was celebrating John DeSmit’s 74th birthday. Some of the details here are different than in the other articles. I can’t help but wonder if the paper made mistakes or if John’s memory altered things as he got older. For instance, here it is 135 days on the ocean from Rotterdam to NYC, whereas it was 113 days in 1912 (13 years later). Also, the address of his house is slightly off here, but I do appreciate that the info is shared here that he owned his house since 1858. Notice that in 1899 he had six living children, whereas later he had five and then four. Also in the following article, one of his children is living outside of Kalamazoo.

Eventually, John DeSmit succumbed to old age.

John DeSmit passed away on 10 March 1919 at the Burdick Street house he had lived at for decades. According to his obituary’s omission of daughter Christine Flipse, she appears to have passed away. But more on that later when I write about John’s wife and their children and grandchildren.

Alas, even with all these newspaper clues I can not find a trace of John DeSmit in wiewaswie records. His Dutch name was Jan, but although I have his birthdate and an approximate time period for his marriage date, I cannot find his birth or marriage records.

That all changed a few hours ago when Hubert Theuns discovered John Sr.’s birth record. He found it in the Zeeuws archives, which is where I should have looked to begin with. The date was correct: John was born 1 July 1825!! in Zuidzande, Netherlands, which is not far from Belgium.

John’s birth name was Jannis, and his father was also Jannis, so rather than being senior, he was at least III because “Senior’s” grandfather and father were Jan! Thank you Hubert.

Thank you so much for all the help of Adri Van Gessel, Adriaan Leeuwenhoek, and Joel Reeves!

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Last week I showed you the beautiful work Val Erde at Colouring the Past did on my great-grandfather Adrian Zuidweg (Adriaan Zuijdweg) photograph, so I wanted Val to perform her magic on a woman or two in my photo collection.

Here is a photograph of Adrian’s wife, Cora DeKorn Zuidweg, my great-grandmother. I don’t believe I have shared this one yet as it was in the beautiful old album I only recently scanned. This is the youngest I have seen Cora where I knew for sure that it was, indeed, Cora.

Cora hasn’t quite lost the “baby fat” in her face here.

She is beautiful, though the photo has damage, especially foxing stains, on it.

But look at Cora after Val gives her some color!

I also asked Val to color a photo of Cora’s mother, Alice Paak DeKorn. The one I gave her was quite faded, so the resulting work is not as vibrant as the others, but it still allows Alice to come off the page into my heart.

Here was the original:

That does it for now with the “in living color” photos. I ordered these two and Adrian’s for this blog, and I share two others on my blog Entering the Pale. I hope to order more sometime in the future. Don’t hesitate to check out Val’s blog for more examples of her beautiful work.

 

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The more I peer into the past, the more I feel like Pandora. In addition to discovering wonderful information about my ancestors, sometimes I discover sad, tragic, or even disturbing events.

For instance, I have found out more about the sentencing of my great-great-grandfather Johannes Zuijdweg (Zuidweg).

Unfortunately, what I discovered is not positive.

Here it is cropped a bit to make it easier (thanks for the idea, Amy!). His entry is the third down on both pages.

 

 

According to this document and the kind translators on Facebook, Johannes did serve two months in jail for theft, from July 15 to September 13, 1895. Imagine how Jennie felt. She had just lost her youngest child (of three) to a gruesome accident and now, a year later, her husband was serving time in jail. Everyone in their neighborhood and at their church must have known.

I don’t know if I will ever discover what was stolen or what the situation was, but I will always believe that the death of Lucas had something to do with it–given that death, the older age of Johannes, and his otherwise respectable history.

Remember for that last document when Johannes’ hair and eyebrows were translated as blond? The translation I received for this document for his looks is this way:

I can only read the enlarged part…. sex: male father: Adriaan mother: Johanna Maria Mulder nationality: Dutch civil status: married religion: reformed lower basic education: yes age (at inclusion) 52 behaviour (in institute (?) : good lenght: 1.64 m hair: greyish eyebrows: same (greyish) forehead : low eyes: grey nose: large mouth: ordinary chin: round beard: none face: oval complexion: healthy language spoken (literally: ordinary language) special features (?): none

“Greyish” hair and eyebrows!

I’ve sponsored Johannes’ memorial at Findagrave. You can find it here. I discovered that someone had posted an obituary for him on the site. Since the paper had apparently misspelled two names, I put a note explaining what the spelling should have been.

JOHANIUS ZUIDWEG. Following a long Illness, Johanius Zuidweg, aged 68, died at his home, 214 east Vine street, 9 o’clock last night. He came to this country from Holland nine years ago. He is survived by a widow, a daughter, Mrs. Marleilus Van Liere, and a son, Adrian Zuidweg, all of this city. The funeral will be held at the residence 1:30 o’clock Friday afternoon and from the Fourth Reformed church at 2 o’clock, the Rev. Mr. Frost officiating. The interment will be in Riverside cemetery. Kalamazoo Telegraph-Press May 17, 1911 (copied as written in paper)

Note:Johanius should be Johannes. Marleilus should be Marinus.

I was sorry to see that Johannes suffered a long illness before he passed away. 

However, when I look at the death certificate, his illness appears to have been 20 days. The cause of death was broncho pneumonia. I wonder if he had another illness that then turned into pneumonia.

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Up until now, I’ve written very little about my great-great-grandfather Johannes Zuijdweg (Zuidweg). He was married to Jennie Bomhoff Zuidweg. I wrote about her knitting skills for U.S. troops here. Johannes and Jennie were my grandfather’s paternal grandparents. He talked about Jennie to me, but he didn’t really know his grandfather who died when Grandpa was only three.

The birth of Johannes is an important moment in the history of our family because his parents tie together the Zuijdwegs/Zuidwegs and the Mulders. Grandpa was a Zuidweg, and Grandma was a Mulder. Both families were from Goes, Netherlands, and they both are descended from Karel Mulder, the jailer’s hand.

The record of the marriage of Johannes and Jennie I found at wiewaswie. Here is a transcription of the marriage document:

BS Huwelijk met Johannes Zuijdweg

Groom
Johannes Zuijdweg
Profession
kruideniersknecht
Birth place
Goes
Age
26
Bride
Jenneqien Bomhoff
Profession
dienstbode
Birth place
Zwolle
Age
31
Father of groom
Adriaan Zuijdweg
Mother of the groom
Johanna Mulder
Profession
Arbeidster
Father of bride
Lúcas Bomhoff
Mother of the bride
Johanna Danser
Event
Huwelijk
Event date
04-11-1869
Event place
Goes

To read (in Dutch) the pages of the record, read the page on the right of the first image and the page on the left of the second image. If you look at the signers on the document itself you will see that one of the signers was a Van Liere. That is another family that has shared a path with my family.

Johannes was born in Goes on 23 December 1842. Here is the transcription on wiewaswie:

BS Geboorte met Johannes Zuijdweg

Child
Johannes Zuijdweg
Birth date
23-12-1842
Birth place
Goes
Gender
Man
Event
Geboorte
Event date
23-12-1842
Event place
Goes
Document type
BS Geboorte
Institution name
Zeeuws Archief
Institution place
Middelburg
Collection region
Zeeland
Archive
25
Registration number
GOE-G-1842
Sourcenumber
171
Registration date
24-12-1842
Certificate place
Goes
Collection
Goes geboorteakten burgerlijke stand

birth record of Johannes Zuijdweg

In the Netherlands, Johannes worked as a grocer’s hand, a crier, and a merchant. Johannes and Jennie had three children. When Johannes was in his fifties, on 4 April 1894, the youngest child, Lucas (now a young man) was killed in an accident. According to Grandpa, he fell on a boat anchor.   Within a few months of the death of Lucas, there was an astonishing development in Johannes’ life. He was sentenced to prison!

 

On the Facebook group “Dutch Genealogy,” a kind person translated as much of the document as he could.

Column 1: (record number) 496 —
Column 2 (First Names and (last) names) Johannes Zuidweg
Column 3: Occupation koopman (merchant) —
Column 4: (Location and date of birth) Goes on 20 December 1842
Column 5: (Place of Residence) Goes
Column 6: (not sure, I guess date entered in the book?) 19 June 1895
Column 7: (again nit sure, I guess date of judgement) 31 May 1895, Jurisdiction Court Middelburg
Column 8: (description of offense) Diefstal (Theft) —
Column 9: (Opgelegde Straf,, Punishment) twee maanden gevangenstraf (two month imprisonment) — \
Column 10: (dagtekening straf ingaat , start of punishment) 19 June 1895
Column 11: (dagtekening straf eidigt, end of punishment) 18 August 1895
Column 12: (again, nut sure. Date of transfer?) 19 June 1895 (and signatures)
Column 13: ( ) 19 June 1895
Column 14: () had te kenning gegeven dat hij een verzoek om gratie had ingedient ( he noted that he had requested clemency)
Column 15 (): Officier van Justitie, Middelburg, 19 June 1895 —
Column xx: () Geene (none)
Column xx () Geslacht (gender) Mannelijk (Male)
Vader (Father) Adriaan
Moeder (Mother) Johanna Mulder
Nationality : Nederlandse
Burgerlijke Stand (civil status): Gehuwd (Married)
Godsdienstige gezindte (religious affiliation): Gereform. (I think, reformed)
Lager onderwijs genoten (elementary education): yes
Ouderdom (bij opneming) (Age at time of entering prison): 52 years
Gedrag in het gesticht (behavior in institute): (not filled in; he may have served)
Column yy (): Length 1m 60 cm; Color Hair: Blond; Eyebrows: Blond; Forehead: low; eyes: grijs (grey) neus (nose): groot (large); mond (mouth) )can’t read; kin (chin) round; baard (beard) none, aangezicht (face) round; kleur (facial tint): gezond (healthy); gewone taal (ordinary language): (—) Byzondere teekenen: geene (none). Handteekening (signature) (blank space)

The attached page is a telegram from the courthouse in Middelburg to the Prison in Goes, stating that “Nu Zuijdweg verklaart gratie the hebben gevraagd moet hij niet worden opgenomen, doch moet de beslissing op zijn verzoek afgewacht worden” (Now that Zuijdweg declares that he asked for clemency, he must not be taken in, but await the decision on his request), signed by the officer of the court, Van Hoek.

Johannes was 5’4 1/2 inches tall. While this seems short for a Dutch man by today’s standards (today the average height for a Dutch man is over 6′ tall), it probably was not that unusual in the 1800s.

According to the translation, Johannes was sentenced to two months in the penitentiary. The person who translated the document believes that Johannes was given clemency and did not serve the time. There might be other documents relating to this issue, and I will keep probing to try to find out more information.

I have been told by several Dutch people that times were very different then, and that it was very “easy” to end up in jail over minor infractions. I believe that this had something to do with the death of Johannes’ youngest son a few months before, but that is just a guess. I do wonder if this happening had something to do with the decision of Johannes and Jennie, both older people, deciding to emigrate.

In 1901, Johannes and Jennie followed their son Adriaan to Michigan. Three years later, their remaining child, Johanna Zuidweg Van Liere, immigrated with her husband, Marinus, and son to Michigan. Marinus owned a shoe store on Burdick Street.

In Kalamazoo, Michigan, Johannes and Jennie lived in at least two different homes, if not more. For a while they lived in one of the houses owned by Richard DeKorn. Sometimes Johannes’ name is spelled John. He passed away after living in the United States for ten years.

In one of the many changes in birthdates I’ve found in researching family history, Johannes’ birth record shows that he was born in 1842, but his headstone states that he was born in 1843. I believe the birth record, as the Dutch records are astonishingly well documented. I wish I knew more of what Johannes’ life was like in that last decade of his life. He was surrounded with male grandchildren as Grandpa was the only child of son Adrian and daughter Johanna and Marinus had eight boys!

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These photos have been a mystery to me since the 1970s. On the back of the woman’s photo it says “Mother’s aunt.”

 

Notice that the photo says the photographer was in the city of Groningen. This is the largest city in the north of Netherlands, and a very old city. But it’s not where my family came from. And here is another photo that was right next to the lady’s photo.

 

These are the only photos I have from Groningen, to my knowledge. The people don’t show any familial resemblance, but that–as we know–doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

What is more confusing is whose aunt she is. I have to assume that “Mother” means Cora DeKorn Zuidweg, Grandpa’s mother. It couldn’t be Grandma’s mother. Not only are most of our photos from Grandpa’s family, Grandma’s mother wasn’t Dutch, but Prussian.

So Cora. Or Cora’s mother? Or Grandpa’s father’s mother?

First, I looked at Cora’s aunts. Her aunts all came to the United States. They were the Paak sisters–none of whom look ANYTHING like the woman in this photo. And then on her father’s side, Mary DeKorn DeSmit and Jennie DeKorn Culver were her aunts. NOT these ladies.

Second, I went back a generation. Alice Paak’s aunts were the Bassas–no Groningen there–and the Paaks–no Groningen there either.

What about Richard DeKorn’s aunts? His mother had a lot of brothers, but only one sister–and she remained in Kapelle her entire life. His father had one half-sister (and a lot of half-brothers and one brother), Pieternella DeKorn. That family is still a bit of a mystery. She might have been born in Kruiningen, but I don’t know where she lived or when she died.

So how can the lady in the photo be “Mother’s aunt”??? The only other possibility that I can think of would be Jennie Zuidweg (Jennegien Bomhof), Grandpa’s grandmother. Let’s say his mother Cora wrote “Mother’s aunt” and meant her mother-in-law’s aunt. Is that possible? Jennie is from the only branch that was completely outside of Zeeland (until she came to Goes and married Johannes Zuidweg). She was born in Zwolle, Overjissel. That is 66 miles from Groningen, whereas Goes is 205 miles away.

BUT!!! Before we get too excited, what years did Reinier Uges have a photography studio? 1889-1914!!  How can that be the aunt of a lady (Jennie Zuidweg) who was born in 1838 (and died in the U.S. in 1924). This lady would have to be a generation younger than Jennie, wouldn’t she?

All in all, I’m pretty sure that “Mother’s aunt” meant Grandpa’s mother’s aunt, thus an aunt of Cora DeKorn Zuidweg.

But that is impossible.

You see how frustrating this is?!

Any ideas about the age of the woman and the age of the man would be helpful!!

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In the collection of images derived from Joseph DeKorn’s glass negatives, there are photos of children. Unfortunately, children are hard to identify, and I don’t know who most of them are. In this beautiful photograph, Grandpa’s first cousin, Alice Leeuwenhoek, is shown with three friends, neighbors, or relatives. The girls and their clothing remind me of the book and movie Pollyanna. The novel was written in 1913, and Alice was born in 1897, so this is close! Alice is the tall girl in the double-breasted coat.

Alice was married at age 26 to Clarence Moerdyk. They never had any children. Alice was a successful seamstress. Sadly, she passed away at age 66, leaving behind her husband and her mother, Jennie Leeuwenhoek. She was buried at Riverside Cemetery in Kalamazoo.

 

As usual, if anybody has any ideas about the identities of the other girls, please let me know!

I hope you have someone or someones to spend a happy Thanksgiving with! This year it’s just my husband and me, and I accidentally bought a 24-pound turkey (don’t ask). Any ideas on dishes I can make with the turkey and then freeze? Besides soup, of course.

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I’ve published so many posts about the Paak* family that I thought I would share with you a photograph of Professor Lawrence, the man who provided me so many photos and much information on the family, and two of his siblings (children of Theresa Pake Lawrence).

 

In the turquoise dress is Una Orline Lawrence Shultz, in the middle is Professor Edgar “Ed” Lawrence himself, and on the right is brother Richard “Dick” Lawrence. These are the three children of Theresa Pake Lawrence.

When she married Roy Lawrence, he had three children, Duane, Caryl, and Audrey, so Professor Lawrence and his siblings had three half-siblings.

Here is a photo of Professor Lawrence with his half-sister, Caryl Ruth Lawrence. Caryl retired from the U.S. Army as a Major. Professor Lawrence is also a veteran of the army.

The siblings had a younger brother Robert J. Borger (foster brother who was a Lawrence in every way but legally) who died at age 42 in a motorcycle/pickup accident in 1977 in Schoolcraft, Michigan.

Now let’s back up a generation. Remember that Theresa and her siblings lived with their father George/Joseph after the death of their mother. Then their house burned down. After that, Theresa went to live with the Pickards as their foster child. Theresa is in the front on the left. Sister Jane is in the back on the right. She was called Jennie as a child.

To show the link between Theresa’s generation and that of her children, I am sharing a photo of Professor Lawrence’s sister Una, the niece of Jane, with her Aunt Jane at the nursing home on the occasion of Jane’s 100th birthday. Jane had no children, and I like to see her sibling’s children were watching over her.

Jane ultimately lived to be almost 108 years old. She passed away in 1998. Think of all the changes in the world that she experienced!

Professor Lawrence gave me an invite to his family tree, so I am going to go through and make sure we both have the same information. Anybody know if there is a comparison tool on Ancestry? Or some way to more easily compare two trees?

I admit that I bounce around from one branch to another, but if I stuck with one branch I would never move forward on anything else because each branch has so many individuals and stories and details.

 

* 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

George Paak’s Legacy, Part VII: Imagining the Man and His Home

 

 

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