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Archive for the ‘Family History’ Category

I began writing a post about one of my grandmother’s siblings and quickly realized it will take more than a week at a time to write about each of the siblings. There is simply too much material to put together into a cohesive narrative. While I am working on the first one, I thought in light of last week’s DeKorn treasure I would write about the subject of:

WHAT TO DO WITH OUR TREASURES AND HEIRLOOMS?

Recently I’ve had several people mention that they have no place to leave their treasures at end of life (or before). They have no children or other relatives who have shown any interest, or they have no close relatives at all. In many cases, they have photographs. In most cases, they have done at least some family tree work, if not extensive work.

This rings a bell to me because I feel similarly. I have a beautiful collection of family photos and documents and have spent a lot of time organizing and researching. I have cousins with children who may or may not have any interest in the treasures or the organization into story. I do plan to eventually pull it all together into one digital format and distribute to everyone. Then they can decide what to do with it. God willing, I will be able to complete the project.

But this still leaves me with two problems. One is that it’s possible that not one of the people I give the digital copy will end up passing it on to future generations. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a storage place for all this that would go on to “live” in perpetuity?

Do you consider an Ancestry family tree to be just that, if one adds all the photos and documents for each family member? I know that Ancestry has been a bit unreliable with DNA, but I don’t foresee them shutting down the giant tree they are constructing. Anything is possible, I suppose. I also use My Heritage, but have not gone through the laborious process of putting photos and documents on my tree over there.

Or are there other ways to save the information for people outside the family?

The second problem is that I still have to find an eventual home for the original photos and documents and other treasures (to be stored with their stories). How does one go about finding a young relative who actually cares about these things and would like me to pass them on to her or him when I am done with them? I could hold a contest and assign treasures to the contest winner, but it’s a contest nobody would show up to!!! LOL

A little side note: I have shown an interest since I was college-aged, which is why I was given photos and glass negatives and lots of stories. Imagine if somebody had already done all the work I am doing three generations before me? WOWSA, that would be something.

As I work on the organization and research of my family, I am sending folders to my daughter to hang on to as a backup. She knows who to send them to in the event of my sudden death. My daughter and son were both adopted and neither is very interested in history in general and their family history interest is mostly connected to the people who have affected their lives–their grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and their Kalamazoo great-grandparents (Grandma and Grandpa Zuidweg).

I’d love to hear your ideas.

Photo: part of a children’s coffee and tea service originally owned by Therese Remine

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Phil and Marianne (Haadsma) DeKorn’s niece Sue Haadsma-Svensson has once again sent me a family treasure. This binder looks to have been put together by Phil DeKorn and shares photos and history of both his father’s family, the DeKorns, and his mother’s family, the Blandfords.


I can’t wait to scan all the items in the binder!

Also, I have been working on the histories of my grandmother’s siblings and will be posting about them soon.

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I’ve written before that my great-grandfather Adrian Zuidweg, Sr. owned a candy and soda shop at the corner of Burdick and Balch in Kalamazoo.

At one time I believed that Grandpa (son Adrian) had taken over the business when his father died, but in researching for this blog I discovered that Adrian Sr. had sold the business before he died. Grandpa bought it back after his father’s death. Then he converted it to a service station.

Here is an advertising ashtray for the station. Notice the A-Z Lubrication (Adrian Zuidweg–AZ–get it?) The 5 digit phone number might put this ashtray between 1950 and 1958, but if anyone has information to the contrary I would love to hear it. If you want to find out more about advertising ashtrays as part of history and as collectibles, here’s a succinct article: Ashtrays collectible memorabilia

 

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My mother gave me a fascinating book, published in 1947, called Americans from Holland by Arnold Mulder. Mulder’s perspective is of a writer who has just witnessed the world going through WWII, and while this book reads as a definitive history secondary source, it is shaped by the time period in which it was written. That said, it’s the best account I’ve seen of the history of the Dutch in the United States and what led up to the waves of immigration.

Five years ago I wrote about one of my ancestors who applied to the city of Goes to emigrate. You can find the story of tailor Adriaan Zuijdweg’s (1805-1851) declined petition in this post: My Dutch Family Almost Arrived in the U.S. Decades Earlier. At the time, the only information I had was what Elly Mulder had given me, telling me about the “separated” Reformed Church and how Adriaan probably was probably part of the separatists.

The chapter, “Souls or Bodies,” sheds more light on the situation for Adriaan and his family, as well as other members of his congregation.

Mulder investigates whether it was religious differences or economic troubles that drove the Dutch to begin to immigrate to the United States in the 19th century. He describes how the Reformed Church had been negatively transformed by the government after Napoleon. According to the Napoleonic Code, they were not allowed to gather in groups of more than twenty. Dissenters appeared who wanted to bring the church back to what it had been. The government cracked down on them, levying fines on the religious leaders and others who allowed church services in their homes or businesses. The leaders were arrested. The more the government went after them, the more dissenters appeared.

Two of the main leaders were the Reverend Hendrik Pieter Scholte and the Reverend Albertus Christiaan Van Raalte. Scholte immigrated to Iowa with his congregation.

Scholte founded the town of Pella, Iowa, in 1847. His house was one of the first buildings constructed there. That house is now on the National Register of Historic Places, and you can see from the photo that house was enlarged at some point.

from Wikipedia

 

Van Raalte’s group went to Michigan (and perhaps Wisconsin) in 1846, one year after Adriaan ‘s request to leave the Netherlands.

By as cited RVD (although unlikely because it did not exist at the time) – Nationaal Archief Nederland, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4198265

Note: The town of Zeeland was founded by Jannes van de Luijster (Luyster) and other immigrants in 1847. What I have not yet discovered is where the lives and influence of Van Raalte and Van de Luijster intersected.

Arnold Mulder argues that the immigrants were not individuals immigrating to the United States, but rather communities–specifically, church communities.

If you think about it this way, it would have been a real hardship for Adriaan not to be allowed to emigrate from the Netherlands with his community. What I do not understand is why some would have been allowed and others not, but it might have had to do with the city itself. Adriaan was from Goes, and it was the government of Goes that denied him his request. Van Raalte was from a town in Overijssel, far from Zeeland. So while Adriaan’s church community may have been part of the separated/seceded Reformed church, it was not Van Raalte’s own congregation. Jannes van de Luijster was born in Hooftplatt, Zeeland, about 30 miles from Goes, so it’s more likely that Adriaan was following his lead. It would be fascinating to know how many requests during that period were approved by Goes. Clearly, because of the timing of Adriaan’s request, he intended to be in an early group moving to the United States. [Important note: at first the Van Raalte group were in New York, and then after Van Raalte saw the value of Michigan land for farming, moved to west Michigan.]

Mulder conjectures that it wasn’t only the religious differences that caused the Dutch to leave during this time. He believed that the Dutch would have stayed and fought their battles at home if that were the only reason. You see, they really didn’t want to leave the Netherlands. But Napoleon had stripped the Netherlands of much of her wealth,  and the Dutch were struggling economically. With a population of two million, 700,000 Dutch people were on the dole in one way or another! With hunger, disease had also increased.

At the end of the chapter, Mulder makes one more assertion, that the Dutch were welcomed in the United States because although they came for partially economic reasons, in contrast to immigrants from Ireland and Germany, the Dutch looked reasonably well off. In part, this was because some of the immigrants did bring some wealth with them (and helped out their congregation members, as well). Another reason, Mulder speculates, was because the Dutch valued appearances and cleanliness and maybe would have gone without necessities in order to look presentable. Whether this is ethnic pride on Mulder’s part or has a basis in truth, I don’t know. What I have read of German and Irish immigration during this same time period makes me think the Germans and Irish were perhaps more desperate.

 

 

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THANK YOU, KALAMAZOO

Images of the Pfizer vaccine marching out of Kalamazoo (the Portage plant) on its way to various destinations fill the news. Portage is the largest suburb of Kalamazoo. When I was eight, we moved from Kalamazoo to Portage, but Kalamazoo is my hometown. Portage is its own city, but is truly part of Kalamazoo.

Until 1995, the Kalamazoo company that employed so many locals, brought in so many scientists, and influenced life in the city was The Upjohn Company. Many of my family members worked there over the years in a variety of jobs and professions. The Upjohn Company was a benevolent god in some ways to our town. I will admit that on bad days, if you lived in Portage, a disgusting smell (and pollution, I’m sure) was emitted back in the days when that was considered acceptable. Our medicines and vitamins often came in the light gray and white Upjohn label. The parents of our friends and our neighbors often worked at the company, too.

In 1995, Pharmacia merged with Upjohn. My husband and I had already moved away from Kalamazoo in 1990, but a few of our friends were affected by the merger. They had to move away from Kalamazoo at that time. Then Pfizer bought out the company in 2002-03.

Now the seeds of The Upjohn Company produce fruit yet again with the Pfizer vaccine. It’s exciting that Kalamazoo and Portage (where I grew up and went to school) can be part of this hope for the future. Way to go, Kalamazoo!

END OF THE YEAR PLANNING

On this blog for 2020 I focused on researching my direct ancestors. I wanted to Fill in the Gaps by locating documents that I was missing. For so many of my ancestors, there were easy-to-fill gaps, as well as more difficult or impossible ones. The reason I took on this project was because I typically have gone off on research tangents based on what photographs I own or information someone else has shared with me. Very often, these research subjects were not my grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents, etc., but siblings or cousins of these people. I wanted to make sure I had properly researched my forebears.

I did go back through all my 4x great-grandparents on my mother’s side in 2020. I will continue to work back farther, but the information becomes more limited which makes me bored with my own blog posts. Therefore, I want to focus on something else for 2021. Whatever I choose, I plan to go about slowly because I still have exhaustion caused by the Valley Fever and because I have some non-genealogy projects I am working on.

So where should the focus fall for 2021? Here are some considerations:

  • Siblings of my direct ancestors starting with my maternal grandparents (probably the easiest choice)
  • My dad’s family (which would mean that the blog would be “away” from Kalamazoo/Michigan for a year as they immigrated to Illinois, and I don’t really want to do that)
  • My husband’s family on enteringthepale.com (the movement from his father’s family to his mother’s continues to feel overwhelming to me as her family was very large and complicated. It would mean leaving thefamilykalamazoo.com for a full year)

Does it seem like I should do the first one–the siblings? Or am I overlooking something else? Or should I switch it up and go back to being more spontaneous?

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO EVERYONE! I’M PRAYING FOR A HEALTHIER, HAPPIER YEAR AHEAD. GOOD RIDDENS TO 2020.

Leaving you with another cute ornament idea. I saw this Instagram post, and the poster recommends an ebook that describes how to make them.

 

To purchase the book, follow the LINK to The House that Lars Built.

SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!!!

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My cousin Susie (actually my  mom’s cousin, but that’s being picky)  sent me some treasures the other day.

Here is one of my favorite people, my maternal Grandmother, in a color or tinted photo I’ve never seen before.

(Lucille) Edna Mulder
1929

Then there were some newspaper clippings. In the first one, Grandpa is in a photo I’ve shared on here before, but it’s attached to a little story in the “Looking Back” section of the Kalamazoo Gazette. The photo is of my grandfather, who shared the image and the story.

The next clipping is a mention of my grandparents’ 65th wedding anniversary in the same newspaper (not the same issue).

And, finally, this clipping is an announcement for the senior community where my grandparents lived during their last few years.

I often think of how much I miss these two.

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My family first arrived in Kalamazoo, Michigan, between 1860 and 1864, when the immigrant Boudewijn DeKorn(e) family moved from Zeeland, Michigan. Their residence was still Ottawa County in 1860, but the mother, Johanna Reminse DeKorn, was buried in Kalamazoo in 1864. This nails the time period unless, of course, Johanna was first buried near Zeeland and then her body later buried in Kalamazoo. I find that to be highly unlikely for many reasons.

In 1869, Alice Paak and her family (her father Teunis and her siblings) immigrated from the Netherlands to Kalamazoo.

In 1872, Richard DeKorn, the only son of Boudewijn and Johanna, married Alice Paak in Kalamazoo.

Richard DeKorn
picking strawberries
on Maple Street

In 1878-79, Richard was brick mason for the new and gorgeous building for the Ladies Library Association. In 1895 he would be lead brick mason on the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital Water Tower. According to his obituary he also was the contractor for the Pythian building and the Merchants Publishing Company building.

Richard built the brick house at the corner of Burdick and Balch Streets in Kalamazoo for his family in the early 1880s.

In the beautiful video I am posting here, Kalamazoo is “seen” during 1884, the year the village of Kalamazoo (the largest village in the entire country) became a city. My relatives are not mentioned in the video, but the Ladies Library Association and the “asylum” (where Richard would build the water tower 11 years later) are mentioned. To give you an idea where my family fits into the city at that time, using the terminology of the film, they had arrived in the United States from the Netherlands, but quickly could be classified as “middle class.” They were literate people as they could read and write. In some cases, they had trades, although I think they mainly learned their trades on the job as young men. Teunis became a successful farmer and land owner. Boudewijn’s son Richard became a successful building contractor and brick mason.

Kalamazoo was founded by mainly English settlers, beginning in 1829, but the Dutch began to immigrate to southwest and west Michigan in increasing numbers in the 40s and 50s and 60s. My ancestors were part of this group that ended up becoming a sizable chunk of the Kalamazoo population. If I have any quibbles with the video it is that other than mention of the first Reformed church in town, it is that there is no recognition of how the Dutch would help shape the City of Kalamazoo, but in all fairness it’s possible that the influence wasn’t yet felt in 1884.

(This film lasts about a half hour. If your interests are not with the city, I won’t be insulted if you decide to skip it; however, it gives a nice overview of the time period, as well). Either way, Happy Thanksgiving and please stay safe!

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I was so intrigued to see the project that my 4x cousin Joel’s wife, Peggy Davis Reeves of Williamsburg, Virginia, undertook. Joel, who is descended from Boudewijn DeKorne (1816-1875) as I am, wrote, “Peggy decided to do a research project on family members that served in the military. She called this ‘My Family Heroes’ and collected information on 100 individuals that represent the period from 1746 (Virginia Militia) to 2020 (West Point graduate). This represents only a small sample of the number of our relatives that have served in the military.”


Peggy first spent six months doing the research through Ancestry and Fold3. Joel sums it up this way: “She learned a lot about these brave individuals. Some families were divided during the Civil War – 2 brothers on the Union side and 3 brothers on the Confederate side. A set of twin brothers enlisted together. Other were prisoners of war, wounded or lost their lives. Some died of disease, such as bronchitis or rubella. Some won medals of honor, such as the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and Oak Leaf Cluster. Other received land grants for their service. All these individuals took a stand to join the military to serve their country in war time and peace. We are proud of these service men and women that protect this country and our freedom. This is our way of saying thanks to all of them on this Veterans Day.”

When she was ready to create the ornaments, Peggy used Dollar Store plexiglass magnetic refrigerator frames and removed the magnets from the back. Then she set up a template in Photoshop with a red-white-blue border and added an image of the individual or tomb stone or flag on one side and military information on the person on the other side.

Charles is the husband of my first cousin three times removed

After getting the pictures printed, she added a ribbon bow which varies by when the individual served or the branch of service. I particularly love that special touch. Peggy also created a Shutterfly book so that the family would have access to this wonderful work throughout the year.


I love the anchors on the ribbon for those that served in the Navy.

Isn’t this inspirational? What a great way to honor the military members of our genealogy family trees! Thinking of making a tree like this? If you have done a lot of research on your ancestors who were in the military you might be able to pull together at least a small tree by Christmas. If not, you can do what Peggy did and take a year to do the research and create the tree.

Peggy, thank you for letting me share your inventiveness and hard work.

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Today I am sharing the last of my 4x great-grandparents. Luckily, I had posts and research prepared before I got this Valley Fever pneumonia, but I won’t be able to work on 5x or greater until I get rid of this brain fog. But because of the records I already have, I believe I have the names of most, if not all, of my 5x, as well as many of my 6-8x greats. I can only hope that a lot of their records are online.

This couple is Willem Hijman and Pieternella Filius. By the way, I think I have the names of my 9x greats through Willem.

Ancestry life stories:

When Willem Hijman was born on March 19, 1812, in Goes, Zeeland, Netherlands, his father, Gerrit, was 33 and his mother, Hendrika, was 22. He married Pieternella Filius on May 5, 1836, in his hometown. They had six children in 19 years. He died on January 19, 1875, in Kloetinge, Zeeland, Netherlands, at the age of 62.

When Pieternella Filius was born on January 30, 1813, in Kloetinge, Zeeland, Netherlands, her father, Pieter, was 33, and her mother, Cornelia, was 29. She married Willem Hijman on May 5, 1836, in Goes, Zeeland, Netherlands. They had six children in 19 years. She died on February 14, 1889, in her hometown, having lived a long life of 76 years.

The information about Willem and Pieternella is accurate as I have their baptismal, marriage, and death records. But what the life stories don’t mention is that of the six children, only four survived into adulthood. One child was stillborn (levenloos) and not even given a name. In fact, the stillborn record takes the place of birth and death records. Another, the first Gerrit, died an infant in 1844. Kornelia, Pieternella, Gerrit, and Willem survied. Kornelia, the eldest, was my 3x great-grandmother.

Here is the levenloos document, entry #3:

Both Willem and Pieternella are listed in records as arbeider and arbeidster respectively. These terms mean worker, but I don’t know what kind of work they did. They are another couple who were born and died in Goes. Goes is the city where my grandparents’ ancestors intertwined.

My parents actually visited Goes, and while my father was very good about recording all his travel with his camera (and even sending me CDs with the photos), for some reason I never got any photos of Goes from their trip.

All the images of Goes that I have seen, including the one below, make it look very picturesque. It’s hard to understand why someone would want to leave such a beautiful place, but lovely scenery is obviously not all there is to having the best life one can achieve. It is nice to know, though, that all the generations that did live in (and stay in) Goes could look out upon the beauty of the area.

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Today I move on to Grandma’s 3rd set of Dutch great-greats. My 4x great-grandfather Willem Gorsse was born on January 25, 1802, in Goes, Zeeland, Netherlands to 19-year-old parents. At the age of 23, he married Catharina Opperman. They had eight children together. The four girls all survived into adulthood, but the four boys all died in infancy. With the birth of the eighth child, a boy named Kornelis, Catharina herself passed away in 1839. She wasn’t my ancestor, but my sympathies are all with her. She was only 38 years old.

Eleven months later, on 30 January 1840, Willem married my 4x great-grandmother, Neeltje Reijerse in Goes.

Neeltje was not a young girl. She was 34 years old (born 1805) and had given birth to at least two children. At the age of 19, when she was working as a maid, she gave birth to a son, Geerhard. No father was listed. That makes it appear that this was an illegitimate birth. Then nine years later, Neeltje gave birth to a daughter, Adriana. No father was listed for Adriana either. Both children had been given Neeltje’s surname at birth.

Here is Geerhard’s birth record:

Someone in a genealogy translation Facebook group kindly translated the record for me:

On the 31st of March, in the year 1824 at 11AM, in front of Gerard de Leeuw, servant of the civil register of the city of Goes, district of Goes, province of Zeeland: Maria Drentz, 40 year old midwife living here, showed us a male child born on the 30th of March 1824 in Goes at 4 in the morning in house #312 to Neeltje Reijerse, 19 year old worker, living in this city district, and declares that the child has been given the name Geerhard. Verifying this declaration is witness Johan Gerard van Maldegem, 43 year old cow-milker living in house 3w, and Willem Legs, 32(?) year old labourer living in house 312. [Note from me: I suspect that address 3w was actually 310. Take a look at the record yourself and see if you agree with me.]

This is the first time I have run across this issue of fatherless children in all my research on my Dutch ancestors. Sometimes the first baby was not a “nine month” birth. But years ago my grandmother told me that it was common in the Netherlands that after the banns were read (this indicated that the couple were to be married), a little fooling around was not frowned upon. This was meant to be a fertility check, according to Grandma. So what happened when the girl didn’t get pregnant?! I’d like more detailed information about this practice. Nevertheless, that isn’t what happened in Neeltje’s case. The father or fathers of her children remain anonymous, and I can find no record of a marriage for Neeltje before the one to Willem.

I wish I knew what made Willem and Neeltje decide to marry. Did Neeltje want a husband or a father for her daughter Adriana (Geerhard died as an infant)? Did Willem think a little older woman who had a living daughter might be able to give him more children? Or did she seem a good mother for his four daughters? We will never know the personal history of these two and how they knew each other and what led to their marriage.

Willem and Neeltje did end up having four children together. Geertruid and Marinus both died as infants. But Jan and Gerard lived longish lives. Jan, my 3x great, died in 1911 at age 70, and Gerard lived until 1920 at age 74.

Willem died on 29 November 1867, in his hometown at the age of 65. Neeltje passed away on 11 November 1869 also in Goes. Three of her six children survived, and six of Willem’s twelve children survived.

I have all the basic records for this couple except for Willem’s birth or baptismal record–as well as any military record that might exist for him. But I have both his marriages, his death, and Neeltje’s baptism, marriage, and death records. Willem’s occupation was bezemmaker. I believe, but am not certain, that this means broom maker.

The more I read about the infant mortality experiences of my ancestors and the deaths of young women from childbirth the more I wonder about the emotional landscape of these people. Although the experiences of both Catharina and Neeltje were different, their lives were completely defined by their childbearing. How did it feel to have and raise a daughter knowing that she might very well be dead a few years after she married? That she might spend most of her adult life pregnant or nursing? That the likelihood of a stepmother raising your grandchildren was so great? How did girls feel growing up seeing how dangerous childbirth was for women? Did it change how girls were raised and treated?

I keep thinking about the lullabye “Rockabye baby.” Although Wikipedia lists many possible origins, one that is not mentioned is the one I learned in researching for an academic text chapter I wrote years ago: the rhyme was meant to make the “evil eye” think the mother didn’t love her baby so that the baby wouldn’t be taken away (die). Did the children feel less loved because of these fears?

Rock-a-bye baby
On the treetop
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock
When the bough breaks
The cradle will fall
And down will come baby
Cradle and all

History was one of my college majors, so I like to think I know a little bit about the subject. But the more genealogy I study the more I realize history was like a movie to me before. Now I really wonder about the interior lives of the people.

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