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Archive for the ‘genealogy’ Category

I wrote about the death certificates of my grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Now it’s time for the men. This is part of my project of cross-cutting through my genealogy research to look at things from a different angle to find out what I am missing. Once again, I discovered I had very few death certificates and had to order some!

The grandfather I knew and loved was my mother’s father. He owned a gas station most of his working life. He was passionate about his vegetable garden and loved math and accounting. Most importantly, I learned most of my family stories from him, was given most of the antique family photos from him, and inherited his great long-term memory. He’s the grandparent (whose branch) I physically resemble the most, as well. The trait that I share with him that is very unusual is that we have/had amazing early childhood memories. He remembered so much about his eye injury and the afterwards, although it happened when he was three. I have two memories that go back to before age two, as well as a vivid slightly longish memory that happened when I was 2 3/4. Those are for sure, but there are others that I believe were very very early. My memories from before I was four (say 3 1/2 and 3 3/4) are quite complex.

I’ve actually written a lot about Grandpa on this blog, including sharing a series of posts based on an interview of my grandfather by a social worker (including the above link about my grandfather’s eye injury). He was born in Kalamazoo 31 October 1908. He died 13 April 2000, also in Kalamazoo.

Notice that his death certificate states the cause of death as cirrhosis. But, whoa. He never drank alcohol, so why does it say this? He had a rare hereditary disease, it turned out, that causes a form of cirrhosis. I believe it is called Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (family: correct me if I’m wrong, please). Luckily, although he didn’t know about the disease, he lived a very healthy lifestyle and lived to be 91.5 years old!

I never knew my other grandfather, but I do have his death certificate. He lived to be 90 (we’re on a roll here!) and died of arteriosclerotic heart disease. I am not posting his death certificate, although I do have it.

Then, of my four great-grandfathers, I have the death certificates of three. The one I don’t have is my paternal grandfather’s father because I don’t even know if he immigrated from Alsace to the United States or not–and have not found a death record of any kind as of yet. (I have confidence that eventually I will find it).

Adrian’s father, also called Adrian, died at age 58 in Kalamazoo on 19 December 1929 of “uremia, Chr. Inst. Nephritis.” Chronic Interstitial, I would guess. He was born in Goes, Zeeland, Netherlands on 3 January 1871. My grandparents used to tell me he died of kidney disease (yes), and that they believed it was exacerbated by the way he ate. He used to starve himself during the day (while at his store working) and then come home and eat a dinner plate-sized steak. Who knows if that is what really caused his kidney disease.

Next up is Charles Mulder. This is the man I knew and loved as my Great-Grandpa. He died at age 82 of a “Cerebral Vascular Accident” or Stroke on 27 April 1967. He was born 6 March 1885 in Goes, Zeeland, Netherlands.

Then I can thank Ann Donnelly from Found Cousins Genealogy Service  for noticing my frustration in a Facebook group and helping me out with my great-grandfather Frank Klein’s death certificate. I was having the hardest time because his record was on Family Search, but I couldn’t figure out how to get to the actual document that way. I even visited the local Family History Center, and the assistant director told me I would have to order it by mail (and a fee). But Ann found it online using her amazing talents and sent it to me.

Frank is another one who died of Arteriosclerotic Heart Disease. With those two and a stroke, that’s 3 out of 5 died of heart disease, I guess. Frank passed away on 30 August 1944 in the nursing home where he was living. He was born Franz Klein in Budesheim, Landkreis Mainz-Bingen, Germany on 31 July 1861. The death certificate reads Bingen because Budesheim was a village so close to Bingen that the family used to just say “Bingen.”

I am working on the 2x and 3x greats, but I think the Budesheim ancestors are going to be tough, just as they are with the women. The records do not seem to be available online at this point.

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While Cathy Meder-Dempsey (Opening Doors in Brick Walls) gave me a tutorial in obtaining death records from Alsace, we incidentally found a marriage record from my ancestors. Cathy’s generosity in teaching me, as well as her translations of records, was so above and beyond. Cathy, thank you so much!

This marriage record is for my 2nd great-grandparents, Anne Riehr and Antoine Schirmer on 10 January 1842 in Steinbrunn-le-Bas, Haut Rhin, France. 

What follows is Cathy’s translation of this record.

Here is the translation of the French marriage record. You will notice at the very end that the witnesses and likely the couple and their parents may have spoken German.

 

In the year 1842, the 10 January at 9 o’clock in

the morning, before us Antoine Schweichler, mayor and civil officer

of the commune of Steinbrunn le Bas, canton of Landser, arrondissement

of Altkirch, department of Haut Rhin

 

appeared Schirmer Antoine, famer, age 28 years,

born and resident in this commune, of age legitimate son of Laurent

Schirmer, farmer, age 70 years and Anne Marie

Legibel, without a profession, age 71 years, married couple residing

in this commune, present and consulting in the projected marriage – of one part

 

and the damsel Riehr Anne, without a profession, age 24 years, born and

resident of Luemschwiller, legitimate of age daughter of Jean Thiebaud

Riehr, farmer, age 55 years et of Françoise Sutter,

without a profession, age 58 years, married couple and residents of the said

Luemschwiller, here present and consenting to the marriage – of the other part

 

who required of us to procede in the celebration of marriage

projected between them and of which the publication was made before the

door of our town hall and before the door of the town hall

of the commune of Luemschwiller, the first time on 26 December

1841 and the second time on 2 January 1842

at noon and there being no opposition to the said marriage

having been signified we granted their requisition after having

 

read 1. the extracts of the birth records, 2. the

two publications, 3. a certificate delivered by the mayor of Luemschwiller

on the date of 9 January of the current month constituting that

no opposition to the projected marriage was made, 4. chapter 6 of the

civil code concerning marriage, we asked the future husband

and the future wife if they wanted to take each other for husband and wife

each of them responded separately and affirmatively, and we declared

by law that Antoine Schirmer and Anne Riehr are united in marriage.

 

of all that we have draw up this record in the presence of Joseph Kauffmann,
farmer, age 46 years, Jean Kauffmann, farmer, age
38 years, the two brothers-in-law of the bride, Morand Richard

 

farmer, age 32 years, and Leger Zarsinger(?), farmer, age

38 years, the two residents of Luemschwiller, all

four witnesses, who after we read and

gave an interpretation in German, all signed with us and

the parties of the contractants.

signatures….

***

OK, German. We know that Alsace was pulled between Germany and France, but I’d love to know what the day-to-day lives of these people was like. How did they negotiate the language situation? Did they stubbornly cling to German even when they lived in France? I do believe that my grandfather who immigrated from Alsace was a German speaker. Did he know French? Do you know any novels that might show me a glimpse of what it was like to live in Alsace in the 1800s or the 1700s?

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This is Richard and Mary (Paak) Remine and their daughter Therese (1895-1980).

Mary or Maaike Paak was born in Lexmond, Netherlands on 29 July 1859. She is my 3rd great-aunt. Her sister Alice was my great-great-grandmother.

Richard Remine was the son of Gerrit Remine (Remijnse) who was born in Kapelle, Netherlands. Gerrit was my 4th great-uncle. Richard or Dick was born in Kalamazoo on 10 May 1857. 

How can that be? Does it make your head burst? OK, follow this.

Mary is the sister of my 2xgreat Alice.

Gerrit is the brother of Johanna Remine DeKorn. Johanna is my 3x great-grandmother, the mother of Richard DeKorn, grandmother of Cora DeKorn Zuidweg, great-grandmother of Adrian Zuidweg, and great-great-grandmother of my mother Janet.

So Mary was connected to Alice who married Richard DeKorn who was connected to Richard Remine!

I am related to both Mary and Richard, so I am related twice to their daughter Therese, as well as their two other children, Genevieve Tazelaar and Harold Remine.

Do you have double cousins like this in your family?

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Clara Mulder, my great-grandmother, passed away on 6 September 1953, as I mentioned on Discovering My Great-Grandmother. I posted her obituary on My Great-Grandmother’s Lifetime of Service.

Two and a half months after her death, the family gathered together for Thanksgiving at the home of her oldest child, Dorothy (Dorothea Rosa) Mulder Plott, and Dorothy’s husband, Conrad Plott. As of the 1940 census, they lived at 148 North Union Street in Battle Creek, Michigan. But my mother believes that they then moved to their farm in Pennfield Township and that this gathering took place in the farmhouse.

In these recently discovered photos (from an album my mother put together), the family can be seen gathered together at the Thanksgiving feast.

The bottom photo lists “Grandpa,” and that is Clara’s widower, my great-grandfather, Charles Mulder. “Mother” and “Dad” are my grandparents, Adrian and Edna (Mulder) Zuidweg. In the top photo, the man on the left, “Uncle Pete,” is Clara’s #4 (of 5) child, Peter Mulder.

In the top photo, “Mother,” “Aunt Dot,” “Uncle Chuck,” and “Vena” are Clara’s other 4 children (besides Pete). Dorothy, Edna, Vena, Pete, and Chuck, in order of birth.

Aunt Ruby was married to Uncle Pete. Most of the others are my mother’s brother and cousins. You saw them as children in Discovering My Great-Grandmother.

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When I was a little girl, my grandmother gave me a ring that belonged to her mother, my great-grandmother, Clara Waldeck Mulder. She told me it was her Eastern Star ring and asked me to take good care of it.

For years I’ve felt that Clara was a bit of a mystery to me as I knew so little of her. Then a few weeks ago, I found a photo of her while I was scanning an album and posted it in Discovering My Great-Grandmother.

The stars must be aligned right because two weeks ago I was scanning another album and found Clara’s obituary! You can see how loved she was by what is written about her.

 

I think the obituary is readable online, but I want to draw your attention to one particular paragraph:

She was a . . . member of Caledonia O.E.S. No. 97, a Past Matron of Caledonia Chapter, a member of the Past Matrons Association, and has been secretary of the O.E.S. for many years. She was also a member of Golden Star Rebekah Lodge, a Past Noble Grand and a member of the Past Noble Grands Association. An active member of the Caledonia Methodist Church, she served ten years as president of the East Caledonia Ladies Aid Society.

O.E.S. is Order of the Eastern Star. I used to think that Eastern Star was the women’s branch of the Masons, but the Wikipedia article shows that I am wrong. Apparently it is for men and women, although it is affiliated with the Masons. But I must say that the names of the top titles (using the word “matron”) sounds like it was for women. My great-grandfather was a Mason, so it made sense to me that my great-grandmother would be Eastern Star. Also, she was a Past Matron, so I think she was the presiding officer of her chapter at one time.

I read this far and got out the ring that Grandma gave me. I have taken good care of it, but age has taken a toll on the ring. The stone is no longer affixed to the band, and I am not sure if it can be repaired or not. I don’t want to take it in because I don’t want to risk more harm coming to the ring.

Since I had the ring out, I thought my friend Google could show me if the design was a common one or not, but I couldn’t find hide nor hair of the ring in my search for Eastern Star rings.

Then I read a little farther: Golden Star Rebekah Lodge. I didn’t know what that was, but I looked it up. The Rebekahs are a fraternal and service organization affiliated with the Odd Fellows. You can read about it here. So for kicks I looked up images of Rebekah rings. Sure enough, that’s what it is. Grandma must have thought it was Eastern Star because her mom was so entrenched in O.E.S. culture, and the R does look a bit like an E. Maybe the R is a bit  worn off, in fact.

Although I am not a “joiner,” I am proud of my great-grandmother for her lifetime of service. It was women like Clara Mulder that made life better for others in the first half of the 20th century.

 

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In two previous posts I have published the death certificates of my 2 grandmothers, 4 great-grandmothers, and 4 of my 8 great-great-grandmothers. The 4 I did not have included two from Budesheim, Germany, and two from Alsace, which are now French records.

Thanks to Cathy Meder-Dempsey who writes the blog Opening Doors in Brick Walls I now have the death certificates of the two Alsatian great-greats.

When you enter the French archives you apparently have to agree not to publish the results online. I only know that because Cathy pointed it out to me. So I will post links and translations instead.

Madeline Groll was born 24 May 1816 in Muespach, Haut-Rhin, Alsace. But was that France or Germany in 1816?

If you don’t know this, Alsace has been a pawn between France and Germany for a long time. According to Wikipedia here is a more “recent” timeline of who controlled Alsace when. The languages spoken are in the far right column.

1618–1674 Louis XIII annexes portions of Alsace during the Thirty Years’ War Holy Roman Empire German; Alamannic and Franconian dialects (Alsatian)
1674–1871 Louis XIV annexes the rest of Alsace during the Franco-Dutch War, establishing full French sovereignty over the region Kingdom of France French
(Alsatian and German tolerated)[citation needed]
1871–1918 Franco-Prussian War causes French cession of Alsace to German Empire German Empire German; Alsatian, French
1919–1940 Treaty of Versailles causes German cession of Alsace to France France French; Alsatian, French, German
1940–1944 Nazi Germany conquers Alsace, establishing Gau Baden-Elsaß Nazi Germany German; Alsatian, French, German
1945–present French control France French; French and Alsatian German (declining minority language)

According to this table, 1816 found Alsace part of France, but Wikipedia gives more specific information for that time period:

In response to the “hundred day” restoration of Napoleon I of France in 1815, Alsace along with other frontier provinces of France was occupied by foreign forces from 1815 to 1818, including over 280,000 soldiers and 90,000 horses in Bas-Rhin alone. This had grave effects on trade and the economy of the region since former overland trade routes were switched to newly opened Mediterranean and Atlantic seaports.

Madeline passed away on 31 July 1847 in the same town at the age of 31. Although I have not done much research at this point on her life, she had at least one child before she died–my great-grandfather.

This appears to be a gorgeous old primary school in Muespach.

Here is the link to her death record:

MADELINE GROLL DEATH RECORD

According to Cathy, the death record “starts out with the date and mayor, followed by the names of the two persons who are the informants. Lists her parents, father deceased and mother still living, and her husband. Place of death. Followed by fact that the first informant was her husband and the second her brother. It is in French.”

Madeline’s father was Ignac Groll, deceased. Her mother was Margarithe Simon, and she was still alive. What is odd is that the date I show for Ignac’s death (possibly given to me by a genealogist years ago) is 29 July 1815, which is more than nine months before Madeline’s birth in May 1816! Maybe an error on Ignac’s death date. She was married to Antoine Scholler. I show his death date was 1839, so if he was an informant about her death in 1847, again, the male’s death date is wrong. I can see what I am going to be researching when the women are done!

My other 2x great-grandmother from Alsace was Anne Riehr (sometimes Reihr), born about 1816 in Luemschwiller, Haut-Rhin, Alsace. Although born in Luemschwiller, she married a man from Steinbrunn-le-Bas, Haut Rhin, Alsace, and had her children there.  The above photo is from Wikipedia of the town hall at Steinbrunn-le-bas. MAIRIE means TOWN HALL in French. I wish I knew when the building was constructed.

Here is the link to Anne’s death record (it actually begins at the bottom of the page before this):

ANNE RIEHR DEATH RECORD

And here is the translation from Cathy of that record:

Here is the 1866 death record and translation. The record begins on the bottom of the previous page. In the margin of the record is No. 3 Riehr Anne died the 19 January.

In the year 1866, the 19 January at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, in front of us Grienenberger Nicolas, mayor, officer of the (état civil) civil records of the commune (Niedersteinbrunn) Steinbrunn le Bas canton of Landser, arrondissement of Mulhouse in the department of Haut Rhin appeared Schirmer Antoine, farmer, age 53 years, husband of the deceased, and Betterlin Antoine, farmer, age 46 years, neighbor of the deceased, the two are residents in this commune, have declared that today at 10 o’clock in the morning, has died in this commune, Anne Riehr, without a profession, aged 50 years, native of Luemschwiller resident in the present commune, wife of the first registrant and daughter of Jean Thiebaut Riehr, farmer, age 84 years, resident of Luemschwiller et his wife Françoise Sutter, deceased in Luemschwiller. After being transported to the deceased to assure us of her death, we drew up the present record that the registrants signed with us after the reading and interpretation.

Anne was 50 years old when she passed away.

Now that Cathy has given me a tutorial on working with French records I will work my way through the other records in the lives of these women, their husbands, parents, and children. But don’t hold your breath. I find the handwriting coupled with the French very daunting.

What I do love about European records like the French and Dutch is that they are very thorough, and the records are very accessible online. Also, the fact that the women are recorded under their maiden names feels like a miracle in comparison with searching for American women through their married names.

Now for the German 2x greats. Yikes. They might have to be searched through the on site (as opposed to online) church records. Heaven help me. I don’t foresee a trip to Budesheim, Germany, in my near future. Any ideas?

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For the first time (OK, maybe not the first), I bit off more than I could chew. The DeSmit family has been very time-consuming, and there were more children and grandchildren than I originally bargained for.  Therefore, this post is going to literally just scratch the surface. I’ve gone through the children of John DeSmit, Jr., and Mary DeKorn DeSmit previously, and I was careful to focus on baptism records, photos, and headstones. In this post, I am sharing what I know about John Jr’s half-siblings (children of John Sr and Jacoba Lamper) and their spouses and children. The further I dug my shovel into the past, the more children popped up. It got to the point with the second batch (Francis DeSmit and her husband Renier Van Delester) that I saw that this is a big job, and that I shouldn’t be spending much more time on it (this group is not related to me as the John DeSmit, Jr. family is). I’m sorry to say I have too much other unfinished business (er, branches) to attend to, so I present to you very preliminary and flawed findings on this group of DeSmits. I’m sorry if I have missed individuals, but it is very likely that I have.

THE CHILDREN OF ADRIAN DESMIT AND ANNA VERSLUIS

This is my most fleshed out group. I was aided by a DeSmit family researcher, Timothy Morris.

On 4 November 1858, Adrian was born. Now be careful if you are researching Adrian DeSmit. There are many Adrian DeSmits who have lived in Kalamazoo–many who were even related to this Adrian. Our Adrian here is the son of John Sr. and Jacoba. So be sure. It gets VERY confusing!

Adrian lived until 25 March 1938 when he died in Banks Township in Antrim County, Michigan. But during his lifetime, he married more than one woman.

In 1885, Adrian married Anna Versluis. Photos of Adrian and Anna can be found here. The couple had one daughter, Cora Mary DeSmit on 4 October 1888. I could not find Cora’s birth or baptism record. A descendant could order the birth record from Kalamazoo County.

This is one of Grandpa’s photos.

 

Adrian’s daughter Cora DeSmit married Bert Reno Nyland (1885-1941).  Although it doesn’t sound like it, Bert’s family was Dutch-American, also. This beautiful photo of Cora and Bert was shared with me by Timothy Morris who colored it for his family tree.

When Anna died in 1916, Adrian was left alone, but four years later, on 8 April 1920, Adrian married his son-in-law Bert’s widowed mother, Alice Zeedijk Nyland (born 1859 in the Netherlands and died on 14 June 1937 in Kalamazoo). Note that she died about 10 months before Adrian did–on Adrian’s death certificate his spouse is indicated as Anna Versluis–there wasn’t room for more than one name and they went with his first wife).

Cora and Bert ended up having six children that lived to adulthood and beyond. Their first child, John, died at birth of “prolonged labor.” Bert died on 2 May 1941 of a stroke. They were in living in Banks, Michigan. That must be why Adrian died there in 1938–perhaps he was living with his daughter and son-in-law after Alice’s death.

Here is a more casual photograph of four generations: Adrian DeSmit, Cora (DeSmit) Nyland, Howard Nyland (one of Cora and Bert’s children), Joyce Nyland (4 months old). Joyce was born in 1935.

Four Generations

Cora passed away 1 November 1953 and her headstone is found at Riverside Cemetery.

THE CHILDREN OF FRANCINA DESMIT AND RENIER VAN DELESTER

On Halloween (October 31) 1862, Francina was born. She married Renier Van Delester (many spellings of both first and surnames) on 19 January 1882 in Kalamazoo. Francina died 21 September 1900, still a young woman. Her death certificate:

The cause of death for Frances is heart-breaking. Ovariectomy with resulting shock. It could have been something as simple as a harmless cyst on her ovary that resulted in surgery that led to her death.

At first, I thought that the couple had two sons born in Kalamazoo. Renier was born 3 September 1883. Jan was born 6 July 1885. But then I discovered children, William, born 18 February 1888 and died October 1957, and Cora, born 4 March 1890. She passed away in 1982. It is possible that Francis, or Frank, was born around 1896, but all the other Francis research led to someone else.

Renier Jr. (who went also by Rine) married Johanna W. Dunning (1883-1957) on 9 September 1908. Their son Francis was born about 1910, and there seems to be a lot of documentation out there about him. If a brother Francis of Renier Jr. existed (born about 1896), he has been confused by this nephew (who, I believe, served in WWII). Rine passed away 4 December 1958.

The next son, Jan, came to be known as John. Here is his baptism. Note that the original spelling of his father’s name was probably Reinier Van de Luister.

He lived in [Hammond] Indiana with wife Clara and children John (b 1914) and Leona (b 1917). Clara, born 17 December 1889 and died on 12 July 1966, is buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Hammond, Indiana.

You can see that Leona Jacobs, his daughter, is mentioned on John’s death certificate: 17 February 1974. According to this record, John was self-employed in the cigar industry. If you on his mother’s death record above, her occupation was “cigar maker.”

William, born 18 February 1888 and died October 1957, married Etta Florence Dunning on 28 July 1915. They had at least one child, Mary Louise, born about 1925. According to the marriage record, William was a farmer.

I saw that William is buried at Mountain Home Cemetery in Kalamazoo, so I requested a photo of his headstone. I did the same for his wife, Etta. Within a few hours, my Findagrave volunteer hero Jeff had responded with a link to the shared headstone (photo was taken by another volunteer).

Only daughter Cora was born 4 March 1890. On 4 September 1948, in Kalamazoo, she married Orie A. Curtiss. Note that she was 58 and he was 48. Needless to say, they had no children.

Orie was born 9 August 1900 in Cleveland, Ohio. He died in Galesburg, Michigan, on 12 December 1985. When Orie was 20 he was a teamster in the ice industry in Flint, Michigan. In the 1953 city directory, Orie was a “Hd Loader” in Kalamazoo. What do you think that means? He was married before, in 1937, to Eliza V. Smith in Indiana. She was also almost 10 years older than Orie (Orrin?). I doubt they had children since she was already 46 when they married. But the question is: did Cora, Orie, or Eliza have children from earlier marriages? Obviously this is a very complicated history that would take a lot of work to rebuild. You can see from the headstone that the Curtiss’ grew old together.

THE CHILDREN OF ELIZABETH DESMIT AND JACOB HYCOOP

On 23 April 1866, Elizabeth was born. She married Jacob Hycoop (born abt 1865 in the Netherlands), and they had at least 2 daughters, Mamie (born 1889) and Cora (born 1892). Elizabeth lived until 18 May 1946. In fact, in one of the newspaper articles I’ve posted, it was her yard where John, Sr., hoed the celery on his birthday.

Mamie married Rene Bowers. They had at least one son, John.

Daughter Cora married Herbert Brink (1890-1947). I found a baptismal record for a daughter, Helen Elizabeth, for 20 April 1930. Helen was born 5 November 1930. Haha, that does not make sense. So am I reading this document incorrectly?

Cora died on 14 May 1986.

THE CHILDREN OF MARTIN DESMIT AND ADRIANA SCHIERECK

Finally, Martin was born 17 November 1870, and grew up to marry Adriana Schiereck. They had a son called Clarence Wynoble, so it is probable that Clarence was Martin’s stepson. Martin died 6 November 1942 in Plainwell, Michigan.

You can see that my research has been whatever has been the easiest pickens. There is no rhyme or reason here on what I am showcasing. This family needs a good year spent on it. But I hope I’ve given a headstart and that any one or more branches can be picked up and followed and filled in with more and more facts.

If you have DeSmit photos you wish to share, I might like to post them on this blog, so please email them to me.

 

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