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My grandmother, (Lucille) Edna Mulder Zuidweg, was born 105 years ago today. This is a page from her 1929 high school graduation scrapbook. There is a photo of Grandma–maybe her senior pic–and one of Grandma (the Class Historian), Blanche Stauffer (Valedictorian), and Grandma’s sister Dorothy Mulder Plott (Salutatorian). In the 3rd photo, five girls are in dresses decorated with ribbon or twine.

You can read more about the graduation of these young ladies in Who Put the Ring Stain on the Scrapbook? and in Scrapbook Treats.

What do you think about the dresses on those girls? I don’t know why this photo is on the same page with the others or the meaning of it. Any ideas?

I can’t let an April 17 go by without thinking a lot about Grandma. She was a wonderful grandmother and inspirational to me in many ways.

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As I mentioned in my last post, I am awaiting an obituary for Nellie Mulder, the daughter of Peter and Nellie. In an earlier post, I shared the letter that Peter had sent to his brother Jan after his wife had passed away. He wrote, “It’s a heavy day for me Jan, there I have a daughter who always must be under my eye. She is not trusted to just go out unless a person familiar is with her.” As it was first explained to me in the 1970s, Nellie was “slow.”

UPDATE:

the obituary came in, and I also heard about Nellie from my uncle who knows a lot about the family history.

SEE UPDATED INFO BELOW THE HEADSTONE PHOTO!!!

I had not been able to find anything on Nellie for years, although I had seen her image in the family photo when I was still in college.

 

She is in the front row, on our left, wearing glasses. Peter and Nellie are in the center of the front row and my great-grandfather Charles Mulder is to his mother’s left (our right).

Thanks to Find-a-Grave I found Nellie’s headstone and the year of her death.

DAUGHTER

NELLIE MULDER

1902-1968

She is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Who ordered the headstone? Her parents were both dead by 1968, so it must have been ordered by a sibling, and yet the stone says “daughter.”

But what was her life like after her mother died in 1932? The family story is that she wound up in an institution. But where? And who went to visit her? Was she happy?

THE UPDATED INFORMATION

Here is the obituary that arrived yesterday:

Couple this information with what is remembered by my uncle. He says that Nellie had Down syndrome and “was the happiest person in the family. She always remembered everyone’s name and gave the best hugs!” She stayed for periods of time with relatives in Grand Rapids and also with my great-grandfather in Caledonia.

Nellie also stayed in a “home” in Grand Rapids. Family always made sure to include Nellie in all the family gatherings until “age took its toll on both her and [her] older siblings.”

My uncle believes that Nellie’s grave was probably handled by the children of my great-grandfather’s youngest brother, “Uncle Pete.” To make clear: both great-grandpa and Pete were brothers of Nellie.  Pete was a gravestone engraver, in fact, and died at age 64 of silicosis. Add this lung disease death to the tuberculosis deaths in the family, and it seems the Mulders were plagued with lung troubles.

Pete was a gravestone engraver, in fact, and died at age 64 of silicosis, four years before Nellie’s death. Add this lung disease death to the tuberculosis deaths in the family, and it seems the Mulders were plagued with lung troubles.

I don’t have a death certificate for Nellie (or her brother Pete, for that matter). But the obituary makes clear Nellie died in a nursing home. Whether this was the “home” she was living in or a nursing home because she needed medical care, I don’t know.

The obituary shows that Nellie was a member of Seventh Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. I got a kick out of that 7th! I have heard of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, but not 7th! Here is a little history of the church that is still in existence:

Seventh Reformed Church has been in existence for well over a century. Our congregation was organized on May 1, 1890. It was the first church of reformed persuasion on the west side of Grand Rapids.

The first services were held at a temporary building located on Jennette Street between Twelfth and Leonard. In 1892 a new church building was completed, located on the corner of Jennette and Leonard.

Seventh, being a Dutch immigrant congregation, held all services in the Dutch language. In 1905 the first evening service was held in the English language, but not continued until 1919. Later in 1929 the morning service was also held in English, preceded by a Dutch service. In 1942 the Dutch service was moved to the afternoon and then in 1947 it was discontinued.

Our present church building was dedicated on June 18, 1952. In 1969 the East wing containing the pastor’s study, offices, Chapel and classrooms were completed. In 1989 as we began celebrations for our Centennial Year, another extension to the building was added in the form of a large foyer on the West side with more classrooms upstairs.

Eventually I expect to find the death certificates for Nellie and Peter and other members of the Mulder family. Part of the problem is that the Grand Rapids certificates do not seem to be readily available. They are quite expensive at $20 each, and I have to rely on staff to locate them.

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Working on family history and genealogy is a never-ending project. It also is subject to the whims of windfalls and time constraints. By that I mean that when I receive information about a branch of the family that I am not working on, I might have to move that branch to the forefront for a little while. And even when I have some wonderful “leads” to follow, if I don’t have the time, I have to postpone work on that branch.

Sometimes I get so many active branches going, I can’t even keep track of what I should work on next.

Lately, these are the branches I have been tracking down:

  • MULDER family: I have been trying to put all the most important information about the Mulder family in a timeline format. When Peter Mulder contacted me with more Mulder information (including the fascinating story of Jan Mulder), I thought I would stay with the Mulders for a long time.
  • PAAK family: but then I also heard from Ed Lawrence with more photos of the Theresa Paak Lawrence family, and I posted about Theresa’s foster parents, the Pickards. Although there is more to share on this line, something sidetracked me.
  • FLIPSE/KALLEWAARD family: I heard from Jan Denkers with his information about this branch–people who actually lived just a couple doors down from my grandfather and continued living in the same neighborhood my mother grew up in. I posted a photo of the Kallewaard house, but still have more information to sort and post.

And, of course, I always keep all the other branches in mind! To further my information about the Mulders, I ordered some very important death certificates and received them for Peter and Nellie Mulder, my great-great-grandparents.

I knew that my great-grandfather, Charles Mulder, had had tuberculosis (I visited him in a TB sanitarium when I was a kid) and that his brother Henry had died from it in 1947, at age 50. What I didn’t know was that their mother Nellie also died from “pulmonary TB” in 1932, when she was 63. Now I wonder if “only” those three were afflicted or if others in the family also had TB.

 

The names of her parents are a little garbled. Her father was Jan Gorsse and her mother Kornelia Hijman. Interestingly, after I received her death certificate, I found another one online, where it had probably been misfiled. Not sure why there are TWO? My guess is that the one above was prepared at my request, but why is it less complete than the one prepared for me about Peter?

 

The second one explains that Nellie had had TB for 15 years and also had diabetes for 5. Maybe that explains why in Peter’s letter to his brother Jan it seemed that Nellie had struggled with ill health.

Peter’s death certificate also gives his cause of death.

 

Carcinoma of the face.

I am no skin cancer expert, but I believe that basal cell and squamous cell are carcinomas, but that melanoma is not. I find it frustrating that I can’t seem to find a good source to research basic understandings of fatal illnesses and their treatments for past periods of history in the U.S. and Europe. What did this diagnosis mean in 1953? Did he have a basal or squamous cell cancer and not realize it until it was too late? These carcinoma type skin cancers are not uncommon in my family with our fair skin, but to think of my G-G-Grandfather dying from it defies the imagination. The only other major health problem he had was arthritis?

Both Nellie and Peter died in the month of October, 21 years apart. They were both buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Remember the daughter that Peter was worried about leaving behind when he died? Maybe she is the reason he lived for those 21 years past Nellie. Her whereabouts–and birth and death–were complete mysteries until I found a lead. Now I’ve ordered an obituary for her from 1968 and have to wait a few weeks to receive it. Stay tuned.

I’ll be back with more on these and other branches in the future . . . .

 

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When Peter Mulder contacted me, he had a treasure that involved Jan Mulder and also my great-great grandfather, Pieter Mulder. After the death of his wife Neeltje, Pieter wrote to his brother Jan in the Netherlands. And here is the beautiful and heart-breaking letter.

Since the letter is written in Dutch, here is a translation that Peter provided for us:

October 23 1932

 

Beloved brother,

It is with sadness and a heavy heart that I must tell you my wife  has died  October 12th.

It’s a heavy day for me Jan,  there I have a daughter who always must be under my eye . She is not trusted to just go out unless a person familiar is with her. Oh, what I am missing Neeltje, she was everything to me. As children, we came together and we have been almost 48 years together, so we shared so much in life.

Now I am just about to the end all alone. Fortunately that Neeltje has passed away with the assurance that she went to the father House above. Often, she prayed for salvation  of this earthly life, yet she could not leave us because she knew I would be left behind with our daughter.

God gives my strength to the heavy loss.

I can not go longer Jan, write soon back to your brother. I’m moved now and living with my oldest son on the farm that gives me a little resistance.

 

My address is now

P Mulder

Caledonia

I will admit that this letter made me cry. I felt so bad because it sounds like Neeltje had suffered for a long time, which was why she prayed for salvation. Also, that Pieter felt worried about his youngest daughter. And I was so happy to see that Pieter felt close to Jan, his younger half-brother, even though they had been separated as children and had not seen each other in decades (because Pieter was in the U.S. and Jan was not). I was also happy to hear that he was content living in my great-grandfather Charles Mulder’s home.

Thinking about Neeltje’s health caused me to look for her death certificate, but I do not have it. If I can’t find it online, I might have to order it.

Pieter and Neeltje’s daughter must come in a later post as I have much to research about her. Pieter himself died in 1953 after moving between his children’s homes for 21 more years.

 

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Sometimes when I am researching family lines from the Netherlands, I wonder: what happened to the descendants of my ancestor’s siblings during the World Wars? I have particularly wondered that about WWII, maybe because my parents were alive during that war and because I know more about it than WWI.

I never expected to discover any information.

Until I was contacted by Peter Mulder from the Netherlands! He has the same name as my mother’s Uncle Pete who I knew as a smiling man and a farmer. He also has the same name as my great-great-grandfather who immigrated to the U.S. I wrote about that Pieter Mulder finding himself an orphan after the death of his father and about his move across the ocean.

This Peter Mulder has graciously supplied me with a story of what happened to my great-great-grandfather’s half-brother, Jan Mulder.

After the death of my Pieter’s mother, Karel Mulder (my 3rd great-grandfather) married Klazina Otte, and had two sons with her: Cornelis and Jan. Actually, there were many children, but sadly the rest died as infants. Karel passed away on 22 April 1881 and his children by my 3rd great-grandmother Johanna were dispersed into jobs and the orphanage.

Klazina was left to care for her two sons. Eventually, in 1904, she moved with her sons to Apeldoorn. She would have been about 63, and she died on 8 November 1922 in Apeldoorn.

Cornelis, who was born 1 September 1872, was a tailor. He married Hendrika Jonker (born 07 May 1876), and they moved their family to Utrecht on 30 July 1928.

Jan, who happens to be the grandfather of Peter Mulder, was born on 20 December 1876.  By profession, he was a hairdresser.

Jan married Petertje van Baak. Interestingly, the witnesses at the wedding were Cornelis Mulder, his brother, and Izaak Mulder, his half-brother (Pieter’s older brother). I believe this shows that the children of Karel Mulder had remained close although the family was torn apart (as far as living arrangements) by his death.

 

Jan and Petertje wedding photo

6 October 1904

Jan and Petertje had three children:

Klazina Petronella Mulder, born 06 February 1905 and died 28 April 1994

Teunis Jan Mulder, born 20 May 1907

Izaak Mulder, born 23 January 1913 and died 14 December 1980

Izaak is Peter’s father.

Teunis, Nellie, Izaak

On November 1, 1929, Jan immigrated to Soerabaja/Soerabaia, now called Surabaya, which is the capital of Jawa Timur (East Java). Indonesia was part of the Dutch East Indies. Jan left his wife and three children behind. In 1936, the couple divorced, but he kept in contact with his children.

Jan enjoyed his life in Soerabaja. He had his own hairdresser business and played music in an orchestra. He played bass, violin, and flute.

In winter/spring of 1942, the Japanese invaded and took over Java. At that time, it was necessary for all Dutch people to register with the Japanese. After that, Jan was held  in the Ambarawa internment camp for several years. The living conditions were poor and deteriorated as time went on. Peter believes that almost 13,000 people died there during that period–including Jan Mulder, Peter’s grandfather, and the half-brother of my great-great-grandfather. He was 65 years old. I can’t imagine the difficulties he must have endured in his last years.

 

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This postcard belonged to the Mulder family. As you can see from the reverse side, it was addressed to a Mulder, but which one? What is that bizarre looking letter in front of the surname? Is it C for Charles? For Clara? Is it CC for Charles and Clara? My great-grandparents were Charles and Clara Mulder. Or is it a weird M for Mister? N. Boltwood Street, City. But what city? If I could read that postmark, I would know, but I can’t.

When I look at the 1910 census, I can see that Charles and Clara Mulder lived on Boltwood Street in Hastings, Michigan! They boarded with another young couple, Otto and Mildred Jahnke. Great-grandpa was a machinist at the time–not yet a farmer with his own farm.

It almost looks like a self-addressed card. But not necessarily. If it is, I can take a guess at who the new arrival was: my grandmother! Lucille Edna Mulder was born April 17, 1912. It is also possible that a friend had a baby that same year, and that this was their birth announcement, but I like the idea of it being my grandmother’s.

It was amusing to see that the stork brought the baby through the roof. I’ve never noticed that idea before, figuring that Santa had the roof market to himself. But it makes sense. Storks, with their nests on the roofs of the buildings, are part of the folklore of the Netherlands. That said, the card was printed in Germany, and the family of Grandma’s mother Clara was German, whereas the Mulders were Dutch. So I looked up storks in Germany and, while they do have storks in Germany, they are more common in Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Belgium.

Note: this postcard uses the same way of addressing that the one last week did: using “city” instead of the name of the city itself. The assumption is that it’s used for intra-city correspondence.

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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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