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Archive for the ‘Elmhurst’ Category

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a sample poem from the collection:

Genealogy

 

Tigers die and leave their skins;

people die and leave their names.  ~Japanese Proverb

 

The more relatives I unearthed,

the more Franks rose to the surface

like deer bones after a storm.

On the trails I could follow,

I found seven named Frank,

three Franz, three Francis.

Frans, Francois, and Franciscus.

Frances and Francisca,

the women peeking out

from under their fathers’ names.

The name passed forward

like a cross polished by many hands.

The verb frank means to allow free passage

for man or post. But these Franks

and Franciskas paid with their labor

and their babes buried along the way.

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

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

 

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On 23 February 1931, my father’s uncle, Frank Anthony Klein, had some sort of possibly epileptic seizure and crashed his automobile into a tree. He died from his injuries, and his mother grieved deeply for him. She had already lost her oldest daughter and Frank was her only son.

A little over a year after that tragic event, his mother, Margarethe Wendel Klein, died of cancer, or so my father told me, in her home in Elmhurst, Illinois. I think these photos are of her grave at the cemetery because I don’t see her sitting next to her husband, my great-grandfather, Frank Klein. He is wearing glasses and has a mustache.

Here’s a close-up of the grave with its flowers.

The family is buried at Elm Lawn Cemetery in Elmhurst. Margarethe would have had a Catholic funeral service.

One twist (isn’t there always a twist or a mystery?): Margarethe’s death certificate says she died of Diabetic Coma. And that she had had Myocarditis for 10 years and Nephritis (institial) for 6 years. Myocarditis is an inflammation of the middle layer of the heart wall, and apparently it can be caused by a virus and may resolve. Interstitial nephritis is a kidney disorder. So she had diabetes. So did her daughter, my grandmother.

Why did my father think she died of cancer? He and his siblings and mother lived with his grandparents at the time, and he remembers his grandmother “lying in the library dying, while we played outside.”

Margarethe Wendel Klein

Helen, Marie, Elizabeth, Margarethe, Peter (SIL)

Frank Sr. on the ground with his grandkids

Uncle Frank and Grandma Marie Klein c. 1920

Uncle Frank and Grandma Marie Klein c. 1920

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My great-grandmother, Margarethe Wendel Klein, born in 1869 in Budesheim, Hessen, Germany. She died in 1932 in Elmhurst, Illinois.

Is there a name for this sort of hat? Would you call this a suit? I’m not sure about the year, but I guess it to be in the 1920s.

I am going to take a little blogging break to recharge the brain batteries.

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Here is a photo I need some help with. I wonder what you think is going on here. The house in the background is my father’s grandparents’ home in Elmhurst, Illinois. The lady in the window is Dad’s grandmother, Margarethe Klein. She passed away from cancer in 1932.

The only other person I can identify is my grandmother’s youngest sister Helen. She’s the young blonde at the right side of the photo, back row. Helen was born in 1910. What year do you think this photo is?

And what in the world do you think they are doing? Any ideas on what brought them all together for the photo?

Elmhurst, Illinois

Elmhurst, Illinois

Next week:  back to my Dutch ancestors . . .

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Let’s take a short break from my mother’s family and jump over to my father’s family.  My father’s mother Marie was the Head Fitter of the 28 Shop at Marshall Field’s flagship store in Chicago for years and an artist with a needle.

From the time I was born, Grandma sewed me beautiful dresses. But I first paid attention to her sewing on Christmas the year I was four. As we opened gifts, Grandma leaned down toward me, with her pearls swinging, and handed me a huge box.  The blue eyes of a doll my size stared back at me when I pulled up the lid.  I named her Bonnie, after one of my favorite records, “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.”

Grandma handed me another large, but more beautifully wrapped, box.  I untied the grosgrain ribbon and discovered she had sewn an array of beautiful dresses trimmed in selfsame bows and flowered beads.  The beret Grandma created for Bonnie matched the pink satin-lined pale blue velvet coat.

Bow on back of Bonnie's velvet coat
Bow on back of Bonnie’s velvet coat
Pearl button closures on Bonnie's velvet coat
Pearl button closures on Bonnie’s velvet coat

When I was eight, Grandma sewed me a glorious trousseau of clothes for the imitation Barbie (Miss Suzette) my parents had given me.  My doll didn’t have the requisite zebra-striped swimsuit or the Enchanted Evening gown and fur stole, but she had a copper satin cocktail sheath covered with a copper rose point lace outer skirt.  Both were trimmed in copper seed beads.  The wedding dress of white satin was heavily beaded with real seed pearls. A lace trimmed slip fit underneath and the veil was matching lace and beaded with the pearls.  I looked for stitches to see Grandma’s tricks, but they were invisible as all good magic.

When I was away at college, my mother gave the Barbie clothes away. While Bonnie has always sat on a chair in my bedroom, for a long time I kept Bonnie’s clothes in a small suitcase in my closet, away from dust and sunlight, and reveled in the knowledge that I had preserved these treasures.  After moving to my last house, I decided to put them away more securely.

Then I forgot where I put them! For years I thought they were lost. Finally, last year, I found the clothing. The only piece missing is the velvet beret.  All I have left of the Barbie clothes are the memories as I don’t have a photo of them.

All these years later, my parents have given me my grandmother’s German porcelain doll and the clothing Grandma made for her.

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These doll clothes represent all the beautiful clothing my grandmother designed and sewed over the years. Clothing, Art really, which is long gone.

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