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Archive for the ‘Michigan history’ Category

At the end of this post, I wrote an update.

Instead of griping about not having time to do genealogy research, I’ve decided to change my attitude. I am so blessed with so many old family photos, that my time is best spent right now trying to identify the photos!

Today’s photo is labelled, but it still presents a few problems. The date is 1951. I don’t know the location, but believe that the location is probably in southwest Michigan. The names are Cora, Fred, Godfrey, Anna.

Waldeck surname

Godrey has to be Gottfried Waldeck (Jr), born 18 December 1880 somewhere in “Germany”–most likely Prussia. He was married to Anna Christine Ruehs. She was born 2 December 1882 (same birthday as my mom!). My mother knew them as Uncle Godfrey and Aunt Anna. I’ve written about him before–how he drove his tractor down the block to work in his fields when he was blind. How I saw him do just that.

I asked Mom, and she confirmed that the two on our right are definitely Uncle Godfrey and Aunt Anna.

I like the photo without the orange a bit better.

But who are Cora and Fred? Godfrey had a brother, Fred. He’s the one who lived at the state hospital. He had brain damage from a terrible accident that happened when he was young and newly married with a young child. Fred was born in 1869 and died in 1953, so he would have been 81 in 1951. You can read more about him at Waldeck Family Research. This man does look the right age, but would he have been in good shape like this? Dressed up in a nice suit and tie?

Take a look at this photo of one of the old Kalamazoo State Hospital photos. It could be the building behind them.

Here is the family photo that includes Fred as a young man. Fred is back row, left side. Godfrey is front row, right side.

I am hoping that I can get verification that this is, indeed, Fred Waldeck who lived at the State Hospital. In comparing the younger Fred to the older Fred in the photos, I do think it is the same person.

If I could find out who Cora was that would be even more amazing!

UPDATE:

Thanks to Linda Stufflebean from http://www.emptybranchesonthefamilytree.com/ I was able to put together the pieces of who is in the photo and who is probably holding the camera.

All along I have been imagining Fred as abandoned at the “asylum” all those years. After all, his son was still almost a baby when Fred was injured. His wife Caroline Meir had to work for a farmer and leave her son Edward with her mother in Grand Rapids. Eventually she became a nurse and lived with her mother and with Edward. Caroline probably worked very hard her whole life and raised Edward to become a pastor. She passed away in 1946.

This new “find,” the photo identified as Cora, Fred, Godrey, and Anna, 1951, shows that the family visited Fred. Cora is Fred’s daughter-in-law, the wife of Edward who must be taking the photograph. So on this day in 1951, Fred’s son and daughter-in-law, and his only surviving brother, Godfrey, and Godfrey’s wife Anna visited Fred who was dressed up in a suit and tie for the occasion. The only close family members not in the photograph, in fact, are my great-grandparents, Clara and Charles Mulder. Clara was Fred’s only surviving sister by 1951.

Little tidbit of info: Fred was to die less than two years later, in January 1953. Clara died mere months after her brother, on 6 September 1953.

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When I scan old family photos I always think it’s particularly cool when photos include other people in Kalamazoo (or elsewhere) because if I post them online, there is a chance the descendants of these people can find their relatives’ photos. This has happened before, and I hope it continues to happen.

The photo for today is of a Sunday School class of young “men” at Bethany Reformed Church in Kalamazoo. If you click on the next photo you can be taken to the church history on the church’s website.

The church began as a tiny chapel near the corner of Burdick and Maple in 1905. By 1907, the building above was built to house the rapidly growing congregation. By 1910 there were 69 member families, all of the Reformed denomination (and presumably Dutch or of Dutch ancestry).

As you can see by the back of my photo, it was taken around 1918 (so imagine the church growth by then).

The sticker was put on in the 80s, I imagine, by my grandparents.

Here is the front:

Let’s look at it a little closer:

The church was probably right by houses, but I don’t know whether the photo was taken outside the church (with a house behind the boys) or if it was taken in someone’s yard. They do look dressed for church here.

Do you think my grandfather was one of these boys? He would have been about ten in 1918.

Mom? Uncle Don? Anybody? There is only one boy here who I think looks at all like Grandpa.

About the church: although it was the Great Depression, the new building that still stands today was dedicated in 1932. It continued to be added on to for many years. In the 1960s, I attended Vacation Bible School for one summer. My grandmother was babysitting while my mother was working, so it was easy for me to go to Bible School across the street, although our church was out in Portage. Unfortunately, in 1972, vandals set fire to the sanctuary, which was completely destroyed. It was rebuilt within a year.

I took a screenshot of the church as it looks today on Google Maps. Same building where I went to class 55 years ago.

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Of all the amazing antique and vintage photos of my family that I now have in my files and on my computer, perhaps the majority are of the Remine branch. I could post their photos every day for a year most likely and you wouldn’t see the same one twice. But photos only tell part of the story of a family. The other day I stepped into Ancestry and ended up clicking on a leaf-hint for Grandpa’s cousin Harold Remine (1st cousin, 1x removed). I discovered a page from a book of graduates of the University of Michigan from 1923.

I’ve written about Harold a few times. His career as an engineer for Montreal is touched upon in An Update on the Career of Harold Remine. A photo of his wife Lillian in her wedding dress is Lillian Heddle Remine. There are many more about Harold, as well as his sisters Therese (owner of Ramona Park at one time) and Genevieve Tazelaar.

Here is the entry about Harold.

B.S.E.E. I know means Bachelor’s of Science in Electrical Engineering. But the rest? Was he in the navy? OK, I looked that up. United States Naval Reserve Force. 1918. So he was in WWI. I wish I knew more about his service! What does “With Detroit Edison Co.” mean? That he got a job there and will now work there? That he already works there? And is the address where he lived or where he worked?

Take a look at the full page so you can see how others are listed. Many do not have addresses. I think if you click twice the photo will enlarge. (But I am not an engineer).

In another exciting genealogical discovery, someone read one of the posts here and confirmed an identity for me.

Do you remember me writing about my grandfather’s girlfriend before Grandma? Check this post out: Grandpa’s Girlfriend.

I figured out she had to be Margaret Christine Garthe, but of course I couldn’t know for sure. Well, her granddaughter found the post and gave a positive identification! How exciting is that! The best part is that I have more pix of her than I have posted on this blog that I can give to Margaret’s granddaughter! Events like this make me love the internet.

 

Here’s one of the other ones:

Margaret was such a cute girl.

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My maternal grandmother’s family wasn’t from Kalamazoo, but from Caledonia, Michigan, which is in Kent (not Kalamazoo) County. Both counties are in SW Michigan, but I wouldn’t want to walk between these places! I’ve written before about the high school graduation of my grandmother, (Lucille) Edna Mulder, and her sister, Dorothy. You can find the posts here:

April 17 Always Reminds Me of Grandma

In the new album of photographs my mother gave me, there is a black and white version of this tinted graduation photo of the sisters.

And for the first time I am seeing high school graduation photos of their siblings!

To give a context, here is a little family tree information. Charles and Clara (Waldeck) Mulder had five children. Dorothea Rosa was born on 7 December 1910, the grandma was born 17 April 1912. These sisters graduated together in 1929.

On 20 October 1913, daughter Alvena was born.

My memories of Aunt Vena are of a retired school teacher and a gracious hostess who had a beautiful home with a fish tank inside and bird feeders outside.

Peter Godfrey Mulder was the first boy, born 2 November 1915. He and Aunt Ruby lived in a farmhouse in Martin when I knew them. I will always associate him with the big tree in the backyard and his (remnants of) curly hair. I saw him as a ginger. My mother says his hair was reddish, but she didn’t think of him as a redhead. Like most of the family he had very fair skin. He was named after his paternal grandfather (Peter) and his maternal grandfather (Godfrey). In my memories of him, he is always smiling.

The “baby” was born on 30 July 1917: Charles Peter Mulder, named after his father and his paternal grandfather.

Uncle Chuck had the same sweet smile as Grandma. He joined the U.S. Army right after Pearl Harbor.

I wish the Caledonia school yearbooks were available through Ancestry as so many are now, but alas, there is only a school record through 1925. I am so lucky to have Grandma’s scrapbook from her and Aunt Dorothy’s graduation.

Then I found another photo of an 8th grade graduation.

You see the girl in the second row, third from the left? That’s Grandma! And her sister, Dorothy, is seated in the front row, second from the right. Seated to Dorothy’s left (our right) is probably Blanche, Grandma’s best friend who became valedictorian when they graduated high school. Dorothy was salutatorian and Grandma was class historian.

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This is the sixth and final week that the beautiful creative nonfiction journal Broad Street magazine has published one of the pieces from my chapbook Kin Types along with documents and photographs that helped me piece together these old family stories.

The subject of the poem “Someone Else’s Story” is Caroline Meier Waldeck, the wife of my grandmother’s Uncle Fred, a German immigrant who, as a young husband and father, was hit by a streetcar and suffered severe brain damage from the accident.

You can read it here: Family Laundry: “Someone Else’s Story” by Luanne Castle

 

The first feature article is “Family Laundry: “An Account of a Poor Oil Stove Bought off Dutch Pete,” by Luanne Castle

The second feature article is Family Laundry 2: “What Came Between A Woman and Her Duties” by Luanne Castle

The third feature article is: Family Laundry: “More Burials” by Luanne Castle

The fourth is: Family Laundry: “The Weight of Smoke” by Luanne Castle

The fifth is: Family Laundry: “Half-Naked Woman Found Dead,” by Luanne Castle

An introduction to the series can be found here.  SERIES INTRODUCTION

 

 

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This is the fifth week that the beautiful creative nonfiction journal Broad Street magazine has published one of the pieces from my chapbook Kin Types along with documents and photographs that helped me piece together these old family stories.

This week is about Louise Noffke’s death and the family history (including domestic violence) that surrounded that tragic event. Read it at Family Laundry: “Half-Naked Woman Found Dead,” by Luanne Castle

Louise was buried with her husband Charles Noffke, my great-grandmother’s brother. The “together forever” headstone is a bit ironic considering one of the newspaper articles that I uncovered.

This next is the headstone of the daughter of Louise and Charles. She is also mentioned in the Broad Street article.

 

The first feature article is “Family Laundry: “An Account of a Poor Oil Stove Bought off Dutch Pete,” by Luanne Castle

The second feature article is Family Laundry 2: “What Came Between A Woman and Her Duties” by Luanne Castle

The third feature article is: Family Laundry: “More Burials” by Luanne Castle

The fourth is: Family Laundry: “The Weight of Smoke” by Luanne Castle

An introduction to the series can be found here.  SERIES INTRODUCTION

 

 

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The horrific fires in California have been in the news over the past week. My heart breaks for the people who died, those who lost their homes, and the animals that perished as well. Fire has long been a blessing and a devastation for humankind. Today’s post is about a fire that burned down the home of my great-great-grandmother’s brother and his family.

The last three weeks I’ve shared articles published by Broad Street magazine. They are featuring a series showcasing what went into the making of six poems and flash prose pieces in my chapbook Kin Types. The idea is that you can see how you, too, can put together stories of your ancestors.

Today the fourth part of the series was published and can be found here: Family Laundry: “The Weight of Smoke” by Luanne Castle

The first feature article is “Family Laundry: “An Account of a Poor Oil Stove Bought off Dutch Pete,” by Luanne Castle

The second feature article is Family Laundry 2: “What Came Between A Woman and Her Duties” by Luanne Castle

The third feature articles is: Family Laundry: “More Burials” by Luanne Castle

An introduction to the series can be found here.  SERIES INTRODUCTION

 

 

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