Posts Tagged ‘Alice Leeuwenhoek’

In the collection of images derived from Joseph DeKorn’s glass negatives, there are photos of children. Unfortunately, children are hard to identify, and I don’t know who most of them are. In this beautiful photograph, Grandpa’s first cousin, Alice Leeuwenhoek, is shown with three friends, neighbors, or relatives. The girls and their clothing remind me of the book and movie Pollyanna. The novel was written in 1913, and Alice was born in 1897, so this is close! Alice is the tall girl in the double-breasted coat.

Alice was married at age 26 to Clarence Moerdyk. They never had any children. Alice was a successful seamstress. Sadly, she passed away at age 66, leaving behind her husband and her mother, Jennie Leeuwenhoek. She was buried at Riverside Cemetery in Kalamazoo.


As usual, if anybody has any ideas about the identities of the other girls, please let me know!

I hope you have someone or someones to spend a happy Thanksgiving with! This year it’s just my husband and me, and I accidentally bought a 24-pound turkey (don’t ask). Any ideas on dishes I can make with the turkey and then freeze? Besides soup, of course.

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Alice Leeuwenhoek received a postcard wishing her a Joyous Thanksgiving (and a Cordial one) in 1911.

The card was postmarked November 29 because the holiday fell on November 30 in 1911. If this seems late, Thanksgiving didn’t fall on the fourth Thursday of the month until 1941 when FDR changed it.

This card was sent by Alice’s cousin’s Elizabeth. Who in the world was her cousin Elizabeth?

Alice’s mother, Jennie DeKorn, had 2 siblings: her sister Cora had only my grandfather who was 3 in 1911. Her brother wasn’t even married yet and his children weren’t born until the 20s. So what about the Leeuwenhoeks? The only one I know that came to this country (and would have written in English and MAILED A CARD FROM KALAMAZOO) was Gerrit who died single at the age of 21 in the Spanish-American War.

Elizabeth appears to be young–by her handwriting, her slang (kinda), and the general sloppiness of the writing.

Since Alice lived in Kalamazoo and the card was postmarked Kalamazoo, it is also curious why Elizabeth said she wished Alice would “come down sometime.” It’s possible that she just lived on the other side of town since that can seem an enormous distance to children who can’t travel that far by themselves. Alice was 14 in 1911.

Could Elizabeth be a friend?

More mysteries.

What is not a mystery is that I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving.



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Actually the house was right in the middle of the city, not in the woods, but that sounds nice–very Ingalls-Wilder-ish.

A while back I posted a photo of a house with Alice Leeuwenhoek standing in front of it on Thanksgiving 1907. The address on the back was 126 Balch Street, which didn’t seem to conform to current addresses. I asked a lot of questions about it. Uncle Don explained that were some buildings behind the houses on the street.


126 Balch Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan

Then I heard from Jill-O, a librarian in Kalamazoo. (P.S. You will love her blog so go check it out!)

Here are the results of her research in a 1908 insurance street map of Kalamazoo:

Jill-O says:

It looks like the numbers are in the same location as today. There are a couple of outbuildings behind 126, so either the house was torn down and rebuilt, or the one of the outbuildings was used.

Here is the house that  is on the street, numbered 126, today.

Let’s look at the pic and think back to 1907. In the photo you can see an outbuilding behind the house, so it’s unlikely that it’s off the street, behind another building. But if it was 126, wouldn’t the outbuilding be poking out on the other side? And wouldn’t the house be larger? As to the second question, maybe not. The house shows one room and behind it another room, so maybe from the photo we can’t see the depth of the house. As to the first question, what if the photo is reversed? I don’t know too much about the process of taking photos or developing them in those days, and maybe the photo is reversed.

OR. What if this is an outbuilding and that building off to the left is a house on the street from another angle?

The more answers I find, the more questions I have. I think my husband is right: I ask way too many questions.

This map is invaluable to me because so many of my relatives lived in this neighborhood. I am going to use it to plug in the addresses on the census reports–yippee!!!

Thank you, Jill-O!

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While I am making connections and doing more behind the scenes (haha, sounds important) work on the genealogy, I thought I’d share an uncleaned-up photo from the Joseph DeKorn collection. The spots are just a little extra treat. I’d love to hear ideas about the best way to get rid of them!


126 Balch Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan

The little girl behind the bench is Alice Leeuwenhoek, and the date is Thanksgiving 1907. I trust that this is Alice because Grandpa told me in the late 70s, and he knew Alice. Old writing on the back indicates the date. But is the address correct?

In the 1910 census Lambertus, Jennie, and Alice all lived at 110 Balch Street. The houses are numbered 110, 112, 120, 130, 210, 216. No number 126.

Is this the Leeuwenhoek house or not? I’m going to hazard a guess. The address written on the back of this photo is in my handwriting, which means that Grandpa gave me the address. I already suspect that the numbering was changed at some point on Burdick and Balch because the older numbers do not match to the current addresses. Maybe Grandpa gave me the address that was correct in the late 1970s, but not the address as it was in 1907.

Because of the way Alice is standing behind the bench, near the house, and alone, I think this is her own house.

The placement of this house would have been very near Richard DeKorn’s brick house at the corner of Burdick and Balch. I wrote about it in this post The Richard DeKorn House. Alice was Richard’s granddaughter as her mother Jennie was Richard’s daughter and my grandfather’s aunt. Grandpa and Alice were first cousins.

I looked on Google Maps to see what the area looks like today. 126 Balch is about the 4th house down from the DeKorn house on the corner. So, is it possible that in 1907 they lived in 126 and in 1910 they lived in 110? It’s possible because maybe Richard owned several houses on Balch Street. That would not be inconceivable. Or that he had owned the land and gave or sold parcels to family members.

Maybe all the families living on Balch street are not on the census with the Leeuwenhoeks because they weren’t home when the census taker came. That would further complicate things. All this makes me wish I had some time in Kalamazoo to get my hands on some of the property ownership records!

Still, I do feel confident that this is Alice standing in front of her house on Balch Street in 1907, and that she lived quite near her grandparents. Her grandmother, Alice Paak DeKorn, would die the following year–and Grandpa would be born.

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I lost my oldest cat, Mac. He passed away a week ago last Sunday. His actual name was Macavity, and he was named after T.S. Eliot’s “Mystery Cat” (in the poem and the Broadway musical). I’m a dedicated animal lover, so I always like to see evidence of animals in the lives of my ancestors. I wrote a post called Dogs in the Family that showcases some photos of pets from 100 years ago, as well as my own four cats.

I found a postcard from 105 years ago that features a type of tabby cat. My cat Mac was an orange and white tabby, so this caught my attention. It’s part of a collection of cards received by Alice Leeuwenhoek.

This card was mailed from Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1910. Alice was my grandfather’s first cousin–their mothers were sisters–and she was born in Kalamazoo in 1897.

I wish I knew what the inside joke about eating well means! Alice was a very slender woman.

Notice that the postcard isn’t signed. So frustrating! Does it sound like a good friend or a relative?  Does the handwriting give a clue? Alice was 13 years old when she received this card.

Here she is seven years later (age 20)–dressing fashionably, posing, and with a young man!

Alice wouldn’t marry until 1923, at age 26, and it wasn’t to the man in this photo.

If you go to Dogs in the Family, you will see a photo of Alice as a child with her aunt, my great-grandmother Cora DeKorn Zuidweg, and my grandfather, Adrian Zuidweg–with the family dogs.

I’ll leave you with photo of Alice and moi when I was 3 years old. Alice was 61. I knew Alice quite well when I was a child. She passed away when I was 8 years old, in 1963.

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After my great-great grandmother Alice Paak DeKorn passed away, Richard DeKorn remarried a woman named Jantje, called Jennie.  Her story begins this way . . .jenny j from ann marie

Once upon a time –well, in the 19th century–in the province of Groningen, the Netherlands, Martje Derks Wiltje married Harm Jansen.  They had two daughters, Kate and Jantje, who were both born in a town called Uithuizen. After Martje passed away, Harm and his daughters immigrated to the United States, where the family adopted the surname Johnson.

Harm Johnson

Harm Johnson
Probably a copy of his wedding photo from 1858 (copied 1891)

Jennie Johnson (eventually Sootsman and then DeKorn) and her family traveled to the United States on the SS Castor, arriving in New York on May 4, 1881. Below is a copy of the manifest and a photo of the Castor.SS Caster Page 1 Janssen immigrationSS Caster Page 5 Janssen Immigration name listMedia0050

Kate married Hemmens Edward Siertsema.  Kate and Hemmens had several children, including Annetta Lucile (Harmens) who was born in 1884 and died on 16 Dec 1974 in Kalamazoo.  Eventually Annetta had her own daughter named Annetta (born 1910), as well as a son, Lowell (born 1913).

Jantje (Jennie) married Oscar Sootsman.  They had two daughters:

1. MARION SOOTSMAN was born on 30 May 1892 in Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo County,

Michigan, USA. She died on 21 Apr 1948 in Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo County,

Michigan, USA. She married John Ewart McQuigg, son of Moore McQuigg and

Lizzie on 11 Aug 1928 in St Joseph Co. IN. He was born in 1894.

2. MAJORIE (MARGE) SOOTSMAN was born in Apr 1896. She married GEORGE OWENS.

3. There might have been a son, but if so, I haven’t been able to locate him yet.

Oscar Sootsman passed away in Kalamazoo in 1907. Three years later, Jantje married widower Richard DeKorn (you were waiting for the DeKorn connection, right?).  Richard died in 1930, eighteen years before Jantje, who passed on in 1948.

So these girls, Marion and Marge, were Richard DeKorn’s stepdaughters.  When Richard and Jennie married, the girls were 18 and 14. In the family photographs I have the girls are sometimes in family group shots.  Here is a photo of Alice Leeuwenhoek (Uncle Lou and Aunt Jen’s daughter) with Marge Sootsman.  To clarify, Alice’s grandfather was married to Marge’s mother.

On the following page, first photograph, you can see Jantje (Jennie) with her daughter Marion.  In between them is Jennie’s sister Kate’s granddaughter Annetta (1910 – 2005).  The top middle photo is Marge (Marjorie) and Marion Sootsman.  Below that is a photo of Marge by herself.  The next, or fourth, photo is Richard and Jennie DeKorn.  The man at the right is George Owen, who married Marge Sootsman.

In this next set of photos, we have the granddaughter of Kate, Annetta in two photos by herself and one perhaps with her brother Lowell (1913 – 2004).  There are three photos of Marion Sootsman.

The final set of photos shows Annetta at the piano and Lowell playing, Comstock, Michigan.  Then Richard (“Uncle Dick”) and Jennie DeKorn are pictured with Annetta, Lowell, and their parents, Everett William  and Annetta Harmens VanHoeve.   The center photo is Annetta at Comstock School.  The top right photo is in front of the Bath House at Ramona Park at Long Lake, which was owned by Richard DeKorn’s sister-in-law from his first marriage and her husband.  Annetta is seen here with her cousin Herman Harmens.  The bottom right photo seems to be Annetta with Lowell’s bicycle.

The following obituary belongs to Jantje/Jennie Johnson Sootsman DeKorn:

Blog reader Grady Ellis sent me these copies of scrapbook pages, as well as some family history from that family group.  These photos came to Grady from Susan A. VanHoeve McEwen, who owns the originals. He says that the Harmens family owned the Shell Service Station on Portage Street, just north of the Lovers Lane intersection.  He worked there while he was going to college in the early 70s “back in the days when you really received service in a gas station . . .  long ago.”

Grady shared the contents of an obituary in the Kalamazoo Gazette on July 19, 1907 for Oscar Sootsman:

“Funeral for Oscar Sootsman.

The funeral of Oscar Sootsman who was killed by being run over by the city sprinkling wagon Wednesday night, will be held at the home, on South Burdick street at 3 o’clock Saturday afternoon.  The Rev. William Pool and the Rev. Mr. Koolker will officiate.  Interment will take place at Riverside.”

Here is another:

What a sad death.  He was run over by the truck he drove. No wonder the paper said he was a man of great courage.  Here is his death certificate:

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