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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago history’

I love the serious pintucks on the dress, and the watch or locket pinned to it.

How do I know it’s Jeanette? Because it says so on the back!Don’t you LOVE when the info is on the back of the image?! It says: Jeanette Bosman / Grand Rapids / 1906.

Jeanette was born 30 June 1888 in Kalamazoo. That would make her 18 in this portrait. Wow, she sure looks older to me. But then her skin does not, and maybe it is the type of looks that she has.

On Ancestry, I found a photo of Jeanette as an older woman in Chicago. I hesitate to post it here because I am not sure if we are allowed to take images off Ancestry and share elsewhere. But she looks like the same person, with the same hairstyle decades later.

When I first found the Bosman children (children of Dirk Bosman and my 1st cousin 4xremoved Johanna/Adriana Remine) I posted in two posts. Part II listed the children and Part I was focused on John, Jeanette’s older brother. Jennie was listed as second to youngest.  Jeanette is Jennie.

When she was three her mother passed away in Kalamazoo. Then I don’t have any information until she got married in 1908 to George M. Harter in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I don’t know if she had a stepmother, for instance, or if the family moved to Grand Rapids right after the mother’s death.

Jeanette had three children, all born in Chicago, so the family must have lived in Chicago after Grand Rapids.

Jeanette and George had three children, all born in Chicago, so the family must have lived in Chicago after Grand Rapids.

George, Jeanette’s husband, passed away in 1940, when she was 51 years old. She didn’t die until 1978 in Rochester, New York. I can’t help but wonder what her life was like for the last 38 years of her life and how she ended up in New York State.

Her son Wilmar died in Montana, and her middle child Georgia died in Cook County, Illinois, years after the death of their mother. So did Jeanette follow her daughter Eileen (Ellen) to Rochester? I don’t know because I can’t find what happened to Eileen after the 1930 census. She was 12 years old.

So what about Jeanette’s siblings? We know John survived until 1943, but most of the other children died in childhood. And apparently Cornelius, the youngest (and only one younger than Jeanette), survived. At age 63, he married Evelyn MacLeod in Cleveland.

Oh, by the way, I found a cute pic on Ancestry of Jeanette and Cornelius when they were 12 and 9 (so the year 1900), but again am afraid to share it. Their older brother John would have been 24, so was probably already out of the house and therefore not in this photo. He married Nellie Robb in 1903 at age 27.

Anybody know the rules for Ancestry.com photos?

I suspect there will be a Part IV eventually.

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This isn’t Kalamazoo history, unless you consider that Kalamazoo is pretty darn close to Chicago. My paternal grandmother, Marie Klein Hanson Wakefield, was from Elmhurst and Chicago, Illinois, and for much of her work life she was the head fitter at the 28 Shop at Marshall Field & Company at the corner of State and Washington in Chicago.

That was a job that took a lot of talent, and it was a pretty cool job. She fitted celebrities, as well as other wealthy customers of the store. She designed clothing for some, and she was asked to move to Hollywood to work for the movies as a costume designer (which she turned down).

When she retired, Grandma was given a pittance (IMO) monthly retirement and a book about the story of Marshall Field & Company.

The book was on our bookshelves when I was a kid, and I devoured the history of department stores in Chicago, which is a subject I still find fascinating.

And I still have the book today.

Is it just me or do you think that this generic inscription is a little too little for the years my grandmother gave away her talents to the company?

It’s fitting that my first real job (outside of family business) was with a department store in Kalamazoo–Jacobson’s, where I (what else?) fitted gloves (see the image on the book cover). Yes, pun intended.

 

 

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When I was in an antique mall, I picked up a clown doll. I do have a doll collection, but this clown didn’t fit the collection. I had no idea why I wanted it.

I’m not afraid of clowns, although some of these recent clown news stories could unnerve me if I experienced them. But when I got in the car with my “new” doll, I looked at it and said to myself, “Why did I want you?”

A week later, I was going through some old photos (as you know I do that a lot) and discovered this photo of myself at age two with my grandmother, my cousin Michael, and a doll.

Although it’s not the exact doll, it’s pretty close–even with the same markings. The one I found has a younger, sweeter face, whereas the one in the photo has a more mature face.

Did I have some memory of this doll that made me buy the one at the antique mall? Or did the experience of the earlier clown prepare me for a sense of familiarity when I saw the one for sale?

Was that my cousin’s doll–or mine? And who bought it?

Photos can be a mystery years later, even when you’re in the picture!

This post was inspired by Mary Louise Eklund’s post on Wednesday last week.

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My father’s mother used to love Christmas. She celebrated it on Christmas Eve, in the German tradition. Her favorite Christmas carol was “Silent Night,” also from the German tradition.

In this photo, Grandma sits with Aunt Marge.

And here Aunt Marge is with a silly young man. (Yup, that looks like Dad!)

 

In Chicago, she kept a traditional Christmas tree (yes, also the German tradition) that she decorated with glass ornaments (mainly made in, wait for it, Germany) and strands of tinsel. In this photo, I must be around five and stand between Grandma and my mother.

Look what I got from Grandma!

 

When I was still young, Grandma changed her tree to a silver aluminum that changed color when a light wheel shone different colors on the tree. She decorated it in all pink balls. That’s the tree I remember from her duplex in Michigan. I looked, but couldn’t find a photo of it.

Another German tradition Grandma continued was putting electric candles in the window. I wish you could see the candles in this pic, but they might have been in the kitchen window. This is the picture window in Grandma’s duplex. She has a wreath up, and the nativity scene with the gifts below. It looks as if she didn’t have a tree this year. Judging by this fabulous hair (Mom, you let me go out like this?!), I was in junior high.

I think she gave my parents at least some of her old ornaments.

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I am not a car expert by any means. I hope I never have to identify a getaway car, for instance. I can give a description of details, but I can’t identify the make or year of a vehicle. My husband can. I am amazed sometimes at how he can tell me a year of a car when it sees it way down the street. But I am not asking him the questions I have because the answers lie in the early history of the American automobile–and I doubt he knows much about those first cars.

So I ask you: is this first one a Model T car? Or is it something else? And what year might it be? Sometime in the 20s, I believe.

 

The car is driven by my great-grandfather, Frank Klein. That’s my grandmother sitting shotgun. In the back is her sister Helen and her mother, my great-grandmother. Their house in Elmhurst, Illinois, is behind the car. That looks like a sawhorse on the left. I wonder what is underneath and why it’s there.

Here’s a photo of what I think is a different car. Notice the different roof, headlamps, etc. Do they both have the same double windshield? I can’t figure out the background/setting at all. I love these “motoring” outfits. What kind of car is this?Do you have old photos with cars in them? How did you determine what kind of car?

 

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Identifying the Klein sisters and others in the family photos on my dad’s side of the family is very difficult. It’s particularly difficult when sisters look very similar. So maybe you can help me?

To remind you, this is my dad’s Aunt Elizabeth.

Here is a photo of my grandmother:

Although my grandmother kept her long hair to a much later date than Elizabeth did, the picture of Elizabeth above with short hair was taken later. So I don’t want you to be swayed by the hair.

Which woman do you think is in the following photograph?

OK, here’s another one.

The above photo is the Van Gessel children again.  Which woman is this? Here she is in a close-up.

The man appears to be a friend of Peter’s.  How do I know that?  See below.

This photo of the two men with the boy was taken at the same picnic as the previous picture.

Now here are the two women together, but unfortunately, Grandma is looking down so you can’t see her face.

For fun, here is another Van Gessel photo.

That’s Grandma with her brother-in-law Peter Van Gessel.  The photo is around 1921.

Here is another question. How do we identify the building in the background of this last photo?

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I’ll pick up Grandpa’s story again in my next post.

Today I’m doing a little detour away from Kalamazoo, heading toward Japan, Chicago, and Elmhurst, Illinois.

My parents gave me a pair of matching and beautiful Japanese vases which are family heirlooms. I used to see them in my paternal grandmother’s home when I was little. In later years, my parents displayed them in their home. I had assumed (you know about that word, right?) that my father or my uncle had brought them back from Korea or Japan when they were in the military.

Look closely at the fine gold leaf design in the solid black. Vase is hand-painted.

In my birthday card was a note which explained that these vases had belonged to my grandmother’s mother. Her son, my father’s Uncle Frank, had brought them back from Japan in 1920 and given them to his mother.

Frank Klein was a merchant mariner who travelled the world, including to Japan, during the years right after WWI.  Maybe this is where my Uncle Frank, Great Uncle Frank’s namesake, got his idea of sailing when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy.

I believe Great Uncle Frank may have been on a ship called the Eastern Queen as we have several family photos of that ship. This ship does show up in online lists of ships.

I also have information that he travelled on a ship called the Altamahan in 1922. I tried to find this ship, but all I could find was the Altamaha, which was built in 1941.

Until I saw his picture a few years ago, I didn’t realize Great Uncle Frank existed. After I learned about him, I wanted to know more, so I wrote to both the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Archives and Records Administration, searching for his Merchant Marines record. The Coast Guard couldn’t help, but the NARA found a record for Frank. They gave me some preliminary information and then suggested I do more research on the premises in Washington D.C. Here are a few things I learned from the records they sent me:

  • He was issued a license for “steam. 2d Ass’t.Eng.,3000 G.T., 3d Ass’t.Eng., any tons, condg.” at Cleveland, Ohio, on September 5, 1918, for “Ocean” waters.
  • He was issued another on September 5, 1919.
  • He was 22 on June 14, 1918.
  • I have a headshot and thumbprint of Uncle Frank.
  • He was a citizen and born in the U.S.
  • A vessel he was on was the “Altamahan” with a U.S. Flag, which arrived on 3/5/19. His next vessel wasn’t yet known.
  • He was 5’9 with a dark complexion, brown hair, and gray eyes.
  • He had a physical mark: “Sc palm rt hd”–I take this to be that he had a scar on the palm of his right hand. On another page it is noted as 1/2 inch.
  • He was a 2d Engr.
  • On his application he marked his mother “Mrs. F. Klein” as his nearest kin. He gave 3 references, and one was his brother-in-law, Peter Van Gessel.
  • Best of all, he gave a work history for himself, which I will post here. Several jobs were as an “oiler.” According to Wikpedia, an oiler is a worker whose job is to oil machinery.

Here is a picture of Great Uncle Frank when he was home on leave:

Uncle Frank and Grandma Marie Klein c. 1920

Uncle Frank and Grandma Marie Klein c. 1920

Frank Anthony Klein on born in Chicago on June 14, 1896.  He grew up in Elmhurst and was the only boy. He had four sisters, including my grandmother.  Frank never married, but he was living with my grandmother and her family in Chicago when he was killed in a car accident in 1931.

According to his death certificate, this is how he died: “Fractured left mandible, compound fracture of left tibia and fibula, hemorrhage and shock  Deceased was driving his auto and suffered an attack of epilepsy seizure and struck a tree.” I suspect his parents were devastated by his death as he was the only boy and the second youngest. He was 34 years old. Fifteen months later, his mother passed away from cancer.

His death date is noted in official records as February 24, 1931, but his gravestone is marked with the date February 23, 1931.  Because he was buried in Elmhurst on February 25, I would deduce that February 23 was the correct date of death.

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