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Posts Tagged ‘DeKorn’

A huge thank you to Sue Vincent who featured KIN TYPES on her blog today! I’m so grateful to you, Sue! And another poem from the collection revealed.

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Jennie Bomhoff Zuidweg

The poems and flash prose in Kin Types were begun as I accumulated family stories and information over the years. My grandfather had an excellent memory and was an enthusiastic storyteller, so over time I came to feel that I knew his parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, although they died decades before I was born.

When my grandfather got older, he gave me a collection of glass plate negatives that had belonged to his uncle, as well as antique photographs. As my family noticed my interest, they began to send me other heirlooms, including documents and more photographs. I started to research my family history, using online websites. Then I started a WordPress blog called thefamilykalamazoo.com, and readers from around the world contacted me, sending me yet more information.

As I became more knowledgeable about my family, the stories I heard at my grandfather’s knee were enhanced…

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Thank you so much for responding so enthusiastically to Kin Types. My new chapbook is an offshoot of The Family Kalamazoo, in a way.

The cover of the book is from an old tintype belonging to my family. I have posted it twice before on this blog. The woman featured on it seems to have come from the Remine branch of the family and, based on the tintype and the dress she wears, I thought it was possible that she could be my great-great-great grandmother Johanna Remine DeKorn. This was a guess I had fairly early on, but I had no proof.

But I knew she was someone close to us. For one thing, this is an expensive painted tintype and our family owns it. We wouldn’t have possession of such an image if it wasn’t someone from the family. For another, there is too great a similarity. For instance, my daughter thinks that the woman looks remarkably like my mother in the eyes and mouth. Other people say they can see her in my face.

I thought it unlikely I would learn much more about the photo, but never gave up hope because much amazing information has flowed to me, mainly through this blog.

When I visited my mother recently, she gave me a gorgeous antique photo album from my uncle for me to scan and disseminate. Imagine my surprise when I opened the album and found this tiny tintype inside.

I had so many questions: Were the photos taken at the same time or is the woman younger in the couple’s photo? Same hairdo, same earrings . . . . We don’t really know about the dress and its neck accessory because the lace collar on the painted tintype is, just that, painted on. But she’s definitely younger. Is the new find a wedding photo? Are they siblings?

So I focused on the man. I want to say boy. They both look so young. If the woman is Johanna Remine DeKorn, the man most likely would have to be Boudewyn (Boudewijn) DeKorn. Here is a photo my grandfather identified as Boudewyn, my 3xgreat grandfather.

Boudewijn de Korne

So, what do you think? Are they two different men? The hair is the same–very wavy dark brown hair–, but the hairline has changed. That’s possible. In the upper photo, the man has very defined cheekbones, and I don’t see this in the boy. The man has a very wide mouth. Would that change over time? I doubt it. It was unlikely then that the woman was Johanna, but who was she?

I did what I had to do. I scheduled an appointment with photogenealogist Maureen Taylor. When I only had the painted tintype, I didn’t feel I had enough to go through the process with Maureen. But now that I had a second tintype, I wanted to give it a try.

When Maureen and I began our conversation, I felt a letdown. Johanna Remine was too old to be in this photo. The tintype of the two people had to be between 1869 and 1875, according to Maureen. Johanna was born in 1817 and DIED in 1864. The woman could not be Johanna.

The woman had to be a generation younger than Johanna.

This was disappointing because I felt that I know the other branches or “lines” of the family, and that if she wasn’t Johanna, she couldn’t be a direct ancestor.

And yet, as I told Maureen, I had a strong feeling that she was closely related. And her looks are too reminiscent of the family features to discount her. Maureen agreed with this and pointed me in a different direction.

The Remine family, where I felt the painted tintype came from, began in the U.S. with a marriage between Richard Remine and Mary Paak. Mary Paak is my great-great-grandmother Alice Paak DeKorn’s sister. I am related to the Remines two ways. One is by blood, Johanna Remine being my 3x great grandmother, married to Boudewyn DeKorn (and the mother of Richard DeKorn). The other is by marriage where Richard married Mary. Mary and Carrie Paak, two of the four Paak sisters, had a similar look. Alice and Annie had a different look altogether.

ALICE PAAK DEKORN

Maureen wanted to see a photo of Alice. I sent her the image above–a very clear headshot of Alice from the 1890s (so 20 years older than the woman in the tintype) and Annie (the sister who looked like Alice but is a body shot and not as clear). Maureen examined the photos and proclaimed Alice a match. She asked for the dates on the sisters: birth, immigration, marriage. She was sure the tintype of the beautiful girl on the cover of Kin Types was Alice who happens to be featured in a poem in my book: “An Account of a Poor Oil Stove Bought off Dutch Pete.”

I asked Maureen about the man in the photo and said it did not look like Alice’s husband, Richard DeKorn.

And then I learned something that is counterintuitive, but smart.

Ignore him for now.

She thought it could be her brother or even a beau she had in the Netherlands that she never married. In the tintype of both of them, they are very very young, maybe teenagers. And Alice immigrated to the United States when she was 17 years old. Maureen told me to ignore the man for the purposes of identifying the woman. I will try to identify him later, if it is even possible.

The more I thought about Maureen’s assessment, the more I realized how blind I’d been not to notice the resemblance between the women in the tintype and my 2xgreat grandmother Alice. Alice also happens to be the mother of Cora, the woman my grandparents told me that I look like.

Just for fun, I ran the two images through twinsornot.net. This is the result, although they photos are of a very young woman and a woman twenty years older.

Then I pulled out the other photo that Grandpa had identified Alice. In this alternative photo, Alice is younger than in the 1890s photo, but not nearly as young as the tintype. I had never been sure that this photo even was Alice, although Grandpa had been (and she was his grandmother). So I ran both Grandpa-identified Alice photos against each other on the site. 100% match! Grandpa was right.

Next I ran the tinted tintype against this alternative photo of Alice.

100%!

 

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT! THE MYSTERY IS SOLVED. THE WOMAN ON THE COVER OF KIN TYPES IS MOST LIKELY ALICE PAAK DEKORN.

I learned a lot of lessons through this process, but one that really stands out in my mind is that people look different in different photographs–and when you are comparing people of different ages, it really gets dicey. I think about photos of me . . .

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

If you like what you read, please leave a little review at one or more of the following sites:

 

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This is the best image I have ever seen of my great-great grandfather Richard DeKorn, Kalamazoo mason and building contractor.

Notice that this portrait is signed. It seems to say L. C. Robinson ’27.

So who was L. C. Robinson? From a directory of early Michigan photographers:

Robinson, Leo Carey
Dowagiac student …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….1900
Grand Rapids student ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….1910
Grand Rapids manufacturer of studio furniture for photographers ………………………………………………………… 1910-1911
Grand Rapids photographer for Carey B. Robinson ……………………………………………………………………………………..1912
Grand Rapids PHOTOGRAPHER at 115 ½ Monroe av ……………………………………………………………………… 1913-1921
Kalamazoo PHOTOGRAPHER at 414 Main st west ………………………………………………………………………….. 1923-1925
Kalamazoo PHOTOGRAPHER at 426 Main st west ………………………………………………………………………….. 1926-1927
Kalamazoo PHOTOGRAPHER at 426 Michigan av west …………………………………………………………………… 1929-1931
Kalamazoo PHOTOGRAPHER at 346 Burdick st south …………………………………………………………………….. 1939-1942
Leo was the elder son of photographer Carey B. Robinson and Lettie Alena (Lewis) Robinson, was born on February
25, 1893, at Delton, Michigan, and became a tall man with light brown eyes and brown hair. Her father came from
Indiana and Alta was born at Plainwell, Michigan, in June of 1893, sixth of the nine children of Charles C. and Frances
Ardella (Nichols) West. She grew up on an Allegan County farm, and she married Leo in 1914. Their children were
born in Michigan: Chester in 1915, Doris in 1916, Rueben (later Richard) in July of 1919, Jack about 1924, Avis in
May of 1926, and Eileen in February of 1928. The furniture manufactured by C. B. Robinson & Sons was sold across
the nation and in several other countries. Though Leo, along with his brother Ralph and his father, was a principal of
this company through 1911, Leo and his mother operated the photograph studio while his father supervised the
furniture factory. Leo became the nominal proprietor of the Grand Rapids studio about 1913, though his mother and
father still were involved with its operation and finances. He called it Robinson’s Art Loft in 1917. Late in 1923 he
purchased the Spaeth Studio, located in its own building on West Main Street, and within a couple of years had
developed one of the largest portrait trades in Kalamazoo. Leo died at Kalamazoo in 1942.

This photograph has a strange sheen to it and a pattern that overlays it all–visible in certain formats on my computer screen. This must be a certain type of photography, but I don’t know what it is.

I do know that I am grateful for this photograph dated three years before Richard’s death.

Dated. But taken? Richard was born in 1851 in Kapelle, Zeeland, Netherlands. In 1927, he would have been 76 years old.

Did he dye his hair? Could those moderate “living lines” be from 76 years of living? I find this photo a little confusing if it’s meant to be from 1927.

What do YOU think?

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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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If you recall my posts about Jennie Culver, and her daughters Rhea and Lela, moving to Seattle, you will see that this photo fits neatly into the move. Try this post if you need a reminder or are new to the story:

Bingo: When Aunt Jennie Left for Seattle

On the back, one of the girls has written “my present domicile” and on the front, the date is 1918, the year other photos showed them at the train station, ready for the move.

I glanced at some of the other unidentified Culver photos to see if this apartment building (I assume it is apartments) shows up. Only one other photo with square brick columns shows up, but it can’t be of the same building. See here:

Notice what confuses me here. The square brick column, the white round column–the same as the first photo, right? But the white siding in the second photo is not in the first photo, right again?

I will say the age seems right for Seattle in this photo. The more I look at the Culver photos, the more Kalamazoo photos I suspect might be in the collection.

So who wrote “my present domicile” on this photograph? It wasn’t Jennie because the scrapbook and its photos clearly belonged to one of the daughters.  My confusion began with information I noticed that I wrote about in this post:Who Went Where When?. According to the newspaper, Rhea, the stenographer, moved to Seattle mid-August 1918. Jennie and Lela were not mentioned. But at some point Jennie and Lela did move to Seattle and lived there the rest of their lives. Somewhere around 1918. And Rhea did, too, except that in 1920 she was “spotted” living in Kalamazoo (see my post).

Can I assume that Rhea did go to Seattle August 20 as the newspaper and photograph verify? And that “my present domicile” was where Rhea lived? If so, can I conclude that the scrapbook belonged to Rhea. And that this photo I posted earlier was, in fact, Rhea in the plaid?

Is the handwriting on the above photo, the same as on the back of the first photograph I posted here?

Barely any letters to compare. They each have a final “le”–in Seattle and domicile. While nobody’s handwriting is completely consistent, are these in the bounds of what could be written by the same person? I will say there is a similarity to MY handwriting, weirdly. Both Miss Culver and I produce the triangular Ts of Emily Dickinson.

As usual, I manage to produce more questions than answers. This is becoming a disturbing trend!

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I’ll be taking a blogging break for the holidays, so I’ll leave you with this gift (that I first posted three years ago)  from Alice Paak (Richard) DeKorn to one of her children, possibly her daughter Cora, my great-grandmother. What a family and genealogy treasure–now 109 years old.

1907

Merry Xmas

from

MOTHER

In case you’re wondering about the use of the word “Xmas” instead of “Christmas,” this is what Wikipedia has to say:

There is a common belief that the word Xmas stems from a secular attempt to remove the religious tradition from Christmas by taking the “Christ” out of “Christmas”, but its use dates back to the 16th century.

I’m sure that this was just a way to fit it all on the tiny shell. What a lot of work to paint and letter this shell. I wonder if she made three, one for each of her children.

Happy holidays to you and yours! See you in the new year!

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Blogger buddy José at Enhanced News Archive sent me a link to the 1869-1870 Kalamazoo City Directory that lists only one person with one of my family surnames. His name was William DeKorn, and he was a laborer who lived right downtown (194 S. Burdick Street). This seems much earlier than my family came to Kalamazoo. “My” DeKorns first settled in Ottawa County, near Holland, Michigan, before they made their way to Kalamazoo.

I decided to see if this William DeKorn could be related to my family. There is another branch (connected much further back) that settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan, so I wonder if he connected with them or with my family that first went to the Holland, Michigan area. I wrote about the other branch in this post: The Confusing Saga.

First I went to Ancestry and discovered that  this City Directory is the only item that comes up for the name William DeKorn, living in Kalamazoo.

Next I went to the Dutch genealogy website, WieWasWie , and there were not any William DeKorns or DeKornes, with or without a space between the De and the Korn. So, knowing that Willem is the Dutch version of William, I looked up that name. Only one Willem DeKorne who had any documentation in the years before 1869-70. He was from Hoedekenskerke, which is apparently 6.5 miles from Kapelle where my DeKorn/DeKornes come from. The Willem documents that come after 1869 are from a town in between these towns, so all the DeKornes seem to be in the same general area. The Willem I found is the son of Paulus. So I looked up Paulus, and they were all connected with those same three towns.

At that point, it would have seemed logical to try to connect Paulus with my ancestors. I have the DeKorns going back five more generations before Boudewijn.

Instead, I thought I would check to see if my ducks were in a row first. In other words, instead of searching farther outward, I went inward and took a peek at my family tree.

I was astonished to see be reminded how early those first immigrants, Boudewijn and Johanna (Remijinse) DeKorn, must have moved to Kalamazoo. In the 1860 census, they were still living in Ottawa, four years after immigrating from the Netherlands. But Johanna died in 1864 in Kalamazoo. Boudewijn died in Kalamazoo in 1873 or 1875. As you can see, Johanna’s death predated the City Directory publication.

So I took a look at the 1870 census. There was William DeKorn, much as he was in the City Directory, except the census recorded that he lived with his three children: Richard, Mary, and Jennie. In short, William WAS Boudewijn. And why wouldn’t he have changed his name to an “American” one? With a name like Boudewijn . . . . Richard was already listed as a brick mason in the census, although he was only nineteen years old.

 

There never was an earlier DeKorn in Kalamazoo, after all. Boudewijn was the first of the family to venture to Kalamazoo, probably because of the housing boom. I’m not sure if there if a way to locate the address on the census since every entry is listed in numerical order, but apparently not tied to a particular address.

 

It did strike me as odd that there was only one Willem DeKorne listed before 1870 on WieWasWie because, for centuries, the Dutch consistently reused the same names, giving a child the name of a grandparent, most typically. If Willem had been a family name for the DeKorns I would have seen more Willems from earlier years.

 

Knowing that Boudewijn changed his name to William might make it easier to search for other traces of his life in the United States.

 


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