Posts Tagged ‘Frances Flipse’

John DeSmit, Sr., had one child with his first wife, Jennie, and the rest with his second wife, Jacoba. I have only scraped the surface of researching the DeSmit family, especially this generation of John Sr’s children. So much more can be done. I will not be doing it; however, if you are related to the DeSmits and need help researching your own branch more in-depth, please contact me, and I will be happy to give you ideas of where and how to search. I am also happy to help  if you would like to write more about the family for posting on this blog.

I’d also like to mention some stellar sleuthing on the part of Joel Reeves. He discovered that Riverside Cemetery, the cemetery of choice by the DeSmits (and also of my great grandparents, etc.) did not open until 1862. When Jennie DeSmit died in 1854 or 1855, she must have been buried some place. Here are some articles that Joel discovered about the possible site of her grave. I feel that the first article gives one big clue about the site of Jennie’s grave. This Pioneer Cemetery that is in the articles was in existence until Riverside opened. It was “bulldozed” later for a park. But the very last person buried at Pioneer was Rev. H. G. Klyn, who was the second pastor of First Reformed Church. I feel it’s very likely that the family belonged to First Reformed Church.




This relates to two of John and Jacoba’s children, too. The first Adriaan and the first Francena died as infants in 1856 and 1857. They were possiby also buried in Pioneer Cemetery.

Today’s post will cover the children of John Sr.’s first born son, the son of first wife Jennie. The other children will be in next week’s post.


My great-great-grandfather’s sister, Maria Catharina “Mary” DeKorn, married John DeSmit, Jr., and they had far more children than any of John’s siblings.

Their first child, Janna (Jennie) DeSmit, was born 7 March 1873 in Richland, which is in Kalamazoo County, Michigan. She was baptized 3 August 1873 at First Reformed Church in Kalamazoo. (Oh, do I wish I could see a photo of that church in those days).

Notice what it says about her father on the baptism record. Keep in mind I don’t know her father’s baptism information.

On 14 June 1905, Jennie married Abraham Grofoert (1873-1926) in Kalamazoo.  Unfortunately, Jennie passed away three years later, on 14 June 1908 in Kalamazoo. She was buried at Riverside Cemetery on 17 June 1908. This was only one month after her uncle, Richard DeKorn’s, wife Alice passed away on 5 May 1908. Here is Jennie’s death certificate.


The spelling on Jennie’s headstone (and that of her husband was Grofvert).

The next child was Boudewyn (Benjamin) De Smit, named for Mary’s father, my 3x great-grandfather. He was born 10 February 1875 and baptized 4 April 1875 in Kalamazoo at First Reformed Church. His father was “off the hook” for this baptism record.

Ben was a mason like his father and grandfather before him. He had brown hair and blue eyes, according to his WWI draft registration. The year after his older sister died, Ben married Jennie Alphreta White (1869-1930) on 5 July 1999 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Their son, Benny DeSmit, was born 10 December 1909 in Kalamazoo. Wow, that was a short pregnancy. Jennie passed away on 10 December 1930 in Kalamazoo at age 55. Ben died on 28 April 1958 in Mattawan, which is in Van Buren County, Michigan. He was buried on May 1 at Riverside Cemetery in Kalamazoo. I do not have his death certificate.

Next up was Jan or John DeSmit III. He was born on 16 July 1877 in Kalamazoo. John, with brown hair and blue eyes, was a brick layer like his brother, father, and grandfather. On 20 July 1899 he married Pieternella Paulina (Nellie) Schrier (1879-1900) in Kalamazoo.

You can see their wedding invitation with questions that arose in this post What About the DeSmits?

Their daughter Nellie D. DeSmit was born on 30 April 1900 in Kalamazoo. Sadly, John’s wife Nellie died 10 days later, on 9 May 1900. I had more answers to this story of John and Nellie in the post Another Mystery Solved.

John married again, on 15 December 1926 in Goshen, Elkhart, Indiana. His wife was Grietje (Margaret) Riepma (1873-1933). Margaret died on 31 July 1933 in Kalamazoo. John died in April 1964 and was buried at Riverside Cemetery on 30 April 1964. I do not have his death certificate either. I have not found the baptism record for John.

I would be willing to bet that I own photographs of one or more of the older boys of John Jr.; however, they are not marked (sadly).

UPDATE: As it happens, I just received a beautiful photo of John DeSmit III. The year might be 1955, and he is with three of Edwin Reeves’ cute-as-a-bug’s-ear grandchildren.

The next DeSmit child was Jacoba, known as Cora. She was born on 12 October 1880 and baptized on 6 February 1881 in Kalamazoo.

On 7 June 1899, Cora married Charles Howard Pierce (1877-1971) in Kalamazoo.

This is Cora.

Their daughter, Eleanor Ruth Pierce was born on 2 September 1907 in Kalamazoo.

Cora passed away on 26 July 1954. She was buried at Riverside Cemetery on July 29.

After Cora, Franciena Geertruida, or Frances Gertrude, was born on 22 November 1882 in Kalamazoo.  She was baptized 11 February 1884 at First Reformed Church. This was a longer time period before her baptism, but since the baptisms were done in clusters, she could have been ill and had to wait for the next time the baptisms were performed.

On 26 November 1902, Frances married Charles Reeves (1876-1938). Their son, Edwin R. Reeves, was born on 19 March 1904. (DOD 1978). In 1911, the couple divorced, and on 17 September 1914, Frances married Jacob Flipse Jr. (1868-1940), who was forty-six years old and had been married to Frances’ Aunt Christina DeSmit who had passed away without leaving any living children.

On 29 May 1916, the couples’ son Richard Jacob Flipse (DOD 2001) was born. His father, Frances’ husband, was 47. He waited a long time to have a son! On 11 August 1940, Jacob passed away.

If you want to read more about the Flipse family, check out these posts:

The Mystery of Mrs. Jacob Flipse (about Frances Flipse)


Do You Remember the Mystery of Mrs. Jacob Flipse (this one gives a lineage of the Flipse family)


Frances’ older son, Edwin, passed away in Pasco, Florida, on 28 May 1978. Right around that time is when I met her at her home. Here is a photo of her from Joel Reeves from the 1970s.


Four years later, Frances passed away at age 96 on 15 January 1980 in Kalamazoo. She was still living in the Burdick and Balch neighborhood as of the time I met her in the late 1970s. She was buried on 18 January 1980 at Riverside Cemetery. I put in a request for a photo of her headstone, and less than ten minutes later I got an email letting me know it had been accomplished! I have to give a shout out to Findagrave volunteer Jeff Phillips who then went on to make sure all branches of the DeSmit family in that section were photographed and loaded onto Findagrave! Jeff is a real credit to Findagrave!

The next DeSmit child lived to adulthood, but died quite young. Dirk (Richard) was born 12 June 1887 in Kalamazoo and passed away on 29 April 1913, at the age of 25 in Detroit. He was buried on 2 May 1913 at Riverside Cemetery.

Geertruida, or Gertrude, was born on 3 September 1889. She died at age 13 on 29 July 1903. Or was she? She was buried on 23 July 1903 at Riverside Cemetery.

Look carefully at the dates on the death certificate. What do you think about the date of death?

Cause of death: Acute rheumatism with endocarditis.

I have this photo of three of the DeSmit sisters.

Note that the middle woman (in age) is clearly Cora who has a very distinctive look. Jennie was 1873 to 1908, married in 1905. Cora was 1880-1954, married in 1899. Frances was 1882-1980, first married in 1902. Gertrude was 1889-1903.

I have posted this photo in the past, and I couldn’t decide the date of the photo and why there are three sisters instead of four. The truth is that if the photo was taken after Gertrude’s 1903 death, Frances would have been married and not the little girl she appears in this photo. So what if the photo was taken much earlier. What if the youngest in the photo was Frances and she was 14? Then Cora would be 16 and Jennie would be 23. Those are plausible ages for this photo, I think. That would date the image to about 1896, and Gertrude would have been 7 and not in the photo.

Maybe Gertrude wasn’t in that photo because she as in another photo. What if the previous photo was meant to be the “young ladies” of the household, and this photo was meant to be the children? This would be about right to be Gertrude, Richard, and the youngest child Adrian (who I haven’t yet introduced). The date on the photograph is 1895 and WAS IDENTIFIED BY GRANDPA AS GERTRUDE, RICHARD, AND ADRIAN DESMIT!

Because both Richard and Gertrude died so young, Adrian was the only remaining sibling of this photo throughout much of the 20th century.

Lastly, Adriaan, or Adrian, was born on 9 December 1891 and baptized on 7 February 1892 in Kalamazoo.

Adrian was a sailor with the U.S. Navy at the time of WWI and after. He enlisted 12 June 1918 and was released 30 September 1921.

On 6 June 1923, he married Minnie Brondyk (born Groefsema) (1896-?). Minnie had been married to Jacob Brondyk and divorced him.

I see Adrian had a daughter born years before his marriage, on 30 March 1917–Dorothy Marie DeSmit. So was he Dorothy’s stepfather or did he adopt her?

Adrian died on 5 September 1988 in Gardena, Los Angeles County, at age 96. He was buried a week later, on 12 September, in Kalamazoo at Riverside Cemetery.


To sum up: I only looked for certain documents: photos, death certificates, baptism records, and headstones.

I am missing these items:

  • Death certificates for Ben, John, Cora, Richard, Frances, and Adrian (these can be ordered from Kalamazoo County, if DeSmit family would like to do so)
  • Baptism records for John, Richard, and Gertrude (more searching of Reformed records needs to happen)
  • Photos for Ben and John (gosh, I wish)
  • Graves for Jennie, John Sr.’s first wife–as well as the graves of the babies of Jacoba and John who passed away.  If they were buried at Pioneer, this will not happen, most likely.

There are many other records which can be search for, including records for spouses and children.

Here is a special photo from around 1950 from Joel of my great-great-grandfather’s sister, Mary DeKorn, and the mother of all the children I’ve written about in this post. She lived to be 98 years old.


This is the same woman:

And now for a super special photo from Joel. Five generations!

From left to right: Mary DeKorn DeSmit, Donald Reeves, David Reeves, Edwin Reeves, and Frances Flipse.

Mary DeKorn was John Sr.’s DIL, who was gone decades before this photo was taken around 1950. Frances Flipse was Mary’s daughter. Edwin was the son of Frances. Donald was the son of Edwin. And David was the oldest son of Donald. Joel, who gave me the photos, is the brother of David.

Next time I will write about the other grandchildren of John DeSmit, Sr.


Read Full Post »

Last July I posted about the Flipse family. I grew up knowing that we were related to them, but I didn’t understand the connection.

When I got married, we bought my wedding flowers from the Flipse family flower shop. In 2007 the Flipse business was bought out by the VanderSalm flower shop. Here is an article about the new business, ValderSalm’s-Flipse Flower Shop and Garden Center. I also discovered that in 2010, the former location of Flipse flowers burned down. Here is an article about the fire. You will also find a map of the location of the business, on Burdick Street, just north of my grandparents’ old house and in the same area where many of my grandfather’s relatives owned homes and businesses.

Click the photos for another article and the photo credits.

I met the elderly Mrs. Flipse when I was around twenty. Her name at birth was Frances DeSmit, and her mother, Mary DeKorn DeSmit, was Richard DeKorn’s sister. Richard is my 2nd great grandfather, so that makes Frances my first cousin 3x removed. As I mentioned at the time, Frances was near the end of her life when I met her; she died at the age of 97.

When I researched Frances, I discovered that Mr. Flipse had been married before he married Frances and was, in fact, a widower.  But I couldn’t figure out who was his first wife.

My friend Adri has helped me out once again and located more information about the Flipse family. The family patriarch was Flip Flipse. That’s right: Flip. Like Flip Wilson. I looked up this name, and apparently it is the diminutive form of the Dutch name Filip or Filippus.

Flip Flipse was born in 1787 at Colijnsplaat and died on July 25, 1842 at Wissenkerke.

Flip was married on July 20, 1814 at Colijnsplaat to Maria Leendertse.  Maria was born in November 24, 1792 at Colijnsplaat and died on  September 13, 1828 at Wissenkerke.

The children of Flip and Maria were:

1 Pieter Flipse was born on September 9, 1817 at Wissenkerke.

Pieter was married on October 14, 1842 at Wissenkerke to Cornelia Blazina de Smit, daughter of Eduard de Smit and Anna van der Maas.  Cornelia was born on October 14, 1822 at Wissenkerke.

2  Izak Flipse was born on January 3, 1821 at Wissenkerke, died on July 17, 1875 there.

Izak was married on August 2, 1848 at Wissenkerke to Pieternella Spruit, daughter of Adriaan Spruit and Geertruid Buis.  Pieternella was born on January 29, 1826 at Wissenkerke, died on March 8, 1896 at Goes.  Pieternella was before married (1) to Johannes de Dreu.

3  Marinus Flipse was born on April 3, 1822 at Wissenkerke.

4  Iman Flipse was born on January 25, 1827 at Wissenkerke, see II-A.

Flip was married on June 4, 1829 at Wissenkerke (2) to Maria Dorst, daughter of Jan Dorst and Maria Boer.  Maria was born in 1809 at Ouwerkerk, died on January 14, 1834 at Wissenkerke.

From this marriage:

5  Jan Flipse was born on January 8, 1830 at Wissenkerke.

6  Pieternella Flipse was born on June 11, 1831 at Wissenkerke, died on December 21, 1831 there.

7  Jacob Flipse was born on November 14, 1832 at Wissenkerke, died on January 15, 1833 there.

8  Maria Pieternella Flipse was born on November 9, 1833 at Wissenkerke, died on April 24, 1836 there.

When Flip married for the third time, he waited a decent amount of time.

Flip was married on March 18, 1836 at Wissenkerke (3) to Janna Dorst, daughter of Jan Dorst and Maria Boer.  Janna was

born on March 19, 1811 at Ouwerkerk, died on February 21, 1878 at Wissenkerke.  Janna was married on April 9, 1846 at

Wissenkerke to Pieter Verhulst, son of Willem Verhulst and Pieternella Flipse. Pieter was born on July 14, 1816 at Kats, died

on June 23, 1891 at Wissenkerke.

From this marriage:

9  Maria Janna Flipse was born on February 11, 1837 at Wissenkerke, died on February 27, 1837 there.

10        Janna Flipse was born on August 2, 1838 at Wissenkerke, died on June 12, 1839 there.

11        Jacob Flipse was born on December 20, 1839 at Wissenkerke, died on April 21, 1840 there.

12        Pieternella Flipse was stillborn on December 20, 1839 at Wissenkerke.

13        Jacob Flipse was born on May 11, 1841 at Wissenkerke, see II-B.

NEXT GENERATION (if you’re falling asleep skip down to the next bolded passage):

Iman Flipse, son of Flip Flipse (I) and Maria Leendertse, was born on January 25, 1827 at Wissenkerke, died on February 11, 1886 there.

Iman was married (1) to Catharina de Moor.

Iman was married on May 4, 1853 at Wissenkerke (2) to Adriana Susanna Meulenberg, daughter of Dirk Meulenberg and Tannetje van der Weele.  Adriana was born in 1829 at Wissenkerke, died on July 28, 1864 there.

From this marriage:

1  Maria Flipse was born on October 15, 1853 at Kamperland, died on December 28, 1921 at Kalamazoo (MI).

Maria was married on August 16, 1876 at Wissenkerke to Cornelis Kallewaard, son of Pieter Kallewaard and Jacoba Rademaker.  Cornelis was born on November 18, 1851 at Nisse, died on March 12, 1931 at Kalamazoo (MI).  Cornelis was married on August 10, 1922 at Grand Rapids (MI) (2) to Adriana Gillesse, daughter of William Gillesse and Adriana Bolier. Adriana was born in 1859.

Jacob Flipse, son of Flip Flipse (I) and Janna Dorst, was born on May 11, 1841 at Wissenkerke, died on March 15, 1870 there.

Jacob was married on May 18, 1859 at Wissenkerke to Cornelia Kallewaard, daughter of Pieter Kallewaard and

Jacoba Rademaker.  Cornelia was born on July 27, 1839 at Wissenkerke, died after 1900.   Cornelia was married on March 1, 1871 at Wissenkerke (2) to Adriaan Boot, son of Cornelis Boot and Lena van der Maas. Adriaan was born on  November 30, 1838 at Kortgene.

From this marriage:

1  Flip Flipse was born on August 28, 1859 at Wissenkerke, died on September 30, 1859 there.

2  Pieter Flip Flipse was born on December 22, 1860 at Wissenkerke, died on January 18, 1861 there.

3  Flip Pieter Flipse was born on January 17, 1862 at Wissenkerke, died on December 15, 1897 at New Haven (CT).

4  Pieter Flipse (Peter) was born on April 2, 1863 at Wissenkerke, see III-A.

5  Janna Jacoba Flipse (Jennie) was born on September 23, 1864 at Wissenkerke, died on January 10, 1932 at Kalamazoo (MI).

Janna was married on January 18, 1888 at Wissenkerke to Johannes Boot (John), son of Iman Boot and Maria Albregtse.  Johannes was born on October 18, 1858 at Wissenkerke, died on November 7, 1922 at Kalamazoo (MI).

6  Jacobus Flipse (James) was born on March 14, 1866 at Wissenkerke, see III-B.

7  Jacoba Pieternella Flipse was born on May 28, 1867 at Wissenkerke, died on August 1, 1877 there.

8  Jacob Flipse was born on August 19, 1868 at Wissenkerke, see III-C.

9  Pieternella Flipse was born on October 2, 1869 at Wissenkerke, died on October 13, 1870 there.

III-A      Pieter Flipse (Peter), son of Jacob Flipse (II-B) and Cornelia Kallewaard, was born on April 2, 1863 at Wissenkerke, died on May 25, 1935 at Kalamazoo (MI).

Pieter was married on November 29, 1882 at Wissenkerke to Sophia Maria Meulenberg, daughter of Pieter Cornelis Meulenberg and Jannetje Verschuur.  Sophia was born on February 2, 1862 at Kats, died on March 11, 1918 at Kalamazoo (MI).

From this marriage:

1     Jan Flipse (John) was born on May 11, 1879 at Wissenkerke, see IV-A.

2     Cornelia Flipse was born on October 17, 1885 at Kalamazoo (MI), died on February 17, 1900 there.

3     Sofie Flipse was stillborn on December 31, 1886 at Kalamazoo (MI).

4     Peter Flipse was stillborn on January 24, 1887 at Kalamazoo (MI).

5     Peter Cornelius Flipse was born on August 6, 1888 at Kalamazoo (MI), died on August 7, 1888 there.

6     Peter C. Flipse was born in 1890 at Kalamazoo (MI), died on February 26, 1890 there.

7     Jennie Flipse was born on September 24, 1890 at Kalamazoo (MI).

Jennie was married on July 15, 1910 at Kalamazoo (MI) to Tour Grobsky, son of John Grobsky and Torrey Mozzes.  Tour was born in 1891.

8     Nellie Flipse was born on September 20, 1893 at Kalamazoo (MI), died on January, 22 1971 there.

Nellie was married on April 5, 1916 at Kalamazoo (MI) to William Van Zee, son of Aart Van Zee and Martha Immerseel.  William was born on October 11, 1882, died in April 1965.

9     Adah Flipse was born on March 16, 1896 at Kalamazoo (MI), died on April 15, 1948 at Grand Rapids (MI).

Adah was married on July 29, 1920 at Kalamazoo (MI) to Roy J. Wiarda, son of John Wiarda and Jennie Huyser.  Roy was born on April 8, 1896 at Grand Rapids (MI), died on October 8, 1979.

10   Jacob Peter Flipse was born on June 4, 1898 at Kalamazoo (MI).

Jacob was married on February 28, 1919 at Muskegon (MI) to Phoebe Stanbaugh, daughter of John Stanbaugh.  Phoebe was born in 1900.

11   Marnie Flipse was born on July 24, 1899 at Kalamazoo (MI), died on June 27, 1931 at Dowagiac (MI).

Marnie was married on September 7, 1918 at Kalamazoo (MI) to Cornelius Hiemstra, son of William Hiermstra and Jessie DeYoung.  Cornelius was born on August 16, 1896.

Cornelius was before married (1) to Harriet Stafford, born in 1909.

12   Cornelius Flipse was born on February 5, 1902 at Kalamazoo Twp (MI), died on July 13, 1902 at Kalamazoo (MI).

III-B      Jacobus Flipse (James), son of Jacob Flipse (II-B) and Cornelia Kallewaard, was born on March 14, 1866 at Wissenkerke, died before 1949.

Jacobus was married on July 21, 1892 at Kalamazoo (MI) to Joanna VanBrussel, daughter of Cornelius VanBrussel and Pieternella Faasse.  Joanna was born on February 7, 1870 at South Haven (MI), died on October 25, 1949 at Lansing (MI).

From this marriage:

1  Cornelia E. Flipse was born on February 9, 1893, died in August 1976 at Cuyahoga (OH).

Cornelia was married (1) to Ernest A. Armbrest, son of Gideon M. Armbrest and Mary Gharkey.  Ernest was born on  February 22, 1878, died in September 1957 at Palm Beach (FL).

Ernest was married on September 30, 1906 at Columbiana (OH) (2) to Nettie C. Taylor, daughter of Ira M. Taylor. Nettie was born on July 15, 1883 at Columbiana (OH), died on August 7, 1922 at Cleveland (OH).

Cornelia was married on June 17, 1916 at Cuyahoga (OH) (2) to Lucien Perry Shepard, son of Ralph C. Shepard and Alice J. Shaylor.  Lucien was born on December 22, 1889 at Cleveland (OH), died on February 16, 1920 at Warren (OH).

2  Nellie A. Flipse was born on October 2, 1894 at Kalamazoo (MI), died in February 1980 at San Marcos (TX).

Nellie was married on July 2, 1915 at Cuyahoga (OH) (was divorced before 1930) (1) to Claude G. McKim, son of J.C. McKim and Lillie Willett.  Claude was born on October 29, 1890 at Pratt (KS).

Claude was married before 1930 (2) to Marion N.N. Marion was born in 1895.

Nellie was married on March 25, 1922 at Kalamazoo (MI) (2) to Ernest Hermon Forth, son of Herman Forth and Julia Schuman.  Ernest was born on February 14, 1893, died in November 1970.

3  Cora A. Flipse was born on September 10, 1896 at Kalamazoo (MI), died in June 1987 at Lansing (MI).

Cora was married on June 16, 1915 at Cuyahoga (OH) to Hardy Brabbs, son of John Brabbs and Mary Holsteiner.  Hardy was born on April 6, 1890 at Flint (MI), died in February 1973 at Boyne City (MI).

4  Florence R. Flipse was born in July 1898 at Flint City (MI).

Florence was married on July 2, 1921 at Cuyahoga (OH) to Floyd George Brightbill, son of George B. Brightbill and Elizabeth Sowden.  Floyd was born on June 10, 1891 at Harrisburg (PE), died on November 5, 1958 at Lakewood (OH).

5  Mildred H. Flipse was born in 1906.

Mildred was married to Charles T. Halier.  Charles was born in 1899 at Harmony (IN).

Charles was before married (1) to Hulda Deway.Hulda was born at Cleveland (OH).

6  Aileen M. Flipse was born in 1907 at Flint (MI).

Aileen was married on July 3, 1923 at Birmingham (MI) to Leland Stoll, son of George Stoll and Edna Spicer.  Leland was born on September 20, 1901 at Birmingham (MI).

The bolded section explains the first and second Mrs. Jacob Flipse–the second being my relative, Frances.

III-C      Jacob Flipse, son of Jacob Flipse (II-B) and Cornelia Kallewaard, was born on August 19, 1868 at Wissenkerke, died on August 11, 1940 at Kalamazoo (MI). 

Jacob was married on January 10, 1895 at Kalamazoo (MI) (1) to Christina Desmit, daughter of Jannis de Smit (John Desmit) and Jacoba Lamper.  Christina was born in September 1864 at Kalamazoo (MI), died on February 15, 1914. 


Jacob was married on September 17, 1914 at Kalamazoo (MI) (2) to Frances Gertrude DeSmit, daughter of John DeSmit and Maria Catharina de Korn (Mary DeKorn).  Frances was born on November 22, 1883, died on January 15, 1980. Frances was before married on November 26, 1902 at Kalamazoo (MI) (was divorced in 1911) (1) to Charles Reeves, son of Foster Reeves and Theresa Jewell. Charles was born in 1879 at Ann Arbor (MI).

Frances and Jacob had one child:

1      Richard Jacob Flipse was born on May 29, 1916. He died on June 10, 2001 at Kalamazoo (MI). Richard was married in 1940 at Kalamazoo (MI) to Florence Helen Jordan.  Florence was born on August 18, 1917, died on January 10, 1993 at Portage (MI).  Richard and Florence had three children.

I suspect that Richard Jacob is the man who helped me pick out my white orchid wedding bouquet.

Read Full Post »

My senior year of college and first year of grad school, I studied history.  I had two specialties.  One was Reformation history. I have no idea why that period captured my interest, but I spent months working on a long paper about John Knox.  One reason it took so long was that in those days we typed papers with a typewriter.  We followed the Chicago Manual of Style, which I detested, and had to use footnotes at the bottom of most pages for our citations. I’d start out a page determined to remember when to stop typing paragraphs and when to start the footnotes, but by the time I got to that point I would always forget and just keep typing.  Over and over I repeated the same mistake.

Is it any wonder that I switched to my second specialty, local and family history?  I didn’t have a lot of textbooks to cite for that research. It was fun to check out the local cemeteries and talk to local people, when possible.

During that period, my grandparents took me to visit a woman relative named Mrs. Flipse. Her family owned a florist shop closer to downtown, but on the same street as my grandparents’ house. She lived behind the shop.

I already knew this family was somehow related to us, but it seemed like a myth or a fairy tale. When I was little Grandma would point out the store as we passed by.

A couple of years before, my sophomore year of college, I had planned my wedding. Mom suggested I get my flowers from the relatives, so I ordered traditional rose bouquets for myself and my bridesmaids. I wanted roses to match my rose point lace dress which had been designed and sewn for my mother by my paternal grandmother twenty-two years before. Grandma was Head Fitter of the very exclusive 28 Shop at Marshall Field’s flagship store on State Street in Chicago, so she knew how to handle a needle.

Grandma had passed away a year before I was married, so we had a tailor add fabric at the waist because I was two inches taller than my mother. She added long sleeves because I was married in January, not June as my mother had. 

In the photo you can see the beautiful dress and my bouquet, but you can’t see me.  I learned to scratch out my face in my junior high yearbooks, so you can see that I still have that skill.  The florist did a beautiful job on the flowers.

Mrs. Flipse seemed ancient to me.  Her house seemed ancient, too, much older than the house my grandparents built when they were a young couple. We entered the kitchen eating area from the back of the house and sat at the table with her. Grandma asked her some questions about family history, but I don’t remember her answering a lot of the questions. She had forgotten much and what she remembered was more specific to her own life.

Until I started working on my family tree on Ancestry, I didn’t really “get” how Mrs. Flipse was related to me.

Her name at birth was Frances DeSmit, and her mother, Mary DeKorn DeSmit, was Richard DeKorn’s sister. Richard is my 2nd great grandfather, so that makes Frances my first cousin 3x removed.

What is clear from looking at her Ancestry profile is that Frances was near the end of her life when I met her; she died at the age of 97.

She married her first husband, Charles Reeves, in 1902, and had a son, Edwin, with Charles.  The marriage license lists Charles as a cigar maker; he was 23 and Frances was 20. According to the newspaper archives, Frances secured a divorce from Charles in 1911 because he wouldn’t support his family. She said, “He would rather go fishing, and he spends most of his time at it,” indicating he was in debt from tobacco and liquor bills.

Jacob Flipse was her second husband, and she married him on September 17, 1914, at the age of 30. I notice that she is listed in documents from that period on as working as a florist.

I went back through newspaper articles, looking for an obituary, but what I found instead was that Mrs. Jacob Flipse had died February 18, 1914 (another article listed February 15, and I think that might be accurate). I thought, wow, she married him pretty quickly after that.  Then I noticed something strange. The deceased Mrs. Jacob Flipse was the daughter of John DeSmit of 1017 S. Burdick. Well, so was Frances. Did she marry her sister’s widower? No, she married the widower of her Aunt Christina.

Mrs. Jacob (Christina) Flipse died in 1914 at age 48 of a stroke which paralyzed her, according to one obituary.  She was born in 1864.


Read Full Post »