Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘genealogy’

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?

Read Full Post »

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.

 

Read Full Post »

I’ve written several posts about my grandmother, Lucille Edna Mulder (married name Zuidweg), who was born April 17, 1912, and her high school graduation scrapbook. She graduated from Caledonia High School (Michigan) in 1929.

In those posts, I mentioned that Grandma’s best friend Blanche was class valedictorian, Grandma’s older sister Dorothy was salutatorian, and Grandma–with the 3rd highest GPA–was class historian.

Visiting Mom, I recently found this photograph of Grandma and Dorothy. It’s a tinted photo, and it appears to be the right age to have been taken around the time they graduated high school. It shows the girls with movie star hairstyles.

You can see from the list below (from the scrapbook) who else graduated from CHS in 1929. Look at the proportion of girls to boys! Why was that? Were the boys working the farms and no longer attending school? If so, that’s a shame. What else could account for so few boys graduating? I trust the list because Grandma was, after all, class historian and quite meticulous about recording information.

Maybe this list will help out someone else researching their own family. Good luck!

###

https://thefamilykalamazoo.com/2013/01/08/who-put-the-ring-stain-on-the-scrapbook/

https://thefamilykalamazoo.com/2017/04/17/april-17-always-reminds-me-of-grandma/

https://thefamilykalamazoo.com/2015/08/05/grandmas-school-work-late-1920s/

Read Full Post »

This past week I was back in Michigan for a visit with Mom who was having surgery. Surgery went very well, and Mom is doing great!

I came home with some vintage and antique photos. Eventually I will share some of them.

For now, I have to go through the process I use for all these photos.

  1. Scan each photo, using the scanner attached to my computer. I originally bought it for business, but it’s just a simple home scanner. I scan them into .tiff so that the best quality is preserved.
  2. The originals are then put into acid-free clear (plastic) sleeves and sometimes then into acid-free photo boxes for storage, preferably in a fire safe (locked file cabinet that can withstand fire up to a certain temperature).
  3. Then I use my zamzar.com account to convert the .tiff files into .jpg. Jpeg is easier to use as I wish because it’s a very accepted file type. Each new jpeg has to be downloaded to my computer individually. This takes a bit of time. Zamzar is the best program I have found for file type conversions, and it is well worth the subscription.
  4. I create appropriate folders and store the .tiffs and the .jpgs together in the folders.
  5. Photos from the 60s and 70s sometimes need a little TLC as they are already turning yellow or even brown. I use Picmonkey not because it’s better than photoshop (it isn’t), but because it is extremely user friendly and doesn’t take up too much time.
  6. I create another folder for each new folder. These use the same folder names, but add the term “watermarked.”
  7. Then I use Water Marquee to create a watermark for thefamilykalamazoo.com and watermark one full set from each “watermarked” folder.
  8. At this point, I have both watermarked and unwatermarked jpegs for sharing.

That’s it! Then I’m done. What is your process for saving old photos?

From a Joseph DeKorn glass negative

Adrian Zuidweg (Grandpa) on the right

The dog is Bobby

Read Full Post »

I dug into the bottom of a file drawer and pulled out a book I forgot that I had. It was put together by the Kalamazoo Gazette and featured photographs sent in by individuals of Kalamazoo from the past up to the early 1960s.

My grandfather, Adrian Zuidweg, is listed as one of the contributors, so I went through and tried to find the photos he might have sent in.

Definitely these two photos. The little boy in the check dress and straw hat is grandpa himself. And the little girl on the hammock is his cousin Alice Leeuwenhoek.

Those are the relatives sitting on the front porch. Gosh, I own that photo! I didn’t realize that was Richard Remine (though I can see right now that it is, of course, him)–or his children Therese, Harold, and Jane either. It would fit that the two little girls are Alice (next to her grandma Alice Paak) and Therese. With Harold behind the children. But Jane doesn’t really look old enough in this photo. According to my records, Jane was 14 years older than Therese. Something is off here. That big gap in age between Jane and Therese bothers me, and it always has. And if you recall when I wrote about Frank and Jane Tazelaar, I had been confused for awhile about if there had been 4 Remine children and 2 girls of similar names.  This photo must be somewhere around 1901, based on the assumed aged of the 3 little children. Jane was born in 1881 and is not 20 here!

The known people: back row is Aunt Jen DeKorn Leeuwenhoek, Richard DeKorn, Richard Remine. Front row is Lambertus (Lou) Leeuwenhoek, Alice Paak DeKorn, and then the little girl next to Alice definitely looks like Alice Leeuwenhoek, Jen and Lou’s daughter. It would seem plausible that the three other children belong to Richard Remine, but Jane could not have been that small.

What else? Here is Harold Remine big enough to go fishing at Long Lake. The other photo is not from my family, but it does show off a great collection of hats!

This is the Ladies Library building that Richard DeKorn was the mason contractor for.

But I don’t think that is one of our family photos.

One of these photos could have been taken by Joseph DeKorn and been submitted by Grandpa. It is very similar to the ones that I own.

Take a look at the captions for the downtown views. Does it make sense? It doesn’t make sense to me for some reason.

Most importantly, Grandpa autographed this book!

Here is a bonus photo. It isn’t from my family, but isn’t it a cool reminder of the kitschy business architecture popular in those days?

Read Full Post »

The other day I posted Richard DeKorn’s death certificate from Kalamazoo and asked for help with the cause of death. Readers were very helpful, and I’m so appreciative.

I mentioned at the time that Richard’s daughter and Grandpa’s mother, Cora DeKorn Zuidweg (Mrs. Adrian Zuidweg), wasn’t in the register of deaths. Two readers kindly sent me Cora’s death certificate that they found on the Seeking Michigan website.

Cora is a particularly intriguing person to me because Grandpa and Grandma used to tell me that I looked a lot like her, especially with my hair pulled back. Cora always wore her hair up. The first time I saw this picture of Cora I was in my 20s and felt as if I was looking into a mirror.

Also, Grandpa’s stories about her included stories of her love for animals and her courage to defend them. I feel a real affinity in the area of love of animals and wish I had her courage.

Here are Cora and Adrian (senior) with Grandpa, Adrian (junior)

What I knew about Cora’s death was that she had cancer that had spread throughout her body and her brain became confused from the disease. I also knew that she was dying when my grandparents got married. That explains why they got married out of town and on their own. My grandmother moved into the house with Grandpa and his mother and took care of her until she died a few months later.

Now take a look at the cause of death on the certificate:

Exhaustion – debility from gen – metastatic sarcoma spindle cell – primary in left thigh, followed injury was removed 9-16-29 – had existed there 5 years.

I believe that it is what it says.

So cancer that started in her left thigh. Cancer that, according to Google, would be treated with chemo today. If caught in time, the results would probably be positive. Spindle cell sarcoma apparently is a connective tissue cancer.

I thought that was a little bit of a coincidence because it seems that Cora had the cancer since she was about 52 and when I was 50 I had a tumor in my foot. While my tumor turned out not to be cancer, it was a giant cell reparative granuloma, which means that it has some characteristics of cancer (possibility of metastasizing and also destruction and replacement of healthy tissue). My tumor is the type that also reacts to injury or pressure, as Cora’s did.

After checking out more on Google, I also learned that Giant Cell tumors can turn into cancer if left untreated–and sometimes into spindle cell. Notice that Cora’s original tumor wasn’t removed until 1929, about two years into her diagnosis.

All very curious. I know that I am lucky that I got 21st century medical care for my foot.

Cora passed away at age 57, never meeting her three grandchildren. My mother would be born less than two years after Cora’s death.

 

Read Full Post »

The haphazard method of genealogy research that I practice is fun because I follow threads that interest me at the moment, and since I am always juggling a lot at once because I’m a little hyper, it probably works best for me.

Nevertheless, this style has its limitations. I didn’t realize the extent, though, until I went to look up “causes of death” on death certificates for my grandfather’s family. Well, darn. They all lived and died in Kalamazoo–and apparently it is not easy to find death certificates in Kalamazoo. At least not from afar.

Out of 6 people–Grandpa’s parents and both sets of grandparents–I only have one death certificate, that of Richard DeKorn. When I pushed myself, I did find 4 of the other 5 on the death registers online. Then I emailed the County Clerk volunteers to see if someone can find the information for me. Keeping my fingers crossed on this one!

Grandpa’s mother, Cora DeKorn Zuidweg, isn’t even in the register. She passed away near the end of 1932, but I couldn’t find her the last few months of 1932 or even the beginning of 1933. I hope that volunteers can give me some insight into this issue.

Here is Richard DeKorn’s death certificate:

Here are some things I noticed of interest from the 1930 document:

Richard lived at 1440 Maple Street (not too far from Oakland Drive), not at the corner of Burdick and Balch. Does this mean that he had already moved with his second wife, Jennie, from the old neighborhood?

He died at New Borgess Hospital. So Borgess must have had that name at that time.

He had been retired for fifteen years from his occupation as a mason contractor. Since he was 78 when he passed away, he retired at age 63.

What does his cause of death state?

Secondary pneumonia 2 days.

Mucopurulent bronchitis 10 days.

Prostatic hypertrophy [interstial???] cystitis 3 months.

Is that last the same thing as prostatitis?

Does this mean that he had a UTI that eventually led to pneumonia?

If penicillin was first used as an antibiotic in 1928, what was the state of antibiotic usage in 1930? Were they being used yet? Did Richard die because he didn’t have an antibiotic for cystitis?

UPDATE:

Since I posted this earlier this morning, I’ve had some interesting info shared. Amy Cohen of Brotman Blog asked her medical expert about Richard’s cause of death. Here is what he said:

I would say with confidence that the ultimate cause of death was pneumonia–formerly known as the old man’s friend because it caused death quickly and with relatively little discomfort. It sounds as though he initially became ill with either a viral infection or had COPD (Chronic Bronchitis), which progressed to a pneumonia. Cystitis is any inflammation of the bladder, and it does not need to be infectious in nature. A man with an enlarged prostrate could have cystitis from inadequate bladder emptying and bladder distension. If a UTI was the primary factor, then the ultimate cause of death would have most likely been sepsis, not pneumonia.

As for antibiotic treatment at his time of death, none really existed. Sulfa-based antibiotics and penicillin may have been discovered in the late 20’s – early 30’s, but they would not be commercially available for another decade. Sulfa was being used in the 30’s, but Penicillin use didn’t really start until WW2 and probably was not widely prescribed until late 40’s – early 50’s.  People not dying from bacterial infections is just another thing Baby Boomers take for granted.

I sure do! I was born in 1955, and I remember getting a lot of penicillin as a kid because I was sick a lot. It never occurred to me that my parents wouldn’t have had that same advantage.

Also, TAO (who writes a fabulous blog about adoption) shared some specific information about penicillin. According to her, it wasn’t prescribed until 1945, which is corroborated by Amy’s medical expert.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »