Posts Tagged ‘Grand Rapids’

Both my maternal great-grandmothers were born in the United States, but their husbands, my great-grandfathers, were immigrants. First I will discuss my maternal grandmother’s mother, Clara Waldeck Mulder.

I lack a birth record for Clara. Michigan did not insist on birth records for many years, so my inability to find anything about her birth could be a victim of that bureaucratic lapse. Because I don’t have a birth record I do not know for sure if she even had a middle name. Her death record says NONE for middle name.

Clara’s married name, Clara Mulder, is extremely common in Michigan. Mulder is a Dutch name akin to the English Miller. Her parents and all siblings were Prussian immigrants, but she took on her husband’s Dutch name when she got married.

I’ve posted quite a bit about Clara. You can read more about Clara at My Great-Grandmother’s Lifetime of Service.

Clara was a farm wife, which is a sort of business person, and so she did not have a job which earns a salary. Since Social Security was instituted in 1935, when she was 51, she might have gotten a social security number if she had needed it for work. I do not believe she ever got her social security number. That is unfortunate because she might have applied with her place of birth (the town) and a middle name.

I already have her death certificate, which I have posted in the past, and census reports for 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940. There is no 1890 census, so my records for the census are complete for Clara. I did sponsor Clara’s page at Findagrave, but I do not manage the profile, as I do for Grandma and Grandpa. I also have Clara’s obituary (see the link above for the obit) and her headstone, which she shares with her husband–but I did not have these items loaded to my Ancestry account. I remedied that problem.

While I would love to find more information on Clara, I really could not add anything at this point, so I decided to request to manage Clara’s profile on Findagrave as my weekly task.

Clara is the third ancestor whose records I have combed for gaps, and I have updated my Ancestry records. However, I still have not transferred these records to another tree OR cleaned up my computer files for these individuals. Going to take the opportunity of a light job here to go do that! Hope the rest of your week goes very well!

Clara and Charles Mulder

50th wedding anniversary




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Try to keep this in mind as you read: I am having a lot of trouble dating this photograph. Maybe with the dates of the people in the photo, you can help me date it.

Great-Grandpa Charles Mulder was born Karel Pieter Philippus Mulder on 6 March 1885 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.  He was the son of Pieter Philippus (son of Karel, Karel, Carel, Johannes, in that order).

He emigrated in 1887 from Kloetinge, Zeeland, Netherlands and arrived in New York City on 29 August 1887 . Note that he was 2 years old.

Great-Grandpa was the oldest child of Pieter and Nellie (Neeltje) Gorsse.

Pieter and Nellie Mulder and family

Pieter (1865-1953) and Nellie (1868-1932) are in the middle of the front row.  If you have ever heard about the wonderful furniture that used to be made in Grand Rapids, Michigan, you would be hearing about some of the furniture made by Pieter, a cabinet-maker.

Great-Grandpa, with the curly dark hair, is next to his mother. I will try to identify the others, but I cannot be absolutely certain.

Back row: Peter, Cora, Henry

Peter was the father of Rod Mulder, who I knew when I was younger. He married Alida, and they had at least four boys: Rod, Willis, Richard, and Robert.

Cora married John Gerow and was the mother of Eleanor, a lady I knew when I was a kid.

Henry engraved stone monuments and developed emphysema. His married Mae and raised his family in Hastings, Michigan. According to the 1930 census, they had 4 children: Eloise, James, Mary, and Judith.

In the front row, the girl with the glasses on our left is Nellie. I believe she might have had some sort of disability. Nellie was still living at home with her parents in the 1930 census, when she was 27 or 28 years old.

Then there is Jennie who married Edward Kooistra or Koistra. They had a son, Karl.

Rose (Rosa) is on the other side of Great-Grandpa. She contracted TB. But then so did Great-Grandpa; I remember visiting him in the sanitarium or hospital. Rose was living at home with her parents in the 1920 census; she was 14.

Sadly, I discovered that there were also two children who passed away. Jan was born after Charles–in 1886–and passed away the following year, four months after the family arrived in the United States!  Imagine: a young couple, ages 22 and 19, immigrate to the United States with a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old (two babies). Then in a few months, the younger baby is gone.

Then there was another Rose who was born in 1892, after Cora. She passed away in 1904, two years before her namesake was born.

What year do you think this photo was taken? It’s a little confusing to me. Great-Grandpa got married in 1910, when Rose would have been four years old. She’s clearly older than that here. I wonder if both Charles and Jennie were already married when this photo was taken. My grandmother was born in 1912, so if the photo was taken when Rose was about ten (1916), then Great-Grandpa would ALREADY HAVE FOUR CHILDREN.

Here’s an alternative view: that I was told wrong about which child is which. What if this photograph has the Rose in it that was born in 1892–and if it was that Rose who had TB and in fact died of it? Then the names were assigned wrong. But is there a way that the people here fit the dates if that is the case?

How about the clothes? Any ideas on the date of the photograph from the clothing?

In order the children were:

Charles (1885)

Jan (1886-1887)

Jennie (1887)

Cora (1890)

Rose (1892-1904)

Henry (1897)

Peter (1900)

Nellie (1902)

Rose (1906)

My grandparents told me that Great-Grandpa’s family (this is my grandmother’s father) lived in Goes very near the Zuidwegs (my grandfather’s father’s family). They were printers, engravers, and machinists. However, genealogical research shows that, in the old country, Pieter was a fisherman, a laborer, and a shoe maker. I would guess that when the family came to Grand Rapids, that Pieter learned the furniture trade. After all, he was only 22 when he got to this country.

I do know that the printer and engraver part was true at least for my grandfather’s father, Adriaan Zuijdweg. The Mulders and Zuidwegs were city people, not farmers, so it’s curious that my great-grandfather became a farmer.

Great-Grandpa died on 27 April 1967, when I was 11 years old. I used to imagine that the family line began with him at his farm in Caledonia, not realizing that he was brought up in Grand Rapids or that his father made furniture or what hardships his parents must have gone through.


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When I grew up in Kalamazoo in the 1960s and 1970s (OK, the 1950s, too), the name DeKorn as it applied to my family was no longer known. Richard’s only son, Joseph, had moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he raised his two sons.

At some point DeKorne’s Ethan Allen store opened up in Kalamazoo. I know it was there when I got married in 1975 because I bought my first couch and chairs there.That’s when I first heard the rumor that we were “shirttail relations.”

Nobody could ever give me any facts about this connection.

In 2000, with the beauty of the internet, I discovered that there was another family connected to Boudewijn DeKorn. Boudewijn, my great-great-great-grandfather, was born in 1816 in Kapelle, the Netherlands, and died 1873 in Kalamazoo.

This other family who had a Boudewijn was the furniture company Dekorne family from Grand Rapids.

But their Boudewijn didn’t match ours. Theirs died in 1929 in Grand Rapids! Ours died in Kalamazoo in 1873!! But how odd, considering that the name is unique, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids are not far from each other, and there was that rumor about us being related.

At the time (2000), I found an article about their Boudewijn and a rough family tree.  I printed it out and saved it, never knowing if it would be useful.

Here is their family tree:

Other Dekorne family tree

Other Dekorne family tree

I’m going to post the article that went with their family tree because I find it very interesting in light of Richard DeKorn’s talents as a mason and general contractor.

It’s an interesting story, but are they relatives of mine?

I didn’t know, and I couldn’t figure it out because on Ancestry more Boudewijn DeKornes starting popping up with different birth and death dates, but always from the same general area of the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands.

Then I gave Yvette Hoitink their family tree and she put it together with our family tree and investigated.

This is our family tree:Richard DeKorn family treeDo you see a connection?  Look at their Boudewijn who was born in 1700.  He’s married to Piatarnella Pieterse Michielse.  That is the same woman as Pieternella Machiels who is also found in old documents under the name Petronella Pieters.  We have a match for a husband and wife in both family trees.

That means that  my “7th great-grandfather” Boudewijn de Corne, born approximately 1730 and died 1734 in Goes is (I believe) the “3rd great-grandfather” of Boudewijn the wood-carver and furniture maker who died in Grand Rapids in 1929.

In the history of the family it seems that branches moved away from each other and then maybe moved near each other again, always staying in Zeeland and then in southwestern Michigan. It’s fitting then that Joseph DeKorn moved to Grand Rapids and raised his family there by the other Dekornes.

Note: so many spellings of the name!!  It makes it very difficult even to work at cleaning up my family tree on Ancestry.  Also, notice how the Dutch tend to name their children after the grandparents.

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