As I mentioned in my last post, I am awaiting an obituary for Nellie Mulder, the daughter of Peter and Nellie. In an earlier post, I shared the letter that Peter had sent to his brother Jan after his wife had passed away. He wrote, “It’s a heavy day for me Jan, there I have a daughter who always must be under my eye. She is not trusted to just go out unless a person familiar is with her.” As it was first explained to me in the 1970s, Nellie was “slow.”
the obituary came in, and I also heard about Nellie from my uncle who knows a lot about the family history.
SEE UPDATED INFO BELOW THE HEADSTONE PHOTO!!!
She is in the front row, on our left, wearing glasses. Peter and Nellie are in the center of the front row and my great-grandfather Charles Mulder is to his mother’s left (our right).
Thanks to Find-a-Grave I found Nellie’s headstone and the year of her death.
She is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Who ordered the headstone? Her parents were both dead by 1968, so it must have been ordered by a sibling, and yet the stone says “daughter.”
But what was her life like after her mother died in 1932? The family story is that she wound up in an institution. But where? And who went to visit her? Was she happy?
THE UPDATED INFORMATION
Here is the obituary that arrived yesterday:
Couple this information with what is remembered by my uncle. He says that Nellie had Down syndrome and “was the happiest person in the family. She always remembered everyone’s name and gave the best hugs!” She stayed for periods of time with relatives in Grand Rapids and also with my great-grandfather in Caledonia.
Nellie also stayed in a “home” in Grand Rapids. Family always made sure to include Nellie in all the family gatherings until “age took its toll on both her and [her] older siblings.”
My uncle believes that Nellie’s grave was probably handled by the children of my great-grandfather’s youngest brother, “Uncle Pete.” To make clear: both great-grandpa and Pete were brothers of Nellie. Pete was a gravestone engraver, in fact, and died at age 64 of silicosis. Add this lung disease death to the tuberculosis deaths in the family, and it seems the Mulders were plagued with lung troubles.
Pete was a gravestone engraver, in fact, and died at age 64 of silicosis, four years before Nellie’s death. Add this lung disease death to the tuberculosis deaths in the family, and it seems the Mulders were plagued with lung troubles.
I don’t have a death certificate for Nellie (or her brother Pete, for that matter). But the obituary makes clear Nellie died in a nursing home. Whether this was the “home” she was living in or a nursing home because she needed medical care, I don’t know.
The obituary shows that Nellie was a member of Seventh Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. I got a kick out of that 7th! I have heard of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, but not 7th! Here is a little history of the church that is still in existence:
Seventh Reformed Church has been in existence for well over a century. Our congregation was organized on May 1, 1890. It was the first church of reformed persuasion on the west side of Grand Rapids.
The first services were held at a temporary building located on Jennette Street between Twelfth and Leonard. In 1892 a new church building was completed, located on the corner of Jennette and Leonard.
Seventh, being a Dutch immigrant congregation, held all services in the Dutch language. In 1905 the first evening service was held in the English language, but not continued until 1919. Later in 1929 the morning service was also held in English, preceded by a Dutch service. In 1942 the Dutch service was moved to the afternoon and then in 1947 it was discontinued.
Our present church building was dedicated on June 18, 1952. In 1969 the East wing containing the pastor’s study, offices, Chapel and classrooms were completed. In 1989 as we began celebrations for our Centennial Year, another extension to the building was added in the form of a large foyer on the West side with more classrooms upstairs.
Eventually I expect to find the death certificates for Nellie and Peter and other members of the Mulder family. Part of the problem is that the Grand Rapids certificates do not seem to be readily available. They are quite expensive at $20 each, and I have to rely on staff to locate them.