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Posts Tagged ‘history of Kent County Michigan’

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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Next up is Lucille Edna Mulder Zuidweg, my maternal grandmother. If you do a search for her under her maiden name (Mulder as Zuidweg is her married surname), you will find many blog posts about her, especially about her school years. I figured I had most everything available about Grandma, or Edna as she was known, but when I worked on Grandpa’s documents last week I discovered I did not have their marriage application or license. I was able to order it from St. Joseph County, Indiana, and it arrived in time for this post.

Here are their applications:

When it asks for Grandpa’s father’s name what does it say? I can’t make it out. UPDATE: with a little help from readers I now believe it says deceased. I do know grandpa‘s father‘s name was Adrian Zuidweg and Grandpa was a junior.


My mother says the reason her parents got married in Indiana is that it was much quicker and easier to get a license there than in Michigan. Also, Grandpa’s mother was dying, and Grandma needed to help take care of her. Them being married made that easier, and it certainly wasn’t a time for a wedding celebration.

This is the license:

I also found that I did not have Grandma’s birth certificate. I ordered it from Kent County, Michigan, and when it arrived, I realized that Wayne Loney, the Kalamazoo genealogist had been right about these old birth records. County just typed up the info they had, put a seal on it, and charged me. It doesn’t even have the location of her birth.

And guess what? I didn’t have Grandma’s obituary either! So here it is, thanks to the Kalamazoo Public Library:

 

I love how the obituary mentions how she used to say, “Let’s go!” Hah, so true. She also loved to sing along to Ethel Merman, but I doubt too many family members know that. She used to babysit me every day after kindergarten (and the year before that, too), so I’m sure her bashful personality felt more comfortable singing with a five-year-old than adults. She also used to sing folk songs to me, and every once in a while do a few dance steps to make me giggle.

I have treasures that belonged to Grandma and photos of her. I have the 1920, 30, and 40 census records. I have a photo of the headstone she shares with Grandpa at Mount Ever-Rest Cemetery. And I sponsored a page for her at Find-a-Grave, just as I did for Grandpa.

My grandparents–at least as the older and then elderly people I knew–had exceptionally cute personalities. I think everybody who knew them would agree with that!

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Although this photo is a bit blurry because of the dog jumping, it is a photo of my mom in front of her house on Burdick Street with the family dog. I can see the Richard DeKorn brick house down at the next corner and a car in front of it. I wonder what year that car is or how old Mom is here. Is the dog Sandy or a dog that preceded Sandy? I only ask because I knew Sandy, and when I was very young, was bit by that @#%^ dog.  (I love dogs anyway).

Here are a few photos (early 1940s) of my mother, Janet Zuidweg, with her little sister, Alice Zuidweg.  The first one seems to be taken at a park that is riverside or creekside.

 

 

The second photo shows the girls at their grandparents’ (Charles and Clara Mulder) farm in Caledonia, Michigan.


In this one, the girls seem to be near a back door. Is this at the farm or elsewhere? Mom! Uncle Don! Help!

Love Mom’s saggy socks in this last one!

P.S. to Mom: maybe you can show this post to Aunt Alice!

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Awhile back I posted a photograph of the Mulder family reunion in SW Michigan. I’m pretty sure the date is around 1940, based on the ages of the identified people in the photograph.

Between Mom, cousin Susie, Uncle Don, and cousin Merry we have many of the people, but definitely not all, identified.

The couple on our right, Mom thought could be Jack and Josie (John Lawson Gerow, Jr. and Josephine Ann Slinsky Gerow–Jack was the son of John Gerow and Cora Mulder, great-grandpa’s sister), but Susie says no. Some of the individuals are not clearly seen so we can’t do much with those. What seems clear is that certain family groups were present and others were not. For instance, Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Con and their children don’t seem to be in the photo. This helps because if we see children we can be pretty sure their parents are in the photo–and vice versa.

Here is the Mulder family photo that would have come before this family group. In the center is Pieter/Peter Mulder and his wife, Nellie Gorsse. Nellie died in 1932, 8 years before the reunion photo, but Peter was alive until 1953 and is in the photo, in the center, wearing a hat.

In the back row are Peter, Cora, and Henry. Peter was the husband of Alida Van Elk, who is identified in the reunion photo. Their children included Rod, born 1923, and the twins Bob and Bill. I believe all 3 boys are in the photo and I have labelled the twins.

Cora married John Gerow, and they had five children (I think): Ruth, Eleanor, George, John/Jack, Marian. Jack was born in 1918, so I think it’s unlikely that the man on the right is Jack (as Susie also says) because he looks older than 21. Possibly the Gerows are not in the photo.

Henry married Hettie Mae Simpson, and they had Eloise Fern, James, Mary Ellen, and Judith. Because Mae and Jim, Mary Ellen, and Judy were identified by Merry in the reunion photo, I wanted to believe that Henry and Eloise/Fern are also in the photo, but Merry cannot find them. Mary Ellen and Judy are the two teen girls kneeling on the right side of the photo. Jim is the boy in front of Uncle Chuck, seated on the left side of the photo.

In the front row, the girl with the glasses on our left is Nellie who was mentally challenged. She was still living at home in 1930, but I am not sure where she lived after the death of her mother in 1932. There is a woman in the reunion photo who appears to be wearing dark glasses who is seated directly behind the little blonde girl (Joann) that could be Nellie–or could be someone else.

Then there is Jennie who married Edward Kooistra or Koistra. They had a son, Karl. I know very little about this branch and don’t know if they are in the reunion photo or not.

On the other side of Nellie, is her oldest child, my great-grandfather, Charles Mulder. He and his wife Clara had five children, and I see four of the five in the photo, along with their families. It is her oldest, Dorothy, that I do not see.

Rose (Rosa) is on the other side of Great-Grandpa. She married John Kohles, and they had at least one child, Leonard, but she died in 1936.

 

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I am posting more “new” photos today and relaxing about not doing research outside of the photos (for now).

This photo is a Mulder family reunion. I’d like to see if we could identify everyone. I see Uncle Al, 3rd from left seated. And Aunt Vena, standing, with her arms crossed in front of her, looking over her left shoulder. I think my grandparents MIGHT be peeking over shoulders in the back.

Mom? Uncle Don? Can we figure out who all is in the pic?

This photo was taken at my great-grandparents’ farm–that of Charles and Clara Waldeck in Caldedonia.

In another farm pic, this is Uncle Chuck and Uncle Pete, the two sons of Charles and Clara.

Again at the farm. Is this Aunt Vena as a teen? Or is it Aunt Dorothy? I read a joke on Facebook the other day about someone taking care of chickens being a “chicken tender.”

I am hoping we can put some names to these photos. Also, these photos are from different years. I wonder how close we can come to figuring it out.

The first clue for the reunion photo, which is useful as one of many, is that Aunt Vena and Uncle Al got married in 1935. That is not enough by itself, of course. Then I wonder if the women’s hairstyles and clothing could be from the 40s. Any ideas?

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This is the fifth week that the beautiful creative nonfiction journal Broad Street magazine has published one of the pieces from my chapbook Kin Types along with documents and photographs that helped me piece together these old family stories.

This week is about Louise Noffke’s death and the family history (including domestic violence) that surrounded that tragic event. Read it at Family Laundry: “Half-Naked Woman Found Dead,” by Luanne Castle

Louise was buried with her husband Charles Noffke, my great-grandmother’s brother. The “together forever” headstone is a bit ironic considering one of the newspaper articles that I uncovered.

This next is the headstone of the daughter of Louise and Charles. She is also mentioned in the Broad Street article.

 

The first feature article is “Family Laundry: “An Account of a Poor Oil Stove Bought off Dutch Pete,” by Luanne Castle

The second feature article is Family Laundry 2: “What Came Between A Woman and Her Duties” by Luanne Castle

The third feature article is: Family Laundry: “More Burials” by Luanne Castle

The fourth is: Family Laundry: “The Weight of Smoke” by Luanne Castle

An introduction to the series can be found here.  SERIES INTRODUCTION

 

 

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