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Posts Tagged ‘Kalamazoo history’

Last week I let you know that I had a new packet of lovely documents to go through. I also have a lot of emails with leads on family history. And I am at the point where if I keep feeding the blog, I will get more and more disorganized. So I am going to take a little break from posting on TFK.

I plan to post as often as I can at:

Entering the Pale

You can find me over there or just leave me a message here or email me.

But I really want to get my maternal family history in some order before I begin to post again.

Leaving you with a photo of yours truly at age 2 or 3 (Mom????). I’m feeding the deer at Deer Forest in Coloma, Michigan. I really loved that place. We took our son there, too.

 

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Philip DeKorn’s niece–his brother Richard’s daughter–didn’t want the family documents Phil left behind. She has enough papers, and she is not particularly interested in genealogy. Phil’s niece through his wife Marianne, Sue Haadsma-Svensson, is a genealogist who has worked extensively on her branches and compiled several books, as well. She understands the value of these papers. My mother told her about my interest in family history and about this blog, and she very kindly mailed me the documents that were discovered.

Opening the package was quite exciting as I didn’t know what I would find.

There are original death certificates for both Uncle Joe and Aunt Tena, Phil’s parents. There are also newspaper articles, photographs, and letters. Once I have a chance to scan (and digitize) everything and to put each document and photograph into an archival sleeve, I will post my discoveries!

Sue gave me this photo of sailor Phil home on temporary leave on 4 July 1944 sitting with his parents, Uncle Joe and Aunt Tena.

 

 

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The last living DeKorn (carrying the name) from the Boudewijn (1816-1873) and Johanna (Remijnse) (1817-1864) family has passed away at age 97.

Philip Eugene DeKorn was one of two children of Joseph DeKorn. Philip’s brother Richard died in 2004. Joseph, my grandfather’s uncle, took many of the photos I shared on this blog. Phil is the last of Kalamazoo contractor and brick mason Richard DeKorn’s grandchildren to pass.

I would like to share Phil’s obituary today because it shows he was one of the “Greatest Generation,” serving in WWII in the U.S. Navy. The obituary is available at this link.

DeKorn, Philip 8/4/1922 – 9/6/2019 Grand Rapids Philip Eugene DeKorn was born in the community of Fairview in Grand Rapids, Michigan on August 4, 1922, the son of Joseph Peter and Christina (Blandford) DeKorn. He passed away September 6, 2019 at the age of 97. Philip attended and graduated from Fairview School, Union High School and Grand Rapids Junior College. On August 28, 1942, he enlisted in the US Navy during World War II. He took naval training at the US Naval Center, Great Lakes, IL and US Radar School at Virginia Beach, VA. He was then assigned to the USS Uhlmann (DD607) and served as a radar operator in CIC (Combat Information Center) until the end of World War II. CIC had direct radio and radar communication with other US Third Fleet ships. After World War II, he completed his college education and graduated from the University of Michigan School of Business Administration in 1950. He then worked as a sales representative for the Mennen Company and Revere Copper and Brass Inc. On January 5, 1968, Phil married Marianne Haadsma and they were together for almost 50 years. Marianne passed away October 2, 2017. Phil was also predeceased by his older brother, Richard B. DeKorn, who passed away on June 20, 2004. Phil is survived by his brother-in-law Roger Haadsma, his nieces and nephews and their families: Gayle (Jay) Polverelli, Jim (Luanne) Haadsma, Luanne (Larry) Dewey, Mari Dawley, Gail Sherry, Sue (Kjell) Haadsma-Svensson, Bob (Jen) Haadsma, Ken (Judy) Glupker, and Kathy (Ken) Basoff. The family would like to thank Theresa Johnson for all the special care she gave Phil throughout his final years. The family would also like to thank Gloria from Kindred Hospice for her caring work. The family will greet relatives and friends Monday, September 9, 2019 at the Stegenga Funeral Chapel, 1601 Post Dr. NE from 11:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon. Funeral services will follow at 12:00. Inurnment will be at Rosedale Memorial Park. Memorials can be made to the General Fund at First Reformed Church, Holland Michigan or Kindred Hospice, Grand Rapids. To share a photo, memory and sign the online guestbook please visit www.stegengafuneralchapel.com

Published in Grand Rapids Press on Sept. 8, 2019

Like his father before him, Phil graduated from the University of Michigan. Although he never had children, Phil still had a close family through the members of his wife Marianne’s family and through his brother Richard’s family.

Rest in peace, Philip Eugene DeKorn. Thank you for your service, sir.

Phil DeKorn at the plaque for the Kalamazoo State Hospital water tower built by his grandfather Richard DeKorn

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As a side note, you can see that two of Phil’s nieces are named Luanne, spelling it correctly as I do . . . .

In case you wonder how I go about deciding when to post a recent passing on my blog, all I can tell you is I decide on a case by case basis. When my father died, I posted because so many knew he had been sick for months and it seemed strange not to say anything. But during the past few years I have also lost two dear aunts and a cousin, and I did not post about these because their deaths were more sudden and shocking. Our grief, individually and as a family, felt too raw to write about them so soon.

Here are a few more photos of a day Phil spent with his wife Marianne and his cousin’s children, my mom Janet, my father Rudy, Uncle Don, and Aunt Jean at the water tower.

Don, Jean, Phil, Marianne, Rudy, Janet

 


 

The following (sorry it’s angled) shows a layout of the hospital with the water tower in the center. I will have to ask Uncle Don or Mom to chime in here. Is that how the layout really was at one time? It looks like the classic “Panopticon” that Michel Foucault wrote about–a tall tower to watch the prisoners, er, patients. But as we know this is a water tower, not meant to be a guard tower.

 

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Last Wednesday’s post shared some WWI crowd photos from an album of photos from 1917, put together by Alice Leeuwenhoek, Kalamazoo, Michigan.

You can read it here: WWI in Kalamazoo, Part I This post will make the most sense if you look at the photos first.

Here is a sample photo from the post:

It’s my favorite because of the man with his arm around someone’s shoulders.

I knew the photos were from 1917 and taken in downtown Kalamazoo, but I could only guess that the citizens were seeing off the troops. Then I started searching for newspaper articles. They create a bit of a story about the event.

In the first article, dated 14 September 1917, we learn:

The “folks back home” in Kalamazoo will be given a two-hour opportunity sometime Sunday for a final farewell to the boys of Companies C and D. / / There is going to be a big military formality about the farewell.

The article states that Kalamazoo will have a two hour layover for the troops who are embarked on a long journey. They will make up the equivalent of a mile long train. These men will be from 4 companies–two of them Kalamazoo companies. The whole shindig, including a parade, has been planned by Col. Joseph Westnedge. The long artery down Kalamazoo and Portage was named Westnedge in his honor.

15 September 1917:


The next day we learn that everything is ready for the men to arrive. Now they are calling it the 32nd Michigan Infantry, made up of 2,000 men and officers. The event is scheduled for 16 September 1917, the next day, which is a Sunday.

Then this on page 1 of 16 September 1917 Kalamazoo Gazette:

There is a delay because they didn’t have enough cars to get the troops there by the schedule time:

There is deep disappointment among the relatives and friends of the Kalamazoo units because of the fact that the Thirty-second will not arrive in this city this morning. MEN GREATLY DISAPPOINTED.

Still, the event as planned is described in some detail, ending with the information that the big whistles at the municipal pumping station will be sounded an hour before the arrival of the train carrying the troops.

The next article is from Monday, September 17, the day the scheduled visit eventually occurred, but written ahead of time.

People from SW Michigan have been pouring into Kalamazoo from Friday night through Sunday night, just to get a glimpse of their (dough)boys before they take off for the unknown.

I CANNOT FIND AN ARTICLE WRITTEN AFTER THE EVENT ABOUT HOW IT ALL WENT DOWN. That is a little strange. Maybe they didn’t want to write how botched it was–or wasn’t.

Of course, that wasn’t it. Three days later the Kalamazoo Gazette reported that 96 more Kalamazoo men took their places at Fort Custer for training.

All for the insatiable appetite of a horrific international war. No wonder the townspeople turned out in such numbers to honor the young soldiers.

Last week blogger Louise Mabey caused me to question how many of these boys returned home. I used this website  and counted at least 27 Kalamazoo men who died in battle. Many others died from disease, including their leader Col. Westnedge. I found two boys of the same last name who are related to a friend. Another Kalamazoo street shares their last name, Milham. Also, that 27 does not include those from tiny towns right around Kalamazoo or from Battle Creek. So sad to think of those people in the streets in the photos grieving not long after this.

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In thinking about the possibility of Joseph DeKorn taking these photos, I wondered what a 36 year old man was doing during WWI. Would he have been required to serve? I have a temporary membership to Fold3, and it was there that I discovered his WWI draft registration on 12 September 1918. He was a civil engineer in Ohio. I am not sure if he was in Ohio the year before, the month that these photographs were taken or not. So it is possible that someone other than Uncle Joe took the photos. Here is his draft registration.

He was lucky that the war ended two months later.

After this was posted, Amy at BrotmanBlog found some more articles!

 

 

Kalamazoo_Gazette_1917-09-19_1 This is a wide article. I hope the link works.

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In an album of photos from 1917, put together by Alice Leeuwenhoek, are crowd photos that somehow involve WWI.

The following is a sample of what the album looks like when you open it up. Most of the photos are of Alice and her family, like these first ones.

The war photos were taken in Kalamazoo. You can see the Humphrey Company building in a couple of them. According to the 1905 and 1926 Kalamazoo City Directories, Humphrey Company, a gas company, was located at 501-515 N. Rose Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan. Like a lot of businesses at that time period, it was located on the “north side,” which became an almost exclusively African-American area by the time I was a kid.

 

 

Downtown Kalamazoo is not that big, and only a few streets over is the main street, West Michigan Avenue.

So tell me: what do you think is going on in these photos? I think it’s exciting to see the density  of the crowd. There are soldiers leaning out of the windows. Are they being seen off to war by the people of Kalamazoo?

The details of hats and the white/black contrast of female/male attire is fascinating.

Notice in the above photo two people standing on an elevated surface. The man on our left has his arm around the other person’s shoulders.  I imagine they are saying goodbye to a loved one.

These are photos with the Humphrey Company in the background.

 

As to the photographer of these photos, I suspect they were taken by Joseph DeKorn, Alice’s uncle, because she is the subject of so many of her photos. Also, Joseph was the family photographer of the time period. The question is, if Alice was not a photographer herself, why did she own so many albums?

I don’t know the answer to that question.

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Here is an unidentified photo from a beautiful antique photo album from the family–specifically one from Uncle Don. The album is focused on the Remine side of the family, which means the DeKorn branch and includes Zuidwegs, Paaks, and Bassas.

 

Any input about the clothing or portrait style would be appreciated. I suspect this is a wedding portrait because good “Sunday” dresses were more in line with the wedding dresses my ancestors wore than what we think of today as white lacy wedding gowns.

I’m not impressed by Mr. Philley’s photography because of the item growing out of the lady’s head . . . .

 

But the name is important because it helps narrow down the time period. Several years ago, on the blog Bushwhacking Genealogy a list of early Kalamazoo photographers was listed with their approximate years of operation.

 

Philley, Silas (Jr.): Lived 1846-1926. In business at least 1895-1900. Shoemaker in 1887 and again in 1920.
1895: 303 E. Main
1899: 305 E. Main
1900: in census as photographer
I’m glad he went back to shoemaking.
I know I need to go through my family tree and look for marriages that occurred in Kalamazoo between 1895 and 1900. The problem is that Ancestry doesn’t allow for searches like that.
Does anyone know of a genealogy software that does sorting and filtering that makes it easy to search?
Another way I can search for this couple is by looking for photographs of them when they were older. They both have distinctive elements to their faces, and I suspect she might have become heavier as she got older.
I’m open, as usual, to suggestions! (Sorry about the formatting issues here).

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I have a lot of photographs of Alice Leeuwenhoek. She was an only child, and I suspect she might have been doted upon. And maybe she was a favorite subject of her uncle, Joseph DeKorn, the family photographer. Alice was born in 1897, and Joseph was born in 1881. He was doing a lot of photography when she was growing up, and she lived next door.

Here are a couple of photos that are marked with Alice’s name on the back.

Alice looks so cute here. She’s wearing a hat that looks to me like an Easter bonnet, especially on a child so small. Her coat with the cute flaps reminds me of a dress coat I bought for my daughter when she was little. She had been wearing hand-me-down dresses for dressup, and I wanted her to have one nice outfit, so I bought her a red dress with matching red coat.  The coat had a little cape very similar to Alice’s coat. Eighty-some years later.

Here is one from 1914. It doesn’t look to me a lot like Alice, but it is a tall lady with dark hair standing by the side of Richard DeKorn’s house. Richard was Alice’s grandfather, as well as Grandpa’s grandfather. And the photo is labeled Alice!

Now is when I need a horse expert. If Derrick stops by, I know he’ll know. Is this a pony? The reason I think so is that the proportions seem mature.

I would know Richard’s house anywhere because of the light stripe through the dark brick. Very distinctive.

 

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