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Posts Tagged ‘Kalamazoo history’

Charles Peter Mulder was born to Clara (Waldeck) and Charles Mulder on 30 July 1917 in Caledonia, Michigan, most likely at home. He was the youngest of the five Mulder children. They grew up on their parents’ farm.

Chuck Mulder, high school graduation photo

As a teen, Chuck, as he was known, was very good-looking and a favorite with the ladies. But he was a bit oblivious to all the girls fawning over him. He wasn’t as outgoing as his brother, but he was no doubt very intelligent.

Around the age of 22 Chuck left Caledonia and boarded with the Patrick Slattery family at what I believe was 911 S. Park Street. It was transcribed from the 1940 census as Stock Street, but that is incorrect. This is a Google maps image. It looks like the house is still standing.

Also according to the 1940 census, Chuck’s fellow boarder was his brother Peter Mulder and their first cousin, Herbert Waldeck. I don’t recognize the names of the other boarders, although several of them are the same age range as Chuck, Pete, and Herb. Lines 21, 22, and 24:

Both Chuck and Herb enlisted on 16 October 1940 in Caledonia. Chuck’s employer is listed on the draft card as none. Herb’s lists his employment as the Fuller Manufacturing Company.  Because they enlisted together, it’s a bit surprising to me that Chuck went into the U.S. Army, and Herb became a sailor in the U.S. Navy. Chuck’s brother Pete had suffered a ruptured appendix and was therefore exempted from military duties.

On the front of the draft registration, we see that Chuck’s telephone # was 28F2. Imagine a phone number like that!

From the backside of the draft registration we can see that Chuck was nearly six foot and had brown hair and hazel eyes.

This whole project to write about my grandmother’s siblings began with my Uncle Don telling me that Uncle Chuck (his uncle, my great-uncle) was a war hero and that perhaps his story could be researched.

I did as much online research as I could do before I asked Chuck’s daughter Susie to order his military records from the National Archives. Then Covid struck, and the archives have been unavailable for family history research purposes. I asked Myra Miller if her team at Footsteps Researchers would be able to help. They are also stymied by the closure of the archives, although one of her people sent me a few online documents. One of them was a newspaper article I had not found myself.

In the meantime, since I started with the oldest of Grandma’s sibs, Dorothy, I had some time before I would put together Chuck’s story as he was the youngest of the bunch. I’ve long since finished stories of the other three siblings. I’ve stalled a long time, but have decided to go ahead and write about Chuck since the archives are still unavailable to us.

In a newspaper clipping from the Ironwood Daily Globe, Ironwood, Michigan, on 19 June 1944, Chuck, a machine shop worker, according to the paper, is quoted: “We’re going to give them the works; that’s all there is to it.”  At that point, Chuck was eager to go after the enemy.

Then I have the data from the army enlistment records.

The above enlistment record states that Chuck had four years of high school, but he was considered “unskilled labor” for the army. He would be trained by the army and gain a skill, though, in communications.

5th from right 2nd row

Below is a photo of Uncle Chuck from 1944 in Germany.

Here is another group shot, but we do not have the date. Doesn’t this look like it was taken the same time as the solo shot?

This group photo was taken 10 March 1944. He is front row, 3rd from right.

I wanted to find out if Uncle Chuck was really a war hero. An article in The Grand Rapids Press 8 March 1945 corroborates the story that Uncle Don had told me about Uncle Chuck’s radio team being involved in a dangerous mission to communicate across enemy lines in Germany.  Chuck (Sergeant Mulder) was Radio Team Chief.

Here is the article, and I follow it with a transcription for ease of reading.

CALEDONIA MAN GETS BRONZE STAR

Caledonia—T/4 Charles P. Mulder, Jr., has been awarded the bronze star for “zealous determination and unselfish devotion to duty” with the army signal corps in Germany, his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Mulder, sr., have learned.

“His parents have received a citation accompanying the medal, which asserted the award was made “for meritorious conduct in action in Germany.” It declared Mulder distinguished himself “by outstanding performance of duty as a radio operator with a communications team of an infantry regiment engaged in rolling back the Siegfried line after a penetration and in encircling a strongly defended enemy city. The courage, zealous determination and unselfish devotion to duty contributed much to the efficiency of the communications in this most difficult period.”

The citation is signed by Maj. Gen. L. S. Hobbs, commander of the 30th division to which Mulder is attached.

Below you can read the letter that Maj. Gen. Hobbs wrote about the “30th Signal Company.”

Chuck’s grandson Andy believes that the bronze star, since there is no mention of a “Combat V,” suggests that the award was given for doing a difficult job in arduous circumstances exceptionally well rather than for a single act of valor of gallantry. He said this makes sense since Chuck was a technical specialist and not a line infantryman. He still had a complex, difficult, and dangerous job to do.

Andy also clarifies Chuck’s rank since we do not have the archival records. He inherited 30th ID patches and a rank insignia for Technical Specialist 4, probably the highest rank Chuck held. This was a specialist rank equivalent to a buck sergeant – E5 in today’s pay scale. While this was a non-commissioned officer rank, technical specialists held no command authority.

Backing up a little over a month, in a letter written February 1 from Belgium to his parents (quoted in the above newspaper article), Chuck wrote: “Yesterday I had quite a surprise when I was awarded the bronze star medal by our commanding general. He gave it to me and then shook hands. This bronze star means five more points in the discharge point system.”

In a postscript, Mulder wrote: “I also have an ETO (European theater of operation) ribbon with two battle stars on it. I nearly forget to tell you this. The two stars are for Normandy and the other countries. We will get another one, at least, for the Germany campaign.”

You can see that Chuck went from an eager entry into service to counting up points until he could be honorably discharged. This shows that he had experienced and seen a lot of war.

I wanted more information about Chuck’s participation in the war. He was with the 119th Infantry Regiment, which was a part of the 30th Infantry Division. According to Wikipedia, “The 30th Infantry Division was a unit of the Army National Guard in World War I and World War II. It was nicknamed the “Old Hickory” division, in honor of President Andrew Jackson. The Germans nicknamed this division “Roosevelt’s  SS.” The 30th Infantry Division was regarded by a team of historians led by S.L.A. Marshall as the number one American infantry division in the European Theater of Operations (ETO), involved in 282 days of intense combat over a period from June 1944 through April 1945.

Let me repeat that: “the number ONE American infantry division in the European Theater of Operations.”

In a book owned by grandson Andy who has made his career in the military, Chuck is mentioned in an incident that occurred. This book has no ISBN and most likely was printed as a souvenir. Andy explains that “there is a long tradition of books like this in US military service. Think of it being akin to a high school yearbook, and assembled by some of the soldiers themselves. The Navy calls these ‘cruise books.’”  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruise_book Do any readers know what the army calls these books?

Andy continues:  “The best I can say is that the book was probably printed over the summer of 1945 (while the 30th was waiting their turn to be sent back stateside). Unfortunately the author(s) are not credited by name in the book. It’s remarkable to me that a company would have had their own book in some ways – a U.S. army company is generally 3-4 platoons and no more than around 200 people at full strength. A reasonable assumption is that compiling the book may have been something for otherwise bored officers and senior NCOs to do during the summer of 45 to keep them productive, though it’s entirely possible that more junior personnel did most of the work. We’ll never know unfortunately. I don’t know if it was common for companies to have produced souvenir books like this in WW2.”

Andy surmises that Chuck was probably stateside when the book was printed. His photo is one of those “unavailable” on the bottom left of the second page.

In memory of the lives that were lost.

Note the name Dale E. Stockton as one of those lost and keep reading. I will post the pages here and transcribe them below.

BOOK PAGES

“Sergeant Mulder’s team was with the 119th Infantry Regiment at the time the great offensive for St. Lo began. Our artillery had been pounding away for hours. Planes were overheard, flying in the initial bombing assault. The Regiment was on the road moving forward to the attack.

Orders were that only two men could ride in a vehicle. So Bennie Keech drove the Radio command car. “Dale” Stockton sad in the back operating the set, and “Chuck” Mulder marched to the side and a little ahead of the car. Bennie had to keep the car right in the center of the road, because the Infantrymen were marching in column on both sides of it.

As they moved down the road, the fury of the great battle grew in intensity. Then came the sound of falling bombs. Dale Stockton was fataly [sic] wounded. Bennie Keech was knocked unconscious by a bomb blast, a blast that lifted the car from the road and pushed it over to the side. Bennie was evacuated to a first aid station, where it was discovered that he had suffered a severely sprained back. “Chuck” Mulder was uninjured but his nerves were badly upset by the experience.

Bennie was able to rejoin the Company in a couple of days, and he and Chuck were together until just a few months before the war’s end. Then Bennie received a furlough to the good old USA, and shortly afterward, Chuck was evacuated for a physical check-up. The men of the Radio Section miss Chuck Mulder and Bennie Keech. They miss and salute Dale Stockton.

His grandson describes it this way:

The book talks about how this incident occurred during the offensive for  Saint-Lô with planes that were flying overhead in the initial assault. Tragically, it would seem that the event described in this book was a friendly-fire incident. The 30th Infantry Division was tragically bombed by our own aircraft in one of the most controversial incidents in WW2, which involved the attempted use of heavy strategic bombers to support ground forces. http://www.30thinfantry.org/st_lo_battle.shtml

At the same time or shortly after he wrote that letter from Belgium, Chuck was admitted to a convalescent military hospital where, according to the following index, he stayed until August 1945.

The diagnosis is withheld by NARA, so it’s possible that if we get the records from the archives the information will be in there.

We do know that after what Chuck experienced in Europe, he suffered from what is now called PTSD. It used to be called “shellshock” or “battle fatigue.” Seeing his fellow soldiers killed, especially by friendly fire, was a defining moment in his life.

On a light note, at one point during the war, Chuck and his cousin Herb went to Missouri on leave. They went to a restaurant and bar in either Kansas City or St. Joseph. A pretty girl named Ruthann Holton (a resident of Sparks, Kansas) who worked for the Chase Candy Company in St. Joseph, MO, was out with her friend. Chuck and Herb flirted with the girls.  It turns out that Chuck really liked Ruthann, but Herb thought it was a mistake for him to get involved with her. So Herb did his best to confuse Chuck about her name and address. Chuck sent Ruthann a letter to Miss Maryanne Holman. Somehow what happened next was out of Herb’s hands as the letter was delivered to Ruthann anyway.

On 10 December 1944*, Chuck sent RuthAnn a Christmas V-mail, so they had definitely become “sweethearts” by then. (*I am not sure exactly how V-mail worked. If Chuck didn’t post it on the 10th it would have been before that date).

Here is a letter that my great-grandparents sent to Ruthann.

On 9 July 1945, Chuck and Ruthann married at Raton, New Mexico. He was back from Germany and stationed at Camp Carson, Colorado. The couple were to live in Colorado Springs, which is where Camp Carson is located.

Now, how did the couple get married in July if Chuck was still in the hospital until August? That question led me to wonder if he was hospitalized, but more as an outpatient, at a hospital at Camp Carson. Camp Carson was huge and had at least eighteen hospitals!

My Uncle Don has some of his own memories of Chuck that I’d like to share. Uncle Chuck was his hero while my uncle was growing up. He tells me that my grandmother, sibling #2 had a special bond with her younger brother. Chuck was the youngest of the siblings, and he turned to my grandmother for advice. This is probably quite usual in larger families where an older sibling becomes close with the youngest.

Chuck and Ruthann had one child, their daughter Suzanne, who studied at the University of Michigan, volunteered with the Peace Corps in Malawi, and went to medical school at Johns Hopkins University on a full scholarship. I still have the wooden figurine that Susie brought me back from Malawi.

Chuck and Ruthann both worked very hard until retirement, although they did like to go out dancing before Ruthann experienced foot troubles. I remember them enjoying polka dancing. Chuck was the first to retire from The Upjohn Company, as he was seven years older than Ruthann. He walked most mornings with some retired friends. He also did most of the housework, yard work, and made dinners for Ruthann. He had atherosclerotic arterial disease in his legs, which caused him a great deal of pain. He also became legally blind from glaucoma. This disease runs in my family. Chuck would have inherited it through his mother’s Waldeck branch. Chuck voluntarily quit driving when he retired, and he used to try and read the Kalamazoo Gazette every day with the use of magnifying glasses.

In the photo below, Grandma and Grandpa are surrounded by her siblings and their spouses. Chuck is in the front row in the pink shirt. Ruthann is to his right.

Ruthann retired at age 65, but she wouldn’t have retirement time to spend with Chuck. He passed away far too early from a fast and mysterious affliction. Susie suspects he infarcted (blood clot to artery) his intestines as he went to the hospital with sudden, severe abdominal pain and became septic shortly after his admission. He was only 72 years old.

Chuck and Ruthann are buried together at Mount Ever-Rest Memorial Park South in Kalamazoo. For years now, on Memorial Day, my brother has visited  their grave with flowers to honor Uncle Chuck’s service and heroism.

 

 

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I first posted this photo years ago, wondering who the girl could be. Then I found a photo of her with Alice Leeuwenhoek, which gave a bit of context regarding her age. However, now I can finally post the name of this beautiful girl. Her name is Ruth Case and she was born around 1906. She lived in Ross Township in Kalamazoo County, according to the 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 censuses. In 1940 she was still single, living with her parents, her brother, and most likely her sister-in-law and niece.

The Case home was apparently a farm in Augusta, Michigan, which is Ross Township, owned by Ruth’s father, Charles Case.  Their property was just a bit north of W. E. Upjohn property (sections 28 and 27), which you can see on the map (C. M. Case in sections 16 and 22). The Upjohn estate was called Brook Lodge and eventually became a retreat for the Upjohn Company (pharma). I have photos that Alice took at Brook Lodge, including some with my grandfather.

These photos could have been taken in Augusta or in Kalamazoo.

If you have any further information about Ruth or her family, please let me know and I will update this post again.

***

Over two years ago I published this post, asking for the identity of a girl in a photo I discovered. I have another clue now, which I will post at the end.

***

The photograph was created from a glass negative taken by Joseph DeKorn. All of his photographs were taken between approximately 1895 and 1918, and the majority were shot in Kalamazoo.

Although I don’t know who this lovely girl is, I have hopes that I can eventually discover her identity. The juxtaposition of the two houses might lead to a solution, for instance.

Any ideas on the time period of the dress, hair, and shoes (within that 1895-1918 range)?

I remember wearing tights that bagged at the knees like these stockings. Do you think they are cotton?

I’ll put Balch Street and Burdick Street in the tags for this post, just in case it was taken in the neighborhood where Joseph lived.

***

OK, THE NEW CLUE.

I found another photo of the girl, taken probably at the same time, at the same place, but with the addition of an adult Alice Leeuwenhoek, but most likely before her marriage to Clarence Moerdyk.  The above photo was made from a glass negative, but this one was an actual photograph I found in a different family collection.

Alice was born in 1897, so can we say that this photo is somewhere around 1917?

 

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In my story about Grandma’s sister Dorothy and her husband, Conrad Plott, dated February 17, we left off with this photo of my mother with Aunt Dorothy and Aunt Vena.

Today I am writing about Aunt Vena (to mom’s right–our left–in the photo) and her husband, Uncle Al.

Vena’s full name was Alvena Nell Mulder at birth. She was named after her grandmother, a Prussian immigrant, Alwine Noffke Waldeck. Although the names are spelled differently in German and American versions, they are pronounced similarly. I never heard Aunt Vena called anything but Vena, so I think she generally went by her nickname.

Vena was the third girl (Dorothy, then Grandma, then Vena) and third child of Charles and Clara Mulder of Caledonia, Michigan, and she was born 20 October 1913, probably in Caledonia at the house. Although I have no birth records for any of the siblings, it’s likely that Dorothy was born in Hastings, and then Grandma and the rest were born in Caledonia, after great-grandpa bought the farm.

You can see that Vena was a very pretty girl.

Much of my information about Vena and her husband Al comes from Uncle Don and their middle daughter, mom’s cousin Elaine.

Vena attended Caledonia High School just as her older sisters had done. She was a year and a half younger than Grandma, so the question is, was she “on track” for her age for graduation or did she graduate early as Grandma did? Did she graduate in 1930, 1931, or 1932? The school records I’ve found only go through 1925.

Vena followed her older sister, Edna (Grandma), to what was then called Western State Teachers’ College (now Western Michigan University). I don’t know how Aunt Vena met Uncle Al (although I remember hearing the story years ago and thought it involved horses), but he also attended Western.

Al was born Alton William Stimson in Middleville, Michigan on 20 January 1911. Middleville is a little village near Grand Rapids, and Uncle Don says Al grew up on a farm, and this is corroborated by the 1930 census.

Uncle Don gave me some information about Vena and Al. He said that they were close in age to his parents (Grandma and Grandpa) and that the two families were close. Al actually lived with Grandpa for a time while Al and the two sisters were attending WMU. Al washed the dishes once a month or when they ran out of dishes. Grandpa liked to tell that story.

This is Uncle Al’s 1934 Western yearbook photo. Next to his name is his degree earned: an AB.

I don’t know if Aunt Vena boarded with someone while she went to college, as my grandmother did (with the Schensul family).

Al and Vena married 1 June 1935 in Caledonia by Edward August Waldeck, pastor of the Portland Baptist Church, Vena’s first cousin. I wrote about his bike accident (as a teen) quite some time ago. Here is a 1912 newspaper article about the accident: CLICK HERE

Al graduated from WMU as an Industrial Engineer. He might have first worked as a teacher and then for Atlas Press, before he was hired by the Upjohn Company. He was a a time and motion analyst—time-study. He stayed with Upjohn until he retired at the end of his career.

At the beginning of their marriage, Vena and Al lived on Balch Street in that same area where my grandfather and then my mother grew up. The address was 317 Balch Street, according to the 1940 census.

But then they built a new house on a beautiful lot on Kilgore at the border of Kalamazoo and Portage. Their house and yard were characterized by an excellent sense of design and a lot of hard work. Elaine said that their lovely yard was designed by a friend of theirs so that there were flowers blooming year round when weather permitted. They both liked to garden. Al also kept a small vegetable garden alongside the house. As a kid, I was so impressed by the flowers and the birds that Vena and Al attracted to the yard. The inside of their house was also beautiful with a living room that looked out upon that backyard and a fish tank that mesmerized me. At least three generations of family had many wonderful family gatherings at their home.

Vena left school to start their family, and beginning in 1937, they had three girls in this order: Joan(ne), Elaine, and MaryAnn. The three girls attended State High up at Western’s old campus which was a state training school for teachers and was reputed to be one of the top schools in the state.

Al registered for the WWII draft, but he was not called to service. I do not know if it was because of needing to support his children or because he was color blind.

When the girls were “well along” in school, according to Uncle Don, Aunt Vena went back to college and graduated with Honors in 1962, the same year their youngest daughter graduated high school. This reminds me of my mother who did the same thing. I hadn’t realized when my mother graduated a year ahead of me from college that her aunt had been a groundbreaker in the family.

The Portage Public School System hired Aunt Vena as a kindergarten teacher, which she remained (1st and 2nd a bit, as well) until she retired. I’m sure she was a favorite with the kids and their parents because she had a gentle and elegant manner.

Aunt Vena and Uncle Al were members of the First United Methodist Church in downtown Kalamazoo for over sixty years. This is the same church that my grandparents belonged to and where my mother is still a member. I remember Uncle Al was an usher and my grandfather worked in what I thought of as the “money office.”

Aunt Vena and Uncle Al enjoyed their retirement years golfing, bowling, being members of Club 75, and the Cloverleaf Square Dancing Clubs.

Al kept busy with many craft hobbies. He made Christmas presents of shop gadgets and jewelry that he had made. He made jewelry out of plastic, drilling the flowers into the plastic. He made pins, necklaces, cufflinks, and so on. Some pieces he colored in with nail polish.

When I was a little girl, Uncle Al taught me to say what sounded like oskeewawa every time I saw a white horse. I thought it was a Native American word. When I tried to look it up, I couldn’t find anything until I discovered the University of Illinois school song:

Oskee-Wow-Wow
Old Princeton yells her Tiger,
Wisconsin, her Varsity
And they give the same old Rah, Rah, Rah,
At each University,
But the yell that always thrills me
And fills my heart with joy,
Is the good old Oskee-Wow-Wow,
That they yell at Illinois.

Uncle Don has fond memories of going on many camping trips with the family. He felt a bit like Uncle Al’s substitute son for these adventures. After all, Uncle Al lived in a house with four women/girls ;).

In the next photo, it is Grandpa and Grandma’s 40th wedding anniversary, and they are standing with Vena and Al on my parents’ front porch. The image is blurry, but I like that the two couples are photographed together.

 

In the Christmas photo above, I see Uncle Al and Aunt Vena from the era I knew them best. In fact, we used to go first to Grandma and Grandpa’s house on Christmas Eve, and then to Vena and Al’s–at some point my parents’ house was added as one of the houses visited for the Progressive Dinner.

Uncle Al suffered from Parkinson’s and passed away on 11 January 1996 in Kalamazoo.

Aunt Vena moved into what was then the new, state of the art retirement community in Kalamazoo. She died on 9 June 2000, which is the same year that my grandparents died.

They are buried at Mount Ever-Rest Memorial Park South in Kalamazoo.

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There is a tintype in a beautiful family album that I scanned with the other photographs. Since then, I’ve passed by that unidentified photo many times. Something always struck me as familiar; in fact, the woman looked like one of my great-great grandmother Alice Paak DeKorn’s sisters–perhaps Carrie or Mary. Carrie had no children. Mary had two girls and a boy and this woman is standing with two girls.

But it wasn’t right and I knew it. One of Mary’s girls was born much too late to be in a tintype.

So I let it go.

Until I saw it again the other day and it all snapped into place for me.

I focused on the girl with the face in clear image, and I knew who she was. That led me to consider the woman and the other girl.

Bingo. I thought to myself, “We have a match.”

The girl on our left (the woman’s right) is Janna DeKorn, aka Aunt Jen who I knew until I was twelve years old. Aunt Jen was born in 1873. Her younger sister, my great-grandmother Cora, was born Jacoba Wilhelmina DeKorn in 1875.

Alice, Lou, and Jennie (DeKorn) Leeuwenhoek

That means that the woman is Alice Paak DeKorn, their mother. No wonder she looks like her sisters. Gee whiz. Why did I not recognize her? There are a couple of reasons. For one thing, the photos I have of her when she’s older tend to be snapshots, and she had the loveliest smile. In this studio portrait, she is non-smiling, probably because she had to hold still for at least six minutes for a tintype. That would explain why Cora’s face is blurry. She must have moved while the image was being captured.

The other reason Alice looked different to me is that she has darker, curled hair here. She does not have curled hair in other images, and most of the photos show her with light hair, which I  now realize was gray.

If we look back at the image on Kin Types of the tintype of her as a teen or young woman, we can see that her hair was brown and that this woman is, indeed, Alice Paak.

I thought you would enjoy the details of the clothing in the tintype of Alice and her daughters. The photo would have been taken most likely after 1881 when the youngest DeKorn, Joseph, was born. Jennie looks 10-12 here and Cora 8-10. That would place the year as between 1883 and 1885.

I had a thought about the “picket fence” as it seems an add-on since it doesn’t match the possible banister behind them. It looks as if it was used for subjects to “lean on” to help steady them for the long wait for the image to develop.

Here is another photo that was given to me by Professor Lawrence of Jennie DeKorn as a child. Although the photographer’s name is cut off here, I recognize that this photo was taken by John Reidsema who was a professional photographer in Kalamazoo from at least 1888. If this was 1888, Jennie would be 15 years old, which could be right. Notice that the photo I posted above of Jennie with her husband and child was also taken at Reidsema’s studio.

And this one is also from Professor Lawrence of Jennie and Cora.

So I have three good images of Jennie as a child, but only one of Cora because of the blurred face in the tintype. the tintype is especially precious because it shows Alice Paak DeKorn when she was a young mother, whereas our other shots of her are when she was younger and, mainly, much older.

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I have no idea at all if the Dutch in Michigan celebrated Pinkster 100 or more years ago. Pinkster (Pinksteren is Dutch for Pentecost) is a holiday connected with Pentecost and loosely related to May Day and spring festivals. It typically occurs in May or June. Here is a photo from the very limited Wikipedia article about Pinkster.


Notice how the children hold ribbons around a pole, much like what we tend to think of as a traditional Maypole.

The reason I started thinking about this is because I found this very damaged photo which I believe belonged to Alice Leeuwenhoek, born 1897 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her family, like all my grandfather’s family at that time, belonged to the Reformed church where all the Sunday School children were likely to be Dutch.

If you look carefully at this photo, you will see these children are all holding what looks to be a ribbon of some kind. At first I thought maybe a paper chain, but I don’t think it is. Also, notice the flowers. The children are dressed in their Sunday best and so is the woman standing behind them. This would not be a regular school day, then, but Sunday School or a holiday. I do see the American flag near the woman’s right shoulder which does seem to indicate a schoolroom. Would public school have celebrated a religious holiday if the student body was fairly homogeneous? Click on the photo to enlarge.

Look carefully at the girl third from our left. What is in front of her? Is that a doll on the ribbon? Or, is it what my daughter suspects, a ghost?

If you read more about Pinkster you will see that Africans in the United States took over the holiday and made it their own–and why. It has to do with being enslaved and that it was a holiday where they got “time off” work and could see family and friends.

Do you have other ideas about the photo or see something that I missed? I’d love to hear!

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I’ve written before that my great-grandfather Adrian Zuidweg, Sr. owned a candy and soda shop at the corner of Burdick and Balch in Kalamazoo.

At one time I believed that Grandpa (son Adrian) had taken over the business when his father died, but in researching for this blog I discovered that Adrian Sr. had sold the business before he died. Grandpa bought it back after his father’s death. Then he converted it to a service station.

Here is an advertising ashtray for the station. Notice the A-Z Lubrication (Adrian Zuidweg–AZ–get it?) The 5 digit phone number might put this ashtray between 1950 and 1958, but if anyone has information to the contrary I would love to hear it. If you want to find out more about advertising ashtrays as part of history and as collectibles, here’s a succinct article: Ashtrays collectible memorabilia

 

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My cousin Susie (actually my  mom’s cousin, but that’s being picky)  sent me some treasures the other day.

Here is one of my favorite people, my maternal Grandmother, in a color or tinted photo I’ve never seen before.

(Lucille) Edna Mulder
1929

Then there were some newspaper clippings. In the first one, Grandpa is in a photo I’ve shared on here before, but it’s attached to a little story in the “Looking Back” section of the Kalamazoo Gazette. The photo is of my grandfather, who shared the image and the story.

The next clipping is a mention of my grandparents’ 65th wedding anniversary in the same newspaper (not the same issue).

And, finally, this clipping is an announcement for the senior community where my grandparents lived during their last few years.

I often think of how much I miss these two.

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My family first arrived in Kalamazoo, Michigan, between 1860 and 1864, when the immigrant Boudewijn DeKorn(e) family moved from Zeeland, Michigan. Their residence was still Ottawa County in 1860, but the mother, Johanna Reminse DeKorn, was buried in Kalamazoo in 1864. This nails the time period unless, of course, Johanna was first buried near Zeeland and then her body later buried in Kalamazoo. I find that to be highly unlikely for many reasons.

In 1869, Alice Paak and her family (her father Teunis and her siblings) immigrated from the Netherlands to Kalamazoo.

In 1872, Richard DeKorn, the only son of Boudewijn and Johanna, married Alice Paak in Kalamazoo.

Richard DeKorn
picking strawberries
on Maple Street

In 1878-79, Richard was brick mason for the new and gorgeous building for the Ladies Library Association. In 1895 he would be lead brick mason on the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital Water Tower. According to his obituary he also was the contractor for the Pythian building and the Merchants Publishing Company building.

Richard built the brick house at the corner of Burdick and Balch Streets in Kalamazoo for his family in the early 1880s.

In the beautiful video I am posting here, Kalamazoo is “seen” during 1884, the year the village of Kalamazoo (the largest village in the entire country) became a city. My relatives are not mentioned in the video, but the Ladies Library Association and the “asylum” (where Richard would build the water tower 11 years later) are mentioned. To give you an idea where my family fits into the city at that time, using the terminology of the film, they had arrived in the United States from the Netherlands, but quickly could be classified as “middle class.” They were literate people as they could read and write. In some cases, they had trades, although I think they mainly learned their trades on the job as young men. Teunis became a successful farmer and land owner. Boudewijn’s son Richard became a successful building contractor and brick mason.

Kalamazoo was founded by mainly English settlers, beginning in 1829, but the Dutch began to immigrate to southwest and west Michigan in increasing numbers in the 40s and 50s and 60s. My ancestors were part of this group that ended up becoming a sizable chunk of the Kalamazoo population. If I have any quibbles with the video it is that other than mention of the first Reformed church in town, it is that there is no recognition of how the Dutch would help shape the City of Kalamazoo, but in all fairness it’s possible that the influence wasn’t yet felt in 1884.

(This film lasts about a half hour. If your interests are not with the city, I won’t be insulted if you decide to skip it; however, it gives a nice overview of the time period, as well). Either way, Happy Thanksgiving and please stay safe!

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Another set of ancestors of Richard DeKorn and my grandfather Adrian Zuidweg are my 4x great-grandparents, Joost Peek and his wife, Annigje van Besten.

I wrote a couple of blog posts about their son, Teunis, who was a pioneer of Kalamazoo, Michigan: 3x greats Teunis and Jacoba (Bassa) Peek, part I and 3x greats Teunis and Jacoba (Bassa) Peek, part II

As I explained previously, the name Paak used most often by my family in the United States was actually Peek in the Netherlands. It is possible they were going for a more phonetically correct spelling (by American English standards).

These are the life stories from Ancestry:

When Joost Peek was born on October 28, 1787, in Zijderveld, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands, his father, Cornelis, was 41 and his mother, Teuntje, was 34. He married Annigje den Besten on September 28, 1814, in Everdingen, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands. They had six children in 13 years. He died on November 29, 1832, in Everdingen, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands, at the age of 45.

Annigje den Besten was born in 1785 in Everdingen, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands, the daughter of Maaike and Jan. She married Joost Peek on September 28, 1814, in her hometown. They had six children in 13 years. She died on April 3, 1865, having lived a long life of 80 years.

One of those six children, Maaike, died in infanthood.

I have been blessed with most of the pertinent records on these two. I do still need a baptism record for Annigje and military record for Joost, but I have Joost’s baptismal record, as well as their marriage record and death records for both.

This is the front cover of the book that contains their marriage record.

 

 

 

And this is the marriage record:

Instead of posting Joost’s death record, I will post the transcription and translation that was done through a Facebook group by Carla Ratcliff. Where it says “I” it is Carla. We learn from this record that Joost was a builder by trade.

Transcription in Dutch : #19
In het jaar achttien honderd twee en dertig, den dertigsten der maand November, des voor middags ten tien ure, zijn voor ons Jan Hendrick Kny (ij)tt Burgemeister Ambtenaar van den Burgerlijken Stand der Gemeente van Overdengen gecompareered: Antonie van Ooijen oud vijfen en derig Jaren, van beroep Bouwman wonende te Everdingen en Andries van Meeuwen oud vie ren dertig Jaren van beroep Bouwman, wonende te Everdingen die ons verklaard hebben, dat op den negen en twintigste der maand November des jaars achttien honderd twee en dertig, des morgens ten drie ure, binnen deze Gemeente is overladen: J (I) oost Peek oud vijfen veertig Jaren Bouwman wonende te Everdingen den ag ten twintigste October zeventien honderd vijf en tagtig  geboren te zij (y)derveld?, echtgenoot van Annnigje den Besten zonder beroep aldaar woonachtig zoon van Cornelis Peek en van Taientje van Zenderen beide overleden. En hebben wij declaranten een geburen met ins deze acte na gedane voorlezin onderteekend.

[DeepL translations are done by a DeepL machine]

deepl translation : #19 ( I made corrections to deep l  translations!!)
In the year eighteen hundred and thirty-two, the thirtieth of November, at ten o’clock in the afternoon, Jan Hendrick Kny (ij)tt Burgemeister Civil Servant of the civil registration of the city of Overdengen( has been composed for us) gecompareered = APPEARED BEFORE ME: Antonie van Ooijen, (aged five and thirteen years) 35 years old, by profession ( Bouwman) BUILDER, living in Everdingen, and Andries van Meeuwen, aged thirty one years, by profession (Bouwman) BUILDER, living in Everdingen, who have declared to us that on the (ninth and twentieth) 29th day of November of the year eighteen hundred thirty-two, in the morning at three o’clock, (there were overloaded)ALSO IN THIS IN CITY: Joost Peek, aged forty-five years (Bouwman) BUILDER , residing in Everdingen, on the twentieth of October seventeen hundred and thirty-five, born in his (y)derveld?, husband of Annnigje den Besten, son of Cornelis Peek and of Tientje van Zenderen, both residing there without profession, both (showered) DEAD. And we have signed a letter to the declarants with in this act after the preceding sentence.

From this death record, we can see that even the witnesses to Joost’s death were all builders.

Annigje outlived Joost for over thirty years. She also died “elsewhere,” in Vianen. This death town caused me all kinds of frustration until I bothered to look up Everdingen where she was born, married, and lived. I discovered this in Wikipedia: “Everdingen is a former municipality in the Netherlands. Together with Zijderveld and Hagestein, it had been part of Vianen municipality since 1986.”  So all these little towns were very close. When Annigje was in her 60s she lived in Hagestein. Joost was from Zijderveld.

This city gate of Vianen is from the 15th century.

By User:China_Crisis – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2214906

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Like the great-greats in my last post, Jan and Geertruijd (Engelse) de Korne, Dirk Gillesz Remijnse and his wife, Adriana Krijger (Kriger), are ancestors of Richard DeKorn, the man who had a great influence on my grandfather. Richard was Grandpa’s grandfather, and he lived with his parents at the home of Richard. Richard’s given name was Dirk, so he was named after his grandfather, Dirk Gillesz Remijnse.

By the way, according to Family Search:

In Dutch the word for son is zoon; in Old Dutch, it is soen, zoen or soon, which can be abbreviated to sz, z, se, sen and x. Daughter in Dutch is dochter and in Old Dutch it is doghter which can be abbreviated to d, dr, s, se, sen, sens, and x.

Using this info, we can see that Dirk Gillesz means that his father’s name was Gillis or Gilles.

According to Dirk’s and Adriana’s life stories on Ancestry:

When Dirk Gillesz Remijnse was born on November 22, 1786, in Kruiningen, Zeeland, Netherlands, his father, Gillis, was 29 and his mother, Hendrika, was 23. He married Adriana Krijger on August 26, 1810, in Kapelle, Zeeland, Netherlands. They had ten children in 15 years. He died on September 9, 1840, in Kapelle, Zeeland, Netherlands, at the age of 53.

When Adriana Krijger was born on June 11, 1787, in Biggekerke, Zeeland, Netherlands, her father, Jan, was 53, and her mother, Janna, was 31. She married Dirk Gillesz Remijnse on August 26, 1810, in Kapelle, Zeeland, Netherlands. They had ten children in 15 years. She died on April 14, 1845, in Kapelle, Zeeland, Netherlands, at the age of 57.

I would add that of these ten children, nine lived to adulthood, whereas Pieter died at age 8. It is possible that there were other babies who passed away, but I have not yet searched for them. For the most part, these children are 1-2 years apart, though, so it’s likely that the family was blessed with good odds (for those days) and that the majority of their children survived.

I found a death record for both husband and wife.

Dirk’s record:

Index of Dirk’s death record:

Adriana’s death record:

Index of Adriana’s death record:

I have not found a marriage record for this couple, nor a baptismal record for Dirk. But I did finally find a baptismal record for Adriana and ordered it from Zeeuws Archief. It arrived in time for this post!

At the birth of their daughter, Johanna, my 3x great-grandmother (who died in Kalamazoo in 1864), Dirk’s occupation was listed as bread baker. Probably a good thing, since he had all those mouths to feed! But think of him getting up really early and getting the ovens going. A pretty hard job, although a good smelling one.

I must confess that the birth date for Dirk and the marriage date that I show come from online family trees on “genealogy online,” a Dutch site. I do not have documents verifying them. So let’s just use them as place holders for now. Of course, the birth years are fairly accurate because of the ages listed on the death records, but I still need those documents!

Adriana was born in Biggekerke. This is a “ground sailor,” which is a term for a windmill that can be operated from the ground. Brassers Molen is a flour mill that was built in 1712, so it had already been around for quite some time when Adriana was born in 1787.

Brassers Molen from Wikipedia

Dirk hailed from Kruinengen, and that town also has an old flour windmill, Oude Molen (literally, Old Mill). This one was built in 1801 when Dirk was 25 years old.

Oude Molen from Wikipedia

If you would like to understand the role of some windmills in controlling the water in below-sea-level Netherlands, read Eilene’s wonderful post: Milling Water to the Sea

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