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Posts Tagged ‘Kalamazoo’

Almost two years ago, I posted photos of my grandfather as a very young man with an unidentified female. I hypothesized that she was his girlfriend before my grandmother.

Here they are together–looks like a couple to me.

I was going through some papers and found memory books my grandparents had prepared (one of his memories and one of hers) for the grandchildren. Inside Grandpa’s memory book, the question is asked: WHO IS THE GIRL YOU REMEMBER THE MOST?

This was his answer: (2) Vander Weele and Garthe: Don’t remember first names

So I did a little research on these names. I figured out who I believe at least one of the girls is, based on the census reports and other documents.

Garthe turned out to be Margaret Christine Garthe, born 11 days after my grandfather in 1908. She wasn’t from Kalamazoo, but from northern Michigan. She had come to Kalamazoo to attend Western. I found her in the 1928 Western State Teacher’s College yearbook.

Tell me if this isn’t the girl my grandfather is seen with above. Back row, 3rd from left.

 

From Ancestry it looks as if Margaret married Hans James Knutson. She passed away in 1997 in Muskegon, Michigan. Grandpa lived until 2000, happily married to the end to Grandma.

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I was doing a little research for a post I want to write about my grandfather when I discovered this link to a historical photography project in Kalamazoo.

Students are taking old photos from the Kalamazoo Public Library collection and photographing the same scene from the same angle. Very interesting. It’s still a work in progress, and I can’t wait to see more.

Check it out here: KALAMAZOO THEN & NOW

Although I am so disappointed that Western Michigan University’s old campus was allowed to be destroyed for the most part, I do think Kalamazoo has a strong voice for history–in part because of the university and an active library and in part because so many people love Kalamazoo.

How about your community? How does it take care of its history?

downtown Kalamazoo, photo by Joseph DeKorn

 

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In “honor” of the weather some of the United States has been having this week, I am posting photographs from the Burdick and Balch neighborhood in Kalamazoo during the blizzard of 1978.The yellow house was my grandparents’ house at the corner of Burdick and Emerson.The white building was my grandfather’s Sunoco station.The other houses are from the neighborhood. As befitting a 1970s camera and film, the color is poor–yellowy and faded.

I’ve posted the house and gas station in the past. Here is the house from 1947:

Grandma and Grandpa’s house on Burdick Street

You can find the station at Down at the Station.

Meanwhile, Phoenix was about 90 degrees yesterday :).

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I remember my grandfather wearing his Sunoco “uniform” and his Sunday sportcoat, but I never thought of him as at the height of fashion. At least not in his attire.

But take a look at him as a 22 year old in 1930!

At first I saw his sport coat, sweater, shirt, fancy belt, and plaid pants as a spiffy outfit, but didn’t stop to think: why is he wearing bloomers? haha

Well, he’s wearing knickers (no, I don’t mean those kind of knickers), which are short for knickerbockers. Copied from this website:

Knickerbockers, later shortened to knickers, were popular sports wear for wealthy gentleman. Knickers were baggy pants that fit low on the natural waist and tight below the knee, ballooning out around the thighs. For upper class gentlemen wearing white or light striped knickers in summer with a matching Norfolk jacket was the look of the teens and early 1920’s.

Grandpa is not wearing a Norfolk jacket, but one that does look a little preppy over that sweater and shirt collar.

 

Plaid Plus Fours

Variations of knickers included plus-fours, plus- sixes, plus-eights and plus-tens. The plus is how many inches below the knee they hung. Plus fours came in tweeds, linen, corduroy, and flannel. Many were solid colors but to be really trendy men wore stripes, checks, and plaid patterns.  They were already on trend when the prince of wales went on tour in American wearing plus fours. His approval meant any man NOT wearing plus fours was out of  fashion.

Notice that “to be really trendy men wore stripes, checks, and plaid patterns.” That’s Grandpa–“really trendy”!

Knickers were worn for more than just sports and casual entertainment. They were common among both fashion forward industries such as the movies, but also among working classes who found the sturdier material knickers quite useful on the farm, for making deliveries, and for some factory work. The short legs and light weight clothes made them cool to wear in summer.

Not sure what beach this photo was taken at, but his outfit is sporty for the time period, as befitting a walk on the beach. By today’s standards, he’s a little over-dressed!

 

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Alice Leeuwenhoek received a postcard wishing her a Joyous Thanksgiving (and a Cordial one) in 1911.

The card was postmarked November 29 because the holiday fell on November 30 in 1911. If this seems late, Thanksgiving didn’t fall on the fourth Thursday of the month until 1941 when FDR changed it.

This card was sent by Alice’s cousin’s Elizabeth. Who in the world was her cousin Elizabeth?

Alice’s mother, Jennie DeKorn, had 2 siblings: her sister Cora had only my grandfather who was 3 in 1911. Her brother wasn’t even married yet and his children weren’t born until the 20s. So what about the Leeuwenhoeks? The only one I know that came to this country (and would have written in English and MAILED A CARD FROM KALAMAZOO) was Gerrit who died single at the age of 21 in the Spanish-American War.

Elizabeth appears to be young–by her handwriting, her slang (kinda), and the general sloppiness of the writing.

Since Alice lived in Kalamazoo and the card was postmarked Kalamazoo, it is also curious why Elizabeth said she wished Alice would “come down sometime.” It’s possible that she just lived on the other side of town since that can seem an enormous distance to children who can’t travel that far by themselves. Alice was 14 in 1911.

Could Elizabeth be a friend?

More mysteries.

What is not a mystery is that I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving.

 

 

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In the 1970s, Grandpa identified some of the old photographs as members of the Ebelink family–from Kalamazoo, of course. He didn’t mention just who they were, but I wrote down the names on the back of the photos. I’ve labelled the photos as my grandfather told them to me and corrected them if I found an error.

Anna Ebelink Fisher Fletcher 1891

Ann Ebelink Myers

John Ebelink: 1891

The father (Benjamin Ebelink) and stepmother (Van de Giessen) of John Ebelink

So who were these people? According to the 1880 census, Benjamin and Wilhelmina, both born in Holland (the Netherlands), had three children: Frederich (age 6), John (age 5), and Joanna (age 2).  Since there is no existing 1890 census for Michigan, I had to skip ahead to 1900, where I found John married for four years to Jennie, with one child, Wilhelmina, age 3. A quick search for the death of John’s father Benjamin and I find the year 1916 in Ottawa, Michigan. He was a widower, so he must have already buried at least two wives.

But who were Anna and Ann? I can see Joanna being one of them. Are these two different sisters? And were they really married to Fisher and Myers?

It appears Anna married a Fletcher, not a Fisher. Could have been Grandpa’s memory–or my hearing.

Name: Anna Ebelink
Gender: Female
Race: White
Birth Year: abt 1878
Birth Place: Kalamazoo, Michigan
Marriage Date: 12 Jul 1900
Marriage Place: Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA
Age: 22
Residence Place: Kalamazoo, Michigan
Father: Barend Ebelink
Mother: Wilhelmina Stroup
Spouse: Claude H Fletcher
Record Number: 5305
Film: 68
Film Description: 1900 Delta – 1900 Mackinac

Benjamin was also Barend, a Dutch male given name, and it looks like John and Anna’s mother’s maiden name was Stroup. A bit curious about Anna’s photo is she appears to be in mourning, doesn’t she? I wonder when their mother died.

I can’t find Ann Ebelink Myers. Was she Anna or a different child?

I didn’t want to go too far down this tangent without knowing how these people are connected to my family. I found it by looking at the 1940 census. John and his family lived on Balch Street, right near my family. I would think that my mother and uncle must have known the family.

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In the beautiful scrapbook that belonged to one of the Culver sisters, I discovered a postcard of Western State Normal School (Western Michigan University now) in Kalamazoo. I’ve never seen this view of the campus before. More of my relatives (and moi) have attended Western than any other school. I need to start a list of all the ancestors and relatives who are Western alumni.

I’m not sure of the year the postcard was published because the  back of the postcard indicates it cost 1 cent. Postcards cost that amount over a very large period of time. All it means is that it was not printed during WWI when the price went up to 2 cents. After the war, they went back down to 1 cent.

Because my business school classes were on what eventually became known as “East Campus” (the original site of the school), I remember the long walk up the hill, but it sure didn’t look like this. Neither did the buildings.

I searched online and found a postcard from 1910. If you click through the postcard you will go to site where I found it. It belongs to WMU.

Why do the red brick buildings look white in my postcard? Notice the tennis courts seen from this view. Now I can see that Oakland Drive is not down there. So maybe this is on the other side of Oakland? Apparently not. (Confusing!)

Here is a 1925 map of the campus, and on here it is easy to see where Oakland Drive is. If you want verification click through and go to the WMU website. When you put your mouse over the street it will show up as Oakland Drive.

aerial1925

Why is the same bus or trolley at the bottom of the drive in both photos?

Well, what do you know? That little trolley has its own Wikipedia page!

From Wikipedia:

The Western State Normal Railroad, also known as the Normal Railroad or Western Trolley, was a funicular [a cliff railway] which operated on the campus of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in the United States from 1908–1949. It is the only known example of a private railroad operated by a university.

In the early 1900s the primary campus of Western Michigan University, then known as Western State Normal School, was located on Prospect Hill (this area is now known as East Campus). To reach the buildings students and faculty faced a forbidding 150 step-climb, often in inclement weather. In an effort to address this problem, the school constructed a funicular along the northeast corner of the hill. The base of the line was at Davis Street, while the summit lay between East Hall and North Hall. There were two tracks, each with a cable-hauled car.

At its peak the railroad carried 2,280 passengers daily, but rising maintenance costs combined with the growing popularity of the automobile hastened its demise, and it carried its last passenger in 1949.In 2002 four senior engineering majors at WMU embarked on a project to build a replica of one of the trolleys. This proved no easy task: following the closure of the railroad in 1949, no effort was made to preserve the cars. The only physical remnant was a bench saved by a faculty member; while there were sketches and photographs for reference, no actual blueprints had survived. Commenting on the situation a WMU official remarked that “back then was a period in history so intent on the future, that everyone started forgetting about the past.”

Despite these challenges, the students successfully completed their project, which was unveiled April 8, 2003, and currently occupies a prominent place in front of the Bernhard Center on Western’s primary campus. Local residents and Western alumni who had ridden the trolley testified to the authenticity of the restoration.

Because I often get sidetracked in too many directions and because my time has been so limited, I need to make a list of all the projects to tackle in the future. Figuring out “who all” has gone to Western needs to top the list!

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Originally I thought all the Culver photos were from after they moved to Seattle from Kalamazoo. Then it was discovered that some of the photos were from Kalamazoo. This postcard was in a stack with travel postcards and photos within the scrapbook.

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