I originally started this blog because of the wealth of photographs and glass negatives I had in my possession that once belonged to my grandfather’s uncle, Joseph Peter DeKorn. This post is a revision and update of the 2nd post on this blog.
“Uncle Joe” was born to Richard DeKorn, local building contractor and brick mason, and Alice Paak DeKorn June 30, 1981, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. When he lived in Kalamazoo, he was an enthusiastic photographer, capturing scenes and people in Kalamazoo in the very early 1900s. Most of the photographs by Joseph which I have were taken between 1903 and 1918. His draft registration for WWI is dated September 12, 1918. He graduated from Kalamazoo College and the University of Michigan Engineering School in 1909. Joe was a hydraulic engineer and worked for the City of Grand Rapids for over 30 years. He retired as Superintendent of the Grand Rapids Water and Light Company.
Here is a commendation letter from the City Manager upon his retirement.
Joe married Christina Blandford on December 9, 1919 in Kalamazoo. He was 38 and Christina was 35. She was born June 22, 1884 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Christina’s parents were Isaac Blandford and Lily Kemp, both born in Ontario, Canada. She graduated from Western Michigan Normal College (now Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo). She was a school teacher and taught at Walker Township School, District #1 (later known as Fairview School) and Godfrey School in Grand Rapids.
Aunt Tena, when Uncle Joe was still “Friend Joe” to her, wrote him this postcard in 1915:
Tena sent this postcard to Joe on August 3, 1915
Aunt Tena wrote from summer school in Lansing in her beautiful handwriting
Tena and Joe resided during their lifetime at 841 Cogswell Street, NW, Grand Rapids, Michigan, just three houses from the Blandford family homestead. The couple raised their two sons, Richard and Phillip in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Richard was born on January 29, 1920, and Philip Eugene was born on August 4, 1922. Joe worked as a hydraulic engineer or filter engineer for the City Water & Light Department, Grand Rapids. He passed away on March 24, 1962.
Joseph died March 24, 1967 in Grand Rapids and Tena died October 11, 1979 again in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Unfortunately, I don’t remember Uncle Joe as I was too young, but I remember Aunt Tena as an elderly widow. She was memorable for her intelligence, kindness, fine china teacups, and her elegant and decorative old-fashioned handwriting (see postcard above).
The header photo (above) of the Kalamazoo flood in 1904 and the photos of downtown Kalamazoo from this post are some samples of Uncle Joe’s photographs.
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