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Posts Tagged ‘Kalamazoo’

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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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.Joseph Peter DeKorn

“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.

gr-press-sat-6-30-51-joe-dekorn-retiring-city-waterworks-chief-001-1

Here is a commendation letter from the City Manager upon his retirement.

joe-dekorn-commendation-city-mgr-retirement-001-2

Personal life

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

Tena sent this postcard to Joe on August 3, 1915

Aunt Tena wrote from summer school in Lansing in her beautiful handwriting

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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Maureen Taylor, photo detective, helped me with a couple of photos a few years ago. The other day I bought her book, Family Photo Detective.

The book gives a good overview of many topics associated with identifying old family photographs. I haven’t read it all yet, but I did read certain sections because of various questions I already have in my mind.

In my post Mysterious Antique Photographs I posted a painted metal photograph which is unidentified. I believe it is from the Remine family. Although it can seem that the Remines are very distantly related, in fact, Richard DeKorn’s mother was a Remine:

 

 

Johanna Remijinse

1817–1864

BIRTH 15 JUL 1817 Kapelle, Zeeland, Netherlands

DEATH 1864 Kalamazoo City, Kalamazoo, Michigan

* my 3rd great-grandmother *

The consensus seems to be that the photo below (of an unidentified Remine female) is a tintype.

 

However, according to Taylor, a painted photo like this would be a daguerreotype which is painted on its metal surface with colored powders which are brushed or gently blown.

One of the characteristics of a daguerreotype over a tintype is that the image needs to be viewed from an angle. Another important characteristic is a mirror-like surface. I had to pull out the original to examine it for these traits.

It’s impossible to tell if the image needs to be viewed from an angle because the image is so thoroughly painted. But the background is not mirror-like, but rather a matte dark gray with a slight texture.

I went to the internet about this mystery and discovered a site that showcases some hand-painted tintypes. Unfortunately, after 45 years, The Ames Gallery in Berkeley is closing this year. I wonder what will happen to their photographs. Click the name of the gallery to see the painted tintypes.

I think we were right that this is a tintype that has been painted. In fact, the painting is so well done that her face is very realistic. Years ago, I used to work with gold leaf, embossing leather and vinyl products, and I suspect that the jewelry has been painted with gold-leaf.

It’s frustrating that I have not had the time to work on the photos and genealogy for many months (for the most part), but I like to keep moving along, getting one little thing after another accomplished so I don’t lose my touch haha.

Without a doubt, this is the most beautiful photograph in the whole collection.

 

 

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Aunt Jen and Uncle Lou’s (Jennie DeKorn Leeuwenhoek and Lambertus Leeuwenhoek) only child, Alice, married Clarence Moerdyk (Dutch spelling Moerdijk).

 

Clarence Dewey Moerdyk

1898–1985

BIRTH 24 MAY 1898 Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo Co., MI

DEATH 18 DEC 1985 Winter Park, FL

Clarence’s parents were Peter (Pieter) and Cora. His father immigrated from Biervliet, Zeeland, the Netherlands, when he was 2 years old, in 1867.

I once posted a photo of Clarence as a kid, but at the time I wasn’t sure who he was. Blog readers helped me discover that this is Clarence who lived at 120 W. Ransom in Kalamazoo. That address is directly north of Arcadia Creek, five blocks north of East Michigan Avenue. Would you say he is in his mid-teens?

Alice and Clarence were married in Kalamazoo on 12 September 1923 by The Reverend Benjamin Laman of Bethany Reformed Church.

Here is information about the church at that time from their website:

 

On June 5, 1905, in a tiny chapel near Burdick and Maple, the mission Sunday School that was to become Bethany held its first service. . . .

Growth under the leadership of these men was so great that less than two years later it was apparent that a larger building was needed. In 1907, a new church was built on the site of the original chapel. At this time the church had grown to include fifty-two families and seventy-seven communicant members. By the time that Reverend Kooiker left the church in 1910, Bethany had grown to sixty-nine families and one hundred eighteen communicant members.


Here is Clarence as I knew him in the early 60s:

 

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Two posts ago, in What I Discovered in the Box of Unscanned Remine Photos, I posted a photo of two girls circa 1870s or 1880s. One reader wondered if one of the girls could be deceased. She saw the wooden stand behind the girl. While I didn’t think this particular girl was deceased, and photographers mainly used stands behind people to help them hold still for the 15-20 minutes required to take the photo, it is true that photos of the dead, called Memento Mori, were quite common.

In fact, I have a Pinterest board devoted to the subject.

Of all the antique photos that I have in my collection, I don’t think I have any memento mori. Apparently, the style did not catch on with my relatives. By the beginning of the 20th century, most of the Victorian form of photographing the dead had (sorry) died out.

However, there is one photo that sometimes I wonder about . . . .

This particular photo might, in fact, be too late. The photographer was in business from at least 1899-1915. I found researched information on the site Bushwacking Genealogy.

Dornbush, Henry G.: Lived 1878-1962. In business at least 1899-1915. Not a photographer in 1920 census.
1899-1915:  120 E. Main

But maybe he was in business a bit before 1899. Or maybe this photo is from 1899 or 1900 and was on the tail end of the fashion.

Why do I wonder about this photograph? Notice the rose the man is wearing. It is upside down. In the 19th century, flowers were a language between people. This photograph has the general feeling of a wedding portrait because of the flowers, but because his flower is upside down, it likely means he is in mourning.

Notice how her body leans into and behind him, but is stiff in appearance. Her gaze is directed off somewhere, while he looks into the camera.

I would like to identify this couple. It’s very possible they are on my family tree. Just in case she is deceased here, any ideas for how to compile a search on Ancestry of death dates? After all, I have a couple thousand people to sort through.

What do you think? Is this photograph memento mori or can all the clues be explained away?

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