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Posts Tagged ‘Kent County history’

A deeply grateful thank you to Amy at Brotman Blog for this beautiful review of Kin Types.

Most of us who engage in family history research probably try in some way to put ourselves in the shoes of our ancestors. We try to imagine—what were they really like? How did they cope with the failures and successes, the heartbreak and the joys that colored their lives? We want to get beyond the […]

via Kin Types by Luanne Castle: A Review — Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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From being in touch with some Noffke cousins, I now have a lovely copy of one of the Noffke families.

 

My great-grandmother’s brother was Charles Noffke (who married Louisa Rutkowski). If you recall, this was the woman whose death was public and unexplained. I wrote about her death in How to Explain This Death.

They had a son, Herman (1871-1944). This is Herman with his wife Mary Morganer Finkbeiner (1881-1971). These are some of their children.

BACK ROW: Floyd is on the left. He was 1906-1959. On the right was George, born 1901 (died 1990). He was the oldest child.

MIDDLE ROW: Wilbur is the boy in the middle with glasses (1903-1986).

Alfred is the handsome young man on the right (1905-1963).

Roy is the boy on the left (1911-1991).

Carl, as I mentioned, is the little boy (1917-1970).

It has been wonderful to meet Waldeck and Noffke cousins, but they are all wondering the same thing I have been: where in Europe did these people come from? To be clear: both lines apparently came from the same place in Europe. On one death certificate, I do have a town name. But I can’t find this town any place, and I have asked in genealogy Facebook groups to no avail.

Any ideas on this location of origin?

But I guess I have made strides. After all, we used to think the family name was Neffka . . . .

 

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My 3rd great uncle, Charles Noffke, married Louisa Rutkofski. This event must have occurred back in the “old country.” Just where the old country was has not yet been determined. All I know is that the Noffkes (and the Waldecks) were some sort of “German.” They might have been from Pomerania, but maybe not. The Waldecks-Noffkes had regular family reunions for years, decades actually, and yet their origins are more murky than my other branches. It would make sense if these people came from an area that is now Poland because I do have Polish DNA, but also it might fit Louisa’s maiden name (which can be German or Polish, according to trusty Google).

Anyway, I am writing about the disturbing story of Louisa’s death. Charles, who was born in 1843, passed away on 26 May 1897 in Caledonia, Michigan, where the family had settled. Louisa, born 24 April 1845, never married again and passed away on 6 July 1920. So she lived alone, presumably, for many of those 23 years. The couple had two children, a son Herman, born 1871 and a daughter, Clara, born 1875. Herman was married in 1900 and Clara may have married soon after.

I had never heard of Louisa until I began to do family history research, particularly on Ancestry.com. That’s when the Noffkes began to populate my family tree. She threatened to remain an enigma because I had little information and, after all, she is not such a very close relative.

But when I plugged the name Noffke into the newspaper database on Genealogy Bank, I was startled to learn the circumstances of Louisa’s death.

 

Clothing torn from her body? Some articles of clothing missing? Trampled weeds along the lakeshore? Scratches and bruises on the body?

DEATH FROM INDIGESTION?

It sure sounds as if she was murdered.

Clearly this shows that an investigation was opened into her death.

THEN SILENCE. Nothing else appears in the newspaper except information about probate of her estate.

What do you think happened to her?

For a link to a beautiful image of the lake go here.

***

Adding Louisa’s death certificate, thanks to Su Leslie’s comment. Notice that the cause of death is even stranger: that she died by drowning in the lake while ill with acute indigestion. HUH? And notice that there is no DOB, although they seem to know her age in days. There are no parents listed, although her only son gave the information. I can’t tell who signed the certificate because of the spot on the paper.

One more thing. Her daughter Clara died eight years later, at age 53, in bed–dead from the gas from a coal stove.

 

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In my post, Mulders Everywhere, I wrote about finding Merry, my 2nd cousin, 1x removed. I mentioned that Merry is the granddaughter of my great-grandfather Charles Mulder’s younger brother, Henry (born Hendrik). We are all descended from Pieter Philippus and Neeltje (Peter and Nellie) Mulder who arrived in Grand Rapids with two babies.

Great-grandpa was the oldest child. Henry was in the middle of the family, born April 19, 1897, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was a stonecutter who engraved monuments.

Henry married Hettie Mae Simpson. I think Hettie was known as Mae. Merry, please let me know where I’m wrong and what I should add!! By the way, do you know his middle name? Did it begin with a J?

Here are photos of Henry and Mae from Merry.

 

More photos of Henry and Mae:

 

A very cute couple!

Henry and Mae had four lovely children: Eloise/Fern, James, Mary Ellen, and Judith. All four children were born in the 1920s.

Henry and Mae: each with their four children

 Henry passed away from tuberculosis in a sanitarium on May 27, 1947. According to Merry:

He is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Grand Rapids. I was 2 years old when he died so I do not remember him at all. I do know that my mom took me to the sanitariium so he could see me but she had to stand across the room at a distance for this. A few years ago I had my mom write about both of her parents and this is what she said. “My dad, Henry, was a very gifted man. He had a beautiful singing voice, played the violin and could draw beautifully. Dad only got to see 2 or 3 of his grandchildren as he spent the last 4 years in a hospital with TB. He loved children. Dad was a good father. He wanted the best for his children. Dad died at the age of 50, too young.”

My great-grandfather also had TB and sometimes had to spend time at a sanitarium. I remember visiting him there.

It means a lot to me that Merry and I have found each other because my great-grandfather was very overtaken with grief when Henry passed away far too early. They must have been quite close.

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Right now I am corresponding with several new people from the Noffke branch of the family, as well as from my dad’s family. The Noffkes are connected with the Waldecks and Kuschs and possibly immigrated from East Prussia. I’ve also got a really busy two months ahead of me, so I can’t share all the information or move very quickly on any of the leads I have.

I’ve met another roadblock, though, in learning the name of the town these people actually came from. I tried to get the death certificates of all the Waldeck kids. By kids I mean my great-grandmother and her siblings. I found Godfrey’s. He is the only one I actually knew. His certificate says he was born in Germany. No help there.

I really wanted to find Fred’s because he is the one who was catastrophically injured in a streetcar and wagon accident and had to live out his life at the State Hospital in Kalamazoo. At first, I thought his certificate was lost, but then I found it under the name Walback, rather than Waldeck. Sadly, it gives the time he lived at the psychiatric hospital. 53 years, 11 months, 1 day. They don’t even know his last name, but they knew how long he was there to a day. Since he died on January 22, 1953. That would mean that he was injured before February 21, 1899. Imagine living in that institution for almost 54 years!

Of course, Fred’s death certificate also says he was born in Germany. No other origin info. For “citizen of what country?” they typed in “Unknown.”

 

On the 1900 census, his wife Caroline was found living with a farm couple out in the country, working as their servant. Their son Edward (the boy who was hit by the car when he was a young teen) would have been a toddler and probably was living in Grand Rapids with his maternal grandmother while his mother sent money to them. What a tragedy for that young family.

Several Waldeck siblings died while still in Europe, apparently as babies or children. But that leaves my great-grandmother Clara, her sisters Ada and Annie, and brother August. I haven’t been able to find any of their death certificates yet! A lot of the databases only go until 1952 in Kent County, and Clara died in 1953, the same year as Fred. August died during WWI, but I can find no information about him. If I can find these death certificates, maybe, just maybe, somebody will have something more definitive on there for origin than “Germany.”

Apparently, the State Hospital (Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital) had several buildings on their campus. Maybe Fred lived in this building, called Edwards, which housed male residents. This photo belongs to the Kalamazoo Public Library and can be found with others on their site. Click through the photo to enter.

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In the midst of researching the Waldecks, I’ve been in contact with Elly, as you know, and Merry, who I haven’t told you about yet, from the Mulder branch of the family.

Elly found me through this blog, as I’ve mentioned. I found Merry through a DNA match. We both had our results stored at 23andme, and there it was, a fairly close match of 2nd-3rd cousin. When a match is that close, if both individuals have an idea of their family trees, you can usually find a match. It didn’t take us long at all.

Merry’s grandfather Henry (Heinrich Mulder) and my great-grandfather Charles were brothers! We are both descended from Pieter Philippus and Neeltje (Peter and Nellie) Mulder who arrived in Grand Rapids with two babies. One was Charles and the other was a baby named Jan who passed away shortly after the young couple arrived in the U.S. Henry was born in this country.

Peter and Nellie traveled on the ship Zaandam, which arrived in New York on August 29, 1887. They were able to immigrate because Peter had received a bequest when his grandmother Rosalie Melanie Bataille passed away.

I promise to get back to Elly’s findings in a later post. Today I want to share with you the photos of Peter and Nellie that Merry shared with me. And by putting them in the blog to share them with Elly and others as well!

 

In this formal portrait, how old do you think they are? Note that Nellie was 63 when she died. Mom says that Peter was a very small man, so it seems that Nellie herself must have been very short. I recently read an article trying to answer the question of how the Dutch became the tallest people in the world. My own relatives were sometimes, but not always, on the short side, so I was curious. What I learned is that in the past 150 years the heighth of Dutch people has dramatically increased. Until this growth spurt they were the shortest in Europe!

As to why the Dutch grew, the article makes a case for eating a lot of dairy (among other causes). My husband says he thinks it also has to do with the Netherlands claiming more land from the sea and being able to eat meat instead of relying on fish for a large portion of their diet. I’m sure there are many ideas on this subject!

In the next photo, Nellie’s dress is very long.  While Peter (born 1865) was 3 years older than Nellie (born 1868), she passed away in 1932 and Peter lived until 1953, two years before I was born. After his wife’s death, Peter traveled around to his children’s homes, living with one then another. I wonder whose cooking he liked best (I hope it was my great-grandmother Clara who died the same year as Peter)!

 

Merry says that this photo of Nellie taken in a porch rocker should be dated somewhere between 1925 and 1929. Since it’s the same dress as above, I’ll assume these photos were taken around the same time.

Here is a formal portrait of Peter:

 

In this photo he looks like he could be related to Colonel Potter (MASH), in my opinion. Or the shopkeeper on Green Acres (Frank Cady as Mr. Drucker).

More to come about the Mulders, both those in Netherlands and those in Michigan!

 

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As you know, I get sidetracked by a lot of subjects. In 2016, I would like to focus on 3 family branches. No telling how many tangents I’ll go off on though. I’ve met some wonderful distant relatives and other new friends through the blog and my genealogical research, and I would like to incorporate some of the information I’ve gotten as well as sharing some of my research.

Today I’d like to mention the Mulders. I’ve written of them before, and you can find the other posts from the “Individuals and Topics” section on the right: Mulders link. This is my maternal grandmother’s father’s family from Caledonia, Michigan; Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.

One Mulder I’ve (virtually) met is Elly, who lives in the Netherlands. She is descended from the same Karel Mulder, the jailor’s hand, that both my maternal grandparents were.  As she puts it, she is a descendant of Karel Mulder (1837-1881), the eldest son of Karel Mulder and Rosalie (Rose Melanie) Bataille.

Elly found a death announcement for Rose Melanie in the old local newspaper, de Goessche Courant.  It says that she died in the house of her son, Andries Mulder. Rose Melanie was a rather wealthy widow when she died. She had several houses and pieces of land in her possession.There is a statement of inheritance tax.
Let’s take a look at my genealogy results for this family from Yvette Hoitink.

Karel Mulder was born on 3 December 1812 at C 85 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.20 On 5 May 1836 he was a
shoemaker in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.21 8 On 21 February 1837 he was a shoemaker in Goes, Zeeland, the
Netherlands.8 Karel died on 3 January 1870 at the age of 57 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.22 He owned 3/8 of a house
and yard in the “Papegaaistraatje [Parrot Street]” district C nr. 97 on 3 January 1870 at section D nr. 278 in Goes, Zeeland,
the Netherlands.5 Rose Melanie Bataille and Karel Mulder were married on 5 May 1836 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.21
Rose Melanie Bataille was born about 1810 in Etaples, France.21 On 5 May 1836 she was a servant in Goes, Zeeland, the
Netherlands.21 She lived in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands on 22 April 1881.11 Rose died on 10 July 1887 at the age of 77 in
Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.23

Karel Mulder and Rose Melanie Bataille had the following children:
8 i. Karel Mulder, born 21 February 1837, Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands; died 22 April 1881, Goes,
Zeeland, the Netherlands. NOTE THAT KAREL IS ELLY’S ANCESTOR. HE IS ALSO MY ANCESTOR.
ii. Pieter Philip Mulder was born on 29 August 1838 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.24
iii. Kornelis Mulder was born on 4 September 1840 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.25 He died on 3 June
1887 at the age of 46 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.26 On 3 June 1887 he was a shoemaker in Goes,
Zeeland, the Netherlands.26
iv. Melanie Mulder was born on 21 January 1842 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.27 She died on 23 June
1884 at the age of 42 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.28
v. Johannes Mulder was born on 12 November 1843 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.29 He died on 7
January 1849 at the age of 5 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.30
vi. Andries Mulder was born on 23 January 1846 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.31 THE SON WHO ROSE MELANIE LIVED WITH WHEN SHE DIED AT AGE 77.
vii. Jan Mulder was born on 9 December 1848 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.32 On 22 April 1881 he was
a shopkeeper in paint and colonial goods in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.5
viii. Johannes Mulder was born on 10 February 1851 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.33 He died on 26
June 1876 at the age of 25 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.34 On 26 June 1876 he was a shoemaker in
Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.34
ix. Jacobus Mulder was born on 13 May 1856 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.35 He died on 17 June 1874
at the age of 18 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.36 On 17 June 1874 he was a shopkeeper’s assistant in
Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.36

NOTE that Elly discovered that Rose Melanie was quite wealthy when she passed away. See above that when she was married she was a servant. It appears that Karel was a shopkeeper and must have done well for his family.

When Rose Melanie died, her son Karel (born 1837) had already been dead for 6 years and his youngest children, thanks to the 2nd wife ;), had been sent to an orphanage. You can read that sad tale here. With the bequest that Karel’s son Pieter received from his grandmother’s death, he took his wife and two babies (including my great-grandfather) to the United States.

So, Elly, if you’re reading, which child of Karel (born 1837) are you descended from? See below. Perhaps Karel or Izaak?

i. Karel Pierre Philippe Mulder was born on 8 May 1862 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.13
ii. Izaak Mulder was born on 20 July 1863 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.14
iii. Rose Melanie Mulder was born on 12 August 1864 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.15 She died on 1
December 1864 at the age of 0 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.16 DIED AS AN INFANT
iv. Pieter Philippus Mulder, born 10 October 1865, Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands. My 2great grandfather.
v. Adrianus Cornelis Mulder was born on 7 October 1866 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.17 He lived at
the city orphanage in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands on 2 August 1881. He died on 15 March 1891 at
the age of 24 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.18 On 15 March 1891 Adrianus was a shopkeeper’s
assistant in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.10 DIED AT AGE 24
vi. stillborn child Mulder was born on 5 October 1867 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.19 He died on 5
October 1867 at the age of 0 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.19 STILLBORN
10.

The best news so far from Elly, besides meeting her, is that she sent me photos of the family Bible!

The family history was written in this Bible, according to tradition. It was begun by Karel Mulder who was born in 1812. He started it in 1867, three years before he died.
I hope that Elly and I can continue to share information about the Mulder family!

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