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Posts Tagged ‘Michigan history’

My maternal grandmother’s family wasn’t from Kalamazoo, but from Caledonia, Michigan, which is in Kent (not Kalamazoo) County. Both counties are in SW Michigan, but I wouldn’t want to walk between these places! I’ve written before about the high school graduation of my grandmother, (Lucille) Edna Mulder, and her sister, Dorothy. You can find the posts here:

April 17 Always Reminds Me of Grandma

In the new album of photographs my mother gave me, there is a black and white version of this tinted graduation photo of the sisters.

And for the first time I am seeing high school graduation photos of their siblings!

To give a context, here is a little family tree information. Charles and Clara (Waldeck) Mulder had five children. Dorothea Rosa was born on 7 December 1910, the grandma was born 17 April 1912. These sisters graduated together in 1929.

On 20 October 1913, daughter Alvena was born.

My memories of Aunt Vena are of a retired school teacher and a gracious hostess who had a beautiful home with a fish tank inside and bird feeders outside.

Peter Godfrey Mulder was the first boy, born 2 November 1915. He and Aunt Ruby lived in a farmhouse in Martin when I knew them. I will always associate him with the big tree in the backyard and his (remnants of) curly hair. I saw him as a ginger. My mother says his hair was reddish, but she didn’t think of him as a redhead. Like most of the family he had very fair skin. He was named after his paternal grandfather (Peter) and his maternal grandfather (Godfrey). In my memories of him, he is always smiling.

The “baby” was born on 30 July 1917: Charles Peter Mulder, named after his father and his paternal grandfather.

Uncle Chuck had the same sweet smile as Grandma. He joined the U.S. Army right after Pearl Harbor.

I wish the Caledonia school yearbooks were available through Ancestry as so many are now, but alas, there is only a school record through 1925. I am so lucky to have Grandma’s scrapbook from her and Aunt Dorothy’s graduation.

Then I found another photo of an 8th grade graduation.

You see the girl in the second row, third from the left? That’s Grandma! And her sister, Dorothy, is seated in the front row, second from the right. Seated to Dorothy’s left (our right) is probably Blanche, Grandma’s best friend who became valedictorian when they graduated high school. Dorothy was salutatorian and Grandma was class historian.

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This is the sixth and final week that the beautiful creative nonfiction journal Broad Street magazine has published one of the pieces from my chapbook Kin Types along with documents and photographs that helped me piece together these old family stories.

The subject of the poem “Someone Else’s Story” is Caroline Meier Waldeck, the wife of my grandmother’s Uncle Fred, a German immigrant who, as a young husband and father, was hit by a streetcar and suffered severe brain damage from the accident.

You can read it here: Family Laundry: “Someone Else’s Story” by Luanne Castle

 

The first feature article is “Family Laundry: “An Account of a Poor Oil Stove Bought off Dutch Pete,” by Luanne Castle

The second feature article is Family Laundry 2: “What Came Between A Woman and Her Duties” by Luanne Castle

The third feature article is: Family Laundry: “More Burials” by Luanne Castle

The fourth is: Family Laundry: “The Weight of Smoke” by Luanne Castle

The fifth is: Family Laundry: “Half-Naked Woman Found Dead,” by Luanne Castle

An introduction to the series can be found here.  SERIES INTRODUCTION

 

 

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This is the fifth week that the beautiful creative nonfiction journal Broad Street magazine has published one of the pieces from my chapbook Kin Types along with documents and photographs that helped me piece together these old family stories.

This week is about Louise Noffke’s death and the family history (including domestic violence) that surrounded that tragic event. Read it at Family Laundry: “Half-Naked Woman Found Dead,” by Luanne Castle

Louise was buried with her husband Charles Noffke, my great-grandmother’s brother. The “together forever” headstone is a bit ironic considering one of the newspaper articles that I uncovered.

This next is the headstone of the daughter of Louise and Charles. She is also mentioned in the Broad Street article.

 

The first feature article is “Family Laundry: “An Account of a Poor Oil Stove Bought off Dutch Pete,” by Luanne Castle

The second feature article is Family Laundry 2: “What Came Between A Woman and Her Duties” by Luanne Castle

The third feature article is: Family Laundry: “More Burials” by Luanne Castle

The fourth is: Family Laundry: “The Weight of Smoke” by Luanne Castle

An introduction to the series can be found here.  SERIES INTRODUCTION

 

 

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Last spring I posted a photo of my great-grandmother Clara Waldeck Mulder (1884-1953) that I discovered. You can find the post here. It was the first time I saw what she looked like as an older woman. Up to then, I had seen her as a bride and as a young mother.

The other day my mother sent me another old album and loose photos. Guess what? There are TWO new photos of Clara! In one of them, she is young. It’s taken before she was married–or even engaged, I am pretty sure. The photo has a little damage–a white mark across her skirt and a dark spot on her cheek. I did my best to fix the cheek, but left the white mark alone.

How old does she look here? 16-18? If so, the photo would be from around 1900-1902.

And here is another photo, this time from around 1940.

In my post My Great-Grandmother’s Lifetime of Service it’s clear that Clara was very devoted to her service groups. I wonder if this dress has something to do with a ceremony in Eastern Star or Rebekah Lodge. Any other ideas about the dress?

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This story is very tragic, and I hope family members don’t mind me sharing it because we need all types of stories to do justice to our history. Having read family history stories for years now, I know that every family had events like this occur. This post is about the Noffke branch.

A year and a half ago, I wrote about Louisa/Louiza/Louise Rutkoski, who had married my 3rd great uncle, Charles Noffke, back in Prussia–before immigrating to the United States. When they arrived here, they had a son, Herman, and after settling in Kent County, Louise gave birth to a daughter, Clara. The reason I wrote about Louise was that I had discovered through old newspaper articles that on 7 July 1920 she had drowned in Emmons Lake while suffering an acute attack of “indigestion.”

At the time, I didn’t mention a much earlier article I found about Louise, Charles, and Herman. However, coupled with the story of Louise’s death, that earlier article did inspire a poem, called “Half-Naked Woman Found Dead,” that I included in Kin Types. 

This is the article I found quite some time ago, published in the Grand Rapids Press in 1893.

At the time I read this article, I was saddened for the whole family, but I saw it as a terror for Louise and Herman.

The other day, I was organizing my files on this family and made a little stop at Genealogy Bank to recheck the articles. They have changed the site, and I’m not familiar with it yet. It seems to me that some articles are no longer easy to find, but one I had never seen before popped up.

It’s not only a tragic story in its own right, but it happened a year and a half before Herman put a stop to Charles’ violence. I can’t help but wonder if the event sparked a worsening state in Charles, his emotions, and brought about or increased his drinking.

My great-great-grandmother, Alwine Noffke Waldeck had only two siblings (that I know of), brothers Charles and August. What could have happened in 1891 to send Charles into a state where his violent actions were recorded in the local newspaper?

This is what I found about brother August in the 22 May 1891 issue of the Grand Rapids newspaper, The Evening Leader.

Look at that sensational headling: SHOT THROUGH THE BRAIN. Then the subtitle: August H. Noffke Commits Suicide After Threatening His Wife. So when Charles came home and “proceeded to make things lively,” endangering his wife, son, and the brindle cat, his only brother had somewhat recently been extremely intoxicated and killed himself.

If you read the whole article, you will see that there are two sides to this story–or maybe three. Was Mary Mueller/Miller Noffke mentally ill, cruel, and a nag, causing an unemployed depressed man to finally take his own life? Or was August abusing her and she was trying to put a stop to it through the courts when he got drunk and violent? Did he truly kill himself or did she shoot him? What really happened in that family–and what happened that day?

The way the article ends does try to slant the story against Mary with her cavalier attitude toward August’s death and funeral.

Of course, I’ve only found three (not four!) Noffke children: Maria, Otto, and Emma. I have no idea what happened to any of them except that Otto got married when he was twenty in Montana where he was living at the time and Maria (called Anna) married a man named Benson and ended up living in Illinois (but her body was returned to Michigan for burial). After such a dysfunctional upbringing and the suicide of their father, I’m a little worried about what happened to August’s four children.

One last thing. When I was researching Maria Anna Noffke, I found her death record–and on it was the only mention I’ve ever found of a birth place in Europe for the Noffkes–the birthplace of her father, August. I had already been told by a professional German genealogist that the Noffke surname could be found in Pomerania, so I hoped I would eventually find them there. And that’s what has happened. It lists a place called Schwitzkow. I couldn’t find this place anywhere. But then a man on the Prussian Genealogy group on Facebook identified it: http://gemeinde.schwetzkow.kreis-stolp.de/.  This was in Pomerania. I don’t know how big it was when the Noffkes immigrated from there in the 19th century, but in 1925, there were about 300 people and about 56 residences! TINY! And everyone was Protestant–no Catholics or Jews at all. Schwetzkow lies 57 miles west of Gdansk (Danzig), and I have seen that name mentioned somewhere in my years of searching my Prussian branch. But do you think I can now remember where I saw it? No . . . .

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I’ve written several posts about my grandmother, Lucille Edna Mulder (married name Zuidweg), who was born April 17, 1912, and her high school graduation scrapbook. She graduated from Caledonia High School (Michigan) in 1929.

In those posts, I mentioned that Grandma’s best friend Blanche was class valedictorian, Grandma’s older sister Dorothy was salutatorian, and Grandma–with the 3rd highest GPA–was class historian.

Visiting Mom, I recently found this photograph of Grandma and Dorothy. It’s a tinted photo, and it appears to be the right age to have been taken around the time they graduated high school. It shows the girls with movie star hairstyles.

You can see from the list below (from the scrapbook) who else graduated from CHS in 1929. Look at the proportion of girls to boys! Why was that? Were the boys working the farms and no longer attending school? If so, that’s a shame. What else could account for so few boys graduating? I trust the list because Grandma was, after all, class historian and quite meticulous about recording information.

Maybe this list will help out someone else researching their own family. Good luck!

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https://thefamilykalamazoo.com/2013/01/08/who-put-the-ring-stain-on-the-scrapbook/

https://thefamilykalamazoo.com/2017/04/17/april-17-always-reminds-me-of-grandma/

https://thefamilykalamazoo.com/2015/08/05/grandmas-school-work-late-1920s/

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As a high school student at Caledonia High School in Michigan in the 1920s, my grandmother, Lucille Edna Mulder, was a good student. As I have written about before, she was Class Historian at graduation–and kept a beautiful graduation scrapbook.

She also kept a meticulous notebook for botany class. Here is a slideshow of the entire book. I will post a few still images below the slideshow.

Did you ever record precise information like this for a homework assignment? If so, do you think you learned from it?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

These dried flowers look like nature prints! I wish I had been required or encouraged to keep a notebook like this.

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