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Posts Tagged ‘Michigan history’

I’ve written before about my great-grandfather, Charles Mulder, of Caledonia, Michigan. He was born in 1885 in the Netherlands, but moved with his parents and younger brother to Grand Rapids, Michigan, when he was only two.  His baby brother Jan passed away within a few months.

Although Great-Grandpa was raised by his parents in Grand Rapids, where his father built furniture, he ended up starting his own adult life in Caledonia–as a farmer. He came from town folk. They weren’t farmers. What would have made him decide to become a farmer? And how did he purchase his farm?  These are good questions, I know, and I wonder if there is anybody who can answer them. Maybe his daughter, my grandmother, didn’t even know the answers.

I used to love to visit GG and his 2nd wife Margaret on the farm. My great-grandmother had passed away a couple of years before I, the oldest great-grandchild, was born. So I grew up knowing Margaret, a very nice lady, as my GG.

I’m guessing that in this photograph, I am with Great-Grandpa at his farm. He’s very comfortable in his undershirt and suspenders, and I see the hint of a dark colored (red?) outbuilding behind him. I remember the barn, the corncrib, and the henhouse. And let’s not forget the outhouse!

This photograph, as you can see, was taken in July 1957, which means that I was just turning two.

Message to my family: if anybody has any photos of the farm, please scan and send to me!

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Here are links to other posts about Charles Mulder of Caledonia, my great-grandfather (the 1st two are my favorites):

The Blog Will Now Come to Order

I Raided Great-Grandpa’s Library

Great-Grandpa’s Family: The Mulders of Grand Rapids

The Mulders Pre-1917

Pieter the Orphan

 

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First things first:  Happy Birthday, Mom!!! xoxo

Some time ago I wrote about Mom’s grandmother, Clara Waldeck Mulder, and her family in “I Uncovered a Stunning Clue in My Search.” I explained that I had had difficulty discovering any information about Clara’s mother. Her name was Alvena, and I had a photo with her in it, but her last name seemed to lead to a dead-end–as they say in specific genealogy jargon, I’d hit a brick wall.  Heh.

My mitochondrial DNA comes to me from her: Alvena to Clara to my grandmother Edna to my mother (who turns XX years old today) to me.

Alvena married Gottfried (Godfrey) Waldeck, and they had perhaps ten children. Clara was the youngest. Eventually I found that Alvena’s maiden name was Noffke, and I discovered on Ancestry that there are lots of descendents of Alvena and Godfrey throughout southern Michigan.

I have made contact with two people who share this ancestry. The female relative and I have DNA hits on both Ancestry and 23andme. She is from this Waldeck/Noffke branch. I also “met” a man with the last name Noffke and we are actually related in the same way, except that his dad was adopted so when he takes the DNA test, his results won’t help us narrow in on anything.

When I found the female relative, she gave me a copy of the minutes from years of family reunions. This report documents births, deaths, etc. I felt at that time that I was closer to finding out more about the Noffkes and to discovering where the Waldecks and the Noffkes came from.

We’ve always been told they were from Germany, although some documents I’ve read online say “Prussia.”

Germany at the time that Alvena's parents were born

Germany at the time that Alvena’s parents were born

But what now?

The concept of “Germany” could mean different things to different people in the 19th century, when the family emigrated. My 23andme report shows that I have at least one Polish gene. Could it be from that branch of the family?

How can I locate the area of Europe, even the town or village, that my ancestors came from?

I do have the names of Alvena’s parents. They are Ludwig (Louis) and Dora Couch. Couch doesn’t sound like a German name to me. It seems to be an English name. But where could that come from?

Brick walls are crazy-making.

Any ideas on where to go from here?

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation is begging Western Michigan University not to destroy history–its own, that of the Kalamazoo area, and that of higher education. There are four old buildings which represent the origins of the university which those who head up the school want to demolish.  Here‘s an article that Mom clipped and mailed me. It was printed in the Kalamazoo Gazette on June 27, 2013.

Click here for the Kalamazoo Gazette article

Click here for the Kalamazoo Gazette article

Click here for the Kalamazoo Gazette article

Click here for the Kalamazoo Gazette article

I keep asking myself  the question, “What kind of people want to destroy history?”

My family has graduated from Western Michigan University for four generations. As I explained in a previous post “Western State Normal School, Kalamazoo, Michigan: A Personal View,” my grandmother, L. Edna Mulder Zuidweg, graduated from the school when it was Western State Normal School, a teacher training school. Both my parents, my aunt, my brother, and yours truly also graduated from WMU.  In addition, my husband graduated with a BBA degree, as well.  And at least one member of the most recent generation–my cousin’s daughter– has graduated from Western.

Because my husband and I both got business degrees (I also majored in history and he did so in political science) in the late 70s, we spent a lot of time on the oldest section of the university–East Campus, which housed the business school.

If you follow this link you will read a good history of the old campus.  They have some beautiful photos posted, too.

State Normal Kalamazoo front

HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP FROM THE FRIENDS OF HISTORIC EAST CAMPUS WEBSITE:

1.  Be an advocate for smart adaptive re-use!  Tweet, display yard signs, display bumper stickers,write letters, TELL YOUR FRIENDS and ASK THEM TO HELP!  ACT NOW.  Click here for  Action Plan

2.  Join our “cast of thousands!” 
     Click here for details of our quest to post pix of you holding the Save East Campus sign for Youtube

3.  Click here to get your printable pix-poster for Youtube video

4.   Express your concerns to WMU’s Board of Trustees [go HERE to email the Board]

5. Express your concerns to elected officials:
Governor Rick Snyder
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909
https://somgovweb.state.mi.us/GovRelations/ShareOpinion.aspx
517-335-7858

State Senator Tonya Schuitmaker
mailto:SenTSchuitmaker@senate.michigan.gov

State Representative Margaret O’Brien
mailto:MargaretOBrien@house.mi.gov

State Representative Sean McCann
mailto:seanmccann@house.mi.gov

Mayor Bobby Hopewell
mailto:bobbyhopewell@borgess.com

6.  Express your concerns to WMU’s Board of Trustees [go
 HERE to email the Board]

7. Sign a petition here 

8. Write to news media in support of the FOHEC request for a moratorium and community input.

9. ASK:  How much will taxpayers/students have to pay to demolish the buildings?  How much will taxpayers/students have to pay to transport resulting debris to landfills?  How much will taxpayers/students have to pay to pave over historic East Campus to create the proposed parking lot?  How much does it all add up to?  

10. ASK:  How much will it cost to save the buildings and make a serious survey of ways they could be used to serve and educate students?

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I wrote about my great-grandmother Clara Waldeck Mulder in The Lost Bracelet. At the time I posted about her, I didn’t really have a lot of facts about her, other than that I lost her bracelet because the clasp didn’t hold while I was at work.  Ironically, I was selling costume jewelry at Jacobson’s, in downtown Kalamazoo.

Since then my mother gave me some notes about her grandma:

  • She regularly did heavy farm chores, especially after her children were old enough to stay in the house alone. She was a big strong woman.
  • She cooked without recipes, but the food tasted very good.
  • In the evening she served us homemade ice cream that she and Grandpa made.
  • She cared for the chickens, including slaughtering them to cook and eat.
  • Along with family help, she kept a large vegetable garden.
  • She let us go wildflower picking in the “woods” across the road from their farmhouse and barn.
  • She let us play the player piano as much as we wanted. It used the perforated paper rolls.
  • Her family, both sides, seemed to carry a glaucoma gene; many experienced at least some loss of vision.
  • Some of her relatives were farmers.
  • Her family met for a family reunion with extended family every summer–it went on for many years.
  • When she got sick in her sixties and died, I felt a great loss.

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Although I never got to meet my great-grandmother Clara, I did visit her farm and even stayed there for a week once with my great-grandfather and his second wife Margaret.  I remember my grandmother, Clara’s daughter, taking me wildflower picking in the woods across the street from the farmhouse.

By this time you might wonder what the clue could be about the Waldecks.  Well, the information I had been given was that Clara’s father was Godfrey (probably Gottfried) Waldeck and her mother’s maiden name was Alvena Neffka.

I had met a brick wall trying to trace these people back to Germany. I even talked to a German genealogist who has helped me in the past. He said Neffka couldn’t be a German name.  He questioned if that was really the name.

The only clue I’d found was on Alvena’s death certificate which indicated that her father was Louis Koffler and her mother Dora Couch.

So I started picking and probing at the name Neffka (on Ancestry), trying to figure out what else it could be.  That’s when names like Gniffke, Koffler, Knoffka started showing up all over the place.

Then suddenly I started getting hits on Noffke right and left, especially in Caledonia, Michigan, where my great-grandmother was from.  I changed the name to Noffke on my tree and I was showered with little green leaf hints from Ancestry.

For the first time, I found tons of Noffke relatives right in southwestern Michigan, where they ought to be.  I am still going through this treasury of information.

I’m a little closer to breaking through that brick wall.

Also, I had a DNA match at Ancestry with a verifiable relative—we are both 2nd great-granddaughters of Godfrey and Alvena.  She and I inexplicably showed up with eastern European DNA.  That, and some documents which say “Prussia,” seem to indicate that my grandmother’s Noffke family—and probably the Waldecks as well—are actually from Prussia, not Germany proper.

Onward in my search.  Polishing up my Nancy Drew microscope for the Noffke leaves.

Leaving you with a photo of old Caledonia, Michigan:

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Some time ago I posted about a house which I remembered from my childhood. The house had been built on Sprinkle Road in Portage, about a block from the Long Lake shore. It was originally owned by Carrie Paak/Peek Waruf and her husband Henry Waruf.

When Therese Remine inherited Ramona Park from them (her aunt and uncle), she also inherited their house.  She divided her time between this house and a house she owned in Detroit.

I had heard that the house was relocated and mentioned that I had set my Kalamazoo sleuths on its trail.

Today I am happy to report that my detectives (Mom and Dad, also known as Janet and Rudy Hanson) have done their legwork.  They discovered that, in 1990, the house was moved much farther south on Sprinkle–past Bishop road.  It was replaced by a fire station.  The new owner took the house apart “brick by brick” to move it.  He enclosed the porch and put in an elevator.

Here are the new photos, taken by my father just as the current owner was trying to mow the lawn!

The house is now owned by Patrick “Mick” Lynch and is inhabited by his company, American Hydrogeology Corporation.  They are an environmentally friendly company which helps with the clean up of water.

Mick has plans to re-roof the house and paint it white, which as you can see was the color in the old photo.

The other posts where you can read about Ramona Park, Long Lake, and the Waruf/Remine house can be found at Living by Long Lake, Portage, Michigan and The Park with a Literary Name .

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Over two months ago I posted about The Park with a Literary Name , Ramona Park in Portage, Michigan. This lake property was in my family for many years.

It was owned by Carrie Paak/Peek Waruf and her husband Henry Waruf. These photos are of their home, which was situated on Sprinkle Road in Portage, about a block from the Long Lake shore.  The above photo is a side view–Sprinkle to the left, Long Lake to the right.  The porch was eventually remodeled to a large enclosed porch.

Any car experts can tell us a date by looking at the automobile here?

The photo below is the front of the house.

This house was inherited by Therese Remine, Carrie’s niece, and became part of the Ramona Park estate. In more recent years, it was relocated. My Kalamazoo sleuths (aka Mom and Dad) are working on its location.

When I was a little kid, we hunted for arrowheads in the field behind the house. The vintage (at the time) dining room furniture was beautiful.

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Last post I told you about my great-great-grandmother Alice Paak (Peek) DeKorn. She had three younger sisters, who all grew up in Kalamazoo, as well.  There were two brothers, but I have not tracked them down yet.  To clarify about the last name: Grandpa first identified the name to me as Paak, but genealogical research in the Netherlands shows that the name is actually Peek.

As a reminder, this is Alice:

Alice Paak DeKorn

Alice Peek DeKorn

Here is her sister Annie, born Anna Catharina Peek on January 6, 1855 in Lexmond, Zuid-Holland, the Netherlands.

Annie Paak

Annie Peek

Here is her sister Mary, born Maaike Peek on July 29, 1859 in Lexmond, Zuid-Holland, the Netherlands.

Mary Paak Remine

Mary Peek Remine

Here is her sister Carrie, born Cornelia Peek on 8 May, 1862 in Lexmond, Zuid-Holland, the Netherlands.

Carrie Paak Waruf

Carrie Peek Waruf

While the Peek girls are all pretty, clearly my great great is the prettiest of all!

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