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Posts Tagged ‘Michigan history’

Charles Peter Mulder was born to Clara (Waldeck) and Charles Mulder on 30 July 1917 in Caledonia, Michigan, most likely at home. He was the youngest of the five Mulder children. They grew up on their parents’ farm.

Chuck Mulder, high school graduation photo

As a teen, Chuck, as he was known, was very good-looking and a favorite with the ladies. But he was a bit oblivious to all the girls fawning over him. He wasn’t as outgoing as his brother, but he was no doubt very intelligent.

Around the age of 22 Chuck left Caledonia and boarded with the Patrick Slattery family at what I believe was 911 S. Park Street. It was transcribed from the 1940 census as Stock Street, but that is incorrect. This is a Google maps image. It looks like the house is still standing.

Also according to the 1940 census, Chuck’s fellow boarder was his brother Peter Mulder and their first cousin, Herbert Waldeck. I don’t recognize the names of the other boarders, although several of them are the same age range as Chuck, Pete, and Herb. Lines 21, 22, and 24:

Both Chuck and Herb enlisted on 16 October 1940 in Caledonia. Chuck’s employer is listed on the draft card as none. Herb’s lists his employment as the Fuller Manufacturing Company.  Because they enlisted together, it’s a bit surprising to me that Chuck went into the U.S. Army, and Herb became a sailor in the U.S. Navy. Chuck’s brother Pete had suffered a ruptured appendix and was therefore exempted from military duties.

On the front of the draft registration, we see that Chuck’s telephone # was 28F2. Imagine a phone number like that!

From the backside of the draft registration we can see that Chuck was nearly six foot and had brown hair and hazel eyes.

This whole project to write about my grandmother’s siblings began with my Uncle Don telling me that Uncle Chuck (his uncle, my great-uncle) was a war hero and that perhaps his story could be researched.

I did as much online research as I could do before I asked Chuck’s daughter Susie to order his military records from the National Archives. Then Covid struck, and the archives have been unavailable for family history research purposes. I asked Myra Miller if her team at Footsteps Researchers would be able to help. They are also stymied by the closure of the archives, although one of her people sent me a few online documents. One of them was a newspaper article I had not found myself.

In the meantime, since I started with the oldest of Grandma’s sibs, Dorothy, I had some time before I would put together Chuck’s story as he was the youngest of the bunch. I’ve long since finished stories of the other three siblings. I’ve stalled a long time, but have decided to go ahead and write about Chuck since the archives are still unavailable to us.

In a newspaper clipping from the Ironwood Daily Globe, Ironwood, Michigan, on 19 June 1944, Chuck, a machine shop worker, according to the paper, is quoted: “We’re going to give them the works; that’s all there is to it.”  At that point, Chuck was eager to go after the enemy.

Then I have the data from the army enlistment records.

The above enlistment record states that Chuck had four years of high school, but he was considered “unskilled labor” for the army. He would be trained by the army and gain a skill, though, in communications.

5th from right 2nd row

Below is a photo of Uncle Chuck from 1944 in Germany.

Here is another group shot, but we do not have the date. Doesn’t this look like it was taken the same time as the solo shot?

This group photo was taken 10 March 1944. He is front row, 3rd from right.

I wanted to find out if Uncle Chuck was really a war hero. An article in The Grand Rapids Press 8 March 1945 corroborates the story that Uncle Don had told me about Uncle Chuck’s radio team being involved in a dangerous mission to communicate across enemy lines in Germany.  Chuck (Sergeant Mulder) was Radio Team Chief.

Here is the article, and I follow it with a transcription for ease of reading.

CALEDONIA MAN GETS BRONZE STAR

Caledonia—T/4 Charles P. Mulder, Jr., has been awarded the bronze star for “zealous determination and unselfish devotion to duty” with the army signal corps in Germany, his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Mulder, sr., have learned.

“His parents have received a citation accompanying the medal, which asserted the award was made “for meritorious conduct in action in Germany.” It declared Mulder distinguished himself “by outstanding performance of duty as a radio operator with a communications team of an infantry regiment engaged in rolling back the Siegfried line after a penetration and in encircling a strongly defended enemy city. The courage, zealous determination and unselfish devotion to duty contributed much to the efficiency of the communications in this most difficult period.”

The citation is signed by Maj. Gen. L. S. Hobbs, commander of the 30th division to which Mulder is attached.

Below you can read the letter that Maj. Gen. Hobbs wrote about the “30th Signal Company.”

Chuck’s grandson Andy believes that the bronze star, since there is no mention of a “Combat V,” suggests that the award was given for doing a difficult job in arduous circumstances exceptionally well rather than for a single act of valor of gallantry. He said this makes sense since Chuck was a technical specialist and not a line infantryman. He still had a complex, difficult, and dangerous job to do.

Andy also clarifies Chuck’s rank since we do not have the archival records. He inherited 30th ID patches and a rank insignia for Technical Specialist 4, probably the highest rank Chuck held. This was a specialist rank equivalent to a buck sergeant – E5 in today’s pay scale. While this was a non-commissioned officer rank, technical specialists held no command authority.

Backing up a little over a month, in a letter written February 1 from Belgium to his parents (quoted in the above newspaper article), Chuck wrote: “Yesterday I had quite a surprise when I was awarded the bronze star medal by our commanding general. He gave it to me and then shook hands. This bronze star means five more points in the discharge point system.”

In a postscript, Mulder wrote: “I also have an ETO (European theater of operation) ribbon with two battle stars on it. I nearly forget to tell you this. The two stars are for Normandy and the other countries. We will get another one, at least, for the Germany campaign.”

You can see that Chuck went from an eager entry into service to counting up points until he could be honorably discharged. This shows that he had experienced and seen a lot of war.

I wanted more information about Chuck’s participation in the war. He was with the 119th Infantry Regiment, which was a part of the 30th Infantry Division. According to Wikipedia, “The 30th Infantry Division was a unit of the Army National Guard in World War I and World War II. It was nicknamed the “Old Hickory” division, in honor of President Andrew Jackson. The Germans nicknamed this division “Roosevelt’s  SS.” The 30th Infantry Division was regarded by a team of historians led by S.L.A. Marshall as the number one American infantry division in the European Theater of Operations (ETO), involved in 282 days of intense combat over a period from June 1944 through April 1945.

Let me repeat that: “the number ONE American infantry division in the European Theater of Operations.”

In a book owned by grandson Andy who has made his career in the military, Chuck is mentioned in an incident that occurred. This book has no ISBN and most likely was printed as a souvenir. Andy explains that “there is a long tradition of books like this in US military service. Think of it being akin to a high school yearbook, and assembled by some of the soldiers themselves. The Navy calls these ‘cruise books.’”  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruise_book Do any readers know what the army calls these books?

Andy continues:  “The best I can say is that the book was probably printed over the summer of 1945 (while the 30th was waiting their turn to be sent back stateside). Unfortunately the author(s) are not credited by name in the book. It’s remarkable to me that a company would have had their own book in some ways – a U.S. army company is generally 3-4 platoons and no more than around 200 people at full strength. A reasonable assumption is that compiling the book may have been something for otherwise bored officers and senior NCOs to do during the summer of 45 to keep them productive, though it’s entirely possible that more junior personnel did most of the work. We’ll never know unfortunately. I don’t know if it was common for companies to have produced souvenir books like this in WW2.”

Andy surmises that Chuck was probably stateside when the book was printed. His photo is one of those “unavailable” on the bottom left of the second page.

In memory of the lives that were lost.

Note the name Dale E. Stockton as one of those lost and keep reading. I will post the pages here and transcribe them below.

BOOK PAGES

“Sergeant Mulder’s team was with the 119th Infantry Regiment at the time the great offensive for St. Lo began. Our artillery had been pounding away for hours. Planes were overheard, flying in the initial bombing assault. The Regiment was on the road moving forward to the attack.

Orders were that only two men could ride in a vehicle. So Bennie Keech drove the Radio command car. “Dale” Stockton sad in the back operating the set, and “Chuck” Mulder marched to the side and a little ahead of the car. Bennie had to keep the car right in the center of the road, because the Infantrymen were marching in column on both sides of it.

As they moved down the road, the fury of the great battle grew in intensity. Then came the sound of falling bombs. Dale Stockton was fataly [sic] wounded. Bennie Keech was knocked unconscious by a bomb blast, a blast that lifted the car from the road and pushed it over to the side. Bennie was evacuated to a first aid station, where it was discovered that he had suffered a severely sprained back. “Chuck” Mulder was uninjured but his nerves were badly upset by the experience.

Bennie was able to rejoin the Company in a couple of days, and he and Chuck were together until just a few months before the war’s end. Then Bennie received a furlough to the good old USA, and shortly afterward, Chuck was evacuated for a physical check-up. The men of the Radio Section miss Chuck Mulder and Bennie Keech. They miss and salute Dale Stockton.

His grandson describes it this way:

The book talks about how this incident occurred during the offensive for  Saint-Lô with planes that were flying overhead in the initial assault. Tragically, it would seem that the event described in this book was a friendly-fire incident. The 30th Infantry Division was tragically bombed by our own aircraft in one of the most controversial incidents in WW2, which involved the attempted use of heavy strategic bombers to support ground forces. http://www.30thinfantry.org/st_lo_battle.shtml

At the same time or shortly after he wrote that letter from Belgium, Chuck was admitted to a convalescent military hospital where, according to the following index, he stayed until August 1945.

The diagnosis is withheld by NARA, so it’s possible that if we get the records from the archives the information will be in there.

We do know that after what Chuck experienced in Europe, he suffered from what is now called PTSD. It used to be called “shellshock” or “battle fatigue.” Seeing his fellow soldiers killed, especially by friendly fire, was a defining moment in his life.

On a light note, at one point during the war, Chuck and his cousin Herb went to Missouri on leave. They went to a restaurant and bar in either Kansas City or St. Joseph. A pretty girl named Ruthann Holton (a resident of Sparks, Kansas) who worked for the Chase Candy Company in St. Joseph, MO, was out with her friend. Chuck and Herb flirted with the girls.  It turns out that Chuck really liked Ruthann, but Herb thought it was a mistake for him to get involved with her. So Herb did his best to confuse Chuck about her name and address. Chuck sent Ruthann a letter to Miss Maryanne Holman. Somehow what happened next was out of Herb’s hands as the letter was delivered to Ruthann anyway.

On 10 December 1944*, Chuck sent RuthAnn a Christmas V-mail, so they had definitely become “sweethearts” by then. (*I am not sure exactly how V-mail worked. If Chuck didn’t post it on the 10th it would have been before that date).

Here is a letter that my great-grandparents sent to Ruthann.

On 9 July 1945, Chuck and Ruthann married at Raton, New Mexico. He was back from Germany and stationed at Camp Carson, Colorado. The couple were to live in Colorado Springs, which is where Camp Carson is located.

Now, how did the couple get married in July if Chuck was still in the hospital until August? That question led me to wonder if he was hospitalized, but more as an outpatient, at a hospital at Camp Carson. Camp Carson was huge and had at least eighteen hospitals!

My Uncle Don has some of his own memories of Chuck that I’d like to share. Uncle Chuck was his hero while my uncle was growing up. He tells me that my grandmother, sibling #2 had a special bond with her younger brother. Chuck was the youngest of the siblings, and he turned to my grandmother for advice. This is probably quite usual in larger families where an older sibling becomes close with the youngest.

Chuck and Ruthann had one child, their daughter Suzanne, who studied at the University of Michigan, volunteered with the Peace Corps in Malawi, and went to medical school at Johns Hopkins University on a full scholarship. I still have the wooden figurine that Susie brought me back from Malawi.

Chuck and Ruthann both worked very hard until retirement, although they did like to go out dancing before Ruthann experienced foot troubles. I remember them enjoying polka dancing. Chuck was the first to retire from The Upjohn Company, as he was seven years older than Ruthann. He walked most mornings with some retired friends. He also did most of the housework, yard work, and made dinners for Ruthann. He had atherosclerotic arterial disease in his legs, which caused him a great deal of pain. He also became legally blind from glaucoma. This disease runs in my family. Chuck would have inherited it through his mother’s Waldeck branch. Chuck voluntarily quit driving when he retired, and he used to try and read the Kalamazoo Gazette every day with the use of magnifying glasses.

In the photo below, Grandma and Grandpa are surrounded by her siblings and their spouses. Chuck is in the front row in the pink shirt. Ruthann is to his right.

Ruthann retired at age 65, but she wouldn’t have retirement time to spend with Chuck. He passed away far too early from a fast and mysterious affliction. Susie suspects he infarcted (blood clot to artery) his intestines as he went to the hospital with sudden, severe abdominal pain and became septic shortly after his admission. He was only 72 years old.

Chuck and Ruthann are buried together at Mount Ever-Rest Memorial Park South in Kalamazoo. For years now, on Memorial Day, my brother has visited  their grave with flowers to honor Uncle Chuck’s service and heroism.

 

 

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When I posted about Uncle Pete and Aunt Ruby, I didn’t have the best photo of their headstone, so I put in a request at Find-A-Grave. A kind volunteer obliged me by taking these. I’m going to add them to my original post as well.

Here are closeups with the locket closed and open.

The headstone mentions Psalms 23, so I thought I would share a version here.

Psalms 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

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When I was growing up, my grandmother’s sister Vena and brother Chuck lived in Kalamazoo. I knew the family grew up in Caledonia, which is in Kent County, not Kalamazoo, so it was more surprising that three of the siblings ended  up in Kalamazoo than that Peter and Dorothy lived out of town in more rural areas. Here are the five siblings: Chuck, Vena, Edna (Grandma), Dorothy, and Pete.

Peter Godfrey Mulder was the fourth child and older son of Charles and Clara (Waldeck) Mulder. Godfrey was the Americanized version of Gottfried, the name of his Prussian maternal grandfather. Peter (Pieter) was his Dutch paternal grandfather’s name. He was born on 2 November 1915, most likely in Caledonia. He’s the baby in this photo

As he grew older, Pete became an all-star athlete at Caledonia High School. He was very popular with the girls. Pete wanted to go to engineering school after high school, but that dream was cut short because he suffered a ruptured appendix. He was not able to serve in the military.

When Pete recovered from the medical emergency, he lived in Kalamazoo and worked in a factory; he lived with his brother Chuck and cousin, Herb Waldeck.

Pete met Ruby Elizabeth Ayers, a cheerleader from Martin High School, at the Dixie Pavilion, a popular dance club overlooking Doan’s Lake, south of Wayland. Duke Ellington and his orchestra played there. Both Pete and Ruby loved to dance.

Pete and Ruby (born 6 February, 1920) were married on 10 August 1940, when Pete was 24 and Ruby was 20. Here is their marriage record. They were married, as were Vena and Al, by Pete’s cousin, Ed Waldeck.

At that time, Ruby had been living in Martin and already working as a teacher. She attended “County Normal,” where one could teach school in a rural setting with little formal education. Ruby taught at Jones School in Dorr in a one-room school house.

Later, Ruby took correspondence classes to finish her teaching degree. Her daughter, Shirley, remembers taking classes with her mother when she was a teenager. Ruby later taught in an elementary school for Wayland Union schools, which she loved.

Pete and Ruby lived with his parents on the farm in Caledonia for a few months before buying an 80-acre farm in Martin, which is in Allegan County, NW of Kalamazoo. All three of the children, Larry, Shirley, and Sharon, were born in Allegan County. At the back of the property was a lake, called Lake 16. Ruby liked to swim and made sure all the children took swimming lessons and craft classes in the summer through the school district.

Pete became a dairy farmer, milking all of his cows by hand. The whole family drank their milk from these cows and it made wonderful whipped cream as well. Later, Pete gave up being a dairy farmer and raised beef cattle (angus). The whole family would put buckets on the maple trees in the spring of the year to collect sap so Pete could boil it down to make maple syrup. Then Ruby would can the syrup and other fruits and vegetable to hold them over for winter. The children were always present in activities around the farm. Pete continued to work in the shop in Kalamazoo as a Tool and Die Maker in the winters for additional income. Pete and Ruby
loved to live life to its fullest. They were active in their community. They were always entertaining relatives or visiting relatives on a weekly basis. They participated in a square dancing group.

 

Here is Uncle Pete and Aunt Ruby’s whole family at their farmhouse on Thanksgiving, November 1952. All Grandma’s siblings and their families attended, as well as her parents. This was the last holiday season her mother was still alive. The next year they would hold Thanksgiving at Dot and Con’s house. Photos here.

And here is Ruby from the same day:

Here is a photo at Pete and Ruby’s on the same day with all of Grandma’s parents’ grandchildren.

It was fun to visit their farm in Martin because Shirley (who was on the Queen’s Court, Allegan County Fair (one of the largest fairs in Michigan), and won the Cherry Pie contest, and Sharon were teenagers when I was a little girl, and they were very sweet to me. Aunt Ruby herself was a very sweet woman. She reminded me of country and gospel music, so I must have heard it at their house. Uncle Pete loved to sing country music. The stereo was right where you walked into the living room. Uncle Pete used to sit with the other men on lawn chairs outside under the big tree. Pete loved to play horseshoes in the summer and bowl during the winter time. When the children were teenagers, he bought a speed boat and took the children waterskiing on the lakes in the area.

When the couple neared retirement age, they built a mobile home park on their farm along the lake. They also sold mobile homes as a side business. They traveled to Hawaii and made several trips to Las Vegas.

Pete and Ruby’s daughter Sharon experienced a great deal of loss and succumbed to cancer at the age of 67.  She was a teacher of K-2 and also Headstart. As a teen, like her big sister Shirley, she was a drum majorette and later on Sharon took over her sister’s baton twirling business. Their brother Larry, who was a draftsman and engineer for a Volkswagen subcontractor, died at age 59 of brain cancer.

Pete died in 1986 at the age of 70 of cancer.

 

 

You can see from Pete’s obituary that he developed and was the owner operator of the mobile home park, but there is no mention of his earlier life as a farmer.

Ruby was living in a mobile home park in Wayland when, on 6 February 2007, her mobile home caught fire and Ruby was not able to get out of her home. Tragically, she died on her 87th birthday.

I put in a request at Findagrave for a good photo of Pete and Ruby’s headstone. A kind volunteer obliged me by taking these.

Here are closeups with the locket closed and open.

The headstone mentions Psalms 23, so I thought I would share a version here.

Psalms 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

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I found this photo in my mom’s childhood photo album. She’s holding a very large doll. So I asked her about it, and she told me that somebody from Grandpa’s side of the family gave her that doll. She remembers the doll very well, but some of the details surrounding the doll were a little hazy, as with most memories from long ago.

Mom’s guess was that maybe it was Aunt Tena’s doll. Aunt Tena was married to Grandpa’s Uncle Joe DeKorn, and they lived in Grand Rapids. Their sons, Grandpa’s cousins, were Philip and Richard. So I examined the background in the photo. The rock garden is probably the most distinctive feature.

Phil DeKorn’s album that Sue sent me has several photos of the outside of their house in Grand Rapids. But was there a rock garden? Every photo is from a little different angle and cuts off the sides at different places. Some of the photos led me to believe Mom’s photo was taken at the DeKorn home. Then I found this one with the rock garden, and I was sure. It’s Phil just before enlisting in 1943.

It might even have been Uncle Joe’s camera that took both photos. I’m guessing Mom’s photo was taken a few years earlier, perhaps 1939.

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In my story about Grandma’s sister Dorothy and her husband, Conrad Plott, dated February 17, we left off with this photo of my mother with Aunt Dorothy and Aunt Vena.

Today I am writing about Aunt Vena (to mom’s right–our left–in the photo) and her husband, Uncle Al.

Vena’s full name was Alvena Nell Mulder at birth. She was named after her grandmother, a Prussian immigrant, Alwine Noffke Waldeck. Although the names are spelled differently in German and American versions, they are pronounced similarly. I never heard Aunt Vena called anything but Vena, so I think she generally went by her nickname.

Vena was the third girl (Dorothy, then Grandma, then Vena) and third child of Charles and Clara Mulder of Caledonia, Michigan, and she was born 20 October 1913, probably in Caledonia at the house. Although I have no birth records for any of the siblings, it’s likely that Dorothy was born in Hastings, and then Grandma and the rest were born in Caledonia, after great-grandpa bought the farm.

You can see that Vena was a very pretty girl.

Much of my information about Vena and her husband Al comes from Uncle Don and their middle daughter, mom’s cousin Elaine.

Vena attended Caledonia High School just as her older sisters had done. She was a year and a half younger than Grandma, so the question is, was she “on track” for her age for graduation or did she graduate early as Grandma did? Did she graduate in 1930, 1931, or 1932? The school records I’ve found only go through 1925.

Vena followed her older sister, Edna (Grandma), to what was then called Western State Teachers’ College (now Western Michigan University). I don’t know how Aunt Vena met Uncle Al (although I remember hearing the story years ago and thought it involved horses), but he also attended Western.

Al was born Alton William Stimson in Middleville, Michigan on 20 January 1911. Middleville is a little village near Grand Rapids, and Uncle Don says Al grew up on a farm, and this is corroborated by the 1930 census.

Uncle Don gave me some information about Vena and Al. He said that they were close in age to his parents (Grandma and Grandpa) and that the two families were close. Al actually lived with Grandpa for a time while Al and the two sisters were attending WMU. Al washed the dishes once a month or when they ran out of dishes. Grandpa liked to tell that story.

This is Uncle Al’s 1934 Western yearbook photo. Next to his name is his degree earned: an AB.

I don’t know if Aunt Vena boarded with someone while she went to college, as my grandmother did (with the Schensul family).

Al and Vena married 1 June 1935 in Caledonia by Edward August Waldeck, pastor of the Portland Baptist Church, Vena’s first cousin. I wrote about his bike accident (as a teen) quite some time ago. Here is a 1912 newspaper article about the accident: CLICK HERE

Al graduated from WMU as an Industrial Engineer. He might have first worked as a teacher and then for Atlas Press, before he was hired by the Upjohn Company. He was a a time and motion analyst—time-study. He stayed with Upjohn until he retired at the end of his career.

At the beginning of their marriage, Vena and Al lived on Balch Street in that same area where my grandfather and then my mother grew up. The address was 317 Balch Street, according to the 1940 census.

But then they built a new house on a beautiful lot on Kilgore at the border of Kalamazoo and Portage. Their house and yard were characterized by an excellent sense of design and a lot of hard work. Elaine said that their lovely yard was designed by a friend of theirs so that there were flowers blooming year round when weather permitted. They both liked to garden. Al also kept a small vegetable garden alongside the house. As a kid, I was so impressed by the flowers and the birds that Vena and Al attracted to the yard. The inside of their house was also beautiful with a living room that looked out upon that backyard and a fish tank that mesmerized me. At least three generations of family had many wonderful family gatherings at their home.

Vena left school to start their family, and beginning in 1937, they had three girls in this order: Joan(ne), Elaine, and MaryAnn. The three girls attended State High up at Western’s old campus which was a state training school for teachers and was reputed to be one of the top schools in the state.

Al registered for the WWII draft, but he was not called to service. I do not know if it was because of needing to support his children or because he was color blind.

When the girls were “well along” in school, according to Uncle Don, Aunt Vena went back to college and graduated with Honors in 1962, the same year their youngest daughter graduated high school. This reminds me of my mother who did the same thing. I hadn’t realized when my mother graduated a year ahead of me from college that her aunt had been a groundbreaker in the family.

The Portage Public School System hired Aunt Vena as a kindergarten teacher, which she remained (1st and 2nd a bit, as well) until she retired. I’m sure she was a favorite with the kids and their parents because she had a gentle and elegant manner.

Aunt Vena and Uncle Al were members of the First United Methodist Church in downtown Kalamazoo for over sixty years. This is the same church that my grandparents belonged to and where my mother is still a member. I remember Uncle Al was an usher and my grandfather worked in what I thought of as the “money office.”

Aunt Vena and Uncle Al enjoyed their retirement years golfing, bowling, being members of Club 75, and the Cloverleaf Square Dancing Clubs.

Al kept busy with many craft hobbies. He made Christmas presents of shop gadgets and jewelry that he had made. He made jewelry out of plastic, drilling the flowers into the plastic. He made pins, necklaces, cufflinks, and so on. Some pieces he colored in with nail polish.

When I was a little girl, Uncle Al taught me to say what sounded like oskeewawa every time I saw a white horse. I thought it was a Native American word. When I tried to look it up, I couldn’t find anything until I discovered the University of Illinois school song:

Oskee-Wow-Wow
Old Princeton yells her Tiger,
Wisconsin, her Varsity
And they give the same old Rah, Rah, Rah,
At each University,
But the yell that always thrills me
And fills my heart with joy,
Is the good old Oskee-Wow-Wow,
That they yell at Illinois.

Uncle Don has fond memories of going on many camping trips with the family. He felt a bit like Uncle Al’s substitute son for these adventures. After all, Uncle Al lived in a house with four women/girls ;).

In the next photo, it is Grandpa and Grandma’s 40th wedding anniversary, and they are standing with Vena and Al on my parents’ front porch. The image is blurry, but I like that the two couples are photographed together.

 

In the Christmas photo above, I see Uncle Al and Aunt Vena from the era I knew them best. In fact, we used to go first to Grandma and Grandpa’s house on Christmas Eve, and then to Vena and Al’s–at some point my parents’ house was added as one of the houses visited for the Progressive Dinner.

Uncle Al suffered from Parkinson’s and passed away on 11 January 1996 in Kalamazoo.

Aunt Vena moved into what was then the new, state of the art retirement community in Kalamazoo. She died on 9 June 2000, which is the same year that my grandparents died.

They are buried at Mount Ever-Rest Memorial Park South in Kalamazoo.

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I have no idea at all if the Dutch in Michigan celebrated Pinkster 100 or more years ago. Pinkster (Pinksteren is Dutch for Pentecost) is a holiday connected with Pentecost and loosely related to May Day and spring festivals. It typically occurs in May or June. Here is a photo from the very limited Wikipedia article about Pinkster.


Notice how the children hold ribbons around a pole, much like what we tend to think of as a traditional Maypole.

The reason I started thinking about this is because I found this very damaged photo which I believe belonged to Alice Leeuwenhoek, born 1897 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her family, like all my grandfather’s family at that time, belonged to the Reformed church where all the Sunday School children were likely to be Dutch.

If you look carefully at this photo, you will see these children are all holding what looks to be a ribbon of some kind. At first I thought maybe a paper chain, but I don’t think it is. Also, notice the flowers. The children are dressed in their Sunday best and so is the woman standing behind them. This would not be a regular school day, then, but Sunday School or a holiday. I do see the American flag near the woman’s right shoulder which does seem to indicate a schoolroom. Would public school have celebrated a religious holiday if the student body was fairly homogeneous? Click on the photo to enlarge.

Look carefully at the girl third from our left. What is in front of her? Is that a doll on the ribbon? Or, is it what my daughter suspects, a ghost?

If you read more about Pinkster you will see that Africans in the United States took over the holiday and made it their own–and why. It has to do with being enslaved and that it was a holiday where they got “time off” work and could see family and friends.

Do you have other ideas about the photo or see something that I missed? I’d love to hear!

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My mother gave me a fascinating book, published in 1947, called Americans from Holland by Arnold Mulder. Mulder’s perspective is of a writer who has just witnessed the world going through WWII, and while this book reads as a definitive history secondary source, it is shaped by the time period in which it was written. That said, it’s the best account I’ve seen of the history of the Dutch in the United States and what led up to the waves of immigration.

Five years ago I wrote about one of my ancestors who applied to the city of Goes to emigrate. You can find the story of tailor Adriaan Zuijdweg’s (1805-1851) declined petition in this post: My Dutch Family Almost Arrived in the U.S. Decades Earlier. At the time, the only information I had was what Elly Mulder had given me, telling me about the “separated” Reformed Church and how Adriaan probably was probably part of the separatists.

The chapter, “Souls or Bodies,” sheds more light on the situation for Adriaan and his family, as well as other members of his congregation.

Mulder investigates whether it was religious differences or economic troubles that drove the Dutch to begin to immigrate to the United States in the 19th century. He describes how the Reformed Church had been negatively transformed by the government after Napoleon. According to the Napoleonic Code, they were not allowed to gather in groups of more than twenty. Dissenters appeared who wanted to bring the church back to what it had been. The government cracked down on them, levying fines on the religious leaders and others who allowed church services in their homes or businesses. The leaders were arrested. The more the government went after them, the more dissenters appeared.

Two of the main leaders were the Reverend Hendrik Pieter Scholte and the Reverend Albertus Christiaan Van Raalte. Scholte immigrated to Iowa with his congregation.

Scholte founded the town of Pella, Iowa, in 1847. His house was one of the first buildings constructed there. That house is now on the National Register of Historic Places, and you can see from the photo that house was enlarged at some point.

from Wikipedia

 

Van Raalte’s group went to Michigan (and perhaps Wisconsin) in 1846, one year after Adriaan ‘s request to leave the Netherlands.

By as cited RVD (although unlikely because it did not exist at the time) – Nationaal Archief Nederland, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4198265

Note: The town of Zeeland was founded by Jannes van de Luijster (Luyster) and other immigrants in 1847. What I have not yet discovered is where the lives and influence of Van Raalte and Van de Luijster intersected.

Arnold Mulder argues that the immigrants were not individuals immigrating to the United States, but rather communities–specifically, church communities.

If you think about it this way, it would have been a real hardship for Adriaan not to be allowed to emigrate from the Netherlands with his community. What I do not understand is why some would have been allowed and others not, but it might have had to do with the city itself. Adriaan was from Goes, and it was the government of Goes that denied him his request. Van Raalte was from a town in Overijssel, far from Zeeland. So while Adriaan’s church community may have been part of the separated/seceded Reformed church, it was not Van Raalte’s own congregation. Jannes van de Luijster was born in Hooftplatt, Zeeland, about 30 miles from Goes, so it’s more likely that Adriaan was following his lead. It would be fascinating to know how many requests during that period were approved by Goes. Clearly, because of the timing of Adriaan’s request, he intended to be in an early group moving to the United States. [Important note: at first the Van Raalte group were in New York, and then after Van Raalte saw the value of Michigan land for farming, moved to west Michigan.]

Mulder conjectures that it wasn’t only the religious differences that caused the Dutch to leave during this time. He believed that the Dutch would have stayed and fought their battles at home if that were the only reason. You see, they really didn’t want to leave the Netherlands. But Napoleon had stripped the Netherlands of much of her wealth,  and the Dutch were struggling economically. With a population of two million, 700,000 Dutch people were on the dole in one way or another! With hunger, disease had also increased.

At the end of the chapter, Mulder makes one more assertion, that the Dutch were welcomed in the United States because although they came for partially economic reasons, in contrast to immigrants from Ireland and Germany, the Dutch looked reasonably well off. In part, this was because some of the immigrants did bring some wealth with them (and helped out their congregation members, as well). Another reason, Mulder speculates, was because the Dutch valued appearances and cleanliness and maybe would have gone without necessities in order to look presentable. Whether this is ethnic pride on Mulder’s part or has a basis in truth, I don’t know. What I have read of German and Irish immigration during this same time period makes me think the Germans and Irish were perhaps more desperate.

 

 

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My 3x great-grandfather, Boudewijn DeKorn and his wife, Johanna Remine, were the first generation in the DeKorn branch to immigrate to the United States. Boudewijn’s parents, Jan and Geertruijd (Engelse) de Korne (de Corne) were the last generation of my direct ancestors to remain in the Netherlands. By the time that the younger couple had emigrated in 1856, Boudewijn’s parents were already deceased.

Jan had passed away nine years before, on 10 November 1847 in Kapelle, Zeeland, Netherlands, at age 54. Although I knew that my 2x great-grandfather Richard DeKorn was born in Kapelle, I think this is pretty much the same area as Goes, where so much of the family came from. In fact, the cities are only 7 kilometers apart (less than 4.5 miles!).

Jan was born on or around 16 November 1792 in Kattendijke, but this is a village in Goes. This shows that this portion of the family was in Goes before the move to Kapelle. Kloetinge is another village in the city of Goes that I have seen mentioned in my relatives’ records.

This is a copy of Jan’s baptismal record.

Geertruijd had already been gone for some time when her husband passed. She died at age 40 on 23 May 1829 in Kapelle, just a few weeks after the birth of her son Pieter. She was born in Kruinengen, about 17 kilometers from Goes, so not far from Kapelle either, on or around 22 April 1789.

The couple was married on 22 April 1814 in Kapelle. According to Yvette Hoitink: “The marriage record of Jan de Korne and Geertruijd Engelse was found in the ZeeuwenGezocht.nl index of civil registration records. They were married in Kapelle on 22 April 1814. Scans of the 1814 marriage records of Kapelle are missing from the “Netherlands, Civil Registration, 1792-1952″ set of images at Familysearch.org so the original text has not been consulted. The (reliable) index provides the names of his parents: Boudewijn de Korne and Jacoba Loenhout and gives his age (21) and place of birth (Kattendijke).” Therefore, I do not have a copy of their marriage record.

At the time of their marriage, I believe that Jan was already living in Kapelle and working as a farmer. Whether his father or he owned a farm, I do not know. But he is listed as a farmer, not a laborer or day laborer, so it is likely that there was a family farm. I don’t know what brought Geertruijd to Kapelle.

After fifteen years of marriage and two living children (my 3x great Boudewijn and his brother Pieter–there were at least two infants who died, as well), Jan was left a widower. On 19 October 1832, he married Elizabeth Zandijk. After she passed away on or around 16 April 1833 (six months after their marriage!!!!), Jan married another Elizabeth. This third wife was Elizabeth Bustraan, and their marriage began on 16 April 1841 in Kapelle. I do not have a date for her death.

I do have copies of the marriage records for Jan’s second and third marriages.

I have a death record for both Jan and Geertruijd. Here is Jan’s.

And here is Geertuijd’s:

 

I hope to eventually find the couple’s marriage record. Additionally, I am looking for Geertruijd’s baptismal record and any evidence of a military record for Jan.

 

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My next fill-in-the-gaps couple is Grandpa’s 4th and final set of great-grandparents–my 3x greats, Lukas Bomhof and Jeuntien Dansser Bomhof.

Here are the Ancestry-created bios:

When Lukas Bomhof was born on December 9, 1788, in Windesheim, Overijssel, Netherlands, his father, Albert, was 32 and his mother, Zwaantje, was 31. He married Jeuntien Dansser on October 13, 1825, in Zwolle, Overijssel, Netherlands. At that time, Lukas was a kastelein (inkeeper) in Zwolle. On 5 March 1838, Lukas was a shoemaker in Zwolle. They had five children in 10 years. He died on September 16, 1847, in Zwolle, Overijssel, Netherlands, at the age of 58.

Jeuntien Dansser was born on April 26, 1806, in Zwolle, Overijssel, Netherlands, the daughter of Maria and Johannes. She married Lukas Bomhof on October 13, 1825, in her hometown. They had five children in 10 years. She died on January 31, 1842, at the age of 35.

Let’s take that apart. Lukas was born 200 years before my daughter!!! He was 18 years older than Jeuntien. There might be a reason for that delay in his marriage, so hold on to that thought. When the couple married, Jeuntien was 19 years old, but Lukas was 37. From the ages of 23 and 33, Jeuntien, who I believe was also called Johanna, gave birth to five children. All these children survived to adulthood. One of them was my great-great-grandmother who immigrated to the U.S. in middle age and lived far longer than any of her siblings.

Two years after the birth of her children, Johanna died at age 35. Very sad, but a story that is just too familiar in family history.

Keep in mind that this is my fourth 3x great grandmother named Johanna!

So where was Lukas before he met Johanna? And what documents am I missing from their lives?

I do have the marriage record and supplements. What are marriage supplements? According to Yvette Hoitink’s website:

Since the introduction of the civil registration in 1811, a bride and groom had to submit several documents to prove they were eligible to get married. Not only do these records tell you when your ancestors were born, but they may also provide information about their physical appearance, death dates of parents and previous spouses or even of their grandparents.  These documents are known as the ‘Huwelijksbijlagen‘ and most of them still exist and can be found online.

Read more about these supplements here.

I have the index for Johanna’s death, although I have not gained access to the death record itself.

I also have the index record, but not the death record for Lukas’ death:

I do not have birth records for either Lukas or Johanna, although I have the basic information of dates and places.

So I really need both death and birth records. Lukas was born with the surname Nijentap, but in 1812, his father Albert changed the family name, which included the surnames of his three adult sons, Lukas and his brothers. So his birth/baptism records will be under the name Nijentap.

What I do have for Lukas, though, is pretty cool. Yvette found his military records. I am copying the summation from Yvette, followed by the records themselves.

You will see that Lukas, a musketeer under the command of the Duke of Wellington, helped to defeat Napoleon, most likely at Waterloo. He served in the army from 1814-1817. He was 26-29 years old.

LUKAS BOMHOF b. 9 December 1788, Windesheim m. 13 October 1825, Zwolle  His marriage supplements do not include proof of military service.3 Since he would have reached the age of 19 in 1807, during the French occupation, he would not have been required to show proof of service.

A Lucas Bomhof, sergeant, is on a list of Waterloo gratifications: Lucas Bomhof as recipient of Waterloo gratification Source: Foundation of the encouragement and support of servicemen in the Netherlands, gratifications, 1817-1817, vol. F, infantry National Militia, entry 1956, Lucas Bomhof; call no. 718, Foundation of the encouragement and support of servicemen in the Netherlands, record group 355, consulted “Indexen,” index and images, Gemeente Amsterdam Stadsarchief (https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/deeds/fc874cd5-df5a-4a2f-b7d894f8533f4f95?person=95a7409f-829b-4a53-e053-b784100ad337 : accessed 10 March 2020).  Abstract: Batallion Infantry National Militia no. 4 Sergeant, no. 1956 Lucas Bomhof, received 461 francs, 20 centimes – 217 guilders and 92.5 cents. Paid 27 September 1817 to council of Amsterdam. Military record of Lucas Bomhoff Source: Batallion Infantry National Militia no. 4,muster rolls, Lucas Bomhof, no. 2469; imaged as film 008341006, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSTP-97RH-C : accessed 10 March 2020). Abstract: No. 2469 (corrected from 493): Lucas Bomhof Father: Albert Bomhof Mother: Swintein Jansen Born Winsen, 14 December 1788 Last residence: Zwolle Physical description: 5’ 4”, round face, round forehead, blue eyes, wide nose, ordinary mouth, round chin, blond hair and eyebrows, poxy complexion. Where and how arrived in the batallion:  Called to the land militia in 1814 from the militia district Overijssel from the region Zwolle, municipality Zwolle. During the lottery drew lot no. 810. Arrived in service as “fusilier” [musketeer]  on 26 April 1814. Where served previously: [blank]

This shows he served in the Dutch army from 26 April 1814 to May 1817.  This was the time when the Dutch army was fighting Napoleon. The gratification was given to all soldiers who were under command of the Duke of Wellington during the battles of 15 to 18 June 1815, who were involved with blockades and sieges in France, or who joined the allied army in France prior to 7 July 1815.4  The 4th battalion had an important role during the battle of Waterloo. The battalion, under command of captain Van Hemert, flanked the French cavalry to halt their advance.5 Given the regulations for the gratification and the known actions by the battalion he was a member of, it seems most likely that Lucas Bomhof was indeed at the battle of Waterloo. If he was not at Waterloo, he at least contributed to Napoleon’s defeat.

No Lucas Bomhof found in (partial) indexes of military records in French period at Nationaal Archief website.6 He was not found in the database of Dutch soldiers who were part of the army of Napoleon.7

 

4 “Waterloogratificaties 1815,” Gemeente Amsterdam Stadsarchief (https://archief.amsterdam/uitleg/indexen/17waterloogratificaties : accessed 13 May 2020).  5 Marc Geerdink-Schaftenaar, “De Waterloo Campagne,” PDF, Grenadier Compagnie (http://www.grenadiercompagnie.nl/Bestanden/2.9%20Waterloo.pdf : accessed 13 March 2020).  6 “Indexen,” indexes, Nationaal Archief (https://www.nationaalarchief.nl/onderzoeken/zoeken?activeTab=nt_legacy : accessed 10 March 2020).  7 “Nederlandse militairen in het leger van Napoleon,” index, Ministerie van Defensie (https://www.archieven.nl : accessed 10 March 2020).

Soldier

 

3 Civil Registration (Zwolle), marriage supplements 1825 no. 75, Bomhof-Dansser (13 October 1825); “Netherlands, Overijssel Province, Civil Registration,, 1811-1960,” browsable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939J-99YY-P : accessed 10 March 2020).

 

 

 

 

Yvette found this image for me.

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My next fill-in-the-gaps couple is one that merged the Mulder and the Zuijdweg families—and the reason my grandparents, a Mulder and a Zuidweg, were distant cousins because it grafted the Zuijdwegs onto the Mulder tree. Note: even in the Netherlands, the surname is sometimes spelled Zuijdweg and sometimes Zuidweg.

Adriaan Zuijdweg was born in 3 February 1805 in Goes, Netherlands. Adriaan was a tailor, so I found this image online to represent him. Unfortunately, I can’t locate anyone to credit for it, but would love to do so.

Apparently this seated position was common to tailors.

Johanna Mulder was born 10 March 1807, also in Goes. She was baptized on 29 March. The couple married 5 May 1836. Johanna worked as a maid at the time of the marriage.

In 1846, facing economic and religious pressures, Adriaan applied for the town of Goes to pay for he and his family to emigrate to the US, but he must have been denied. I suspect he was part of the separatist movement within the Reformed Church and wanted to join the group in Zeeland, Michigan. He must have been very disappointed that he couldn’t emigrate. You can read about the documentation for this on the old post: My Dutch Family Almost Arrived in the U.S. Decades Earlier.

Five years later, on 2 April 1951, he was dead at the age of 46.

The couple had six children. One of them was my 2x great-grandfather, Johannes Zuijdweg.

The youngest child, Willem, was a baby when his father died. Life must have been hard for Johanna after that. The economy in Goes at the time was not good and now she had six children, even a baby, to support by herself.

Many years later, Willem immigrated to Michigan in 1889 with his wife and two sons (a baby girl died in the Netherlands). The older brother, Adrian, was named for his grandfather, as was my great-grandfather. He lived in Cascade in Kent County.  The younger brother, James William, changed his surname to Southway which is what Zuijdweg means. He lived in Detroit. Willem and his family were the first Zuijdwegs to live in the United States. Willem managed to fulfill his father’s dream of living in the United States. Willem’s brother Johannes, my great-great-grandfather, did not immigrate until he was much older–he followed his own son to the U.S.

On 11 June 1878, Johanna passed away at the age of 71. There is documentation that she was working as a “laborer” when she was in her early sixties. I suppose it’s possible she worked until she died.

I have the marriage and death records for both husband and wife. I also have the documention of Adriaan’s denied request to leave the Netherlands. I was able to get Adriaan’s military records from Yvette Hoitink.

According to Yvette’s research Adriaan did not serve in the military. Here is the military record (part of it):



I am missing both birth records for Johanna and Adriaan. And I sure wish I had photos, but considering that they were born in 1805 and 1807, I suppose that hope is unrealistic!

In general, now that I am back with an early generation in the Netherlands, this is what I can look for:

  • birth record
  • marriage record (including if there was more than one marriage)
  • death record

These are what I can generally find, but not always, through Wiewaswie and other online sources. Yvette was able to search military records for me. And sometimes I have been blessed with information from Dutch cousins and readers, such as newspaper information. Because I can’t read Dutch if I want a less haphazard method of obtaining newspaper articles, I would need to hire a genealogist, such as Yvette, to search. Yvette’s expertise means that she knows how to find certain information that is not readily available–and where there are gaps of records because of fire, etc.

I had been frustrated that I have not been able to find birth records for Adriaan and Johanna as of yet.  BUT maybe that was because I should have been looking for baptismal records instead! When I searched for those, I found Johanna’s baptismal record dated 29 March 1807. Her religion at birth was “Low German Reformed,” which simply means Dutch Reformed. “High German” is Lutheran. I had to order this record for a cost, but it got to me yesterday, in time for this post. Here is the cropped page for 1807. Johanna is at the bottom of the image.

1 – Zeeuws Archief

Maybe one day I will find Adriaan’s birth or baptismal record. I wonder if there is a spelling discrepancy either on the record itself or in the indexing.

 

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