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Posts Tagged ‘Michigan history’

OK, we’re going to try this again. You might have seen my post last week about this–which I subsequently deleted when it became obvious I’d missed a clue.

My great-great-grandfather’s sister Jennie DeKorn Culver (divorced) and her two adult daughters moved from Kalamazoo to Seattle at some point. All three women died there. Only Lela seems to have married–at the age of 63.

Two weeks ago, I posted the photo that gives the exact date the Culvers moved to Seattle. Here it is again with the date of August 20, 1918 written on it. One of the Culver daughters is in this photo.

 

I also posted a photo of all three Culver women–Aunt Jennie DeKorn Culver and her daughter Rhea and Lela–with some identified travelers or perhaps people seeing them off on their travels.

After much searching I did find one newspaper “jotting” that mentions the move. It was posted in the Kalamazoo Gazette on August 13, 1918.

 

Of COURSE, the mystery deepens. Why does it mention only Rhea and not her mother or sister? I can’t believe they wouldn’t be mentioned if they did, in fact, move at the same time.Maybe Rhea went with the other people in the photo? If so, when did Jennie and Lela move?

I will say that Jennie does look as if she is dressed for travel (she is the 3rd from the left). Do you agree with me? The other daughter, the one in the striped silk could be dressed for travel–or not.

In 1918, Rhea (born 1890) was 28 years old. She was single and a grown woman. I wonder if she went with any of the Culver family or she went with a religious group. Lela was also single and 30 that year. Jennie was 61. I will be 61 this summer. I can’t imagine making that move with my two daughters if I didn’t know anybody else in Seattle.

Also, this new information sheds light on that photo of the young Culver woman with the older woman (above). Maybe that is Rhea and she IS going with that woman to Seattle.

This is where it gets even more confusing.

In the 1920 census, Rhea, stenographer, is living in Kalamazoo with a cousin and the cousin’s husband, Charles Pierce, and daughter! The cousin is Cora DeSmit Pierce, the daughter of Jennie’s sister Mary. WHAT? So Rhea left for Seattle on her own and came back to Kalamazoo? Homesick?

Cora DeSmit Pierce

But wait.

Also in the 1920 census, Jennie and Lela (teacher) were living in Seattle! So Rhea moved to Seattle, according to the paper. It doesn’t say she joined her family there. It sounds as if she is the first Culver to move to Seattle. But how did the others end up in Seattle and Rhea NOT by 1920?

Can this get any more confusing? I will have to study the photo album more to see if I can find any other clues in there. I would like to examine yearly city directories in both Seattle and Kalamazoo, but even if I could, it still might not divulge what happened.

What do you think? Did Rhea move first and the rest of her family come later? Any ideas on where to research next?

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I’ve written before about my great-great-grandmother’s sister, Carrie Paak Waruf, and her husband Henry Waruf: Who Was Hank Waruf, Kalamazoo Gunsmith, Tennyson’s Words for Henry Waruf’s Funeral, and All the Peek Girls (note that Paak can be spelled Peek, Paake, etc.). And when they traveled to Cuba.

But I’d like you to look at some photos I have that Grandpa had me mark Aunt Carrie.

The first one is a favorite. Carrie and Henry Waruf were well-off merchants. They had no children. And Aunt Carrie did like to spend money on her outfits. Is that a fur piece or a feather boa around her neck here? And what about this hat? On what planet was this popular? I assume it was expensive. That almost looks like a Minnie Pearl price tag on it. Is that a ribbon? Overall the hat mystifies me. I’d place her at around 40 in this photo. What do you think? By the way, she was born in 1862, so that would make the year of this photo around 1902.

Photo #1

Here is another photo of Aunt Carrie.

Photo #2

These are obviously the same woman, although the 2nd photo seems to be a much younger photo. This brings up the mystery of her age that arose in the post What Can the Photographer Tell Me When He’s No longer Here. The evidence on the 2nd photo about the photographer made it seem as if this photo was also around 1900. So now I am more confused than before. But it makes me wonder if that successor craziness went on more than once. I still think she looks under 35 in the 2nd photo, maybe even much younger than that.  Look at the differences in wrinkles with the first photo.

Now, if anybody has an idea on the date of that peculiar hat, it would help assign dates to these photos!

I’m very satisfied with the identity of the woman in photos one and two because I have another photo or two of her with her husband. There is no doubt.

Here is the bigger mystery. Grandpa also told me that this next photo was Aunt Carrie. I don’t see how that is possible. What do you think?

Photo #3

Is this Aunt Carrie? Or is it one of her sisters? There were Alice, Anna, Mary, and Carrie. This is not my great-great-grandmother Alice. But could it be Mary or Anna?

Here is Mary:

Photo #4

Mary Paak Remine

Mary Paak Remine

Here is Anna:

Photo #5

Annie Paak

Annie Paak

And here is Alice:

Photo #6

Alice Paak DeKorn

Can you hear me screaming? She almost looks like a sister. She looks enough like them that Grandpa called her Carrie. But who is she?

 

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Last week I was given the most wonderful identification of the church that I thought was in Seattle circa 1918. It turned out to be First Congregational Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1917!!!

The young lady in plaid is a Culver, I’m sure. I don’t know who the other lady is. All dressed up for travel. What does the caption say? STARTING FOR SEATTLE AUG. 20, 1918. Hah, you can’t ask for anything better than that in genealogy and family history research. The actual answer–to the day–complete with new outfits and a Gladstone bag in the hand of the older woman. Look it up. It was named after Prime Minister Gladstone, and it’s a very specific and stylish type of luggage. I know this because . . . ta dum . . . I used to own a luggage store. Look at how crisp their clothing was. These poor orphanage girls, daughters of a woman who had to figure out how to make a living for her family of divorce, looks like they are doing pretty well. No idea why . . . .

Here are other photos. Tell me: what does it look like. Are these other people traveling with the Culver women? If so, why are they going to Seattle? Are they all planning to settle there? They seem to be “of a group” because the man is carrying a bag. But what if he’s holding the lady’s Gladstone for her? Maybe they aren’t all going.  I’m confusing myself. What I do believe is that that is Jennie to our right (and their left) of her plaid-skirted daughter. And I think the boldly decorated young lady on plaid’s right (to us she is farthest left) is the other Culver girl. 

 

Remember that this date is before the end of WWI, which ended in November.

While I have solved the mystery of when the Culver women left for Seattle, I still do not know WHY or WITH WHOM.

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Last year I posted a photo that I believed was taken in Seattle. It was in the Culver-DeKorn photo album that was so kindly sent to me by a “caretaker” of the photos for decades. I wondered what the uniform was that the man was wearing and what the building was that is shown behind him. My assumptions have been shaken to the core. The old post is in quote marks, and below that is what I discovered!

First let me tell you a little more about Jennie DeKorn Culver, my 3rd great-aunt. She is a very sympathetic character to me. She went through a divorce when very few people did so, and she lost her daughters to the orphanage for a little while because of that. She was an artist when that was not approved of for a woman, especially from her background.

Jennie’s parents and two siblings were all born in the Netherlands, but Jennie was born in 1857 in Ottawa, Michigan.

When Jennie was 7, her mother died. When she was 16, her father died. The year before her father died, her oldest sibling, Richard DeKorn, married Alice Paak  on May 10, 1872. Her sister Mary married John DeSmit on October 4, 1872. So when their father passed away, that left Jennie alone. Jennie didn’t marry John Culver until she was 25. What did she do from age 16 to 25 and where did she live?

Here is the old post:

(The Culver-DeKorn family: my great-great grandfather’s sister, Jenny DeKorn Culver, and her daughters, Lela and Rhea, who moved from Kalamazoo to Seattle 100 years ago.)

In the scrapbook which I received from a blog reader I found this photograph. Any ideas on the type of uniform? Since this would have been around the time of the end of WWI, does the uniform have to do with the war?

I don’t know who the man is. Most of the Culver photos are of women.

But the clues would leave me to believe the photo was taken in Seattle in or around 1918. But did Seattle have old elegant buildings like this at that time?

###

Well, my goodness! I had a surprise yesterday when a blog reader posted a comment that upset my whole way of looking at the photo album in general:

That building is the old First Congregational Church in Kalamazoo. It burned down in 1925. There is a colorized view of the building halfway down this page.

http://www.kpl.gov/local-history/religion/first-congregational.aspx

 

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I can’t find a Carl Sadler in Kalamazoo who would be born around 1915 or 1916. Since these photos were taken in 1917, I am estimating that he was born around that time.

Another thing to consider: how many other photos in the album are from Kalamazoo?!

But stay tuned for the next installment of Aunt Jennie. Because I have some more new info about her!

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My last post Is it Live or is it Memento Mori? relied on information about the dates of the photographer of the photograph in question (whether the lady is dead or alive in the photo).  I used information from a listing of late 19th and early 20th century Kalamazoo photographers on Bushwacking Genealogy.

I started wondering if I approached my photos from this perspective if I could add information to my identification of photos and dates.

For example, this photograph of Carrie Paak Waruf was taken by Evans. Evans is not on Bushwacking’s list, but notice how the photo says “Successor to Packard 120 E. Main St.” So I looked when Packard seems to have stopped being a photographer at that address: 1887. But wait. Mary H. Packard seems to have been in business at that address in 1899. (The lesson here is to pay attention to the photographer’s address if it’s on the photo–they moved around quite a bit and it can help identify a year). Her husband committed suicide in 1898. So who was Evans? And what year was this photo of Carrie taken?

Carrie was born 8 May 1862 in Lexmond, Netherlands. She was my great-great-grandmother’s sister. That means that if Mary Packard was out of business by 1900, Carrie would have been 38 years old. And even older if it was sometime after that point.

That is not possible. This photograph is of a young woman. This is confusing. I might have learned something, but now I have still more questions (is this The Family Kalamazoo refrain or what? more questions, more questions)

Here is another one:

This woman is Jennie Remine Meyer (Meijer, married to Klaas Meijer who became Carlos Meyer).  She’s my first cousin, 4x removed. How old do you think she looks in this photo?

She was born 12 April 1860 in Kalamazoo. Just for the record, she passed away in Kalamazoo on 20 September 1940.

This photographer also bills him or herself as a successor to C. C. Packard, the photographer who died in 1898.  You are correct if you are guessing that Kidney is also not on Bushwacking’s list of photographers.

This is where I wish I had a Kalamazoo city directory for every year right at my fingertips.

If this photo was taken in 1900 or after she would have to be 40 or older.  I think she looks pretty good for 40. No botox, no makeup, no hair dye. But she could be 40, whereas I don’t see how Carrie could be 38 or older.

Then there are the clothes to consider. My instincts tell me Jennie’s clothing and hair is from an older period than Carrie’s, but that would be impossible because she is older than Carrie in the photos, but these two women are only two years apart in age.

There is much work to be done on solving the mystery of these two “successors” to photographer Packard.

Let’s just spot check a couple and see if the information on Bushwacking seems to correspond with the information I have about my photos.

This is Gertrude, Richard, and Adrian DeSmit, the children of John DeSmit and Mary DeKorn DeSmit. Gertrude was born in 1889, Richard 1887, and Adrian in 1891. If we assume that the children are about 6, 8, and 4 in this photo, the year it was taken would be 1895. The photographer Wood was Thomas E. Wood (also went by T.E. Wood) who was in business at least from 1887 to 1895, according to Bushwacking. She says he was not in the city directory in 1899. From 1887-88 he was at 316 E. Main St. From 1889-1895, he was at 134 S. Burdick St. The address on this photo is 134 S. Burdick St. (way up the street from the neighborhood where my relatives lived).

 

OH WAIT, what does that say in the middle of the bottom of the photo? 1895!!!!!!!! So my calculations about their ages was correct, plus it means that my grandfather was correct when he identified exactly which DeSmit children are pictured (there were many, but these were the youngest).  This verifies my info about the photo, as well as the info provided by Bushwacking.

Here is one more. Gerrit Leeuwenhoek:

Photographer Philley is not a common one in my albums, but he is on Bushwacking’s list. Silas Philley, Jr. In 1895, he was in business at 303 E. Main, and in 1899 at 305 E. Main. This photo says 303 East Main Street.

Gerrit died in the service of our military 23 July 1898. If you want to break your heart, read this: he only immigrated to the United States on in April 1897.  I’ve written about him previously in several posts–his death, his life in an orphanage, and the court case he brought against a teacher. You can search his name in my blog’s search bar.

But look at these dates. Since this photograph had to be taken in 1897 or 1898, it means that Philley was still operating out of 303 E. Main Street through that period. This helps narrow down the Bushwacking information a bit more.

I wonder why this photograph was taken and who paid for it. Since Gerrit was a young immigrant, I wonder if his older brother Lou paid for the photo. And I also wonder if it was taken because he was leaving for Cuba for the Spanish-American War. Would the government have taken photographs of new enlistees? If this were true, there might be more photos of young soon-to-be soldiers taken by Philley at this time period.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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