Posts Tagged ‘Michigan history’

I originally started this blog because of the wealth of photographs and glass negatives I had in my possession that once belonged to my grandfather’s uncle, Joseph Peter DeKorn. This post is a revision and update of the 2nd post on this blog.Joseph Peter DeKorn

“Uncle Joe” was born to Richard DeKorn, local building contractor and brick mason, and Alice Paak DeKorn June 30, 1981, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. When he lived in Kalamazoo, he was an enthusiastic photographer, capturing scenes and people in Kalamazoo in the very early 1900s. Most of the photographs by Joseph which I have were taken between 1903 and 1918.  His draft registration for WWI is dated September 12, 1918.  He graduated from Kalamazoo College and the University of Michigan Engineering School in 1909.  Joe was a hydraulic engineer and worked for the City of Grand Rapids for over 30 years.  He retired as Superintendent of the Grand Rapids Water and Light Company.


Here is a commendation letter from the City Manager upon his retirement.


Personal life

Joe married Christina Blandford on December 9, 1919 in Kalamazoo.  He was 38 and Christina was 35.  She was born June 22, 1884 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Christina’s parents were Isaac Blandford and Lily Kemp, both born in Ontario, Canada.   She graduated from Western Michigan Normal College (now Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo).  She was a school teacher and taught at Walker Township School, District #1 (later known as Fairview School) and Godfrey School in Grand Rapids.

Aunt Tena, when Uncle Joe was still “Friend Joe” to her, wrote him this postcard in 1915:

Tena sent this postcard to Joe on August 3, 1915

Tena sent this postcard to Joe on August 3, 1915

Aunt Tena wrote from summer school in Lansing in her beautiful handwriting

Aunt Tena wrote from summer school in Lansing in her beautiful handwriting

Tena and Joe resided during their lifetime at 841 Cogswell Street, NW, Grand Rapids, Michigan, just three houses from the Blandford family homestead.  The couple raised their two sons, Richard and Phillip in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Richard was born on January 29, 1920, and Philip Eugene was born on August 4, 1922. Joe worked as a hydraulic engineer or filter engineer for the City Water & Light Department, Grand Rapids.  He passed away on March 24, 1962.

Joseph died March 24, 1967 in Grand Rapids and Tena died October 11, 1979 again in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember Uncle Joe as I was too young, but I remember Aunt Tena as an elderly widow. She was memorable for her intelligence, kindness, fine china teacups, and her elegant and decorative old-fashioned handwriting (see postcard above).


The header photo (above) of the Kalamazoo flood in 1904 and the photos of downtown Kalamazoo from this post are some samples of Uncle Joe’s photographs.


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Maureen Taylor, photo detective, helped me with a couple of photos a few years ago. The other day I bought her book, Family Photo Detective.

The book gives a good overview of many topics associated with identifying old family photographs. I haven’t read it all yet, but I did read certain sections because of various questions I already have in my mind.

In my post Mysterious Antique Photographs I posted a painted metal photograph which is unidentified. I believe it is from the Remine family. Although it can seem that the Remines are very distantly related, in fact, Richard DeKorn’s mother was a Remine:



Johanna Remijinse


BIRTH 15 JUL 1817 Kapelle, Zeeland, Netherlands

DEATH 1864 Kalamazoo City, Kalamazoo, Michigan

* my 3rd great-grandmother *

The consensus seems to be that the photo below (of an unidentified Remine female) is a tintype.


However, according to Taylor, a painted photo like this would be a daguerreotype which is painted on its metal surface with colored powders which are brushed or gently blown.

One of the characteristics of a daguerreotype over a tintype is that the image needs to be viewed from an angle. Another important characteristic is a mirror-like surface. I had to pull out the original to examine it for these traits.

It’s impossible to tell if the image needs to be viewed from an angle because the image is so thoroughly painted. But the background is not mirror-like, but rather a matte dark gray with a slight texture.

I went to the internet about this mystery and discovered a site that showcases some hand-painted tintypes. Unfortunately, after 45 years, The Ames Gallery in Berkeley is closing this year. I wonder what will happen to their photographs. Click the name of the gallery to see the painted tintypes.

I think we were right that this is a tintype that has been painted. In fact, the painting is so well done that her face is very realistic. Years ago, I used to work with gold leaf, embossing leather and vinyl products, and I suspect that the jewelry has been painted with gold-leaf.

It’s frustrating that I have not had the time to work on the photos and genealogy for many months (for the most part), but I like to keep moving along, getting one little thing after another accomplished so I don’t lose my touch haha.

Without a doubt, this is the most beautiful photograph in the whole collection.



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Aunt Jen and Uncle Lou’s (Jennie DeKorn Leeuwenhoek and Lambertus Leeuwenhoek) only child, Alice, married Clarence Moerdyk (Dutch spelling Moerdijk).


Clarence Dewey Moerdyk


BIRTH 24 MAY 1898 Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo Co., MI

DEATH 18 DEC 1985 Winter Park, FL

Clarence’s parents were Peter (Pieter) and Cora. His father immigrated from Biervliet, Zeeland, the Netherlands, when he was 2 years old, in 1867.

I once posted a photo of Clarence as a kid, but at the time I wasn’t sure who he was. Blog readers helped me discover that this is Clarence who lived at 120 W. Ransom in Kalamazoo. That address is directly north of Arcadia Creek, five blocks north of East Michigan Avenue. Would you say he is in his mid-teens?

Alice and Clarence were married in Kalamazoo on 12 September 1923 by The Reverend Benjamin Laman of Bethany Reformed Church.

Here is information about the church at that time from their website:


On June 5, 1905, in a tiny chapel near Burdick and Maple, the mission Sunday School that was to become Bethany held its first service. . . .

Growth under the leadership of these men was so great that less than two years later it was apparent that a larger building was needed. In 1907, a new church was built on the site of the original chapel. At this time the church had grown to include fifty-two families and seventy-seven communicant members. By the time that Reverend Kooiker left the church in 1910, Bethany had grown to sixty-nine families and one hundred eighteen communicant members.

Here is Clarence as I knew him in the early 60s:


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I’ve heard that Uncle Lou (Lambertus Leeuwenhoek) loved to play games–and was very good at them. Where and when he passed away is fitting, in that context.


Uncle Lou “died at 3:15 Wednesday afternoon at the YMCA immediately after suffering a heart attack. He had just finished a game of checkers.” I bet he won the game.

I need to research where the Y was located.

He died on Wednesday, April 20, 1949. Coincidentally, my father-in-law passed away in 1984 on April 20. Notice that Uncle Lou and Aunt Jen were married on May 20. My birthday is July 20. My cousin was born January 20. I always notice the number 20.

Here is the funeral announcement in the newspaper:

And here is a beautiful memorial book from Uncle Lou’s funeral. I wish I knew how to create a slideshow that allows a reader to enlarge each photo, but I don’t know if there is a way on WordPress.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What I find particularly useful from a genealogy standpoint are the names of the visitors on the last two pages. They are as interesting as the names in the obituary, if not more so.

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I’ve written about the Leeuwenhoeks, and in particular, my great grandmother’s brother-in-law, Lambertus Leeuwenhoek. He was called Uncle Lou by my grandfather, so he’s still called Uncle Lou by me today, although I never met him. I did know his wife, Aunt Jen, who survived him by decades.

Uncle Lou and Aunt Jen owned a general store. They had a store in Kalamazoo for a time and one in Vicksburg for a time, as well. In the 1910 and 1920 censuses, he and Aunt Jen are living at 110 Balch Street in Kalamazoo. His Kalamazoo store sold Gold Medal flour.



In the 1930 census, they live at 111 East Prairie Street in Vicksburg. In the 1940 census I find them with Lou’s first name mangled into Laonbatius. They are living with their daughter Alice and her husband, Clarence Moerdyk, at 1014 Gerdan Street in Kalamazoo. Could that be GARDEN Street? Because that would be a real house in Kalamazoo. One still existing, most likely.

I looked for city directory entries, and I found these–all date jumbled:

Leeuwenhock Lambertus (Jennie) household 110 Balch, 1926 City Directory: See Page
Leeuwenhoek Alice M, dressrnkr, boards 110 Balch, Kalamazoo City 1915: See Page
Leeuwenhoek Lambertus (Jennie) resides at 1014 Garden, City Directory 1935: See Page
Leeuwenhoek Lambertus (Jennie), grocer 110 Balch, residence same, Kalamazoo City 1915: See Page
Leeuwenhoek Lambertus (Jennie), grocer 110 Balch, residence same, Kalamazoo City, 1905: See Page
Leeuwenhoek Lambertus, compositor, 306 Wall., Kalamazoo City 1895: See Page

Compositor means that Lou was working on the Dutch newspaper. See here. But he had a grocery store in his house?

And if he lived in Vicksburg in 1930, but lived in Kalamazoo in 1926 and 1935, he couldn’t have lived in and owned a store in Vicksburg for very long. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a source for Vicksburg advertising yet.

I found this photo of Uncle Lou standing out in the front of the store, but I’m not sure which city this is:

Any ideas on the years, judging by the cars? Any idea if that looks like Kalamazoo or Vicksburg in the distance?

Likewise, I’m not sure which city Uncle Lou is in as he walks down the sidewalk? Does that window say “Russell” on it? In the city directories, there are many Russells, including ones owning businesses. There is one on Burdick Street, for instance, in my family’s neck o’ the woods, that is a variety store.

Here he is on a bench:

I wouldn’t be surprised to find this bench outside Richard DeKorn’s (his father-in-law) house on the corner of Burdick and Balch, judging by the design of the light colored stripe through the brick.

Here the photo is again–yes, it’s the same house. It’s hard to see Lou’s face up close. Below he is with his father-in-law, Richard DeKorn.

Uncle Lou with Aunt Jen and their only child, Alice:

Here is a closeup of young Uncle Lou.

And now this is a curiosity. This photo is labelled Lou Leeuwenhoek by the same person who knew that the man walking down the street was Lou, that that was Lou standing out in front of his store, etc. But IS it Lou?

This is not his brother, for sure. While it’s not the same hairstyle as the photos above, the features seem to be the same–except for the eyes which, in the other photos, seem to be deep-set. Is the difference aging (the style of tie is the same) or lighting?  Or is the photo mislabeled?


You can check out the Bibles Uncle Lou brought with him from the Netherlands here.

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On August 17 I originally published this post and mentioned that I had only been able to verify that, by 1947, Harold Remine had attained at least the title of Assistant Chief Engineer of the Quebec Hydro Electrical Commission. I not been able to find information after that date about his career.  My family believed he was Chief Engineer, but without an international subscription to Ancestry.com, I felt stymied at finding more information.

That is, I felt stymied until I applied some watermarks to some Remine family documents and discovered a little treasure of information. See below Harold’s photograph!

Harold Henry Remine

BIRTH 7 SEPTEMBER 1897 Kalamazoo City, Kalamazoo, Michigan

DEATH DECEMBER 1975 Montreal, Quebec, Canada

1st cousin 3x removed



Look at this little marvel of verification! Harold’s own business card.

What does that say? CHIEF ENGINEER METROPOLITAN OPERATION DIVISION HYDRO-QUEBEC. Never give up hope because sometimes this stuff just falls into your lap!



Now if I was willing to be extorted, I would expand my Ancestry account from U.S. to “international” and be able to do more Canadian searches. Alas, it has gotten so expensive!

Anybody else irritated about that price?


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A hundred years ago it seems to have been commonplace to have postcards made from personal photos. I found this example of an “occasional postcard,” meaning it was made on the occasion of Harold Remine sitting on the moon.

The two men with Harold must be his brother-in-law Frank Tazelaar on the left and his father Richard Remine on the right (the taller man).

Here is what it says on the back:

The postcard is addressed to Harold’s sister, Therese Remine or Jennie Remine Cohn or Genevieve Remine Tazelaar. He was the youngest of four children, the only boy, and Therese was the youngest girl–six years older than Harold. I think it might have been Therese. Apparently, at this young age, Harold didn’t believe in basic punctuation, such as periods and commas–or know how to spell “rode”–(and you thought only kids today are lazy), although he went on to graduate from the University of Michigan and become (most likely) the Chief Engineer of the Quebec Hydro Electrical Commission.

Well sister how do you like the picture we got this taken on Burdick Street after leaving you at the train papas broke one plate so we had to pose twice before we could get a good one we told ma we had road out to Otsego and back on the moon isn’t that a _____ for you life ___ me. YHE Harold Remine

Can you read that last line? I can’t quite make it out. Also, what does YHE mean? I tried Googling it, but came up empty-handed. I assume the Y means Your or Yours. What do you think?

When he refers to Papa breaking a plate, he means a glass plate or negative of the image.

Do you think Harold is about 14 or 15 here? If so, that would make this photo from about 1911-1912. Genevieve and Frank Tazelaar were married in 1906, so the timing on that is correct, as well. For the record, Jennie married Harry Cohn in 1903. Harold seems big, but he could even be a bit younger, I suppose.

I am now wondering if a photo I posted awhile back could be Genevieve and Jennie as young girls. They were born in 1880 and 1881. I suspect this might be them. If these girls are in the 9-11 year old range, Therese would have not quite been born yet–and Harold wouldn’t have been born for years.

Another question I have about Harold’s sisters is this: was Jennie or Genevieve the one called “Jane”?!

Harold Henry Remine


BIRTH 7 SEPTEMBER 1897 Kalamazoo City, Kalamazoo, Michigan

DEATH DECEMBER 1975 Montreal, Quebec, Canada

1st cousin 3x removed


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