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A huge thank you to Sue Vincent who featured KIN TYPES on her blog today! I’m so grateful to you, Sue! And another poem from the collection revealed.

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Jennie Bomhoff Zuidweg

The poems and flash prose in Kin Types were begun as I accumulated family stories and information over the years. My grandfather had an excellent memory and was an enthusiastic storyteller, so over time I came to feel that I knew his parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, although they died decades before I was born.

When my grandfather got older, he gave me a collection of glass plate negatives that had belonged to his uncle, as well as antique photographs. As my family noticed my interest, they began to send me other heirlooms, including documents and more photographs. I started to research my family history, using online websites. Then I started a WordPress blog called thefamilykalamazoo.com, and readers from around the world contacted me, sending me yet more information.

As I became more knowledgeable about my family, the stories I heard at my grandfather’s knee were enhanced…

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Thank you so much for responding so enthusiastically to Kin Types. My new chapbook is an offshoot of The Family Kalamazoo, in a way.

The cover of the book is from an old tintype belonging to my family. I have posted it twice before on this blog. The woman featured on it seems to have come from the Remine branch of the family and, based on the tintype and the dress she wears, I thought it was possible that she could be my great-great-great grandmother Johanna Remine DeKorn. This was a guess I had fairly early on, but I had no proof.

But I knew she was someone close to us. For one thing, this is an expensive painted tintype and our family owns it. We wouldn’t have possession of such an image if it wasn’t someone from the family. For another, there is too great a similarity. For instance, my daughter thinks that the woman looks remarkably like my mother in the eyes and mouth. Other people say they can see her in my face.

I thought it unlikely I would learn much more about the photo, but never gave up hope because much amazing information has flowed to me, mainly through this blog.

When I visited my mother recently, she gave me a gorgeous antique photo album from my uncle for me to scan and disseminate. Imagine my surprise when I opened the album and found this tiny tintype inside.

I had so many questions: Were the photos taken at the same time or is the woman younger in the couple’s photo? Same hairdo, same earrings . . . . We don’t really know about the dress and its neck accessory because the lace collar on the painted tintype is, just that, painted on. But she’s definitely younger. Is the new find a wedding photo? Are they siblings?

So I focused on the man. I want to say boy. They both look so young. If the woman is Johanna Remine DeKorn, the man most likely would have to be Boudewyn (Boudewijn) DeKorn. Here is a photo my grandfather identified as Boudewyn, my 3xgreat grandfather.

Boudewijn de Korne

So, what do you think? Are they two different men? The hair is the same–very wavy dark brown hair–, but the hairline has changed. That’s possible. In the upper photo, the man has very defined cheekbones, and I don’t see this in the boy. The man has a very wide mouth. Would that change over time? I doubt it. It was unlikely then that the woman was Johanna, but who was she?

I did what I had to do. I scheduled an appointment with photogenealogist Maureen Taylor. When I only had the painted tintype, I didn’t feel I had enough to go through the process with Maureen. But now that I had a second tintype, I wanted to give it a try.

When Maureen and I began our conversation, I felt a letdown. Johanna Remine was too old to be in this photo. The tintype of the two people had to be between 1869 and 1875, according to Maureen. Johanna was born in 1817 and DIED in 1864. The woman could not be Johanna.

The woman had to be a generation younger than Johanna.

This was disappointing because I felt that I know the other branches or “lines” of the family, and that if she wasn’t Johanna, she couldn’t be a direct ancestor.

And yet, as I told Maureen, I had a strong feeling that she was closely related. And her looks are too reminiscent of the family features to discount her. Maureen agreed with this and pointed me in a different direction.

The Remine family, where I felt the painted tintype came from, began in the U.S. with a marriage between Richard Remine and Mary Paak. Mary Paak is my great-great-grandmother Alice Paak DeKorn’s sister. I am related to the Remines two ways. One is by blood, Johanna Remine being my 3x great grandmother, married to Boudewyn DeKorn (and the mother of Richard DeKorn). The other is by marriage where Richard married Mary. Mary and Carrie Paak, two of the four Paak sisters, had a similar look. Alice and Annie had a different look altogether.

ALICE PAAK DEKORN

Maureen wanted to see a photo of Alice. I sent her the image above–a very clear headshot of Alice from the 1890s (so 20 years older than the woman in the tintype) and Annie (the sister who looked like Alice but is a body shot and not as clear). Maureen examined the photos and proclaimed Alice a match. She asked for the dates on the sisters: birth, immigration, marriage. She was sure the tintype of the beautiful girl on the cover of Kin Types was Alice who happens to be featured in a poem in my book: “An Account of a Poor Oil Stove Bought off Dutch Pete.”

I asked Maureen about the man in the photo and said it did not look like Alice’s husband, Richard DeKorn.

And then I learned something that is counterintuitive, but smart.

Ignore him for now.

She thought it could be her brother or even a beau she had in the Netherlands that she never married. In the tintype of both of them, they are very very young, maybe teenagers. And Alice immigrated to the United States when she was 17 years old. Maureen told me to ignore the man for the purposes of identifying the woman. I will try to identify him later, if it is even possible.

The more I thought about Maureen’s assessment, the more I realized how blind I’d been not to notice the resemblance between the women in the tintype and my 2xgreat grandmother Alice. Alice also happens to be the mother of Cora, the woman my grandparents told me that I look like.

Just for fun, I ran the two images through twinsornot.net. This is the result, although they photos are of a very young woman and a woman twenty years older.

Then I pulled out the other photo that Grandpa had identified Alice. In this alternative photo, Alice is younger than in the 1890s photo, but not nearly as young as the tintype. I had never been sure that this photo even was Alice, although Grandpa had been (and she was his grandmother). So I ran both Grandpa-identified Alice photos against each other on the site. 100% match! Grandpa was right.

Next I ran the tinted tintype against this alternative photo of Alice.

100%!

 

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT! THE MYSTERY IS SOLVED. THE WOMAN ON THE COVER OF KIN TYPES IS MOST LIKELY ALICE PAAK DEKORN.

I learned a lot of lessons through this process, but one that really stands out in my mind is that people look different in different photographs–and when you are comparing people of different ages, it really gets dicey. I think about photos of me . . .

If you click the Amazon link , the book can be ordered for $14.99. To order through Barnes & Noble, try this link.

If you like what you read, please leave a little review at one or more of the following sites:

 

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Although I started this blog five years ago next month, and that sounds like a long time, I’ve been working (on and off–mainly off while raising my kids and teaching) on family history, family photos, and genealogy since I was just out of college and beginning a master’s in history (which I did not complete and ultimately switched to English and creative writing).

I was blessed with many antique and vintage photographs and a grandfather with a great memory and a talent for storytelling.

But it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I got the idea of putting my research and knowledge of our family history together with my creative writing. Then I began to write lyric poems, prose poems, and a few pieces in a genre that was new to me–flash nonfiction, which is a form of very short prose–based on individuals from my family’s past.

Ultimately, I pulled these pieces together into a chapbook (44 pages) which has been published by Finishing Line Press and is now available, not only on their website, but also on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites.

Kin Types looks at what the lives of my ancestors were like. The locales are mainly Kalamazoo (and other towns in southwestern Michigan), Elmhurst (Illinois), and the Netherlands. Using the fruits of my research, which included studying newspaper articles, documents, and the details of antique photos, I tried to “inhabit” the lives of some of the people who have come before me.

If you click through the link to the Amazon page, the book can be ordered for $14.99. To order through Barnes & Noble, try this link.

Here is a sample poem from the collection:

Genealogy

 

Tigers die and leave their skins;

people die and leave their names.  ~Japanese Proverb

 

The more relatives I unearthed,

the more Franks rose to the surface

like deer bones after a storm.

On the trails I could follow,

I found seven named Frank,

three Franz, three Francis.

Frans, Francois, and Franciscus.

Frances and Francisca,

the women peeking out

from under their fathers’ names.

The name passed forward

like a cross polished by many hands.

The verb frank means to allow free passage

for man or post. But these Franks

and Franciskas paid with their labor

and their babes buried along the way.

If you read this blog, some of the characters of the book might be familiar to you. And because the project is quite unique I think people passionate about family history, genealogy, history, and local history will probably be particularly interested. Some of the pieces have been published in literary magazines. Combined together, they tell a story of the history of “forgotten” women.

So what are you waiting for? 😉 Go to one of the links and place your order!  And thank you very much.

 

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I dug into the bottom of a file drawer and pulled out a book I forgot that I had. It was put together by the Kalamazoo Gazette and featured photographs sent in by individuals of Kalamazoo from the past up to the early 1960s.

My grandfather, Adrian Zuidweg, is listed as one of the contributors, so I went through and tried to find the photos he might have sent in.

Definitely these two photos. The little boy in the check dress and straw hat is grandpa himself. And the little girl on the hammock is his cousin Alice Leeuwenhoek.

Those are the relatives sitting on the front porch. Gosh, I own that photo! I didn’t realize that was Richard Remine (though I can see right now that it is, of course, him)–or his children Therese, Harold, and Jane either. It would fit that the two little girls are Alice (next to her grandma Alice Paak) and Therese. With Harold behind the children. But Jane doesn’t really look old enough in this photo. According to my records, Jane was 14 years older than Therese. Something is off here. That big gap in age between Jane and Therese bothers me, and it always has. And if you recall when I wrote about Frank and Jane Tazelaar, I had been confused for awhile about if there had been 4 Remine children and 2 girls of similar names.  This photo must be somewhere around 1901, based on the assumed aged of the 3 little children. Jane was born in 1881 and is not 20 here!

The known people: back row is Aunt Jen DeKorn Leeuwenhoek, Richard DeKorn, Richard Remine. Front row is Lambertus (Lou) Leeuwenhoek, Alice Paak DeKorn, and then the little girl next to Alice definitely looks like Alice Leeuwenhoek, Jen and Lou’s daughter. It would seem plausible that the three other children belong to Richard Remine, but Jane could not have been that small.

What else? Here is Harold Remine big enough to go fishing at Long Lake. The other photo is not from my family, but it does show off a great collection of hats!

This is the Ladies Library building that Richard DeKorn was the mason contractor for.

But I don’t think that is one of our family photos.

One of these photos could have been taken by Joseph DeKorn and been submitted by Grandpa. It is very similar to the ones that I own.

Take a look at the captions for the downtown views. Does it make sense? It doesn’t make sense to me for some reason.

Most importantly, Grandpa autographed this book!

Here is a bonus photo. It isn’t from my family, but isn’t it a cool reminder of the kitschy business architecture popular in those days?

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As usual, the more I’ve learned, the more questions I have! Realizing that all the newspaper articles have not been properly entered into the Genealogy Bank database, I know I am probably missing more articles about Frank. Although it’s easy to always assume this with data entry of genealogical information, I can tell from the Gazette’s own files that this is true. There is an article where they repeat choice nuggets from the Gazette from 10-20 years previously and Frank shows up there, but the original article does not show up.

What seems to be great omissions are obituaries for both Frank and Genevieve (Remine) Tazelaar. Since Frank was so involved in the community, as the sheer number of articles attests, why wouldn’t there be an obituary for his wife in 1930 and for himself in 1950?

I don’t even have a death certificate for Frank and when I tried to order one, a website tried to steal take $60 from me!

Let’s see what I discovered through what I did find, though.

  • Frank was extremely involved in the Knights of Pythias and the Elks. He may have had a connection to the Masons.
  • He was not only involved in these organizations, but was frequently elected to the boards and organized dances and other activities. In 1916, Frank was made Master of Exchequer of the Pythias lodge. As chairman of the Pythias festivities for New Year’s Eve 1915/1916, Frank commissioned a streetcar to remain for the party stragglers so they would have a way to get home. For a party in 1916, Frank even made sure the ladies were presented with a “delicate” box of chocolates.
  • Frank was a sportsman who raced his mare Gas Light in the 1905-1906 period, which would have been just before his marriage. There was talk about the possibility of Gaslight being entered into the bigger races in Detroit and Chicago. Now I understand why the photograph of Frank with the horse and dog is marked “GASLIGHT.” That was the same horse!
  • Frank hunted for small game and birds.
  • Frank was a men’s clothing salesman of some repute.
  • Before his marriage, when Frank went on vacation, the Kalamazoo Gazette noted it.
  • When Frank changed places of employment, he was mentioned in the paper. In August 5, 1894, he worked for That Thomas clothing house. In 1896 (March 19)  he went to work at the brand new and elegant clothing house of Mr. Yesner as one of his three salesmen. In 1907, Frank went to work for Hershfield’s. See article below.
  • In March 1906, Frank bought a lot on Ranney Street from Mrs. Blanche Henderson and “is having a fine residence erected on it.” That house would be ready for his bride Genevieve less than 4 months later. Ranney is a small street off South Westnedge Ave.
  • On April 30, 1911, Frank was building an “elegant new home” at 122 North West Street (West Street later became Westnedge Avenue, according to Sharon Ferraro). The property is “for sale,” but of course when Frank had influenza in 1918, that is the house he and Genevieve lived at.
  • His “wife” is only mentioned once in the newspaper, related to the transfer of a piece of real estate to someone else for $1.

I also discovered another photograph of Frank. Are these riding goggles he is wearing?

Here are a sampling of newspaper articles with a couple of surprises.What does this theatre ad mean? Was Frank an actor? How could the entire cast be as presented at the Chicago Auditorium (read this link about this marvelous performance venue!), which was a 4,000 seat theatre?

I have to say that if Frank was an actor it would not surprise me at all. He had to have been a larger-than-life man, full of humor (2 or 3 times he’s quoted in a humor column), and loving a good time. He was quite young at the time this ad was placed. The date of 10 November 1901 is five years before his marriage. He was about 25.

A curious item was in the Society and Personal column two months after Frank’s marriage to Genevieve:

Was Frank the only non-Jew in this party to attend synagogue services? And who was Mose Dunstin and how did Frank know him? All I have learned so far (of value to me for my curiosity) about Mose was that he was Moses Dunstin, born in “Russian Poland,” and his father’s surname was Danskin. He died 4 April 1910 in Kalamazoo at the age of 52. Cause of death was Angina Pectoris (chest pain) and contributing factors were influenza and albuminaria. Notice that for Moses I was able to get a free death certificate. So unfair . . . . Anyway, when Moses invited Frank to attend services, Moses was only 48.

Because the date of the article was 21 September 1906 I wondered if the event involved the High Holidays, but it seems that Sukkot began on September 21 (probably evening of September 20), so maybe it had to do with that holiday instead.

In 1907, Frank went to yet another clothier:

Notice it says Frank was with “That Thompson Clothing House” for 9 years. If he went with Yesner in 1896, that would mean he had been had the previous one since 1887. Since he was born in 1876, that would be impossible. What makes sense to me is that he left That Thomas for Yesner, left Yesner, and went back to That Thomas. Or the paper has the nine years wrong, which is also very possible. Note: I don’t yet know what year the Tazelaars immigrated to the U.S.

On January 29, 1914, the 80th birthday of Frank’s mother, Adriana Bek Tazelaar, was noticed. I prefer to post the whole Society column for this one. The mention is on the right side, the sixth paragraph down. In this paragraph there are mention of Adriana’s descendants, which is useful for locating Frank within his own family tree.

Later that year, on June 25, there is a somewhat humorous article about the fishing teams of the Knights of Pythias lodge. Frank is one of the team captains.  This article is notable for sharing Frank’s photo. He was about 39 here . . . .

This article is ALSO notable for mentioning my great-grandfather’s fish market! Referring to the fish caught in the contest, the article says, “All fish must be delivered at Zuideweg’s [SIC: should be Zuidweg’s] market in Eleanor Street by Monday noon . . . .” So you know the connection, Genevieve Remine Tazelaar was the first cousin of my great-great-grandfather Richard DeKorn whose son-in-law was my great-grandfather Adrian Zuidweg who owned the fish market. Now the most important part: Richard DeKorn built the Pythian building known as Pythian Castle and, earlier, as the Telegraph Building. The link explains about the building.

I’ve posted a photo of the fish market in the past.

Fish Market on Eleanor Street with Adrian Zuidweg and helper

Seven years later, there is a notice that Frank needs to have a frame house moved from a lot.

April 3, 1921
Kalamazoo Gazette

When Genevieve died in September 1930, the couple were living at 423 S. Westnedge Avenue, so it stands to reason that Frank wanted to sell a frame house on new property so he could build a new house. It would be at least the third house he built for himself and his wife. Her parents probably lived there with them, as well. It might sound funny to move a house, but when I was little I watched a house being moved down the street while I was holding my grandmother’s hand. I never forgot that first image of a house on wheels, although I did see a similar scene much later in life.

The last article of any note I could find was on 29 September 1922.

From being the toast of the town to an arrest! For shooting ducks after sunrise yet, which is very unsportsmanlike. Maybe it was his companions who steered him wrong ;). At least he didn’t catch undersized bass like Mr. Denner!

All kidding aside, while I loved getting to know Frank, I am really ticked off that Genevieve’s life is completely erased, as if she never existed. This could be because it is so difficult to research the lives of women and also because Frank was so outgoing. I hope that she had a pleasant life.

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Working on family history and genealogy is a never-ending project. It also is subject to the whims of windfalls and time constraints. By that I mean that when I receive information about a branch of the family that I am not working on, I might have to move that branch to the forefront for a little while. And even when I have some wonderful “leads” to follow, if I don’t have the time, I have to postpone work on that branch.

Sometimes I get so many active branches going, I can’t even keep track of what I should work on next.

Lately, these are the branches I have been tracking down:

  • MULDER family: I have been trying to put all the most important information about the Mulder family in a timeline format. When Peter Mulder contacted me with more Mulder information (including the fascinating story of Jan Mulder), I thought I would stay with the Mulders for a long time.
  • PAAK family: but then I also heard from Ed Lawrence with more photos of the Theresa Paak Lawrence family, and I posted about Theresa’s foster parents, the Pickards. Although there is more to share on this line, something sidetracked me.
  • FLIPSE/KALLEWAARD family: I heard from Jan Denkers with his information about this branch–people who actually lived just a couple doors down from my grandfather and continued living in the same neighborhood my mother grew up in. I posted a photo of the Kallewaard house, but still have more information to sort and post.

And, of course, I always keep all the other branches in mind! To further my information about the Mulders, I ordered some very important death certificates and received them for Peter and Nellie Mulder, my great-great-grandparents.

I knew that my great-grandfather, Charles Mulder, had had tuberculosis (I visited him in a TB sanitarium when I was a kid) and that his brother Henry had died from it in 1947, at age 50. What I didn’t know was that their mother Nellie also died from “pulmonary TB” in 1932, when she was 63. Now I wonder if “only” those three were afflicted or if others in the family also had TB.

 

The names of her parents are a little garbled. Her father was Jan Gorsse and her mother Kornelia Hijman. Interestingly, after I received her death certificate, I found another one online, where it had probably been misfiled. Not sure why there are TWO? My guess is that the one above was prepared at my request, but why is it less complete than the one prepared for me about Peter?

 

The second one explains that Nellie had had TB for 15 years and also had diabetes for 5. Maybe that explains why in Peter’s letter to his brother Jan it seemed that Nellie had struggled with ill health.

Peter’s death certificate also gives his cause of death.

 

Carcinoma of the face.

I am no skin cancer expert, but I believe that basal cell and squamous cell are carcinomas, but that melanoma is not. I find it frustrating that I can’t seem to find a good source to research basic understandings of fatal illnesses and their treatments for past periods of history in the U.S. and Europe. What did this diagnosis mean in 1953? Did he have a basal or squamous cell cancer and not realize it until it was too late? These carcinoma type skin cancers are not uncommon in my family with our fair skin, but to think of my G-G-Grandfather dying from it defies the imagination. The only other major health problem he had was arthritis?

Both Nellie and Peter died in the month of October, 21 years apart. They were both buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Remember the daughter that Peter was worried about leaving behind when he died? Maybe she is the reason he lived for those 21 years past Nellie. Her whereabouts–and birth and death–were complete mysteries until I found a lead. Now I’ve ordered an obituary for her from 1968 and have to wait a few weeks to receive it. Stay tuned.

I’ll be back with more on these and other branches in the future . . . .

 

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Over a year ago, I wrote a series of posts about Theresa (Tracy) Paak, the daughter of my great-great-grandmother’s only brother. Theresa was the mother of Professor Lawrence, who has been kind enough to send me photographs and information about his branch of the family. If you’ve been following along here for some time, you might remember my posts about Theresa Pake, the middle child (of five) of my great-great-grandmother’s brother, George.

You might remember that after the disastrous fire that destroyed the family home, Theresa went to live with Oliver and Una Pickard. Mrs. Pickard was Theresa’s Sunday School teacher. I wrote about the Pickards in George Paak’s Legacy, Part VI: Who Were the Pickards? What I discovered in my research was that the Pickards were married young, remained childless, and began their careers as nurses, both living and working at the State Hospital (psychiatric hospital).  Eventually Una became a private duty nurse and Oliver a postman.

I really tried to imagine this couple and what they were like because they proved to be so important to Theresa’s life. The other day I got my wish to see what they looked like when Professor Lawrence sent me photographs.

Una was 18 and Oliver 23 when they married. Could this be their wedding portrait?

Here is Auntie Pick, as she was called, in uniform.

And Oliver, or “Uncle Bob,”  in the classic “man walking down the sidewalk pose” (yes, we’ve seen it a couple of times already with other people in other photos).

Here is a photograph of Theresa herself taking a photograph of her foster parents.

 

Here is “Uncle Bob” with Theresa’s son Richard, or Dick, in Wisconsin. This is Professor Lawrence’s brother.

There was some confusion in the censuses over the address of the Pickards, but I think they lived in the same house for years at 1846 Oakland Drive.

And many years later. The house is no longer there.

As a bonus, here are photographs of Una’s parents and of Una as a baby.

She looks the same as a baby as at eighteen!

Here are the other Pake/Paake/Paak/Peek posts:

A Series of Disasters

The Children After the Fire, 1902

Paak-a-boo

Saved from the Fire

Who is George Paake, Sr.?

Curious about George

George Paake’s Legacy, Part I

George Paake’s Legacy, Part II: Theresa’s Pre-Professional Education

George Paake’s Legacy, Part III: Theresa’s Professional Education

George Paake’s Legacy, Part IV: A Letter to His Daughter

George Paake’s Legacy, Part V: Theresa Gets Married

 

 

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