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Posts Tagged ‘retail history’

I chose Adrian Zuidweg, Jr., my maternal grandfather, as the starting point for this project of filling in the information/document gaps of my direct ancestors. His family inspired the blog because of the photograph collection that Grandpa had owned, which included glass negatives from the photography of his uncle, Joseph DeKorn.

I’ve always known that Grandpa was born on 31 October 1908 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  What I didn’t realize was that I had no record or documentation of that birth! So that was the first gap I set out to fill.

I wrote Wayne Loney, the genealogist in Kalamazoo who has helped me in the past. He found Grandpa’s birth recorded on the county record birth book: book 6, page 146, record 10294. Adrian Zuidweg, white male, was born in the City of Kalamazoo to father Adrian Zuidweg and mother Cora DeKorn. Adrian Sr’s place of birth was listed as Holland, and Cora’s was not listed. The residence was Kalamazoo. Adrian Sr.’s occupation was “Fish Dealer.” Yes, he owned a fish market.

Wayne shared a tip with me: not to order a birth certificate from county because they would just type up the same info that the record shows, affix their seal, and charge me for it. I took his advice, so I am just posting the following (he’s second to last):

As I continued down my list of the most basic documents for genealogy, I realized that I also did not have a record of the 21 May 1932 marriage of my grandparents. They were married in Indiana, not Michigan, and I had not been able to find the record before. This time, I found enough information online to order the marriage record and certificate from St. Joseph County. They have my request, and I am awaiting the documents.

I had 3 of the 4 census records that would be available. I had a copy of 1910, 1920, and 1930, but did not have 1940. His name didn’t come up in a search for that one, but knowing how often his name was mangled, I decided to search by address instead. And there I found Grandpa with Grandma, mom, and my uncle. See lines 6-9 below.

There is a military record for Grandpa, although he was too young for WWI and too old for WWII. He registered for WW2, though.

At one time I made a Findagrave profile for him, and I have a photograph of the headstone he shares with Grandma.

I also have Grandpa’s death certificate because when I undertook the project of searching specifically for death records of my direct ancestors I located it.

Question for researchers: what is the best way to find out a burial date? I can assume in many cases that it is the date of the funeral, which I can get from most obituaries. Are there other ways to make sure?

With this new emphasis on filling in the gaps, I saw that I did not have Grandpa’s obituary. So I contacted the Kalamazoo Public Library and they found two obituaries in the Kalamazoo Gazette, published one day apart. I will post them here. Here is the first one:

With this information, I would say that Grandpa’s burial occurred on Saturday, April 15, 2000.

The next one mentions a brave and scary time in my grandfather’s life when he stood up against other people.

 

Here is a transcription of the second obit.

Adrian Zuidweg’s work ethic, friendliness, and reputation for honesty probably would have been enough by themselves to ensure his success as the owner of a gas station.

But Zuidweg added to that a desire to give his customers the absolute lowest price he could on gasline, which endeared him to the gas-buying public, but didn’t win him friends among other gas station owners.

“He always wanted to try to give his customers the lowest possible price he could provide them and still make money,” said his son, Donald Zuidweg. “He got a lot of static from the Retail Gasoline Dealers Association, but he did his own thing.”

Zuidweg’s Sunoco station on South Burdick at Balch Street was front-page news in 1965 when other service station operators and employees, upset that he was charging 31 cents a gallon to their 34 cents, formed a gas-pump blockade, lining up for a nickel or dime’s worth of gas each and insisting that Zuidweg check their oil and water and wash their windshields as part of the bargain.

Zuidweg said he made about $1 during the three-hour blockade.

The ploy backfired, however, when customers who read about his lower prices in the newspaper showed up the next day to fill their tanks.

Zuidweg, a lifelong Kalamazoo area resident who died Thursday at his Portage residence at the age of 91, was a hard-worker who always mnaged to find time for his family, said Donald Zuidweg, who began helping his father when he was 4 and continued working at the station until he was through with graduate studies.

“I think I learned as much about business and people (by) working with him as I did in school.” Donald Zuidweg said.

“He worked very hard six days a week, but never worked on Sunday,” the son said. “We always had family time on Sunday.”

Although Adrian Zuidweg tried to give his customers the best deal he could, he also made sure his family had all they needed.

“He always provided for his family and put three kids through college,” his son said.

Zuidweg, who was born Oct. 31, 1908, in Kalamazoo, left school in his teens because his parents became ill and he had to take care of them.

His first job was working in the fish market his family owned. When they sold it, he started a garden and would walk north on Burdick, peddling his produce to neighbors.

After that, he worked at a confectionary owned by his father, which he eventually razed and replaced with the service station he ran until his retirement in 1972.

Zuidweg retired before self-service gasoline stations came into vogue, but understood the reasons for the changes in the business, his son said.

“It bothered him at first to see women have to fill up their own cars, but he knew that . . . (times were) changing,” Donald Zuidweg said.

Adrian Zuidweg and his wife, Edna, loved to travel and ventured farther and farther from home as time went on.

“After all of us (children) were through college, he and my mother went around the world several times,” Donald Zuidweg said.

Adrian Zuidweg was a member of First United Methodist Church in Kalamazoo for more than 60 years and served as Sunday school treasurer for nearly half that time.

Surviving are Edna, his wife of 67 years, two daughters and a son, Janet and Rudy Hanson and Donald and Jean Zuidweg of Kalamazoo and Alice Carpentier of Portage, six grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at First United Methodist Church, 212 S. Park, with burial in Mount Ever Rest Cemetery.

I remember when the gas war happened because my father was there at the station and came home telling my mother about it. Although the obituary doesn’t mention it, my father said that the men threatened violence against Grandpa.

Grandpa stood up for what he thought was right.

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