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Posts Tagged ‘Richard DeKorn’

This is the best image I have ever seen of my great-great grandfather Richard DeKorn, Kalamazoo mason and building contractor.

Notice that this portrait is signed. It seems to say L. C. Robinson ’27.

So who was L. C. Robinson? From a directory of early Michigan photographers:

Robinson, Leo Carey
Dowagiac student …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….1900
Grand Rapids student ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….1910
Grand Rapids manufacturer of studio furniture for photographers ………………………………………………………… 1910-1911
Grand Rapids photographer for Carey B. Robinson ……………………………………………………………………………………..1912
Grand Rapids PHOTOGRAPHER at 115 ½ Monroe av ……………………………………………………………………… 1913-1921
Kalamazoo PHOTOGRAPHER at 414 Main st west ………………………………………………………………………….. 1923-1925
Kalamazoo PHOTOGRAPHER at 426 Main st west ………………………………………………………………………….. 1926-1927
Kalamazoo PHOTOGRAPHER at 426 Michigan av west …………………………………………………………………… 1929-1931
Kalamazoo PHOTOGRAPHER at 346 Burdick st south …………………………………………………………………….. 1939-1942
Leo was the elder son of photographer Carey B. Robinson and Lettie Alena (Lewis) Robinson, was born on February
25, 1893, at Delton, Michigan, and became a tall man with light brown eyes and brown hair. Her father came from
Indiana and Alta was born at Plainwell, Michigan, in June of 1893, sixth of the nine children of Charles C. and Frances
Ardella (Nichols) West. She grew up on an Allegan County farm, and she married Leo in 1914. Their children were
born in Michigan: Chester in 1915, Doris in 1916, Rueben (later Richard) in July of 1919, Jack about 1924, Avis in
May of 1926, and Eileen in February of 1928. The furniture manufactured by C. B. Robinson & Sons was sold across
the nation and in several other countries. Though Leo, along with his brother Ralph and his father, was a principal of
this company through 1911, Leo and his mother operated the photograph studio while his father supervised the
furniture factory. Leo became the nominal proprietor of the Grand Rapids studio about 1913, though his mother and
father still were involved with its operation and finances. He called it Robinson’s Art Loft in 1917. Late in 1923 he
purchased the Spaeth Studio, located in its own building on West Main Street, and within a couple of years had
developed one of the largest portrait trades in Kalamazoo. Leo died at Kalamazoo in 1942.

This photograph has a strange sheen to it and a pattern that overlays it all–visible in certain formats on my computer screen. This must be a certain type of photography, but I don’t know what it is.

I do know that I am grateful for this photograph dated three years before Richard’s death.

Dated. But taken? Richard was born in 1851 in Kapelle, Zeeland, Netherlands. In 1927, he would have been 76 years old.

Did he dye his hair? Could those moderate “living lines” be from 76 years of living? I find this photo a little confusing if it’s meant to be from 1927.

What do YOU think?

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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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The other day I posted Richard DeKorn’s death certificate from Kalamazoo and asked for help with the cause of death. Readers were very helpful, and I’m so appreciative.

I mentioned at the time that Richard’s daughter and Grandpa’s mother, Cora DeKorn Zuidweg (Mrs. Adrian Zuidweg), wasn’t in the register of deaths. Two readers kindly sent me Cora’s death certificate that they found on the Seeking Michigan website.

Cora is a particularly intriguing person to me because Grandpa and Grandma used to tell me that I looked a lot like her, especially with my hair pulled back. Cora always wore her hair up. The first time I saw this picture of Cora I was in my 20s and felt as if I was looking into a mirror.

Also, Grandpa’s stories about her included stories of her love for animals and her courage to defend them. I feel a real affinity in the area of love of animals and wish I had her courage.

Here are Cora and Adrian (senior) with Grandpa, Adrian (junior)

What I knew about Cora’s death was that she had cancer that had spread throughout her body and her brain became confused from the disease. I also knew that she was dying when my grandparents got married. That explains why they got married out of town and on their own. My grandmother moved into the house with Grandpa and his mother and took care of her until she died a few months later.

Now take a look at the cause of death on the certificate:

Exhaustion – debility from gen – metastatic sarcoma spindle cell – primary in left thigh, followed injury was removed 9-16-29 – had existed there 5 years.

I believe that it is what it says.

So cancer that started in her left thigh. Cancer that, according to Google, would be treated with chemo today. If caught in time, the results would probably be positive. Spindle cell sarcoma apparently is a connective tissue cancer.

I thought that was a little bit of a coincidence because it seems that Cora had the cancer since she was about 52 and when I was 50 I had a tumor in my foot. While my tumor turned out not to be cancer, it was a giant cell reparative granuloma, which means that it has some characteristics of cancer (possibility of metastasizing and also destruction and replacement of healthy tissue). My tumor is the type that also reacts to injury or pressure, as Cora’s did.

After checking out more on Google, I also learned that Giant Cell tumors can turn into cancer if left untreated–and sometimes into spindle cell. Notice that Cora’s original tumor wasn’t removed until 1929, about two years into her diagnosis.

All very curious. I know that I am lucky that I got 21st century medical care for my foot.

Cora passed away at age 57, never meeting her three grandchildren. My mother would be born less than two years after Cora’s death.

 

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The haphazard method of genealogy research that I practice is fun because I follow threads that interest me at the moment, and since I am always juggling a lot at once because I’m a little hyper, it probably works best for me.

Nevertheless, this style has its limitations. I didn’t realize the extent, though, until I went to look up “causes of death” on death certificates for my grandfather’s family. Well, darn. They all lived and died in Kalamazoo–and apparently it is not easy to find death certificates in Kalamazoo. At least not from afar.

Out of 6 people–Grandpa’s parents and both sets of grandparents–I only have one death certificate, that of Richard DeKorn. When I pushed myself, I did find 4 of the other 5 on the death registers online. Then I emailed the County Clerk volunteers to see if someone can find the information for me. Keeping my fingers crossed on this one!

Grandpa’s mother, Cora DeKorn Zuidweg, isn’t even in the register. She passed away near the end of 1932, but I couldn’t find her the last few months of 1932 or even the beginning of 1933. I hope that volunteers can give me some insight into this issue.

Here is Richard DeKorn’s death certificate:

Here are some things I noticed of interest from the 1930 document:

Richard lived at 1440 Maple Street (not too far from Oakland Drive), not at the corner of Burdick and Balch. Does this mean that he had already moved with his second wife, Jennie, from the old neighborhood?

He died at New Borgess Hospital. So Borgess must have had that name at that time.

He had been retired for fifteen years from his occupation as a mason contractor. Since he was 78 when he passed away, he retired at age 63.

What does his cause of death state?

Secondary pneumonia 2 days.

Mucopurulent bronchitis 10 days.

Prostatic hypertrophy [interstial???] cystitis 3 months.

Is that last the same thing as prostatitis?

Does this mean that he had a UTI that eventually led to pneumonia?

If penicillin was first used as an antibiotic in 1928, what was the state of antibiotic usage in 1930? Were they being used yet? Did Richard die because he didn’t have an antibiotic for cystitis?

UPDATE:

Since I posted this earlier this morning, I’ve had some interesting info shared. Amy Cohen of Brotman Blog asked her medical expert about Richard’s cause of death. Here is what he said:

I would say with confidence that the ultimate cause of death was pneumonia–formerly known as the old man’s friend because it caused death quickly and with relatively little discomfort. It sounds as though he initially became ill with either a viral infection or had COPD (Chronic Bronchitis), which progressed to a pneumonia. Cystitis is any inflammation of the bladder, and it does not need to be infectious in nature. A man with an enlarged prostrate could have cystitis from inadequate bladder emptying and bladder distension. If a UTI was the primary factor, then the ultimate cause of death would have most likely been sepsis, not pneumonia.

As for antibiotic treatment at his time of death, none really existed. Sulfa-based antibiotics and penicillin may have been discovered in the late 20’s – early 30’s, but they would not be commercially available for another decade. Sulfa was being used in the 30’s, but Penicillin use didn’t really start until WW2 and probably was not widely prescribed until late 40’s – early 50’s.  People not dying from bacterial infections is just another thing Baby Boomers take for granted.

I sure do! I was born in 1955, and I remember getting a lot of penicillin as a kid because I was sick a lot. It never occurred to me that my parents wouldn’t have had that same advantage.

Also, TAO (who writes a fabulous blog about adoption) shared some specific information about penicillin. According to her, it wasn’t prescribed until 1945, which is corroborated by Amy’s medical expert.

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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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I have written about the Flipse family in Kalamazoo and my connection to them. My great-great-grandfather Richard DeKorn’s niece Frances DeSmit married Jacob Flipse. Now it looks to me as if there are least two connections between the Flipse family and the Kallewaard family, so when I use the name Kallewaard in the future know that I mean Kallewaard/Flipse.

Jan Denkers from the Netherlands contacted me with some information about the Kallewaard/Flipse family that lived in the Burdick and Balch neighborhood in Kalamazoo near my family. His father had carefully kept information about the family.

I will be writing another post or two about the family before too long.

In the documents that Jan shared with me was the above photograph. This house was probably the 3rd house north from my great-great-grandfather’s house on the corner of Burdick and Balch. Inside it lived the Kallewaard family: Cornelius, Mary (Flipse), and their children.

The next photo is my great-great-grandfather’s house at the corner. You can see the variety in styles of homes, although each is special in its own right.

 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could find a photo of each house in the neighborhood and put them together to see the neighborhood in its heyday?

Although the DeKorn house is still standing, the Kallewaard house is not, unfortunately. Thank you, Google Maps.

 

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