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Posts Tagged ‘Teunis Paak’

Last week I wrote a Fill in the Gaps Project post for my 3x great-grandparents, Teunis and Jacoba (Bassa) Peek/Paak.

Since the publication of that post, I have been blessed with more information about Teunis’ life. Because there is so much, I am posting all the new info here, rather than just updating that post.

Amberly was as mystified as I was by who “Perina Pick” might be. She was listed on the 1870 census in Cooper Township (Michigan) in the wife position after Teunis. Then Amberly found a Findagrave memorial which must belong to her.  PERINA PECK This page indicates she died in 1890. There is not a photo of a headstone or any other information, so this information might have come from cemetery records. Since the last name reads as Peck it seems unlikely that Teunis would have had the headstone engraved. Furthermore, she isn’t listed with the family in the 1880 census.

So who was she? An unknown relative? A housekeeper who happened to have a similar surname or took on the family surname? Amberly wondered if it had been a marriage of convenience. I questioned if he had met her on the ship to America since a mere two years after arriving he was already married.

I was almost falling asleep over my iPad when I decided to check out “Paak” on Genealogy Bank. Guess what popped up?  Several notices dated 24-30 September 1881.

 


Tannis Paak vs Priera Paak, divorce; J F Alley for complainant, T R Sherwood for defendant. I don’t know what “Chancery–Fourth Class” means to this case, but it looks to me as if Teunis was the one to file for divorce. This makes him the first direct ancestor I have ever found who went through a divorce.

Therefore, I conclude that he did indeed marry this woman at some point after arriving in the  United States (there is no marriage record in the Netherlands, where the records are much much better than the U.S. ones for the time period). That said, Perina/Priera does appear to be from the Netherlands, according to the census.

While I was in the newspaper files, I discovered a 10 February 1882 notice for a sale of farm equipment by Teunis and his son George.

 

I believe this is close to when Teunis moved from Cooper to Kalamazoo–effectively retiring. I was struck by the fact that he didn’t just farm celery, apparently, but also had cows and sheep.

You have to wonder where this left his only son George (Joost) because I think Teunis and George were in business together. There are several newspaper notices of buying and selling (especially buying) of land throughout this period. I do not know if they were all used for celery farming or for other purposes. They were generally somewhat sizable and expensive parcels.  Also, the amazing genealogy volunteer Wayne Loney discovered a map of interest. Notice the “Paak & Son.”

This is an 1890 map of Kalamazoo Twp. At the top of the page the look at “Kalamazoo” and below the Z, in section 10 where the RR tracks become closer, you will find a 10 acre plot which says Paak & Son. The road at the west edge of the property is Pitcher St. and the area is currently (and it depends) either the now defunct Checker Motors or what was the Brown Co. It has been several different paper companies and I have no longer been able to keep up with its current name. But, at one time, it became very expensive property.

If you think that this map looks remarkably like the one where Jacob Verhulst’s farm was later located (the post about Annie Paak Verhulst), you would be right. It looks like property that might have belonged to Teunis and son George Paak ended up eventually with daughter Annie and her husband Jacob.

Another fact that Wayne uncovered has to do with where Teunis is buried. Here is a map of Riverside Cemetery.

Wayne remarked: “Tannis PAAK is buried in Riverside Cemetery and is the only occupant of the entire 8 grave plot, in Section U, Plot 87. There are 7
unused graves. U,087,01 is the City of Kalamazoo’s description.”

Wow, did he buy eight graves, expecting his children to be buried near him and then nobody was buried there? That is another mystery I can try to solve by discovering where all his children were buried. I can also try to contact the cemetery to see if I can get more information.

Back to the immigration of Teunis and his family. According to an index available on Ancestry which Amberly discovered, Teunis traveled with five children to “Port Uncertain” in 1868. Five children. Not six, which is what it would be if Willempje was with them. However, I can’t take it too seriously since Teunis is indexed as age 23! He was 46. There is no wife mentioned either, which I do think is accurate. I do know that 1868 is accurate because Yvette Hoitink was able to find that information in the Dutch emigration records.

Yet another area of future research is the probate records. Wayne knows where they are and will get them when he can. WOOT! Plus, I know they are worth reading because from the time of Teunis’ death in April until March of the following year (1894) probate dragged out. I know this because there are many notices in the newspaper. My great-greats Richard and Alice DeKorn are mentioned. It will be interesting to see what property was left at the time of his death and who inherited it.

Years ago I wrote blog posts about the fire at George’s house in 1902. His wife Lucy had passed away two years previously, leaving him with five young children. At the time of the fire, George did not have funds or insurance on his home. He also had been ill and had not been working because of his health. This is only nine years after the death of “prosperous celery farmer” Teunis. I can’t wait to read the probate record! By the way, my chapbook Kin Types also has a story called “The Weight of Smoke” based on the fire at George’s house.

Additionally, Wayne gave me Teunis’ death record, which I did not have. He died of cancer of the stomach.

Although Teunis immigrated before many of my other ancestors, there are so many documents relating to his life. I suspect that eventually much of his story will be clear. I just wish I had a photograph of my 3x great-grandfather.

 

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I am moving backward in time now to my 3x great-grandparents. Three sets of my 3x greats were immigrants to the United States. For this couple, sadly, only Teunis left the Netherlands for the United States with the couple’s children. Jacoba passed away in 1865 in the couple’s hometown of Lexmond, which is in the province of Utrecht and is not part of Zeeland. I guess you could say only 2 1/2 sets immigrated.

I do not believe I have photos of Teunis and Jacoba. They were born in the 1820s, and she died before the age of 50. To supplement for that, I will post here a painting of a family in Utrecht from 1849 signed by David van der Kellen III, 1827-1895, Utrecht.

The first child of Teunis and Jacoba, Joost (later, in America, George) was born in 1850, so this is pretty close in time.

So what do I have on this couple and what am I missing?

For Teunis (or Tannes or Tennes or Thomas) and Jacoba, I have their birth records (born in 1822 and 1824). I also have their marriage record for 1848.

Yvette Hoitink was able to discover for me that Teunis was not called to the military. From his military physical description, we can see what Teunis looked like. He was a blue-eyed blond with a round face.

 

One thing I want to note about the surname is that in the Netherlands the records show Teunis with the surname Peek. Once the family was in the United States they tended more toward Paak.

There are birth records for their children, so I know that Teunis was a farmer in the Netherlands. One large gap for me is that one of their daughters, Willempje, was born in 1856, but I cannot find a death record for her in the Netherlands. Since I do not have immigration and naturalization information yet, I didn’t know if she came to the United States or passed away as a child.

In 1865, both Jacoba and Teunis’ mother passed away. Teunis brought his family to the United States in 1868, where they lived in Cooper Township for over a decade. I could not find them in the 1870 census. But I have them in the 1880 census in Cooper, where Teunis was a farmer.

Then an amazing thing happened: Amberly found an 1870 census that just has to be them, although the names are a little screwed up.

In this census record the family surname is Pick, but Willempje is listed, albeit as a male (William). However, Alice is listed as Ellis and a male. There are a lot of errors, but it’s doubtful that anybody else in Cooper Township fit the general “shape” of this family the way Teunis’ would. Keep in mind that the census taker, a man named Smith, probably didn’t understand Dutch or the Dutch accent or types of names very well. The family had only been in the country two years at the time of the census.

So this census tells me that Willempje probably did immigrate with her father and siblings, and sometimes between the 1870 and 1880 census takings, she passed away.

My great-great grandmother Alice named my great grandmother Cora after her mother Jacoba. Cora was a nickname for Jacoba. But she also named her daughter for Willempje because Cora’s middle name was Wilhelmina.  In this way Alice memorialized her sister.

The 1870 census also initiates a new mystery: who is listed in the “wife position,” keeping house for the family?! Her name was ostensibly “Perina Pick.” This names doesn’t fit a sister for Teunis, and there is no record of him remarrying in the Netherlands.

Amberly tried to find a record of Teunis becoming a naturalized citizen, but found no trace of it. I suppose it’s very likely that he did not become a United States citizen.

I am blessed to have found an obituary and a headstone for Teunis. According to his obit, he was a “prosperous celery farmer,” in a region of celery farmers. If only Jacoba had lived to be part of that success.

 

I believe there is an error in the obituary in that Anna’s last name should be Verhulst, not Van Hulst.

Sometimes I wonder how much some of my immigrant ancestors told their children about their lives in the old country. The age of Teunis on his headstone is not correct. The stone lists his age down to the number of days, and yet he wasn’t 72 or 73, but only 70!

Teunis is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Kalamazoo. He passed away on 24 April 1893. I have been blessed to get management of his Findagrave memorial. He must have been very brave to bring his son and five daughters to a new country and start over at the age of 46.

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