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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’ve written several posts about my grandmother, Lucille Edna Mulder (married name Zuidweg), who was born April 17, 1912, and her high school graduation scrapbook. She graduated from Caledonia High School (Michigan) in 1929.

In those posts, I mentioned that Grandma’s best friend Blanche was class valedictorian, Grandma’s older sister Dorothy was salutatorian, and Grandma–with the 3rd highest GPA–was class historian.

Visiting Mom, I recently found this photograph of Grandma and Dorothy. It’s a tinted photo, and it appears to be the right age to have been taken around the time they graduated high school. It shows the girls with movie star hairstyles.

You can see from the list below (from the scrapbook) who else graduated from CHS in 1929. Look at the proportion of girls to boys! Why was that? Were the boys working the farms and no longer attending school? If so, that’s a shame. What else could account for so few boys graduating? I trust the list because Grandma was, after all, class historian and quite meticulous about recording information.

Maybe this list will help out someone else researching their own family. Good luck!

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https://thefamilykalamazoo.com/2013/01/08/who-put-the-ring-stain-on-the-scrapbook/

https://thefamilykalamazoo.com/2017/04/17/april-17-always-reminds-me-of-grandma/

https://thefamilykalamazoo.com/2015/08/05/grandmas-school-work-late-1920s/

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This postcard belonged to the Mulder family. As you can see from the reverse side, it was addressed to a Mulder, but which one? What is that bizarre looking letter in front of the surname? Is it C for Charles? For Clara? Is it CC for Charles and Clara? My great-grandparents were Charles and Clara Mulder. Or is it a weird M for Mister? N. Boltwood Street, City. But what city? If I could read that postmark, I would know, but I can’t.

When I look at the 1910 census, I can see that Charles and Clara Mulder lived on Boltwood Street in Hastings, Michigan! They boarded with another young couple, Otto and Mildred Jahnke. Great-grandpa was a machinist at the time–not yet a farmer with his own farm.

It almost looks like a self-addressed card. But not necessarily. If it is, I can take a guess at who the new arrival was: my grandmother! Lucille Edna Mulder was born April 17, 1912. It is also possible that a friend had a baby that same year, and that this was their birth announcement, but I like the idea of it being my grandmother’s.

It was amusing to see that the stork brought the baby through the roof. I’ve never noticed that idea before, figuring that Santa had the roof market to himself. But it makes sense. Storks, with their nests on the roofs of the buildings, are part of the folklore of the Netherlands. That said, the card was printed in Germany, and the family of Grandma’s mother Clara was German, whereas the Mulders were Dutch. So I looked up storks in Germany and, while they do have storks in Germany, they are more common in Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Belgium.

Note: this postcard uses the same way of addressing that the one last week did: using “city” instead of the name of the city itself. The assumption is that it’s used for intra-city correspondence.

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Right now I am corresponding with several new people from the Noffke branch of the family, as well as from my dad’s family. The Noffkes are connected with the Waldecks and Kuschs and possibly immigrated from East Prussia. I’ve also got a really busy two months ahead of me, so I can’t share all the information or move very quickly on any of the leads I have.

I’ve met another roadblock, though, in learning the name of the town these people actually came from. I tried to get the death certificates of all the Waldeck kids. By kids I mean my great-grandmother and her siblings. I found Godfrey’s. He is the only one I actually knew. His certificate says he was born in Germany. No help there.

I really wanted to find Fred’s because he is the one who was catastrophically injured in a streetcar and wagon accident and had to live out his life at the State Hospital in Kalamazoo. At first, I thought his certificate was lost, but then I found it under the name Walback, rather than Waldeck. Sadly, it gives the time he lived at the psychiatric hospital. 53 years, 11 months, 1 day. They don’t even know his last name, but they knew how long he was there to a day. Since he died on January 22, 1953. That would mean that he was injured before February 21, 1899. Imagine living in that institution for almost 54 years!

Of course, Fred’s death certificate also says he was born in Germany. No other origin info. For “citizen of what country?” they typed in “Unknown.”

 

On the 1900 census, his wife Caroline was found living with a farm couple out in the country, working as their servant. Their son Edward (the boy who was hit by the car when he was a young teen) would have been a toddler and probably was living in Grand Rapids with his maternal grandmother while his mother sent money to them. What a tragedy for that young family.

Several Waldeck siblings died while still in Europe, apparently as babies or children. But that leaves my great-grandmother Clara, her sisters Ada and Annie, and brother August. I haven’t been able to find any of their death certificates yet! A lot of the databases only go until 1952 in Kent County, and Clara died in 1953, the same year as Fred. August died during WWI, but I can find no information about him. If I can find these death certificates, maybe, just maybe, somebody will have something more definitive on there for origin than “Germany.”

Apparently, the State Hospital (Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital) had several buildings on their campus. Maybe Fred lived in this building, called Edwards, which housed male residents. This photo belongs to the Kalamazoo Public Library and can be found with others on their site. Click through the photo to enter.

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Two and a half years ago I wrote a post explaining how I didn’t know anything about the Waldeck branch of my family. I’ll quote the post here and then give you an update, such as I have at this point.

Waldeck is a fairly common name.  There are two Castle Waldecks. Lots of places share the name Waldeck.  There are many Waldecks listed on Wikipedia, including the first Waldeck, who was a count, and some Waldeck princesses.  I bet there are a lot of paupers named Waldeck, too.

But so far I can’t find the town or region in Germany where my Waldeck family came from.

Look at the sorry state of the family tree:

Godfrey Waldeck family treeeGodfrey (Gottfried) and his wife Alvena (Alvina) immigrated to the United States with their family and then had more children. I don’t even know if all those children listed on this tree are theirs! Clara is.

And so is Godfrey (junior) because I remember him when I was young. He managed a grain elevator or something like that, but he also farmed his own land. He was blind from glaucoma when I met him, and he still walked down the road each day and drove his tractor in the fields. As an aside, glaucoma runs rampant in their family.

I know that Grandma used to like to go to the Waldeck family reunions, and I went to at least one myself, at a lake (of course).

Look at Alvina Waldeck above. The tree lists her as Alvina Neffka, as if that is her maiden name. But is it? I’ve also seen it listed as Noffke and on her death certificate her father was listed as Louis Koffler. Her mother was listed as Dora Couch.

Noffke is a German name, and so is Koffler.  Neffka is not German.  Neither is Couch.

One person I’ve spoken with has wondered if the family was more Polish than German, but I have no proof of that either.

I need some help with this and hope that somebody reads this blog and gives me some clues about the family!

 

I am going to take a stab at identifying the people in the photo.

Back row:  Fred (according to a rumor, he was in a terrible accident), Ada Steeby (who had a daughter Ruth), Anna (did she marry a Stewart or Christianson or both), August (died in WWI, a bachelor)

Front row: Gottfried, Clara (my great-grandmother), Alvina, Godfrey

Looking at this photo and the names, can we write off Adolph, Rudolph, Max, Herman? Are they not part of our family?  Or were they older, born in Germany, and already living their own adult lives when this photo was taken?  And why isn’t Fred even on the family tree?!

Here is what I’ve learned. The family names from this branch are WALDECK, NOFFKE, and KUSCH. I believe that Couch was written by a non-German speaker on a document, and that the name is Kusch. I believe this because there are Noffke families and Kusch families in one particular area of what was (sort of) Germany: Pomerania in East Prussia. My ancestors in this branch were most likely ethnic Germans living in East Prussia, a place that would become northern Poland, a change in borders that would result in their exile at the end of WWII in 1945. Because nothing can be tied up neatly in genealogy, Waldecks do not live in the same region as Noffkes and Kuschs.

I did find a Dorothea Kusch from East Prussia who travelled to the United States from Pomerania in the 1880s, but on further analysis believe that she is a different Dorothea Kusch from Dora Kusch Noffke. This info gave me the idea that “Dora’s” name probably was Dorothea because my great-grandmother named her 3 daughters after the Noffke family. She would have named her oldest daughter Dorothea (Dorothy) after her own grandmother, as she named her second daughter Lucille after her own grandfather, Ludwig/Louis.  Her third daughter was named Alvena, after her own mother Alvina Noffke Waldeck.

Fred (born Friedrich and later Frederick), the man above who was in a terrible accident, I found just where my grandmother had warned: the State Hospital in Kalamazoo. He was in a streetcar and wagon accident and was confined to the psychiatric hospital after that. I assume he had brain damage. His wife and young son Edward moved in with her mother in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Fred died at the State Hospital, so that is how I found his death certificate.

 

While Fred was gone from home at the hospital, his 14-year-old son, perhaps while he was working or traveling to school, was hit by a car. I found an article in the paper dated July 6, 1912 about how the driver left the boy and didn’t take him to the hospital. He was lucky to survive after being left alone. Read the description of his injuries in the article and see if you think the driver should have left him!

I have also discovered that Adolph, Rudolph, and Herman passed away while the family still lived in Germany, but I have not found death records for them. Max passed away shortly after the family moved to Michigan. August did die during the time of WWI, but he was in his 50s, and I haven’t been able to find a record that his death was related to the war.  But I will keep searching.

One more thing. Late last night I got an Ancestry “hint” on Aunt Vena and Uncle Al’s wedding–that is Clara Waldeck Mulder’s daughter Alvena. Their marriage license was now available online. I noticed that they were married in the Portland Baptist Church by Pastor E. A. Waldeck. How odd that the name was Waldeck! And E.A. Like Edward? Could he be the right age? And was the A correct? Yes, it was. Edward Waldeck, son of Fred, and Aunt Vena and Grandma’s first cousin. The boy hit by the car had married a young lady named Cora. In the 1930 census, he was an accountant for an auto shop and she was a music teacher. But in the 1940 census, he was now a minister with the Baptist church! Another click of a puzzle piece snapping into place!

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Looking through my computer files (such a mess!), I found an old Word document I thought I’d share with you.

When my daughter was 10 she wanted to be a paperdoll centerfold for American Girl magazine. One of the requirements was to interview female living relatives about their childhoods. Her oldest female relative that we knew of (my daughter was adopted) was her great-grandmother, Lucille Edna Mulder (Zuidweg), who was born April 17, 1912. She passed away in 2000, just two years after my daughter interviewed her.

Here are the interview results.

Edna Mulder never wanted to be called Lucille, especially by her older sister, Dorothy, or her younger sister, Alvena.  They were called Dot and Vena, so she wanted to be called Edna.   Edna also had two younger brothers, Peter and Charles.  Her parents owned a farm in Caledonia, Michigan.  Her father came from a Dutch-American family and her mother from a German-American family.

 

Edna, Clara (holding Pete), Vena, Charles, and Dot

The farmhouse had a big dining room in the middle of the first floor.  The kitchen was out in back and had a coal-burning stove/oven.  The front room was tiny, with barely enough room for the big wood-burning stove and her father’s rocking chair.  He sat and smoked his pipes and cigars in the evening.  He played cribbage with a friend with a small chair pulled up to the fire.  All the downstairs had linoleum laid on it after Edna grew up and moved away from home; while she was home, it was a wooden floor.  The upstairs was two rooms:  a bedroom for her parents and one big bedroom for the five children.  They slept five to one bed, with the boys sleeping across the width at the girls’ feet.  It was COLD up there in the Michigan winters–with no heat.  Edna’s father had built the house; most of the furniture was handmade, too, some of it quite old.

Edna’s farm had a big family of cats, but they weren’t house pets.  They were kept to kill the mice in the barn.  Edna’s job was to put food and water out on the back porch for them.  The farm had lots of corn fields, cows, pigs, and an apple orchard.  It even had a small stream for fishing, but you had to drive the wagon down there, it was so far away.

But Edna and her siblings were used to long walks.  The three girls walked three miles to school everyday and three miles back home.  They kept each other warm by cuddling together as they walked.  Once in a great while, during the worst weather, Edna’s mother drove all the children to school in a tiny black Amish buggy.

Sometimes the girls were naughty.  For instance, they knew their parents had a store charge at the grocery store in Caledonia.  A couple of times the girls couldn’t resist and charged a giant candy bar or a banana.  (Fruit was a big treat; Edna only saw oranges at Christmastime).  When their parents found out later, they would “get bawled out.”

Edna’s family didn’t have much money, except for owning the farm, but her father collected a few hundred books.  He had several series of books for children which offered moral and religious instruction, as well as some adventure books.  Edna had plenty to read while she was growing up.  But she didn’t have a lot of time to read because she always had a lot of chores.  Farms need a lot of care!  Edna learned to cook basic meat, potato, and vegetable dishes while she lived at home with her family.  She also became a good baker, making delicious cookies, pies, and cakes.  She wanted to be a teacher or a writer when she grew up, but she also wanted to have a home and a family and to take good care of them.

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I’ve posted photos of the farm where Edna grew up before:

Final note: This turned out to be a great project for my daughter and for me because it was about our shared knowledge–some of what my grandmother taught my mother was taught to me and taught, in turn, to my daughter–and we both learned about history through the life of an ordinary girl. And, yes, my daughter did get to be an American Girl paperdoll. You can read the story and see the photos here: An American Girl’s Family Tree

 

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