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Posts Tagged ‘Zeeland’

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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Peter Mulder has discovered more information about his grandfather, Jan Mulder, through the Red Cross war archive. Jan is the Mulder who died in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in WWII. Read about it in The Story of a Mulder in Indonesia.

Jan was my great-great grandfather Peter (Pieter) Mulder’s half-brother and you might remember the heart-breaking letter Peter wrote to Jan after the death of his wife Nellie. You can read it in The Treasure that Arrived in an Email.

According to Peter’s information, Jan was interned in March 1942 in the Ambarawa camp, Central Java number 7. His camp number was 13591. He was detained there until his death on 23 November 1945. You will note that this is a few months after the Japanese surrender, and Jan had wanted to return to Holland. However, his fragile health did not allow him to travel. Although Jan was only 66, heart disease and starvation edema ultimately proved fatal.

The day before Jan passed away, he was baptized as a Catholic as the fulfillment of his last wish. He died quietly in the hospital with Sister Josephine and Reverend John G. Breman at his side. Reverend Breman was also a patient at the hospital.

Jan was buried in the camp, which was considered a privilege at that time.

Jan Mulder with his beloved cello

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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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When Peter Mulder contacted me, he had a treasure that involved Jan Mulder and also my great-great grandfather, Pieter Mulder. After the death of his wife Neeltje, Pieter wrote to his brother Jan in the Netherlands. And here is the beautiful and heart-breaking letter.

Since the letter is written in Dutch, here is a translation that Peter provided for us:

October 23 1932

 

Beloved brother,

It is with sadness and a heavy heart that I must tell you my wife  has died  October 12th.

It’s a heavy day for me Jan,  there I have a daughter who always must be under my eye . She is not trusted to just go out unless a person familiar is with her. Oh, what I am missing Neeltje, she was everything to me. As children, we came together and we have been almost 48 years together, so we shared so much in life.

Now I am just about to the end all alone. Fortunately that Neeltje has passed away with the assurance that she went to the father House above. Often, she prayed for salvation  of this earthly life, yet she could not leave us because she knew I would be left behind with our daughter.

God gives my strength to the heavy loss.

I can not go longer Jan, write soon back to your brother. I’m moved now and living with my oldest son on the farm that gives me a little resistance.

 

My address is now

P Mulder

Caledonia

I will admit that this letter made me cry. I felt so bad because it sounds like Neeltje had suffered for a long time, which was why she prayed for salvation. Also, that Pieter felt worried about his youngest daughter. And I was so happy to see that Pieter felt close to Jan, his younger half-brother, even though they had been separated as children and had not seen each other in decades (because Pieter was in the U.S. and Jan was not). I was also happy to hear that he was content living in my great-grandfather Charles Mulder’s home.

Thinking about Neeltje’s health caused me to look for her death certificate, but I do not have it. If I can’t find it online, I might have to order it.

Pieter and Neeltje’s daughter must come in a later post as I have much to research about her. Pieter himself died in 1953 after moving between his children’s homes for 21 more years.

 

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Sometimes when I am researching family lines from the Netherlands, I wonder: what happened to the descendants of my ancestor’s siblings during the World Wars? I have particularly wondered that about WWII, maybe because my parents were alive during that war and because I know more about it than WWI.

I never expected to discover any information.

Until I was contacted by Peter Mulder from the Netherlands! He has the same name as my mother’s Uncle Pete who I knew as a smiling man and a farmer. He also has the same name as my great-great-grandfather who immigrated to the U.S. I wrote about that Pieter Mulder finding himself an orphan after the death of his father and about his move across the ocean.

This Peter Mulder has graciously supplied me with a story of what happened to my great-great-grandfather’s half-brother, Jan Mulder.

After the death of my Pieter’s mother, Karel Mulder (my 3rd great-grandfather) married Klazina Otte, and had two sons with her: Cornelis and Jan. Actually, there were many children, but sadly the rest died as infants. Karel passed away on 22 April 1881 and his children by my 3rd great-grandmother Johanna were dispersed into jobs and the orphanage.

Klazina was left to care for her two sons. Eventually, in 1904, she moved with her sons to Apeldoorn. She would have been about 63, and she died on 8 November 1922 in Apeldoorn.

Cornelis, who was born 1 September 1872, was a tailor. He married Hendrika Jonker (born 07 May 1876), and they moved their family to Utrecht on 30 July 1928.

Jan, who happens to be the grandfather of Peter Mulder, was born on 20 December 1876.  By profession, he was a hairdresser.

Jan married Petertje van Baak. Interestingly, the witnesses at the wedding were Cornelis Mulder, his brother, and Izaak Mulder, his half-brother (Pieter’s older brother). I believe this shows that the children of Karel Mulder had remained close although the family was torn apart (as far as living arrangements) by his death.

 

Jan and Petertje wedding photo

6 October 1904

Jan and Petertje had three children:

Klazina Petronella Mulder, born 06 February 1905 and died 28 April 1994

Teunis Jan Mulder, born 20 May 1907

Izaak Mulder, born 23 January 1913 and died 14 December 1980

Izaak is Peter’s father.

Teunis, Nellie, Izaak

On November 1, 1929, Jan immigrated to Soerabaja/Soerabaia, now called Surabaya, which is the capital of Jawa Timur (East Java). Indonesia was part of the Dutch East Indies. Jan left his wife and three children behind. In 1936, the couple divorced, but he kept in contact with his children.

Jan enjoyed his life in Soerabaja. He had his own hairdresser business and played music in an orchestra. He played bass, violin, and flute.

In winter/spring of 1942, the Japanese invaded and took over Java. At that time, it was necessary for all Dutch people to register with the Japanese. After that, Jan was held  in the Ambarawa internment camp for several years. The living conditions were poor and deteriorated as time went on. Peter believes that almost 13,000 people died there during that period–including Jan Mulder, Peter’s grandfather, and the half-brother of my great-great-grandfather. He was 65 years old. I can’t imagine the difficulties he must have endured in his last years.

 

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Maureen Taylor, photo detective, helped me with a couple of photos a few years ago. The other day I bought her book, Family Photo Detective.

The book gives a good overview of many topics associated with identifying old family photographs. I haven’t read it all yet, but I did read certain sections because of various questions I already have in my mind.

In my post Mysterious Antique Photographs I posted a painted metal photograph which is unidentified. I believe it is from the Remine family. Although it can seem that the Remines are very distantly related, in fact, Richard DeKorn’s mother was a Remine:

 

 

Johanna Remijinse

1817–1864

BIRTH 15 JUL 1817 Kapelle, Zeeland, Netherlands

DEATH 1864 Kalamazoo City, Kalamazoo, Michigan

* my 3rd great-grandmother *

The consensus seems to be that the photo below (of an unidentified Remine female) is a tintype.

 

However, according to Taylor, a painted photo like this would be a daguerreotype which is painted on its metal surface with colored powders which are brushed or gently blown.

One of the characteristics of a daguerreotype over a tintype is that the image needs to be viewed from an angle. Another important characteristic is a mirror-like surface. I had to pull out the original to examine it for these traits.

It’s impossible to tell if the image needs to be viewed from an angle because the image is so thoroughly painted. But the background is not mirror-like, but rather a matte dark gray with a slight texture.

I went to the internet about this mystery and discovered a site that showcases some hand-painted tintypes. Unfortunately, after 45 years, The Ames Gallery in Berkeley is closing this year. I wonder what will happen to their photographs. Click the name of the gallery to see the painted tintypes.

I think we were right that this is a tintype that has been painted. In fact, the painting is so well done that her face is very realistic. Years ago, I used to work with gold leaf, embossing leather and vinyl products, and I suspect that the jewelry has been painted with gold-leaf.

It’s frustrating that I have not had the time to work on the photos and genealogy for many months (for the most part), but I like to keep moving along, getting one little thing after another accomplished so I don’t lose my touch haha.

Without a doubt, this is the most beautiful photograph in the whole collection.

 

 

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