The story of Jennie DeKorn Culver begins in Michigan. It turns out that, even with the beautiful scrapbook, she is one of the biggest mysteries of my family tree.
Jennie’s birth name was Adriana. She was named after her grandmother, Adriana Krijger (the mother of Johanna Remijnse, Jennie’s mother). According to Adri van Gessel, in the dialect of the Goes region at that time, she would be called Joâne–a name that doesn’t sound like Joanne. There is no English equivalent, so she was called Jennie.
Jennie was born in Ottawa County, Michigan, in 1857 or 1858, one or two years after her parents moved to the United States, so she never lived in The Netherlands herself. Her mother passed away in 1864, so Jennie would have only been 6 or 7.
On December 25 (Christmas Day!), 1882, Jennie married John P. Culver in Kalamazoo. John was born in 1854,1855, or 1856 in Climax, Michigan, to Oliver C. and Almira Carney Culver. John had six siblings. He was about 12 years older than Jennie who was 25 or so.
The couple had two daughters:
- Lela Almira Culver, born in Kalamazoo, on September 27, 1888
- Rhea A. Culver, born in Kalamazoo, on November 13, 1890
At some point before 1898, the couple divorced. I know this because John remarried on July 7, 1898, at Muskegon, Michigan. His new bride was Florence V. Potter (Flora), daughter of William H. Potter and Florence King. Florence was born in 1876 and died after 1940, possibly as late as 1964.
Florence was married about 1900 to Norman Brant. The couple had two daughters. Florence went on to marry again, too.
John Culver himself probably had a 3rd marriage, possibly to Gladys E. Simmons.
Back to Jennie. I couldn’t find a divorce record online for her divorce from John, so I resorted to Genealogy Bank to look up the local newspaper, The Kalamazoo Gazette. That’s when I found articles that show that the couple certainly did divorce, and while the girls were so young. Jennie didn’t come from people who divorced, so for her to divorce her husband (and with young daughters at home, too), they must have had a drastic problem.
The following newspaper articles tell part of the story. Several of them are attached in .pdf form because they were too long for me to take screen shots of them. If you click the links you will find the newspaper articles. Be sure not to pass by the last one without clicking and reading.
Before the storm you could get lunch at Culver’s: Jan 5, 1895 lunch at Culver
It begins in the fall?
The Gazette had a list of Circuit Court cases in the paper on Dec 6, 1895. Jennie Culver v. John P. Culver was listed as a divorce case.
More about the divorce on May 8, 1896 .
As if to counteract the bad publicity the day before, the Gazette lists something innocuous about John on May 9, 1896. It merely states that he has been given the refreshment concession at the Recreation Park.
On May 14, 1897, there were two articles. One was in Jottings and shows that John Culver has changed something small or large about his livelihood.
Apparently, one can no longer get lunch at John Culver’s on North Burdick.
There there is one that tells me that the divorce was finalized before May 14, 1897. Heart-breaking. This one you need to click through to read.
The children were at the Children’s Home! Not with their mother! I tried to find something about the Children’s Home in Kalamazoo at that time. All I could find was a list of the children in the home in 1900.
Note that the girls are not on the list, so it’s likely that they were living with their mother by 1900.
Here are some articles about the Children’s Home:
I’ve written to the blogger who wrote both these articles because it appears that her relatives lived at the home at the same time the Culver girls lived there.
When did Jennie move to Seattle with her daughters? And why?
The 1910 census shows Jennie still in Kalamazoo, and the city directory shows her there in 1915.
Many of the Seattle photographs in the photo album seem to be from about 1915-1925. Remember that Jennie would have been around 58 years old in 1915!
Jennie died in Seattle on July 4, 1947.
The answer to the title is: I don’t know! I guess I have to keep researching. Jennie doesn’t appear to have remarried, although it is possible. The daughters remained single for a long time (not sure if one of them ever married), so it wasn’t to follow a daughter’s husband’s job or family.
Any guesses on why she would have moved to Seattle in or just after 1915?