Posts Tagged ‘Michigan history’

My grandmother, Lucille Edna Mulder (Zuidweg), was born April 17, 1912. If she hadn’t passed away in 2000, she would be 102 today. I miss her every day.

Grandma holding me

Grandma holding me 1955

Last year I posted about Grandma’s high school graduation scrapbook. Here is the link. There are a lot of photos in that book; in most of them Grandma is hanging out with her friends and classmates.

Below, Grandma is in all but the lower right photo. One of the girls is her best friend, Blanche Stauffer. Grandma and Blanche are in the upper right photo together–that’s Grandma in front. Blanche has the straight dark bangs. In the lower left Grandma is with another friend.


The scrapbook has an autograph page, and the words from Blanche are front and center:

Grandma and I have a lot in common. One thing is that a best friend was very important to us growing up. I looked up Blanche on Ancestry, and I was amazed to learn that she, like my grandmother, was the second child in the family. Blanche’s older sister was one year older. That was the same with Grandma: her older sister Dorothy was one year older.

Blanche was class valedictorian, Dorothy was salutatorian, and Grandma–with the 3rd highest GPA–was class historian. I read a list of Grandma’s classmates, and Blanche’s older sister was not in their class. At least Blanche didn’t have the sisterly competition that Grandma had to put up with ;).

Writing is another commonality between Grandma and me. When she was elderly and had just gotten sprung from a very negative experience with a rehabilitation nursing center, she made me promise I would never give up writing. I promised her, and I have kept my word. I remember Grandma submitting funny stories and occasionally getting them published when I was very young.

Recently, my mother told me an anecdote that made me realize that Grandma and I share another interest. When I was little and my mother worked full-time, Grandma babysat me. We sang Ethel Merman songs like “Anything You Can Do.”  I could always manage to sing louder and higher than Grandma.

Any note you can reach
I can go higher.
I can sing anything
Higher than you.
No, you can’t. (High)
Yes, I can. (Higher) No, you can’t. (Higher)
Yes, I CAN! (Highest)

What I didn’t realize is that when my mother and her siblings were little, my grandmother (who was always with my grandfather, to my memory) went to New York City with her sister Dorothy. They saw Ethel Merman in Annie Get Your Gun.  She actually saw this song performed live by Merman. My mother says it was one of the highlights of her life, and I believe it because I remember this music around Grandma often when it was “just us.”  I still love musicals and so does my daughter, who performs in professional productions.

Grandma and I shared other songs, too. She used to hold me on her lap while we sang “She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain” and “This Old Man (Knick Knack Paddy Whack).” My memories of my grandmother are treasured heirlooms.

Happy birthday, Grandma.

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Just over a year ago, in A Series of Disasters, I posted a newspaper clipping that I found tucked in with the family photos. This is the copy of the article:

The residence of George Paake at 1016 Trimble Avenue was burned this morning about 10:30 o’clock and a worthy family which has had a series of disasters, left without a home.  The house which Mr. Paake was paying for in the Building and Loan Association was entirely ruined although most of the contents of the home were saved. Mr. Paake receives no insurance whatever and the little which had been accumulated by the family was lost.

The fire is only an incident in the history of the family. Mrs. Paake died a short time ago leaving five children, the oldest being fourteen years old. Since the mother’s death the little girl has had entire charge of the house and the four little children and has had all the responsibility of the family except the support which Mr. Paake gave as a laborer.  Recently he has been unable to work and was ill this morning when the fire occurred.

The neighbors have taken in the little ones and are doing all that is possible to alleviate the sufferings of the family. Mrs. Carrier has been responsible for raising a sum of money to which the neighbors have liberally contributed.

At the end of this post I will re-post the newspaper clipping for documentation. I want to apologize for spelling the surname every which way, but at every turn the name is spelled differently. Family members changed the spelling, and different documents recorded it differently. Paak-Peek-Paake-Pake: they are all the same.

Eventually, I discovered that this man was George Joseph Paak, Sr.,  the brother of my great-great-grandmother Alice Paak DeKorn and that the fire occurred on Wednesday, September 3, 1902.

George’s wife Lucy Kliphouse passed away in 1900, leaving 5 young children in their father’s care.  George (born Joost) was 50 at the time he was left a widower. At some point he had changed the surname to Pake.

The five children were Cora, the eldest mentioned in the article, Jennie, Theresa (also called Tracy), Fanny (also called Frances), and George Jr. Cora was born in 1888; Jennie (who later changed her name to Jane) in 1890; Theresa in 1893; Fannie in 1896, and George in 1898.  George was only four when the fire occurred. Imagine Cora, at 14, taking care of the others–ages 12, 9, 6, and 4. What a burden on such a young girl. And when her mother died, she was only twelve and young George was two!

Since the time of that post, George’s grandson, Professor Edgar Lawrence, discovered this blog. He’s been able to fill in many of the missing pieces about this branch of my family. His mother was Theresa, the middle child.  Here is a photo, taken at least a decade after the fire, showing all five Pake children.

Front row: Theresa and Cora Back row: Frances, George Jr., Jennie (Jane)

Front row: Theresa and Cora
Back row: Frances, George Jr., Jennie (Jane)




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Answer to my title question: the townfolk got their meat from a butcher!

Occasionally, in my collection, I find a photograph of someone who isn’t family. Quite some time ago, I posted a photograph my family saved of the local saloon keeper, the famous Dutch Arnold. I’m pretty sure there is a story there that didn’t get passed on–at least not to me.

I also have a photograph of the local butcher, Tom Richmond, and his family.

Tom Richmond and family Butcher and slaughterhouse Balch Street, Kalamazoo circa 1900

Tom Richmond and family
Butcher and slaughterhouse
Burdick and Balch area, Kalamazoo circa 1900

Apparently, he had a slaughterhouse and butcher shop close to where my relatives lived. Grandpa told me it was on Balch Street. But maybe it was just close to Balch Street.

I did find one of Tom’s ads in the Kalamazoo Gazette. It appeared April 9, 1898.

Kalamazoo Gazette ad April 9, 1898

Kalamazoo Gazette ad
April 9, 1898

Notice that this ad gives a North Burdick address. My relatives’ homes and businesses were mainly congregated near the intersection of Burdick and Balch in Kalamazoo. Maybe as a small boy, Grandpa thought the shop was on Balch, but it was on Burdick. Or maybe he remembered incorrectly (unlikely–his memory was amazing). Or maybe the shop moved.

Someday when I have all the time in the world ;), I’ll try to put together a map of the area with my relatives’ homes and businesses, as well as the surrounding ones. Create a little village on paper, in a way. At that point, I’ll have to use the City Directories to figure out precisely where Tom Richmond’s butcher shop was. What makes it hard, though, is that the address numbers have been changed since that time.

This is what I don’t really understand: what kind of custom would be responsible for my family winding up with portraits of neighbors, friends, or merchants they frequented? I am entertaining the thought that maybe somebody’s somebody married into this family. I’ll have to keep searching.

If your family has old photographs, do they have portraits of non-family in the collection?

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The other day I posted a photo of a couple I had not yet been able to identify. Once I got it posted and readers started pointing things out to me, I began to wonder if it could be George Paak.

On the advice of some readers, I pulled the original photograph out of storage and looked at the back and at the sleeve. The back is blank, but the sleeve itself says this:


I still have a lot of work to do on the research, but I thought I’d post the photo with a concentration on the man’s face along with photos of the women I suspect could be his sisters. See what you think.

What I want to eventually find out is if this is George Paak.

Alice Paak DeKorn

Alice Paak DeKorn

Alice is my great-great-grandmother. Look at their mouths. The hairline, forehead, and sparkling eyes. Don’t they look alike?

Carrie Paak Waruf

Carrie Paak Waruf

Mary Paak Remine

Mary Paak Remine

The ones above are sisters Carrie and Mary. They don’t look quite like Alice or the man. Or do they?

Annie Paak

Annie Paak


There’s another look alike. I think Alice and Annie look a lot like each other–and they look equally as much like the man.  What do you think?



Teunis Peek immigrated to the United States from the Netherlands with his children.

He was the son of Joost Peek and Annigjen den Besten, born on June 5, 1822 at Zijderveld. (He died on April 24, 1893, in Kalamazoo, Michigan).

Teunis was married on December 21, 1848 at Lexmond to Jacoba Bassa, daughter of Dirk Bassa and Aaltje van Nek.  Jacoba was born on June 18, 1824. She died on November 23, 1865 at Lexmond, before Teunis took the kids and left the country.

From the marriage of Teunis and Jacoba:

1  Joost Peek (George Joseph Paak) was born on August 25, 1850 at Lexmond. He died December 9, 1925, in Kalamazoo, Michigan.*

2  Aaltje Peek (Alice Paak) was born on September 9, 1852 at Lexmond. She died in Kalamazoo, Michigan, May 5, 1908, a few months before her grandson, my grandfather, was born.

3  Anna Catharina Peek (Anna or Annie Paak) was born on January 6, 1855 at Lexmond and died on October 6, 1933 at Kalamazoo (MI). She married Jacob Salomon Verhuist.

Anna was married on March 20, 1890 at Kalamazoo (MI) to Jacob Salomon Verhulst, son of Jacob Verhulst and Cornelia Strijd.  Jacob was born on May 1, 1848 at Kortgene, died on June 20, 1923 at Kalamazoo (MI).

4  Willempje Peek was born on September 17, 1856 at Lexmond (alive in 1870, as William ??).

5  Maaike Peek (Mary Paak) was born on July 28, 1859 at Lexmond. Mary married Richard Remine. She died in 1954 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

6  Cornelia Peek (Carrie Paak) was born on May 8, 1862 at Lexmond, died in 1957 at Kalamazoo (MI).  Cornelia was 95 years old. Cornelia was married on June 2, 1882 at Kalamazoo (MI) to Hendrik Waruf (Henry).  Hendrik was born in 1863, died in 1945 at Kalamazoo (MI).

Later, Teunis was married on January 8, 1869 at Kalamazoo (MI) (2) to Prina Adriana Schoonaard (Perena), daughter of Jan Schoonaard and Tannetje Servaas.  Prina was born on August 1, 1814 at Borssele.

The other day another Paak descendent found this blog. I am looking forward to comparing notes with him about the family.  He is the grandson of George Joseph Paak (Pake).

 * Joost Peek, or George Joseph Paak (Pake): could he be the man in the photo?

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When I was a little girl, my aunt was in college and still lived at home. Her dog, the family dog, was an English Springer Spaniel named Sandy. That dog had bitten me near the eye when I was a baby so everybody was always warning me not to go near the dog and to be careful of the dog. In kindergarten, my grandmother babysat me and I had to negotiate my way through the house with Sandy. I tried to make peace with him by making him a meat pie (with Grandma’s help) for his birthday.

What I didn’t realize was that dogs had been part of the family for generations.

Grandpa shared these photos and told me which dog was which. They belonged to Richard DeKorn, and Grandpa and his parents lived for some time with Richard (Grandpa’s grandfather). It means that they lived well over 100 years ago. I’m sorry the quality of the following photos isn’t better.





Is the dog running toward Richard DeKorn?

Is the dog running toward Richard DeKorn? Adriaan Zuijdweg in the background.

The dogs with Cora, Adrian, and Alice

The dogs with Cora, Adrian, and Alice

That’s Grandpa as a baby in his mother’s lap, so he grew up with the dogs.

Bobby in the yard

Bobby in the yard

For those of you who know about dog breeding or shows, can you tell me anything about the following?

I’ve owned dogs, too, but now I have four cats. Did my family have cats 100 years ago?  Here’s the answer:

Baby Alice playing with the kittens

Is that baby Alice playing with the kittens?

I sense that you want to know about my cats ;), so here is a slide show of my beautiful cats, as well as my grand-cats.

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Last year, I published a post about a park that once belonged to family members and that had an inpact on me when I was growing up. Ramona Park, on Long Lake, outside of Kalamazoo, Michigan, featured a pavilion called Ramona Palace.  Ramona was named after the “Indian Princess” in Helen Hunt Jackson’s popular novel Ramona, which was published in 1884.

When I was growing up, the property was owned by a relative named Therese Remine.  Therese’s mother was Mary Paak (Peek), the sister of my great great grandmother, Alice Paak DeKorn.

Therese had inherited the property from Henry and Carrie Waruf, who had owned it for years.

Here are some photos of the pavilion and property:

Ramona Palace, Long Lake Portage (once Vicksburg), Michigan

Ramona Palace, Long Lake
Portage (once Vicksburg), Michigan

Ramona Park, Long Lake Portage (once Vicksburg), Michigan

Ramona Park, Long Lake
Portage (once Vicksburg), Michigan

Ramona Park, Long Lake Portage (once Vicksburg), Michigan

Ramona Park, Long Lake
Portage (once Vicksburg), Michigan

Ramona Park, Long Lake Portage (once Vicksburg), Michigan

Ramona Park, Long Lake
Portage (once Vicksburg), Michigan

Although these photos were taken before my time, not that much had changed by the time I hung out there–except that things had slowed down considerably. There were fewer picnic tables and fewer people.

You see that long dock in the 3rd photo? It’s so long it needs to be called a pier, I think! I don’t remember that either.

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I only knew that the Bosmans existed because Grandpa told me that this photo was John Bosman.

This is what I wrote on the back of this photo, at Grandpa’s instruction:

John Bussman

2nd Reformed Church

on Park Street

Aunt Jen went there

Hmm. I have no idea what that means. I spelled the name “Bosman” incorrectly because Grandpa pronounced it “Bussman,” and I either didn’t ask how to spell it or he didn’t know.

Aunt Jen is Jennie DeKorn Leeuwenhoek, Richard DeKorn’s daughter, the sister of my great-grandmother.

The matriarch of the Bosman family was Adriana (also called Johanna and Jennie–very confusing) Remijnse or Remynse.  She was my first cousin 4x removed. She married Dirk Pieter Bosman, and John was one of their children. Grandpa told me that John was the oldest child, but according to the following information, there was another son, Garrett, who died between the ages of 7 and 12.

Dirk and Johanna/Adriana gave birth to eight children. At least four of them died as children.

In this photo, John looks like a boy who likes hunting. He was born 14 March 1876 in Kalamazoo. He grew up to marry Nellie Robb on 14 May 1903 in Windsor, Canada. On 30 April 1943, he passed away in Detroit. Please note that Windsor and Detroit are right next to each other, although they are in different countries.

Back to what I wrote on the back of the photo. Grandpa said Aunt Jen went to Second Reformed Church on Park Street, not that his mother did. The story he told me was that his mother donated a quilt to the church (Second Reformed or a different Reformed Church?) and saw a woman hanging it on her own clothesline, signifying that the woman had appropriated the quilt. Great-Grandmother Cora quit going to her church after that incident.

I’ve looked online for a photograph of Second Reformed Church on Park Street, but cannot find anything. It is probably gone, but I hope to find a photo eventually.

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My last post was about the Todds–a family that, unfortunately, I am not related to ;). One last thing about them. My mother-in-law, an artist, painted the Todd House for a man named Paul H. Todd in 1970.

Todd House Kalamazoo, Michigan

Todd House
Kalamazoo, Michigan
Artist: Diana Dale Castle

So I did a little research. Paul H. Todd was one of the sons of Albert May Todd, the founder of the A.M. Todd Company. He, and his brother Albert J., both served as mayors and city commissioners of Kalamazoo. Paul’s son, Paul H. Todd, Jr., later filled his seat in Congress from 1965 to 1967.

Which Paul Todd did my MIL paint for?

In the 1960 city directory, Paul Jr. lived at 3713 West Main Street. His business was the Kalamazoo Spice Extraction Company (now called Kalsec). Paul Sr.’s business was Farmer’s Chemical Company. He lived at 3715 West Main Street. Next door neighbors! Paul Sr. was born around 1884, so he would have been around 76 years old in 1960.

Ten years later, Paul Sr. would have been 86. So I asked my husband. He says the Paul Todd who commissioned the painting was middle-aged, so it must have been Paul Jr. Searching a little farther, it appears that Paul Sr. died in 1969.

On the bottom right corner of this print (because I only have a print, of course), my MIL wrote that this building was Paul Todd’s house (but is that possible?), and that it was located on the corner of Kalamazoo and Rose Streets. I found the intersection of W. Kalamazoo and N. Rose on Google Maps. The building is no longer there.

It seems likely that, in 1970, the business was operated in this inner city area, but that the family didn’t live there. Nevertheless, in a family discussion, others thought that Mr. Todd lived in the same building that the company was operated from.

Back to my MIL’s paintings: she painted many locations in the Kalamazoo area.

Here is another one she painted in the very early 70s. It’s known as the Gourdneck Prairie-Webber Schoolhouse, Schoolcraft Township. It still stands today. Here is a link to check it out.

Gourdneck Prairie-Webber Schoolhouse, Schoolcraft Township

Gourdneck Prairie-Webber Schoolhouse, Schoolcraft Township
Artist: Diana Dale Castle

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I posted a copy of a graduation announcement last week. I didn’t know who it belonged to, but it turns out it belonged to Uncle Joe DeKorn. A reader posted a link to the answer. It turns out that Uncle Joe graduated from Kalamazoo High School in a class of 26. One of his classmates was an Upjohn son, William Harold Upjohn, and one was a Todd daughter, Ethel May Todd.

When Uncle Lou (Lambertus) Leeuwenhoek passed away on April 20, 1949, another Todd–Mary Todd–sent flowers and a sympathy notecard. You can read about Uncle Lou and his wife, my Aunt Jen, if you click on the following links: a post about Uncle Lou’s hero brother who died at war, a post about Uncle Lou’s Bible collection, and one which focuses on my Aunt Jen, Uncle Lou’s wife. When I was growing up, she was the oldest person I knew. A post I still need to write is about the store Uncle Lou and Aunt Jen owned.

I don’t know how Aunt Jen knew Mary Todd, but maybe it was at church or maybe it was through the store.

Sent with a vase of mixed flowers

Sent with a vase of mixed flowers

Mary Todd was Ethel’s sister-in-law, the wife of Albert John Todd, the President of the A.M. Todd Company. Mary’s husband was a son of the company founder. In 1950, Albert and Mary lived at 2344 Midvale Terrace in Kalamazoo. The house was in the middle of a section known as Westnedge Hill, where the houses are all large and custom and the lots large for city lots.

The 1920 census indicates that Albert and Mary lived with their four children and two servants, an “Englishman” and a local girl. According to the 1930 census, they had one servant, a different girl from ten years earlier. It’s hard to tell about the 1940 census because Albert and Mary are at the bottom of the page, and I am not sure how to find the next page. Any ideas?

When people think of the A.M. Todd Company, they think of mint. According to the company website, the history is summed up this way:

Quality. Purity. Integrity. An unwavering belief in these principles inspired Albert May Todd, then a teenager, to found A. M. Todd Company in 1869. It was an era when mint essential oil from Michigan had a poor reputation thanks to widespread adulteration by unscrupulous vendors. Albert May’s initiatives brought credibility to Michigan essential oils and early success to the A. M. Todd Company, now the world’s oldest and largest supplier of American peppermint and spearmint oil.

Maybe Uncle Lou and Aunt Jen were customers, through their store, of the A.M. Todd Company.  This company was sold a little over two years ago. You can find an article here which describes the company, the sale, and the influence of the company on the Kalamazoo area.

This is a passage from a book entitled Vanilla: Travels in Search of the Ice Cream Orchid by Tim Ecott:

Notice that the notecard also has the name Frances Haskell. Maybe that indicates that the flowers were, in fact, from women who knew Aunt Jen through a women’s group? Frances Haskell seems to be a middle-aged single daughter of Gertrude Haskell. The Haskells lived in the beautiful area near Kalamazoo College and the Henderson Castle.

Once again, this item and the information I’ve found leads to more questions than I had originally!

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