If you tuned in last week (here), you saw a photograph of a woman in a Pilgrim-style bonnet and black dress. The photographer was based in the Dutch towns of Utrecht and Den Haag (The Hague).  Thanks to a Dutch reader, Hubert Theuns, I learned these facts associated with the photo:

The photographer, Cornelis Johannes Lodewicus Vermeulen, was born in Utrecht 18.11.1861 and died in Hilversum 05.01.1936. Photographs from the period 1886-1915 can be found athttps://rkd.nl/nl/explore/portraits#query=cjl+vermeulen&start=0&filters%5Bcollectienaam%5D%5B%5D=RKD%20%28Collectie%20Iconografisch%20Bureau%29

In the Dutch province of Zeeland there is a society for the preservation of traditional costumes. The secretary of that society identified the traditional costume as the traditional costume of Cadzand, a small town in the Dutch province of Zeeland. In 2007 Cadzand had about 800 inhabitants. I believe this information may be useful to you.

I was thrilled with this information. The thought of a costume native to a small town–and owning a family photograph of that costume–was beyond anything I ever expected.

A couple of days later, I had a thought. What if I was wrong and this photo wasn’t the only one by this photographer in my archival boxes? So I searched and searched. And then I found. This photo:

Compare it with the photograph of the woman. Different table, but the screen and the carpet are the same. The chair might be the same. Now we have clothing that looks more fashionable for the period.

Craziest connection between the two photos: the book held by a woman above and by the woman below! The same book? What is the meaning of holding the book? Is this a stylistic tic of the photographer or does it have Victorian meaning, something like the language of flowers?

Do you think these photos were taken at the same time? Part of a family group? Could the woman below be the mother of the three above?



Here are the backs of the photos in case they offer any clues:


Note that they both have the 3 digit telephone numbers. According to the research of Hubert Theuns:

The telephone was introduced at The Hague on July 1, 1883, and at Utrecht in February 1883. There used to be local telephone directories, but I have not (yet) found any on the internet. National telephone directories were published as from 1901. The collection of national telephone directories from 1901 till 1950 are being digitalised by the dutch national library, but unfortunately this process has found delays. Only the national directory of 1915 is available on the internet, and shows that the photographer in 1915 in Utrecht had the same three digit number as mentioned on the photograph, but that his number in The Hague already had four digits.

That leaves quite a range of time that the photo could have been taken. It definitely is pre-WWI; that is one thing I know. But are the styles 1890s or after 1900? It seems to me that the skirts are becoming “slim,” so maybe closer to 1910?

Well, Hubert has been busy at work and has been able to narrow down the time period even more. This is what he wrote yesterday:

New developments. I contacted a local history circle in Zeeland (without being a member) to have the photo put up at their website for identification. I got the reply that they contacted a museum in Nieuwvliet, devoted to the regional costume of Cadzand. The museum replied that the scan of the photo is not detailed enough and requested the original photo. . . .
I also contacted the museum on communication (devoted to the telephone) in The Hague about telephone directories. The librarian informed me that the archive of the municipality of The Hague has a collection of old telephone directories of The Hague. This morning I visited the archive and consulted their collection of “Adresboeken” for The Hague and Scheveningen.
C.J.L. Vermeulen was listed for the first time in the Adresboek, 47th edition, year 1898-1899, but without telephone number.
In the books 1899-1900, 1900-1901, 1901-1902, en 1902-1903 he is mentioned with telephone number 774 (as on the photo).
In the book 52the edition 1903-1904 the telephone number is 1873.
On the basis of the information the photo must originate from 1899-1902, with a possible extension to 1898-1903).


Isn’t that something?! Now we know that the photograph had to have been taken between 1898 and 1903, most likely between 1899 and 1902. Hubert’s sleuthing is beyond compare!

For me, there is no comparison between the two photographs in interest. The woman in the bonnet has a compelling expression and handles the book as if she cares about books. The young woman holding the book doesn’t seem to care at all about it. She does look uncomfortable–as if she would rather change into her everyday clothes! I’d guess it was her sister, standing, who wanted them to wear matching fashionable dresses.

My gratitude to Hubert Theuns is boundless. I could not have imagined such a detailed answer to the questions of the lady in the unusual outfit.

UPDATE:  This photograph has been identified as to the clothing and location it is from.  See the update at the bottom of the post!!

This one is no doubt my favorite of the unidentifed photos in the archival storage box.

Look at her outfit. She looks like a pilgrim, doesn’t she? Or maybe Emily Dickinson with a pilgrim bonnet on?


Look at the book in her hand. What is it? A Bible? A hymnal? A prayer book? Surely there is significance to the text.

This is one of my few photos from Utrecht. Did I have family there?

Well, Alice Paak, my great-grandmother, was from Lexmond, which is south of Utrecht, so you could say that that branch of the family comes from the vicinity of Utrecht.

I can’t figure out the relationship. Also, Alice and her siblings were blue-eyed blondes.

Here is the back of the photo in case it offers any clues:


UPDATE: Reader Hubert Theuns has commented below with the following information which adds a lot of information to this photograph.

The photographer, Cornelis Johannes Lodewicus Vermeulen, was born in Utrecht 18.11.1861 and died in Hilversum 05.01.1936. Photographs from the period 1886-1915 can be found athttps://rkd.nl/nl/explore/portraits#query=cjl+vermeulen&start=0&filters%5Bcollectienaam%5D%5B%5D=RKD%20%28Collectie%20Iconografisch%20Bureau%29

In the Dutch province of Zeeland there is a society for the preservation of traditional costumes. The secretary of that society identified the traditional costume as the traditional costume of Cadzand, a small town in the Dutch province of Zeeland. In 2007 Cadzand had about 800 inhabitants. I believe this information may be useful to you.

FASINATING information. I had never heard of Cadzand, but now I will do my research. It doesn’t look too terribly far from Goes–and both towns are in Zeeland.


Here’s another old photo that remains unidentified. Clearly, this elderly lady is from Goes, the Netherlands, and, no doubt, died in Goes.  Because of her age in this photograph, imagine how early she must have been born!

She must be from one of these branches: Paaks, Zuidwegs, or Mulders. It’s unlikely that she is a direct ancestor of Alice Paak, though, because Alice’s mother (born Bassa) died in her early 40s, in 1865. And her mother, a van Nek, died in 1848.

It’s less likely to be a Mulder because most of these photos come from my grandfather’s’ family, not my grandmother’s. She’s not a DeKorn because they came from Kapelle (very close to Goes, but not Goes). That leaves the Zuidwegs–or perhaps an aunt or other relatives of the Paaks.

How do you like her bonnet? Why does it look like her dress has creases around the skirt?

Here is the back of the photo in case it offers any clues:


Home on the Farm

I’ve written before about my great-grandfather, Charles Mulder, of Caledonia, Michigan. He was born in 1885 in the Netherlands, but moved with his parents and younger brother to Grand Rapids, Michigan, when he was only two.  His baby brother Jan passed away within a few months.

Although Great-Grandpa was raised by his parents in Grand Rapids, where his father built furniture, he ended up starting his own adult life in Caledonia–as a farmer. He came from town folk. They weren’t farmers. What would have made him decide to become a farmer? And how did he purchase his farm?  These are good questions, I know, and I wonder if there is anybody who can answer them. Maybe his daughter, my grandmother, didn’t even know the answers.

I used to love to visit GG and his 2nd wife Margaret on the farm. My great-grandmother had passed away a couple of years before I, the oldest great-grandchild, was born. So I grew up knowing Margaret, a very nice lady, as my GG.

I’m guessing that in this photograph, I am with Great-Grandpa at his farm. He’s very comfortable in his undershirt and suspenders, and I see the hint of a dark colored (red?) outbuilding behind him. I remember the barn, the corncrib, and the henhouse. And let’s not forget the outhouse!

This photograph, as you can see, was taken in July 1957, which means that I was just turning two.

Message to my family: if anybody has any photos of the farm, please scan and send to me!


Here are links to other posts about Charles Mulder of Caledonia, my great-grandfather (the 1st two are my favorites):

The Blog Will Now Come to Order

I Raided Great-Grandpa’s Library

Great-Grandpa’s Family: The Mulders of Grand Rapids

The Mulders Pre-1917

Pieter the Orphan


My grandfather’s father, Adriaan Zuijdweg (later called Adrian Zuidweg), was born in Goes, the Netherlands, on 3 January 1871. He was the oldest of three children. On 17 September 1872, Lucas was born. Then, on 23 December, 1873, Johanna Geertruida Maria was born. The children were barely a year apart in age. I find it interesting that their mother Jennie had a child every year for three years and then no more children. I wonder if she had a health problem after delivering Johanna.

Adriaan immigrated to the United States in 1893, but Johanna did not immigrate until 1904. She came to Kalamazoo, no doubt following her brother there. Lucas did not emigrate from Goes. Instead, on 4 April 1894, at the age of 21, he passed away. At the time of his death he was listed as a “laborer” in Goes; however, my grandfather’s story about his Uncle Lucas was different. Note that Lucas died not long after his older brother left the Netherlands.

Grandpa said that he was a sailor and, in a tragic accident, fell on the anchor of his ship and was killed.

Lucas Zuijdweg Goes, the Netherlands 1872-1894

Lucas Zuijdweg
Goes, the Netherlands

It seems to me that Grandpa’s information has the stamp of authenticity, especially since Lucas did die at such a young age. But why was he listed as a laborer at the time of his death? Is that a term used for sailors? Maybe if he was hired as a sailor, but not part of the Navy?

I found a website with a photograph of a Dutch “Coast Defence” ship. This photo might be a ship called Piet Hein in 1894, the year of Lucas’ death. Would a ship this big have an anchor that would have killed Lucas? Or would it have been a smaller boat? Click through to the website if you like.

Jacob van Heemskerck (1906)


Hard to imagine a  ship this big in this harbor!! Photo of Goes harbor.


I often wonder why more documents and photographs aren’t passed down in families. After I received that beautiful scrapbook that belonged to the Culver sisters (you can read about it here), I realized that sometimes it is because branches of families die out. There is nobody left who cares about the history of the family.

But what happens in so many other families? Sometimes someone moves and loses a box of photographs. Or they pass away and leave documents in the care of a descendant who hates “stuff” and throws it away.

Sometimes, though, it is in the hands of nature. A tornado, hurricane, fire, or flood carries away these valuable family treasures. I’ve tried to protect as much as possible against these possibilities. A fire safe and a supply of acid-free envelopes and boxes helps with that.

Nevertheless, I had a little taste of the damage that can occur from nature the other day. Well, maybe not nature–more like repairman error.

Last spring I walked around the corner of the house and heard a raging fountain. Water poured into the hall, on my beautiful alder wood floor.  Our hot water heater had burst. We discovered that the repairman had set it down, covering the drain, so the water had nowhere to go but out into my house. Ultimately the entire large-sized heater contents poured into my house, flooding the hall and downstairs bedrooms. The only reason it didn’t get into the living room is that the hallway and bedrooms are three steps lower than the living room.

We got help cleaning up the mess, and because we live in Arizona, where it is dry, everything seemed fine.

Professional dryers lined up by my pool

Professional dryers lined up by my pool

Until Tuesday that is.

I keep a plastic mat in the walk-in closet where I store my scrapbooks, books, and old writing. That’s because, to make more room, I have a library cart full of books and need to be able to move it from in front of the file cabinet. Because it’s so weighted down with books, it sinks into the carpet and needs a mat to roll on. I keep another plastic mat under my desk for my chair. Well, what I didn’t know was that although the carpet was dry, the slab (no basement in Arizona) had absorbed moisture from the flood. So when I put the plastic mats down, over these ten months, moisture collected underneath. The carpet developed rust spots. And at the edge of the closet mat, on the wall hidden behind the file cabinet, black mold developed. It didn’t grow on my wall or in the carpet, but on the baseboard and on the scrapbook I had leaning between the cabinet and the wall. You see, that scrapbook was not a treasured heirloom, but something that belonged to me.

It was from 1989 and 1990, when I graduated from grad school (Western Michigan University). Because I have an iPhone and a camera, I was able to take photographs of the “treasures” in the scrapbook and throw them away. But years ago, that would have been very unlikely. Film was expensive and everyone didn’t have a camera.

WMU 1990 commencement picmonkey

I added the “My Graduation” ribbon to this photograph to cover up something I had written in my bad handwriting on that page ;). But I still have the photograph of the original page.

In the following photo you can see the black mold a bit better. It is a flyer advertising subscriptions to a literary magazine. The flyer featured a poem by yours truly, as well as one by another poet.  Look at the mold! I was wearing latex gloves to handle it.

Years ago, my mother-in-law’s basement flooded. She had a wonderful collection of antiques and childhood keepsakes that belonged to her and some to my husband. All gone in a flash. Every once in a while my husband remembers something else that was in the basement and is lost forever.

Have you lost photographs, documents, or heirlooms?

I saw this video the other day and thought I should share it here. It’s a home movie of Kalamazoo in 1952. At first you can see a good view of the Inkster neighborhood, then there is a panoramic view of the city, including the KPH Water Tower built by my great-great-grandfather, Richard DeKorn.

I almost remember that Kalamazoo, although I didn’t arrive there until 1956, as I was a baby when my parents moved back to Kalamazoo. Here is the famous Kalamazoo mall from about 1960, which is as I remember it from my childhood.

Here’s a video of Kalamazoo today. Please ignore the RUDE comments people have written after this video. Note Paris Cleaners at 3:24. See how the building is purple? The Paris Cleaners near my grandparents’ house when I was growing up was even more purple. Grandma used to single “Purple People Eaters” to me every time we passed it. We danced a little, too.

And to round things out here is a video of the damage from the 1980 tornado that hit downtown Kalamazoo. I happened to be there that day, at work, and it was incredible. Five people died that day.

You can see from the second video that Kalamazoo has rebuilt after the tornado. It’s a beautiful downtown.


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