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Posts Tagged ‘Michigan history’

While I am making connections and doing more behind the scenes (haha, sounds important) work on the genealogy, I thought I’d share an uncleaned-up photo from the Joseph DeKorn collection. The spots are just a little extra treat. I’d love to hear ideas about the best way to get rid of them!

126 Balch Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan

The little girl behind the bench is Alice Leeuwenhoek, and the date is Thanksgiving 1907. I trust that this is Alice because Grandpa told me in the late 70s, and he knew Alice. Old writing on the back indicates the date. But is the address correct?

In the 1910 census Lambertus, Jennie, and Alice all lived at 110 Balch Street. The houses are numbered 110, 112, 120, 130, 210, 216. No number 126.

Is this the Leeuwenhoek house or not? I’m going to hazard a guess. The address written on the back of this photo is in my handwriting, which means that Grandpa gave me the address. I already suspect that the numbering was changed at some point on Burdick and Balch because the older numbers do not match to the current addresses. Maybe Grandpa gave me the address that was correct in the late 1970s, but not the address as it was in 1907.

Because of the way Alice is standing behind the bench, near the house, and alone, I think this is her own house.

The placement of this house would have been very near Richard DeKorn’s brick house at the corner of Burdick and Balch. I wrote about it in this post The Richard DeKorn House. Alice was Richard’s granddaughter as her mother Jennie was Richard’s daughter and my grandfather’s aunt. Grandpa and Alice were first cousins.

I looked on Google Maps to see what the area looks like today. 126 Balch is about the 4th house down from the DeKorn house on the corner. So, is it possible that in 1907 they lived in 126 and in 1910 they lived in 110? It’s possible because maybe Richard owned several houses on Balch Street. That would not be inconceivable. Or that he had owned the land and gave or sold parcels to family members.

Maybe all the families living on Balch street are not on the census with the Leeuwenhoeks because they weren’t home when the census taker came. That would further complicate things. All this makes me wish I had some time in Kalamazoo to get my hands on some of the property ownership records!

Still, I do feel confident that this is Alice standing in front of her house on Balch Street in 1907, and that she lived quite near her grandparents. Her grandmother, Alice Paak DeKorn, would die the following year–and Grandpa would be born.

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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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In the midst of researching the Waldecks, I’ve been in contact with Elly, as you know, and Merry, who I haven’t told you about yet, from the Mulder branch of the family.

Elly found me through this blog, as I’ve mentioned. I found Merry through a DNA match. We both had our results stored at 23andme, and there it was, a fairly close match of 2nd-3rd cousin. When a match is that close, if both individuals have an idea of their family trees, you can usually find a match. It didn’t take us long at all.

Merry’s grandfather Henry (Heinrich Mulder) and my great-grandfather Charles were brothers! We are both descended from Pieter Philippus and Neeltje (Peter and Nellie) Mulder who arrived in Grand Rapids with two babies. One was Charles and the other was a baby named Jan who passed away shortly after the young couple arrived in the U.S. Henry was born in this country.

Peter and Nellie traveled on the ship Zaandam, which arrived in New York on August 29, 1887. They were able to immigrate because Peter had received a bequest when his grandmother Rosalie Melanie Bataille passed away.

I promise to get back to Elly’s findings in a later post. Today I want to share with you the photos of Peter and Nellie that Merry shared with me. And by putting them in the blog to share them with Elly and others as well!

 

In this formal portrait, how old do you think they are? Note that Nellie was 63 when she died. Mom says that Peter was a very small man, so it seems that Nellie herself must have been very short. I recently read an article trying to answer the question of how the Dutch became the tallest people in the world. My own relatives were sometimes, but not always, on the short side, so I was curious. What I learned is that in the past 150 years the heighth of Dutch people has dramatically increased. Until this growth spurt they were the shortest in Europe!

As to why the Dutch grew, the article makes a case for eating a lot of dairy (among other causes). My husband says he thinks it also has to do with the Netherlands claiming more land from the sea and being able to eat meat instead of relying on fish for a large portion of their diet. I’m sure there are many ideas on this subject!

In the next photo, Nellie’s dress is very long.  While Peter (born 1865) was 3 years older than Nellie (born 1868), she passed away in 1932 and Peter lived until 1953, two years before I was born. After his wife’s death, Peter traveled around to his children’s homes, living with one then another. I wonder whose cooking he liked best (I hope it was my great-grandmother Clara who died the same year as Peter)!

 

Merry says that this photo of Nellie taken in a porch rocker should be dated somewhere between 1925 and 1929. Since it’s the same dress as above, I’ll assume these photos were taken around the same time.

Here is a formal portrait of Peter:

In this photo he looks like he could be related to Colonel Potter (MASH), in my opinion. Or the shopkeeper on Green Acres (Frank Cady as Mr. Drucker).

More to come about the Mulders, both those in Netherlands and those in Michigan!

 

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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!

The Waldeck 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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As you know, I get sidetracked by a lot of subjects. In 2016, I would like to focus on 3 family branches. No telling how many tangents I’ll go off on though. I’ve met some wonderful distant relatives and other new friends through the blog and my genealogical research, and I would like to incorporate some of the information I’ve gotten as well as sharing some of my research.

Today I’d like to mention the Mulders. I’ve written of them before, and you can find the other posts from the “Individuals and Topics” section on the right: Mulders link. This is my maternal grandmother’s father’s family from Caledonia, Michigan; Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.

One Mulder I’ve (virtually) met is Elly, who lives in the Netherlands. She is descended from the same Karel Mulder, the jailor’s hand, that both my maternal grandparents were.  As she puts it, she is a descendant of Karel Mulder (1837-1881), the eldest son of Karel Mulder and Rosalie (Rose Melanie) Bataille.

Elly found a death announcement for Rose Melanie in the old local newspaper, de Goessche Courant.  It says that she died in the house of her son, Andries Mulder. Rose Melanie was a rather wealthy widow when she died. She had several houses and pieces of land in her possession.There is a statement of inheritance tax.
Let’s take a look at my genealogy results for this family from Yvette Hoitink.

Karel Mulder was born on 3 December 1812 at C 85 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.20 On 5 May 1836 he was a
shoemaker in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.21 8 On 21 February 1837 he was a shoemaker in Goes, Zeeland, the
Netherlands.8 Karel died on 3 January 1870 at the age of 57 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.22 He owned 3/8 of a house
and yard in the “Papegaaistraatje [Parrot Street]” district C nr. 97 on 3 January 1870 at section D nr. 278 in Goes, Zeeland,
the Netherlands.5 Rose Melanie Bataille and Karel Mulder were married on 5 May 1836 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.21
Rose Melanie Bataille was born about 1810 in Etaples, France.21 On 5 May 1836 she was a servant in Goes, Zeeland, the
Netherlands.21 She lived in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands on 22 April 1881.11 Rose died on 10 July 1887 at the age of 77 in
Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.23

Karel Mulder and Rose Melanie Bataille had the following children:
8 i. Karel Mulder, born 21 February 1837, Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands; died 22 April 1881, Goes,
Zeeland, the Netherlands. NOTE THAT KAREL IS ELLY’S ANCESTOR. HE IS ALSO MY ANCESTOR.
ii. Pieter Philip Mulder was born on 29 August 1838 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.24
iii. Kornelis Mulder was born on 4 September 1840 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.25 He died on 3 June
1887 at the age of 46 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.26 On 3 June 1887 he was a shoemaker in Goes,
Zeeland, the Netherlands.26
iv. Melanie Mulder was born on 21 January 1842 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.27 She died on 23 June
1884 at the age of 42 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.28
v. Johannes Mulder was born on 12 November 1843 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.29 He died on 7
January 1849 at the age of 5 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.30
vi. Andries Mulder was born on 23 January 1846 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.31 THE SON WHO ROSE MELANIE LIVED WITH WHEN SHE DIED AT AGE 77.
vii. Jan Mulder was born on 9 December 1848 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.32 On 22 April 1881 he was
a shopkeeper in paint and colonial goods in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.5
viii. Johannes Mulder was born on 10 February 1851 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.33 He died on 26
June 1876 at the age of 25 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.34 On 26 June 1876 he was a shoemaker in
Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.34
ix. Jacobus Mulder was born on 13 May 1856 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.35 He died on 17 June 1874
at the age of 18 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.36 On 17 June 1874 he was a shopkeeper’s assistant in
Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.36

NOTE that Elly discovered that Rose Melanie was quite wealthy when she passed away. See above that when she was married she was a servant. It appears that Karel was a shopkeeper and must have done well for his family.

When Rose Melanie died, her son Karel (born 1837) had already been dead for 6 years and his youngest children, thanks to the 2nd wife ;), had been sent to an orphanage. You can read that sad tale here. With the bequest that Karel’s son Pieter received from his grandmother’s death, he took his wife and two babies (including my great-grandfather) to the United States.

So, Elly, if you’re reading, which child of Karel (born 1837) are you descended from? See below. Perhaps Karel or Izaak?

i. Karel Pierre Philippe Mulder was born on 8 May 1862 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.13
ii. Izaak Mulder was born on 20 July 1863 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.14
iii. Rose Melanie Mulder was born on 12 August 1864 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.15 She died on 1
December 1864 at the age of 0 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.16 DIED AS AN INFANT
iv. Pieter Philippus Mulder, born 10 October 1865, Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands. My 2great grandfather.
v. Adrianus Cornelis Mulder was born on 7 October 1866 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.17 He lived at
the city orphanage in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands on 2 August 1881. He died on 15 March 1891 at
the age of 24 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.18 On 15 March 1891 Adrianus was a shopkeeper’s
assistant in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.10 DIED AT AGE 24
vi. stillborn child Mulder was born on 5 October 1867 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.19 He died on 5
October 1867 at the age of 0 in Goes, Zeeland, the Netherlands.19 STILLBORN
10.

The best news so far from Elly, besides meeting her, is that she sent me photos of the family Bible!

The family history was written in this Bible, according to tradition. It was begun by Karel Mulder who was born in 1812. He started it in 1867, three years before he died.
Boxen 016 Boxen 017
I hope that Elly and I can continue to share information about the Mulder family!

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On May 6, 2015, I posted about a photograph I found in the box of glass negatives that had been taken by Joseph DeKorn. I’ll copy here what I posted and then give you the information that has come to me since then. If you remember the story, skip to New Information on Louis Van Wyck

It seems to be an elaborate headstone for a man named Louis Van Wyck. Placed on top of the headstone is a cornet. The inscription reads, in part, “Last cornet solo played in Y.P.L. meeting June 18, 1911.”

His birth and death dates are also engraved on the headstone. He died the day after the cornet solo, on June 19, 1911. He was 17 years old–not a man, but a boy!

A photograph leans against the marble base. He looks young and blond. The stone is further engraved with images and a poem.

Louis Van Wyck

Although I have his dates, I can’t find Louis through Ancestry’s search function–or Find-a-Grave either. So I turned to Genealogy Bank where I found one article about his memorial service.

Read it here: Louis Van Wyck memorial service.  Note that the passage about the funeral is at the VERY END of this article.

I didn’t know what Y.P.L. on the headstone meant, but after reading about the Salvation Army hosting Louis’ memorial service, I looked it up online. It seems to mean Young People’s League. Now I have to admit I don’t know much of anything about the Salvation Army except that it is a Christian denomination and a charity, I sometimes donate furniture or clothing to them, and they (or volunteers like my family and friends) ring bells at Christmas outside shopping malls. I think Sarah in the musical Guys and Dolls belongs to a fictional representation of the Salvation Army.

That is kind of fitting because I just read up a bit and discovered that music has been important to the Salvation Army from the beginning. How fitting this headstone was, then, for poor Louis. But how did he die at such a young age? And how was he connected with Joseph DeKorn or my family? He would have been about 12 years younger than Joseph.

New Information on Louis Van Wyck.

I was frustrated that I knew so little about Louis Van Wyck and yet my grandfather’s uncle had photographed his beautiful headstone with his cornet and photograph adorning it and left it behind for our family. Who was Louis Van Wyck? Many of you offered advice. Pastsmith really went to work on the problem and found Louis’ death certificate and his grave.

Louis Van Wyck death certificate

Things to notice in this death certificate are that he died of “accidental drowning” at Bryant Mill Pond. I looked up Bryant Mill Pond and discovered it is related to the Bryant (Paper) Mill. There were many operating paper mills at that time in the Kalamazoo area, all along the Kalamazoo River and Portage Creek. You can find quite a lot of information online about the cleanup that has been necessary in this area. I can’t imagine what the pond was like in those days. Was it full of papermill sludge or was it a clean pond that begged a boy to come swimming? Note that he drowned on June 19, 1911, just at the start of summer.

Louis’ parents were both from Holland, his father named Louis also and his mother born Rachel Du Floo. With this information I was able to find the family in the 1910 census, a year before Louis passed away. Louis had two sisters: Mary was 5 years older and his sister Kate was only 5 when Louis died. The senior Louis was a typesetter and worked for a newspaper. I wrote about how some members of my family worked on the Dutch-American newspaper here. Possibly Louis worked with them. In the 1920 census, Louis was listed as a price lister, whatever that is. It’s possible that the newspaper was out of business by then.

The family lived at 913 Boerman Avenue. This does not make them neighbors of my family, but it is within a long walk–the sort of walk my grandmother and I used to make when I was little. The house no longer exists as the area seems to be commercial now.

Since the families did not go to the same church, Joseph was 12 or 13 years older than Louis, and they were not neighbors, the connection could have been the typesetting.  After all, Louis, Sr., was born in the Netherlands and spoke Dutch. It seems that it would have been easier for him to be a typesetter in Dutch than in English.

As the death certificate mentions, Louis was buried at Riverside Cemetery. Through Find-a-Grave, it appears that he has another headstone than the one above.

Two headstones, one very elegant and detailed and the other more simple, certainly does create a mystery. They also share dates of birth and death. However, Louis’ date of birth is different on his death certificate. There it reads November 24, 1894. Since the simple headstone appears to be the one at Riverside Cemetery, where is the other one or what happened to it?

After Pastsmith’s generous help, I was contacted by a reader from Kalamazoo who shared valuable insights. Joel wrote:

YPL stands for Young People’s Legion. As a child I was a member of the YPL. It was a group in The Salvation Army for 12-30 year olds. It was a Christian fellowship group and we had junior worship meetings. It sounds like LVW Jr played a cornet solo that Sunday, 6/18/1911 and drowned the next day. . . . More than 20 years ago I had possession of historic documents from his relatives published by The Salvation Army Chicago which told of his untimely death, or as we say in The Salvation Army, his “promotion to Glory.”

He also said:

LVW’s sister is Mary A (VanWyck) Fortune, 1888-1976, Find a grave #25812816, Riverside Cemetery, Kalamazoo. Her husband gave the books which archived “The Young Soldier” publication of The Salvation Army to my mother-in-law, shortly after Mary’s promotion to Glory in 1976. They came into my possession in the 1980’s. I have since forwarded them on to The Salvation Army Central Territory’s Museum and Archives in Hoffman Estates, IL.
As for LVW’s two headstones; I am more familiar with the one with the cornet on it. I don’t recall where I’ve seen it before. But I knew it before I saw it in your web site. Perhaps it was in this archive book I had, or in local S.A. archive photos. I would like to see the larger headstone. I’ve also seen the more plain headstone before your web site, I have no explanation for two headstones. The photo of Louis himself is the photo I’ve seen published and in the local S.A. archives, as well as others that are of that era.

I came across the actual Band Commission for Louis VanWyke Jr.(Wyck is misspelled on the document) in our local SA archives from 1909. I have a picture of it but don’t know how to present it here. It has renewal comments written on it, renewing it until 1910, 1911, and 1912. Also, on the certificate is printed the name of the current General; William Booth. After Booth’s death in 1912 all subsequent SA documents say, “William Booth, Founder”, and would also list the current General.
I also have other anecdotal information regarding Louis’s sister, Mary A. Fortune, from my wife. In the 1960-70’s Mary and Neil Fortune lived next door to my wife’s parents, Richard and Shirley Aukes . . .  in Portage, MI. The Aukes’s and Mary were members of The Salvation Army of Kalamazoo, like Louis VW. Neil helped Richard build a garage. Later after Richard’s death in 1968 and Mary’s death in 1976, Neil gave Shirley Mary’s cedar hope chest. The hope chest was given to my wife, who in turn has given it to our daughter Betsy. Besides the hope chest, Shirley received the books chronicling Louis’s premature death.

At this point it became clear that Joel is the brother-in-law of my junior high classmate, Chris Aukes. We were in almost all our classes together for the three years of junior high school.

Note that Mary Fortune who Joel refers to is Louis’ older sister Mary.

Here is the 1909 Band Commission for Louis Van Wyck that Joel found in the local Salvation Army archives.

Band Commission - Louis VanWyke Jr 1909b

What talent Louis must have had. I’m so pleased to know more about Louis and hope to find out even more.

I tried to blow up the photo that rests against the first headstone. Though it is faded, it does give an idea of what Louis looked like.

Louis Van Wyck

Although Louis was not my relative, I enjoy finding out more about the history of the people who lived in Kalamazoo over 100 years ago.

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When Joost “George” Paak*  lost his wife in 1900 and then his mortgaged home in 1902, he must have been distraught and wondered how he would take care of five children. He was a laborer who was not even working at the time of the fire.

I know that he lost a mortgaged home because of the newspaper article (see post links below for the rest of the story) and because the 1900 census shows that he owned a mortgaged home. At that time, he worked as a farm laborer, but had been unemployed 3 months the previous year. I am guessing that this was a hard physical job and if he was sick he wouldn’t be able to work. I also think he had been unemployed for 3 months the previous year because of the winter. So he didn’t have a very stable job. He had immigrated to the United States at age 18 with his family. He was the oldest–he had 4 younger sisters. There was also a young brother who either died in the Netherlands or came here and would probably be known as William. Still checking into this.

In 1908, six years after the fire, George married Addie Amelia Gifford Wilder. This shows up on the 1910 census. At this time, George was listed as Joseph G. Peake (Joost could easily be Joseph or George, I guess), and he now had a stable job as a paper maker at the paper mill. He again owned a mortgaged home and guess where? At 1016 Trimble Avenue, the scene of the fire. So the house was rebuilt. And you know what? It still stands.

The 1920 census shows George still married to Addie. He owned his home free and clear. He was still a laborer for the paper company, earning wages, not salary. And he was 69 years old. Notice no retirement for George at that time!

Paper mills were big business in Kalamazoo, by the way. The city was known as The Paper City. There is a great article published online by the Kalamazoo Public Library. Click the photo of the paper vats to go to the article.

PaperVats_400

All three censuses show George immigrating to the United States in 1868, although in one of them it looks like 1860. He was naturalized as a citizen in 1891.

What the census does not show is that George married Esther M. Fields in 1906, gaining a 4-year-old stepdaughter, Florence Wilder! But a year and a half after the wedding, Esther died! (Professor Lawrence heard that George might have been married as many as five times, but I do not have the documentation yet on the other two marriages–or the timeline).

In the 1910 census, George’s household includes Addie, Fannie, and George. These are the two youngest Paak children. And the household also includes Esther’s 7-year-old daughter Florence A. Wilder! So George kept her in the household, which must mean she had no other family to take her in. But his own children, Theresa (Tracy) who was 17, Jane who was 20, and Cora who was 22 were not living at home. Theresa, as we know, was living with the Pickards as their perhaps unofficial foster daughter and being sent to boarding school.

Why did Theresa not live at home with her father and stepmother while a stepdaughter of George continued to live there? Maybe after the upheaval in the household after her mother’s death, the fire, and then the death of her first stepmother it was determined it would be better for her to stay with the Pickards permanently?

Professor Lawrence did tell me that he had heard that the children were farmed out to people, especially relatives, after their mother died. But at the time of the fire two years later it seemed that they were living at home with their father. I do wonder if my own great-great-grandmother helped out when her sister-in-law died or after the fire. The clipping about the fire was saved in the family documents, so she (she died 6 years after the fire) or her daughter must have kept it.

Why did Jane who never did marry and lived to be 107 years old (there might be a connection there haha) not live at home? Maybe she had a job and was providing for herself already. Jane lived in a nursing home near the end. In the photo there is a sign for her 100th birthday. I do have a photo of her at her 107th with cake, but she is in bed and obviously not well, so I don’t want to share that one.

Where was Cora? Was she married yet? Her first child might have been born in 1915, although I have not done much research on Theresa’s siblings as of yet. If she wasn’t yet married, I wonder if she and Jane were living together. That would be something to search.

This photo was probably taken in 1925 when George was 76 years old and a happy grandfather. The woman is Cora, his oldest daughter with her son John Rankin. John was not her first child, but the first by her second husband, John Rankin, Sr.

 

Here is another photo of George with two children. As always, I appreciate any comments about date identification or other important information.

* I’ve changed his surname spelling to the one that my great-great-grandmother used because I see that he did also use that spelling in addition to other spellings.

Here are the other Pake/Paake /Paak //Peek posts:

A Series of Disasters

The Children After the Fire, 1902

Paak-a-boo

Saved from the Fire

Who is George Paak, Sr.?

Curious about George

George Paak’s Legacy, Part I

George Paak’s Legacy, Part II: Theresa’s Pre-Professional Education

George Paak’s Legacy, Part III: Theresa’s Professional Education

George Paak’s Legacy, Part IV: A Letter to His Daughter

George Paak’s Legacy, Part V: Theresa Gets Married

George Paak’s Legacy, Part VI: Who Were the Pickards

 

 

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