Posts Tagged ‘Michigan history’

If you’ve been following along here for some time, you might remember my posts about Theresa Pake, the middle child (of five) of my great-great-grandmother’s brother, George Paak.

When we left off, Theresa had married Roy Lawrence.

I’d like to backtrack. Remember how her father’s house burned down two years after her mother passed away? It was 1902, and Theresa was only 8. The article in the newspaper showed how destitute the family was by the fire, George’s illness, and Lucy’s death. The paper emphasized that the oldest girl, Cora, had been running the household from the time she was 12 until the fire–when she was 14.

At some point after this, Theresa went to live as a foster child with Oliver and Una Pickard. It would have been hard to find this information strictly from documents, but I had a great lead in the form of Theresa’s son Professor Lawrence.

This is a quote from one of my earlier posts:

At some point Theresa lived with foster parents, Una Orline and Oliver Oratio Pickard.  Prof. Lawrence thinks she maybe have gone to live with them as early as age six, which would mean she wasn’t under the care of her older sister. However, the newspaper article about the fire in 1902 would show that she was still living at home at the time of the fire (nearly 8 years old). Regardless, at some point, the Pickards became the caregivers of Theresa. None of the other children in the family seem to have gone to live with the Pickards.


Professor Lawrence told me that Oliver was a postman and Una a nurse. He said he couldn’t find his mother with them in any of the censuses.

I did a little search myself to confirm and hopefully augment this information.

I found the Pickards in the 1900, 1920, 1930, and 1940 censuses.

1910 census Pickards

1900: living in a “home” with 74 other people. There is a couple that are the head of household and his wife. Then Oliver is listed as a nurse and Una as “wife” (incorrectly as the wife of the head of household). After that are 3 attendants, a cook, and a lot of patients. So were both Oliver and Una the nurses for the facility? I can’t find the address on the census document.

From there, I went to the previous page of the 1900 census. It’s a short page and this is how it ends after a listing of some patients: “Here rests the enumeration of that portion of the Michigan Asylum for the Insane situated in Kalamazoo township outside the City of Kalamazoo.”

But wait! the page with Oliver and Una is in Oshtemo Township. That gave me the idea to see if anything is written at the end of the Pickards’ “household on the page after the one listing Oliver and Una.”

Wow!!! Something was written and erased. I can barely make out anything, but it appears to say pretty much the same thing as the above quotation about the asylum but using Oshtemo instead of Kalamazoo!! Why was this information erased? So did the Michigan Asylum for the Insane have Kalamazoo Township AND Oshtemo Township facilities?!! I can’t go past that page because this section ends on page 36–and the Pickards are listed on page 35.

I looked up “Oshtemo township” with the Kalamazoo State Hospital, and I found that the hospital owned a farm in that township since 1888: Colony Farm Orchard. Some patients lived on and farmed the property. Could this be where Oliver and Una first worked together?

1920: living at 1846 Maple Street in Kalamazoo. They owned their own mortgaged home. Una’s parents lived with them. Oliver was a mail carrier and Una was a nurse at the State Hospital. At this point, Theresa was finishing up her education, still under the guidance of the Pickards. THERE! The State Hospital IS the Michigan Asylum for the Insane. The name was changed in 1911. So it looks like maybe Oliver quit nursing and became a mail carrier–and maybe they moved to their own home that way.

1930: living at 1844 Oakland Drive in Kalamazoo. They owned their home, worth $15,000. Notice that 1844 address here is similar to the address in the 1920 census. I wonder if it’s the same house and there is an error in the number and the street? Or are they two different “owned” homes?

1940: living at 1846 Oakland Drive in Kalamazoo. So it probably was 1846 Oakland Drive all along. Una is a registered nurse in “private work.” That makes sense because she is listed as 67, and she couldn’t possibly be providing care at the State Hospital at that age. Oliver said he worked 52 weeks in 1939, but his income from this work is listed as zero–but he has income from “other sources.”By now the house only valued at $8,000.

A look at the neighbors in the 1940 census does not show that preponderance of Dutch names that I’ve seen in the neighborhoods where my relatives lived. The surnames seem to be of English origin, for the most part. But in the 1920 census, the same neighborhood had more Dutch surnames. Maybe this reflects a change in the neighborhood–or in the demographics of Kalamazoo.

Professor Lawrence told me that Una was Theresa’s Sunday School teacher. She must have taken a liking to the girl. I think Theresa was an intelligent and hard-working child, so that may have appealed to Una who took her on either from affection or religious conviction or a mixture of both.

So who are these people who married young (she was 18 and he was 23) and worked and lived at the State Hospital until he left for a job as a mail carrier? Who never had their own children, but managed to provide a quality education and a religious upbringing to one of the Paake children? That would have been very hard work being a nurse at the “asylum.” It could also be dangerous. In approximately 1904, a resident doctor was stabbed to death.

I also think the Pickards were most likely Methodists as they chose to send Theresa out of state to a Methodist school.

What was it like for Theresa to live with the Pickards?

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

A Series of Disasters

The Children After the Fire, 1902


Saved from the Fire

Who is George Paake, Sr.?

Curious about George

George Paake’s Legacy, Part I

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

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

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

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



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I’ve mentioned before that my great-grandfather, Adrian Zuidweg, Sr. (Adriaan Zuijdweg) owned a fish market when Grandpa was young.  In this photo he stands with an unidentified young employee.

Fish Market on Eleanor Street

Fish Market on Eleanor Street

I found some ads he ran in the Kalamazoo Gazette on Genealogy Bank. This one is from September 16, 1910.

This is a pretty fancy ad for a little market like he had. Some of the time he did a more simple ad like this one at Easter time–April 6, 1904.

Most of his ads, like those of many small businesses at that time, were a mere sentence or two in the JOTTINGS. I underlined his little ad so you could find it easily amidst the other “jotted” notes. This one is from December 24, 1907. Note the date and the hours listed.

That means my great-grandfather not only worked Christmas Eve until 9PM, but Christmas Morning as well!

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As I’ve mentioned before, my great-great-grandfather, Richard DeKorn, was a brick mason who worked on many public buildings in the Kalamazoo area.  He was a brick mason on the beautiful Ladies’ Library Association in 1878-79 and lead brick mason on the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital Water Tower  in 1895. According to his obituary he was the contractor for the Pythian building and the Merchants Publishing Company building.

KPH Water Tower, Oakland Drive, Kalamazoo, MI

KPH Water Tower, Oakland Drive, Kalamazoo, MI

The asylum water tower was slated for demolition in 1974. Here is the story of how it came to be saved (from http://www.kpl.gov/local-history/health/kph-water-tower.aspx):

In spite of being on the National Register of Historic Buildings and endorsed by the Michigan Historical Commission and the Kalamazoo County Bi-Centennial Commission, the structure was earmarked by the State of Michigan for demolition in 1974. A local committee that called itself the Committee to Save the Tower launched a campaign to raise public funds to restore the building to its original grandeur and save it from the wrecking ball. A year later, Mrs. William John (Penny) Upjohn announced that $208,000 was successfully raised for this purpose. The money came from federal, state, and city contributions to the effort. Contributions also came from such disparate groups as school children, former state hospital patients, current hospital patients and employees, a hospital auxiliary, service clubs and concerned citizens. The campaign to save the structure was not without controversy. Some residents felt that the monies needed to repair the structure could better be spent on local service needs. Sen. Jack R. Welborn, R-Kalamazoo, pointed out, however, that taxpayers would be spending at least $150,000 to tear down the tower.

I recently visited Kalamazoo and went on a tour of Henderson Castle, a mansion built the same year as the water tower.

From a rooftop viewpoint, I was able to see the water tower in the distance.

And then my mother showed me a photograph that was in the local newspaper of the blood moon near the tower.

I’m off preparing for a poetry reading this weekend. Have a lovely weekend!

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I’ve written before about my great-great-grandmother’s sister, Carrie Paak Waruf, and her husband Henry Waruf: Who Was Hank Waruf, Kalamazoo Gunsmith, Tennyson’s Words for Henry Waruf’s Funeral, and All the Peek Girls (note that Paak can be spelled Peek, Paake, etc.).

The other day I received one of those little Ancesty leaves on Carrie’s profile. The leaf led me to a Florida Passenger List for 1931. It shows that Carrie and “Harry” Waruf traveled on the S. S. North Land from Havana, Cuba, to Key West, Florida. They arrived on February 15, 1931.

Warufs come back from Cuba 1931 print screen

I started thinking about this trip. Undoubtedly this means that they vacationed in Cuba, to get away from the Michigan winter. Beginning in the late 1920s (or earlier), the twenty-seven-year-old 3,282-ton North Land, owned by Eastern Steamship Corporation, ran between Key West and Havana in the winter (and Boston and Yarmouth NS by summer). The North Land was a steamship and just short (in overall size) of the new luxury cruise ship that had recently become available (over 3,700 tons) that shipped out of Miami.

I wonder how long they vacationed in Cuba, where they stayed, and what they did there.

In 1930 the brand new Hotel Nacional de Cuba was built, so it’s very likely that they stayed there.

Poolside . . . . Trying to imagine Carrie and Henry/Hank/Harry by the pool with rum drinks.

This is what the Paseo de Prado looked like in the Warufs’ time:

Did Henry Waruf bring back boxes of cigars when they sailed into the Port at Key West?

This photo is how they would have seen Key West in those days. Did they pay a duty on the cigars? Was there a limit on how many he could bring home? Remember that this was barely a year after the Stock Market Crash. Cigar factories were hurting in Cuba, just as companies and workers were hurting everywhere.

Did Henry and Carrie sneak back rum? It was still Prohibition when the Warufs traveled to Cuba!

It’s hard to imagine what an exciting place Cuba must have been for a couple from Kalamazoo in 1931.



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Looking through my computer files (such a mess!), I found an old Word document I thought I’d share with you.

When my daughter was 10 she wanted to be a paperdoll centerfold for American Girl magazine. One of the requirements was to interview female living relatives about their childhoods. Her oldest female relative that we knew of (my daughter was adopted) was her great-grandmother, Lucille Edna Mulder (Zuidweg), who was born April 17, 1912. She passed away in 2000, just two years after my daughter interviewed her.

Here are the interview results.

Edna Mulder never wanted to be called Lucille, especially by her older sister, Dorothy, or her younger sister, Alvena.  They were called Dot and Vena, so she wanted to be called Edna.   Edna also had two younger brothers, Peter and Charles.  Her parents owned a farm in Caledonia, Michigan.  Her father came from a Dutch-American family and her mother from a German-American family.

Edna, Clara (holding Pete), Vena, Charles, and Dot

The farmhouse had a big dining room in the middle of the first floor.  The kitchen was out in back and had a coal-burning stove/oven.  The front room was tiny, with barely enough room for the big wood-burning stove and her father’s rocking chair.  He sat and smoked his pipes and cigars in the evening.  He played cribbage with a friend with a small chair pulled up to the fire.  All the downstairs had linoleum laid on it after Edna grew up and moved away from home; while she was home, it was a wooden floor.  The upstairs was two rooms:  a bedroom for her parents and one big bedroom for the five children.  They slept five to one bed, with the boys sleeping across the width at the girls’ feet.  It was COLD up there in the Michigan winters–with no heat.  Edna’s father had built the house; most of the furniture was handmade, too, some of it quite old.

Edna’s farm had a big family of cats, but they weren’t house pets.  They were kept to kill the mice in the barn.  Edna’s job was to put food and water out on the back porch for them.  The farm had lots of corn fields, cows, pigs, and an apple orchard.  It even had a small stream for fishing, but you had to drive the wagon down there, it was so far away.

But Edna and her siblings were used to long walks.  The three girls walked three miles to school everyday and three miles back home.  They kept each other warm by cuddling together as they walked.  Once in a great while, during the worst weather, Edna’s mother drove all the children to school in a tiny black Amish buggy.

Sometimes the girls were naughty.  For instance, they knew their parents had a store charge at the grocery store in Caledonia.  A couple of times the girls couldn’t resist and charged a giant candy bar or a banana.  (Fruit was a big treat; Edna only saw oranges at Christmastime).  When their parents found out later, they would “get bawled out.”

Edna’s family didn’t have much money, except for owning the farm, but her father collected a few hundred books.  He had several series of books for children which offered moral and religious instruction, as well as some adventure books.  Edna had plenty to read while she was growing up.  But she didn’t have a lot of time to read because she always had a lot of chores.  Farms need a lot of care!  Edna learned to cook basic meat, potato, and vegetable dishes while she lived at home with her family.  She also became a good baker, making delicious cookies, pies, and cakes.  She wanted to be a teacher or a writer when she grew up, but she also wanted to have a home and a family and to take good care of them.


I’ve posted photos of the farm where Edna grew up before:

Final note: This turned out to be a great project for my daughter and for me because it was about our shared knowledge–some of what my grandmother taught my mother was taught to me and taught, in turn, to my daughter–and we both learned about history through the life of an ordinary girl. And, yes, my daughter did get to be an American Girl paperdoll. You can read the story and see the photos here: An American Girl’s Family Tree


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In a post called “Who Was Hank Waruf, Kalamazoo Gunsmith?” I wrote about the husband of my great-great-grandmother’s sister, Carrie (Paak) Waruf. The couple owned the resort Ramona Palace and Ramona Park, as well as many cottages and their own home, at Long Lake in Portage, Michigan.

In my files I found the brochure for Henry Waruf’s (Walraven) funeral.

Henry Waruf’s wife Carrie and my GGGrandmother Alice Paak DeKorn had a sister named Mary. One of Mary’s daughters was Genevieve. She was married to Frank Tazalaar. Here are Henry and Frank together (with a little dog).

I get the impression from some of our photos that Hank Waruf was a man other men wanted to hang around .

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While I’m working on the 30/30 Poetry Project through Tupelo Press this month, I am not doing any work on the genealogy project!

But I found something yesterday that I wanted to share.

About 2 1/2 years ago, I mentioned that my father, and later my husband and I, owned Stanwoods Luggage and Leather in Kalamazoo.

These photos are from the 60s and 70s.

In that first post, I included this photo. There was a bell hanging from the front door so we could hear it open and close if we were in the back.

You see Why Shoe Works next door? Dad was the last owner of that business.

Every July the Downtown Kalamazoo Association would organize a sidewalk sale that most merchants would participate in. We always did, marking down items and putting them out in the heat for customers to pick over.

Here’s a photo of the sidewalk sale. I used to love working those for the excitement. Dad would stand out in front with a megaphone, addressing people across the wide main street. Our routine was broken, I was out of the confining store, and I could people watch as they rummaged through our merchandise.

Notice the round suitcases on the luggage display rack. Do you know what those are? Hatboxes!! We were still selling those in the 60s. Train cases, too. Those were boxlike suitcases where all your cosmetics and toiletries could stand upright. Today we use BAGGIES to carry our liquids. Yes, we’re definitely more civilized today.

Eventually we had T-shirts made with a new Stanwoods logo and wore the T-shirts on sidewalk days. That’s what I found yesterday! The last Stanwoods T-shirt.

Here’s a photo of the block of E. Michigan Avenue where Stanwoods existed.

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