Grandpa Had a Sister?!-Wednesday's Child

Author: Brenda Leyndyke / Labels: , , , ,

L-R Lena Marie Luyendyk, Janie Haviland Kennedy, Peter J. Leyendyk (later, Leyn Dyke)
Photograph taken after Janie's birth in 1907 and before March 1910.
Kirk's grandfather, Peter Leyn Dyke, never talked about his sister to anyone's knowledge.  I was looking for Peter in the 1900 United States Census records (indexed as Lundyk) and found Peter living with his father, Cornelius; mother, Neeltje; AND sister, Lena.  I did a double take when I found that record.
 Source:  1900 U.S. Census, , Population Schedule, Paris Township, Kent, Michigan, ED 86, p 21, dwelling 458, Head of household Conelius Lundyk.
I asked Peter's son, James Leyndyke, if he knew about Lena.  He didn't and thought it may have been a cousin of Peter's.  I suppose that could have been a possibility, but I didn't give up researching her.  Eventually, I found Lena's birth record at Michigan Births 1867-1902 at  She was born 30 September 1896 in Gaines Township, Kent, Michigan.  Her parents were listed as Cornelius Luendyke and Nellie Luendyke.  A visit to the Kent County Clerk's Office in Grand Rapids, Michigan confirmed that information.

It wasn't until the picture above arrived at Kirk's parent's house that the family believed she really did exist.   Peter's daughter, Betty, sent a few pictures at her brother Jim's request.  This was one of them.  What a treasure!

I was intrigued to find out more.  Why didn't anyone in the family know about her?  Why wasn't she ever mentioned by her brother, Peter? 

Unfortunately, she died at the age of 13.  Lena's father Cornelius died in 1900.  Her mother, Neeltje, remarried Addison B. Kennedy in 1903.  The family moved to Chicago and lived there with the last name of Kennedy.  Lena Marie Kennedy died 1 March 1910 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois.  She is buried in Mount Greenwood Cemetery, Chicago, Cook, Illinois.  Sadly, there is no headstone.

So, why didn't Peter talk about his sister, or for that matter, his step-sister?  A few things need to be taken into consideration.  First, five months after Lena's death, Peter's mother, Neeltje, died.  I imagine this threw the whole family into a grieving state.  Peter was 15 at the time.  Can you imagine losing your sister and a few months later, your mother at such a young age?  I am sure Peter coped the best he could and it was one of those things you probably didn't talk about.

I am thankful I found Lena in the family. I only wish I had found her before Peter Leyn Dyke died, or maybe it was better I didn't.  I wouldn't want to be the one responsible for bringing up memories that Peter may have wanted to remain his own.



Barbara Poole said...

Brenda, quite an interesting but sad story, and what a good job of researching everything about Lena. You were thorough. Love the photo.

Brenda Leyndyke said...

Barbara, I consider this one of my favorite family pictures. Yes, it is sad, but at least the family knows about her now.

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