Bert Corcoran Voted Class Optimist in 1922

Author: Brenda Leyndyke / Labels:

You have probably heard of high school's that vote for Most Likely to Succeed, Most Talented or Most Popular, but have you ever heard of the Class Optimist?  I hadn't, but Kirk's grandfather, Bert Corcoran, was voted that in his senior year.

27 members of Grand Rapids, Michigan Boys' Catholic Central High School held a mock election.  A newspaper article reported the election results in the Grand Rapids Press 25 April 1922 edition on page 11; column 4 and 5.

Can you imagine being voted as the shark, rough neck, woman-hater, or baby?  Things have certainly changed since 1922.  High school's today would never be allowed to use derogatory labels.  The teacher in me noticed that six of the students weren't voted for anything.  I guess it isn't as noticeable in a larger school, but I wonder how they felt about being left out.  Another thing that time has changed, I guess.  They probably didn't give it another thought.

  Here is the clipping:


Twenty-seven members of the junior class of Boys' Catholic Central High school learned Monday how classmates regard them when the annual mock election was held.  The results include:

Most Popular, William Grant;
handsomest, Ronald Chinnock;
shark, James Withey;
class pet, Harold Myler;
class pugilist, Ralph DeVries;
optimist, Bert Corcoran;
pessimist, Charles Guinon;
athlete, Francis Slattery;
fashion plate, Edward Symanski
cutup, August Annerino;
dancer, Michael McCue;
farmer, John Collins;
rough neck, Frank Holland;
woman hater, Joseph Zematis;
bluffer, Wilson Madden;
artist, Leo Van Gorp;
poet, Francis Manikowaki;
chauffeur, Gerald Joyce;
baby, Joseph Morrison;
musician, Archie Foster;
wit, Bernard Morrisey,

Addison B. Kennedy Marries Nellie van den Bos Luyendyk

Author: Brenda Leyndyke / Labels: ,

"Michigan, Marriages, 1868-1925," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 08 Aug 2013), Addison B Kennedy and Nellie Vandenbos Linedike, 16 Mar 1903.

Kirk's great grandmother, Neeltje Cornelia "Nellie" van den Bos has been a source of intrigue for the family.  Nellie's son, Peter, didn't talk a lot about her and most of what the family does know, I have found through researching her. Nellie died when Peter was 15 years old.  Peter was using the last name, Kennedy.  When Peter was older he took his father's name back and spelled it the best he could remember, Leyn Dyke, instead of Luyendyk. 

Nellie VandenBos Linedick, age 25, married Addison B. Kennedy, age 36, on 16 March 1903 by a Justice of the Peace in Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan.  This was Nellie's second marriage.  Her first marriage was to Cornelius Luyendyk in 1893.  Cornelius died in 1900, leaving Nellie with two young children, Peter and his sister, Lena.

I will be writing more about Nellie's husband, Addison, in the weeks to come and he may have shaved a few years off of his age when he married Nellie. Nellie and Addison's story is an interesting, perhaps a little tragic, one and I plan on writing more about them in the weeks ahead.

(Click on the marriage record above to enlarge.)

Family Recipe Friday: Grandma Betty's Spaghetti Sauce

Author: Brenda Leyndyke / Labels: ,

The family raves about Grandma Betty's, Kirk's mom, Spaghetti Sauce.  Her granddaughter, Kirsten, asked for the recipe so she could make it and loves it.  She loves how her house smells while it is cooking.  Here is the recipe for you to enjoy.  I can attest that it truly does taste delicious!

Grandma Betty’s  Spaghetti Sauce

Onion, 1 med sized chopped med
Garlic 3 0r 4 Cloves
3 or 4 celery chopped

Add 1 can mushrooms drained
1 pound Gr. Beef
Sauté till meat is Brown and Veg tender

Add Italian seasoning to taste (I use Tablespoon)

Put in a large pot or Dutch oven

1 quart of stewed tomatos
1 can Tomato paste
Parsley and Basil 1 teasp ea.

I simmer this all afternoon (it thickens)

Add a little water if needed.

Antiquing for Genealogy in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Author: Brenda Leyndyke / Labels: ,

 City Antiques, 945 Fulton SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan

 Storefront Window of City Antiques

Wouldn't you be ecstatic to walk into an antique store in your ancestor's hometown and find a picture of him or her hanging on the wall?  I know I would be.  I was hoping that might happen when we visited City Antiques at 945 Fulton SE, in Grand Rapids.  Kirk has many ancestors that lived in the Grand Rapids area. 

City Antiques has the usual inventory of antique home goods, jewelry and furniture. In addition, it has a wonderful selection of vintage photographs, many arranged on the walls in frames.  Boxes of photographs are available to look through, too.  Some even had names on the back of the pictures.  Area school yearbooks were here as well.  Unfortunately, we didn't find anything pertaining to Kirk's family.

Another area of interest at City Antiques is the curio cabinets of local interest.  My husband and I were hoping that we might find some trinket from Bert Corcoran's store, Arcade News.  Memorabilia was in stock for some of the historic Grand Rapids businesses, but none for Arcade News.

I like to visit antique stores when I am on a research jaunt and City Antiques is one of the better ones.  Even if you do not find your relative, you will find pieces of history pertaining to the area your ancestor lived in and that can be a find in itself.

Framed vintage photographs, many labeled, hanging at City Antiques.  
The photo's go all the way to the bottom of the stairs.

Quirin Schmitt was a Successful Businessman in Downer's Grove

Author: Brenda Leyndyke / Labels: ,

Once I find the vital records of an ancestor, I like to dig deeper into their life.  I find the details are what makes the ancestor come to life.  When my husband and I visited Downer's Grove Public Library in Illinois we were able to find information on his great-great grandfather, Quirin Schmitt, that helped put the flesh on the bones, so to speak. 

One resource that we found at the library was History of DuPage County, Illinois by Rufus Blanchard, copyright 1882.  A full copy of the book is available at google books.  I like to read county histories as they provide background information on the area where ancestors lived.  It is even better when a biographical sketch of an ancestor is included in the history.  Sometimes, the information may be embellished, but through further research I found Quirin Schmitt's sketch to be quite accurate.

Below is the information found in Blanchard's History of DuPage County, Illinois:

"Quirin Schmitt, wagon-maker, repairer and livery, Downer's Grove, was born in Europe April 30, 1853; his parents Roman and Sophia (Tilken) Schmitt, both deceased, were Europeans; of their nine children, seven are living, viz., Nicholas, George, Joseph, Amand, Quirin, Sophia and Therese.  Subject, at the age of thirteen, began learning the wagon-maker's trade, which he has ever since followed.  He came to Illinois in 1872, and worked one year and seven months with John Walters, of Downer's Grove, whose business he then bought, and has since continued, making a specialty of repairing and building spring wagons, and doing an excellent trade.  In 1881, he added a livery to his other business, and is meeting with good success in that line.  He married, January 17 1874, Barbara, daughter of Henry and Helena Schumpp, and from this union three children have been born, viz., Eugene, Ida and Helen.  Mrs Schmitt's parents were early settlers here, and had six children, five of whom are living.  Mr. Schmitt is a Democrat; members of the Catholic Church."

Source:  Blanchard Rufus, History of DuPage County Illinois (Chigago: O.L. Baskin & Co., 1882), p120.

The above information led to further research of his parents, brothers, and children.  Further research needs to be done as to the actual date of his marriage to Barbara Schumpp.  One Illinois Index record has 7 January 1875 which differs from the date stated here.  I need to look at Illinois marriage records to confirm. The Eugene that is mentioned as a child is Eugenia.  Quirin and Barbara Schump had two more children: Lucy and Alois, after the publication of this sketch.  In addition, Quirin remarried Bernice Carpinski, after the death of his first wife, and they had one daughter, Antoinette.  

Using county histories can fill in a few blanks in your search of an ancestor's life.  How do you use county histories?

Those Places Thursday: St. Mary's Hospital, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Author: Brenda Leyndyke / Labels: ,

St. Mary's Hospital, Grand Rapids, Michigan 2012

Kirk and his brother and two sisters were all born at St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The hospital located at 200 Jefferson Ave. SE has undergone many changes since the Leyndyke siblings were born there in the 1950's.

St. Mary's started in August of 1893 as a 15 bed hospital by the Sisters of Mercy.  It was located in what was then a house turned into a hospital.  St. Mary's acquired homes and land near the original hospital and grew into what it is today.  

The picture above is taken from St. Andrew's Cathedral looking east.  A 1913 historical picture of the hospital can be found here.  A history of St. Mary's can be found here under the Grand Rapids section of the article.

Howard Corcoran Baptismal Record

Author: Brenda Leyndyke / Labels: , ,

Source:  "Illinois, Chicago, Catholic Church Records, 1833-1925," Baptism Records for Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Family Search ( : accessed 19 January 2012), Baptismal record for Howard James Corcoran on page 31 in Book of Baptisms 1905-1915; image 22 of 134.

Cropped View of Above Source

The Chicago Illinois Catholic Church Records are not indexed on Family Search and I had to go page by page to find the baptismal record of Kirk's great uncle, Howard James Corcoran.  It was kind of a hunt and peck method for awhile.  I was going on faith that Howard was baptized in the same church that his parents were married in and I got lucky!  It helped that I had Howard's birth date, 9 February 1907.

The record above is for Howard James Corcoran, born Feb 9, 1907.  Father is Timothy Corcoran and Ellen Smith (actually, it is Helen Schmitt, but she went by Smith for some reason.).  Sponsors are Bertram Venard and Agnes Venard.  Howard was baptized on Feb 24th 1907.  Signed by E. S. Keough.  In the margin of the baptismal record is a note that says "married Hope Catherine Gorham Sept 11, 1943" with words I am assuming is in Latin and I cannot read.

I love that the marriage record was recorded with the baptismal record.  I wonder if that was common to do in the Catholic records.  It is the first one I have seen that did it.  More research is needed on Bertam and Agnes Venard, were they relatives?

In addition to providing me with Howard's baptismal record, it helps me to narrow down when Timothy and Helen Corcoran moved to Michigan.  It is amazing when you go looking for one record and it opens up other avenues of research.  That is what this baptismal record did for me.

Sunday's Obituary: Abraham VanOveren

Author: Brenda Leyndyke / Labels: ,


VAN OVEREN- Abraham VanOveren aged 78, entered into rest, Wednesday afternoon at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Robert Douglas, 951 Lyon st. N. E.  Surviving are three sons, A. (Bud) VanOveren of Muskegon, E. Russell VanOveren, 1st sergeant with the armed forces in Australia; four daughters, Mrs. Robert Douglas of Grand Rapids, Mrs. Peter Leyn Dyke and Mrs. W.F. Wood, both of Flint, Mich. and Mrs N. Hunter of Elkhart, and eleven grandchildren and six great grandchildren; a brother, Richard VanOveren of East Paris; a sister, Mrs. Frank Van Ysseldyke of Grand Rapids.  Funeral Services will be held Saturday at 2 o'clock at the Van Hof Funeral Home where the body reposes.  Interment in Fair Plains cemetery.

For the most part this obituary is accurate.  The obituary states that there were three sons and only names two.  Abraham had two sons with names as stated.  The four daughters are correct.  Mrs. Robert Douglas was his daughter, Ada May;  Mrs Peter Leyn Dyke was his daughter, Nellie; Mrs. W.F. Wood was his daughter, Lois, and Mrs. N. Hunter was his daughter, Jeannie Martha.  More research is needed to determine the name of his sister.

Kirk and I obtained a copy of this obituary when we were researching at Grand Rapids Public Library and of course, I did not write down the source information.  It is from one of the Grand Rapids newspapers, around October 22, 1943.

Funeral Card Friday-Cecil A. Dollaway Jessup

Author: Brenda Leyndyke / Labels: ,

Funeral Card for Mrs. Cecil A. Jessup from the personal collection of Elizabeth Leyndyke 

The day of Aunt Cecil's funeral was one where the weather was so icy, we couldn't travel across state to go to it.  Kirk was very fond of his Great Aunt Cecil.  She spent the last few years of her life in a nursing home and when we would go to Grand Rapids to see his parents, we would try to stop in and spend time with her.  We would play scrabble with her or just sit and talk.  She was a very nice, kind and lovely woman. 

Cecil A. Dollaway was born to Willis G. and Francis (Denny) Dollaway on 17 May 1899 near Lowell, Kent, Michigan.  She married Rolland Jessup on 6 August 1920 in Lowell, Kent, Michigan. Rolland and Cecil never had any children.  Cecil died 21 January 1982 in Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan and is buried in Blythefield Memory Gardens, Rockford, Kent, Michigan.

L-R:  Clarence Dollaway and his sister, Cecil Dollaway.  Date unknown.

Where in the World is Helen Schmitt?

Author: Brenda Leyndyke / Labels: ,

Once I have identified an ancestor, I start my research by finding the ancestor I am researching in the census records.  Usually, I start with the most recent census date and work backwards.  I am creating tables for each ancestor with the census information.  This helps me to see where I am missing information and what next steps I need to take in my research.  Below is the table for Kirk's great grandmother, Helen Schmitt, who married Timothy Corcoran.  I have been unable to find Helen Schmitt in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census.  She was not recorded in the home of her father and she wasn't married yet to be included with Timothy Corcoran.  I have added that to my to do list and hope to locate her one of these days.

Where in the World is Helen Schmitt?

16 Aug 1882
Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States

Unable to locate; not in father’s home

5 June 1900
Pullman, Cook, Illinois, United States

Monroe, Newaygo, Michigan, United States
Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan, United States
Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan, United States
Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan, United States
10 Apr 1949
Grand Rapids, Kent, Michigan, United States