When I was visiting my mother for her heart surgery, I found an amazing tintype that changed the way I think about the cover of Kin Types.
You may or may not realize I write a blog called thefamilykalamazoo.com sharing antique and vintage family photos and the results of some of my family history research. I published an account over on that blog, but I’ve pasted the body here so you can feel some of my excitement 😉 over this new discovery.
FROM THE FAMILY KALAMAZOO:
Thank you so much for responding so enthusiastically to Kin Types. My new chapbook is an offshoot of The Family Kalamazoo, in a way.
The cover of the book is from an old tintype belonging to my family. I have posted it twice before on this blog. The woman featured on it seems to have come from the Remine branch of the family and, based on the tintype and the dress she wears, I thought it was possible that she could be my great-great-great grandmother Johanna Remine DeKorn. This was a guess I had fairly early on, but I had no proof.
But I knew she was someone close to us. For one thing, this is an expensive painted tintype and our family owns it. We wouldn’t have possession of such an image if it wasn’t someone from the family. For another, there is too great a similarity. For instance, my daughter thinks that the woman looks remarkably like my mother in the eyes and mouth. Other people say they can see her in my face.
I thought it unlikely I would learn much more about the photo, but never gave up hope because much amazing information has flowed to me, mainly through this blog.
When I visited my mother recently, she gave me a gorgeous antique photo album from my uncle for me to scan and disseminate. Imagine my surprise when I opened the album and found this tiny tintype inside.
I had so many questions: Were the photos taken at the same time or is the woman younger in the couple’s photo? Same hairdo, same earrings . . . . We don’t really know about the dress and its neck accessory because the lace collar on the painted tintype is, just that, painted on. But she’s definitely younger. Is the new find a wedding photo? Are they siblings?
So I focused on the man. I want to say boy. They both look so young. If the woman is Johanna Remine DeKorn, the man most likely would have to be Boudewyn (Boudewijn) DeKorn. Here is a photo my grandfather identified as Boudewyn, my 3xgreat grandfather.
So, what do you think? Are they two different men? The hair is the same–very wavy dark brown hair–, but the hairline has changed. That’s possible. In the upper photo, the man has very defined cheekbones, and I don’t see this in the boy. The man has a very wide mouth. Would that change over time? I doubt it. It was unlikely then that the woman was Johanna, but who was she?
I did what I had to do. I scheduled an appointment with photogenealogist Maureen Taylor. When I only had the painted tintype, I didn’t feel I had enough to go through the process with Maureen. But now that I had a second tintype, I wanted to give it a try.
When Maureen and I began our conversation, I felt a letdown. Johanna Remine was too old to be in this photo. The tintype of the two people had to be between 1869 and 1875, according to Maureen. Johanna was born in 1817 and DIED in 1864. The woman could not be Johanna.
The woman had to be a generation younger than Johanna.
This was disappointing because I felt that I know the other branches or “lines” of the family, and that if she wasn’t Johanna, she couldn’t be a direct ancestor.
And yet, as I told Maureen, I had a strong feeling that she was closely related. And her looks are too reminiscent of the family features to discount her. Maureen agreed with this and pointed me in a different direction.
The Remine family, where I felt the painted tintype came from, began in the U.S. with a marriage between Richard Remine and Mary Paak. Mary Paak is my great-great-grandmother Alice Paak DeKorn’s sister. I am related to the Remines two ways. One is by blood, Johanna Remine being my 3x great grandmother, married to Boudewyn DeKorn (and the mother of Richard DeKorn). The other is by marriage where Richard married Mary. Mary and Carrie Paak, two of the four Paak sisters, had a similar look. Alice and Annie had a different look altogether.
Maureen wanted to see a photo of Alice. I sent her the image above–a very clear headshot of Alice from the 1890s (so 20 years older than the woman in the tintype) and Annie (the sister who looked like Alice but is a body shot and not as clear). Maureen examined the photos and proclaimed Alice a match. She asked for the dates on the sisters: birth, immigration, marriage. She was sure the tintype of the beautiful girl on the cover of Kin Types was Alice who happens to be featured in a poem in my book: “An Account of a Poor Oil Stove Bought off Dutch Pete.”
I asked Maureen about the man in the photo and said it did not look like Alice’s husband, Richard DeKorn.
And then I learned something that is counterintuitive, but smart.
Ignore him for now.
She thought it could be her brother or even a beau she had in the Netherlands that she never married. In the tintype of both of them, they are very very young, maybe teenagers. And Alice immigrated to the United States when she was 17 years old. Maureen told me to ignore the man for the purposes of identifying the woman. I will try to identify him later, if it is even possible.
The more I thought about Maureen’s assessment, the more I realized how blind I’d been not to notice the resemblance between the women in the tintype and my 2xgreat grandmother Alice. Alice also happens to be the mother of Cora, the woman my grandparents told me that I look like.
Just for fun, I ran the two images through twinsornot.net. This is the result, although they photos are of a very young woman and a woman twenty years older.
Then I pulled out the other photo that Grandpa had identified Alice. In this alternative photo, Alice is younger than in the 1890s photo, but not nearly as young as the tintype. I had never been sure that this photo even was Alice, although Grandpa had been (and she was his grandmother). So I ran both Grandpa-identified Alice photos against each other on the site. 100% match! Grandpa was right.
Next I ran the tinted tintype against this alternative photo of Alice.
SO THERE YOU HAVE IT! THE MYSTERY IS SOLVED. THE WOMAN ON THE COVER OF KIN TYPES IS MOST LIKELY ALICE PAAK DEKORN.
I learned a lot of lessons through this process, but one that really stands out in my mind is that people look different in different photographs–and when you are comparing people of different ages, it really gets dicey. I think about photos of me . . .
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49 responses to “New Info After the Book is Published”
This is very interesting. You are lucky to have old photos. I don’t have any of my paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather and only a few snapshots (blurry!) of other two grandparents when they were very old. (At least they looked very old.) I would kill for great shots like this. My paternal grandparents had individual portraits taken when they were young and they hung in my aunt’s house. When she got Alzheimer’s I tried to buy them from the caretakers (she had no children) but they were long gone. Sadly I fear they were snapped up for the beautiful curved glass frames they were in rather than the photos themselves.
Oh, Kate! That is so sad about the portraits. When i hear stories like this I am so saddened. I will tell you that by having my family history blog I have found SO many pictures and stories that I never thought I would find. It is very possible that there are photos out there, but it’s just how to find them. I happen to put myself out there every week on that blog and people find me. But also, I often find stuff that I didn’t even know I didn’t know rather than hunting for a needle in a haystack. As time goes on, people are starting to post photos online in hopes of finding owners. Whenever I see a pile of old photos for sale in an antique store I feel bad that there might be somebody looking for some of those!
that is really great sleuthing! I had heard of all these technical ways of facial recognition, and yet that site matched your images! As for reviews, Your stories in Kin Types really captures your family history in such a way I devoured the pages.
I love being a sleuth! it’s so Nancy Drew-ish! that site is actually pretty good. I mean it’s only as good as the photos you feed into it–facing forward, etc. And it doesn’t add all the extra points of analysis as Maureen does with her knowledge. Still, it’s a lot of fun to play around with. Thank you SO MUCH about Kin Types! That is so so kind of you!
So cool, Luanne. You should have your own show. Maybe Henry Louis Gates will sponsor you. (My older daughter ran into him at the airport and was so excited.) 🙂
I laughed so hard at this! I remember when HLG was the upstart go-to lit theorist and now look at him! Sure, he can sponsor me ;)! I bet she was–did she ask for his autograph or try to talk to him?
She got sort of fan-girl tongue-tied, and said how much she admires him, or something to that effect. Then she texted me from the plane. 🙂
LOL, we always like to think we’ll keep our heads and do something clever, but it never happens that way! I remember when my daughter sat next to Garry Marshall on the plane once. He was reading the script for the Princess Diaries. She was just a kid, but she was such a movie buff that she kicked herself for not speaking up.
Amazing story and great sleuthing, as notdonner (above) says. I have a box full of old family photos and was thinking that after I’m gone nobody will care about these people (who are long gone themselves), but after reading this, maybe I should rethink the situation and put the names on the ones I know. Maybe, like you, someone will care someday.
Yes, call me Nancy ;). Somebody definitely might care and so definitely mark the with names and if possible dates. It’s so thrilling when I find the old photos that ARE marked!
It sure helps give the photos meaning.
That’s what gives meaning to history :).
Well. The main thing I noticed is: the two top photos of the young woman seems to be the EXACT SAME picture of her, but flipped so she’s looking the other way. I mean, look at the hair, the part, the hairline; the eyes… The more I stared at them, the more I came to believe this. That’s all I gotta say, Oh, and I’m SO impressed with all your digging!! And it pays off, doesn’t it!!
You see, that’s what I thought at first, too. That it was a reverse. But Maureen showed me how the full length is younger than the other. She’s only a teen in that one. But I do get what you are saying. I thought so because of the hairstyle and the earrings! Thanks, Ellie! It definitely pays off!
Congratulations on untangling that little knot!
Photos of people have been around for generations. One would think that by now we’d have learned to label the pertinent details, wouldn’t you?
But look who’s talking: I’ve got megabytes of images that don’t have anything other than a computer generated file name and date attached to it. I find that very curious.
It is a lot of work and time-consuming, but I think future generations will thank us for taking the time today. At least of enough of them that it gives them a “key” to unlocking who is who in the rest of the pix, you know? Thanks so much, Maggie!
Fascinating. You look exactly like Alice!
Hah, thank you! Not really, but there are definite similarities. My mom looks more like her!
You do to me!
Thank you! I take that as a compliment :).
Rich history indeed! Even the photos have family trees…amazing!
LOL! That is funny! It is pretty amazing to get an identification. It was right there in front of my face, but I couldn’t see it!
What a fascinating process Luanne! It really must be living living in a detective novel finding out little bit by little bit. I have some old family photographs that someone painstakingly wrote the date on the back of but no names….. isn’t it funny how we think we’ll always know who it is. I have shots from my school days that recently were rifled through and I have no clue who some of the people are. It’s good to know there are ways of finding out who the mystery person is now.
I had that happen, too, where I could no longer remember the names of people I used to know. It’s so creepy how it starts to slide away . . . . Dates, but no names. Hmm. Maybe you can use the dates to figure out some of the names? Just for those that come afte ryou . . . .
That was interesting, although a bit hard for me to keep up with the who’s who of it. I always thought I could see you in the Kin Types cover, and I wouldn’t have guessed all those were Alice.
No, I didn’t either: I was looking right at the answer, so to speak, and not seeing it!
I think if you read a lot of genealogy blogs it becomes easier to keep track of who begat whom LOL. But it’s still hard when you haven’t heard of any of the people before. I had hoped the tintype was Alice’s mother-in-law, but it was Alice herself, and she is my great great grandmother. Alice begat Cora (who i really look like)who begat Grandpa who begat Mom who begat me. There, you have it now ;).
Luanne, you missed your calling – I keep telling you that you could have been a detective!!
This is such a wonderful story, and I have to thank The Family Kalamazoo for leading me to you!
And thank you for your insights and inspiration for all of us who love not only our old stories but the ones we’re creating today.
Hah, thank you so much! I would love it! What a great sentiment, Sheila: also “the ones we’re creating today.” so true!!!
You need to come to work with me at the police department, Luanne. We’re always looking for brilliant detectives like yourself! You and the Gardner should start another business. Well done!
Thank you for the compliment! Oh, I would love that! Not sure if I mentioned it before, but in high school I wanted to join the FBI but in those days you had to be 5’8, and I wasn’t tall enough :(. The truth was that they didn’t want women. I keep telling him we should write a mystery novel together.
Congratulations! What a surprising outcome. It’s its own little mystery. Intriguing hearing about the tools you used to solve it – an in-person expert resource, and an electronic photo-comparison tool. Along with family lore (your grandfather’s ID of his grandmother). This reminds me of some photos we just unearthed through Ancestry.com of my grandmother in the 1930s when she was a teenager … and we said, OMG, she looks *exactly* like my sister! No one expected it. 🙂 In other photos, there had never been that kind of strong resemblance. Now I know that different years, different eras, can make the photos seem like different people, from your story! 🙂
And, Luanne, while I’m here, I have a cat story to share … our “infirm” kitty who has asthma and about ten extra pounds on her – we discovered a pattern where she meows most especially when my son is nearby. I can walk by her, or my husband, and she ignores us. If he walks into the room where she’s sitting in the recliner, she instantly starts, “Meeoow! Meeeow!” until he pats her. I told him, “she’s flirting with you!” He thinks it’s amusing. Made me think of you and your Perry-rescue story!
When we haven’t seen the family members who have come before us or only know them as “old people” we don’t realize the resemblances! My family was never one to say so and so looks like so and so. I kind of like that they didn’t do that. My brother was adopted, so that made it easier for him. But the family just wasn’t that focused on looks, you know?
I love your kitty story! How funny!!! They do decide who they like the most or who they want to spend the extra time with! But flirting haha. Maybe that IS it! What a sweetie pie!
Have a great weekend, Theresa!!! xo
So interesting, Luanne!
Thanks so much. Jennie!
It’s great to have a mystery solved! She’s a very striking woman, the tintype really adds atmosphere to the book, which I have started reading – I love the sense of time and place and people in it.
I find her eyes to very compelling! And i love solving mysteries. I guess that’s why I like to read them ;). Thank you so much for what you say about Kin Types, Andrea! I hope you enjoy it.
You would make a great detective, Luanne! I have pictures of my grandmother’s grandparents (I don’t know how many “greats” that is) and I display them so proudly on my wall! 🙂
I don’t know if I would make a good detective, but I would LOVE it! You are making me think of a blog post I need to write in the near future haha. Those are great-greats or 2xgreats. That is exactly what Alice is to me. I love that you have those portraits on the wall!
I have my great grandparents photograph from when they came from Sweden. I also have my grandmother’s immigration papers when she came from Germany. I have a few lockets with photographs inside, I put a piece of paper in their velvet covered (tea colored cardboard inside) with who is whom. 🙂 I think my two daughters are no interested and both brothers almost make a cross (holding hands out in front of them; so babyish!) as if warding off a demon. . . They don’t want my “stuff!” Unfortunately, Randy, the artist took a bunch of albums and tossed them before I arrived at the lake cottage four years ago, into a huge dumpster. Boo hoo! 😔😢
That is a story that breaks my heart. I don’t understand why people get rid of this stuff that has value for other people. Even if you don’t want it yourself, why can’t you give it to someone else for safekeeping? Maybe your daughters will develop the interest. But YOU can develop the interest in your grandchildren! And then they will want your family heirlooms! 🙂
I’m not sure how to explain my brother Randy to anyone. I think at age 50 having his quadruple heart bypass took him to a place where he wants each day to be “lived in the moment.” My other brother Rich has a lovely and caring wife but hates how we save stuff. She complained as I tried to share my albums with him. I still live in a one bedroom apt and was trying to pick through things, saving precious items and photographs. I agree, Luanne.
It kind of broke my heart, too.
My daughters both are not sentimental and groan if I ask them to save something. I have my Dad’s notes very fine print, on the simple honeymoon Mom and Dad had. Their meal items, the cocktail my Mom drank. My Mom gave me her honeymoon lingerie and long nighties. Where do you put them? I guess you can capture on a flash drive. 💕 Thanks for caring and warm sympathy, Luanne. xo
Actually that’s what I have started doing–taking photos of sentimental items that I know my kids are not going to be interested in so that when I need to get rid of them I will still have the photos. Robin, I love that you have wanted to save these items, but yes, a photo will remind you! xoxo
Thank you for your caring and valuable time, Luanne. I will start taking pictures and then donate the album’s, etc. xoxo
Make sure nobody in the family wants them first. Maybe send out a mass email warning people. Then take pix and store them well. I am amazing at what we remember from pictures and was thinking of a blog post about it!
I am excited if you write about this process of preserving memories. Which reminds me of the perfect song, Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bookends:”. “A time it was and what a time it was. . . A time of innocence, a time of confidences. . . I have a photograph. . . Preserve your memories. . .They’re all that’s left you.” 🎶🎼
Oh, I love that! What a perfect quote.
I took a particular interest in this post since I was the one at first glance who believed the cover was you in costume! How much fun that you have now uncovered who it was. And, yes—if someone tried to identify me by the man at my side, they could go off on a seriously wild goose chase.