15 October 2013 | By: Brenda Leyndyke

The Book of Me: My Grandparents

Grandparents are a lovely part of a family.  My grandparents were a part of my family, but from a distance. I never lived near any of my grandparents, but my family would visit my maternal grandparents at least once a year. My paternal grandmother would come visit us.  I do not remember ever going to her house.  I was fortunate to have three grandparents in my childhood life. My paternal grandfather died seven years before I was born.  Let me introduce you to my grandparents:

The Glover's 

I have only been able to get to know my paternal grandfather, Harry Glover, through pictures, stories and my research.  He was born in Jackson, Michigan on 6 May 1883, to Frank H. Glover and Hattie Lodema Fenn.  Harry lived in Jackson, Crystal Lake Township, and Marquette, all in Michigan, during his childhood.

Harry was eighteen years old when he fell trying to catch a train, severing his right leg below the knee.  He wore a prosthetic leg the rest of his life.

Harry worked as an electrician, diamond mill machinist, tool and mechanical engineer during his life.  He worked for the Chrysler Corporation in Highland Park, Michigan for many years.

Harry married my grandmother, Sarah Lilla Watt, on 23 August 1919, in Marquette, Michigan.  This was Harry's second marriage.  His first wife, Emma Winkler, died in 1915, just two weeks after the birth of their son, Francis. I don't know the story of Harry and Sarah/Lilla meeting other than she was from Marquette, Michigan.

Harry Glover died 6 Sep 1950 in Detroit, Michigan, seven years before I was born.  I have enjoyed getting to know Harry through my research.  I have found his vital records, census records, draft registration, burial records, residences and immigration records in my research.

I loved my Grandma Glover Bell, she was a warm, generous woman.  I remember her visiting our home many times in the short seven years I knew her.  There were a few times we would visit my dad's brother, Francis "Hank" Glover in Ferndale, Michigan and Grandma would be there.  Hank was not my grandma's biological mother, but she raised him as her own.

Sarah Lilla Watt, who went by Lilla, was born 23 November 1884 in Marquette, Michigan to David Watt and Katherine McGee.  Lilla lived in Marquette until she married my Grandpa, Harry Glover.  They were married 23 August 1919 and enjoyed 31 years of marriage.  They moved to Cass Avenue, in Detroit, Michigan after their marriage.  My father was born in 1925.  It was at this time that they moved to Hazel Park, Michigan to raise their children.

Sarah Lilla Watt worked as a stenographer in Marquette before her marriage.  She was a housewife and full time mother after that.

Lilla married Ray Bell in 1954, four years after my grandfather's death.  Grandma Bell moved to Arizona after her marriage to Ray Bell.  They lived in Arizona and Calgary, Alberta.

I remember Grandma Bell would visit our home and she would bring crocheted or knitted gifts.  I have a pair of slipper socks she made me when I was a child.  She hand knitted afghans and wooden clothes hanger covers.  She crocheted hot pads and doilies, many of which I have in my possession.  I can remember sitting on the footstool at her feet while she worked.  She would let me help her wind her yarn.  I remember hugs and feeling loved.

I remember clearly the day she died.  My mom told me the news and I remember crying in my closet next to a skirt she had given me for Christmas that year.  Grandma Bell died of cancer in Calgary, Alberta, Canada on 31 March 1965, at the age of 80.  I was seven at the time.

My grandma lived a good life, but I wish I could have known her longer as all the memories I have of her are good.

The Fredrick's

My grandfather was an old man for as long as I could remember. He was 79 years old when I was born.  I was ten when he died.  I do not have any pictures of my grandfather with me in them.

Otto August Fredrick was born 1 November 1878, in Manistee, Michigan, to Johann August Fredrick and Louise Fredrike Zastrow. He lived his whole life in Manistee County.  He lived in the city of Manistee, Dickson Township-near Brethren, and Brethren, all in Michigan.

Otto August Fredrick married Daisy Ellen Graf on 12 Dec 1917 in Brethren, Michigan.  My grandmother had a child and she agreed to marry Otto if he was willing to accept her son as his own.  He wasn't always nice to her son and once when she didn't like the way he treated her son, she left and walked to her father's farm, about two to three miles away.

Grandpa Fredricks worked on a Great Lakes freighter and farmer during his life.  I never knew him when he lived on the farm or worked as a Laker.  I only remember him in his house in Brethren, Michigan.

My family would make a yearly, summer trip to Brethren, Michigan and I would see my grandparents on that trip.  We would stay with my Aunt Kate on our visits and my grandparents lived next door to her.  It was just a short walk out the back door of my aunt's house to the back door of my grandparent's house.  I remember Grandpa Fredricks would sit outside and smoke his pipe at times.  Other times he would sit in 'his' chair.  I don't remember ever having a conversation with him.  Nothing more than a 'hi' or a 'bye'.

I don't remember having sad feelings when he died and I think it was because I never really knew him.  Otto August Fredricks died 5 February 1968 in Onekema, Michigan.

Grandma Fredricks was an entirely different story than Grandpa Fredricks.  She was a kind, sweet, easy going and humble woman with a wonderful laugh.  The picture to the left is the only picture I have of my grandmother and I.

Daisy Ellen Graf was born 18 October 1892 in Plevna, Indiana to Valentine Graf and Nancy Mast.  During her teen years, she moved to Brethren, Michigan.

I only know of one job that my grandmother had before her marriage.  She worked in a nearby town at a motel as a housekeeper.

I have many memories of visiting my Grandma Fredricks.  She always made you feel welcome and served cookies and milk and sometimes had a bowl of candy on her coffee table.  She was a terrific cook.  She loved Charlie Pride and Elvis music.  I remember walking into her house, after Grandpa died, and she was listening to records. She was a loving, Christian woman.  One conversation I remember fondly was when I was in college.  She asked if I liked college and I said yes.  She told me she was happy I was going to school and hoped I didn't make the same mistakes she made as a young woman.  She changed the topic then, but as I looked back on it, I think she was talking about being pregnant.  She never mentioned it again and I didn't ask.

I was in college when she died and attended her funeral which was filled with family members. Grandma Fredricks died 26 October 1978 in Manistee, Michigan at the age of 86.

07 October 2013 | By: Brenda Leyndyke

The Book of Me: I Am Not a Writer

I have never considered myself to be a writer, I didn't write in a diary or journal.  The only time I tried to keep a journal was when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, Kirsten.  I thought it would be a good memento to pass on to her.  I thought she would see how much she was wanted and learn more about her mother in the process.  I wrote in it throughout my pregnancy and until Kirsten was about 2 years old.

It was a blank journal-like hardcover book with a Gnome theme.  I had decorated the nursery with Gnomes and the journal seemed to go with it.  I wrote about my feelings, how I was looking forward to being a mother and daily happenings in my life.  After Kirsten was born, I wrote about some of the milestones that she achieved:  first smile, first tooth, etc.

I plan to pass this journal on to Kirsten some day.  I have to find it first.  It is stored with some of the other things I saved from her childhood.  It is the only journal I ever wrote.  I wish I had done the same thing for my son, but as I said I am not a writer.

That is why I am surprised that I started blogging and stayed with it.  Currently, I am keeping three blogs going:  Journey to the Past, where I write about my family history; Journey to His Past, where I write about my husband's family history and this one.  I consider my blogs my journals.  I write about past history, but I include stories about my history and events in my children's lives.

I haven't come across any journals in my family history.  I would love to find one that one of my ancestors kept.  I would love to get to know them from their own writing, but if they were like me they were not a writer!
05 October 2013 | By: Brenda Leyndyke

The Book of Me: A House is not a Home

Writing about my childhood home is going to be difficult as I lived in seven houses during the first 17 years of my childhood.  I have written about all seven of these houses at my Journey to the Past blog.

  1. Pine Street, Deckerville, Michigan
  2. Black River Street, Deckerville, Michigan
  3. Parrott Street, Deckerville, Michigan
  4. Whitcomb Street, Harbor Beach, Michigan
  5. Trescott Street, Harbor Beach, Michigan
  6. First Street, Harbor Beach, Michigan
  7. Huron Avenue, Harbor Beach, Michigan
Although, I lived in a variety of houses, it wasn't the structure that made it a home.  It was family. I never had the privilege to live near my grandparents, or any extended family for that matter.  It was my parents, myself, two sisters and a brother at various times of my childhood.  My sister is nine years younger than I am and my brother is eleven years younger.  It was like two separate families. I grew up as many others did in the 1950's.  I had a stay at home mother, a father who worked, and traditional Christian family values.  All of these things together provided me with the tools I needed to leave home and go to college.

I left home number seven in August of 1975, just shy of my eighteenth birthday, to attend Western Michigan University(WMU) in Kalamazoo, Michigan, about 250 miles away.  One of the factors of my attending WMU was that I wanted to go to college away from home.  I wanted the new adventure that I thought attending college would give me. I have been an independent, some call it stubborn, person most of my life.  In fact, I only applied to Western Michigan.  I don't know what I would have done had I not been admitted.

As I look back on my childhood, I don't think of one family home.  I think of all the other things that makes a house a home.  I think of the love of family, the memories that were made and the times spent together, the good and the bad.  A house is a structure that provided me with the basic need for shelter, but a home is what developed me into the person I am today.