Portrait of Carmen Vargas

Carmen Vargas

Carmen Vargas (Photo courtesy of Carmen Vargas)

My great grandmother, Carmen Vargas Marin, immigrated to the United States from Mexico in the 1920s. She was born to Mariano Vargas Ramos and Candelaria Marin Hernandez on July 4, 1906, in Ameca, Jalisco, Mexico.

She entered the U.S. through Laredo, Texas, in 1925, and married Pvt. Otto Gullickson in Harris County, Texas in 1926. By 1927, they were living in San Francisco, where their first son George Gullicksen was born.

In all, she bore four children: George, Lillian Gullicksen (1929), Carmel Gullicksen (1934), and Charles Hubert Gullicksen (1940).

She was noted in the 1930 census as living at 88B Chenery Street in San Francisco, where they paid $25 rent and lived with George and Lillian. It was also noted that she spoke Spanish in the home.

My mother remembers her as a very nice woman who would usually dye her hair a dark red. Once, something went wrong with the dyeing process and it was instead colored a bright fuchsia ahead of a family gathering.

Carmen passed away on October 30, 1984, in Santa Clara.

Note: The photo above was given to me by Cousin Carmen, also named Carmen Vargas. She is the daughter of my great uncle, Atenojenes Vargas Marin. (Thanks, Carmen!)


Halbo Kool, Christina Kolle attend 1903 Groningen Tentoonstelling van Nijverheid en Kunstindustrie

Halbo C. Kool's pass

Halbo Kool’s (b. 1873)  pass to 1903 Groningen Tentoonstelling van Nijverheid en Kunstindustrie (Groningen Exhibition of Craft and Art Industry). (Courtesy of Halbo Kool, living)

Christina Kolle's pass to exhibition

Christina Kool’s (n. Kolle) pass to 1903 Groningen Tentoonstelling van Nijverheid en Kunstindustrie (Groningen Exhibition of Craft and Art Industry). (Courtesy of Halbo Kool, living)

The Groningen Exhibition of Craft and Art Industry, roughly translated, was a big event, seeing about 300,000 visitors over its two-month run from June 15-August 15, 1903. Some accounts have the event running until September 1 of that year, but the official dates on the tickets and poster indicate that it was supposed to end on August 1st. It had a 60-page guide book and a commemorative coin. One would have to cross over a bridge, under a sign that read Tentoonstelling (Google translated: Shows) to enter the grounds. In one courtyard, a giant wine bottle stood two stories high, and in another, a fountain.

Halbo Kool, the living grandson of Halbo Kool (b.1873) and son of Halbo Christiaan Kool (I know, not confusing at all, right?), sent me these scans of Halbo Kool (b.1873)’s and Christina Kolle’s permanent passes to the event. In his notes, Halbo Kool says he’s not sure if they have had a stand for the H.C. Kool hat shop, but I’m fairly confident they would have, being located in Groningen and such good business people.

Image from inside Inside the Groningen Tentoonstelling van Nijverheid en Kunstindustrie in 1903.

Inside the Groningen Tentoonstelling van Nijverheid en Kunstindustrie in 1903.

See a poster for the event here.

See photos from the event here.

Photo: Freerk Bellinga Swalve out on a drive in 1908

Freerk Bellinga Swalve driving a horse-drawn buggy in 1908.

Freerk Bellinga Swalve driving a horse-drawn buggy in 1908.

This is one of those classic photos that will come in handy when my sister and I try to convince my niece that, yes, people did use to sit in big wood and metal contraptions and make horses pull them around — that’s where we get the term “horsepower.”

In the photo (dated August, 1908), my great-great-grandfather Freerk Belling Swalve (born in Bohmerwald, Prussia, in 1855) is driving a horse-drawn carriage with at least one passenger aboard. He would have been 53 years old, and this photo likely would have been taken in the Netherlands.

As with most of the photos I post here, I did some retouching in Photoshop (that’s a disclaimer for the purists). This one was riddled with scratches, dirt, and tears, but it didn’t turn out too bad. I felt that this was a good time to post the photo, given that I confirmed the other day that the man was, indeed, Freerk.

I hope you enjoyed seeing how people got around about 100 years go!

Photos: Wubbina Engellina Johanna Petronella Swalve

Wubbina Engellina Johanna Petronella Swalve (Willem Vlietstra/Contributed)

Wubbina Engellina Johanna Petronella Swalve (Willem Vlietstra/Contributed)

As promised, here is another photo Willem Vlietstra sent me recently. This one is of my great-great-grandmother Wubbina Engellina Johanna Petronella Swalve (in case you were wondering, yes, the breakdown of the ancestors she was named after is extensive). This is one of the best conditioned photographs of her in my possession, and the oldest I’ve seen of her. In others, there are acid marks, white fading, or distance between her and the camera is a factor, and she is older.

Wubbina was born in 1879 and I wouldn’t guess she is much older than 15 in this photo, so I would date it before 1895.

I also have this one (below), which must have been produced en mass seeing as I have at least three copies of it more than 100 years later. In it, she holds my great-grandmother, Helena de Wit, who was born in 1903. For the longest time, my mother tried to tell me the woman holding the baby was a wet nurse and I was like, “Um, no.” The resemblance between her and my cousins is way too strong (I call them ‘those Swalve eyes’ because they’re so distinctive).

Wubbina Engellina Johanna Petronella Swalve with daughter Helena de Wit. (Photo by A.J. Swalve.)

Wubbina Engellina Johanna Petronella Swalve with daughter Helena de Wit. (Photo by A.J. Swalve.)



1970: Death certificate for Christina ‘Tineke’ Kool

Christina “Tineke” Kool was a loving mother, sister, and high school teacher who died after a long struggle with mental illnesses. This is her death certificate, and a record of births from her parents’ union — including sister Ruth Kool and brother Morris Kool — which were photocopied by someone else in my family onto the same sheet.

Bio: Helena de Wit

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Helena “Lenie” de Wit was born Oct. 24, 1903, in Beverwijk, North Holland, to Dirk de Wit and Wubbina Engellina Johanna Petronella Swalve.

When she was 19, Helena was married Col. Klaas Siersema in the Netherlands Reformed Church in Hertogenbosch and later gave birth to two children, Johan Siersema and Tonny Siersema.

She divorced Klaas after the death of Tonny, which happened when he was two, and spent much of the rest of her life in a committed relationship with Dr. G. Broeders, who was also a military man; although, they never married.

Helena earned certificates in both stenography and typing in 1932, and regularly wrote and sent packages to prisoners during WWII. During the war, when Johan, a member of the Dutch Resistence, was captured, she paid off a guard and went to visit him, having to stand on the other side of a fence. She came from a wealthy family and often traveled in Holland.

Later, she was known as Oma Utrecht by her grandchildren, since that was where she lived later in life.

She died in 1984. She was 81.

Personally, I never met Helena, because she died shortly after I was born, so if you did know her and are inclined to leave a comment sharing a story or memory about her, I would be grateful.