Sunday, April 21, 2013

Marian's House and Final Resting Place

I've always lived in houses that were new or fairly new. Living in a house that is 100+ years old is a novelty for me. From the start, I wondered about the people that lived in the house for over a century. One day shortly after moving in Jack commented, given how worn it is, "How many people have crossed the threshold to the kitchen?" Until recently, it would have been the back outside entrance to the house. Now it is the entrance from the mud/laundry room addition to the kitchen.

I've always liked history and am very interested in learning more about Grand Haven and our house. So I set off on a hunt for information at the Local History Room at the library. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed historical research and I've always loved social history. So much history taught in school focuses on the rulers and power elite. But history is more than that. The experience of individuals in society is part of history as well. For example in the U.S., the life of the political class in DC is not the whole of American life, far from it. 

I discovered that one person spent almost 70 years in our house. Marian Klaussen is her name and I think of our home as also her home. She was born in 1899 and died in 1973. As I'm just beginning my research, I have not been able to verify many things but time will remedy that. I believe the house was built in 1902. That would mean that she at least spent the first three years of her life somewhere else in Grand Haven. So far I've verified in official sources that her father, Joseph Klaussen, was owner of the house in 1914 but from other indications, I believe he was the first owner. So Marian moves in at age three with her parents, Joseph and Mary, and her two older siblings, Cornelius and Kathryn. Unlike her siblings, Marian never married. Upon the death of Joseph, ownership of the house passed to Mary and upon her death to Marian. When she died at the age of 75 Marian was in a nursing home but her/our home was were she lived until entering the nursing home. The house sat vacant during her time in the nursing home.  As much as I can ascertain from the information I have so far, she lived in the house approximately 67 years. 

There were two owners between her death and 1980. I know there were several changes of ownership, including ours, since then. So Marian is by far the person who has spent the most time in the house. 

Her life spanned changes and events of great magnitude. On the day of the Boston Marathon bombing, someone tweeted "I've been alive for 9/11, Sandy Hook, theater shooting, bombings in Boston and more, I'm only 13." As tragic as all these have been, in a "History of the U.S." textbook written 20 years from now, I'm guessing only 9/11 will make the cut. 

Marian lived though World War I (war to end all wars), the sinking of the Titanic, women's suffrage, Roaring 20s, Great Depression, World War II, Polio Epidemic, Korean War, Civil Rights Movement, space travel/moon landing, and part of the Vietnam War. And more.

When Marian was a baby the automobile was in its infancy as well. She lived to see men walk on the moon.  Marian lived history as it unfolded, as we all do. Her life really did span some amazing, and often very ugly, history. I'm going to research her life as much as I can. Her life spans most of the modern times and events that have always been of interest to me.

Marian and family (father, mother, sister, brother-in-law and nephew) in their final resting place. Cornelius and his wife are buried in Battle Creek.

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