Monarch Laundry

Monarch Laundry was one of the largest laundries on the south side of Chicago. In Roseland, it was very popular and many people on the Roseland Facebook thread have commented they worked there. In fact, my father said he worked in the laundry area for a few months, my mother worked in the office for a few years, and her mother worked in the office for many years.

I don’t know the exact year, but it was founded by Bernard Vellenga, Sr., who is the son of my paternal great-great grandmother, Johanna Ooms Rieve, from her third marriage to Age Vellenga. He is a half-brother to my great-grandfather, Adam Ooms. A great-uncle or grand-uncle is the brother of one’s grandparents, so that technically would make him my (half) great-great-uncle or great grand-uncle then?

According to Robert Swierenga in his book, Dutch Chicago, Monarch Laundry had more than fifty trucks in service at one time. Simon Dekker mentioned Monarch Laundry in 1939 on page 225 of his book, History of Roseland and Vicinity, written in 1939:

“It has been built some twenty or twenty-five years ago by a stock company, but gradually the stockholders sold their stock to Mr. Ben Vellenga. Then it was only a small concern, a one story building fronting on Wentworth Ave. After it had been operating for a few years it was ruined by a fire on a Sunday morning. It was then rebuilt and a story added to it, later extending it on the north side. Business expanding they enlarged again, adding an addition on the south side. So it now fronts on 111th St. also, where the main office is now located, that street being more prominent than Wentworth Ave. How many hands they employ I could now say. I guess quite a few. The Monarch Laundry has a large garage on 104th Street near Michigan Ave. which will hold more than 50 trucks, and room for washing and repairing them. The Monarch Laundry is one of the largest if not the largest laundry on the south side.”

So that makes it sound as if it was built about 1919 or before that time.

I remember my father telling me and I mentioned it in an earlier blog post, that when the Ooms store was sold, Monarch Laundry had bought it and tore it down to make a parking lot. He also mentioned that when he worked at the gas station (now I can’t remember which one), that station had a contract to provide gas to Monarch’s trucks and he spent many afternoons doing this and got to know a lot of Monarch’s drivers. There was also a store on the southeast corner of 111th and Wentworth, which is still standing, where people could drive up and drop off/pick up laundry and dry cleaning. He said he spent much of his time in the backroom there hanging out with Ben, Sr.’s grandsons, Dave and Dan Vellenga (his cousins). He also mentioned that Dick Van Beek’s father owned the Mattmiller laundry on the south side.

About two decades ago, I corresponded with one of Bernard, Sr.’s children, Florence (Vellenga) Spindler, and saved her letter. She was a very nice lady who was so helpful with the Vellenga side. She told me that Bernard, Sr’s sons, Bernard, Jr., Arthur and William (Bill), her brothers, worked there, along with Dick Van Beek. After Bernard, Sr. and Arthur died, Dick Van Beek and Bill carried on until they sold the laundry in 1967.

This photo is from Calvin College’s Origin’s magazine from 1987, not sure what year it was taken:

Three weeks ago, my father gave me a Roseland area directory from August 1971-72 and I found an add for Monarch Laundry:

Thanks for reading!

Ooms Grocer Connection

In a recent post, I mentioned a connection between my great grandfather, Adam Ooms, a grocer in Roseland, to Richard Ooms, another grocer in Roseland. I had mentioned that my new cousin on that Ooms side had said she was told the families were not related (the way I understand is someone from my side said if it’s “the red-headed ones, we’re not related”). Well, I beg to differ, I went through all of my records again and confirmed everything, and this post outlines that connection.

To begin, Jan Ooms and Neeltje Baas are the common ancestors that connect the two grocers. They are my fourth great grandparents on my father’s side. They had a number of children, among them Adam Ooms (my 3rd great grandfather), and another son named Willem.

This photo is a record of the marriage of Adam Ooms to his wife Nelligje Hogendijk from WieWasWie through Ancestry. I’ve mentioned WieWasWie before, it’s a website which contains registrations for births, marriages and deaths in the Netherlands, and it’s a goldmine. You’ll see Adam’s parents are listed as Jan and Neeltje.

This next photo is a record of the marriage of Willem Ooms and Fija Hogendoorn. Willem’s parents are listed as Jan and Neeltje.

So Adam and Willem are brothers, both born to Jan and Neeltje.

Willem and Fija (actually Sophia) had a lot of children, most who died, but three survived to adulthood: Jan (John), Gerrit, and Jannigje. John married Magteltje Huisman, as you can see from this record of their marriage:

John and Magteltje had three children:  Sophia, William, and Richard. Richard Ooms is the grocer.

Adam and Nellie had a son named Johannes (John). John married Johanna Van Mijnen, and one of their sons is Adam Ooms the grocer.

Here’s a little schematic to show the entire connection:

I do have birth dates that match as well, but I tried to make this blog post as interesting and concise as possible.

Long story short, the records I have verified show that there is a connection, and Adam and Richard appear to be third cousins. Why anyone said the families were not connected is a mystery to me because it’s very obvious!

Adam Ooms and Richard Ooms

Thanks for reading!

Military Monday — Jacob Munster

Today we will focus on another military man in my family, this time a Civil War veteran, Jacob Munster — and I have always had a real interest in the Civil War. Last week one of my posts was about Jacob and his history as a founder of Munster, Indiana. Today I will do a short dive into his military background in the Civil War.

Cindy Watson Badten has written a fascinating history of Jacob Munster’s participation in the Civil War for the Munster Historical Society, and even included a photo of Jacob as a soldier.

Jacob Munster was born on February 28, 1845 in the Netherlands near Strijen. The name Monster was anglicized to Munster but Jacob used the original name when he enlisted. Jacob was recruited as a private into the northern army on October 18, 1864 in the 30th Illinois Infantry, Company K as a substitute. “Substitute” means that someone paid him to take his place and serve for him. At that time, Generals Grant and Sherman were pursuing Confederate General Hood into Alabama. Eventually Jacob was a part of General Sherman’s “March to the Sea”.

In February of 1865, the troops moved north into the Carolinas. Sherman and his men burned the City of Columbia and continued north into North Carolina. Late in March of 1865, they faced Joe Johnston and the confederate troops at the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina. On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered to Grant in Virginia. Then on April 26, 1865, Jacob was there during the historic moment when Johnston surrendered the southern Confederate troops. He was mustered out on July 17, 1865 in Louisville, Kentucky and discharged in Chicago on July 24, 1865.

Photo: Lawrence Varkalis

After the war, Jacob returned to his village to marry and raise thirteen children. He opened the Munster General Store in 1870 and became the first postmaster. Besides doing this and being a farmer, he was Road Supervisor, Town Trustee and School Board member. In 1907, the town was incorporated and named after him.

Jacob died on February 8, 1924 and was buried in the First Reformed Church of Lansing Cemetery.

Munster, Indiana

Some of my Dutch ancestors not only founded Roseland, but also founded Munster, a small town in the extreme northwestern part of Indiana, 27 miles southeast of Roseland.

According to Munster historical records, the Monster family (anglicized to Munster) arrived in America from the Netherlands on July 5, 1855 on the ship the “Mississippi”. Eldert Monster and his wife, Neeltje, purchased some land north of Ridge Road and east of what is today Calumet Avenue and eventually the wilderness land was converted into productive farm land. Eldert’s son, Jacob, was an important part in the growth of Munster later on after opening the Munster General Store in 1870. The store not only attracted customers from Lansing to Highland, it also served as a gathering place. In the corner of the store stood a small oak desk, which served as the area’s first post office, with Jacob being the first postmaster. The town was incorporated and named after Jacob in 1907, eventually becoming a booming town that attracted many people.

Before opening the store, Jacob served in the Civil War. After the war, he returned and married Henrietta Van Mijnen in 1867, who was the sister of my paternal great-great grandmother, Johanna. They had a total of thirteen children.

Source: Munster Historical Society — around 1905

Other Dutch ancestors were also early settlers in Munster. According to a Chicago Tribune article dated April 2, 2016 by Nancy Coltun Webster, Jacob Schoon was born and farmed there until getting a job at U.S. Steel because the farming was so labor intensive. Jacob was a brother of Aaltje Schoon Dekker, my paternal great-great grandmother. Family members of his decided to stay, including Dirk and Dora Schoon. They owned almost all of the land south of Ridge Road to the Schoon Ditch along Fisher Street between Hohman and Calumet avenues.

My father and I planned to take a trip this spring to see Munster and where Jacob is buried, but that trip has been put on hold because of the pandemic. But something to look forward to when things eventually become normal again!

Johanna Van Mijnen Ooms Rieve Vellenga

Wow, look at that name! I don’t know anything about my great-great-great grandmother, but from this photo she appears to me to be a tough, grim woman. People never smiled in old photos for a variety of reasons, but I wonder sometimes if Johanna didn’t smile much given the tough life she must have endured. I don’t have a date for this photo, but she appears to be in her late 60s or early 70s.

Johanna was born in Woubrugge in the southern part of Holland on July 11, 1845, to Barend Van Mijnen and Aagje Kroon. In the records from Dutch Immigrants to America, it is noted her father, Barend, sailed on the Arnold Boninger of Prussia ship leaving Rotterdam, arriving in New York on June 26, 1856. Barend is listed as husband and I presume that his family was with him. Johanna would have been 11 years old.

In 1863, Johanna married Johannes (John) Ooms, a local Roseland veterinarian, and they had two children:  Adam, born 1865 (my father’s line), and Aggie, born 1866. On September 11, 1866, John died at the very young age of 28. There is no information on his death, but given the fact illness was very common back then, it wouldn’t surprise me if that was a reason. Johanna was left a widow with two very young children.

A couple of years later, Johanna married Kasper Rieve, and they had three children:  Antje (Annie), born 1869; Barendina (Dina), born 1871; and Casper Willem, born 1873. Unfortunately, Kasper died in January 1873 at the age of 41. Johanna was left a widow once again, now with three more very young children – five children under the age of 10. Very sad indeed.

However, one year later on May 12, 1874, Johanna married again, to Age Vellenga. This marriage produced five children:  Andries (Andrew), born 1875; Lysbert (Elizabeth), born 1876; Bernard, born 1878; Kate, born 1879; and Harry, born 1886.

This marriage lasted much longer. In June 1917, when Age was 77 years old, he died of a stroke. Johanna was left a widow once again, but she passed away the next year on August 12, 1918 at the age of 73 in East Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Barend Van Mynen

I’m looking at an obituary for Barend Van Mynen (the Dutch spelling was Van Mijnen). I have hung onto this for years and have no idea where it came from. It’s more of a biographical sketch than an obituary and I’m fortunate to have it. I noted some discrepancies between the obituary and other resources, but the obituary gives an interesting look at his life.

Barend was my great-great-great grandfather on my father’s side. According to birth records, he was born in Woubrugge in the southern part of Holland on November 22, 1804 to Arie Van Mijnen and Hendrica Visch. He married Jannetje Van Egtelt on March 3, 1826 and they had five children. On June 15, 1839, Jannetje died in Holland and not long after, he married his second wife, Aagje Kroon. They had five children: Arie, Trijntje, Johanna (my great-great grandmother), Hendrika, and Martina.

The family came to our country on June 26, 1856 and settled in Roseland. Barend was a carpenter and butcher. In the fall, he went from farm to farm killing hogs for winter meat, and when those months passed and when the warmer season came, he made wooden shoes.

On March 10, 1866, Aggje passed away and Barend was left a widow again. However, in 1871, he married again at the age of 67, to Geesje Tuensma, and they were married until his death twenty-two years later.

He was an elder of the First Reformed Church in Roseland for more than thirty years. In the absence of the minister, he could read the sermon and conduct services in an able manner.

Source:  Glen DeYoung/Find a Grave

Barend died at the age of 89 on December 4, 1893.

Adam Ooms

My great-grandfather on my father’s side, Adam Ooms, made quite a living with the grocery store he started in Roseland on April 1, 1886 at 124th W. 111th Street. At the age of 21 and with no prior experience, he went into business for himself and began one of the first independent grocery stores in the area (photo from the original Tribune Co-Operator dated March, 1930 and my father – thanks Dad!).

A new store was built near the old location in 1904 at the old Wentworth building at 146 W. 111th Street.

Sometime later, Adam added a little annex on the east for his son John, who was a radio dealer/repairman who stayed there until his death around 1960 or 1961. Adam retired after 43 years at the age of 65, selling the store to his sons, Harry and Simon. 

Adam was born to John and Johanna (Van Mynen/Van Mijnen) Ooms in Roseland on September 16, 1864, and married Gertrude Dekker on April 26, 1886. They had 12 children together, four of whom died young. He was elected Supervisor of the Town of Calumet in 1886 after previously serving a year and a half as Constable of the village of West Roseland. 

He died on October 4, 1931 from “toxic thyroid”, two years after his retirement.

What happened to the store?  Harry and Simon sold the business in 1964, and Monarch Laundry bought it, tore it down and made it into this —

It is currently a 3 story low income housing complex.