Alfred Henry Holst was the adoptive father of my paternal grandmother. He was born May 1882 in Hanover, Germany, and emigrated to the United States in the summer of 1883 with his parents, John D. Holst and Ida C. (or Ida Marie) Gustavson. They arrived in New York City on the ship, Lessing, on 5 July 1883, and appear to have settled soon after in Muskegon County, Michigan. Alfred was naturalized in 1917. He was the oldest surviving child; his siblings were Anna "Annie" Holst (Mrs. Adolph Blankenburg) (1885 - 1976); Jennie R. Holst (Mrs. Theodore Klatt) (1887 – 1963), Margaret "Maggie" Holst (b. 1890), who married twice, first to Johann Klinger and then to Duke Rose; and John G. Holst (b. 1895). Two other children died young.
In 1900, Alfred was living at home with his parents on their farm in Ravenna Township, Muskegon County, Michigan. Nearby was a schoolhouse where Nellie May Concidine was teaching. On 21 June 1905 in Byron Center, Kent County, Michigan, he and Nellie were married. In 1909, they were living in Ravenna Township, Muskegon County, Michigan, where Alfred was farming. On 5 April 1909, twins were born prematurely to them. According to the county birth records, the girl, May, lived only two hours; the boy, Earl D., lived for 12 days.
A few years later, a daughter, was born to them. By 1920, the family had moved to Coopersville, Ottawa County, Michigan, where Alfred was employed as a life insurance agent. Around 1928, Alfred and Nellie decided to become foster parents to my paternal grandmother. They may have heard of her through shirt-tail relatives who had adopted her biological brother, Harry Orlando York. They eventually adopted my grandmother.
The Holsts were unemotional, undemonstrative people, proper Methodists – and Alfred was a stern German. But whenever Nellie would take my grandmother to Blodgett Home in Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan for her annual check up and paperwork update, Alfred would always say, “You are bringing her back, aren’t you?”
By 1930, the Holsts were living in their own home on Randall Street in Coopersville, and Alfred was working as a machinist. Later, he worked as a county form carpenter, making forms for concrete structures, such as bridges. He built a house on Highway 16, next door to their old house. This place was a hobby farm, on 20 acres, where they raised chickens. The barn had two floors; upstairs was where the chickens were kept; downstairs was where the tractor, a small orange Elles Chalmers tractor, was stored. Later when my grandmother was married, Alfred used to plow my grandparents' garden with this tractor. Across the street was a chicken hatchery, where he could get his hatchlings for his farm.
Alfred also planted cantaloupes. A certain young man used to go help himself to a few cantaloupes before finding out that the farmer had a pretty daughter. Before long, this young man (my grandfather) was visiting the farm to court the daughter, instead of sneaking cantaloupes! In Alfred’s later years, my grandfather would help him harvest his grain and take him to local football games. Henry also was a member of the Coopersville Masonic Lodge 122.
In November 1952, Alfred died of kidney failure. He was buried next to the twins in the Coopersville Cemetery. After Nellie died, she was buried on the other side of him. A large urn is located at the foot of their graves. (obituary)
Twins May and Earl D. Holst, born 5 April 1909 in Ravenna Township, Muskegon County, Michigan; May died 5 April 1909; Earl died 17 April 1909 – both in Ravenna Township. They are buried in a single plot in the Coopersville Cemetery, Polkton Township, Ottawa County, Michigan. A single gravestone reads:
EARL & MAY
A.H. & N.M. HOLST
More about my great-grandfather, Alfred Henry Holst, can be found in the upcoming AnceStories of his parents, John D. Holst and Ida Gustavson, and the AnceStory of his wife, Nellie May Concidine. You can also read the AnceStories of my grandmother's biological parents, Howard Merkel York and Mary Jane Barber.
Thanks to Dad and Aunt Louise for the memories, and to Aunt Cathy for taking me to the cemetery.
created: 6 Jul 2003
updated: 14 Aug 2004
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