Nellie May Concidine
(1883 - 1950)
Nellie May Concidine, my paternal grandmother's adoptive mother, was born 23 December 1883 in Byron Center, the main village in Byron Township, Kent County, Michigan. She was the second child of John Dennis Concidine, of Irish and Scottish heritage, and Anna "Annie" M. Higby, whose ancestors probably hailed from Puritan New England. Nellie's siblings were Frank Concidine (1882 - 1947); Ethel Maud Concidine (1886 - 1889); Ernest Ray Concidine (1888 - 1889); Stanley Roy Concidine (1891 - 1939); Manley Concidine (1893 - 1968); and Lloyd Concidine (1900 - 1971). In October 1889, her younger siblings Ethel and Ernest died in what appears to be a diphtheria epidemic. Nellie's father was a farmer, and both her grandfathers, John D. Concidine and Stephen Higby, were two of the original settlers in Byron Township.
Nellie grew up in Byron Township and attended school there. In 1903, her mother died, leaving Nellie to be the woman of the house, to attend to her father and four brothers. She became a school teacher in Byron Township, which was her stated occupation on her marriage record to Alfred Henry Holst, whom she married on 21 June 1905 in Byron Center. She had met him while teaching near his parents' farm. Alfred was a farmer from Muskegon County, Michigan, and there they made their home for many years in Ravenna Township. On 5 April 1909, Nellie gave birth to twins Earl D. and May Holst. Due to their premature birth, May died that day, and Earl lived only 12 days. They were buried in the Holst family plot in the Coopersville Cemetery, Ottawa County, Michigan.
On 31 May 1911, in Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan, Nellie's father married his long-time housekeeper, Minnie Belle Field. They had a child who is still living as of 2004, bringing the number of Nellie's siblings to a total of seven, five of whom survived childhood.
When the 1920 Federal Census was taken, Nellie and Alfred were living in Coopersville, while Henry worked as a life insurance agent. They had one child, but try as they might, they could not have more children. They decided to take in a foster child from Blodgett Home in Grand Rapids. This three-year-old child was, of course, my grandmother, whom Nellie and Alfred raised, and then later adopted. In the 1930 Federal Census, the family was living at 154 Randall Street in Coopersville, and Alfred was occupied as a machinist.
Nellie kept a spotless home, with beautiful furniture. She would invite all the family over to her home for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. They gathered around the tiger-striped-oak pedestal table with three leaves to feast on turkey and delicious side dishes. This table had chairs and a buffet to match. My father remembers arguing with his siblings about where they would sit around the table. All the children wanted to sit near one of the four scrolled feet, so they could rest their feet on them. This table was handed down to me though one of my aunts, and my children are the fifth generation to eat holiday dinners on it.
Nellie was a very proper woman, quiet and unemotional, not physically expressive, even as a mother and grandmother. Like many women of her day, she never learned how to drive. When Alfred died in 1952, my grandfather (her son-in-law), taught her how to start Alfred’s two-door Plymouth business coupe and run it for a short time to keep the engine in good shape. One time she started it up when it was in gear. It went forward and broke the storm windows stored behind a bench in front of the car!
Nellie lived only 6 months after Alfred died. She passed away from a stroke on 29 May 1953 in Grand Rapids. She was buried 2 June 1953 next to her husband's grave in the Coopersville Cemetery. (obituary)
Twins May and Earl D. Holst, born prematurely on 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-grandmother, Nellie May Concidine, can be found in the upcoming AnceStories of her parents, John D. Concidine and Anna M. Higby, and the AnceStory of her husband Alfred Henry Holst. 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: 27 Dec 2004
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