Malek Family of Reading, PA, Early 20th Century

Just Half of the Family!
Malek Family, c1926

The Malek family photograph is one that dates quite a bit later than the usual late 1800s gems that I find to send back home to descendants. However, there is a reason for that. a genie buddy found this photograph in a thrift shop right here in Tucson. She knew that I re-homed old photos so sent me an email. I promptly drove to the shop and purchased the picture for all of $6.00. Actually, the price tag indicated that it was the frame that had that value, but, of course, I had no interest in the frame and donated it back to charity.

Inside the picture frame was not only this photo, which appears to be a reprint done in sepia tone on nice heavy paper, probably in the 1980s. I feel somewhat confident in my assessment because I, too, reprinted several family photos using the same process during that decade.

Also in the frame was a second black and white photo of the picture where someone took a picture of the picture in 2007. In addition to the extra copy of the photo, someone had not only included a printout of the family’s 1920 census enumeration, but had also typed an extraction of the family on a 1920 census form!

Tom my amazement, I quickly discovered that Mom and Pop Malek had not the ten children in the picture, but were the parents of SEVENTEEN children, including twins. That was quite a busy household!

Joseph Malek, (17 March 1878, Galicia, Poland-Austria – 11 August 1963) married Mary Swiderski (1886 – 24 October 1967), possibly as his second wife. Joseph arrived in America in 1902 and there is a 1904 marriage certificate filed in Reading for Joseph Malek and Mary Konszniak, dated 30 September 1904. Further, Find A Grave notes that Joseph and Mary Swiderski married in 1907 and Joseph is quite a bit older than her, so a second marriage is definitely possible.

Divorce among Catholics in that time period was more than extremely unusual and I find no further record of Mary Konszniak, so I think it is possible that she died after giving birth to two children – Michael and Julia. In any case, Michael and Julia would only ever have known Mary Swiderski as their mother.

This family, with a couple of exceptions, lived their lives in or near Reading, Berks, Pennsylvania.


  1. Michael Joseph, 26 February 1905-13 September 1982; married Anna Zydorczyk, 1933
  2. Julia M., 22 June 1906-24 March 1981; married Edward J. Preska
  3. Anna Mary, 20 September 1908-18 February 1965; married Anthony S. Michalak
  4. Josephine Victoria, 19 March 1910-13 October 1969; married John W. Jaroszenski
  5. John, 23 October 1911-26 July 1922 (drowned in the Schuylkill River)
  6. Stephen J., 6 July 1913-January 1973; married Cecilia G. Nowoczynski
  7. Tekla, 1915-1916 (buried with her parents)
  8. Mary Ann (Mamie), 11 May 1915-31 January 1977; married Samuel Butto
  9. Joseph John, 20 November 1918-7 September 1995; married Ethel Eberly
  10. Helen Amelia, 20 November 1918-3 November 1996; married Walter Romanski
  11. Thelma (aka Tekla & Tillie), 1 December 1920-9 December 1991; married (1) Oddwin Fritz (2) Ray W. Rothermel
  12. Geneva F., 1922-?; unmarried in 1961
  13. Dorothy Cecilia (aka Diane), 25 July 1923-7 November 1999; married James T. Langston
  14. Chester Anthony, 16 September 1925-28 July 1985; married Mary Ann Chelius
  15. Florence, 8 March 1927-21 August 1998; married James H. Spraut
  16. Son, 12 December 1928
  17. Edward Thomas, 27 May 1932-7 July 2005; married Doris M. (Bowers) Firestone

I believe the 16th child, a son, has probably passed away somewhat recently, although I’ve found no obituary. This child is the one with ties to Tucson and was likely the owner of this photograph.

Because many grandchildren are still living, I won’t share anymore information about this family. However, it appears that eight of the children have no living descendants today.

I did choose one descendant and this photo has gone home to that person.

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