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.

So You Think You Know George Washington?: Stories They Didn’t Tell You in School by Jack Darrell Crowder: Book Review

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purposes of review and I have received other books from Genealogical Publishing Company, also for review. However, my opinions are my own and not influenced by outside sources.

So You Think You Know George Washington? by Jack Darrell Crowder is in a fun, casual format, divided into chapters and sub-topics that readers will enjoy.



1 The Myth of George Washington
2 Young George Washington
3 George Washington Body and Soul
4 The Emotions of George Washington
5 The Humor of George Washington
6 George Washington the Ladies Man
7 Martha Dandridge Custis Washington
8 George Washington and Religion
9 George Washington: Teeth, Illness, and Death
10 George Washington the Planter
11 George Washington and Slavery
1 George Washington Begins His Military Career 1752-1757
13 George Washington the Politician


14 George Washington Takes Command
15 George Washington: A Great General or Just Lucky
16 Disrespect Towards George Washington
17 Close Calls for George Washington


18 President George Washington

End Notes

The author’s stated purpose in writing this book is “to take a closer look at Washington, the man behind the legend, and reveal little known stories that shows us what George Washington was really like.”

I have to admit I am quite taken with this book. Crowder opens with debunking the oft repeated stories about Washington, like chopping down the cherry tree. However, he quickly moves on to all kinds of interesting – short – factual tidbits about our first President.

Did you know that, as a young man, Washington rarely attended church? Further, for most of his life, his real estate rarely showed profits in business, but by the end of his life, he owned over 50,000 acres of land and, in spite of his wealth that was tied up in real and personal property, Washington had to borrow money to travel to his own inauguration as President. Or that George and wife Martha arranged 16 marriages, including that of James Madison and Dolly Payne? Lastly, Washington wasn’t the strongest of generals and made overly complicated battle plans.

The author has certainly attained his goal of painting a picture of that man that Washington really was. He closes with “George Washington, a man much like us, was concerned about money, possessions, reputation, family. and success. He also doubted his abilities at times and was sensitive to criticisms. In many ways he was just an average man going about life. he did not seek greatness, but had it forced upon him.”

My only criticism of this book is that an editor should have caught a few incomplete sentences and/or typographical errors that occasionally appear.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is seriously interested in the 18th century and the founding of the United States of America. It would also be an excellent reference for teachers of early American or Presidential history. Strong teen readers with an interest in American history would also enjoy this book.

So You Think You Know George Washington? Stories They Didn’t Tell You in School by Jack Darrell Crowder and newly published by Clearfield Company in 2023 can be purchased on for $45.00.

Presidents Day 2024

Although today is now officially Presidents Day, it was chosen because it is the birthday of our first President, George Washington.

Have you ever visited Mount Vernon, the beloved home of George Washington? I’ve been lucky enough to visit it several times and it’s beautiful.

Even before the Civil War, Mount Vernon was in a serious state of disrepair, but the Mount Vernon Ladies Association raised $200,000 to begin renovations and has cared for the estate ever since.

If you live too far away to visit in person, take the virtual tour and learn all about this magnificent estate. In addition to the mansion, visit the historic education area, the farm, the distillery and grill and the tombs of George and Martha Washington. It’s a very moving experience standing just feet away from their remains.

Learn more about George Washington and his life by clicking on the link above.

Today, Presidents Day seems to be little more than a three day weekend from work and school, but it’s a great time to learn about colonial life in America and the life of our first President, George Washington.

Genealogy Tips & Family History