Tag Archives: Old Photos

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.

Cora B. Bryce, Hamden, New York, 1887

Cora B. Bryce, Hamden, NY, October 1887

Cora B. Bryce was born in September 1864, New York as the eldest of two children born to William Bryce, a farmer, and Christina Renwick. Her family lived in the area for many years, as both parents were born in New York and grew up in Hamden, Delaware, New York. However, Cora’s paternal grandparents were born in Scotland.

Cora’s birth was followed two years later with the arrival of brother John Renwick Bryce, born in February 1867, also in New York and likely in Hamden.

John Bryce married Katherine E. Terry on 14 November 1894 in Hamden, New York and became the parents of Christina (January 1896-October 1947), who never married, Isabella (6 March 1900-8 November 1902) and Katherine R. (1904-1986), who never married. Therefore, John Bryce has no living descendants today.

Cora, however, does have descendants, one of whom will be the recipient of this elegant photograph of her. Cora married Horace M. Seaman, a farmer, on 18 November 1891, again in Hamden, Delaware, New York.

By 1900, Horace and Cora were the parents of two children – Hazel Elizabeth, born November 1892 and William Amasa, born 9 May 1898. By 1900, the Seaman family lived in Walton, Delaware, New York, about 8 miles west of Hamden and the place where Cora had her picture taken in October 1887. Both children were baptized in the United Presbyterian Church.

Hazel Elizabeth Seaman married Jesse Jacobs on 27 June 1942. At the time, Hazel was a teacher at Oxford Academy and Central School, New York. She had no children and died in 1949. She’s buried in Hamden Cemetery.

William Amasa Seaman married Grace Bowers on 21 April 1924 in Queens, New York, New York. In 1930, the couple still lived in Queens, but by 1940, they had moved to Newton, Middlesex, Massachusetts. They were the parents of one son, William Bryce Seaman, born in Glen Cove, New York on 12 June 1930.

Bryce, as he went by, married Beverly Noel Johnson on 25 June 1955, West Newton, Middlesex, Massachusetts. They became the parents of seven children, five of whom are living today. Bryce passed away in 1992 with Beverly preceding him by many years in 1976.

However, there are a number of descendants living today and Cora Bryce’s photograph has gone home to one of them.

From Emogene to Aunt May: New Year Greetings 1922 Going Home

As you may have noticed, I like using vintage postcards when I write about holidays. I love to return vintage family mementos to descendants when I come across items that I cant trace down to the present day.

This year, for New Year’s Day, I purchased a cute little postcard from 1922:


I loved the artwork of the child pulling that huge list of resolutions along behind and I liked the saying, too.

I really didn’t pay attention to the back of the postcard until it came in the mail:

Although the postage stamp is gone, this postcard had been mailed to Mrs. Amos H. Trout, R.F.D. in Hunker, PA.

Mrs. Trout, aka Bertha May (who went by May) was easy enough to find in the 1920 census.

Then, I looked more carefully at the note:

dear Aunt Maye would like to come out. why dont you come down. Mother has been sick hope you are all well. Santa brought me a doll Jay a wagon Wilbert floor chimes, with love to bot of you. Emogene & Jay.

The address looks like it might be in a child’s handwriting – perhaps Emogene wrote it. The message definitely appears to be more adult handwriting.

The postmark is partly obscured and faded, but it came from Scottdale, Pennsylvania.

Now, if I had been looking for two unknown siblings like Mary and John, it would have been a bit of a challenge.  However, Emogene and Jay in Scottdale, Pennsylvania was a snap. there were but two Emogenes living Scottdale and only one had a sibling, Jay:

William Secrest, 39
Elizabeth Secrest, 32
Emogene G., 5
Jay E., 4

Wilbert Isaac, who was also mentioned in the postcard, was born in 1921 and died in 1937.

Emogene Grace Sechrist was born 7 February 1914 and died on 24 May 2005, so she lived a good long life.

Because she only passed away a few years ago, I’ll omit her husband’s name and those of her seven children, but she has quite a few descendants today.

I made contact with one of her grandsons, one of the children of Emogene’s youngest child, who was quite impressed that I found the postcard and was able to find him!

The postcard is in near mint condition and it makes my heart happy knowing that it is not only going home to her grandson, but that there are great and 2X great grandchildren who may treasure this postcard, as well.