The Merzke Family

The Merzke Family
Henry & Maria Merzke Family Circa 1925 - (front) Maria, Henry, Marjorie & Floyd. (rear) Lillian, Rose, Erwin, William, Marian, Charles, Albert, Walter, Henry, Jr., & Ella

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Floyd Carl Merzke, Sr.

Floyd Carl Merzke, Sr.
Floyd Carl Herman Merzke, the sixteenth and last of Maria and Henry's children, was born at home at 181 Weaver Street on Monday, August 26, 1912. He was born approximately twenty minutes after twin sister Marge. He always said that he was a gentleman and believed in letting ladies go first. At this time Charles Merzke, Henry and Maria's oldest child was living in the house directly behind the house on Weaver St. Following Floyd's arrival, Henry ran through the backyard shouting to his daughter-in-law Nora "make more diaper, there are two of them"

Floyd was baptized that same day. The story was that he was so weak when he was born that his parents wanted him baptized right away just in case he did not live through the night. His sponsors were Eleanore Merzke, Edward Missel, and Herman Kuiltz. Floyd's middle name was in honor of the minister that baptized him, Rev. Carl Conrad.

Floyd was always a frail child and Maria was always concerned about his health. She kept a special ceramic jug of grape juice in the cellar just for him to build his blood. In grade school, he attended what was known as a fresh-air class. In this class at Lincoln #22 school, the children took a nap every afternoon on cots on the roof of the school building. Their weight was carefully monitored and they received a special certificate every time they managed to gain five pounds. When Floyd was eight he woke up one morning and could not walk. He said it happened suddenly just out of the blue. He had an operation that resulted in a frozen hip, one leg shorter and smaller than the other, and a permanent limp. Maria saw to it that he had a good physical therapist and in time he learned to walk again.

Floyd was confirmed at Concordia Lutheran Church on April 27, 1927 along with his nephew Charles “Chick” Merzke and his best friend Arnold “Porky” Schock.  Floyd did not complete high school. Like the rest of his brothers and sisters, he chose to leave school after the tenth grade in order to get a full-time job so he could contribute to the family's income. In his early twenties, he left Concordia Lutheran Church and began attending Bethel Full Gospel Church on Ripley St. There he became very involved in church work and would remain so for many years.

Floyd married Jeanette Louise (Przeworski) Taylor on June 29, 1945 in Bethel Full Gospel Church. Floyd’s twin sister Marge was matron of honor, Dillon Frost was best man, and attendants were Ann Tarquinio and Arnold Schock. The newlyweds lived with Maria in her home at 181 Weaver Street until her death in December of 1946. In Maria's will she provided for Floyd to live in the for as long as he chose. However, if he chose to move, the house was to be sold and the proceeds divided by the brothers and sister except for Floyd. Floyd and Jeanette continued to live in Maria's house until June of 1963 when they moved to 127 Collingwood Drive, Rochester, Monroe County, New York.  They lived there until their deaths.

Floyd was a born comedian and storyteller.  He loved to talk and people were glad to listen.  He had a gift for teaching and taught a large adult Sunday school class at Bethel for many years.  He was also a deacon and the church secretary.  Floyd spent his entire work life in the clothing industry beginning when he left school after the tenth grade.  He worked for Keller, Herman, Thompson Company as a helper and as a presser.  He worked for Timely Clothes Inc. from 1952 until he retired.  Jeanette worked for Eastman Kodak Camera Works during the Second World War.  After the children were born she worked for Norton Cleaners and then in lace and trimmings for Sibley’s.  She went to night school at Rochester Business Institute and eventually worked as a clerk for the New York State Supreme Court.

Floyd and Jan had two children; Nancy Marie Merzke and Floyd Carl Merzke, Jr. (both are still living.)  My father Floyd died peacefully on June 18, 1991 of congestive heart failure.  My mother Jan died of cancer on November 1, 1999.  They are buried at Mount Hope Cemetery.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Marjorie Bertha Merzke

Jerry, Floyd, Helen, & Marge
Marjorie Bertha Merzke, the fifteenth child and last daughter was born at home at 181 Weaver Street on August 26, 1912.  She was baptized that same day. Her sponsors were Bertha Missel, Louisa Parr and Fred Birr. She was confirmed April 27, 1927.  Shortly after her father’s death, Marge married Jerome August Magin  on April 25, 1934  in Concordia Lutheran Church. They were attended by her twin brother, Floyd C. Merzke and Jerry’s sister, Helen Magin.

Marge and Jerry’s first home was the second floor of Maria and Henry’s home at 181 Weaver Street. They moved into their first house around 1942. It was at 102 Belmeade Road in Irondequoit, Monroe, New York.  Around 1950 Marge and Jerry moved their young family to a large home in Walworth, Wayne, New York. They lived in this house for many years and hosted many family gatherings including wonderful Merzke Family Christmas Parties complete with a visit from Santa Claus.  Later in life they had a home built in Marion, Wayne, New York.

Bob, Carol, Marge & Jerry
Marge worked for a while before she was married in the tailoring industry. Jerry worked for Eastman Kodak Company as an optical worker.  He was later employed by Westinghouse.  He also had his own sharpening business where he sharpened knives, lawnmower blades and other such equipment. Marge and Jerry utilized a portion of their home as a clean and cherry independent living facility for mentally challenged adults.

Marge and Jerry had three children; Carol Ann Magin was born September 22, 1941, Robert A. Magin, and Douglas Richard Magin (both still living).  Marge, the last survivor of Henry and Maria’s sixteen children, died October 20, 1994.  Jerry shortly followed her in death on December 30, 1994.  They are buried in Marian Cemetery, Marian, Wayne  County, New York.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Marjorie & Floyd - Twins

Floyd & Marge about age 6

Marge & Floyd about age 3

Marjorie and Floyd were Maria and Henry Merzke’s second set of twins and their last babies.  Marjorie was born first.  Floyd always said that he let her go first because he was a gentleman and believed in the saying, ladies first.  Floyd was the smaller and weaker of the two.  He was so weak when he was born that they were not sure he would live.  Maria and Henry had the minister in to baptize the babies on the day they were born - just in case.

Confirmation Picture
Easter 1944

Marjorie and Floyd were always good friends.  He said that sometimes she would get after him, but no one else better try it.  She always watched out for him and protected him.  They went to #22 School together where Floyd was in a special class that was called a Fresh Air Class.  He had to work hard to gain weight and would receive a certificate every time he gained five pounds.  His class took naps on cots on the roof of the school so they could take advantage of the fresh air.  After grade school, they went to East High School. They quit early to go to work in the tailoring industry, not unlike their brothers and sisters had done. 

Each was in the others wedding party when they married.  They visited each other frequently and exchanged birthday and Christmas gifts each year.  They shared a deep love of God and family and took pride in their Merzke heritage.  The last Merzke Family Reunion was held in August 1987.  It was marked by the celebration of Marge and Floyd’s 75th birthday.  

Marge & Floyd at age 75

Friday, December 3, 2010

Erwin Lee Merzke

Erwin Lee Merzke, Sr.

Erwin Lee Merzke was the fourteenth child.  He was born at home at 181 Weaver St. on August 5, 1910.   He was baptized September 2, 1910 at Concordia Lutheran Church by Rev. Conrad.  Erwin’s sponsors were his uncle, Lewis Smarcz, his uncle Otto’s wife, Carolina Smarcz, and William Bonke.  He was confirmed at Concordia Lutheran Church in 1925.
Erwin, who was known as Erv, married Elizabeth (Liezetta) Bauer.  They lived at 136 Woodbury St., 48 Durnan St., 73 Wilkins St., 29 Bloomingdale St., and than moved to 12 Loomis St. where they lived for the rest of Erv’s life. Erv and Zetty had two sons.  Ronald Lee Merzke (living) and Erwin Lee Merzke, Jr,  born February 7, 1945.
Erv had various jobs in the early years.  He was a painter and a furnace repairman. He was eventually hired by the Eastman Kodak Company where he worked as a plumber.  He also worked as a plumber for Frank H. Schuth of 670 Winton Rd.   Erv loved the outdoors and especially enjoyed fishing.  He also enjoyed getting together with family and friends to play cards.
Erwin died on November 7, 1973.   Elizabeth died September 7, 1977.  Erwin and Elizabeth are buried in White Haven Memorial Cemetery, Rochester, New York.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Marian Anna Merzke

Marian Merzke Roegner
Marian Anna Merzke
Marian Anna Merzke, the thirteenth child, was born at home at 181 Weaver Street on December 30, 1908.  She was baptized February 6, 1909. Her sponsors were Albert Bonke, Anna Scheiderman and Anna Missel.  She married a widower, Walter William Roegner  on August 30, 1927  in Concordia Lutheran Church. They were attended by Marian’s brother, Erwin L. Merzke and Walt’s sister, Alma Roegner. Walt Roegner’s first wife was Clara Bertha Felgner.  They married on February 20, 1919. Clara died of tuberculosis December 27, 1919 at the age of 21 years, 3 months 29 days.

Walt and Marion’s first home was at 8 Theodore Street. They lived at 86 Weyl Street for a time. For many years they made their home at 34 Loomis Street.  They moved to 181 Durnan Street about 1952 and remained there for the rest of their lives.

Walt Roegner

Marian worked for some time as a box maker.  Her real job in life was being a homemaker.  She kept an immaculate house that even included curtains on the windows of the garage.  She had four sets of matching chair pads, tablecloths, and curtain tiebacks for the kitchen that she changed with the seasons.  She was an expert in the kitchen turning out such treats as pies, cookies, fruit breads and fudge.  She kept singing canaries, a collie named Kipper, and a beautiful garden.  Walt worked as a painter and paper hanger.  He was later employed by the Eastman Kodak Company.  Walt could build or repair anything.  He and Marian salvaged parts from broken things they found on their daily walks.  Everything was organized and kept on shelves lined with white shelf paper.  Even after Walt was too old to climb a ladder, friends would ask for his help.  He would supply the tools and the know how, supervising while they did the work.

Russel Roegner
Walt and Marian had a son.  Russell Walter Roegner was born September 28, 1929 in Rochester, NY.  Marian died March 2, 1969.  Walt died five years later on February 23, 1974.  They are buried in Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester New York.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Willian Paul Merzke

William (Bill) Merzke
William Paul Merzke was the twelfth child.  He was born at home on February 5, 1907, the first of the children to be born at 181 Weaver St.   He was baptized May 16, 1907 at Concordia Lutheran Church. William’s sponsors were William Main, Paul J?, and Mina Bonke.  He was confirmed on May 20, 1921 at Concordia Lutheran Church.

Bill, Billy John & Sadie
William, who was known as Bill, married Sadie Elizabeth Bark who was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  They were married on July 4, 1925 by Rev. Harry Long, pastor of Bethel Full Gospel Church on 20 Ripley St., Rochester, NY. Their first home was with Sadie’s parents at 80 Medfield Drive.   For a short time they lived at 101 Woodbine Avenue. They moved to Irondequoit and lived there until moving to 38 East Park Road, RD 2, Pittsford, Monroe County, New York. Bill and Sadie had one son, William John (Billy John) Merzke who is still living.

Bill & Sadie
Bill worked as an auto mechanic for several years.  Sadie worked as a bookkeeper. Bill then went into building. However, during World War Two when home building was at a standstill, he worked as a foreman for the Eastman Kodak Company.  Following the war he went back to building.  He formed William P. Merzke & Son, Inc. Bill had wonderful and innovative ideas that made him a well respected builder.  Most of his building was done in the Pittsford, NY area.  His houses are among the finest of their time.

Sadie died on January 6, 1975. Bill died October 11, 1984 in Lake Worth, Palm Beach, Florida.  They are buried in White Haven Memorial Cemetery.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Henry Carl Merzke, Jr.

Henry (Hank) Merzke
Henry Carl Merzke, Jr. and Ruth Maria Merzke were the tenth and eleventh children.  They were born at home at 208 Berlin St. on June 6, 1902.   They were baptized July 6, 1902. Henry’s sponsors were Maria’s older brother, Henry Smarcz and Johanna Regner. Ruth’s sponsors were August Brickert and Almine Sick. Ruth died November 10, 1902 at four months and 4 days of Gastro Euteritis. She is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery.  Hank often introduced his youngest brother, Floyd as his twin brother. Though misleading, it was technically true.  They were twins and they were brothers.  They just happened to be born ten years apart.

Add caption
Henry was known as Hank married Beatrice K. Koester on May 18, 1926. Their first home was at 66 Lang St.  They moved to 826 Joseph Avenue in 1933 and lived there until 1967. Hank and Beatrice had two daughters.  Betty and Gladys who are both still living

Betty Merzke
Hank worked as a presser for Hickey Freeman Clothing Manufacturer.  Beatrice, like many other members of the Koester family, worked in several bakeries.  One such place was Johnney’s Bakery on Joseph Avenue.  They made wonderful light rye bread and delicious sheet cakes.  Those sheet cakes were often included on the menu of the Merzke Family Reunions. 
Gladys Merzke

Hank died January 21, 1967. Beatrice died June 8, 1991.  They are buried in White Haven Memorial Cemetery.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Albert Henry Merzke

Albert Merzke
Albert Henry Merzke was the ninth child.  He was born at home on July 24, 1900, the last of the children to be born at 39 Henry St.   He was baptized August 4, 1900. Sponsoring Albert were his uncle, Albert Smarcz and Maria Krapp.  He was confirmed at Concordia Lutheran Church.
Albert, who was known as Ep, married his childhood sweetheart, Leona Caroline Berndt. They were married on December 31, 1921 in Concordia Lutheran Church, Rochester, NY.  They lived at 106 Cinnabar Road in Irondequoit, NY and than moved to 5036 St. Paul Blvd. in Irondequoit where they lived for the rest of Ep’s life. Ep and Leona had two children. Elvira Leona Merzke and Gilbert Merzke. Both are still living.
Leona Berndt Merzke
Ep’s first jobs were for oil companies. He was a manager at the Monroe County Union Oil Company and than became a manager for the Colonial Beacon Oil Company where he worked for several years. Ep was eventually hired by the Eastman Kodak Company and worked “B” trick there until his death.  After the children were grown, Ep and Leona opened their home to many foster children.  Some of the children were only there for a short time, but five of the boys were there for many years.  They included two sets of brothers and John “Joey” Carmen. 
Albert died of cancer on October 7,1964. At the time of his death, Leona did not know how to drive a car and had never had a job outside of the home.  Her brother-in-law, Floyd taught her how to drive.  She took a job doing what she knew best.  She was hired by a young couple with a new baby to care for the child while they worked.  They both were school teachers, so Leona had her summers free.  She finally retired from this job when the couple’s fifth and final child was in school full time.  Leona died June 5, 1995 at the age of 91.  Leona and Albert are buried in Holy Sepulcher Cemetery, Rochester, New York.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Walter Henry Frederick Merzke

Walter Henry Frederick Merzke, the eighth child, was born at home at 39 Henry St. on March 28,1899.   He was baptized May 28, 1899. His sponsors were Dora Smarcz, Fr. Tomaschke and Fr. Gabbie.Walt, who was known as “Scoop”, married a widow, Muriel Hazel Dake on July 5, 1927  in Concordia Lutheran Church. Attending them were Scoop’s brother, Erwin Merzke and Nellie Scheik. 

Walt worked for some time in tailoring and then as a truck driver for White Linen Supplies Laundry.  Muriel worked as a re-winder for Eastman Kodak Co., and in a bookbindery.  Walt and Muriel’s first home was located at 133 Fairfax Road. They moved to 1000 Clinton Avenue North. Later they moved to 49 Moulson St. and then to 32 Rosalie Drive, Greece, N.Y.

Muriel’s first husband was Fred Daub.  Together they had a daughter Hazel P. Daub who is still living. Fred Daub died January 14, 1923. Walt and Muriel had one child together, a son, Gerald Donald Merzke who is also still living.  Walt died May 19, 1962. Muriel died eleven years later on August 20, 1971.  They are buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Penfield, N.Y. along with many other members of the Dake family.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Luella "Ella" Merzke

Luella “Ella” Merzke, the seventh child, was born at home at 26 Alphonse St. on November 23, 1897.   She was baptized December 19, 1897.  Her sponsors were Maria’s half-brother, Otto Smarcz, Augusta Regginor and Rose Merzke.  Ella married Norman W. Tallman in Concordia Lutheran on December 10, 1919.  Attending them were Louisa Guenther and Ella’s brother, Albert Merzke.  Ella worked for some time as a tailoress and later was as a worked in the Ruler Factory.  Norm was a World War One Army veteran and was working as a streetcar conductor when he met Ella.  After they married he worked as a fireman at a mill and later as a machinist in the Ruler Factory.

Ella and Norm’s home was at 20 Cummings Avenue in Silver Springs, Wyoming County, New York. Their home was warm and comfortable and everyone in the family loved to come and visit.  Ella’s youngest brother, Floyd often spent his summers there.  In the early years Merzke Family Reunions were held in Silver Springs and they were fun filled three-day affairs. 

The Cummings Avenue home was situated on a double lot.  The house  was on the corner lot and the adjoining lot was a grassy patch with featured a large rose garden.  Norm’s roses were famous attracting the attention of all the neighbors.  He had the only hybrid tea roses in the area.  At that time, hybrid tea roses were too tender to survive the cold winters of Silver Springs.  Norm overcame that problem by sheltering each plant during the winter by placing heavy mulch around them and covering each one with a garbage can held in place by heavy rocks.  This gave the added warmth needed for the bushes to survive.

Ella and Norm had two daughters. Areta Pearl Tallman and Evelyn Ada Tallman.

Norm Tallman died suddenly and peacefully on September 23, 1970 while sitting on the side porch having a bedtime snack of milk and cookies.  Following Norm’s death, Ella moved to Rochester to be near her daughters and grandchildren.  She died December 24, 1985.  Norm and Ella are buried in Maple Grove Cemetery, Wyoming County, New York.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Lillian Martha Marie Merzke

Lill Merzke
Lillian Martha Marie Merzke, the sixth child, was born at home at 26 Alphonse St. on July 7, 1896.   She was baptized June 17, 1896. Her sponsors were Henrietta Shippin, Fr. Merzke and Martha Lott. Lill was particularly close to her sister Rose and the two of them spent lots of time together. Apparently they both liked nice cloths and stepping out in the evening. At one time they even lived together preferring to be out from under papa's watchful eye and free from caring for younger brothers and sisters. This arrangement did not work out well for either of the girls. Both ended up in situations that lead to heartache and pain. Eventually both girls settled down and because wives and mothers.

Chuck, Cliff & June
Lill married Charles Short on March 9, 1918 in Concordia Lutheran Church. Attending them were Lill’s brother, Walter Merzke and Charlie’s sister, Loretta Short. Lill worked for some time as a tailoress and later was a housewife.  Charles drove a delivery truck for the Genesee Brewing Company.

Lill and Charlie’s house was at 86 Weyl St., the house once occupied by Chul and Nora Merzke and directly behind Lill’s parent’s home on Weaver St.  Lill and Charlie had three children.  Clifford Raymond Short was born May 29, 1919.  June Marie Short was born December 27, 1921.  Charles August Short was born October 23, 1923.  Lill died November 23, 1970.  Charlie remarried.  He died October 13, 1989.  They are buried together in White Haven Memorial Cemetery.

Cliff & June (front) Lill, Chuck & Charlie (rear)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Frieda Henrietta Albertina Merzke

Frieda's Confirmation
Frieda Henrietta Albertina Merzke, Maria and Henry's fifth child, was born at home at 26 Alphonse Street on November 20, 1894. She was baptized December 8, 1894 at Concordia Lutheran Church. Her sponsors were Albertina Merzke, Henriett Holinke and Frieda's maternal grandfather, Julius Smarcz. Frieda and her younger sister Ella were both November babies.  They were similar in temperament and particularly close friends growing up.

from left - Norm Tallman, Frieda, Ella and Gus Keller
Frieda married Gustov Richard Keller of Rochester, New York on November 23, 1915 in Concordia Lutheran Church. Attending the couple were her sister Luella (Ella) Merzke and Norman Tallman. Gus and Norm Tallman had met in Rochester where they worked as streetcar conductors after serving in the First World War. Gus met Frieda and wanted to date her, but Papa Merzke would not let her go out with Gus alone. The resourceful couple solved that problem by fixing up Ella with Norm so they could double date and appease Papa. This plan worked so well that Ella and Norm also married.

Sadly, Frieda and Gus had only ninety-four short days of married life together.  Frieda died at her parents' home at 181 Weaver St. on February 25, 1916. She died of diabetes in the arms of her mother.  Frieda is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery.

At the time of Frieda’s death, doctors knew what diabetes was, but did not know how to treat it.  How helpless and terribly sad Maria must have felt.  Frieda was the fourth and last child that Maria and Henry would out live.  The next seventeen years would be filled with weddings and many grandchildren. 

Gus Keller remarried later that year, had four daughters and become a chiropractor. By all accounts, he lived a happy and comfortable life.

Alma Johanne Albertina Merzke

Alma Johanne Albertina Merzke, Maria and Henry’s fourth child, was born at home at 26 Alphonse St. on March 28, 1893. Her grandfather, Julius Smarcz, his wife Albertina and their children were living in the same house with the Merzke’s at the time of Alma’s birth. Alma was baptized April 22, 1893 at Concordia Lutheran Church. Her sponsors were Johanna Missel, Albertina Smarcz (Maria’s aunt/step-mother), and Maria’s brother Herman Smarcz

The Merzke family moved to 39 Henry St. in 1898. Early the following year, Alma became ill with Diphtheria.  Maria was six months pregnant at the time with a busy household to manage. Normally she would have nursed the child on her own, but this was a special case in Maria’s eyes. Maria had already lost her first-born daughter and Maria’s half-sister, Anna had died of Diphtheria in Maria’s home a few years earlier. Anna was about the same age as Alma at the time of her death. Maria was so worried about her daughter that she called for the doctor. He came but was unable to save the child. Alma died at home on January 12, 1899. Alma was buried January 13th in Mount Hope Cemetery.

That was the last time Maria called for a doctor when the children were ill. She nursed them all through their childhood illnesses believing she could do a better job than any doctor. What became of the child she was expecting at the time of Alma’s death? Walter H. Merzke was born March 28, 1899 - Alma’s 6th birthday.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rose Bertha Merzke

Rose Bertha Merzke, the third child, was born on December 15, 1891 at home which was probably located at 82 Henry St.  She was baptized December 17, 1891. Her sponsors were Bertha Sleingernder, Fr. Missel, and Bertha Gutmann.  Rose was the oldest (living) girl in the family and she liked having fun. She and her sister Lill were very close as girls and remained that way all of their lives. The older, seemingly old-fashion Aunt Rose we nieces and nephews knew growing up was apparently not the young woman she once was.

Rose married Samuel Charles Jacques on July 22, 1914 in Concordia Lutheran Church. Attending them were Fred Phelps and Kittie Conrad the wife of the minister. Charlie Jacques worked as a conductor and later as a salesman. From what I've been told, Charlie Jacques was an easy-going and fun-loving fellow and all the ladies liked him. Marrying Charlie and getting away from a house filled with children and chores must have seemed very appealing to young Rose. They lived in a house at 99 Weyl St. just one street away from the Merzke homestead. Regretfully, the fun did not last. Their marriage ended in divorce. Charlie Jacques later married a woman named Jennie.

Rose spent some time working as a tailoress and lived at 7 Maria St. She was a very stylish woman in her day and wore lovely cloths.

Rose married Henry C. Smidt of 45 Crombie St. on September 2, 1925 in Concordia Lutheran Church. Attending them were Rose’s sister, Marian Merzke and Henry’s brother, Louis C. Smidt. Henry was a wholesale salesman selling imported foods such as teas, candy and cookies to small neighborhood stores. He was a kind and jovial kind of man.

Rose and Henry lived at 12 DeJonge St.  They had one daughter, Ruth M. Smidt born January 4, 1926. Grandpa Merzke would tease that Henry was the better man because all of Grandpa’s children took nine months to be born, but Henry produced a child in just six months. By all accounts the teasing was all in good fun and no one held anything against Henry. Indeed, everyone was very fond of him.

Henry Smidt died April 15, 1969 at age 84. Rose died March 13, 1984 at age 92. They are buried in White Haven Cemetery.

Anna Bertha Marie Merzke

(The Story of Two Little Girls Named Anna)

Anna Bertha Marie Merzke, the second child and first daughter, was born at home at 82 Maria St. on October 19, 1890. She was baptized that same day. Her sponsors were Albert Bonke and Caroline Rach. (Note: This Caroline Rach was not Maria's mother. She was most likely Maria's aunt by marriage.) Anna's middle name and baptismal name are those of her mother and not those of her sponsors as was typical for the Merzke naming pattern. Baby Anna died the next day, October 20, 1890 at home. The cause was listed as convulsions. She was buried October 21, 1890 in Mount Hope Cemetery.

Maria's half-sister, Anna Smarcz was born to Julius and Albertina Smarcz on June 6, 1887 in Stolp, Prussia. She came to America with her parents and older brothers in the early spring of 1892. Upon arrival, the family came to Rochester and came to live with Maria and her young family. Anna had little time to get acquainted with her big sister Maria and her family. Anna Smarcz died of diphtheria on Mar 17, 1892 at the age of 4 years, 11 months and 11 days. She is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in the same burial plot with her big sister's daughter Anna Merzke.

For years and years my father, Floyd and his sister, Marian decorated the graves of their parents and four sisters buried in Mount Hope Cemetery. I went along with them for as long as I can remember. For all those years that they planted flowers for their sister Anna, I do not believe they had any idea there were two little girls named Anna buried in that grave. I only discovered the fact while researching the family history.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Charles (Chul) August Merzke

Charles August Hinrich Merzke, the first child, was born at home at 14 Maria St. on August 24, 1889.   He was baptized August 26, 1889. His sponsors were August Pioch, Henrietta Bohnke and H. Schutt.  Charles, who was known as Chul, married Ellnora C. Parr on April 20, 1911 in Concordia Lutheran Church. They were attended by Charles Parr and Rose Merzke. Chul worked for some time in tailoring.  Ellnora, who was known as Nora, was an accomplished musician and gave lessons from their home.

Chul and Nora’s first home was at 86 Weyl St. where they lived there with Nora’s parents, John and Louise Parr. They moved to 91 Weyl St., directly behind Henry and Maria’s home in 1913. Chul and Nora purchased farm land in Webster, New York and settled on Ridge Rd. in approximately 1924. There they raised crops such as asparagus and tomatoes.

Chul and Nora had five children.  Eleanore Marie Louise was born October 11, 1911.  Charles August Jr., known as Chick, was born July 30, 1914.  Charlotte Luella Rita was born June 8, 1919.  Alvin Charles Sr. was born November 3, 1924. Their fifth child, a daughter is still living. Chul died January 16, 1955. Nora died twelve years later to the day, January 16, 1967.  They are buried in White Haven Memorial Cemetery just outside Rochester, NY.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Maria Bertha Smarcz Merzke

Maria Bertha Smarcz was born December 22, 1869 in Stolp in the Pommern section of Prussia.  She was the second child of Julius Smarcz and Caroline Rach. As a young woman she worked in the brickyard and this is likely where she met Henry the stonemason. Maria probably came to the United States in 1888. She traveled alone by ship in steerage passage at a cost of $25. She came to Rochester New York where she joined Henry.  Maria was 18 years old. Maria and Henry eventually had sixteen children including two sets of twins.

Maria learned to read and write in English. She especially enjoyed reading westerns and mystery novels. She was an excellent homemaker and cook. She taught all of her children to be good cooks. Each day was devoted to a specific task.  Monday was washday, Tuesday for ironing, etc. On Saturday Maria baked bread.  Saturday night’s supper would be scrambled eggs with ham and warm homemade bread with butter. She ruled the house with an iron fist but always kept it covered with a velvet glove. If Henry came home two nights in a row having had too much to drink, she never had words with him. She just cut back on his spending money.

After Henry’s death, Maria continued to live in the Weaver St. home with her youngest son Floyd.  She had no retirement income to speak of and for this reason she preferred gifts of money for her birthday and Christmas.  It was this money she would use to give gifts to her many grandchildren.

Maria died on November 9, 1946 of Carcinoma of the Peritoneum & Acitoo (liver cancer) at the home of her daughter Marge Magin at 102 Balmeade Drive in Irondequoit New York. At the time of her death there was a newspaper strike. News broadcaster Al Siegel read the death notices on the radio. There were so many flowers at the funeral that they were three rows deep all the way around the room. Maria is buried with Henry in Mount Hope Cemetery.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Henry Carl Merzke, Sr.

 Henry Carl Merzke was born Heinrich Carl Rudolph Märzke (Maerzke)  on May Day, May 1, 1864 in Stojentin, county Stolp in the Pommern section of what was then Prussia, would later become Germany and eventually part of present day Poland. According to his marriage license, Henry was the son of Carl Märzke and Henriette Bergann. He was one of at least five children. Henry came to the United States sometime before 24 June 1887 supposedly to avoid conscription in Kaiser Wilhelm’s army. He came to Rochester, New York and likely accompanied his sister, Auguste Caroline. 

Maria eventually joined Henry, and on 27 October 1888 Carl N. Conrad, pastor of the North German Evangelical Lutheran Concordia Church, married them. They were attended by August Pioch and Johanne Schutt.  August, like Henry, was a stonemason and they likely worked together.  Johanne was August’s girlfriend and they married about a year later.

Henry and Maria became naturalized citizens in 1891. Henry earned a good living working as a stonemason. There was always meat on the table and each child had two pairs of shoes. Henry could not work during the coldest months because he worked outdoors. He still went out each day and often went fishing.

Henry enjoyed beer, whisky and wine and he and his sons spent much of their time brewing.  Many hours were spent gathering the fixings, making the home brew and tasting the fruits of their labor. Henry read the German paper, ate his peas with a knife, and chewed tobacco. There was a brown spot on the wall next to his bed made by spitting during his sleep - a force of habit. He was a member of the Williroth Lodge No. 313 of Harugari that met the 1st and 3ed Thursday of each month at 486 Clifford Ave.  This was a fraternal organization that originated in Germany. It worked for the common good of German immigrants and made sure widows and orphans were cared for in case something happened to the husband.

Henry had a bad heart for years. He never complained but limited the amount of heavy lifting he would do. He died at home at 181 Weaver St. of Bronchi Pneumonia on Sunday evening, November 26, 1933.  The undertaker came and took his body out in a bushel basket.  It did not seem a fitting end to a well loved and respected man. Among his survivors were two brothers in Germany. Henry is buried with Maria in Mount Hope Cemetery.