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

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.

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