Part 1 of this series presented the photographs that led me to investigate the lives of my great-grandmother and her four sisters. In Part 2, I detailed my genealogical research. Years after I had completed this research, I received a happy confirmation in a rather unusual way. My mother reconnected with her elderly aunt – the last surviving child of my great-grandmother, Laura Slesinska Zawodny. When I met this aunt for the first time in many years, I naturally asked, “Do you have any photos?” I hoped for more photos of her parents or of the siblings as young children. To my surprise, she gave me a pile of photos – and nearly all were of her aunts – the Slesinski sisters. Even more surprising? The photos that she gave me were new to me, but they were from the same “photo session” in front of the house in McKeesport that originally prompted my research! As a bonus, some of the photos were labeled in such a way that they actually confirmed my research. Now I had even more faces to put to my collection of family names.
The first was labeld in a non-photo-friendly way – but there’s no doubt as to who’s who. Here is my great-grandmother (Mom) with her sister Jane, Jane’s husband John Smilowicz, and their son Henry. Since the 1930 census listed Henry’s age very specifically as “3 11/12″, it even provides me with an estimated time that the photos were taken – probably right around 1930 or 1931. The back of the photo also listed thier addres – the same as the house in the 1930 census. [I love the shadow - is that the photographer? By the look on Henry's face, you can certainly tell where the sun was even without the prominent shadow!]
Next, sister Josephine makes another appearance, this time with her husband, Vincent Sierdzki, as well as my great-grandmother. The caption is the same as what is written on the back of the photo – in the same handwriting, and humor, as the rest of the series.
Jane and John Smilowicz appear in another photo, captioned “Still in Love”:
In a photo captioned “Enjoying the fun”, three children appear. Henry Smilowicz is identified in the photo above. In my original photo featured in Part 1, Irene Goreski was also identified. Based on the 1930 census research, it would appear that the third child is their cousin, Boleslaw Majewski. In 1930, he was six, Irene was five, and Henry was nearly four, so this photo is further confirmation dating the photo close to 1930.
Next there is a photo of the husbands. Well, the four husbands that lived in McKeesport, anyway. I wasn’t sure based on the photos I originally had, but it appears that my great-grandfather was not present for his wife’s visit to her sisters. Or, if he was present, he opted not to appear in the photos! I was able to identify them based on the other photos, with the fourth man identified by default as Sophie’s husband, Joseph Goreski. The humorous caption is again from the back of the photo.
Finally, the last photo from the series shows my great-grandmother, Laura Zawodny, with her brothers-in-law.
The above photo had the best caption of all on the back. Based on the humorous way it is worded, I’d bet that Sophie is the writer and her husband Joseph is the photographer of the other photos!
I also obtained some other photos of both the sisters and their husbands that were unlabeled and not from this same photo-party. I feel confident that I can identify who’s who in the unlabeled photos based on the job that was done to identify everyone in these photos!
Now they tell me…I did all that research to obtain the sisters’ married names when the answers were sitting in a box in my grand-aunt’s house! Some questions still remain, however, like how my great-grandmother traveled to McKeesport to visit her sisters, if she went alone, and how long she stayed. In any event, I am grateful to my great-aunts for not only taking these photographs during her visit, but also mailing them back to her in Philadelphia as a remembrance. Even though I wasn’t there, I can join in their fun!