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Kromeck - Krumik - Krumeck - Kromick
Mary Krumik Wedding Portrait
September 15, 1897
ORAL FAMILY HISTORY
This has been a hard family to trace. There were few known relatives, most of whom are now deceased, and even the family oral history is sparse. Much of what was passed along has not been the same as the civil and church documentation later researched. The following is the history that was passed along to family members.
KRUMIK - KRUMECK
Oral History - Childhood
As a child, in the 1950's, what was passed along in regard to the Krumik Family was that Mary Krumik Malich was born 1880 in Michigan and had a brother 10 years older than she was. The two were orphaned very young in life when their parents died. The place was unknown; who raised them was unknown.
While she was still young, Mary met her future husband, John Malich, 5 years her senior but also still a child. John looked after her, "putting her under his wing". Mary and her brother spoke Polish and were Catholic. Mary and John were married in Milwaukee. They had a daughter named Cecelia who died as a baby, due to urinary problems. They took her to a Polish man in Milwaukee who claimed to be a doctor. This man told them that the baby was being stubborn and would eventually come around.
Few Facts Found
According to US Censuses, Mary (Marianna) stated that she was born in Prussia January 06, 1880. The family came to North America in 1882. The Family History Center at the Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) has reports registered by anonymous people that the Krumik and Tadyck families came from Wirsitz, Poland, Prussia, however, the microfilm source for these statements is not given and not yet found.
Passenger lists have not been found for them. Mary's brother, Albert, was born 6 years after Mary in 1886; Michigan, the exact place yet to be found. In 1900 Albert was Albert spelled his last name Krumeck and Kromeck as an adult.
Mary, Albert and their parents Leo Krumik and Marianna Tadyck "fall between the cracks" when it comes to federal census reports. They arrived in America two years after the 1880 census was taken and the 1890 census was destroyed after it was damaged in a Washington DC fire, so there is nothing until 1900, by which time Mary was married to John Malich.
According to Milwaukee Archdiocese Archive records their wedding took place September 15, 1897, at Ss. Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Witness to the wedding was Stanislaus Malich. The couple lived at the same Milwaukee 7th Avenue address with the Rawski family, which were John's older sister, Anasthasia, husband John, and their children.
Their first child found in records was 5 years after their wedding; daughter Clara, born April 20, 1902. Next child was Cecylia, born October 13, 1903. Cecylia lived 7 days. Mary gave birth to a child every two to three years until the youngest, Joseph, was born December 19, 1916.
Albert was found on the 1900 census living with the Henry W. Bradley family in town of Mukwonago, Waukesha County, Wisconsin. He was listed as a servant, farm labor, and his birth was written as April, 1883. That would make him 17 years of age. According to his daughter, he was actually 14 years old. This part of Waukesha County had many immigrant Polish tenant farmers in residence. It has him listed as being born in Michigan, however it states both his parents were also born in Michigan. His surname was spelled Kromeck.
The 1910 census has Albert still living and working at the Bradley farm. This time he is listed as a hired hand. His age is given as 24 and he is single, born in Michigan and the birth places of his parents is given as "unknown". He speaks English and can read and write. His surname is spelled Kromick.
By the 1920 census, Albert, age 34, is married to Ella, age 29, and they have a daughter Elenor, age 6 months. He is listed as a farmer on a Dairy farm in town of Mukwonago, Waukesha County, Wisconsin. His surname is spelled Kromick. He was born in Michigan and his parents' places of birth are unknown.
On the 1930 census Albert, his wife and daughter are living in the village of Mukwonago, on Oakland Ave. He is working as a laborer in farming and his wife Ella is working as a laborer in housekeeping. Daughter Elenore is age 10. On this census his name is spelled Elbert Kromeck and he is age 44, born in Michigan with both parents listed as being born in Michigan.
Mary's husband John Malich was a core maker, which was a highly skilled craft in the foundries. He always worked, even during the Great Depression of the 1930's. This was a source of great pride to him and highly respected in the community where the majority of men were day laborers that often had troubled times where jobs were scarce.
As a young husband and father John was known to have been physically quite "rough" with the children, especially after drinking with his cousins. Mary would send the children to the movies for their safety when she expected John home after being with some of his male relatives.
If John came home early and unexpectedly from his "rounds" with relatives, Mary would hide the children under the beds and in the attic until father John ate and went to sleep. John also spent his money freely on his relatives during these "rounds" and that was a considerable hardship on Mary in taking care of the children and household.
The family with eight surviving children lived in the upstairs flat. They also used the floored attic where the boys slept on single beds over the kitchen, where there was the most warmth. This attic was the family utility room. Clothes were washed and hung on lines to dry. The large windows on east and west dormer ends provided natural light for activities. Clothing was folded and kept in wooden chests of drawers and trunks along the edges of the attic and these pieces of furniture also acted as insulation, keeping the warmth in winter .
In summer the door was open at the lower end of the stairway, and with the attic dormer windows open, there was a natural circulation of fresh air from the covered porch up into the attic, keeping it from being hot.
There was no electricity or plumbing in the attic and those needs were met on the second story flat. The fully finished wooden stairway leading down from the attic to the second floor, outside, covered porch was curved and ended with a heavy wooden door. A person coming from the attic then walked about 12 feet along the narrow covered porch to the back entrance door of the second floor flat, or went down the open, wooden, outside stairway at the end of the porch. The attic was always spotlessly clean.
Church and church Bingo were the very few times Mary left the flat, being kept busy cooking and cleaning. She was very shy and uncomfortable among strangers and did not go out with her husband socially. She maintained contact with her brother Albert, who married and had one daughter. However, she did not go to visit them. Albert Krumik and his family did visit Mary often in the early years of the 1900's. She was an excellent cook and her food preparations were much in demand for community functions such as weddings, church festivals and other gatherings.
Her youngest son, Joseph, also a very shy person as a child, was her frequent companion as she cooked. They enjoyed each other's company and in later years, Mary would look a Joe and say "you didn't turn out so bad for a mistake." This referred to the time of his sister Margie's birth in 1915, after which Mary thought she was done having children. Joseph came as a surprise, born a in 1916.
Mary was a quiet person and spoke little, if any, about her childhood and family, so almost nothing has been passed along. There are a few photographs, unidentified, but unmistakably of the young woman Marianna Krumik. Her hairstyle and facial features changed little over the years except for the natural affects of aging.
She spoke in both Polish and English and enjoyed laughing with her company. Her face was very white with bright blue eyes set above rounded pink cheeks. The tip of her tiny nose was rounded in a small ball, which she would wipe with her clean cotton handkerchief, while dabbing her eyes of tears as her grandchildren would kiss her good bye at the end of a visit. Mary sat in a rocking chair between the kitchen table and a small table next to a window where plants grew. This little corner of the kitchen was her special place, from which she could keep an eye on the whole house. The Victorian kitchen with high ceilings, shiny linoleum floor and Bull's Eye wood door frames was always bright and smelled of chicken soup.
Mary lived on after her husband's death, until 1963 and the age of 83. She had absolutely white, long hair gathered in a bun at the top of her head, looking like cotton candy. This was the "wash woman's" style popular in the 1890's Gibson Girl era. She was small and wore cotton print house dresses with a full apron and house slippers. Her legs were bandaged due to sores she treated with ointment and wraps. She was small in height.
Mary wasted nothing, and in the tradition of many families, carpets and table cloths were never thrown away. They were methodically cleaned and the new one was placed over them. Layers of carpet, table coverings and colorful linoleum flooring were a treasure chest of family activities and living style changes.
Over the years, most of her children remained single and lived in the family flat until their very final years. John Jr. Albert, and Harry worked and remained home. Clara also worked but was able to keep her income as she had given birth to a daughter who was raised in the household. Youngest brother Joe was very active in his niece's life, taking responsibility to watch over his niece while still a young boy. When he was a young adult at home, he drove the family car and worked third shift, but made sure to drive his niece to and from school and functions, seeing to it she had the things she needed. Clara continued to work until her last years.
Vicky worked and like Clara was allowed to keep her income. During the great depression, she secretly married Ralph Miller. He was from a German family, a point that definitely would not sit well with Vicky's father John Malich. Also, Ralph was not Catholic. She continued to live with her family, and Ralph with his, saving their money, until Vicky became pregnant and she and Ralph started their own household, raising one daughter.
Marge married a close friend of her brother Joe's. He was Valentine Lasota and from the polish neighborhood. They lived with Val's parents and raised a son.
Joseph "Little Joey" was in fragile health as a child, frequently suffering from severe asthma. The stress on the family caused by his father's drinking and rough behavior in Joe's early years added greatly to his asthma problems. The older children sheltered, cared for and comforted him, especially his sister Marge.
Joe was not permitted to attend High School past the first two years and this was always a very sad event in his life. He was bright and very shy, having made a few very close friends as a child. As he went on to high school, he became active in sports, particularly softball, which gave him a way to enjoy being with others and form friendships. He had to leave school at age 16 and went into the work force. Somehow, he managed to keep in close contact with others and their friendships lasted a lifetime.
Joe was drafted into the Army during WWII, despite his continued asthma problems. He was small, standing just over 5 feet in height (he official pronounced himself 5' 5' tall) and weighing 126 pounds. He also was a laboratory technician at C. A. Vanderpool, Inc. This was an important job of testing foundry metals for content before they were poured for use. Knowing the composition of the metal mixtures insured proper use for vital war effort production. It was a highly skilled career he maintained for his entire life. His employer tried to keep him as he was greatly needed in the busy laboratory, but the draft board decided on inducting him.
He served several years until the end of the European war and was on his way back to the states to prepare for Pacific front duty when the war with Japan ended. He returned to his Milwaukee home after discharge and to his laboratory career. He had met a young woman shortly before he entered the Army and they had continued contact during his tour of duty. In 1947 they married and raised three daughters.
In her later years, Mary had her rocker in the sunny corner of the kitchen. Mary and husband John had not been close in many of their last years together. She did not speak of him after his death.
As she rocked in the sunlight, from time to time she would gently lift the corner of the bright oil cloth kitchen table covering and look at something beneath for a short time, then replacing the cloth corner. It was supposed by family members that she kept her shopping list under there and was checking the contents. Her sons did the shopping from a list she wrote.
When it was time to paint the kitchen, the layers of table cloths were removed and the table was moved to make room for the ladder. There on her corner of the table, under the coverings was only the very old, faded photograph of John Malich. She would think of him and lift the tablecloth corner to look at his image for a few minutes several times each day.
The family rented the upstairs apartment in the largest, tallest house on the 9th Avenue street in the south part of Milwaukee. It was a typical Polish South Side neighborhood with wide sidewalks and a continuous tunnel of tall Elm trees along each street. The houses were all two story and most were also two family. They were all built in the late 1880's and had small yards. Only a few feet of grass in the front, and a long narrow cement walk to the fenced green area in the back. There was a wooden garage at the back of each property with the long cement alley running behind the full length of the block.
This alley was the real playground for the neighborhood children, being perfect for ball playing, bike riding, hide and seek and all sorts of games. The upstairs entrance was at the back of the house, consisting of a long flight of open wooden stairs that was separated three quarters of the way up by a small square landing where the direction of the stairs changed ninety degrees, ending at the covered porch high above. Since the ceilings of the house were 12 feet high, it was a formidable and daunting climb up and down for a child.
Although there was a white enameled cooking stove in the kitchen, the little pot bellied wood and coal burner beside it was used most often. The black pipes from it rose straight up from the back and bent 90 degrees toward the wall near the ceiling. A colorful hand painted metal plate surrounded the pipe where it entered the wall.
There was home made noodle soup, some times duck blood soup, dark brown and with prunes and noodles, on the back plate of the metal burner. Apples would sometimes be washed, cored and filled with brown sugar, butter and cinnamon, then set in a low covered baking dish to slowly bake. This was a treat. Also offered to the grandchildren were soda crackers with mayonnaise between the saltines, another special treat. Christmas dinner was held in the dining room around a large wooden table with many family members. Small children sat on phone books to be able to reach from the chairs. There was also a couch in the large dining room between the tall windows. The room ceilings were 12 feet tall. There were "bullseye" wood pieces on top at each side of the door trim and at the top of the window casings. The carpet had a beautiful "Old Cabbage Rose" woven design with many colors.
One curiosity among the few cherished items that the family had, was a silver crucifix mounted on a silver base made to look like a hilltop. The figure of Jesus that hung from the cross was detailed well. The whole piece appeared to be hand made, as it had a provincial styling rather than a mass produced appearance. The piece stood about 8 inches high in total and appeared to be quite old, perhaps coming for the European homeland. It's present location is not known.
In the dining room, the only wall hangings beside the blessed Easter palms, was a set of domed oval reverse glass paintings. The cottages and peaceful streamside rural settings were painted on the back of the curved glass and foil was used to make the windows look as though a light was burning inside.
There was also a cherrywood chest on small legs. It was very plain in design, but had the wood patterns highlighted by the reddish cherrywood stain. The flat hinged lid had been marred by a hot flat iron being placed on the surface, but otherwise it was in perfect shape. The children were working at very young ages and their income was considered to belong to the household. Mary collected this money from each son and it was stored in that chest for future use. Always worried about falling on hard times, and not leaving the house often, Mary kept a considerable amount for decades, rolled in a handkerchief secured with a rubber band. The chest was kept under the sink in the kitchen and apparently not disturbed by anyone. Years after her death, the chest money was still being used sparingly by the family.
The children also came home from the movies in the 1920's nd 30's with the pieces of free china that were given as a promotion by the theaters. The pieces that remain after 100+ years of use retain their modest beauty, being gold trimmed with lovely dark pink cabbage roses. The soup bowls were used most often and they were large, almost 8 inches across, and shallow so the contents would cool quickly for eating. This was their dinner set for the large family, and it was carefully handled. Dishes were done immediately after a meal and the home was always spotlessly clean.
The one extravagance was a large, ornate,
player piano. It stood
at one end of the diningroom and during holiday family
gatherings, the long boxed music rolls were taken from their glass front cabinet, the front wooden board of the upright was opened and the roll with hundreds of tiny holes in the stiff paper was put in place and threaded down onto the lower spool. Then the foots pedals were pumped and the music began! The keys would move with the sounds and the music was fast and intricately played. The family gathered around the bench and sang along. The words were printed along the left edge of the music roll. These were wonderful old tunes and there was much laughter.
A NIECE'S MEMORIES
The last living person to be able to give first hand information on Krumik-Malich family life was Mary Krunik Malich's niece, Elenore Krumik Sherman in 2001. Elenore was already limited by a memory disorder, and when asked direct questions, it was difficult for her to respond. However, once she was offered names of places and people from the past, the flow of memories became easier for her. She was able to give some clues and small pieces to add to the total picture. Elenore was the only child of Mary Krumik's brother, Albert. Over the years as adults, Mary and Albert had stayed in touch and Albert would bring his wife and daughter to Milwaukee for visits.
Her aunt Mary was a very kind, soft spoken and gentle woman who was a wonderful cook. Mary's cooking was known as the finest not only among the family, but in the community. Mary served great multicourse dinners to the family when they visited in the 1920's. Mary never left the house, however, during these visits and her youngest child, Joey, would stay in the house with her while the other children were outside playing. When Joey's friend Clem (Casperski) and brother Bob came over, Joey would come out and play. Uncle John Malich was "a very gruff man, very strict". "Everyone was afraid of him when he would come home".
Several times each year Uncle John Malich would visit Elenore's family farm, arriving in a friend's car with Joey. There they would pick mushrooms and berries in the woods and stay to dinner. Mary always stayed at home, and Joey would always sit in the car alone during the whole visit. He was very shy and spoke little. Small for his age, and so blond that his hair was almost white, young Joey also had "breathing problems" which were later diagnosed as asthma. Elenore remembered that everyone liked Little Joey, and looked out after him.
Elenore also remembered that relatives were buried in a graveyard near their farm, but since her mother's family also had lived in that same area of Waukesha, she did not know which parent's family these people had belonged to. According to Elenore, her father Albert was born in Michigan, place unknown, in 1886 and was actually 6 years younger than sister Mary. Albert was a tenant farmer in Waukesha County, Wisconsin his entire life. Her mother worked as a cook in local restaurants and caterers. They had been married a number of years before Elenore's birth.
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