Julius and Albertina Smarcz Family

Julius and Albertina Smarcz Family
(left to right) Henry and Maria Merzke, Alma, Louis, Albertina and Julius Smarcz

Monday, November 1, 2010

Albertina Rach Smarcz

Albertina Rach was born on 10 September 1859 in the city of Stolp in the Pomeranian region of what would eventually become Prussia. She was at least ten years younger than her sister Caroline and only eight years old when her first nephew, Henry Smarcz was born. She was ten when her niece, Maria Smarcz was born and sixteen at the time of Herman Smarcz' birth.

Caroline Smarcz probably died sometime between Herman's birth in 1876 and 1878. What is clear is that upon Caroline's death, Julius had Albertina come to help with the care of the children. At some point thereafter, she also took on the roll of Julius' wife. This type of arrangement was not uncommon in Europe during this time period. Childbirth was the leading cause of death for young women at that time. A young father that loved his children would naturally turn to a woman he could trust to help raise them and treat them well. Who would make a better choice than their aunt, a woman who already knew them and loved them. Also, from pictures it is easy to see that Albertina closely resembled Julius' first wife Caroline. I imagine that in many ways she may have reminded him of the wife he'd loved and lost.

According to the 1900 Federal Census, Albertina had given birth to ten children and four were still living. It appears that three of these children were born and died as infants in Germany before Albertina and Julius came to America in 1892. No record of these births and deaths have been found.

According to Maria Merzke, her aunt/step-mother Albertina was a rather frail and sickly woman who needed a lot of help with the children. It's no wonder that Albertina was tired. It seems she was having a baby every other year for twenty years. Maria spent much of her time as a young girl helping her step-mother with the little ones. It was good practice considering she would have sixteen children of her own.

Albertina's seven children for whom we can find records include: Otto Charles born 5 February 1881 in Stolp, Albert Julius born 20 August 1885 in Stolp, Anna born 6 June 1887 in Stolp, twin boys, Carl Frederich and Ludwig Georg. born 26 August 1892 in Rochester, NY, Louis Frederich born 21 July 1894 in Rochester, NY, and Alma Frieda Ernestine born 11 January 1898 in Rochester, NY.

Julius was fifty years old by the time he and Albertina came to America. They had sixteen year old Herman, three very young children and twins on the way when they arrived in Rochester. They moved in with Maria and Henry and their children. Shortly after arriving, their daughter Anna developed Diphtheria and died. Neither of the twins lived to see age two and Albertina would have two more children after that. Julius was fifty-six when the last child was born.

Things could not have been easy for them. They were in a new country and they did not speak English. While the children went to school and picked up the language easily, it was more difficult for Julius and Albertina. Good paying jobs were not readily available to the older immigrant man who had to compete with the multitude of younger men looking for work. They did their best and relied heavily on older son, Herman and Maria's family for help. However, in February of 1912 Julius died. Now Albertina was really on her own and in need of help.

Albertina,Ella, Floyd & Maria
For some time Albertina and the two youngest children lived with her older son, Albert and his family. They worked on a farm in Kendell, NY. Eventually Louis got married and settled in Rochester. Albertina and Alma moved back to Rochester and lived together. When Alma married, Albertina lived with them for the remainder of her life.

Albertina died of Arteriosclerosis at the age of 80 years, 5 months and 2 days.  Her place of death is listed in the cemetery records as 2 Marjorie Ct., Rochester, Monroe County, NY.  She is buried next to Julius in Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester, Monroe County, NY - S.W. 38-39 R61 B.B. They are the first grave in from the edge of the road under a large maple tree and just three rows from Henry Merzke's sister Augusta Schubert.