Antoinette Jacoboska -Malinowski Marries Michael Swartz (1893)


Mike Swartz was one of the many immigrants who settled in the coal regions of Pennsylvanian at the end of the 19th. Century. Enticed by stories of unlimited freedom and opportunities, he joined the exodus to America and settled in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. He was strong and eager, and gave a good -days work- the kind of laborer the mine bosses solicited. At the end of his third year, he was not only self-supporting, but was able to afford a few of life's luxuries as well as an extra beer at the local saloon. He was single he saved his money; and he was considered a good catch.

His bachelorhood was the subject of much conversation and occasional jest. This was not of his choice and it was known that he was in the market for a wife. A few of his cohorts had single sisters but most were spoken for --but it mattered not. Mike fell in love with a picture.

Matthew Kosolasky was the custodian of the picture. He was a good friend and a fellow worker. Mike continued to study the picture before him. ''She's very pretty. But tell me, is she easy to talk to? Matt you know what I mean, does she get along well with people?"

Matthew assured him that his cousin was not only pretty to look at, but that she also had a pleasing disposition. Our families lived close by. As a youngster she was quite a tease.

Now she is a young lady '' --18 years of age and well liked by all who know her.”

Mike listened intently, “Would she be interested in coming to the United States to meet me and to marry?"

'' I'm sure she could be enticed to make the trip. I know the family and they trust my judgment -otherwise I would not have the picture. But first, I want to emphasize that they are a proper family. Her father Alexander and two brothers Teofil and Stanley are already living here in Morea. "You will need to meet her father and obtain his permission if you are really interested.''

'' Definitely '' replied Mike Can you arrange a meeting? I do have money saved for passage, and if she would like to live closer to her father and brothers I am sure I could arrange a transfer to the Morea Colliery. I have no close ties to the Wilkes-Barre area. "

A meeting was set up for 2p.m. Saturday, approximately 2 weeks from that date. Alexander and Stanley met them at the Reading Railroad Station in Mahanoy City. Matthew accompanied Michael and the four of them walked to the home of Matthew's brother Samuel who lived in the city and knew both Alexander and his son.

Mike looked forward to the meeting. There was no hesitation. He was always well organized and determined to succeed. His life was on track. He had money for passage, for essentials and a bit left over for a nest egg..

After the initial formalities, Samuel's wife placed a pitcher of iced lemonade on the table. It was most welcome. For May, the day had been unusually warm. Alexander produced four more photographs which Mike studied eagerly "Your daughter Antoinette--she is very pretty You must be very proud of her!"

''Oh yes.'' Alexander responded with obvious pride “My wife Anna and her mother, who you will find to be a very religious woman, have done a wonderful job raising our family." He pointed to a group picture. - ''We miss them terribly." They are still in Poland. There you see Antoinette with her mother and grandmother also her sister Helen and brother Martin who is now seventeen.'' Then he paused and looked up at Mike "Matthew speaks very highly of you. "

''Thank you." he replied as he continued to look at the four new pictures which the family presented. ''Matthew tells me that she is soft spoken and easy to talk to. Would she be interested in meeting me and if she is agreeable, to marriage. I have given this much consideration. I do have money for passage and for the necessities that we will need."

Alexander had been studying Mike. He liked this clean-looking forthright young man.

“I will write to her tonight. But first I've been meaning to ask you --Your last name is Swartz--a German name, yet you speak excellent Polish. Was your father German?"

''Oh no," he replied-- only a great: great grandfather. A11 my other relatives are polish."

Alexander smiled. Although he had a German name he was predominately Polish. That was good!

Antoinette arrived in the Untied States several months later, and was met in New York by her brother Stanley and Michael Swartz.

Antoinette was immediately impressed by the handsome and mannerly young man who was seven years her senior.

Mike was also impressed by what he saw. At first the nice figure of a young woman with a child-like face, loosely curled brawn hair and green eyes. Most of all he liked her animation--the way she greeted her brother Stanley and inquired, in detail, about her father and brother Teofil. He could tell they were a close knit family and that pleased him. There was also that hint of shyness when they were introduced, and he looked into those clear eyes and she looked back for a second and blushed. They were married that same evening in the Catholic Church in New York City.

Antoinette was awed by the big city and the tall buildings. "The city--it is so much bigger than Warsaw! Is it true that everyone is free and that women don't have to worry about the enemy conscripting their sons ''Yes it is all true” he replied.” “Then I think I will like it here she replied as she looked about. They had arrived at the train station.

They originally settled in New Boston , PA - a small patch located half way between Mahanoy City and Morea. Mike could see that she was disappointed when she saw the small island of humanity with its sma1l wooden houses, dusted with coal dirt. " The houses are small and plain and close together--not like Poland but, I wi11 work hard and we can do better. ''

Stanley agreed. "It is hard working in the mines, and a slow process, but we will,, be together and hopefully, Ma and your sister Helen can join us in a few years."

Antoinette looked at Mike. He was strong and determined, and this gave her-confidence. It was a new beginning.

The housing officer had his office in a small building near the company store. The coal company owned all the housing as well as everything else in this small community. They were assigned a house and then as was the custom at that time, he advised them, ''Next week we are expecting three more men from Poland. They will board with you. Since you are newly married, you won't be using that second bedroom. -Antoinette's eyes opened wide as she looked at Mike.

Mike saw that his wife was shocked. He tried to explain, '' Coal is in demand and the companies need all the help they can attract. Since housing, has not kept up with the demand this is their policy. These men have no women to help them. No one to prepare meals for them. They will pay us for their room and board and we can use this money to pay our rent and save a little. Antoinette was interested. In recent years money had been very scarce in Poland and they had existed on such small amounts as her father and brothers were able to manage. Yes, with boarders they could even save money and that was important.

Antoinette continued to be impressed by Mike, He was a hard worker , And conservative and got along we11 with her father and brothers , who lived nearby, and visited frequently. In addition to being a mine laborer--Mike, like so many others, gleaned coal from the coal hanks and railroad tracks where pieces of coal had fallen from overloaded cars exiting - the breakers.

When he failed to return home one evening, a group of men searched the area and found his mangled body near the railroad tracks The group suspected he was trying to cross between two cars of a parked train when the train lurched forward throwing him to the side but not before severing his leg.

This was a great tragedy. They had been married but 1 1/2 years, and Ma was several months pregnant. Ma was inconsolable.

After the funeral her father and brothers agreed it was best that she return to Poland so that she could be with her mother and sister when the baby arrived. Sadly, the money her deceased husband had saved would now be used to cover her passage. Antoinette tearfully agreed.

After her son Michael (Mike) was born (my step brother), She knew she wanted to return to the United States. The Poles were constantly threatened by the Russians. There was great poverty and no hope. A11 mothers of sons had another fear-- that their sons would be conscripted into the Russian army and that must not occur.

While Mike was sti1l a toddler, the marriage proposal arrived. It came with a letter from her father. A Mr, Jacob Bembem ( of Czech and Polish origin ) was offering a proposal of marriage, Ma said she was shocked but also pleased. She remembered Jacob, he had been one of their borders, She remembered him as a quiet, religious man who did not smoke or chew, He had been most helpful in hauling water and gleaning coal for the house after her husbands death. The boarders had also collected and given her a gift of money before she returned to Poland.

Jacob had kept in touch with her father and her brothers. They had become good friends. ''If agreeable," he wrote, ''and I am hoping you will be, I will send money for your passage."

There was more good news from her father, ''As you know Antoinette your brothers and I have been saving money for the costs of passage for your mother and sister. A young gentleman is also interested in meeting Helen. Although he does not have enough money to pay her full costs of passage he is contributing half the cost. As you know, we have been praying for this occasion. Let me know your response.

Her response was '' Yes, Yes. We are excised about the trip and that we can finally be reunited- I remember Jacob as a fine gentleman. I am sure we can be harpy."

They were looking forward to a new beginning. Her son Mike would escape the menacing long arm of the Russians. He would return to the coal region to be raised by his step-father, a mine laborer.