Simply Meant to Be

Behind the Photo

Thaddeus Kuznicki and Gertrude Szwejbka were married on Wednesday, March 8, 1946 at St. Hyacinth’s Church in Dunkirk, New York. “The bride wore a gown of white nylon check, with a fingertip-length tulle veil. She carried a bouquet of white roses and lillies of the valley. The maid of honor, Miss Angeline Kuznicki, wore aquamarine net and carried pink roses…Mrs. Szwejbka wore a blue silk dress, and the groom’s mother wore a blue and black print. A reception for 150 guests was held during the day at Tofil’s hall. Stanley Kuznicki’s orchestra played.” After a brief honeymoon, Thaddeus and Gertrude Kuznicki made their home at 70 McDonough Avenue, down the street from my great-grandparents, Stanley and Hattie Zielinski.

Thaddeus was working as a wire drawer operator at Bethlehem Steel in the city at the time of their marriage. He had enlisted in the U.S. Army on April 4, 1941 and was among the men who stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Gertrude worked in the local silk mill, and she washed houses on the side for her older brother’s painting business. I’m not sure I believe in “true love” or “love at first sight,” but if either of these do exist, Thaddeus and Gertrude would be proof enough. They were simply meant to be.

Kuznicki, Thaddeus(2)

I posted a photo of Thaddeus and Gertrude when they were first married and settling into life on McDonough Avenue as a part of my Wordless Wednesday series. I try to choose photographs that tell the story on their own, and this picture certainly speaks for itself, communicating all the love, support and mutal-respect that Thaddeus and Gertrude maintained throughout their marriage. Life wasn’t easy, and the pair had to work hard to provide for their three children, but their kids were constantly surrounded by love, happiness and joy–they truly had everything they needed. And when Thaddeus’ younger brother, Henry, passed away at the age of 42, he and Gertrude adopted their niece as their own daughter, completing their family of six.

Thaddeus died on September 7, 1981, and Gertrude never remarried; instead, she devoted her life to making memories with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Gertrude, too, passed away a few years ago, and losing both parents was difficult on everyone in the family. The Kuznicki kids are still close, though, and they constantly share photos and stories of Thaddeus, Gertrude and life in Dunkirk; it’s truly wonderful to see.

13 thoughts on “Simply Meant to Be

  1. Cute pictures with the little ones and Thaddeus and Gertrude look very happy in the backyard photo. It sounds like they had a very loving family. Great story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! They were incredible parents, and they’ve left an incredible legacy. Their children and grandchildren were happy and healthy, and they make great parents themselves–they had the perfect role models!


  2. Thanks for the follow!. I felt the ancestry bond with you immediately! My granddaughter is a freshman at Chapel Hill. We’re mostly all North American immigrants. I published my memoir in 2017 solving my lifelong family mystery, “Mysterious Builder of Seattle Landmarks, Searchig for My Father.” This summer I met his boyhood family in Stenstrup, Denmark, and hope to meet more of his famiy in Snohomish WA. An early 20th century Seattle builder, 7 of his buildings have been declared Seattle Landmarks.
    I thought that your Kuznicki relatives might be Ukrainian as I learned that the Tokaruks and Huchularks, my mother’s forebears were. They crossed Canada to homestead Alberta on the Canadian Pacific RR.
    It has been a joy to learn this late in life. I could almost write a sequel on what I have learned. Forebears are fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for stopping by! There’s so many points to respond to:

      First, I hope your granddaughter is enjoying her first year at Chapel Hill! It’s my sister’s first year there, too, and she likes it, but she’s also overwhelmed (I remember that feeling!). Here’s hoping your granddaughter didn’t end up in HoJo–that’s a tough walk to class every morning. I was lucky and got a spot in Ehaus.

      The story you’re describing about your father is incredible. You’re living my dream, as well–to travel to my ancestors’ hometowns across-the-pond and to write a memoir of my own life and research journey. I’m in awe! My sister and I start this reading challenge every year (so nerdy, I know), and I’ll add your book to the list!

      So far, the Kuznicki’s I’ve researched are from Galicia, on the modern-day border between Poland and Ukraine. My family identifies as “Polish” now, but other generations of Kuznicki’s have considered themselves to be “Galician” or “Austrian”–and it wouldn’t surprise me to find “Ukrainian” in the mix at some point, either–I’m sure I’ll find some Kuznicki’s who lived in modern-day Ukraine. (And to your other point–the Kuznicki’s also followed the railroad, but to New York and New Jersey.)

      Genealogy is awesome; I’m a fan. Thanks again for stopping by! (And your blog is awesome–I’m glad I found it!)


  3. i didn’t solve my family mystery until my 70s—lots of secrets— so I hope you’ll get started before I did. my father left Denmark in 1884, went on the Klondike Gold Rush and died in Seattle during the Depression when I was 28 days old. Danish friends I met blogging, with an interest in genealogy, helped me. never knew who my mother was because she didn’t know herself—changed her name 6 times.

    The Ukrainians (and probably the Poles) have a tragic history. My mother’s forbears came from Rohizna. The Ukrainians have been jerked around and persecuted by the Russians, Austrians, Nazis, and now again by the Russians.

    So do work on it, our ancestors lives make good stories!

    Liked by 1 person

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