Joseph Wisniewski was born on 1 March 1912 in Bensalem, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. His mother, Mary Kroliczak, had Joseph out of wedlock when she was only 16 years old. His surname, "Wisniewski," derives from her first marriage to John Wisniewski in 1918. According to the Baptismal Record for Joseph at St. Charles Borromeo Chuch in Cornwell Heights, Joseph's biological father was likely an Adam Krotowski, who was a farmhand also living in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.
Prior to Mary Kroliczak's marriage to John Wisniewski on 13 January 1918, Joseph lived with his mother and grandparents, Peter Kroliczak and Antonina (Nowak) Kroliczak on a farm on Byberry Road in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. Upon their marriage, the family relocated to 2618 Ash Street in the Bridesburg neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Joseph's siblings Frances Wisniewski, who would die as a young girl, and Edward F. Wisniewski were born here.
Mary's marriage to John Wisniewski did not last long. By 1927, she was remarried to a Jacob Huk. Joseph would relocate with his mother, siblings, and step-father to a house on 2740 Haworth Street in Bridesburg, Philadelphia. With her new husband Jacob Huk, Mary had two daughters, Anna May (Huk) Donato and Rita (Huk) Rivera, and one possibly one son, Francis Huk, who died as a young boy due to rabies. The three were Joseph's half-siblings.
Joseph Wisniewski met Mary F. Szczepanska at a picnic. Family stories say that Mary's sister Helen Szczepanska encouraged her to attend. After the picnic, Mary's father saw Joseph wandering the Polish neighborhood in Camden, New Jersey looking for her. They got together and were married in a Catholic ceremony in Camden at St. Joseph's Church on 13 July 1935.
Together, Joseph and Mary moved to 4715 Almond Street in Bridesburg, Philadelphia and had three daughters: private, private, and private. Eventually, the family would relocated to the Wissonoming neighborhood in Philadelphia to 6025 Hegerman Street.
Joseph worked a variety of jobs throughout his life. He labored as a helper in a hosiery factory around 1930 and worked as a cast iron grinder in a machine shop around 1940. He also worked as a laborer in an umbrella factory and at Rohm and Haas in the Bridesburg neighborhood at other points, but the exact dates of this employment are unconfirmed.
Joseph passed away on 16 January 1990, not too long after his wife's death on 6 August 1988. He is buried next to her at Resurrection Cemetery in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.
Research regarding Joseph's baptismal register and the name of his birth father was completed with the help of Kathy DeRosiers Baldwin.
There is a family story that says that Joseph approached a man named Edward at the Pigeon Club in Bridesburg claiming that he was his half brother. The two became friendly, and Edward would come over to Joseph's home. Joseph said that Edward's father was a spitting image of himself. Not much is known about Edward or his surname other than he was much younger than my grandfather, had a wife named Catherine, and died before his time due to a heart attack. Edward said that his father (Joseph's birth father) was a musician on the side. The truth of these claims are unknown, but Adam Krotowski, the birth father listed in Joseph's baptismal record, was known to have a son named Edward (b. 1929, d. 1979), who was married to a Catherine Black, and who passed away at 50 years old. More research is needed to ascertain the truth of these circumstantial relationships. (Spiker-309 16:21, 19 November 2017 (EST))
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