Discovering our Ancestors' Travels and Travails

My first forays into recording family history included people that I knew, or the people that my parents knew. By talking with other relatives and researching records, I learned that some families had once been bigger, with children who did not live to adulthood.

For example, in the 1920 census, Gregory and Mary Mateka were recorded at 116 Rich Street in Lackawanna, New York. The household consisted of:

  • 1920 Gregory and Mary Mateka censusGregory Mateka, age 44
  • Mary Mateka, age 28
  • Mary Mateka, age 6
  • Joseph Mateka, age 4
  • Stanley Mateka, age 1 2/12
  • Michael Mateka, age 46
  • Jacob Sawanik, age 33

In 1930, the family was at 458 Steelawanna Avenue in Lackawanna. The household included:

  • 1930 George and Mary Mastykarz censusGeorge Mastykarz, age 52
  • Mary Mastykarz, age 39
  • Stanley Mastykarz, 11
  • John Mastykarz, 7
  • Jacob Savanok, age 42

What happened to Joseph?

The answer was found on the front page of the Buffalo News and Courier for June 21, 1926.

1926 Joseph Mastykaz death Buffalo NY Evening News 1926-6-21

There was a follow up story:

1926 Joseph Mastykaz death Buffalo NY Evening News 1926-6-22

I was not able to determine if Joseph’s body was recovered, but it must have been a terrible time for the grieving family.

Update Dec. 2021:   Joseph Mastyka was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Lackawanna, Erie, New York, on 24 June 1926.

Comments on: "Joseph Mastykaz Tragedy in Lackawanna, New York" (3)

  1. Justin Mastykarz said:

    Thanks for sharing this. Joseph was my grandfather’s brother. My grandfather, John Mastykarz used to tell us the story of how his older brother drowned when he was just a baby.


  2. […] in various ways. My grandmother’s sister’s husband was Mastyka, Mateka, Mastykasz, Mastykaz, and finally Mastykarz and Masters. Their cousin married Solecki, Szulowski, other variations, and […]


  3. […] was born on 16 Feb 1916 in New York, United States. Józef died in an accidental drowning after falling from a raft on 18 Jun 1926 at the age of 10 at Blackwell Canal on Tifft Farm in […]


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