Thursday, June 19, 2014

Shadows Behind the Light

When I first acquired this photo, I just assumed it was a wedding portrait with a pair of parents alongside the happy couple.  I did not pay all that much attention to the identifications on the reverse; just confirmed that there was an ID for each of the persons in the photo.  When I finally paid attention, I realized that we had a much different situation here.  I'm now of the opinion that this is some kind of confirmation photograph.  

Before we get into the details of what I have learned about these folks, let's talk a bit about the photographer.  The photo was taken by John Trlica, who maintained a photography studio in Granger, Texas, from 1924 to the mid 1950s.  I was surprised to find an article about him on the Texas Escapes website, which linked to a book of his photographs that was compiled and published a few years ago and which book I found on eBay and am now waiting for it to arrive.  It turns out that John Trlica was an unusual man for his time and documented his hometown with photographs not only of the usual middle class white folks, but also of the poor folks, the Hispanics, the African Americans and other ethnic people of the area who were pretty much ignored in that day and age.  He took photos of scenery in and around Granger as well.  His legacy was the photo documentation of a small Texas town.  He drove around town with advertising covers on his spare wheel which carried slogans like "Photographs Live Forever" and "Photographs Tell the Story".   He must have been quite a character and I look forward to adding the book of his photographs to my collection of Williamson County history books.

Trlica was especially busy taking photographs of the Czech families in the area.  The subjects in this particular photograph were some of those first and second generation Czech citizens of Granger.

The identifications on the reverse read "Annie Naizer Rosipal", "Martha Bartosh Bigon (aunt)", "Henry F. Naizer" and "William Bartosh (uncle)".   It did not take me long to discover that we had here two sets of brother and sister:  Henry and Annie and Martha and William.

Annie and Henry were children of John Rudolph and Marcellina (Bartosh) Naizer.  Henry was the oldest of nine children in the 1930 census of Williamson County and Annie was the second oldest.

Records for Henry were difficult to find, but his death certificate gives the cold vital particulars:  born May 4, 1909, in Fayette County, Texas, and died October 8, 1980, buried in Calvary Cemetery in Granger.  He was married to a Mary Lee Mann and she is buried beside him.  His death certificate also tells us he was co-owner of a furniture and hardware store in Granger.

Annie's story is a short one.  She was born July 12, 1912, and married a Louis James Rosipal/Rozypal after 1930 (when she is still shown in her father's household).   Although there are numerous Rosipals buried in Granger cemeteries,  Louis and his parents were living in Sinton, Texas, for most of the available records.  So either they relocated shortly after Annie and Louis married or possibly they lived in Sinton all along and Louis knew Annie through relatives in Granger.  However they knew each other, their marriage was not a long one. Annie died on March 3, 1934, in Beeville, from a "toxic growth" resulting from toxemia during pregnancy.  She was 22 years old.  Her death certificate says burial took place in Granger, but I was unable to find where.  I suspect she was buried in Calvary Cemetery, since there is an "Unknown" Rosipal buried in an unmarked grave.

I tracked her widower for a bit.  Louis remarried and is buried beside his second wife in Sinton Cemetery.  None of the public family trees mention his first marriage, so I assume there were no surviving children of Louis' marriage to Annie to clue in the few genealogists who name him in their trees to the fact that there was even another marriage.  It turned out that Louis had his own tragic ending.  In July 1950, he and his wife were killed in a car collision west of Sinton.

William Bartosh and Martha Bigon were younger siblings of Annie's and Henry's mother Marcellina.  Their parents were Valentin and Filomena (Vacek) Bartosh.   Valentin and Filomena and most of their children are buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Granger.   William and Martha fell in the middle of the Bartosh children, William being born July 3, 1889, and Martha being born February 2, 1901.

Martha married Joe E. Bigon and in 1930 they are shown as the owner and saleslady of a bakery in Granger.  Joe Bigon died in 1937 and is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery.  Martha's life took an apparently tragic turn and she died in 1946 in the Austin State Hospital of unknown natural causes with a note on her death certificate that an inquest was performed.  A notice in the Taylor newspaper a few months later issues a notice of final settlement to persons having a claim against her estate and that William Bartosh is guardian of the estate of Martha Bigon, a person of unsound mind.

William Bartosh married and worked as a bank cashier.  He died in 1968 from a heart attack and is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery.

What I took for a photograph with happy connotations (and hopefully at the time it was a happy occasion) ended up overladen with sadness.  I still wonder if this is a confirmation photograph of Annie or if it might be part of a photographic package done at the time of her wedding.  And why these particular 4 people when there were so many siblings of both generations in the area?  I would like to know if other photographs were taken that day and might tell the rest of the story.


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