Josef Malcherczyk was born March 16, 1887, in the village of Raszowa in the
County of Silesia, Prussia. His education was equal to K-12 followed by vocational training as a blacksmith. Josef was conscripted into the Prussian Army between 1905 and 1907. He developed an unexplained obsession with America, and when he was almost ready to go there, he presented his father with fait accompli. Thus, forfeiting his inheritance of a sizable freehold ancestral farm that had been in the Malcherczyk family since 1706.
Josef arrived in America on March 10, 1910, on the NECKAR, his ship of travel. An Aunt who was a Dominican nun sponsored him with his first job at St. Johns Hospital in Springfield, Missouri. ln 1911, he pursued his blacksmithing trade at mining camps in
Colorado and New Mexico. ln Tyrone, New Mexico he met and married his first wife, Ethel Braser in 1914. On July 4, 1914, he became a naturalized U.S. citizen at El Paso, Texas.
Josef and Ethel had three sons, Robert, Joseph, and James, between 1916 and 1920. Together they moved to Los Angeles, California. In 1920, he built a blacksmith shop in Glendale and operated a prosperous business until 1943 when he retired. On May 3, 1928, Josef changed his name to Joseph A. Malch. Their fourth son, Bud, was born on April 22, 1930. Unfortunately, after a sudden illness from pneumonia, Ethel died in December 1930. Three years after Ethel’s death, Joseph married Appolonia Didion on July 4, 1933, and his fifth son, John, was born on July 13, 1935.
After retiring in 1943, Joseph Malch ventured into ranching in the Santa Clara
Valley, California. In 1953, he sold the last of his holdings and retired again to the coastal resort town of Capitola. There he owned an apartment building on the bay front and managed it until 1956. After selling this property, he and his wife finally retired and traveled. Joseph A. Malch died on November 30, 1961, and is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Santa Cruz, California.
If one looks back at the events of 1910; perhaps it was an Act of Providence that my father developed an obsession with America. In the parish church in Raszowa, there are inscribed on the wall the names of fifty-five parishioners, all his contemporaries, and men he knew himself, who never came back from the 1914-1918 World War.
But for his obsession who knows there might be today fifty-six names on that wall.
By: Barbara F. Johnson
Josef Malcherczyk chose to immigrate to the United States because the
Constitution guaranteed him the sanctity of his person and the product of his labor. Many passed through the U.S. portals of immigration to escape perpetual serfdom; Josef came to escape the enslavement of gentry. Josef Malcherczyk became Joseph A. Malch, a builder of businesses, an employer, a husband, and father to five first generation American sons, all of whom served his adopted county—in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.
Joseph A. Malch worked hard, learned a new language, and a tough, demanding new culture, which he subtly changed by his very being. His is the story of our ancestors and the magic of American exceptionalism. Apart from Native Americans, who among U.S. citizens cannot trace their heritage back to courageous immigrants who forever left family, friends, lives, and a well-understood culture to knock on immigration’s door to the unknown?
The legal immigration process was never easy, considerate, courteous, or even humane. It was rude, prodding, even crude and dehumanizing. Still, legal immigrants came by the millions. They came for the promise and hope offered by a Constitution that recognized and attempted to protect the rights and responsibilities of Natural Law, a philosophy in which a system of right or justice is held to be common to all humans and derived from nature rather than from the rules of society. Hi brow philosophical concepts aside, immigrants massed on the shores because rumors abounded that everyone who wanted to succeed could do so if they worked hard enough. The United States became the gold rush of the soul.
Who in the U.S.—black, white, or purple—has not grown up with the echoes of these early immigrants? ‘Work hard, be grateful for what you have, study hard, be anything you chose to be’ was the battle cry in a million homes. Tales of hardship, walking miles to school, fear, prejudice, hunger, and scaling huge obstacles told in living rooms across our youth along with admonitions about the importance of kindness, generosity, the importance of family, friends, and community. All the while, challenges and inequities were and are worked out in the streets and back rooms of protests across the country as the Constitution matures in the warm glow of its First Amendment.
Immigrants who brave the legal immigration process become the Secret Super Power of the United States. Passing through the portal to freedom and potential, immigrants know why they journeyed to this storied land. Each who enters is acutely conscious of the real sacrifices made to chase a promise and dream. Each ventures into a new and scary world where they alone determine their success— ‘nobody to blame but yourself.’ In its purest form, the government provides nothing but the immigration process portal and promises only to keep the shores safe; the individual gives all and gets to keep all the success or failure.
In the Pacific, atolls (coral encrusted tops of old volcanoes) sport many small islands protecting magnificent blue lagoons sheltered from the ravages of the ocean. Lagoons are the stuff of dreams. Crystal clear, they brim with life and beauty both in the water and on their shores. Lagoons are self-cleaning. The very ocean from which the atoll forms an oasis brings nutrients and renewal at one opening of the atoll and leaves through another. This symbiotic relationship between the Atoll, lagoon, and ocean promises renewal, change, and continuity. Big storms rise. They can churn the very foundation of the lagoon and amend the shape of the island protectors. As soon as the pressure rises, however, the life sustaining self-cleaning system cleans up the mess. The atoll, with its beautiful lagoon, endures. So too is the wonder and gift of legal immigration to this great experiment we call the United States of America.
Each legal immigrant, dedicated to individual hopes and dreams, bring a fire in
his or her gut for the country that makes it possible. Each becomes a fierce fighter for the principles of life and liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. Immigrants enrich, nudge and grow the existing culture as their heritages mingle. Hard work is a given. Hope is a given. Systemic change is a given. Immigrants pass their passion on to first generation Americans and they to their children. Before complacency and entitlement settle, new generations of legal immigrants with individual dreams arrive in this country where, with enough effort, dreams come true. Legal immigration keeps the U.S. experiment renewed, alive, and well. Legal Immigration is an excellent Secret Super Power.