A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

History: Zduniak of Cliffwood, NJ

183 Cliffwood Avenue, Cliffwood, NJ
People are curious about the abandoned house at 183 Cliffwood Avenue, pictured above. Between the mid-1920's and the late 1980's, its history belonged to a Polish family named Zduniak. A visit to Freehold will be required to determine who owned the house before the Zduniaks and just how old the house is.
The State of New Jersey lists 183 Cliffwood Avenue as "unclaimed property" once belonging to a Stanley W Zduniak. The house has been abandoned for over twenty years.

Stanley was Stanley Zduniak, son of Peter and Josephine Zduniak, a Polish couple that settled in Cliffwood about 1924 and raised a family in Cliffwood. Stanley was born 5 Feb 1926 and died in Cliffwood on 15 Mar 1988. His father spoke Polish, worked as a manual laborer in a brickyard (1930) and an asphalt factory (1940), and died in Cliffwood in 1962.

Stanley married Constance Mary Marchel, who was born on 2 Jun 1931. "Connie" Zduniak ran a candle shop from the house on Cliffwood Avenue in the 1980s. After her husband died in 1988, Constance moved to Rowan County, North Carolina, where she married William Rayford Middlebrook on 8 Jun 1991. She died in Granite Quarry, Rowan County, NC as Constance M Middlebrook on 1 Jan 2010. Her brief obituary appeared in the Charlotte (NC) Observer on 3 Jan 2010.

Stanley and Connie's daughter Nancy Jean, was born 25 Nov 1953 and died 1 Jan 2000 in Rowan County, NC.  She is buried in Rockwell, Rowan County, NC.

Stanley and Connie's other daughter, Theresa Dorothy, was born 10 Oct 1952 and died 24 Sep 1992 in Rockwell, Rowan County, NC.

Constance Zduniak and her daughters operated Rainbow Candles from their home at 183 Cliffwood Avenue in Cliffwood, according to the 4 Mar 1987 edition of The Independent.
This ad for the Rainbow Candle Shoppe appeared in the 3 Dec 1986 edition of The Independent.
This ad appeared in the 6 Oct 1982 edition of The Independent
Constance Zduniak, DOB 2 Jun 1931, lived at 183 Cliffwood Avenue in Cliffwood, according to city directories in 1993, 1994, and 1995.

Mrs Stanley Zduniak was active in the Cliffwood PTA, according to the 22 Feb 1962 edition of The Matawan Journal.

Stanley and Connie's granddaughter Brenda's marriage engagement (below) appeared in the 25 Jun 2010 edition of The Salisbury (NC) Post.

Belk Josey Engagement

Donald Lynch of Salisbury is pleased to announce the engagement of his daughter, Brenda Lynch Belk, to Randy Eugene Josey Jr., both of Salisbury.

The bride-to-be is the daughter of the late Nancy Lynch and the granddaughter of the late Stanley Zduniak and the late Connie Middlebrook, both of Cliff­wood, N.J. A 1998 graduate of East Rowan High School, Brenda also graduated from Stanly Community College in 2006.

The future groom is the son of Angie and Randy Josey of Salisbury and the grandson of Jim and Pearleen Coleman of Salisbury and the late Bobby and Allerid Josey of Faith. A 1998 graduate of East Rowan High School, Randy received a degree in heating and air from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in 2000. He is employed by Beaver Brothers Heating and Air.

The wedding is Sept. 18 at Wedding Chapel By the Sea at Myrtle Beach, S.C

Zduniak Roots in Cliffwood - John and Peter

Peter Zduniak was born 23 Mar 1886 in Poland and died in 21 Aug 1962.

The 1930 Federal Census listed two Zduniak families (Dwellings 53 and 54) in Matawan Township:

     1) Peter Zduniak, age 40, was born in Poland to Polish parents. He was a laborer at a brickyard. He was an alien who emigrated to the US in 1910. His wife was Josephine, age 36, born in Poland to Polish parents. Peter and Josephine spoke Polish. Their children, all born in NJ, were Genevieve (19), Virginia (17), Sophia (15), Alick (14), and Stanley (14). Peter had no property.
     2) John Zduniak, age 45, was born in Poland to Polish parents. He was a laborer. He was an alien who emigrated to the US in 1908. His wife was Nellie, age 44, born in Poland to Polish parents. John and Nellie spoke Polish. Their children were a daughter Jennett (6) and a son Joe (5), both born in NJ. John had $6,000 in property.

The 1940 Federal Census, just released, listed the same two families (Dwellings 24 and 25) in Matawan Township. Their households were on Cliffwood Avenue in Cliffwood:
     1) John Zduniak, age 60, born in Poland, was a laborer at an asphalt manufacturer. He was an alien. His wife was Nellie, age 41, born in Poland. Their children were a daughter Jeanette (17) and a son Joseph (15), both born in NJ. John owned $4,000 in property.
     2) Peter Zduniak, age 51, born in Poland, was a laborer at an asphalt factory. His wife was Josephine, age 47, born in Poland. Their children were sons Alex (22) and Stanley (14). Alex was a truck driver. Peter owned $4,000 in property.

Peter Zduniak was working for Barber Asphalt Co in Perth Amboy when he registered for the WWII draft in 1942. He gave his DOB as 11 Mar 1886 and his POB as Lomza, Poland. He provided his address as PO Box 86, Cliffwood, NJ. He was 5' 6" tall, 155 lbs, blue eyes, gray hair.

John Zduniak was unemployed when he registered for the WWII draft in 1942. He gave his DOB as 25 Dec 1879 and his POB as Poland. He provided his address as PO Box 25, Cliffwood, NJ. He was 5' 7" tall, 165 lbs, blue eyes, brown hair, balding, ruddy complexion. He had a scar on the first finger of his left hand. His wife was Nellie.

The 16 Jun 1949 edition of The Matawan Journal contained the obituary for Josephine (Myslinski) Zduniak, age 56, who died 12 Jun 1949 at the family home on Cliffwood Avenue in Cliffwood, NJ. She was the wife of Peter Zduniak, the mother of Alexander, Stanley, Jean, Jennie, and Sophie Zduniak, and the sister of Joseph, Stanley and Frank Myslinski. Services were held at the residence, then high mass of requiem was celebrated at the Sacred Heart Church in South Amboy, where the body was put to rest in the church's cemetery.

The 23 Aug 1962 edition of The Matawan Journal contained Peter Zduniak's obituary:

Peter S Zduniak Succumbed Tuesday

Peter S Zduniak, 76, of Cliffwood Avenue, Cllffwood, widower of Mrs Josephine Zduniak, died Tuesday, Aug. 21, 1962. Mr. Zduniak retired 18 years ago from the Barber Asphalt Co., Barber.

He was a communicant of Sacred Heart Church, South Amboy. Mr. Zduniak was a member of the Kasa Posmiertna Society of Perth Amboy. Born in Poland, he resided in Cliffwood for 38 years.

Surviving are three daughters, Mrs. Genevieve Szymanskl, Morganville; Mrs. Regina Kowalski, Jersey City, and Mrs. Sophie Wagner, Cliffwood Beach; two sons Alexander, South Plainfield, and Stanley, Cliffwood, 16 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held Saturday at 8:30 a.m. from the Zduniak home and a solemn high mass of requiem will be offered at 9 a.m. in Sacred Heart Church. Interment, under the direction of
Curzawa Funeral Home, South Amboy, will be in the church cemetery.

Jeanette and Joseph Zduniak

The 16 Jun 1949 edition of The Matawan Journal contained the marriage announcement for Jeanette Zduniak, daughter of Mr and Mrs John Zduniak of Cliffwood. She was to marry Henry J Aleksiak, son of the late Mr and Mrs Basil Aleksiak of Jersey City, on 3 Sep 1949. She worked at the Armstrong Cork Company in Keyport, while her fiance was employed by General Motors.

Notes About Local Boys in the Victory Forces, a section in the 5 Aug 1943 edition of The Matawan Journal, said that Joseph S Zduniak, A. S., was in Maryland with Company 3334, Barracks 316, USNTS, Bainbridge.
US Naval Training Center Bainbridge (Wikimedia)

USNTS Bainbridge is a reference to the US Naval Training Center, Bainbridge in Port Deposit, Maryland, which operated along the banks of the Susquehanna River from 1942 to 1976. USNTS suggests that Bainbridge was first called a training station. (Wikipedia's photo above is actually titled Bainbridge Naval Training Station.) Less likely, it could also suggest that Zduniak was attending one of the specialized training schools there.


  1. Great story. You have me thinking. How can the property be unclaimed? Wouldn't somebody either be paying the taxes or own the tax lien and have forclosed by now?

  2. I agree but here we are. I found it odd that the property reverted to the State of NJ. I agree that the property should have been sold for taxes by now. Perhaps someone knows the story.

  3. mike wagner who lives in the house next door owns it. I am his nephew!

  4. peter was my great grandfather.

  5. Peter was my great great grandfather and mike is my grandfathers brother. Are you carl's son?

  6. Is there a way to get in contact with the owners? I'd love permission to walk the grounds (NOT enter the actual house)

  7. They've made it pretty clear that they want their privacy. Besides, their insurance rates would go up if they allowed people on the grounds. The house is quite the curiosity, so they could probably sell tickets, but it and the grounds will just have to be admired from a distance at the present.

  8. How can I buy this property? I live in holmdel and this isnt bad land plus the house is pretty neat. Is there any possibility of purchasing this?

  9. Kelly, Are you being spontaneous? ;-)

  10. Even in its decaying state its still beautiful to me. My Dad told me it was known as the Wagner Mansion and was there since the 1890s. I bet in its hey-day it was gorgeous. As far as Midland Glass,my grandma(Agnes Gunnell,aka"Pat")worked there for many years and retired in 1986 before passing away in 1987.

    1. Thanks for the note. I agree it is quite striking. I will have to look into the Wagner connection.

    2. The neighbor is a Wagner and claims to be a nephew.

    3. Wagner Mansion, That's funny, Mike Still has a sense of humor, "Mike's Cousin Brian"

    4. Not sure who wrote this from Al's Side, We called him uncle Al, drove that crazy brown VW bus with all his tools in the back, lol Brian Lynch son of Donald Lynch and Nancy Jean Zduniak-Lynch and Stanley's Grandson, Brother to Brenda and Beverly.

  11. This is my Grandparents old home. Your articles have surely raised plenty of questions for others in my family. Facebook posts & phone calls. Not sure why you used everyone of the Peter/Josephine children by proper names and referred to Alexander once as Alick. It was Alexander and friends & family called him Al or Alex. Thank you. Try reading these previous posts again and you may find an answer you were looking for. FYI: There are a few informational mistakes in your writings which I'm not too happy about, but then again...who am I.

    1. To Anonymous Grandson: All of the information I included in this article was from published sources, so I've not violated anyone's privacy here. As for informational mistakes, you have me at a disadvantage as you don't say what you think they were.

  12. That house should not be sold. It should be restored and kept with in the family.