Thursday, July 30, 2015

Chapter 16: The Fawkner Duluth-Superior Nexus.

A fine print reminder... This blog is not intended as a research report. I am writing it to help organize what I know and share it with others who might want to know. While I do reference some sources in the narrative, I am not providing full source citations. Readers who would like more source information are invited to contact me.

Our Fawkner saga began with the funeral memorial booklet prepared for Elizabeth Ann (Fawkner) Ehlenbach in Superior, Wisconsin.  All six of the surviving Missouri- and Illinois-born children of James C. Fawkner at some time passed through Duluth and Superior at the head of the greatest of the Great Lakes.

The first Fawkner to reach the Twin Ports was Elizabeth Ann.  Elizabeth Ann and her husband, Frank Ehlenbach, first appeared in Duluth city directories in 1891-92.

  • James Henry was in Duluth by 1896-97, living at the same address as Frank Ehlenbach.
  • Cyrus Fawkner was living at the same address as sister Julia and her husband, George W. Watson, in 1897-98.  Cyrus and George were both barbers. (The 1897-98 directory probably mistakenly identified Cyrus as a baker).
  • James Henry ("Harry") and brother Fred were living with the Watsons in 1898-99.  James Henry and Frank Ehlenbach were both waiters for Boyle Brothers restaurant. The 1900 directory also listed James and Fred living together.
R. L. Polk Duluth 1900 Directory, p. 223

We have presented the stories of Fred (Chapter 13), Julia (Chapter 14),  and Cyrus (Chapter 15). We will now deal with the Ehlenbachs, before returning in coming weeks to James Henry and Robert Grant Fawkner.

Elizabeth Ann Fawkner, born 1870 in Missouri, married Frank Ehlenbach 24 September 1891 in Arcola, Illinois.  Elizabeth's father had died two years earlier. Her mother died in Arcola a few years later in 1894. The couple must have left for Duluth soon after the wedding, but their reason for striking out for the shores of Lake Superior are not known. Perhaps a friend or relative was already there. Perhaps, Frank saw business opportunities in the booming port city. His marriage certificate stated that he was a confectioner in Arcola, probably working in his father's store. The 1880 and 1900 censuses identified Frank's father, George, as a "restaurant keeper." Throughout the 1890s, directories listed Frank as a restaurant waiter in Duluth. His obituary stated: "For many years he was a waiter in leading hotels and restaurants of Duluth and operated a general store... from 1900 to 1912" (Two Harbors Chronicle and Times, October 1944, p. 6).

The Ehlenbach businesses and homes were in Duluth's "West End." In 1900, Frank and Elizabeth, with daughters Carrie and Julia, lived at 203 E. Eight St. Frank was a restaurant clerk. Living at the same address were the Watsons -- Elizabeth's sister and brother-in-law -- as well as Elizabeth's brother, Cyrus, the barber (see Chapters 13 and 14). By 1910 the family was at 631 Eighth Ave. E.; the Ehlenbachs (indexed "Ehlerbad" on remained at the same address in 1920. Frank, 55, was now a waiter in a cafe, but Elizabeth was a "proprietor" in a grocery store.

By 1930, something had gone awry. Elizabeth was living alone at 617 Eighth Ave. E.; she told the census-taker she was a widow.  Frank lived alone at 728 Fifth St. E.; a waiter, he was identified as "father." Elizabeth lived at the same Eighth St. address in 1940, and Frank lived with his son, Frank Jr., at 1124 W. Second.  Both Frank and Elizabeth said they were divorced. The 1940 census indicated that Frank had been living in Carlton County, Minnesota, in 1935. The "divorce" might have only been an extended separation, but a search for a divorce record is in order.

Frank Ehlenbach died 3 October 1944 at the home of his Aubrey and Carrie Tidball in Two Harbors, Lake County, Illinois. Elizabeth Ann (Fawkner) Ehlenbach died 2 February 1953 in Superior, Douglas County, Wisconsin. A sizable extended family of Ehlenbach descendants still lives in the Duluth area.

The next two installments will outline the lives of the two other surviving Fawkner children -- James Henry and Robert Grant. Certain details are sketchy, but they also had less than stable married lives.

LESSON: This week's lesson for family history researchers is to think geographically. When you discover where a family member went, ask why. Be on the lookout for other family members who followed similar migration patterns. Look for your family's nexus!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Chapter 15: Cyrus Desires to Meet Lady or Widow of Good Character

The two deaf brothers, Cyrus and Fred, went separate ways after 1900.  Fred had gone east, before returning to Illinois to marry Daisy Trigg.  Cyrus remained in Duluth, where he married Anna C. Johnson 5 December 1900. Not a lot is known yet about Anna, but she likely was the 9-year-old deaf child, Anna C. Johnson from Duluth, admitted to the Minnesota Institution for Defectives in 1890. She was enumerated at the institution in Faribault in June 1900, suggesting she met Cyrus in Duluth soon after graduation. Likely, she was the daughter of Swedish immigrants Martin and Lena Johnson enumerated in Duluth in the 1885 Minnesota census.

In 1910, the young couple lived at 111 E. Eighth Street with a 4-year-old son, William. Cyrus was still engaged as a barber.  The tragic story of his nephew's asphyxiation death (see Chapter 14) documents that Cyrus had moved to Minneapolis by 1913. Cyrus was still barbering in 1920 and was living at 3328 19th Ave. S. Cyrus and Anna had a added a daughter, Pearl, three years-old in 1920. Inexplicably, the census enumerator recorded that Cyrus' father and mother were both born in England; they were born in Kentucky and Missouri.

No doubt, the death of young Fred Watson in their home touched Cyrus and Anna deeply. Their children are deceased, so no first-hand insight to the family situation survives. However, a rather comic, but embarrassing episode might -- or might not -- hint at domestic malaise.  "C. G. Fawkner" placed an ad in the 7 August 1921 edition of the Denver Post.

REFINED business man, 45, 120 lbs. 5 ft. 4 in., dark brown, gray hair, gray eyes, light complexion fair looking, home-loving, no bad habits, new 6-r home in 5 months: desires to correspond and meet refined, intelligent, educated lady or widow of good character, about Xmas; give description, picture; matrimony. Address C. G. Fawkner, 28 N. Fifth st., Minneapolis, Minn.

Could this handsome home-loving man with no bad habits be Cyrus?  Yes, Davidson's 1921 Minneapolis Directory listed Cyrus G. Fawkner, a barber at 28 N. 5th. His residence was 3328 19th Av S. Had Cyrus and Anna separated? Possibly, but the 1930 census found Cyrus "Faulkner," with a wife "c. g," and daughter Pearl at 3630 Bloomington Ave. -- not far from the 1920 Fawkner residence.  "c.g." were, of course, Cyrus' initials. Was this a enumerator's simple error (a simple error, not a simple enumerator!)?  Probably, because he recorded that Cyrus' wife was 48 and born in Sweden -- a good match for Anna, who was 38 in 1920. Cyrus and Anna were still living together in 1940.

So, what does the Denver ad say about Cyrus? It is hard to know. It would seem he thought well of his appearance and character -- or maybe he was exaggerating. It is not known if he made the trip to Denver, let alone whether he met a refined, intelligent, educated lady. There simply is no  evidence on way or the other. In any event, Cyrus and Anna were still husband and wife when Cyrus died 23 September 1943.

Cyrus' brothers James Henry and Robert Grant also passed through Duluth. We will pick up their stories next.

LESSON: Does there always need to be a lesson?  I guess not, but if there is one in this chapter, it might be to do cross-over research. It took both census and city directory records to verify that the Denver ad was from our Cyrus.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday Fawkner Interlude

It's Monday. Don't be alarmed.  I am not escalating to a two-per-week blog schedule. This is just a little reminder that it pays to go back over old research ground from time to time.

It turns out that "A Developing Story" was an appropriate title for my post about deaf photographer Fred Fawkner a couple of weeks ago (Chapter 13, 9 July 2015). In that post, I told you pretty much all I knew of his professional wanderings -- from Duluth to Buffalo and Clayton, back to Cairo to Jacksonville, and on the Hartford, New York, and Norfolk, where he died.

Now, the story continues to develop. Fiddling around in this morning, I found an article in the Bluefield (WV) Daily Telegraph that adds to the story. The 3 March 1940 edition (p. 53, col. 2) welcomed "F. P. Fawkner, of New Orleans, La., photographer and artist of many years experience" to the studio of Mrs. R. L. Nunnally in Bluefield. Fawkner had previously been with the Tooley-Myron studios in Miami and New Orleans.

This guy got around!

This blog will return to its regular scheduled programming this Thursday, with the story of Fred's deaf brother, Cyrus, of Minneapolis. You will want to know why a Minneapolis barber took out an ad in the Denver Post.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Chapter 14: Tragedy strikes the Fawkner family in Minnesota

Fred Fawkner's older brother was named after the boys' Uncle Cyrus (James C. Fawkner's brother). The younger Cyrus was with his birth family in Coles County, Illinois in 1880 (spelled and indexed "Falkner"), but because of the burned 1890 census, does not appear in another census until 1900, when he was living in Duluth, Minnesota, with George and Julia K. Watson. Cyrus was identified as a brother-in-law of George Watson, suggesting that Julia was Cyrus's sister -- she was. Cyrus was a barber. So was George. Cyrus, like Fred, was deaf, and attended the Illinois Institution for Education of the Deaf and Dumb.

Julia Kemp Fawkner had married George Watson 27 December 1890 in Colorado.  Watson's identity is not certain, but he was likely closely related to the James Watson family living in Arcola, Illinois, in 1880. George's death certificate states his father was James, born in Ohio. The Arcola Watson family had a son Cecil, and George and Julia Watson named a son George Cecil.

By 1910, the Watsons had moved to Mahtowa in Carlton County, where  George had taken up farming, but Cyrus was still barbering in Duluth.

While his first census appearance in Minneapolis is 1920, Cyrus was there by at least the fall of 1913 when tragedy struck. The Watson's home town newspaper (Carlton County Vidette) reported that son Fred died 19 October 1913 at the home of his Uncle, Cyrus, in Minneapolis. Fred had been a student at the "agricultural school at St. Anthony Park" (the agricultural campus of the University of Minnesota). The last line of the three paragraph obituary gave grim detail: Fred was "asphyxiated by gas while taking a bath." The headline of a short story in the Minneapolis Journal was blunt from the get-go: "Gas Heater Kills Bather." The coroner concluded that "the gas heater had exhausted the oxygen from the air and asphyxiated Watson."

Tragedy returned to the Watsons only five years later when, in 1918, Fred's sister Ida died just a few months after marrying Glen Weiher. The headline in the 13 December 1918 issue of the Carlton County Vidette read: "Splendid Young Mahtowa Woman." The subtitle said "Passed Away Last Week, Victim of Flu-Pneumonia." Ida Mae Watson was born 27 November 1893 in Arcola, Illinois, shortly after the Watsons went back east from Colorado. The obituary continued:

She was one of Mahtowa's most noble young women, of exceptionally fine character and an uplift to all with whom she came in contact.

The Watsons lived in Corona Township in 1920. Living with them was Robert G. Fawkner, Julia's brother. Next door was Julia's niece, Carrie, daughter of Frank and Elizabeth Ann Ehlenbach. Carrie had married Aubrey Tidball in 1911

Julia K. (Fawkner) Watson died 7 March 1957 in Milwaukee. George Washington Watson had died 14 April 1932 in Carlton County.

Next week, we will return briefly to Julia's brother, Cyrus. His life took an embarrassing -- almost comic -- turn in 1921 when he placed an ad in the Denver Post.

Lesson: It always pays to follow children and in-laws to their deaths. That is often where the stories are. Sometimes they are tragic.

Newspaper images from Minnesota Historical Society microfilm. Carlton County Vidette, 31 October 1913, p. 1, col. 1, and 13 December 1918, p. 1. Minneapolis coroner statement from "Gas Heater Kills Bather," Minneapolis Journal, 20 October 1913, p. 20, col. 1.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Chapter 13: A Developing Story -- Fred Fawkner Makes Pictures

This week's post is titled "A Developing Story," partly because the story seems to grow everything I do a new Google search, but also as a play on words. Frederick Perkins Fawkner was short (5'2") and slender, with gray eyes. As a young man, he had thick, brown hair. He was deaf. He was a photographer.

The youngest of James C. Fawkner's three deaf children, Fred lost his hearing at age 2. He was semi-mute. As an adult, he supplemented limited hearing with lip reading. He was captained the football team, but got a start on a career. Fred found photography through an art class at the Illinois Institution for Education of the Deaf and Dumb in Jacksonville, Illinois. According to a short biography in The Silent Worker, a deaf community journal:

Being a poor boy, he soon turned the art of kodaking to profit, selling the prints among the officers and pupils. The returns, financially, meant much to him and the experience also proved valuable. With only a fair knowledge of photography...a mere amateur, he went to Duluth, Minn., soon after graduation and there secured his first position.

Why Duluth? Fred's deaf brother, Cyrus, his brother James Henry, and his married sisters, Julia and Elizabeth Ann, were already living there. (Fred's siblings will be featured in posts over the next few weeks).  The 1898-99 city directory listed Fred boarding in the home of his sister Julia and her husband, George W. Watson. The 1900 directory listed Fred boarding with his brother, James H. Fawkner. Fred was listed as a photographer. The 1900 census, taken in June, found Fred as a student back in Jacksonville. It is not known when during the year the city directory listings were compiled; possibly, Fred spent summers in Duluth. Afterall, his parents were deceased and his siblings were in Duluth.

In any case, Fred was soon back in Jacksonville, where he placed a work wanted ad.

WANTED--By a deaf person a situation as a printer, retoucher and toner; is willing to do other kinds of work in a photograph gallery. Has had three years' experience. Address: Fred Fawkner, care J. C. Gordon, Jacksonville, Ill.

Whether the ad turned the trick is not known, but by 1903 a Buffalo, New York, city directory listed Frederick Fawkner, a photographer, at 422 Pearl Street. In June, he moved to Clayton, New York -- on the St. Lawrence River east of Lake Ontario -- to be an assistant in the gallery of Clara Smith. His Clayton engagement soon gave way to an engagement of another kind back in Illinois. Fred Fawkner married Daisy Walters Trigg 21 July 1905 in Alexander County, Illinois, and by 1910 was working in his own studio in Cairo, the county seat. The 1900 census reveals that Fred and Daisy were classmates in Jacksonville. They were living with Daisy's parents in 1910. The census enumerator was supposed to ask if individuals were deaf or dumb, but he did not record their deafness. The young couple was still living with Daisy's parents in 1920; they had a 6-month-old daughter, Helen.

 Fred's work had already gained notice. Four of his photographs were selected for an exhibition of 500 U.S. and Canadian photos at the National Photographers Association in Kansas City in 1913. Some of his early work in Cairo featured industrial landscapes, but he later did both studio portrait and landscape work. The University of Illinois Photographic Archive holds a Fawkner portrait of the famous football coach, Amos Alonzo Stagg. The Silent Worker gave its praise: "He has a fine studio ... and he is a good example of the success that can be won despite the handicap of deafness when artistic talent is coupled with untiring devotion to business."

By 1930, Fred was operating a photo studio back in Jacksonville. Soon after his return to Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Courier reported in 1924: "He planned the interior arrangement of the studio to meet his needs, and then secured the most modern and efficient equipment available." The article described a silent door bell system that used colored lights to indicate the opening and closing of doors.

 The Courier article noted that he had previously held positions with photographic firms in Buffalo, New York, and Hartford, Connecticut -- the exact timing of his eastern sojourn is not known. He was back east again in 1942, where his draft registration stated that he worked in a studio in Norfolk, Virginia. Fred stated that his wife lived back in Jacksonville. At 61, his hair had gone gray, but he was still only 118 pounds. City directories place Fred in the Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News area from 1943-1946. Fred and Daisy may have gone separate ways. The 1940 census enumerated Daisy as a housemother at the deaf school; Fred has not been found.

Frederick Fawkner, age 65, died 27 December 1946 in Virginia. Daisy died at age 92 in 1971 in West Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Fred P. Fawkner, Submerged district, Cairo, Illinois, 1913, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 

LESSON: When least expected, lives can be deeply interesting. There is no real genealogical research lesson this week, except perhaps to remember that ancestors had lives between those births, marriages, deaths. Don't just hatch, match, and dispatch; research ancestors' lives.

Physical descriptions are from draft registration records. Some biographical information, including facts regarding Fred's hearing loss, are from "The Deaf in the Business World," The Silent Worker, 23:8 (May 1913), 146.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Chapter 12: Another Deaf Child

At this point, it's tempting to go back to Hendricks County, Indiana, and poke into the lives of James C. Fawkner's siblings. That will be fun when the time comes, but those stories will be richer if  we first take up the lives of James' children. Over the next few weeks, we'll spend some time with Fred, Cyrus, Julia, James Henry, and Elizabeth Ann. There will be a dose of tragedy as well as celebration of achievement.

We've already heard the story of how Ida, the first child born in Iowa from James' second marriage, lost her hearing on trip to her Aunt Sears home in the winter of 1857-58. Ida was educated in the Indiana School  for the Deaf and Dumb in Indianapolis (see Chapter 6).  Documents in James' Civil War pension file revealed that James also had a deaf and dumb child from his third marriage to Julie Ann Angell (see Chapter 11). Fred had an exceptional life, so we will start the story of James' children with him.

Fred was born 14 November 1880 -- after the 1880 census was taken. The Civil War pension file tells part of the story. In an affidavit given in 1891, eleven years later, the attending midwife stated that Fred was born on the 15th (does a day difference really matter?). The pension file also includes an April 1895 affidavit from the Superintendent of the Illinois Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb stating the Fred had been in attendance several years. Lest there be any doubt, the 1900 U.S. Census enumerated Fred as a student at the Institution in Jacksonville, Illinois.

In April 1895, the Douglas County court named George Kelink guardian of "Freddie P. Fawkner." He needed a guardian because he was under 21 when his mother died in 1894. Because he was a minor, a probate case file was opened for Fred. Found in that file, a form entitled "Statistics of Applicant for Admission to Illinois Institution for the Education of Deaf and Dumb" dated 1888 opened up entirely new avenues for research. The form was incorrectly filled out, naming the deaf mute applicant as James C. Fawkner; it was rather an application for his son, Fred. It stated that the deaf mute's father was James C. Fawkner, and that he was born at Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. This is the only source naming a specific place in Kentucky for James' birth.

The form also asked for the names and age of the applicant's brothers and sisters. It named Cyrus Fawkner [no age stated], Henry Fawkner, 10, Grant Fawkner, 24, Julia Fawkner, 20, and Elizabeth A. Fawkner, 17. (This, of course, is the Elizabeth Ann whose funeral memorial kicked off the Fawkner research trail back in Chapter 1). This listing again suggests that the twins, Hattie and Attie, listed in the 1880 census, had died.

Now, for the surprise. The form asked whether the deaf mute (Fred) had any deaf relatives.  Yes, he did: "one brother & one half Sister."  The half-sister was Ida. Another document in the probate file revealed that the brother was Cyrus. On 15 September 1884, the Superintendent of the Illinois Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb affirmed to Douglas County Court judge that Cyrus G. Fawkner was a "proper subject" for care at the institution.

So, James C. Fawkner had three deaf children: Ida, Cyrus, and Fred. Ida lost her hearing due to illness (possibly meningitis) at a young age.  The causes and degree of Cyrus' and Fred's deafness might be revealed in admission files if they survive.

More of Fred's story will come next week, followed by a tragic story from Cyrus' life that will also involves his sister, Julia. So important to the Fawkner family history, Ida will have to wait.

LESSONS: Leap for joy if your ancestor applied for a military pension. If deaths of parents left any minor children, follow the guardianship trail. Get the probate files. You may find family information in these records that you will find nowhere else.