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!

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