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Sunday, October 19, 2014

#52Ancestors: Grand Uncle Patrick Joseph Flanagan Desperately Reunites With My Grandfather

My 30th entry in Amy Johnson Crow's "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" family history blogging challenge.
The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.
I have fallen way behind in this challenge again due to continued health issues the last few months, but I am trying to catch up by the end of the year. 

My 30th ancestor is my grand uncle Patrick Joseph FLANAGAN (1925-1981).

Uncle Pat and Aunt Mary, 1970s.
Patrick is the only one of my orphaned grandfather's siblings I ever met. Despite Uncle Pat dying in my tween years, my memories of him are vague. When I was a child, he lived near my grandpa, Michael John FLANAGAN (1927-1997)in Southern California. I remember Uncle Pat and his children visiting my grandparents' home on occasion. But, due to my young age, I am sure I never paid much attention to them. The most vivid memory I have of Uncle Pat though is of his death...because Mom would not allow me to attend the funeral. She didn't think funerals were too appropriate for young kids unless it was their immediate family. 

And I definitely remember Grandpa crying...a lot. Grandpa was a huge softie, he cried often. But this was a different type of crying, obvious even to a young tween granddaughter. I learned why once I started wanting to learn about my grandfather's family history, after Grandpa died. Grandpa was crying over the loss of his brother. But, more significantly, Grandpa was heartbroken over the loss of the only biological family member with whom he ever had a real relationship.

Uncle Pat was Grandpa's youngest sibling, his immediately older brother. Both boys were born to my great grandparents Patrick Thomas FLANAGAN (1897-1928) and Sarah KENNEDY (1809-1920), and were possibly the only ones in the big sibling group who were the biological children of both Patrick and Sarah. The other siblings were from prior marriages, and the parentage of brother Harry J. FLANAGAN (1920-1981) remains a mystery. Pat and Mike were orphaned at a very young age, with both parents dead by the time Pat was 5 years old, and my grandfather was 3 years old.

Uncle Pat was the last of the siblings born in Ohio, on 6 June 1925. Bellaire, Ohio, to be exact -- the multi-generation Flanagan family hometown since at least 1920, where I still have cousins. Pat was also the last of the siblings to get baptized in the Flanagan family church, St. John's Catholic Church in Bellaire, on 12 July 1925. A fun bit of family history scandal trivia... my great grandmother Sarah was already pregnant with Uncle Pat when she married my great grandfather on 10 April 1925.

St. John's High School (left) and St. John's Catholic Church (center), 2014.
Creative Commons-licensed photo from Flickr user Joanne C. Sullivan.

The family moved to Buffalo, New York sometime between Uncle Pat's July 1925 christening date, and my grandpa's birth on 23 May 1927, since Grandpa was born in Buffalo.

After their mother, the last living parent, died in 1930, the boys were all placed in a Buffalo orphanage, and were shortly after placed with the Buckley foster family on a nearby farm. Life was not kind to Grandpa or his brothers on the Buckley farm (with the exception of their relationship with foster brother Vern and his wife Edna). Pat and his older brothers all ran away multiple times, although I am told by my mom and her siblings that Uncle Pat remained the longest at the farm, with my grandfather. 

Uncle Pat (left), Grandpa (center), and I think their older brother Harry (right). Grandpa looks like he is in his late teens or early 20s here, so this appears to be one of the times the brothers reunited again briefly after the older brothers ran away. Grandpa was left alone at the foster family farm during his teens.
But, eventually, even Uncle Pat fled for good, leaving Grandpa alone (by at least age 12) without any biological family. They lost touch in their teens, with Grandpa joining the Navy at age 17, serving abroad during and after WWII, marrying in California, moving to Michigan for a while, then shortly moving back to Southern California, where he and my grandmother raised their children.

Mom tells me often how desperate she remembers Grandpa was to find his brothers while Mom was growing up. He had heard that his brother Pat moved to the Pittsburg area. So Grandpa started calling every Pat Flanagan he could find listed in Pittsburg. One day, he reached the right one -- his brother. According to Mom, the brothers were so overjoyed to find each other again and so desperate to be together again, that shortly after that phone call, Uncle Pat packed up his entire family and moved to Southern California near Grandpa.

So when I saw Grandpa crying so intensely over Uncle Pat's death in 1981, I understand now that Grandpa was also mourning for the parents he never got to know, and all of the siblings he did not get to grow up with.

Uncle Pat is buried at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, California.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

WWI Draft: Step-Great Grandfather Frank J Ward

After finding that 1920 city directory I discovered yesterday for my great grandmother Sarah KENNEDY (1898-1930) and her first husband Frank J. WARD (b. 1895), I spent some time looking for additional records on Ward that might provide more information about my great grandmother and her children.

I came across Frank Ward's WWI Draft Registration card.

Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.
Frank Ward registered for the draft in Belmont County, Ohio on 6 June 1917, at the age of 22. He identifies himself as a natural born citizen, born on 19 May 1895, in Bellaire, Ohio (also his current home). Frank worked in a brickyard, for the Suburban Bridge Company, and had no prior military experience. He is described as Caucasian, of medium height and build, with blue eyes and auburn hair (not bald), and has a corn on a toe (seriously?).

At the time of the draft, Frank was married -- to my great grandmother Sarah. He also indicated two dependent children, this would have been my grandfather's sister Catherine Mae WARD  (1914-1994) and his oldest brother Joseph A. WARD (1916-?). Since son Leonard Luther WARD was born in 1917, and this draft registration was conducted in June of that year, Sarah was pregnant with Leonard at this time.

Friday, October 17, 2014

#52Ancestors: Was Great Grandma Kennedy Having An Affair With Great Grandpa Flanagan?

My 29th entry in Amy Johnson Crow's "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" family history blogging challenge.
The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.
I have fallen way behind in this challenge again due to continued health issues the last few months, but I am trying to catch up by the end of the year.

My 29th ancestor is my great grandmother Sarah's first husband, Frank J. WARD (b. 1895).

I have yet to find a divorce record for my great grandmother Sarah KENNEDY (1898-1930) and her first husband Frank, who were married on 25 June 1913 in Mahoning County, Ohio. Aside from just wanting that record as part of Sarah's history, I desperately want it because I am hoping it will help clarify if my orphaned grandfather's older brother Harry is a Ward (from Sarah's first marriage), a Flanagan (from my great grandfather's first marriage), or a Ward/Flanagan (from Sarah's second marriage, to my great grandfather). No one in our family is certain about Harry's parentage. Harry could be the biological child of my great grandparents, or of just one of my great grandparents.

Sarah married my great grandfather Patrick Thomas FLANAGAN (1897-1928) in 1925, while Sarah was already pregnant with another one of my grandfather's brothers, Patrick Joseph FLANAGAN (1925-1981). Sarah already had a least three children from her first husband: Catherine Mae WARD (b. 1914), Joseph A. WARD (b. 1916), possibly a  twin Walter WARD (b. 1916), and Leonard L. WARD (b. 1917). Patrick already had at least two children from his first wife, Mary LONG: Charles Edson FLANAGAN (b. 1915) and a living daughter. Since documents tell me that Sarah was already pregnant with Patrick Joseph when she married Patrick Thomas, that leaves Harry. I can't find a birth record or baptism record for Harry.

Knowing the birth order of all the children, Harry was born after Sarah and Patrick were married to their respective first spouses, yet five years prior to their own marriage.

Well, today I came upon a 1920 city directory record for Sarah and her first husband Frank Ward, living at 3349 Franklin Street in Bellaire, Ohio. The directory lists Frank's occupation as bricklayer.

Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
This record indicates that Sarah and her first husband Frank were still living together in 1920, and I would assume, were still married. Yet Harry was born in 1920. So this makes even more of a mess to figure out:
  • Is Harry the biological child of both Sarah and Frank, since they might have still been married and living together in 1920, the year he was born?
  • Was the city directory compiled and published after Sarah and Frank split up, mistakenly listing Sarah still living with Frank?
  • Did Sarah and Frank split up shortly after the city directory was published, with Sarah meeting Patrick soon after?
  • Is Harry the biological child of just Patrick (and his first wife)? Meaning he wasn't part of the family unit living at this residence in 1920.
  • Or is Harry the biological child of both Patrick and Sarah, which per this city directory would mean that Patrick and Sarah were having an affair while she was still married to Frank. Again, unless the Sarah and Frank had split prior to the directory actually going to publication.
From what I know about my great grandmother Sarah and my great grandpa Patrick, both seemed to have fallen short of the moral standards of their day. My grandpa would have gotten a kick out of knowing this about his parents.


Google Street View of 3349 Franklin Street, Bellaire, Ohio.