When anyone in my family thinks of St. Paddy’s Day, they always and automatically think of Grandpa. Michael John Flanagan’s proud Irish heritage never shone brighter than on St. Paddy’s Day each year. Knowing absolutely nothing about his immediate or extended family, Michael clung desperately to his Irish roots.
Orphaned twice by the time he was a toddler, split from his sister and brothers, abused and hurt while a foster child, never wanted enough to be adopted, Grandpa Mike Flanagan should NOT have learned how to love. Except for Verne and Edna Buckley.
Patrick Thomas Flanagan (abt. 1897-1928) died on 23 December 1928 from tuberculosis, just two days before Christmas, plunging his family into a series of events that would leave the children orphans. My grandfather, at just 1-1/2 years old, never knew his father.
Patrick is the only one of my orphaned grandfather’s siblings I ever met. I remember Grandpa crying when Uncle Pat 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.
My grandparents Michael John Flanagan and Elsie Charlotte Hayes moved across country, with no job and no money, for the health of their oldest child. Homeless, they first lived in a tent, then in a post-WWII quonset hut.
The story Mom says Grandpa always told his kids is that he had to get his priest to sign and vouch (lying) that Grandpa, the orphan, was 18 years old, not 17 years old. Who knows if a priest would be willing to lie and do this — it’s possible, if the priest felt this was Grandpa’s best opportunity to get good job skills and make a career and life for himself. Particularly since he had such a rough life as a foster child.
My 17th week 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’m closing the gap […]