Thursday, January 29, 2009

Our Thanksgiving Gift - Two Families

Shortly before Thanksgiving a message that Franny posted on Cousin Connect in 2005 came to fruition.. " My great grandfather Patrick Faunt and my great great grandfather William Faunt left the Limerick area in 1869. I know nothing of the family beyond this point. William was married to Ellen Lynch who I presume is from the same area. If anyone has any related information, it would be appreciated." Fran said this to me "I have had the phrase 'casting your bread upon the waters' bubbling up in my mind".

I will tell you that Fran and I both had a healthy respect for and possibly a small genetic heritage of our Grandmother Retta's ability to know things others do not always know.The Irish call it 'the sight', or at least that is what it was called in our family as it related to Retta. What was told to me was not always in a flattering sense, some described Retta as a witch.What consistantly was told to us is that she foretold her funeral and said that the snow would be up to everyone 'backsides' ( not her term) on the day she would be buried. I was told by several people that a blizzard blew in on that day and the ground was frozen and interment was not possible for several weeks. Poor dear Retta.

Some of the ancedotes about Retta I believe were told to relieve my Grandpop of his great grief for her loss and also to help him carry his great burden of 4 small children. His sisters I know who raised him after he also was left Motherless at 4 were very protective of him.He was said to have seizures if he was stressed so everyone went out of their way to spare him any emotional discomfort. I knew him as a happy-go-lucky and loving grandfather.

Fran got this response from our cousin:
I was looking for information on the name Faunt and found your query. William Faunt was also my great great grandfather and Patrick's younger brother William was my great grandfather. I have some additional information. Our new cousins , when we spoke had a different experience in the early years of the 20th century. Our Patrick's younger brother did not lose his wife to death leaving his children motherless.They sadly lost children in infancy as did many other children but raised two children together as a couple.

Apparently not for them was my grandpop's tale of coming home from school to find possessions of the family 'at the curb' due to eviction and having to stand guard over those possessions until a new place to live was secured. Grandpop Ed Faunt had few if any family heirlooms.I have one picture of his brothers and him.

The 1910 census shows this William Faunt with wife and children and his younger brother Michael, youngest surviving child of our immigrant family.Michael is deceased by 1911 and his newspaper obit indicates his parents are deceased. From this we know that Ellen Lynch Font,( as she spelled it) who remarries in 1890 after her husband's early death, possibly the glue in the family is now gone.

Did the poverty and fractured living conditions of Patrick and his children drive a wedge between the brothers? Were they possibly never close? We have no information about this.
Grandpop went to work at an early age and married when barely 18. Possibly his family lied about his age as he stated for most of his life that he was born in 1897. His birth certificate acquired when he was of Social Security pension age indicates that he is named "Edmond" not Edward and is born in 1898.

Edmond is a name found in the Fethard Tipperary family going back to 1730.Patrick's uncle and a maternal grandfather were so named. Did our Pat live life in a manner more reminiscent of the Old Country? His wife and his mother both worked as Greengrocers outside the home. He never owned a home and seemingly had endless residence changes as census records show.

Our new cousin tells us that her grandfather, William Faunt's son-in-law was affluent.He had an invention that lifted the family into another Social Class. In 1927 a home was built in Phildelphia costing $10,000 which was a great sum in those days. Was there more time and emotional energy for visiting family also?

Shortly after Retta's death in 1926 Grandpop Faunt placed all 3 of his young sons in an Orphanage and took my Mother, his baby with him to several states on his Depression Era search for employment.

Grandpop purchased his first home in 1953 or 1954 and by then his children all owned their own home and may have provided an example for him. He did however live in the same rented house for all the years he raised his children after they were reunited around 1931, again in Penns Grove. Grandpop Faunt worked as a Rigger foreman for DuPont until retired from there about 30 years later. His sons worked there after him

Patrick may have been deceased by then. but we know he is remarried in 1920 with two more young children, George and Helen. Fran has an oral tale of Pat working at DuPont as a guard in WWI and sleeping on straw in a barn. We do find Jesse, Ed and Pat in Penns Grove NJ in 1917 for the first time.

Seemingly the family had little contact during these years and most of us knew nothing of each other. Was the contrast too great between them? Did that drive a wedge between them or was the difference between the first and second child already there? William Faunt's children had contact with the younger daughters of the immigrant family, Jenny and Nellie in Burlington County.

Our great Thanksgiving gift, in addition to learning of our cousin is the added information we now have.We can begin to build on our family knowledge base by combining what this cousin know with what we know to form a clearer history of life in this country.

For the first time I have seen pictures of men in my Faunt family.
I am thankful for that also as well as my new Cousin.

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