Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Story of Fruit Cake

As a young girl, I remember my mother offering us pieces of this dark brown, heavy Fruit Cake that came in the mail.  I know it sounds strange, as children we thought so as well.  But when you live far away from relatives this is how you keep tradition.  My grandmother Ellen Mary Tobin Flynn (Nanny) made a traditional Fruit Cake every year around Christmas.  The recipe she used has been in the family for generations.  It originally came with my ancestors from England  in the 1700's.  I learned recently that Aunt Agnes continued to make it every Christmas in loving memory of her mother.  Nanny passed away in 1987. 

Aunt Agnes told me, in the winter they would be skating on the pond across from their house and they could smell the Fruit Cake baking in the oven.  Nanny would have it ready with a cup of tea when they came in to get warm.

This year I decided to try making Nanny's Fruitcake. Cinnamon, Cloves, Allspice, Dark Molasses, Raisins, Currants, Dates. Lemon peel, Citron, everything went into a large cast iron pot and I baked it for 3 and 1/2 hours in a low heated oven.  The smell of the spices filled my house creating an aroma of rich sweetness and comfort.  Once the cake came out of the oven, the directions said to baste the cake with a wine glass full of whiskey or rum, then a layer of white butter frosting to crown it.  During the process of making the cake, I thought about my grandmother, her sweet and loving ways. I think I have begun a new-old tradition.

I dedicate this Post to my grandmother, Ellen Mary Tobin Flynn

Family Ties

As I mentioned before, Stephen Flynn Sr married Mary Ann Tubrett of Holyrood in 1883.  They had eight children , the story of their first born child Michael, is a sad story. He was named after his grandfather, and born in 1884. He lived on Bell Island ( not too far from Harbour Main) as a grown man.  He died 12/23/1916 at the age of 33, of Typhoid Fever.  His wife Catherine Kent died a couple of months later 03/29/1917, one month after giving birth to a daughter, of Typhoid Fever as well. They left a family of five children, Molly, Elizabeth, Thomas, William and Catherine.

My Grandfather Stephen Jr, who was Michael's younger brother was 21 years at the time of his brother's death. Stephen took William who was 7 years old to live with him and his parents on Flynn's Hill.  I remember my mother telling me, William's brothers and sister went to live with their mother's family on Bell Island.  Stephen Jr went to Sydney, Nova Scotia to work and sent money home for his elderly parents and nephew William.  Bill grew up to be a man, married and built a house for himself on the Flynn Estate.

"Uncle Bill", is what we called him, he was really my 1st cousin once removed, he married Ellen (Nell) Frances Healy, they had 13 children, Michael, Mary Elizabeth, Gloria, Catherine Aurelia, John Tarisus, William, Helen, Joseph, Mildred, Claire, Anastasia, Frank, and Isabel.  My mother told me Uncle Bill was a Carpenter.  He died at the age of 87 years in 1997 and is burried in Chapel's Cove Cemetery. This photo is of Uncle Bill taken possibly in the 1940's on Flynn's Hill with 9 of his 13 children. This is a favorite photo of mine, he looks so proud and happy sitting on Flynn's Hill with his children.

I have fond memories of my Uncle Bill as a lively, jovial, hardworking man. I remember sledding down the hill behind his house with his younger children.  I plan to get in touch with them ( my second cousins ) during my trip to Newfoundland this coming spring, with high hopes of gathering more stories of Flynn's Hill.  I do have alot of "Flynn Cousins".

Note - Correction made 04/16/3013, Michael Flynn's wife was Catherine Kent not Catherine Sweeney, per my 2nd cousins Joe and Frank Flynn.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Family Relics

The Flynn Family had a deep faith in God and followed the Roman Catholic Religion.  Their faith gave them the strength to persevere through hard times and taught them to value life.

I recently came across three items that represent the family's faith.  Aunt Agnes states these items were always in their home, for as long as she can remember.  She believes they were in the house when her mother Ellen Tobin married Stephen Flynn Jr, and possible they came from Ireland.  She is not certain of the history.

The first item is a large statue of St Anthony, that is in Aunt Agnes' possession.  She tells the story of bringing it to her home, the airline wanted to charge her for another seat but she insisted that she would hold it in her lap the whole way home to Southern California.  There are no markings on the statue, telling who, where or when it was made. It sits on Aunt Agnes' dresser as a mystery, except that it came from  Flynn's Hill in Harbour Main, Newfoundland, Canada.

The second item is a large wooden frame piece, with a box in the back that holds a scrolling mechisim, displaying the Mysteries of the Rosary.  This item was amoung my mother's things.  Aunt Agnes told me, The Mysteries of the Rosary hung in their kitchen over the daybed when they were growing up. I never heard the story of how my mother brought it to her home.
The last item is a framed Blessed Sacrament Tribute to Pope Pius VI, the date on the bottom is 27 March 1776.  Yes, 1776, that makes this Family Relic 235 years old.  It hung in the hallway above the top of the stairs in the Flynn home.

I hope someday to learn more about these pieces but for now, knowing they are from the Flynn Family History will have to do.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Stephen Flynn Sr

This is a photo of my Great Grandfather Stephen Flynn Sr., and my Grandfather Stephen Flynn Jr.  This photo was found amongst many other old photos in my mother's collection.  The date on the back is 1920, the same year Stephen Sr. died at the age of 75 years.  Stephen Jr. was 25 years at that time.

Aunt Agnes and Uncle Ray informed me, they had never seen a photo of their grandfather before, that this was a first. They immediately asked if I had found any photos of their grandmother Mary Ann Tubrett who had died in 1930.  Sad to say, I have not.

I don't know very much about Stephen Sr., only the few pieces I have been able to put together.  He had died before his grandchildren were born, (My Mom, My Aunts and Uncles), so there are no stories to share of his life.

What I do know is, he was 38 years when he married Mary Ann Tubrett of Harbour Main on May 10th, 1883, she was ten years younger then he.  A year later, he divided the Flynn property with his sisters in May 1884, then that September his first child was born, whom he named after his father, Michael. Stephen Sr and Mary Ann had a total of 8 children ,  Michael 1884, Thomas 1885, Mary Ellen 1887, Esther 1889, Patrick 1891, Elizabeth 1892, Stephen 1895 ( My Grandfather) and Philip Martin 1900.

Looking at the photo, I would say, my grandfathers were serious hardworking men, who took pride in their work, their family and themselves. My Great Grandfather looks very good for 75 years old.  Looking at the photo, I question, who took the photo and why? The location seems to be on their property, the fence looks very similar to later photos. Why isn't my Great Grandmother in the photo?  Looking at the photo, I understand, why I have the long arms that I do.  In my family we call them "Flynn Arms"

I am so glad I found this photo.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Release of Land

Interpretation of Letter Written by Stephen Flinn (DOB 1845 - 1920) May 11th 1884
Draft Done by Raymond John Flynn and Elaine Dollen Clark on March 8th 2011

I Stephen Flinn do acknowledge and agree to give up the rights and titles of two parcels of land to my four sisters.  One piece situated at the foot of Grants (?) Marsh Hill at the southwest corner of the river and the other piece of land at the southside of Harbor Main bounded by Thomas and John Flinn to have and to hold whilst grass grow and water run.

And I do agree to give up my claim of all other land claimed by Michael Flinn who was our father also House, Sellar and Stable and their articles of Furniture to have and to hold without further claim whilst grass grow and water run.

Thomas X Hawco                                                                   Martin X Walsh
      (married Mary Flinn)                                                             (married Louisa Flinn)

Phillip X Hawco                                                                     Catherine X Flinn
       (married Sarah Flinn)

I do agree to give my part of the land but not my claim of the house until I get one myself.

                                                                                               Patrick Dwyer

                                                   Uncle Ray, Myself and My Mom, Mary

What We Learned

Michael Flynn proabably died before 1884 and did not leave a will or if he did, left everything to his son Stephen, who then decided to divide it with his sisters.

The Flynn Property was much broader than Uncle Ray knew of.

Hawco's and Walsh's are cousins.

Land on the southside of Harbour Main was bounded by Thomas and John Flynn.  Were they Michael's brothers?  Note - Thomas and John Flynn of Harbour Main are documented on a  1835 Voters List. (Time period is a good match)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

May 11th, 1884

You just never know, what you will find.

About four years ago, during the process of moving my mother, I came across some papers that looked a bit dated.  Taking a closer look, I opened the folded mystery carefully.  On the top, I read the date May 11th 1884.  I remember repeating "1884" and thinking "what could this be?"

It was a statement written by my Great Grandfather Stephen Flynn Sr. dividing the Flynn property with his four sisters. The document was handwritten in cursive, the ink was faded, the paper yellowed from age and ink blots were scattered down the middle of the page.  In the upper left corner, the word (Copy) caught my eye.  What I held in my hand was an original copy of an original document.  Think about it, in 1884 the only way to make a copy was to hand write another one.

The document starts out with "I Stephen Flinn", Hmmmmm?,(different spelling of how we spell Flynn).  A signature was at the bottom, from a Patrick Dwyer.  Uncle Ray informed me that his grandfather did not know how to read or write, so he probably had a town clergyman or councilman write out his statement.  This past March during a visit with Uncle Ray, I pulled out this document for his review.  His reaction was similar to mine, curious and in awe! 

Some of words are legible and others are quite faint.  So one morning, during his visit, with readers in place and magnifying glass in hand, we proceeded letter by letter, line by line interpeting the statement. Three hours had past before we were finished.  It was one of the best morning I had ever spent, working with my Uncle Ray. 

The typewritten interpetation will follow in my next blog.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Michael and Elizabeth

Reviewing my mother notes, taken from the "History of the Estate" by Stephen Flynn Jr.   Elizabeth, Daniel Dunlae's daughter married my Great Great Grandfather Michael Flynn.  My mother states she was told as a child, he was a tailor and shipbuilder.  It was said that Michael did not need written plans in order to build a ship and among the clothes which he made, were those for children.

Michael and Elizabeth settled on the South side of Harbour Main ( water side ), as fishing was the main source of livelihood.  The property that was the residence of the late Stephen Flynn Jr in Lake View, was first used as a winter residence by Michael and Elizabeth, but when the main highway went through it became the permanent reside.

Michael and Elizabeth had a family of seven; five girls and two boy, Catherine, Josephine, Sarah, Louisa, Mary, Stephen and Thomas.  Thomas, it states died at a young age. Stephen is my great grandfather. Stephen was born 1845, Louisa-1847, Sarah-1854.

In 1994, a request was sent to Sts Peter and Paul Parish in Harbour Main for information on Michael and Elizabeth from my mother Mary, she did this to help my son Brian with his Special Interest Project for school. A response was received stating they only had baptismal and marriage records ( no death records were ever kept) that start in May 1857. They had no record of Michael, what so ever, only Elizabeth and the information from the grave marker.  The baptismal and marriage registers from 1833 to 1857 for this area are lost forever as they were burnt in a church fire at Brigus and as far as they know no other records exists anywhere, and it was probably during that time period that Michael and Elizabeth were married and their children were born.

This information is very disappointing, at least I know why I can not find what I was looking for.  Uncle Ray told me that he remembers a story he was told, about four Flynn brothers who came from Ireland, all settling in different parts of Newfoundland. Was Michael Flynn one of those brothers or were the brothers from the previous generation? The search continues!

      History of Saints Peter and Paul Roman catholic Parish Church - Hr. Main

"A Sod Type Hut"

Viking Sod Hut (1)

"A Sod Type Hut", just imagine living in a sod hut, what that would be like, especially in Newfoundland!  I think I would be outside as much as possible, for sure.  I can though, imagine a sod hut being built into the side of the mountain, with the protruding rock as the back wall. Aunt Agnes told me, that as children they would call the mountain "The Goats House" because of the mini cave-like indentions in the rock,  where the goats would take shelter from the rain.

 If Daniel Dunlae did live in such a dwelling on Flynn's Hill, realistically I may never find any paperwork stating so, because of the time period. I have searched the Grand Banks Newfoundland Genealogy site for the name Dunlae and its possible variations, without success. I will keep searching, and for now believe that it is possibly the truth.

    Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Things to Do, Tips by BwanaBrown

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Beginning of Flynn's Hill

According to a handwritten statement from my grandfather Stephen Flynn Jr., entitled
"History of the Estate", the first settler on the Flynn land was an Irish man named Daniel Dunlae. (Spelling is not certain) With his daughter Elizabeth, he emigrated to Newfoundland around the year 1817.  Elizabeth was eight years old at the time and her mother had died just before the trip.

Daniel is said to have lived at the "foot of the mountain", at the southwest corner of what was Flynn's land in a sod type hut.

At this time, I am unable to find any documentation to support this statement, only the written pages from my grandfather. It does state that Elizabeth married Michael Flynn and settled on the south side of Harbor Main, waterside, as the fishing was the main source of living at that time, they also cleared a large piece of land and grew vegetables and raised cattle.

 I do have a photo of Elizabeth Dunlae Flynn's headstone, which is located in Chapel's Cove Cemetery near Harbour Main.  My Aunt Agnes informed me recently that her father Stephen had made a wooden cross to mark the graves of his grandmother Elizabeth, his brother Thomas and his own son Michael. Her brother George (My Uncle George) then had a headstone erected to preserve this information.  This photo is from my mother's collection.

According to the headstone, Elizabeth Dunlae Flynn died in 1900 at the age of 91.  There is no record of Michael Flynn at any of the surrounding cemeteries.  I have found a handwritten release of land written from Stephen Flynn Sr in 1884 dividing the land with his four sisters. That would mean Micheal, his father died before 1884.

Sometimes researching ancestry only leads to more questions. Did the land that Daniel Dunlae built his sod hut on belong to the Flynn's or was Daniel the first on that land and then gave it to Michael and Elizabeth when they married?  And where is Michael Flynn buried? I have hit a brick wall with Micheal Flynn with no birth or death record.  A trip to Newfoundland is definitely in order.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

History of Newfoundland

Flynn's Hill is located in Lakeview District Harbour Main, Conception Bay, Newfoundland Canada on the Avalon Peninsula.

Newfoundland and Labrador has a long and colourful history.  In Fact, there isn't a rock, cliff, tree or cave around there with out a legend attached. Dating back 9,000 years ago, the Maritime Archaic Indians made Newfoundland their home.  As there's evidence of the oldest discovered burial mound in North America.

Leif Ericksson and his crew of Vikings landed on the Northern Peninsula in 1000 AD.  Although they didn't settle permanently they left their mark on this part of the world - L'Anse Aux Meadows.  Around 1497, when Italian-born Giovanni Caboto-known as John Cabot dropped anchor in Bonavista and "Discovered" the New World.

During the 16th and 17th centuries fisherman from France, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and eventually England arrived to feed on the fish of Newfoundland and Labrador. Most of the early settlers came from Southwest England and southeast Ireland, with the majority emigrating between 1750 and 1850 prior to the Great Irish Famine. (3)

It is during the above mentioned time period, that the first settler to Flynn's Hill arrived around 1817.

Before 1949, Newfoundland had a history as a British colony, Britain's "Grand Cod Fishery of the Universe", eventually becoming equal to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand as a full Dominion of the British Empire.  Newfoundland and Labrador joined Canada on 31 March 1949. (4)

     Map of Harbour Main, Canada,, 11/7/2011

     Map of HarbourMain, Canada, North America - Collins Maps, 11/8/2011

     History - Newfoundland and Labrador - 9000 AD - Present,, 11/7/2011


Sunday, November 6, 2011

I Dedicate My First Post to My Mother

Learning the story of Flynn's Hill began for me when I was just old enough to remember.  My Mother Mary Bridget Flynn Dollen was always telling us about her family, her father Stephen Flynn Jr., her mother Ellen Mary Tobin Flynn, her brothers and sisters, George, Agnes, Rosella and Raymond. Although she was thousands of miles away from home she shared many stories of growing up in Harbour Main, Newfoundland, Canada, that we felt as if we really knew them and as if we were there on Flynn's Hill.

My mother's life began on Flynn's Hill on March 23rd 1929, she is the oldest of five children. This photo is of my mother Mary and her father Stephen, taken the summer of 1930.

My Mom is unable to share the stories with us any longer because of Alzhiemers, I am so grateful for the fact that she did, so I can pass on this family history.  My mother had a strong sense of family, she loved history, english and writing.  So in her honor I will attempt to write the stories of Flynn's Hill.