Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Visit with Great "Uncle Martin", Part 2

When my cousin Joe went to see Uncle Martin in 1993, Uncle Martin was 93 years old at the time. Joe found him living in a nursing home in Nassau County, Long Island New York. He had heard the story of Uncle Martin growing up in Lakeview Harbour Main and wanted to talk with him about his life and about his older brother Michael, Joe's grandfather. Uncle Martin had been away from Newfoundland for a long time,  but he was the last living relative of Joe's grandfather's generation.

Joe told me, as he entered the nursing home he remembers seeing an elderly man in a wheelchair near the front door. He was wearing a "Salt and Pepper" Cap and red flannel shirt, they said hello and Joe proceeded down the hallway to the Nurse's station and asked where he could find Martin Flynn.  The nurse took Joe back to were he came in, to the man with the "Salt and Pepper" Cap and red flannel shirt.( The "Salt and Pepper" Cap is a traditional cap worn by Newfoundland hard working men.)

After explaining who he was, Joe began his visit with Great Uncle Martin.  Uncle Martin recalled his early years as a young man when he first came to America.  "I came to Sydney, Great Britain, from there I went to Halifax, came across the boarder from my brother Pat, who lived in Hamilton Ontario, where I worked for about a year and came away with one of his children."  later in the conversation, Uncle Martin states that he was in Bell Island for a while, mentions Labrador and that he "moved around a lot" before coming the States. Being 93 years old, it was a little difficult at times for Uncle Martin to summons the exact details of certain times of his life, overall he did very well and as Joe described "He was a pleasant old man, full of stories about home."

Joe asked, " What did you do? Where you an Iron Worker?
Uncle Martin replied, "Yes, when I started out, see that Water Tower over there? I worked on that, back in the day you worked long hours, 10-12 hours a day, not like they do today! When I came to the States, I had about 18 - 19 dollars, that was a lot of money back then". Uncle Martin went on to say, he was a steel climber, and when asked if he was afraid of heights, he replied, "No, I wasn't afraid of heights, Oh No! I wasn't afraid of anything like that!,  My brothers would say, Jesus Christ, you shouldn't do that, you might fall off." Uncle Martin then laughed.

Uncle Ray shared the story he was told as a young boy, that Uncle Martin went off to WWI at a very young age, too young to join the war and that he never returned to Newfoundland.  When Joe asked Uncle Martin about being in WWI, at first he did not have any recollection. Joe asked," Were you in the war? there was a long pause, Uncle Martin's response was a question, "War?" another long pause followed, you could tell he was really thinking back in time, Joe, "You were too young, so you didn't go to war?, Uncle Martin, "No", Another pause, " I do remember something!, I was up through the Dardanelles, I can't seem to get it all together."  Joe, "That was near Turkey?, So you were in the War!" Uncle Martin replied, "I believe I was".

In 1915, during WWI, the Western Allies sent a massive invasion force of British, Indian, Australian, and new Zealand troops to attempt to open up the Dardanelles Strait which connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara in Northwestern Turkey. [1]  Uncle Martin was part of the British Forces and was 15 years old at the time.

Imagine trying to recall something that happen 80 years prior!  I think experiences like war and hardship can sometimes be pushed to far corners of our memory. The story fits the unidentified photo I found in the Flynn Family Photo Collection and also is a fit to the story my Uncle Ray was told as a young boy about his Uncle Martin.


 [1]  "Dardanelles", Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Visit with Great "Uncle Martin"

This story actually began twenty years ago in 1993,
Philip Martin Flynn "Uncle Martin"
1993, Nassau, New York
when my 2nd cousin Joe Flynn, who was living in the United States at the time, decided he wanted to find his Great Uncle Martin and meet him. Joe was interested in learning more about his Grandparents Michael Flynn and Catherine "Kitty" Kent who both had died at a young age of Typhoid Fever, leaving behind five young children, and thought Uncle Martin might be able to share some information about his older brother Michael.  Joe had heard of Uncle Martin as a child growing up in Lakeview Harbour Main, but had never met him. So Joe contacted my mother Mary, who was living in Illinois and asked her if she knew how to get a hold of Uncle Martin. Now, my mother was the right person for him to ask, for if she did not know where Uncle Martin was, she would surely find out how to get a hold of him.  My mother was always one to stay in touch with family, it was just how she was.

Joe found Uncle Martin in Nassau, New York, with my mother's help and tape recorded his visit for his father, William. A Christmas Card was sent that year to thank my mother for her help and Joe described Uncle Martin as a "Pleasant Old Man full of stories about home, and states that his Dad really enjoyed the tape." My mother saved this Christmas Card and I came across it six years ago, while moving her to a new place. I had just started researching the Flynn Family History and thought the card was very interesting, so I put it aside in hopes of one day finding my 2nd cousin Joe Flynn and possibly hearing the stories on this tape.

So I put the word out, and the message was passed along that I was looking for Joe, and sure enough I found him!  Joe sent me my own copy of the tape this past May!  Joe described his visit with Uncle Martin on the telephone and in person during my recent visit to Newfoundland.  He was concerned that the tape did not have the stories I was looking for, stories of how the Flynn's came to Lakeview Harbour Main, Newfoundland from Ireland. And, although that is true, the stories from Uncle Martin, just hearing his voice are a Real Treasure!

I will share some of the stories from Uncle Martin in my next Blog Entry!

                           Thanks Joe!                     

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Thomas Flynn

Chapel's Cove Cemetery
Newfoundland, Canada
My second Great Grandparents Michael Flynn and Elizabeth Dunlea  had seven children, the oldest, my Great Grandfather Stephen Sr. 1845, five daughters, Louisa 1847, Mary 1848, Josephine 1850, Catherine 1852,, Sarah 1854 and the youngest son Thomas 1856.
According to my grandfather's notes (Stephen Jr.), he states that the youngest son Thomas "died at a young age", there was no further information about Thomas to be found until recently, when I came across an entry for a Thomas Flynn on the Newfoundland Grand Banks Genealogy Site under Cemetery Listings for St Peter and Paul Roman Catholic in Chapels Cove, NL.

A reference of Thomas Fling (Flynn) is also found about 2/3's of the way into the 125th Anniversary Book of St Peter and Paul Parish of Harbour Main, Chapel's Cove, Lakeview Newfoundland, under First recorded Baptism 1857 noting a daughter Mary Bridget Fling in 1882 and a son James Patrick Fling in 1887 to a Thomas Fling and Mary Quinlan.

The photo shown on the left is not very clear but is of Mary Quinlan Fling and her daughter Mary Bridget Fling (Flynn) (Fewer) circa 1900.

In my recent trip to Newfoundland, while exploring the Chapel's Cove Cemetery, I found the Headstone for Thomas and Mary Flynn.  The dates and age of death seem to match the time frame for being my great grandfather's younger brother.  Not far from Thomas and Mary Flynn was their daughter, Mary Bridget (Flynn) Fewer's Headstone, as well.

I believe, the note made by my grandfather of Thomas Flynn was intended to be related to his own brother Thomas who died at age 18, in 1903 not about his Uncle Thomas.  I discussed this possibility with my second cousin Joe Flynn a couple of months ago and he agreed with my conclusion. I did find other siblings of my great grandfather's, sisters Louisa and Sarah buried in the Chapel's Cove Cemetery.

Recently, I received a message from a Laurie Bollard, who is looking for information about her grandmother Mary Flynn from Chapel's Cove, stating she thinks there is a connection to the Fewer's.

So Laurie, maybe this information is helpful, please let me know if it is. And if it is, then we are related!  Send me your e-mail so we can talk further.

Monday, July 1, 2013

My Trip Home

"Me" at the top of Signal Hill
St John's, Newfoundland Canada
It will be two weeks tomorrow, that I have been back from my month long trip home to Newfoundland Canada.  I have spent most of that time trying to get caught up on all the things that did not have my attention while I was away, especially my vegetable garden!  I can say now, after two weeks," It is almost there!"  Lesson learned - next time I will hire someone to tend to it while I am away!

Spending the last 2 weeks in my garden though, has given me time to think, process and absorb all the incredible, amazing experiences I had during my trip home.
My 2013 Vegetable Garden
Silver Lake, WI

Visiting with relatives, old and new, some I had never met before, hearing their stories, tasting traditional Newfoundland dishes, climbing the Great Hill (mountain) behind my grandparents old house, and of course, the music, songs and laughter.

I felt extremely welcomed in each and every place I stayed and visited! I felt very much a part of the Flynn Family!

 But I also realized, that there is so much I do not know of my Newfoundland Heritage and Culture.

My trip was exciting, informative, intriguing and at times, exhausting!  I was challenged a bit by the Newfoundland accent and their expressions especially with it being so long since I had been home. ( 26 years).  My relatives were patient, understanding but found me amusing in my repetitive questioning of what they were saying.  After asking where I was from, a second cousin acknowledged that he should speak slowly for me! My response was "Yes!, Please do!"

So, I have many stories and photos to share of my trip, and will be doing so in the next few weeks on my Flynn Family History Blog.  But first there were a couple of entries I did not have time to post before I left in May.  I will post them so that they do not get lost or overlooked.

Thank you so very much! to All My Flynn Family Relatives for making my visit memorable and for welcoming me into your homes and your hearts. I hope to stay in touch and get back home soon!