Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"The Rooms"

"The Rooms" Provincial Archives in St John's Newfoundland Canada
Dressed for Spring- in a Blanket of Bright Yellow Dandelions - May 2013

Before my trip to Newfoundland, I had done quite a bit of research on the Flynn Family History through family notes, stories, interviews with aunts and uncles and by scanning over old photographs.  My research lead to working on-line and learning about a place called "The Rooms" - Provincial Archives in St John's Newfoundland, Archives - Art Gallery - Museum.

With documents dating back to 1662, The Rooms Provincial Archives is the guardian of the historical record of the people, places and events of the oldest colony in North America.  Soaring into the skyline of historic St John's, The Rooms combines twenty-first century technology with a striking visual reference to our past.  It's unique design mirrors the "Fishing Rooms" where families came together to process their catch. [1]

The description above sounded perfect to this family historian/genealogist, I planned to spend some time here hoping to find some answers to my family history.  Shortly after getting settled in Newfoundland, I made my way to downtown St. John's to "The Rooms", a one time registration fee of 10 dollars, gave me access to their reference staff, to research archival resources and to be able to return how ever many times I would like, in my life time!

I met with an Archivist, who gave me an introduction and tour of the Research Indexes available.  He asked me several questions about what I was looking for, to help me get started and commented, he was surprise at how much I  already  knew.  I explained that I had been working on this project for the last 5 years!

Once acclimated, I filled out the Retrieval Request Form for the specific areas I knew my ancestors were from and got to work.  I found the atmosphere at "The Rooms" to be extremely inviting, comfortable and intriguing! There was so much information available!

What is a "Fishing Room"? you may ask, here is a description by Fred Pafford found on Gen Web NL

A fishing room was an area on the shoreline where a fisherman or a group of men landed their fish, kept their boats, stored their fishing property and built flakes to dry their fish.  It most often required the clearing of forest, building a shelter for storage of fish and material and a dock of some sort for their boats.  In the early years of Newfoundland fishery it was important to have such a place to return to each spring and not have to rebuild every year.

So a person's "room" was his shoreline property and quite valuable to him.  In some places every bit of useable shoreline was taken up and a male person wanting to go on his own would have to move to another cove or island to find a good landing area.  This was important enough that quite often a man from one community would marry into another area to get waterfront land for his "Fishing Room".

Hmm? I wonder? Did my Flynn Ancestors have a "Fishing Room"?

In my grandfather's notes, he states, "My grandfather, Michael Flynn married Elizabeth Dunlae and at that time settled on the south side of Harbour Main, waterside, as fishing was the main source of living at that time"……..….


[1]    The Rooms Provincial Archives, Connecting with the Past, Brochure

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mary Ellen Flynn 1887 - 1977

This past summer, I unexpectedly received a letter in the mail from a second cousin, Lorraine from Massachusetts.  She had found my Flynn Family History Blog and wanted to get in touch with me. Lorraine is a descendant of Mary Ellen Flynn (my grandfather's sister) and had information about her grandmother and also her Aunt Betty (Elizabeth Flynn).  Lorraine and I started corresponding via e-mail and I quickly learned I had the story of Mary Ellen Flynn incorrect.  I promised Lorraine, I would make corrections to the Blog regarding her grandmother.  Her story is as follows:

Mary Ellen Flynn (standing)
Elizabeth Flynn (sitting)
Mary Ellen Flynn was born December 15th, 1887 in Harbour Main, Newfoundland Canada.  She was the third child and the first daughter born to Stephen Flynn Sr. and Mary Ann Tubrett, making her my Great Aunt.

According to Ancestry.com, Mary Ellen arrived in MA in 1907 she was 20 years old at the time. (possibly when this photo was taken) Four years later, she married William J. Holden in 1911 in MA. He was from Salmonier, Newfoundland.

Lorraine states they had four children, all born in Newfoundland. So for some reason, after they were married in MA they returned home to Newfoundland and started a family.  Lorraine's mother Gertrude Agnes was born July 10, 1912, then George in 1914, Michael in 1917 and last William in Oct of 1919.

Shortly after William was born the family traveled back to MA to live (probably for work opportunities) , Lorraine states the family story passed down was that on their way to MA, "they threw the dirty diapers out the window of the train.".  She is thinking they arrived in Boston, MA sometime in the spring of 1920.  They had only been in MA for about six months when Mary Ellen's husband William Holden was struck by a truck and died.

I was able to find - U.S Records of Aliens Pre-Examied in Canada (again through Ancestry.com) dated 07/02/1920 of William Holden, his wife Mary Ellen and their four children.  It states they were coming from Bell Island, Newfoundland, Williams occupation is recorded as Machinist, destination East Boston, MA to the address of William's brother, James. They had 300 dollars in their pocket and that their purpose in coming to the states was for permanent residence. 

Lorraine shared that it was very difficult for her grandmother after her husband's death, she could not afford a burial plot for him but a relative offered her one, she believes he is buried in Needham, MA. Mary Ellen went to work as a cook for a wealthy family in the Boston Area.  Lorraine's mother Gertrude, being the oldest had to drop out of school at age 16, to help support the family.
Mary Ellen with grand daughter Lorraine
& Lorraine's father  Walter in 1946, MA
Some years later, by 1940, Mary Ellen remarried to William Morse who was from Newfoundland as well. He was also widowed and had 8 children.  When Mary Ellen's second husband passed away, she went to live with her daughter Gertrude and her family in Malden, MA. Lorraine states,  her grandmother was very dear to her.  Mary Ellen died Oct 6, 1977, two months before her 90th Birthday.  She is burried along side her sister Elizabeth, and 3 of her 4 children in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Everett, MA.

Lorraine expressed that her grandmother was a very strong woman, to raise four children on her own so far away from home and family, she feels that her life and experience growing up in Newfoundland is what made her so strong.

This is another heart-breaking story in the Flynn Family History,  Mary Ellen's father Stephen Flynn Sr also died that year on Oct, 5th 1920.

Thank You Lorraine for sharing Mary Ellen's story!

        Your Cousin, Elaine

Lt to Rt - Gertrude Agnes, Lorraine with son Michael, daughter Denise and Mary Ellen Flynn Holden Morse
Taken 1971 in Massachusetts 



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Stephen Flynn Sr's Family - Part 2

Stephen Flynn Sr.
Stephen Flynn Jr (7)

Mary Ellen Flynn (standing) (3)
Elizabeth Flynn (sitting) (6)
So,  here are seven of my Great Grandfather Stephen Flynn Sr.'s children, missing only second born, Thomas 
and of course my Great Grandmother MaryAnn Tubrett.
I have been in contact with some Tubrett Descendants from Holyrood, N.F.L.D., they will keep in mind my endevor for finding a photo of Mary Ann Tubrett as they talk with family members.  She died in 1930, so it is possible there is a photo of her somewhere. 

Michael Flynn (1)

Patrick Thomas Flynn (5)

Esther Flynn (4)

Philip Martin Flynn (8)

Thomas Flynn (2)
Chapels Cove Cemetery

Monday, January 6, 2014

Michael Flynn 1884 - 1916

Catherine Mary Kent Flynn
Michael Flynn 1884 - 1916

Michael Flynn was born 09/06/1884 in Lakeview Harbour Main/Chapels Cove, Newfoundland Canada.   He was the first of eight children born to Stephen Flynn Sr and Mary Ann Tubrett, making him my Great Uncle. He was named after his grandfather Michael Flynn who died the year he was born.

As a grown man he lived and worked on Bell Island, N.F.L.D., which is about 40 miles Northeast of Harbour Main, in Conception Bay.  He married Catherine Mary Kent born Sept, 1883 from Bell Island.  Her parents were William Kent and Ellen Grangel.  According to Baptismal Records of St Michaels Parish, BI found in the N.F.L.D. Grand Banks Genealogy Site, Catherine had a twin sister named Bridget Ann.

It is believed by Michael's descendants, that he worked in the Iron Ore Mine on Bell Island.  Michael died December 23rd, 1916 of Typhoid Fever, at the age of age 33 years. In my recent trip home to Newfoundland. I spoke with his grandchildren about this heartbreaking event in their family history. They shared with me that when Michael died, his wife "Kitty" was pregnant with their fifth child, she became very distraught and saddened, refusing to talk with anyone.

After Michaels death, the young family needed to be quarantined, for fear of the possibility that they too were infected. Food was delivered to the house and passed through the window to minimize exposure.  Men would be seen outside the house, kneeling in the snowbanks mourning and praying for the family.

Michael's wife did become sick with Typhoid Fever though and died 3 months after Michael, on March 29th, 1917, one month after giving birth to a daughter Catherine (or Kathleen?)  Their five children were cared for and raised by family members, 

Mary Ellen (Molly) age 8,  by George and Esther Lahey (Michael's sister)
William A. age 6, by Stephen Flynn Jr (Michael's brother)
Elizabeth age 4, by William and Susannah Kent ( Catherines brother)
Thomas age 3, and Catherine/Kathleen infant, by Daniel and Mary Ann Steele ( Catherines Aunt?) [1]

The above photo of Michael Flynn completes my search of Stephen Flynn Sr.'s children. The only photo that is missing is of Thomas Flynn 1885 - 1903 (second child) who is believed to have died of Typhoid Fever also.  Because he died at a young age, I do not believe there is a photo of him to be found.

Thank you, to my second cousin once removed, Maureen, who forwarded these photos of her Great Grandparents to me.


[1]   NL GenWeb 1921 Census Data, Avalon South Region - Conception Bay South District
        Bell Island Center Part 1