Saturday, March 7, 2015

Agnes Irons Faulkner: The Grandmother I Never Knew (52 Ancestors #9)

Agnes Irons Faulkner was my father's mother. I only know her through the few pictures he had of her. She died when my dad was in High School. By the time I was born my grandfather had remarried and for most of my childhood I never really gave it any thought that my grandma was not my dad's mother.

I still don't know much about her. I'm embarrassed to say I never really took the time to piece her life together and get to know her. I have been so busy chasing brick walls that I have neglected ancestors closer to home. I'm rectifying that now.

The Irons Clan - baby Agnes at center
Agnes Elizabeth Irons was born 7 Sept 1902 in Chicago IL.  Her father was a fire chief for the Chicago Fire Department, her mother a housewife. The Irons family was a large, fun-loving clan, based on photographs I have in my possession. They were second generation Americans, having immigrated from Scotland in the 1850's. The family built quite a successful plumbing business in the small but growing city of Chicago IL.  I plan to explore the exploits of grandpa Irons in a future post.

Agnes had one younger brother, Harry, who was a pretty obsessed family historian in his lifetime.

But I digress.

I have allowed myself the week to dig up anything I could on my grandmother. I poured through the box of mementos my dad had, I checked out as many online repositories as I could think of, I turned up very little. And now my time is up.

For now .....

So I will report what I have been able to find, and leave the door wide open for more exploration in the future, the very near future!

Agnes as a teen
Agnes grew up on Irving Av in Chicago's 26th Ward. She attended Hamilton Grammar School, graduating with a diploma June 23, 1916. She completed a two year stenography course at Robert A Waller High School, graduating on January 30, 1920. She Graduated from Carl Schurz High School June 26, 1925 with a diploma, having completed a four year "Commercial Course". I did not get to investigate these document further, but I plan to. I am very curious what she was studying!

Agnes married my grandfather, L. L. Faulkner sometime between Sept 1928 and Aug 1929, based on the 1930 census. I have been unable to find any record of marriage in the city of Chicago, or any wedding announcement. Perhaps they eloped, but that seems unlikely based on Agnes' large family and all the photographs I have of her and her family. Plus, they were Catholic and I just can't imagine a prominent successful family not throwing a big wedding for their only daughter. Curiously, in looking at the photos again this week I did not find one single wedding photo. Not one.

By 1934 the Faulkner's has moved to the sleepy little suburb of Western Springs IL and my father
Agnes in her 30's
was born in November of that year. He was to be their only child. My father always said that his mother was "sickly", which might explain the reason he was the only child.

On October 12 1950 Agnes Irons Faulkner passed away. She was only 48. My father was a Sophomore in High School. I have found an obituary but no death certificate. I was told she had a "heart condition" but I do not know the actual cause of death.

Agnes is buried in Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Evanston IL with many of her kin.

When my father went away to college in 1954 my grandfather remarried, moved from the family home in Western Springs, and disposed of all the mementos of Agnes' life. My father learned of the move after the fact and was unable to recover any family heirlooms. The one box of photos and diplomas I now have in my possession are all that is left of this smiling, vibrant woman I never knew.

Gone are the marriage certificate, the wedding ring, the photos of the couple together. It's as if my grandfather erased his life with her when he remarried. Sadly, I will never know the answers. My grandfather never spoke of Agnes, and when the woman who I always thought was my grandmother passed away he never spoke of her, either. Nor did he speak of his third wife after she passed, but he did repeat the pattern of purging all traces of his coupled life.

Sadly, in 2007 Agnes' only child, my father, passed away.

So now, only the questions remain.

1 comment:

  1. How sad that your grandfather, in his grief, purged and destroyed all memories and memorabilia of a life with three women he loved and shared a life.

    Grief and we handle it is a funny thing.