Third Great-Aunt Frances A. (“Fanny”) White: Getting Younger

Frances A. White, commonly called Fanny (or Fannie), was born, I believe, in 1846 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. She was the oldest daughter and fourth child of Job R. and Elizabeth Phoebe White.

Fanny seems to be the first of her family to immigrate to the United States, though I’m not sure of those circumstances. On July 8, 1868 she married Harmon S. Burns in Lynn, Massachusetts at the age of 22. Harmon S. Burns was an older widower who was born in Vermont around 1828. Like so many people in Lynn, he worked in the shoemaking industry. Their marriage being the first record where I find Fanny’s name and age, I have calculated her birth year to be approximately 1846. As time went on, as we shall see, Fanny seemed to shave a few years off her age!

The 1870 Census shows Fanny and Harmon living in Lynn with his adult son Alfred and her sister Jennie, as well as border Lizzie Clark. Fanny had not aged at all in two years, as her age here was 22.

The 1870s proved to be a difficult time for the Burns. Three children were born and later died during this decade:

  • Roseanna Blanche, born July 1, 1871; died August 8, 1878 of scarlet fever
  • Estella Elizabeth, born March 4, 1874; died December 8, 1874 of spinal meningitis
  • Harmon S., Jr., born February 3, 1876; died August 23, 1878 of scarlet fever

Fanny only appears to have aged 10 years by the 1880 Census, where she and Harmon are living along at 27 Cedar Hill Avenue in Lynn. However, they were not alone for long. On May 2, 1882, daughter Lena M. was born (the register of births shows her as unnamed). On May 6, 1884, daughter Elsie F. was born. I’m sure these daughters brought their parents much joy in the aftermath of their siblings’ deaths.

By 1900, the Burns family and lodger Everett Kent were living at 38 Cedar Hill Avenue. (Fanny aged only 15 years since 1880!) They moved there around 1889 and if my calculations are correct, they would have been next door neighbors to Fanny’s sister Jennie and the Colomy family during Bertha’s trouble with Percy St. Clair.

The next few years brought many changes for the family. On March 11, 1901, Harmon died of gangrene. He was buried at Pine Grove Cemetery at Public Lot-4, Section-22. On November 6, 1902, Lena died of tuberculosis. She, too, was buried at Pine Grove at Moss Path, Lot-692. The following year on January 3, Elsie had married James L. McNichol. That marriage did not last, as they were no longer together as of 1910. And on August 29, 1908 at the ripe old age of 44 (losing three years over the past eight), Fanny married 40-year-old divorced Edward H. Ives.

By the 1910 Census, Edward, Fanny and Elsie moved to 30 Dana Street in neighboring Revere (where Fanny did gain the necessary two years to become “46”). Later that year, on October 26, Elsie married William Younie in Boston. They eventually had a daughter (Bernice Elsie) and a son (William, Jr.). Sadly on February 25, 1917, Elsie died of a cerebral hemorrhage and was buried in Pine Grove (location unknown at this time). Once again, Fanny buried one of her children, this being her last. To add insult to injury, Edward died of a cardiac lesion that year on October 7.

I can’t be 100% sure that I have found Fanny in the 1920 Census. There is only one “Fannie A. Burns” in Massachusetts, who was an inmate in the Westborough State Hospital (a mental hospital). She was listed as married and age 61. Her parent information is not correct, but perhaps whoever put Fanny there did not give the hospital that information. In any case, I have to wonder if Fanny may have been committed there in light of all the tragedies she faced in her lifetime.

Fanny herself lived five more years, passing away in April 1925. Although I am not sure of where Edward Ives was buried, I do know that Fanny is buried next to her daughter Lena in Pine Grove Cemetery. According to Find a Grave, her age at death is 66 years old, which does line up with the “Fannie” in the 1920 Census. So how old was she at death, really? I say she was probably 78 years old.


Great-Great Grandmother Jane “Jennie” White

Jane E. White (just about always called Jennie) was born circa 1855 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia to Job R. and Elizabeth Phoebe White.  She was the youngest daughter and second youngest child out of a total of eight children.  Her older siblings were:  Edgar Douglas, William Faulkner, John David, Frances A., Milton K. (later James M.) and Mary Roberts.  Her younger brother was Theodore W.

Previously thought to be a picture of Bertha, the identified time points to it being Jennie.  Courtesy Deb Thompson Colomy.

Previously thought to be a picture of Bertha, the identified time points to it being Jennie. Courtesy Deb Thompson Colomy.

It appears that most of the White family immigrated to the United States in the late 1860’s to live in Lynn, Massachusetts.  For some reason, Jennie lived apart from her parents, with her sister Fanny and brother-in-law Harmon Burns, in 1870.  Perhaps that was close to her job as a machine stitcher (probably in the shoe making industry).

On January 17, 1873 Jennie married John Williams, who also worked in the shoe making business (maybe they worked together?).  Their married life was very short-lived however.  John contracted consumption and died on July 21, 1873.

As I wrote here, Jennie and her sister Mary found themselves pregnant and on October 11 1875 married Frank L. Colomy and John M. Goodwin respectively.  This pregnancy resulted in my great-grandmother Bertha.  On October 28, 1878 Edwin Scott was born and on January 4, 1883 Jennie gave birth to an unnamed stillborn son.

From we’ve seen from Frank’s frequent absences, Jennie functioned basically as a single mother much of the time.  When the children were young, she took in boarders, and as we saw here, she relied on Bertha to supplement the family income.  It is no surprise that Jennie and Frank were divorced by 1900.

Eventually Jennie found love again.  On July 24, 1901, she married James Starbard, a widower and a shoe trimmer.  Like Jennie, this was his third marriage.  Jennie moved to James’ home at 63 Autumn St.

James and Jennie were married ten years when James died of nephritis on November 23, 1911.  It seems that her son Edwin lived with her and James during this time, and later just with Jennie from 1914 until her death on December 28, 1915.  Like James, she also died of nephritis.  Both James and Jennie were buried in Pine Grove.

James and Jennie Starbard gravestone.  Author's collection.

James and Jennie Starbard gravestone. Author’s collection.