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.