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February 4, 2009

Another Genealogical Mystery Solved

This photo was taken in Ramsgate Kent England in April 1906. It is one my grandmother Fuller gave me many years ago, of her brother Frank at age 16.

Grandma always told me that her little brother drowned in Ramsgate Harbour at the age of 18 and that was why she herself was terrified of the ocean and never swam. In fact when I was a little girl and went to stay with her one summer, she would only let me have about 1 inch of water in the bathtub!

I never thought to question Grandma's story.... but on looking through Doris' Genealogy Box I spotted a receipt in the name of Ernie Simpson.
It was dated August 1, 1908 from F. W. Matthews, Funeral Director in Toronto Ontario (Canada) and showed a $40.00 bill paid for "Funeral Furnishings and Services" for the "late Frank W. Simpson" This was Grandma's brother Frank!

Further searching turned up an earlier receipt dated July 24, 1908 from St. James Cemetery in Toronto for $4.00 paid for "...the ground of North Grave Lot 134, Block C, Ravine" in the cemetery.

Realizing this must be for Frank's burial I searched Vital Statistics for Ontario and found Frank's death certificate.

Grandma's brother Frank Simpson died of appendicitis in St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto Ontario on 22 July 1908 at the age of 18, he did not drown in Ramsgate Harbour. I think now that Grandma made up the death by drowing story to cover her own fear of the water and to keep her grandchildren cautious when around water.

A search of Ships Passenger Lists revealed that Frank arrived in Quebec Canada in May 1907 on board the ship Southwark. 14 months later he was dead.

When I was a teenager Grandma gave me a book The Blacksmith of Boniface Lane that Frank had won for perfect attendance in the Cavendish Baptist Sunday School in Ramsgate in October 1902.

Frank was 13 years old and I don't think he ever read the book as it is in perfect condition.

But I treasure it as a memento of the brother who meant so much to my grandmother. I would never have known the true story of Frank's death nor where he is buried, had it not been for different preservers saving documents. And if it were not for my Grandmother giving me Frank's book and photograph, I would not have been able to piece together a little visual tribute to Frank's memory.

1 comment:

Taylorstales-Genealogy said...

Another great mystery solved thanks to some terrific "detective" work and persistence on your part. Congratulations, are you doing the "genealogy dance?" Thanks for sharing friend.