Friday, 12 February 2010

The Cleveland Ohio connection


Aunt Nell from Cleveland, Ohio


Blimey! The power of the internet heh?

I'd like to thank a gentleman in Lincolnshire named Jamie Evans for contacting me in regards to his descendants who may be related to the Flynn side of our family tree.

The Flynns are ancestors of my paternal great grandmother

Geoff Millington (my dad) --- Florence Millington, nee. Clayton (Nanny Mill) --- Mary Clayton nee. Finn (Great Granny Clayton) --- Bridget Finn nee. Flynn (G-G-Grandmother)

The Flynns arrived in Birmingham probably in the mid to late 1850s from Galway in Ireland. They settled in Newtown and my great great grandmothers brothers and sisters seemed to all marry other local people, some being other Irish migrant families but some local Birmingham people.

There is a strong story in the family, which I heard from my aunty Kath who grew up in the 1920s in Ladywood that some of the Flynn family went to live in Cleveland, Ohio in the early part of the 20th century. The story goes that a family photo of a nun was someone named Aunt Nell who was one of the people in Ohio.

Below are sections of Jamie's recent emails (reproduced with his permission) and even in this past week he has made progress in getting more information:

Dear Pete,

I have just found your family web site, it has answered a question that I have been trying to answer for over 30 years of searching my family history!!!!!!!!!!!!! the wonders of the internet!!! I am over the moon, I really am!!

My grandfather John Walter WALTON, died in August 1918 after service in the1st WW, his close friend was JOHN FINN or FLINN, in 1915, my grandfather lived at 4 Court/1 Weaman Street, my mother was born at 4 Court back 7 Weaman Street in 1913.

Living at 3 Court back of 1 Weaman Street was John FLINN with his wife Catherine, the families were apparently very close, because they both moved to Coventry Street, Digbeth in about 1917, where my grandparents lived at 74 and John and Catherine FLINN lived at 75.(next door then) They were still there in the Voters Register of 1920. Members of my family lived at this same house until it was demolished in the late 60's.

My mother always called Catherine FLINN 'our nan' and thought a lot of her and the help they gave after her father died, she said that things were really hard after the war for everyone and people had to share everything.

Apparently in about 1920, John and Catherine FLINN, don't know of any children, left Birmingham to live in CLEVELAND, OHIO!!!!

My grandmother now a widow, left her 4 daughters in Birmingham and in 1922, she sailed from Liverpool on the SS Olympic the sister ship to the Titanic, to visit the FLINNS in Cleveland Ohio, she is recorded as entering the USA on the Ellis Island web site.

She must have enjoyed herself because she stayed for about 6 months and on returning to Birmingham, immediately arranged to take her children back to Cleveland, however as they were boarding the boat at Liverpool, the grandmother of the children, the mother of John WALTON took an injuction out and had the children removed from the ship, so they never made it to the USA. Otherwise I would have been a yank!!

My mother told me about the FLINNS often and how they keep in touch with her mother until her death in 1935, the family returned to Birmingham and they all lived there until their deaths, then with her sister for some time after, who apparently visited them in the late 60's but I never had any further details, until I read your blog tonight.

Are you in contact with any of the family in Cleveland Ohio?

I am so happy, I thought I would never answer this question, wonderful news

I am retired and now live far away from Brum in Lincolnshire.

James Evans


Hi James


It's very exciting to hear from you, thanks for the email, which has some potentially fascinating information.

That's an interesting story about the grandmother taking the children off the ship! That would have been quite some incident and denotes that emotions were running high to say the least. It would be interesting to clarify whether the Flinns (or Flynns) were directly related. The other circumstances you describe would indicate that the ties were closer than neighbourly friendship.

There was a John Flinn / Flynn in my family tree who may have fitted the profile, he was the son of my g-g-grandmothers older brother Patrick. You'd have to dig around my family tree to spot him. But there could have been others I haven't picked up on yet.

I'll come back to you shortly James, but please feel free to expand. Do you mind if at some point I add your information to my website?

Pete Millington

p.s. the Cleveland Ohio connection is too much to be a coincidence isn't it? My aunty Kath who died a few years back but was born when my grandad Millington was in the army serving in India in 1922, was very specific about the fact that Flynns went to Cleveland and her story was that someone came to visit the Claytons (my fathers maternal great grandmother) in Ladywood from Ohio in about 1920-22 - Kath recalls this from anecdote passed to her later, as she was a baby in India in 1922 so her own parents missed this visit from Americans though it obviously had an impact. But the photo of the nun on my website was apparantly left by someone from Ohio on their visit and it has always been referred to as Aunt Nell in Cleveland. You'll find the photo if you search around my website.

There was also an American connection with the Finn family - my great grandmothers first cousin Mary Jane Finn and her husband Payne went to the States in the late 1800s and returned with enough money to establish a coach frim which started off as Danny Boy Coaches in Aston (note the Irish reference) but eventuially became know as Paynes Coaches.
 
Hi, Pete,
 
I am glad that you got my E mail, I was up to the early hours reading all your blog and all the info about the Flinns/Finns.


My mother who died in 1993, she always called them (John and Catherine) FINN.

Please use any of the information that you want, as without your information mine is worth nothing.

I have a copy of the Ellis Island reference to my grandmother entering the US, the date and ship if you want to put it on the website.

I am off to the local Library to research Ancestry to see if I can locate this JOHN FINN!!! Census and WW1 records!!

Speak soon,


Jamie Evans



Dear Pete,


Also you were right about a close relationship of the families, Walton/Finn, yesterday I found the original passenger manifest for the SS Olympic sailing from Southampton on 19th April 1922. My grandmother Martha Lilly Walton a widow is on there and she states that her next of kin is John Trim (obviously mis heard as FINN) living at 75, Covenrty Street, Birmingham described as her GRANDFATHER, this must be on her late husbands side, so some more digging needs to be done!!!! She states she is travelling to CLEVELAND, OHIO!!!! unfortunately she does not state to whom!! obviously that would make it to easy for us!!

Speak soon,

Jamie Evans



Thanks for this Jamie


The 1922 date of sailing is interesting and would tie in with the story in my family that someone visited my great grandmother Mary Clayton nee. Finn in about 1922 with the news of people in Ohio and the photo of the nun (see my website).

I am fairly certain about the year 1922 because my grandparents were in India which is where my aunt was born in 1922 and when they came home they learnt that the Ohio visitors had been to visit my g-granny Mary Clayton in their absence. Though I have no details of who the visitor(s) was.

Mary Clayton was the oldest of the Finn children (her mother was dead by then - Bridget Flynn) so Mary was very much a matriarchal sort of woman who people went to as the centre of the extended family.

So it makes sense that if your granny returned to Birmingham from Cleveland to collect her daughters - she would have visited Mary Clayton in Ladywood to give her news of ... I guess it would have been Mary's uncle and aunt or cousin (need to work that one out!!)

When you said the name Trim, my heart sank thinking we are talking about an entirely different person, but I see what you mean about it being misheard, this sort of error was extremely common, and one can imagine trying to get on a boat in those days was probably a hectic affair with people queuing up in ports etc. So that wouldn't be an issue for us to worry about.

So, the plot thickens Jamie. You are making great progress!

Speak soon.


Pete

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