The forgotten Aunt Fannie

Growing up, I remember hearing my paternal Grandmother Ann and her sisters saying there were six girls and one boy. Their mother had six daughters and one son. However, my research shows there was one more girl living in their childhood home .

I found evidence of Grand Aunt Fannie’s birth online at wvculture.org. The online repository stores Birth, Death and Marriage documents. It is a free database to research your West Virginia ancestors. The West Virginia Birth registry recorded her birth as April 25th, 1917, Mildred Frances Ford. I learned two interesting details of Aunt Fannie’s birth from this document. First, my Great-Grandfather’s Willard’s middle initial. It’s the letter G. Secondly, it includes the doctor’s name, Dr. G.S. Gouchenour who assisted in the delivery. I wonder if Aunt Fannie was the first doctor-assisted delivery for Great-grandma Sallie, because in 1915 Sallie delivered Aunt Mary Jane herself. Go, Granny. Go!

Apr. 25th 1917 Ford, Mildred Frances "C"  colored.
West Virginia, Births Index, 1804-1938
wvculture.org
West Virginia, Births Index, 1804 – 1938, wvculture.org

Fannie lived her most of her life in Moorefield, West Virginia. Three census records from the 1920s -1940s chronicle her whereabouts. Fannie first appears as Mildred with the middle initial F, at age two. When Fannie is twelve years old, the census lists her as M. Francis. At 17, she married Richard James Rowe. The newlyweds lived with his mother. It looks like she has chosen her middle name as her first name. She is Francis M. Rowe in the 1940 census.

Richard became sailor when he enlisted in the Navy in October of 1940. I can imagine the couple sharing a tearful good-bye when he departed to serve our country. Rowe participated in the critical World War II battles against the Japanese in the Pacific Ocean. He may have entertained the thought that he would leave their marriage first by being a causality. WWII was one of the deadliest military conflicts.

Before Richard left to serve, the family migrated from the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia to the Queen City of Maryland, where her older brother, Charles owned a Rooming House. The couple lived in that house on North Mechanic Street. While Richard was at war, Aunt Fannie became ill and died at Memorial Hospital in Cumberland, Maryland. She was only 27 years old.

I titled this blog entry, “The Forgotten Aunt Fannie,” but I realized Aunt Fannie is not forgotten. She has a namesake. Her sister Mary Jane graced her only daughter with the name, Mildred. Aunt Mary Jane and Mildred Francis ( Aunt Fannie) were two years apart in age. I have known my cousin Mildred since childhood. I didn’t know her name was out of honor of an aunt whose life was short-lived.

Here’s Aunt Fannie’s obituary that appeared in the Cumberland Times. The obituary has many family names inaccuracies. I am beginning to think this obituary started with six daughters and one son. Fannie was the first sibling to pass. It describes her survivors as six sisters and one brother. Her parents’ names are incorrect, Willard and Sallie Method. Method is Sallie’s maiden name. Not all of her sisters were married at this time. Aunt Helen was still single. My Grandma Anna Mae and her sister, Edna were single parents at the time of their sister’s death.

Look at the fancy N-word.
Cumberland Evening Times
Cumberland, Maryland
Wed, Nov 01, 1944 · Page 9
Look at the fancy N-word. Cumberland Evening Times, Nov. 01, 1944 page 9

Even though Aunt Fannie died in Maryland she is buried in her hometown. Her grave marker doesn’t include her name Mildred at all. I know it’s my aunt’s grave because her husband’s name is on her tombstone.

Oak Hill Cemetery, Moorefield, WV. Photo Credit: Jeff on FindAGrave.com

Thank you for stopping by. What discoveries have you made in your family research? Did you have any ancestors who fought in WWII? Do you have any name-changers?

If you enjoyed reading my family history and curious about your family stories, but need help and direction in research. Contact me Cousin Tammy at diggin4myroots.com.

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