Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: William D. Facer

Today's edition of Tombstone Tuesday features my paternal great-great-grandfather, William D. Facer. Born in Port Huron, St Clair, MI, between 1827-1833, depending on what census record or document you access, William was the fourth known child of Lewis Facer Sr. and Susan B. Baker's nine children.

Naming patterns in the Facer family have helped identify and link family members, which is helpful given the fact the surname of Facer has many variants, which I have referenced in past posts. Adding to the frustration is having to wade through the family legends surrounding my grandmother's maternal family line and prove these claims. Like most oral stories, these have been embellished along the way and in the face of documentation that discredits the stories, makes this genealogist a real kill-joy in the family circle.

Family legend claims William Facer's name was originally pronounced Frazarie. While given a french sounding twist to the name, I've located William's father, Lewis, with other variants but not Frazarie (no matter how impressive it may sound.) Consistent documentation shows Lewis's birth occurred in Ohio but probably during the time when Ohio was a part of Virginia. Another family legend states William was studying to become a priest but was never ordained. "When he discovered how badly the children were treated in the orphanages, he left the priesthood just short of his ordination."

I cannot document this claim - what is recorded is William was married three times, outliving all three of his wives, including my great-great-grandmother Elisabeth Hornby (1854-1894). William fathered 10 children with two of his three wives, but only three of these children survived infancy. The rest were victims of several influenza and diphtheria epidemics. What is of interest is a reference in a letter, author unknown, but in the possession of William and Elisabeth's daughter, Frances Facer Little, which were accidentally destroyed. The letter was written to either a family friend or another member of the family and referencing what sounds like some type of abuse. My speculation is that whatever occurred within the Facer family morphed into the family legend of William's discovery of children being treated badly in an orphanage.

William, a carpenter and painter by trade, immigrated from Port Huron with his daughter Frances, her husband Cyrus Austin Little, Frances's brother Burton Wellington and several of Cyrus's siblings including Elizabeth Little and her husband George Goldrick.

One of the Facer family legends that I have been able to document is that William was deaf. Whether this was a lifelong condition or one that occurred later on in his life is unknown; due to the fact there is no reference to his being deaf (cannot hear) on the 1880 census leads me to believe he lost his hearing after 1880.

William's death certificate, filed in the Oneida County Court House (Wisconsin), states W[illiam] D. Facer died on 10 July 1907 as a result of "an accident (railway) drowning." There was nothing in the obituary index for that day or any other time in 1907; a page by page search of the newspaper resulted in yet one more variation of the Facer surname:

Aniwa Man Killed At Rhinelander
Rhinelander, Wis., July 10 - Andrew Fisher, age 50, a carpenter and painter, was struck by Soo passenger train, No. 85, west bound this morning and knocked off a bridge into the Wisconsin river. The body was taken out a short distance below the bridge. His neck had been broken. His home was in Aniwa, Shawano County.

Buried with Willam Facer in the Aniwa Cemetery, Aniwa, Shawano County, WI, is A. C. Little and W. B. Little, the infant son of Cyrus and Frances Facer Little.

Copyright (c) 2010 Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski


Cher' Shots said...

Ciindy, Your family history stories are amazing. I love following them. Did you know we are shirt tail relation? My Great Aunt Marie was married to Ted Scherwinski.

Anonymous said...

Elizabeth's dates are wrong. We have 23/12/1854 to 05/4/1894.
She is sister to my g grandmother Rebecca.
Cindy King Sawyer


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