ANNA FAGAN FENTON - MARRIED YEARS - 1915-1931|
A studio portrait of Mike and Anna taken in Atlantic City, probably during the teens.
Snapshot taken in August 1924, possibly at the docks in Freeport, NY.
Anna Fagan's 1915 marriage to Michael Joseph Fenton, a man twenty years
her senior, was a short one. Mike died 15 years later.
But judging by the fact that Anna was still talking about him
years later wnen I knew her, it was a
happy period for her.
During my time, Anna kept Mike's favorite silver bottle opener
on a prominent shelf near the kitchen doorway
and we children knew this as "Uncle Mike."
Based on unsubstantiated information supplied in his transcript of death, Mike was born May 27, 1862 in Ireland. Sources vary as to his parents names, but his mother was Margaret Moore (or possibly Redmond) and his father was farmer Denis Fenton in the town of Midleton, County Cork, Ireland. (for known details of the FENTON family, see the background section.)
Mike arrived in the port of New York in April 1881. By 1887, when he was naturalized, he had found work as a porter and was living at 144 Madison Street on the lower east side. He had relatives living nearby from the beginning. Thomas Fenton (ca. 1840-1907), who may have been Mike's uncle, and who had immigrated around 1866, also lived on Madison Street. It was Thomas' marriage to younger Irish immigrant named Catherine Ahearn (ca 1856-1915) that produced Catherine (Fenton) Campbell, mother of the Campbell and Crowley lines, and John Fenton, who was a regular visitor to Shonnard Avenue.
Mike probably lived in Staten Island during some of the span of time between 1887 and 1905. The only clue I have found for that span is from Staten Island in 1905. Mike's name finally surfaces in 1907, when he took out his first listing in the Manhattan City Directories as an Attendant at Manhattan's Criminal Court. Until his 1915 marriage, you can trace his movement through a succession of lower east-side addresses. It was also in 1915 that his job listing changed to Chief attendant, Court General Session. Family legend says he was a prison warden - at what we now call "the Tombs", the criminal court building mentioned in the 1907 listing.
Anna and Mike, aged 33 and 52, were married July 3, 1915 at Saint Ann's Catholic church on 110 E. 12th St in Manhattan (this austere stone church is still there.) Witnesses were James D. Sheils and Anna Mullins ( * ). The Fentons spent their first four married years at 537 West 150th Street, a Manhattan apartment building. Matthew (and probably Mary) Fagan joined Mike and Anna on 150th Street after Matthew's stroke around October of 1917. During the years on 150th Street, Anna commuted to her her assignments in the Queens Public School system and to classes at CCNY. Mike commuted to his new job at the General Sessions Courthouse.
After 1919/20, when they bought the house in Freeport, they both continued to work in the city - Mike in Manhattan until his death and Anna in Queens until her retirement.
* Anna Mullins' name was in the roster of the first school at which
Anna taught: PS 83 in Long Island City. Mullins' years of service began in 1905,
Anna's in 1906. I have a few shreds of evidence that Anna Mullins married fellow teacher
Charles O'Hagan at PS 83 and was known to us as Mrs. Ann O'Hagan, Anna's life-long friend.
In 1956, Mrs. O'Hagan was living at Town Line Farm in Beckit, Massachusetts.
James D. Sheils (or Shields) is a link to a family mystery. He was married to Ella Lattimore, whose name is inscribed on the cover of one of the family bibles. We have three other 19th century papers for the Lattimores, more than we have for the Fagan family. I don't know if the Lattimores were related to the Fagans or Fentons, if at all.
Mike and Anna were the first of the Fagan family to leave the city, and this small undated snapshot, one of the earliest from the Freeport period, shows them in front of their garden and garage. The house had been built in 1913, as part of a development begun in 1902 called Meserole Park. It had already changed hands once before they bought it for $3,000.
The deed papers didn't make it clear when they bought the horse or moved, but the federal census, taken January 14, 1920, found the three of them in residence:
Michael J. Fenton - Head - owns home with mortgage - 57 - entered country 1881 - naturalized Mar 1887 - self and parents born in Ireland - Captain Court Attendant - General Session
Anna J. Fenton - wife - 37 - born in N.Y - parents born in Ireland - Teacher, public school
Mary Fagan - sister-in-law - single - 29 - born in N.Y - parents born in Ireland - can read and write - no profession
TECH NOTE: This photo is a blur, but I included it because it is a unique shot of 1) Mike at the house, 2) their dog and 3) the garden, which Mike (a farmer's son, after all) tended.
Another small undated snapshot, probably taken during the summer of 1923 or 24. Anna is standing between her niece Marie Fagan on the left and sister Mary Fagan on the right. From the time Anna and Mike moved to Freeport, Anna's brother Thomas' children spent their summers with Anna in Freeport.
Anna (rear center) with her sister, and her nieces and in-laws
through brother Thomas's marriage to Agnes Flanagan|
This small undated snapshot, taken in front of the Fenton's house on the corner of Shonnard and Parsons Avenues in Freeport, N.Y., was probably taken during the spring of 1926 or 27. Click on the photo to download a more detailed closeup that identifies the subjects - 54k.
I've dated the photo by estimating the young Emily Fagan's age In spring of 1926, Emily would have been about 5 1/2. The finery suggests that the city folks may have been paying an Easter visit to the country folks.
In the spring of 1926, Thomas Fagan and family still lived above his Flanagan in-laws in Astoria. That summer the Fagans moved to Freeport, renting the newly-built house across the street from Anna. The two houses, 58 and 64 Shonnard Avenue were inhabited by family members until Anna Fenton and Emily Flanagan died in 1962.
MIKE FENTON'S DEATH|
Mike's death was not sudden. He signed his will on April 7, 1930 and died four months later. His will was handwritten, evidently by Albin L. Johnson, a Freeport lawyer (and politician?), who appears in other photos taken on the same day as the Freeport dock photo you see at the top of the page.) Johnson was also a witness to the will, as were Isador Lewis of North Bellmore and Mary Duncan of East Rockaway, NY (identities unknown).
Mike's signature on the will suggests that his disease was considerably progressed, and that he was putting his affairs in order. Though Mike left all to Anna, without mention of his relations, Anna remained close to her Fenton in-laws for the rest of her life and provided for Mike's niece and nephew's families (the Campbells and Crowleys) in her will.
Mike Fenton died in Freeport on August 11, 1930. The cause of death was Chronic Myocarditis and his age was reported as 68 years, 3 months and 16 days. He was buried in a joint plot they'd purchased at Trinity Cemetery in Amityville (funded in perpetuity in Anna's 1956 will). Anna joined him 31 years later, on or around what would have been Mike's 100th birthday.
Section 4 - Teaching in the NYC school system