The CARLON family
From County Sligo to Brookfield, MO
[home] [TREE] [Immigrants] [Caffrey townland]
Narratives: [Eugene] [Edward] [Lawrence]
[Matthew 1] [Matthew 2] [Obit] [Baps/Births] [Children 1] [& 2]
The Carlon family intro | part 1 | part 2-photos
Snapshot, ca. 1900-1910, Anna Fagan (later Fenton) with William J. Carlon on beach, probably in Queens, NY
When I began exploring Aunt Anna (Fagan) Fenton's papers, I came across a cache of photos of of young Anna with a distinctive looking man named William Carlon. These photos had the look of courtship to them, and were taken perhaps 10-15 years before Anna's 1915 marriage to Mike Fenton. None were marked or dated in any way.

Research uncovered the facts that William Carlon's father James immigrated in 1850 from Ireland to upstate New York, where William was born in 1875. In 1877 the James Carlon family moved to Brookfield, Missouri and put down roots. In short, a chance meeting between William of Missouri and Anna (a lifelong New Yorker, born 1882 in Manhattan) was unlikely.

Descendants of the Edward Fagan family of Bridgeport, Connecticut believed the Carlons to be cousins, but this was oral history, unproven and unrecorded, and furthermore, nobody knew just how they were related. With the deaths during the 1960s of Anna (Fagan) Fenton, Margaret Fagan and Christine (Mulvey) Fagan, on the east coast, and of John T. Carlon in Missouri, the remaining bonds were weakened. In 1974, when Kathryn Carlon died, first-hand knowledge of the tie died with her.

With the older generation gone, any connection between the Carlons of Brookfield and the Fagans of New York and/or Connecticut, would only be uncovered through examination of certificates, legal papers and obituaries.

So given the raw facts, I have looked for several years for a tie. Why? Because the photos are so compelling, and because there is a grade-A puzzle to be solved. If the Carlons were related, why were Anna and William courting? If they were not related, how on earth did they meet?

William Carlon, Undated studio portraits, Brookfield, MO studios
studio portrait
ca. 1902?, Gardner studio studio portrait
ca. 1905?, Gress studio
I posted this page a few years ago, hoping to attract the attention of Carlon descendants, and I'm happy to say that this strategy succeeded. In November 2001, I heard from William Carlon's grand niece. The puzzle is not resolved conclusively, but she has provided several crucial bridge pieces which provide a viable and very likely theory.

While we don't know the mechanics of the relationship, there are 3 possible connections on the Carlon side: Two are unlikely: The Carlons themselves, who were from County Sligo (far from the Fagans' County Cavan), and patriarch James Carlon's first wife Mary Redmond, mother of William Carlon.

The third possible connection is also my favored theory. James Carlon's second wife, Joanna Burns, was the daughter of Bridget "Delia" Burns, nee Golden. Our Edward Fagan, b. 1839 in County Cavan, married Irish immigrant Annie Golden in New York City in 1864. Soon after marriage they relocated to Bridgeport, Connecticut. The Golden surname could be coincidental, but if Annie and Delia were sisters, or even cousins, the Connecticut Fagans would be blood relations to Joanna Burns Carlon and her offspring (John T. and Kathryn Carlon), but they were not related to John and Kate's half brother William. There would be no blood tie whatever between any of the Carlons and the Fagans of New York. No tie between Anna Fenton and William Carlon. This hypothetical family tree illustrates the theory.

Patrick? GOLDEN, b. ca. 1800? Ire, d. aft 1840? Ire?
& unknown spouse
|-- Bridget "Delia" (GOLDEN), b. ca. 1825 Kings Co., Ire, d. 1895, Brookfield, MO
|   & Thomas BURNS, b. ca. 1825 Ire, m. c.1853 Ire, d. 1892 Brookfield
|   \-- Joanna (BURNS), b. 1854 NY, d. 1928 Brookfield
|       & James William CARLON, b. 1832 Sligo, d. 1915 Brookfield
|       |-- John Thomas CARLON Sr, b. 1880 Brookfield, d. 1963 Linneus, MO
|       |   & Orba (RAYMER) b. 1892 IL, m. 1923 Brookfield, d. ca. 1952
|       |   \-- one son John b. Brookfield, Linn, MO
|       |-- Kathryn Elizabeth CARLON, b. 1882 Brookfield, d. 1974 Fort Lauderdale
|       \-- etc.
|   connection between branches is hypothetical
\-- Anne (GOLDEN) b. Sep, 1840 Ire, d. 1903 Bridgeport, CT
    & Edward FAGAN, b. 1839 Cavan, Ire, m. 1864 Manhattan, d. 1914 Bridgeport
    |-- Edward Golden FAGAN, b. 1866 Manhattan, d. 1928 Bridgeport
    |   & Christine V (MULVEY) b. 1875 Providence, RI, m. 1905 Providence, d. 1964 Bridgeport
    |   \-- 3 children, Marie, Edward, Virginia b. Bridgeport, CT
    |-- Mary Elizabeth (Mamie) FAGAN, b. 1868 Bridgeport, d. 1938 Bridgeport
    \-- Margaret A. FAGAN, b. 1876 Bridgeport, d. 1962 Bridgeport

William Carlon's nephew recalled that Anna Fagan and William Carlon were engaged. The time period is unspecified, but I would guess this took place between 1900 and 1910, around the time the photos were taken. If the GOLDEN Theory is correct, Anna and William could have met during visits to their mutual relations, the Connecticut Fagans. While they were members of an extended family, there were no issues of blood or tradition that would prevent their marrying.

The Carlons also recall that Anna (who was 33 when she married the much older Mike Fenton in 1915) broke the engagement with William. The fact that Anna and William maintained a tie throughout their lives argues for a friendly separation. I rather suspect that they found it impossible to uproot themselves from their respective families in New York and Missouri. That I believe they initially became engaged, hoping vainly (as young folks do) that a miracle would remove the practical obstacles to a marriage. The miracle never happened, and they severed their engagement.

In 1900, with the death of her mother, 18-year old Anna became a mother substitute for her 10-year old handicapped sister Mary and teen-aged brothers and housekeeper for her father. All this was in addition to attending teacher's college. Doubtless the whole truth is more complicated, but those of us who knew Anna know that a separation from her family in New York would have been wretched, if not unthinkable. She began work as a NYC Public School teacher in 1906 at age 24.

According to a 1912 sketch in a Linn County history book, William got his law degree (Missouri University at Columbia) in 1896 and had an established practice in Brookfield by 1898. There are also two mentions of sight impairment among the material I've seen. With or without this handicap, a move to New York City, a professional blank slate, unfamiliar laws and new qualifications, would be daunting.
James Carlon | More Carlon photographs

P.F. home page at
Updated Feb 2002
Patty Fagan