John Robert Firmin – Aunt Kate’s father

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May 11, 2013 by auntkatefirmin

John Robert Firmin 1845-1888

John Robert Fimin, undated

Kate did not have much information about her father, John Robert Firmin (1845-1888).  To start, I will stick to what I believe she knew (more or less).  The only known photo of John as an adult was taken in Montreal at an unknown date.

Kate’s mother had saved at least one letter from John’s family.  Dated  January 21,1871, the letter was signed by “H”, Eddie, and “Mama, E. Firmin”,  and sent from 6 Stock Orchard Villas, Penn Road.  I do not believe that Kate or her mother knew the names of all of John’s siblings, at least the knowledge was not preserved.  It is clear from the letter that “H” (Harriet) and Eddie are young children.  I will save the story of Stock Orchard Villas for later as it has some amusing elements.

Kate knew that her father had been baptized at St Pancras (New Church). She visited the London in 1925 and the parish clerk was able to find the record for the baptism on September 7, 1845.   Although he was baptized in London, John was born in Swindon.  While Kate doesn’t say so, she would have known that John’s parents were George and Emily Firmin. What Kate would have known that we don’t, is how and when her father met her mother, Florence Long.

John was listed in an Indianapolis city directory by 1871 but did not marry Florence until 1878 when he was 32 and she was 28.  John’s father had died in 1869 and his mother in 1875.  In the 1871 letter to John from his family in London it appears from the context that he is only a day or two away and that the children knew him well.  On the other hand, the listing in the city directory leads to the conclusion that he was not a permanent resident of England by 1871.  It’s not clear whether some sense of responsibility for his siblings in England delayed the marriage or whether something more immediate was involved.

An undated clipping announcing the marriage says only that the couple had known each other “several years”.  They were married by “Elder S[amuel] K. Hoshour” who was at one time state Superintendent of Education.  Further research on Indianapolis churches and contemporary newspapers is probably in order.

According to the Indianapolis city directories available on Ancestry, by 1877 John was a soda-water manufacturer; in 1871 he had been reporter; in 1882 he was a dealer in fish & oysters.  What kind of education did he have?  What sort of person was he? How prosperous was the family?

Nothing I have turned up so far indicates the cause of John’s death, and I have no family stories to go by.  John died in 1888 at the age of 42 and was buried in the family plot in Crown Hill Cemetery.  He and Florence had only been married ten years.

One thing is certain.  Her father’s death left Kate with questions about her English grandparents and cousins that her mother was unable to answer.


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