July 7, 2015 by auntkatefirmin
[The First Letter]
Newark 6, Newark, N. J.
Dec 12 – 47
Now I suppose you are wondering who is calling you that.
Well to be brief I am the baby of the family of G.H.B. Firmin & Bro. of F.A. Hall (nee Firmin) & right now I wish to thank you for your kindness to her. Please tell me whose daughter you are, as I remember I had an Uncle John & also an other one, Thomas Francis Ernest of whom I have often heard my Dad speak. I have been in the above Hosp since March /43 with arthritis & my nerves & sight are not so good. So please excuse pencil & writing. Fan was 71 yrs last Nov & if I live to next Mar 14 I shall be 69. Not exactly a spring chicken eh? Your name suggests to me you were named after my Aunt Kate Baynham who lived the last I saw her in Woking Sur[rey].
I shall not bore you with a long letter as I take this as get aquainted letter, but there is much I would like to know & I think you would tell me. So will close.
A Very Merry Xmas & Happy New Year & hoping to hear from you soon.
Arthur E. Firmin
[marked as answered Feb 19/1948]
[The 2nd letter]
Yours of 20th inst to hand & very welcome it was.
Last Saturday I had a letter from sister Fan & she told me you had received mine OK.
Now I shall try and tell you a little of the Firmins.
There were 10 children in dads family – Kate, Maude & Matilda. John, Thomas Francis Ernest, G H B (dad) Osborn (Killed elephant hunting in Africa) Edward, Michael Lane also of Africa and also Tom. [The daughters were Emily, Kate & Harriet; the sons were John, George, Osborne, Frederick, Thomas, Michael and Edward]
Soon after I came to America 1898-9 I made inquiries & wrote wherever I heard of our name, the nearest I came was a lady in Toledo O. who sent me a copy of the Crest & Coast of Arms of her family & thought it another branch of the Original Norman Family.*
Later through the Trotter attorneys I learnt there are relatives in Seattle Wash & I Knoxville Tenn.** But I have not written them I was best acquainted with your namesake Aunt than any of them & often cycled to Woking in Surrey to see them, she died only a short time since.
I have always lived in the east but about 1903-4 I left Boston Mass & went to St John N B Canada & stayed there until 1912 when I came to Newark N J
In 1911 we took a trip home for 3 months & have not been over since
East Orange is only a stones throw from the Hospital & I would like the name & address of your aunt there. It would be nice to know someone we both know. Please excuse writing & I shall book forward to your next
[marked as answered 4/1/48]
[The third letter]
Jan. 16, 1949
Dear Cousin Kate,
The first thing I must do is apologize for the delay in writing, but as you know procrastination is the thief of time & I am a victim of it.
I had a letter from sister Fan & replied this a.m. so this P.M. is reserved for you.
Thanks for card & Greetings at Xmas & hope you will have a Happy & Prosperous Year 1949.
Now for a bit of the long past. You spoke of a brother Fouracre, I wonder, do you know where the name came from. As I remember him he was a good friend of Grand-dad Firmin & also of my Dad & looked after some small property in Swindon & sold it & Dad built our home in Reading I used to play draughts with him when I was about 6 or 7 years old. Just fancy over 60 years ago.
Please tell me whose daughter you are as I think you must be from John F or Thos. Francis F. & do you know the Firmins of Knoxsville Tenn & who was their Father. I would love to see you & thank you for your kindness & help to Fan. There are three of us living & I am the baby. 70 Mar 14th George 74 April 30th & Fan 72 next November so the stock must be good. I am troubled with Bronchitis & Arthritis but otherwise all O.K. & able to get out once in a while.
The weather has been much too good for the time of year, but it will help the poor a lot with the coal Bills. Now I shall say Au Revoir & try & be more prompt in the future.
[The last letter]
Many thanks for the Xmas Card which was somewhat of a surprise.
I wrote to you some months ago & tried to tell you how the name of Fouracre made its way in the Firmin Family; since which time I have not heard from you.
I have heard from Fan & also asked her of you, but so far I have not been advised.
I do not know if you have received my letter or not, but would like to know as I gave, in detail, the facts, as I know them, relative to the name of Fouracre.
Personally, I am not doing too bad, but if I could take my pensions & join my sister Fan then I think all would be OK. This is impossible so I must do the best I can with what I have to do with. I would much like to meet you personally, but as of now it seems not on the calendar, but who knows what is ahead of us & so with sincerest regard to you & best wishes for the Festive Season. I am
Your cousin Ed.
*There is no reason to believe that our branch of the Firmin family ever had a family crest or could be traced back to any Firmin/Fairman family from the time of the Norman Conquest.
**The relatives in Seattle were Kate and her brother Fred (Alfred Fouracre) and the Knoxville relatives were their brother Venoy’s (Charles Osborne Venoy) family. I am not clear on the reference in a later paragraph to an “aunt” in East Orange.