February 9, 2016 by auntkatefirmin
I have transcribed George’s letters exactly, including all the commas, although I did not mark every spelling error with [sic]. I believe Kate only received two letters from George and one letter from his daughter Eleanor, informing Kate of his death in 1956. I have added a few remarks after the letters.
[marked as answered 3/28/1948]
From George T Firmin
To Mrs K Firmin
I suppose you are really my cousin, but I am not sure if I have the right address, anyhow I am taking a chance on it. I trust you will not be affronted by my doing so. In the first place, if you are the Lady that is sending cases of goods to my sister in England, whose address, is Whitley Surrey I want to thank you very much. There is no doubt they are having a awfull time over there. If you are, my cousin I should very much like to hear from you. 50 years ago, the Last words my old Dad said, was, George, try and find if you can, some word, of my Brothers, Thomas Osborn and John. Now once again, thanking you for sending to my sister
I remain with kindest regards Geo T Firmin.
Dear Miss Firmin
I was more than pleased to hear from you, and, like you, am very glad to find at last, some one who is connected with my old dad. When I first came to America I made several inquiries about dad’s Brothers, but all to no avail. I came out hear, right after the Boer War ended. I was all throu for that war, with the British Calvary and when I got back to England, there was nothing to do, so I said to Dad I was going to America, that was in 1902. I landed hear Feb 22nd, and met my Brother Arthur, and within 48 hrs I had secured a position of Riding Master in a local Riding School in Boston. You say your home was in Seattle, I had a few goods friends there, in /40 and /41. They where what was known as the West Construction Co and where Building the tunnel somewhere in Alaska, but have not heard from them for a long time.
Now cousin Kate, who was your father was it John of New York, or Thomas Osborne of Jacksonville, Florida, later, Denver, Colorada, that was where he was last heard of. I have no knowledge of Felicia Hill and I only saw Aunt Harriet once just before she went to Australia. I suppose my Sister Fan has acquainted you with a lot of family History, so I’ll not boer you with any more. I paid a visit to England in /38 and stayed 3 months, had a wonderful time, and came back on the last ship that sailed before the Athenia was sunk in the North Sea. It was the Acquitania. Had I known the war was so near, I would never have left my sister. I was planning to go over again, but I had 3 bad business reverses, so am unable to go just at present. I have some property there, but, owing to the money situation I can’t get it as yet. I am married, have 5 children, the youngest is 33 years. The oldest died 4 years ago last Xmas he had been sick for 20 years, with what is called (sleeping sickness.) I had a Birthday last Friday, making me 73. I am in good shape, except for a touch of neuritis in my arms and am living in hopes of getting to England again sometime. Now I had better dry up, hoping you will excuse the writing and grammer, and that I will hear again from you, sometime soon.
With Kindest regards I remain yours
George T Firmin
PS you speak of a Brother what is his name, I would like to hear from him
-Fan lived in Witley, Surrey.
-George mentions the cavalry, he was a “Dragoon Guard.”
-According to the passenger list of the Lucania, George left Liverpool and arrived in New York in 1903, not 1902. According to the military records he was still in South Africa in February 1902.
-John Robert’s family has no memory of him living in New York; he had settled in Indianapolis by 1871. While he is thought to have made more than one trip between England to America, he has not been found in any passenger lists.
-George and Arthur clearly believed that their Uncle Thomas Francis Ernest Firmin had moved to the US. George mentions Florida and Colorado, implying that Thomas wrote to his brother George at some point; no surviving letters are known. While George refers to “Thomas Osborn,” Osborne was a different uncle.
-The implication of this letter is that Aunt Harriet, who went by “Mrs Blackley,” traveled to Australia some time prior to 1903. That may explain why she is not in the 1901 census; however, she had definitely returned by 1904 when her daughter Felicia’s performing career begins to be documented. No proof of Harriet’s movements for this time period has been found. Her daughter Felicia used Firmin, Blackley and Hill as surnames at different times, and it is not known in what year Felicia was adopted.
-Based on the letter, George celebrated his birthday on April 30th, although some of the Social Security files give a birthdate of April 13th.