Family Tree



My Gr. Grandmother “Francis Marguerite Farquhar Symons” was born on March 18, 1884 in Pottsville, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania. Also, known as “Fannie”.   Her parents were Mary Jane Ridington (Bottrall) Symons  and William Richards Symons.  For many years there were speculations as to how she acquired the, somewhat unique, middle name of Farquhar.  We have no relations by that name or any other connections.  I was ready to give up the search, when I realized there was a scenario I hadn’t considered.  It seemed a long shot and worth one more look.

I made the decision to go back to the census records to investigate any neighbors who may have lived near my Symons Ancestors. This could be and probably would be a ridiculously daunting task.  I prepared myself to be ready for the challenge and coming up with a decidedly brilliant idea, started to look into the names of the neighbors.  Back in the day, many neighbors  were family or like family and just as many became lifelong friends. I set out to search for any Farquhar’s that could even remotely be related to my Farquhar.

Going back to my Symons census records, I sought to Investigate any and all who may have lived near them.  (Remember to search a few pages before and after your ancestor’s census page. You may have other relatives living close by.)

Now Imagine …

It’s 4 June,1880 and the enumerator knocks on the door of my Gr Grandparents, William and Mary Jane Symons. Location, 616 East Market Street, Pottsville, PA.  The Enumerator introduces himself.  “Hello my name is John Engle. (the census taker). I wonder if I might have a few minutes of your time?

Even though the census was taken on June 4, 1880, the actual census date was information as of June 1,1880.  In this household lived William R. Symons and Mary Jane Symons, Florence, age 15;  William C., age 13;  Albert E., age 10;  Linda M., age 8 and Maud P., age 6. ( Fannie was not yet born).  There is also one servant named Honora G. Saylor.  (The Symons had lost 5 newborn children between 1869 and 1878.)

William R. Symons was a Civil and Mining Engineer from Cornwall, England. Mary Jane kept house, also being from Cornwall and the 5 children were in school.

Wouldn’t it them be nice if:

As the census taker bids them good-bye.  He waves and says to Mr. Symons. “Thank you for your time.  You and your next door neighbor,  Mr. Farquhar have been equally pleasant to work with.”

That would almost be unbelievable!  But…..

In this same 1880 census, there is a Fergus G. Farquhar living at 600 E. Market Street, which is right next door to William and Mary Jane Symons. Fergus is a Lawyer and his wife’s name is Fannie M. (Guiness) Farquhar. Both Mary Jane and Francis were 35 yers old and both had children. I believe it is reasonable to assume they were friends and possibly very good friends, with much in common.

Unfortunately, three years later, tragedy struck on 17 November 1883.  Fannie Margaret Guiness Farquhar, passed away during childbirth, along with her infant daughter Minnie.  Family and friends would be devastated.

At this same time, Mary Jane Symons would be 5 months pregnant with her 11th child. Frances Marguerite Farquhar Symons was born 18 Mar 1884.  Almost exactly 4 months after the death of her mother’s friend, Francis Margaret Farquhar.

Which leads me to only one conclusion.  Margaret Farquhar was more than just a friendly neighbor to Mary Jane.  This is more like a living memory of a dear departed friend.

Stacey Wallace Rehbein

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