Morriston

Jane Harris We don't have a photograph of Jane.  She died in 1910 in Morriston and so nobody living remembers her.  She was the eldest Harris girl and married age 21 to Thomas Francis, tinplate shearer.  They lived in Caemawr, owned three houses and Francis Road is named after them.

Of their four children: Thomas sailed from Liverpool to work in American tin mills in Gas City, Indiana 1898; Mary Ann died in 1890 a few months after marrying David Williams; William was a coal factor in Penrice Street, Morriston; and Blanche Ann was a housewife and bridge player in Eaton Crescent, Swansea Town.  La-de-dah!

Thomas and Jane died in Caemawr.  He had been to the USA as a middle aged man but had come back.  Their son William kept the family going while he was away.
 

WILLIAM JANE MARY JOHN RODDA THOMAS EDWARD LAVINIA

Images:

TOP LEFT golden wedding celebrations of Bill and Mary Francis, Shaftesbury, Dorset.  Bill and his sister are the only two living grandchildren of Jane Harris.

TOP RIGHT the Francis family bible showing Thomas, Jane and their six children.  The bible is now in Hawaii.

BOTTOM the obituary of Mildred Francis Lacey, granddaughter of Jane Harris.

I first came across Jane on my mother's family tree which was based on a copy of the family bible which we had.  When I was 14 I tracked down one of Blanche Ann Hood-Williams's family living in mid Wales and she told me she had been at school with a girl who knew all about the Harris family.  The Harris family!  In 1991 I had a letter from Sue Jones which listed all of Jane's siblings and some of their family as well as could be remembered.  I spoke to one of the American family on the phone - it was a strange experience as I rang the number, in Tennessee, from a callbox opposite the 7/11 in the student area of my home town.  I spoke to Kay Francis a wonderful lady who wrote chatty letters and would have been in her late eighties.  The Americans did very well for themselves.  I found out that my Compaq laptop has a family connection as Admiral James E Eckelberger, my third cousin, descendant of the family was one of Compaq's directors in the 1990s.  I met Sue Farmer, poking a fire in Mid Wales in 1995, she had never heard of William Francis.

Swansea was badly bombed in World War Two.  Doris Hanney was going to take her daughter and go and live with Blanche Francis Allen in America, but the ship before the one they were due to take was destroyed and her husband, Thomas Richards, would not let them go.

Blanche’s sister Mildred visited her home town of Morriston, Swansea in the 1930s.  My grandfather remembers her automobile pulling up in his street.  She was accompanied by her second husband, the Buffalo millionaire T B Lockwood then in his sixties.  They came loaded with gifts of American candy.  Who needed Catherine Zeta Jones?  Her brother, Herbert, the dentist also came over plus Tommy (in 1948).

Even further back, Glenys (nee Elliott) recalls waving goodbye to Thomas Francis at Liverpool while holding a child in her arms, about the year 1920.  He was returning to America after a visit.

Elaine Harris, Oct 1993.  It was quite amazing to realize your grandfather has aged along with me.  I visualized him still as a young teacher! The last I heard was when I visited your great-grandmother near Barry.  I knew your [great-]great-grandparents through their connections with my grandparents Turner, all belonging to the old Wesley Chapel here at Morriston (now closed).

We are not sure about the early history of my father and his family.  His father went to the USA to seek work – as well as brother Thomas – and I think my father had to do a lot to support the remaining family – mother, young sister (Ann) and others (?).  About 1881 (age 10) he had to leave school to work in the steel/ tinplate works.  After that, self-educated (in the light of the furnaces, says Auntie P!!).  Ran a vegetable garden in his spare time to support the family.  Rose to managership of tinplate works (Dyffryn works, Morriston).  Left as a result of a disagreement in January 1920 – brass plate on my (inherited) desk to commemorate – and set up in business on his own.  Made a lot of money in the 1920s and lost a lot in the 1931 financial crash.  His business of coal factoring continued gently until 1945-46 when he finally retired at the age of 74-75.  (He had married as a younger man and married my mother as a widower of some years.  There were no children of the first marriage.)  His sister Ann (Blanche), whom we were very fond of as Auntie Nan, died a year before my father in 1950.  She was in her late 70s.  I remember her as of ‘comfortable build’ and a person who did nothing quickly.  She played bridge for Wales.

[William was a tinplate worker age 20.  He lived at number 6 Penrice Street, and later moved to number 11, previously the home of his wife’s parents.]

Wm Hunter Francis, 1992.  I very much enjoyed your news of S. Wales visits and particularly the photos of Penrice St.  No 11 looks very spruce – cleaned stones, white not dark green front door and Venetian blinds.  When I saw the view down the street it reminded me almost physically of running for the train which used to start on the opposite side of the valley.  That area seems very much more built up now.

Jean Dunkley writes (2001) to this day I could draw a layout of their house in Penrice Street with its black-leaded range, horsehair sofa, back kitchen [with bath I should think!] and vegetable patch.  I don't remember the front parlour - nobody used the front rooms in those days.  I would recognise their voices and looks pre-war if we could all go back to that time.

Doris recalls Mary Ann and Lizzie went shopping in Swansea and went to call on Ann in Eaton Crescent.  This was a detached house near to Dylan Thomas (before Will lost it on dogs) white collar ruffles pencil on a long string, Nan was playing bridge and they got no further than the door.

Filed with the Francis family bible is a document from February 1872, where Thomas Francis signs that ‘I do hereby certify that I will abstain from all intoxicating drinks for twelve months’.  The documents is signed by Francis (age 10), witnessed by Moses Grist, steward of the working mens' club.