Flea Market Finds
Isabella Katherine & William E. Flynn
I can never pass a pile of photographs or papers without stopping to look – to look at the lost faces of someone’s family and wondering – can I help them find their way home.
Today was one of those days….
While at a tag sale today, I began looking through a file folder of photographs and pulled out two certificates for Webster School of New Haven. In looking at the names, I assume they are siblings and since the school was in New Haven, I’m hoping I’ll be able to find their family. William E. Flynn graduated from Webster in 1889 and Isabella Katherine graduated in 1894.
I paid $1.00 each… what a bargain!
Knowing there was once Webster School in New Haven, but no longer there, I began a search for its history…. I initially turned up only piece of history, a postcard online that had already been sold by Card Cow.
I next turned to Google to search for the history of Webster School and an address…. and turned up nothing other than just a few mentions of the school in books on Google. My next idea was to turn to my Facebook New Haven group – and that turned out to be the best source of info as a member posted a new photograph to me and a date of its location – corner of George and York Street.
My search on Ancestry for Isabella Katherine Flynn quickly came back with a hit on her and the family in 1880 – Isabella was born in January of 1877 to parents Bernard & Catherine (Kate) Flynn in New Haven, CT. Her parents were both born in Ireland and now lived in a strong Irish community in New Haven.
The earliest I found Bernard in New Haven was on the 1870 New Haven Census, Bernard’s occupation was listed as truckman. He was listed with wife Catherine and one daughter Ann, born Aug. 1869. (The Ann in 1870 must be Minnie Flynn)
I found Isabella and William’s father Bernard in the city directories from 1871, with various jobs of porter, expressman, miner and truckman. The miner really confused me – what was being mined here in New Haven, CT? His last years of address was 108 Meadow St. There was a Bernard Flynn listed in the 1921 city directory, but listed as Rem. Springfield, Mass. Did he move in his later years or is this possibly… not my Bernard Flynn.
What have I learned about the Flynn family in 1870… well not much except for recording their names and ages from the census records. Bernard and wife Catherine were both born in Ireland, but all their children were born in Connecticut. In the first census of 1870, of which I found Bernard, his age was given as 28, born about 1842/43. Bernard and Catherine had just begun their family – a daughter named Ann had been born in 1869, now age 10 months. No street of residence was given, but they were listed as living in New Haven Ward 3; in viewing the surrounding names nearby, he lived among his peers – most all listed had been born in Ireland. New Haven boasted a large Irish population, which encouraged many to emigrate to this area. Bernard owned no real estate at this time, but he did list $1,500 as the funds of his personal estate; it seems he wasn’t a pauper, a hard working man. (The name of Bernard Flynn is quite a popular Irish name)
In 1880: Bernard still continued to live in New Haven, age 37, and now listed as a miner on the census; I hope to discover of where he worked with that occupation. Catherine, age 35, is now known as Kate… seems her name is becoming more Americanized. They lived at 114 Factory St. – a street off Oak St. in New Haven. The Oak Street Connector was completed around 1957 and connected Rt. 34 to I-95. With the completion of the Oak Street Connector, many streets, buildings and housing in that area fell victim to demolition – Factory St. was no more. Their family had now grown to four children – Minnie age 11 (I believe this to be Ann in the 1870 Census) – Rosa age 9 – Maggie age 7 and William age 6. Most of the families living around Bernard seemed to all have immigrated here and while their neighborhood was predominantly Irish, I’m beginning to now see more Italians with a splattering of other nationalities such as French, Russian, English and also now more Connecticut born. I see no other families with his surname living nearby but the neighborhood occupations vary widely from laborer, cigar maker, piano builder, stone mason and carriage maker. The Oak Street area was one of the poorest areas, stretching down to the West Creek, and in the early beginnings of the twentieth century, it was where the immigrants first settled.
In 1900: Bernard now lives at 108 Meadow St. in New Haven with his family. Water St. borders Meadow, so that gives me an area of where it’s situated, as my husband’s parents first lived on Water St., a predominantly cold water tenement housing area. His age of 87 is listed incorrectly on this census – it should be 57. I believe the year of 1813 written was a typo and it should have been written 1843; maybe the census taker forgot to add the lines to make that one a four? His occupation is listed as Teamster, probably why I saw truck driver listed on the city directories. Bernard’s wife is now listed as Catherine, age 55, mother of 3 children – number of living children also listed as 3; what about William born in 1873? I guess I could surmise that they misunderstood the question on “living”? I do know he graduated from Webster School in 1889. On this census Bernard and Catherine listed that they both immigrated 30 years ago (1870) and also were married for 30 years – three daughters were listed in household – Margrette, age 25, a saleslady; Isabella, age 23, at school; Lillian, age 17, at school. I do wonder where Isabella was in 1880 at age 23 – where was she at school at? Wouldn’t the age of 23 suggest college possibly or did she teach? (Meadow Street still exists today; from my New Haven Facebook group I’m told it is now only a small side street that runs between the New Haven Police Department and the Board of Education building. Before the redevelopment of that area, the street actually ran all the way into the downtown area of Church Street. Info found in the “City Yearbook” for New Haven, 1876-1878)
1901/1902: New Haven City Directory: Bernard Flynn is listed at 108 Meadow St. and working as a Expressman/Baggage Teamster.
1903: New Haven City Directory: Bernard Flynn is listed at 110 Meadow St. and still working as a Expressman/Baggage Teamster.
1905: New Haven City Directory: Bernard Flynn is now listed back at 108 Meadow St. and working as a Expressman/Baggage Teamster.
1910/12: William E. Flynn – 291 Congress Ave., New Haven, CT.
1915/26: William E. Flynn – 41 Howe St. and also 291 Congress Ave., New Haven, CT.
1930 Census: William E. Flynn with wife Mary L. – living at 966 Elm St. – married abt. 1922 at age of 44 – now age 52; I don’t believe they had children; they owned their home valued at $15,000.
I seem to have now hit a dead end on William E. and Mary L. Flynn
My search so far on Ancestry has only turned up William E. and if he hadn’t listed his middle initial on the school certificate I would never have matched him to the Flynn family. I hoped to have found Isabella marrying, but I’m left with only my speculations, which isn’t giving me the answers I had hoped to find. All I have of the Flynn family is their school certificates…. and many questions! I will continue to look for Isabella, Margrette, Lillian and Rosa, but women are tough unless I make a hit on a marriage license with their maiden names. If they married, I’m hoping they remained in the area and at least one of them had children that may be searching for them… and find me!
What have I learned about Webster School: A member of the New Haven Facebook group told me they graduated sixth grade from Webster School in 1940; so I know it was still operational at that time. I’m also told that the apartment/condo building called University Towers was completed by 1961 on the same or part of the land where the school originally was; the address for University Towers is 100 York Street.
I contacted the The Whitney Library of the New Haven Museum and…. they concluded my suspicion on the name of the school being named for Noah Webster, a prominent figure in New Haven and of whom we can thank for the Webster Dictionary. I also learned from them that there was not one, but actually two Webster schools. The first one was built in 1853 on the northwest corner of York and George Streets, but razed in 1888. I’m even more curious now as to why? On the same corner, a new Webster School was built and continued as a public school through the school years of 1956-57. Again, for a second time, the Webster School was razed, but a new type building was built in its place – University Towers was completed by 1961 and still remains today as an apartment building in New Haven. (The library expressed interest in the school certificates to place in their school files if no home is found for them in a direct Flynn family line; that will be my plan.)
I wrote this story in hopes of finding a direct family member of William or Isabella Flynn and return the school certificates back to their family. I’ve also now become interested in the history of the Webster School…. of which I have found very little and it saddens me; now I know that there were actually two schools – and still with no history. How Sad! The school was in existence for quite a long time – how could there be no history on it… especially being named for Noah Webster?
If you’ve read this story and have history to share with me, I look forward to reading your comments; actually I’m looking forward to all comments!
If you are a Flynn family member – let’s make contact!
© 2016, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved
© 2016, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved