52 Ancestors #2: Francis Theodore Thomas

Francis and Anna Thomas

Francis and Anna Thomas, from the collection of 2nd cousin 1x removed Paul, posted to

I’ve written about Francis Theodore Thomas in the past – see “The Missing Thomas” -but I have chosen him again because I’ve learned more about him since the last post, largely in part because I connected with my 2nd cousin, 1x removed, Paul.  He had some photos and a letter from my great-grandfather, Gerald Thomas, that filled in some of the details about Francis Theodore Thomas.

Francis was born in circa 18811, the son of William Thomas and Emma J. Fredericks.  He had four older siblings: Kate, William, May and Maud.2


172 Miller Avenue, Brooklyn Image capture: Oct 2014, © Google

172 Miller Avenue, Brooklyn
Image capture: Oct 2014, © Google

In 1905, he was living at 172 Miller Avenue with his wife Anna and his oldest two children, Gerald [age 3] and May [age 2].  There were six other families living in the building, which stands the block of Miller Avenue between Fulton Street and Atlantic Avenue.  He was working as a shirt ironer, and at 24 years old, was supporting his family of four.3

According to the letter my great-grandfather wrote to my grandmother and her sister, Francis met my 2nd great-grandmother through her brother, Walter Noteboom, Jr.  He was an orphan by the time they met, and “she felt sorry for him”.  They were married in 1901 against her father’s wishes, and she became estranged from her family for several years as a result.4

Snippet from letter - Anna and Frank marry

Snippet from letter – Anna and Frank marry

When things happened…

Anna Noteboom and Francis Thomas at Rockaway Beach

Anna Noteboom and Francis Thomas at Rockaway Beach

My 2nd great-grandmother Anna always referred to 1906 as the time when things happened.  In August 1906, Francis went to Rockaway Beach for a swim and never came home.  No body was every found, nor were any of his belongings.  He went to get his paycheck, and then to the beach.  After things happened, the family didn’t talk about it much and Anna was left to raise three children, ages 5 and under, on her own.  She borrowed money from the local butcher, and took to cleaning houses and washing clothes to make ends meet.  It was only after Francis disappeared did she reconcile with her father.5

Not much is known about Francis’s family.  Gerald writes in the letter that he had a brother William, who was murdered on the Brooklyn waterfront.  His sister Kate married Thomas Bouse, and Mae married Jack Gardner.  His mother’s maiden name was Fredericks, and she had a sister who married a Captain Hall, who served during the U.S. Civil War.  He is buried at Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn.  His father is said to have ancestors who were Pennsylvania Quakers.6

  1. New York, State Census, 1905 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.  Original data: New York, State Census, 1905. Population Schedules . New York State Archives, Albany, New York.  State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 21 E.D. 19; City: Brooklyn; County: Kings, Page 48. 
  2.  Devine-Thomas Family Tree. Posted by pxdbrewer. 
  3. New York, State Census, 1905. 
  4. Letter from Gerald Thomas to Marion Reilly and Ethel Furia, photocopy in my collection, original unknown, April-May 1979. 
  5. ibid. 
  6. ibid.