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Fanny Eugene Simkin and the Lost Children

John Simkin

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As a young boy I remember being taken to see Aunt Ginnie by my dad. I was told that I should feel sorry for her as she had never been married and did not have any other family. Ginnie was the sister of my dad’s father who had been killed in the First World War. As she was all alone she became part of the family and Stella, my mum’s sister, used to invite her to her home for Christmas. According to Stella, Ginnie spent most of the time sleeping in the armchair or talking about her time working as a live-in servant. Ginny eventually died aged 79 in 1957.

Recently, my brother, David Simkin, has been researching our family history. In the 1911 census he discovered that our grandfather, John Edward Simkin, was living in the home of Aunt Ginnie. However, her name was Fanny Eugene Frost. In other words she lied about never being married. Further research by Christine Trott discovered the Ginnie was the mother of seven children. What is more, they were all living close to their mother in the last few years of their life. Why did lie about never being married? Why did she lose contact with her seven children?

Further research by David indicated that Ginnie’s husband, Thomas Edward Frost, was killed in Italy in the final days of the First World War and is buried at the Faenza Communal Cemetery. War widow’s was poorly treated after the war and even they managed to deal with the officialdom needed to get a pension, the maximum was half of their husband’s earnings before the war. For many women, her husband’s death condemned her to a life of poverty. Did Ginnie desert her children and become a live-in servant? If so, she seems to have completely whipped out all memories of her former life as a mother of seven children. In doing so, she never enjoyed the pleasures of being a grandmother (records show that she had 17 grandchildren).



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