New J. J. Faulkner Theory Sept 5, 2017 18:44:15 GMT -5
Post by Michael on Sept 5, 2017 18:44:15 GMT -5
New J. J. Faulkner Theory
(Placed in the Archives by Admin For Rab)
About 1891 – we don’t know the exact date – John Faughnan left his homeland, his parents Thomas and Bridget, sisters Maggie and Jane. Like any other emigrant, no doubt he felt the mixture of dread and excitement of what laid ahead and the sadness of leaving Cloontagh and Briskil Bridge, the Co Longford townlands where he had been raised as a farmer’s son. For this new adventure, John would take on a new name. He would follow the lead of his uncle John, who in the leaving of Ireland took a new name for a new world. Uncle John had passed that name down to his own sons. And now his nephew John would follow suit. In America, John Faughnan would become John Faulkner.
John headed to Brooklyn, where his uncle was already well-established as a horseshoer in a close-knit Irish community in Greenpoint. There were plenty of other Faulkner family members, including James and Edward who were born in New York and could guide their Irish cousin. By 1897, John was a policeman and married to Annie Walsh, an Englishwoman. The relationship of the young couple was bookended by two tragedies. In 1898, their firstborn, Annie, died followed a mere handful of years later by Annie herself in 1905. In between, they had a son (born January 19, 1900) and another daughter, Florence (born 1901). John, perhaps unable to cope with the demands of two small children and a life in the NYPD, turned to his sister Lizzie and her husband Patrick McAuliffe for help. John would live with them in Brooklyn for nearly 10 years, the children for much longer, Florence and the son that John and Annie had named John Faulkner.
As John’s life was progressing through hard times in Brooklyn, his cousin Edward’s was following a similar path. He too had found a bride, Mary Sullivan, and they had a son in 1900, on February 9, born just 21 days after his second cousin. For synchronicity, lack of imagination or in tribute they named him John Joseph Faulkner. In 1904, it seems Mary died and Edward disappeared from the scene. Another motherless John Faulkner went to live with an aunt and uncle, this time Edward’s brother, James, and his wife Isabella. In time, James and Isabella would move their growing family, including their nephew JJ Faulkner, to a large house on high ground at 1336 Balcom Avenue in the Bronx. Its elevated position afforded views to the south, along Balcom and past Waterbury Avenue into the expanse of St Raymond’s cemetery.
The lives of these two John Faulkners of the same family progressed in relative prosperity in different boroughs of New York City. How much they knew or saw of each other is difficult to know. They were connected by name, by the proximity of their birth, by blood and by the loss of motherly love before they even understood what it was to have it. But they went to school; they remained with their respective aunts and uncles. At P.S. 12, John of Balcom Ave became a pupil of a veteran of the Bronx school system, John F Condon.
John Faulkner Snr, still in Brooklyn, continued as an NYPD patrolman. Cousin James in the Bronx worked as a special agent on the railway, later his son-in-law would be a cemetery guard. Despite these good examples of law and order around him, John of Balcom Ave strayed from the good path. In 1915, he was removed from school and sent to the Catholic Protectory on a charge of breaking into his aunt and uncle’s house.
And then, in 1918, whether the lives of these two young men were connected or not, external events brought about an intersection. It was precipitated by the entry of the US into WW1 and the need for John of Balcom Ave to register for the draft. Register he did, giving his Balcom address and naming his aunt Isabella as his next of kin. But under date of birth, instead of giving the correct February 9, 1900 he co-opted the date of birth of his Brooklyn second cousin, entering January 19, 1900. Aside from the draft card, there seems to be no record that John of Balcom served but his second cousin did, spending nearly 18 months in France.
In the 1920s, their lives, however close they may or may not once have been, diverged. Balcom John had been a railway brakeman and his second cousin an office clerk but they both had periods of unemployment. In 1922, Balcom John married Anna Buckley, a Scottish woman. In an echo of the tragedy of his own mother, she would die only three years later, the young couple childless. Sometime in 1926 or early 1927, Brooklyn John moved to Georgia where in April, 1927 he married Mabel Powell. He worked as a store clerk and on a dairy farm and in 1932 he and Mabel had a daughter, Doris. Meanwhile, his second cousin put aside whatever lingering impact there may have been of his teenage crime and became a NYC policeman before marrying for a second time, to Lucy Hoar, in 1929. They went on to have three children together.
The marriage in Georgia didn’t last and John seemed to drift from job to job with periods of unemployment. But he stayed in Georgia, perhaps because he had nowhere else to go, and died there in 1980. Balcom John moved with his new family to Queens and remained an NYPD patrolman. In a 1954 social security application, he again used the date of birth of his cousin rather than his own. As a result that incorrect date was recorded on the death index when he died in 1967.
So, what, if anything, is the value of this story? Of course, on May 1, 1933 $2,980 in Lindbergh ransom money was exchanged at the Federal Reserve in NYC. The deposit was traced to a slip bearing the name (and perhaps signature) of a JJ Faulkner of 537 West 149 Street. Despite an exhaustive investigation of residents past and present at that address and in particular the family of former resident Jane Faulkner, no connection was made between a JJ Faulkner and 537 W 149.
The investigation extended to all JJ Faulkners in NYC. In order to gather such a list, the authorities consulted the city directories, amongst other sources. What went uncommented – but perhaps not unnoticed – was that in 6 city directories from 1913 to 1920, the entry for the Jane Faulkner of the Plymouth Apartments is directly below that of JJ (James J) Faulkner of Balcom Ave. So was there a connection? Did someone combine these elements or are the intersections with multiple JJ Faulkners, with Condon, with St Ray’s merely coincidences?
What would answer the question is the corresponding exhaustive investigation of the Faughnan / Faulkner family as was conducted of the Jane Faulkner family. But there is no such investigation. There is a small number of reports referring to John the former pupil of Condon who was then a policemen, apparently ruling him out as a suspect but without revealing why (though Michael may know better on this point). There is also a suggestion of some investigation of the John in Georgia, a scrap of paper supposedly of his handwriting which eliminated him and with a strange notation referring to Lizzie McAuliffe as his guardian. But Lizzie had died in 1931.
This leaves us with the mystery of why there was so little investigation or at least the mystery of why there is no remaining evidence of an investigation. It certainly seems at odds with the frenzy, the arguable hounding to suicide of Leipold, which attended the Jane Faulkner investigation. It leaves unanswered what else there was to learn about this family, their connection to Condon and to St Ray’s.
And, finally, there is the question of the date of birth swap. Given it happened 14 years before the kidnapping it can’t be said to be related. But it was a swap which was persisted by Balcom John. Perhaps it was an early attempt at identity theft to put his crime behind him and clear the way for his future life in the police.
The documents supporting all of this are available online at the usual family history sites or I can post relevant ones here if anyone needs them. The bulk of this research is by Siglinde R, who knows and understands more about this case than I could ever possibly hope to emulate, and who asked me to post the results of our debate on these points here.