Friday, September 26, 2008

Tom Qualls

Who was Tom Qualls and how did he fit into the family? It's still a bit of a mystery that I hope someday to solve, even though I doubt he is a blood relative. Nevertheless, he was closely tied to the Frankum family.

Tom Qualls, left, and Robert Frankum, right

Tom's parents have not yet been determined. The first record found for him is the 1910 federal census of McCulloch County, Texas. He is listed as 32 years old and a boarder in the home of Robert and Iby Frankum. Family legend has it that Tom, also known as "Tom Togger", was the nephew of Rebecca Qualls Frankum, Robert's sister-in-law. He is listed as born in Texas with no occupation.

Next we find a WWI draft registration for Tom Brown Qualls, living in Glen Flora, Wharton County, Texas, dated September 12, 1918. His age is 43 years, birthdate of June 29, 1875, working for a Geo. Slaughter in farming. He is listed as medium height, slender build, gray eyes and brown hair. He gives as his nearest relative Mrs. Rebecka Frankum, which lends some credence to the family stories.

In 1920, Tom is still in Wharton County and still boarding in the home of Robert Frankum. He is 46 years old and a laborer. By 1930, Tom had relocated with Robert and Ebbie Frankum to Falls County, in or near Marlin. He is 54 years old and his occupation is farm labor.

The last record found for Tom is his death certificate showing the date of death as February 2, 1938, cause of death tuberculosis of the lungs.

By the time of Tom's death, Robert Frankum had died (in 1932) and Ebbie Frankum was a year away from her own death. The informant for his death certificate had no information regarding Tom's birth or parentage. No physician was attending him. The certificate is signed by a Justice of the Peace and the body was buried by Falls County.

One can only speculate about this shadowy presence in the Frankum family. I hope someday to have a clearer picture of Tom Brown Qualls. He apparently never married, as every document found shows him to be single. He lived for 30 or more years in the home of Robert Frankum. He apparently died a pauper, with no one to claim his body for burial.

Was he always affected by tuberculosis and a man of weakened constitution? Was he mentally impaired, rendering him unable to strike out on his own and establish his own family and home?

Who was Tom Brown "Tom Togger" Qualls? Perhaps we will never know. One thing we do know - Robert Frankum took him into his home and made him a member of the family.


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