Saturday, May 16, 2009

Uncle Fatty

My grandmother called him "Uncle Fatty". The first time I heard her mention him was on a trip to the Old Red Rock Cemetery, where he is buried. She said he had died of dropsy and that his normal weight was 365 pounds.

Allen T. Frankum was the older brother of my great-great grandfather James Jefferson Frankum (see previous post). He and Jeff moved to Texas sometime between 1870 and 1880, settling in Bastrop County near Watterson. Allen and his wife Rebecca (Qualls) had married in Perry County, Tennessee, in 1872 and had one child, Ida. They owned a tract of land in Bastrop County and Allen registered a brand.

That is just about all I know about Allen. He died in 1906 and is buried in the Old Red Rock Cemetery near the children of his brother Jeff. His death certificate shows that he died of heart failure and nephritis at the age of 55.

While I was visiting with my aunt last weekend, she showed me an old photo album that had belonged to her grandmother. It was full of treasures that had been identified in the margins by my grandmother. One of the tiny tintypes was labeled "Uncle Fatty", and I knew immediately I was looking at a photo of Allen Frankum.

He doesn't look like he weighed quite 365 pounds, but he was definitely portly. I'm sure to a 5-year-old, which was the age of my grandmother when he died, he must have looked huge. He bears a striking resemblance to his younger brother Robert, so I have no doubt this is Allen.

One of the joys of genealogy is to suddenly find these little photographic treasures that lurk in the cedar chests and closets of relatives who may or may not know what they have. I knew Uncle Fatty from the description of my grandmother as she stood by his grave, remembering him. Now I have an even better idea what he looked like.