|Frank Cullen, Jr. as a young man.|
|Frank Cullen in about 1940.|
|Elmer, Frank, & Mary Jane Cullen (about 1888)|
The biggest mystery about Frank is his father. The story that's trickled down to me is that Frank's mother Mary Jane would tell my great-grandmother Mary Virginia to "mind her own business" when she would ask about her grandfather. It's always been suspected that he took off and left the family, but we have no proof of anything really.
In my genealogical research, there is no living sign of Frank Cullen, Sr. He is referenced by name in a few places. In 1889, Mary Jane shows up in the Detroit city directory (after 9 years of no record) as a widow of Frank. (see below)
She continues to claim herself as Frank Cullen's widow for at least another decade in the Detroit city directory.
The odd thing is that I have absolutely no other written record showing Frank Cullen's life (or death). No birth certificate, marriage record, census record, death record, burial... NOTHING! I cannot even find birth certificates for his 2 sons.
I do have a document that my Frank (Frank, Jr.) saved with his files. It is an "application for the determination of birth" because Frank's birth was apparently "unrecorded." The City of Cincinnati sent him a letter saying that his birth was not recorded with the city. Can you imagine someone telling you that they have no record of your birth? Anyway, part of the application asks him about his father, and below is how he responds:
It makes me sad that Frank didn't know his father.
We have 2 photographs in our family records that **could** be of Frank, Sr. Both photos are of a bearded man who looks similar to Frank, Jr. But the photos appear to be much older than the ones I have of Frank, Jr. at a similar age. And I have probably a hundred photos of Frank, Jr, and he is not bearded in a single other photo... Anyway, here they are.
|This photo is still in its frame. My grandpa dismantled the frame over Christmas so that we could see if anything was written on the back, but the only thing is the metal plaque with his name.|
But tonight gave me a little bit of hope. I was researching Frank, Jr's time in the circus. I found a fascinating website called circushistory.org. It occurred to me that maybe Frank, Sr. isn't to be found because he was in the circus business himself. So my search continues...