Posted by: marthabernie | June 28, 2015


scan0092My great aunt, Anna L. McMenus Faulkner, married Walter Tweddell in 1923.  They met through a correspondence club, and she being divorced for five years, and Walter being a recent widower, he proposed and she accepted.  This was all done by letter and the exchange of photographs.  Aunt Annie saved all their letters, they were tied in a bundle and placed in one of her trunks.  They were extraordinarily happy in their second marriage.  Uncle Walter worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad at the railroad yard in Los Angeles until he retired in 1938 at the age of 67.  He owned a relatively large, two story craftsman style house in what is now Highland Park, California.  Aunt Annie was living with daughter, Ednah , and grand daughter, Ruth Anna, in San Francisco where she worked as a nurse, caring for infirm people in their homes.  Uncle Walter traveled to San Francisco on November 12, 1923, and two days later they were married.  They were “like lovebirds” according to one of my aunts who visited them often.  Aunt Annie called Walter “Daddy” and he called her “Mumsie.”  He died in 1940 after 17 years of marriage, having retired only two years earlier.  Aunt Annie’s daughter, Ednah, moved in with her after Uncle Walter’s death and opened her own beauty shop nearby.  By this time, grand daughter, Ruthanna, had married and divorced and was living elsewhere.

Aunt Annie died in 1953 at the age of 85.  She was three years older than Uncle Walter.  Ednah continued living in the house in Highland Park,  and her daughter Ruthanna came to live with her.  Ruthanna pre-deceased her mother at a young age due to alcoholism (which seems to have run in the Forkner family…Aunt Annie’s first husband, Lon Forkner, appeared to have a dirnking problem, one of the reasons she divorced him in 1918).  When Ednah died in 1968, she left the contents of the house to my mother, who was named after Aunt Annie (Anna Marie Shank Marlin).  My mother found the letters that Annie and Walter exchanged in the months before they were married down in one of the trunks in the attic.  Her cousin Ednah, Aunt Annie’s daughter, made my mother solemnly promise that when she found the letters, she would burn them.  She said her mother (Aunt Annie) would “roll over in her grave” if she knew anyone had read them and that she had made Ednah promise that she would burn them.  Ednah had not carried out this request, so she charged my mother with it.  My mother read the letters, I read the letters, my aunts read the letters, and then my mother burned them, as requested.  As she got older, she regretted it, saying that they were so sweet and loving that she did not see the point in burning them, but destroy them she did.

There is one quandary in all this that we have wondered about over the years.  Sometime around 1922, in San Francisco, Aunt Annie had a series of photos taken which we lovingly refer to as her “cheesecake” photos.  She is in her underwear, stockings, garters and slippers, though fully clothed, and she is posing with a mirror in her hand, this way and that.  My mother thought she had them taken after she lost weight, but the photos are SO UNLIKE anything Aunt Annie ever did, it’s still a great mystery to me.  Like her aunt, my mother charged me with NEVER showing the photos to anyone outside the family, so I wrestle with what to do with them…other than the framed set which hang in my bedroom.  We speculate that Aunt Annie had them made for Uncle Walter once she knew they were getting married, but there was no reference to them in any of her letters.  Another speculation is that she had them taken when she started writing to male members of the correspondence club (where she found Uncle Walter) and never sent them to anyone.  Anyway, I probably won’t ever put them up on the blog because Aunt Annie, her daughter Ednah and my mother would probably all turn up to haunt me, but it’s so tempting because they are such wonderful photographs of a woman by then well into her fifties and not exactly anyone’s idea of a pin up girl!  And by today’s standards, they are not the least bit risque.

But I have digressed well beyond the above photo.  This photo shows Uncle Walter with his family, probably in the 1890’s (judging from the sleeves of the women’s dresses).  There is an inscription which says, “From Father and Mother to Walter and Edna Tweddell, 1916.”  Edna was Uncle Walter’s first wife and apparently the photo was a gift from his parents after he married the first time.    Uncle Walter is the young man standing in the back row on the right.  His father next to him, then a sister, then his mother.  There were eleven children in total.  In the obituary written in 1940 when Uncle Walter died, Aunt Annie stated that he came from a large family in Pittsburgh.  Other photos identify Walter’s mother as Eliza Tweddell and his father as John Tweddell.   Over the years, I have attempted to find descendants of this large Tweddell family to no avail.  There is a Tweddell list on rootsweb (I think it is) but I can find no link to Uncle Walter.  He died without having any children.  I am hoping by reposting this that some descendant of this branch of the Tweddell Family will see this and contact me.


  1. Enjoyed your essay today very much. I wish I had pictures like this for my family. Aunt Annie sounds like she enjoyed life as best she could.


    • From what I have been told, Aunt Annie worked very hard all her life until she married Uncle Walter in 1923 at the age of 55; then she “retired” into housekeeping, cooking and gardening.


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