Frank Henry DeBoise, the father of James, was born December 10, 1884 in Worcester, the son of Elias and Rose (Anderson) DeBoise. Frank was 13 when his father died from pneumonia, leaving him an orphan. His mother was already dead at the time of his father’s death. Frank was adopted by Joseph and Jane Collins. Joseph and Jane were from North Carolina, and had no other children. Joseph was a brick mason and Jane was a laundress. In 1900, they were 69 and 60 respectively.
Frank had two sisters who were still living at the time of their father’s death – Agnes and Bessie. Agnes was 21 years old when she married John Paxton in 1903, was a widow by 1912, and probably died before 1930. It appears that she did not have any children. Bessie was 16 years old when she married (1) Charles E. Reese in 1905, and 33 years old when she married (2) Isaiah Wilbur Smith in 1922. Bessie lived in New Haven, Connecticut. She did not have children of her own, but she and Isaiah (Uncle Billy) became guardians of her brother Frank’s two youngest children, Theodore and Barbara, upon Frank’s death.
In 1903, when Frank was 19, he was living at 53 Thames Street in Newport, Rhode Island. This was the gilded age and Newport was a thriving port and the summer home of the Vanderbilt’s, Astor’s, Belmont’s, and other prominent, wealthy families. It was also a place where prominent African-American families would travel from Boston, New York and other nearby cities for cultural and social interactions; and a place of economic opportunity for African-Americans, many recent migrants from the south. Thames Street is in the Point Neighborhood, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city near the waterfront, and filled with historic 17th and 18th century homes. African-Americans have lived in this neighborhood since colonial times.
53 Thames Street where Frank was a lodger
Frank probably moved to Newport to take advantage of the job opportunities, and it was an exciting place to live. Living a few houses from Frank, at 73 Thames Street, was Rose Perkins, a widow with four daughters, three of whom are single. One of Rose’s daughters was Patience Perkins. Frank and Patience met, fell in love, and married in 1904.
73 Thames Street, home of Rose Perkins, and Frank and Patience following their marriage. They lived in the rear.
By 1907, Frank and Patience have moved back to Worcester. Frank supported his family working as a laborer, a hostler (worked with horses), and a chauffeur when automobiles became more common. By 1922 he had bought a house at 12 Elizabeth Street. He was 40 years old when he died on February 23, 1924 from a heart attack. He was in bed at the time of his death, with his son Joseph, who was five years old, lying beside him. His wife had died ten weeks earlier from lobar pneumonia which developed following childbirth, now leaving his children as orphans.
Worcester Daily Telegram, Tuesday, February 26, 1924
The funeral of Frank H. Dubois of 12 Elizabeth street will be today at 2 p.m. in A.M.E. Zion church. Rev. F. Clarence Van Buren, pastor, will officiate. Burial will be in Hope Cemetery.
Patience Perkins was born June 2, 1885 in Washington, Beaufort County, North Carolina. She was the daughter of David Perkins and Rosetta (Rose) Grimes. Rose was a widow by 1900 and migrated to the Northeast, as many African-Americans did following the Civil War. She is first found in Newport in 1900. Oral history says that the family lived in New Jersey before they came to Rhode Island. Rose probably moved North with friends and neighbors, in that there are a number of other households from North Carolina living near her in Newport. However, her brothers and sisters remained in the South, continuing to work on the farms that their parents and grandparents had worked. What courage it must have taken to move away from what is familiar and how difficult when you had lost your husband and was responsible for caring for your children. Patience worked as a domestic when living in Newport, and was a homemaker after she married.
Patience and Frank were married April 6, 1904 in Fall River, Massachusetts. Their first child, Christobel, was born April 29, 1904 shortly after their marriage. They initially made their home with Patience’s mother, Rose, in Newport until they moved back to Worcester. Patience died December 7, 1923 from pneumonia and complications from child birth. She gave birth to a baby boy on December 3.
Worcester Daily Telegram Saturday, December 8, 1923
Mrs. Frank DeBoise
Patience (Perkins), 40, wife of Frank H. DeBoise of 12 Elizabeth street, died yesterday afternoon at Memorial hospital. She leaves her husband, eight children, Christobel, Rosette, Frank H., Jr., James, Harry, Joseph, Theodore and Barbara, and two sisters. Funeral services will be held at the A.M.E. Zion church, Belmont Street, Monday at 2 o’clock. Rev. F. Clarence Van Buren will officiate. Burial will be in Hope Cemetery.
Frank and Patience had at least 13 children. All except Christobel were born in Worcester.
1. Christobel (Chris) was born April 29, 1904 in Newport, and died in March 1969 in Washington, DC. She was 65 years old. The death date on her tombstone is June 20, 1969, and she is buried in Arlington National Cemetery with her husband, Harris Jackson. Chris spent over 20 years in mental institutions. Her husband placed her for evaluation and never returned. He died in 1949, probably shortly after placing her. Staff eventually traced down her brother, Frank, in the 1960s. The family did not know where she was. She had been lost and abandoned during her institutionalization. The family was making plans for bringing her home when she died. She was very bright, one of the first in her family to complete high school, and an accomplished pianist. She did not have any children.
2. Adelaide S was born March 6, 1906 and died five months later on August 23, 1906. Her cause of death was chronic diarrhea and starvation from improper feeding.
3. Rosetta (Rose) was born March 13, 1907 and died October 5, 1988 in Worcester at 81 years of age. Rose married Thomas Johnson.
4. Francis H was born February 21, 1909 and died March 16, 1996 in Worcester at 87 years of age. He married Janie A. Carlos on April 30, 1930 in Worcester.
5. James Arthur was discussed in a previous post.
6. William Eugene was born June 26, 1912 and died 2 ½ months later on September 6, 1912 from enterocolitis, which is inflammation of the digestive tract, with malnutrition as a contributing cause. It seems that the cause of his death was very similar to his sister Adelaide.
7. David Elias was born October 29, 1913 and died October 2, 1914, shortly before his first birthday. He died suddenly from convulsions, cause unknown.
8. Harry Andrew was born July 8, 1915 in Worcester, and died in 1959 in Boston. He was 44 years old when he died. Harry was a private in the Army National Guard during World War II, enlisting three weeks after his brother Joe enlisted. He married Margaret (unknown) in 1939 in Boston.
9. John Edward was born January 30, 1917 and died the same day.
10. Joseph (Joe) Albert was born August 12, 1918 and died February 16, 1992 in Roxbury at 73 years of age. He was a warrant officer in the Army during World War II, serving in an all-black unit when the military was still segregated. He married Angela Britto, and they lived in New Bedford and Boston.
11. Theodore (Teddy) Frederick was born October 7, 1920 and died March 11, 2001 in New Haven, Connecticut from a heart attack. He was 80 years of age at the time of his death. He lived most of his life in New Haven, moving there in 1924 upon his father’s death. Teddy served as a private in the Army during World War II. He married Anna M. Lopes.
12. Barbara Elizabeth was born September 16, 1922 and died August 2, 1982 in Providence, Rhode Island. She was 59 years of age at the time of her death. Barbara moved to New Haven when she was 2 years old with her brother Teddy. She was a foster parent for 17 years in both Connecticut and Rhode Island. She married (Unknown) Stewart.
13. Baby Boy was born December 3, 1923 and died at birth.