Monday, December 17, 2012

Cheaper by the Dozen

Frank Gilbreth Family
All my life I'd heard that the Finlayson family was related to the Frank and Lillian Gilbreth Family.  Two autographed books were perched upon our bookshelf decade after decade.  The two books were 'Cheaper By The Dozen' and 'Bells on Their Toes'.  The books were written by two of Frank and Lillian's children, Frank Jr and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey.  Both books were made into popular movies in the 1950's.  Cheaper by the Dozen featured Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy and Frank and Lillian Gilbreth.  Bells on Their Toes was released shortly afterward also starring Myrna Loy.

Dad said that Frank Jr was his cousin, but I never knew the lineage.  This morning I took a little time to sort things out.  Here's what I found.

Let's start with my great uncle Henry Wright Finlayson.  He started out a merchant in Cheraw, SC and moved his business to New York.  My grandfather Burruss used to work in his store in Cheraw, and later Henry would help supply goods to his younger brother Burruss' store in Cheraw.  Henry Wright Finlayson married Elizabeth Charity Proffit and had 10 children together.  One of these children was Mary 'Mamie' Finlayson.

Mamie married the Rev. Henry Jennings Cauthen and had 6 children together.  Out of six children, one was a daughter.  Her name was Elizabeth 'Liz' Cauthen.  She married Frank B. Gibreth Jr, the author of Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes.

So to my siblings, Liz Cauthen's relationship is our 2nd cousin.

Above is a photo of the famous Gilbreth family taken in the early 1920's.  You'll notice that there are only eleven children present.  Mary Elizabeth Gilbreth had died of diphtheria in 1912 at the age of 5 years old.  The books gave little reference to her death.  The family never got over the loss of Mary and continued to refer to 'the Dozen'.  They all felt that Mary was always with them in spirit.

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