Written by: Leo Lawton
Uncle Fred, who wasn’t really my uncle, was born July 10, 1868. His full name was Fred Eugene Lawton, and he was the next youngest child born into the family after my grandfather Will Benjamin and Will’s twin sister Wealtha Betsy Lawton. This, of course, makes him my father’s uncle, not exactly mine, but he was always known as Uncle Fred to me.
Fred grew up in the Philadelphia, Jefferson County, New York area, and married Minnie Bowles the last day of December 1890. Minnie died in January 1938, about six months before I was born, without ever having any children.
In August of that same year the seventy-year-old Fred took unto himself a new bride. The blushing bride, Bernice Patchen, was all of 16 years old. A year later she became a mother to a son Paul, so Fred at age 71 became a father for the first time. As Bernice died November 17, 1952, Fred outlived his second wife by nearly five years as he died June 4, 1957.