And What About Frank?: A Soprano’s Aria Chapter 37
Not everyone in our family trees are people we admire. Sometimes they are unsavory characters that people want to bury the details of—but I think we need to know about the good bad and the ugly. Here’s my follow-up piece to Lulu’s diary.
This is Lulu’s husband Franklin “Frank” Stewart MOSIER my great grandfather. Frank Mosier had a drinking problem and anger management issues. He may have suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder which is also called emotionally unstable personality disorder. He was certainly that!
Criteria for BPD. Five must be present:
- Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
- Unstable and intense interpersonal relationships
- Lack of a clear sense of identity
- Impulsiveness in potentially self-damaging behaviors, such as substance abuse, security, shoplifting, reckless driving, binge eating
- Recurrent suicidal threats or gestures or self mutilating behaviors
- Severe mood shifts and extreme reactivity to situational stresses
- Chronic feelings of emptiness
- Frequent and inappropriate displays of anger
- Transient, stress-related feelings of unreality or paranoia
I started to wonder about what caused, as a cousin called it, a “mean streak” in Frank. While writing a piece about his mother Catherine Adeline STEWART MOSIER I discovered a few clues which may help explain Frank. Franklin “Frank” Stewart MOSIER was Catherine’s 9th child of 12. He was born two years after his twin sisters Luella & Louisa which might suggest Mom was a tad busy when he arrived. He was followed by a brother less than 3 years later who died as an infant. Then another son, the next year, and finally a daughter when he was 6, who also died as an infant. Among the environmental factors that may cause BPD are:
- being a victim of emotional, physical or sexual abuse
- being exposed to long-term fear or distress as a child
- being neglected by 1 or both parents
- growing up with another family member who had a serious mental health condition
While no one can know what the family dynamic was it is easy to see how young Frank may not have received the attention he craved. He had an 18 year old older brother who leaves when he is about 3. And two brothers 9 & 11. His oldest sister marries before he turns 7. And I suspect Mom and Dad were busy with twins and then dealing with the loss of two children so young Frank would have been exposed to lots of early loss and perhaps a depressed or stressed mom. When he was 11 his oldest sister dies of complications of childbirth so his world view may have been supercharged with stress for a young boy. We do not know whether his father was a drinker, but he may well have been—and we know Frank had run-ins with the law.
I am not sure if this clipping is for John Wesley Mosier (Frank’s father) or Frank, but somehow it feels like Frank. The Mosier in question was umpiring a game and it seems his calls way off base (pun intended).
Here newly married [8 Nov 1889] Frank Mosier is arrested for assault. I wonder if Lulu was worried even then what she had got herself into.
In a correspondence between my grandfather to his sister in 1964—some family secrets are disclosed about their Dad, Frank. “I don’t know why I got started on this but guess you brought it all back when you said you left home because you didn’t like the way the old man was shoving me [Lolita] around. I don’t think I was aware of why you left.” Lolita letter to Milo April 7, 1964.
Milo replies.”[After] I came home from France. You told me, a day or so after the incident, that the Old Man had said, ‘Now see what you did– You made Milo Leave home.’ I went in (to the bathroom, I think) to see what he was doing to you, and he grabbed me by the vest front and threw me out like a bean-bag.
I think it possible that my leaving might have had some effect on him; I don’t know—He always liked me, but I didn’t know that he had beaten you, the way you described…He was the product of an era when violence was a way of life; and to drag a man through the sagebrush at the end of a lariat was an occasion for great hilarity. I knew him very well. I worked with him in wrecking yards; on construction jobs in the mountains; and drank with him in speak-easys. The only credit I can give him, is that he was as tough to men, as well as women and children; at least in my experience, And he enjoyed a certain respect from those of his ilk with who he worked….
From a moral standpoint the Old Man was a lascivious worm.” April 11, 1964
Lulu’s divorce decree was finalized 23 July 1918. True to form Frank is involved in a drunk driving accident the following year.
In spite of the accident he is listed as a truck driver in 1924. I have not located him on the 1930 census but in the 1940 census he is living with his daughter Jessie MOSIER MILLER and her husband Sylvester. We do learn on this census he only had an 8th grade education. There was both affection and disdain for Frank from his children. In spite of a tough life he lived to be 78 years old. The informant on his death certificate was my grandfather Milo. He was admitted to San Francisco Hospital on 5 Nov 1949 and died on the 8th. Remarkably my father was relatively silent about all his grandparents. Neither my father or grandfather were drinkers. My grandfather was a kindly, gentle soul with a sometimes tough exterior. I suspect there were some tender parts to Frank as well, much overshadowed by his demons. We have nothing to tell of your story great grandpa, Frank — from your perspective. May you rest in peace.
The 36 earlier chapters of A Soprano’s Aria: Lulu’s Diary are found here.
Kelly Wheaton © 2022 All Rights Reserved.
Great job here!
Yes our great grandfather was a scoundrel and I hate that he beat my grandmother Lolita.
She exhibited traits common to abused children.
Because she was punished for not being perfect she was sensitive to people watching her, defensive and sometimes judgemental.
I think she was always insecure even though my grandfather adored her and gave her a very good life.
Bonnie—I tried to do him justice—glad you were pleased.
Kelly, this one stopped me in my tracks. There is an alcohol lineage in my branch of the Moser/Mosier tree. Our father was never physically abusive, but for verbal abuse he was the master. Aimed at our mother and 100% of the time drunk. I’ve learned from elders who have since passed away that my grandfather was physically abusive to our grandmother. I have dad’s side of his letters home to his mother & wish I had hers. Assuming she told him of an incident while he was serving in India. His answer was, Mother it won’t be long. We have rumors the war is almost over. Then I’ll be home. You will never have to put up with that again.
The story is he got home put the few belongings he hadn’t shipped ahead and called his dad outside. He never called him dad, first name only. He told Jack he was home and he was never to even look her way with bad humor. Jack mumbled something and my father knocked him out. He told my grandma she would never have it happen again and her days of working were also done. Dad had been in charge of the household since 10 years old. My grandfather got in trouble & was sent to prison. My dad’s responsibility was unspoken, but somehow he did. Never relinquishing the title. We took care of all extended family. By the way, mother was an orphan, she I’m sure had some insecurities. Her family was my dad & his parents. So much to chew on as an adult. We protected our mother like he did his. He was never to look at or touch her in a humorless manner, and yes we told him we’d hurt him if he did. He believed it! Rightly so.
This is my first time to visit your blog. I appreciate your handling of your great-grandfather’s story. Not all of our ancestors are the perfect human beings we would hope for. And we often wonder about the trauma and history that gets passed on to us and through us.
Kathy thanks for your comment. It took me a long time to post this piece as I wanted to be fair in my handling of Frank. If you are interested an interesting book I just read deals with this “Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation” by Maud Newton. 2022 New York
Thank you for the recommendation.
You are welcome!