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Paper Trail (1.1)


Does anyone in the room remember Paul Harvey? I didn’t think so.

Everyone in Agincourt—his extended family and the larger community he had known—believed that A. C. Tennant had sunk with the Lusitania. I did too, until Dr Bob asked me “Does he have to die?” So I conspired to bring him back from death and enrich the story with his future, as I had tried to do in creating the paper trail of his past. At least he would not be a one hit wonder.

  • 1915—RMS Lusitania sank on May 7th, with nearly 1200 lives lost. Among the passengers was Elbert Hubbard, leader of the American Arts & Crafts movement. Anson Tennant drifted on some flotsam for several days and was rescued by the crew of a Basque fishing boat. Suffering from dehydration and amnesia, he was taken to their port of Donostia (San Sebastian) and placed in a convent hospital.
  • 1915—St Crispin’s Chapel was added to the Episcopal Church of St Joseph-the-Carpenter and consecrated on October 25th, the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt. Its crypt was reserved for members of the extended Tennant family.
  • 1919—August James Tennant never rececovered from the supposed loss of his only son. He died on August 31st and was the first interment in the Crispin Chapel crypt.
  • 1915-1916—Anson Tennant recouperated in the Hospital of the Holy Cross, attended by nurse Graxi Urrutia (1900-    ).
  • 1917-1937—Still suffering from amnesia and caught up in the First World War and the growing movement for an independent Euskadi, Anson became a carpenter.
  • 1919—Anson Tennant and Graxi Urrutia were married on July 31st, the feast day of St Ignatius Loyola, patron saint of the Basque Country. They had three children: Alize (born 1921), Mikel (1923) and Aitor (1926).
  • 1936-1939—The Spanish Civil War.
  • 1937—On April 26th, German planes attacked and destroyed the village of Guernica. Anson Tennant regained his memory but was unable to contact the U.S. Embassy in Madrid. He, Graxi and the children fled to France by fishing boat. Through the consul in Bordeaux, he contacted his family in Iowa. Sisters Mollie (now Mrs Burton Lloyd) and Claire (now Mrs John Michael Oliphant) sailed from New York for Le Havre and then travelled by train to Paris, where they me their brother and his family for the first time in twenty-two years. They returned to the U.S.
  • 1937-1968—From 1937 until shortly before his death, Tennant followed his craft as a woodworker in Agincourt. He undertook small building projects—remodeling, restoration and additions—but never again referred to himself as “architect”.
  • 1948—Death of Martha Corwin Curtiss Tennant.
  • 1968—Death of Anson Curtiss Tennant and interment in the crypt beneath St Crispin’s Chapel which he had designed fifty-three years earlier.

Now I had answered two questions: when did he seek to become an architect? and how could he avoid such an early and inconvenient death?

“And now you know the rest of the story.”

1 Comment

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