I was sucked in almost the very minute we – Adrien and I – went to a talk at the New England Genealogy and History Society’s Library on Newbury Street in Boston. For a while, I would go in to Boston almost weekly and, while Adrien poured over the Drouin Index for his French Canadian ancestors, I would rummage through fragile directories and volumes for my Puglisi, Duym, and Flournoy relatives.
One puzzle piece that had remained missing was that of my maternal grandfather’s father, Richard Wilson Flournoy. Not much was known about him; there are some family artifacts: his train conductors’ scarf, a wallet with a small scratch pad, a time table, a formal portrait. It was known that he died in a train accident when my grandfather was about a year old.
Periodically, Googling an ancestor’s name yields a result. This week I tried that with Richard’s father, Peter Creed Flournoy. About two entries down, was Richard’s name attached to a cemetery database in Albany, New York.
Richard Wilson Flournoy, was born on March 4, 1859 in Linneus, MO. His father was a Civil War colonel on that “other” side, so when the War ended, the family moved to Arkansas. Eventually, they were able to move back to Missouri and, in 1882 he married my great-grandmother, Minnie Palmer. After living in Bennington, Kansas, Richard went ahead to Albany where he worked on the Hudson River Railroad. We have a letter Richard wrote to Minnie, who was still in the midwest, telling her he would be sending for her and their daughter Carrie soon. In 1889, my grandfather, Palmer, was born in Albany.
And that’s where things had come to a stop. This week, through the cemetery listing, we learned that Richard’s death came on March 19, 1891 caused by gangrene of the arm. The family story that Richard was in a terrible train accident has been finally confirmed. We also now know that Richard was buried, not in Missouri with his Flournoy relatives, but in Menand Cemetery in Albany.
As usual, new genealogical information brings more questions. Is there an account of the accident that eventually took my relative’s life? My great-grandmother Minnie retained a lawyer to get some compensation for the loss of her husband – a bold move by a woman in 1891. Why?
Questions and more questions. And the hunt continues.