Genealogy Connections

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.


One thought on “Genealogy Connections

  1. Dear Amy,

    I’m a descendant of Samuel G. Flournoy and his wife Sarah Frances Chappell (both of the Richmond VA area). They had a daughter named Lelia Annie Flournoy (who married Jesse Dean Wallace), and the name “Lelia” was the search criteria that led me to your post about Peter Creed Flournoy (there was a Lelia Flournoy who was head of the Peter Chreed Flournoy chapter of the “United Daughters of the Confederacy”). My 2g grandmother was Sarah F. Flournoy, a sister of Lelia. I have puzzled over who the parents of Samuel G. Flournoy was, for quite some time now. I tend to believe that he was a fairly close relative of “the Richard Wilson Flournoy who married Sarah Parke Poindexter”, mainly because R.W. and P.P. Flournoy’s daughter, Ann Ellen Flournoy, married the brother (Daniel McCarty Fitzhugh Thornton Jr.) of my 2g grandfather, Foxhall Alexander Parker Thornton, who was married to Sarah Frances Flournoy, daughter of Sam’l G. Flournoy (in other words, the two Thornton brothers both had Flournoy wives).

    Any way, with all the repeated names (i.e. Richard Wilson Flournoy and Lelia Flournoy), and close name associations, as well as intermarriages, I was wondering if during your research, you had discovered any clues for me, as to which branch that my Samuel G. Flournoy came from.

    It seems that the Flournoy’s continued to name their children after relatives who remained in Virginia, even several generations after they began spreading South (to GA, AL, etc.) and West (KY,MO, TX, etc.). By the name associations, it sometimes looks like they used names of fairly distant cousins as the namesakes of their children, or else there are other elements of the relationships that are buried by time, etc.. For instance, Fitzhugh Jeter Flournoy (son of Peter Chreed Flournoy), has names that are also associated with numerous branches of the Thornton family. My great grandfather, Grayson Dashiell Thornton (son of Sarah Frances Flournoy), who was a great grandson of Charles Thornton and Sarah Ann Catlett Fitzhugh, was married to Elizabeth New Crowder, who was a great granddaughter of Rodophil Jeter (who I believe was also the great grandfather of Peter C. Flournoy’s wife, Mary C. Jeter). I believe Mary C. Jeter’s grandmother was Judith Crowder, a sister of Elizabeth’s grandfather. Elizabeth New Crowder (GD Thornton’s wife) was also a great granddaughter of Dr. John Sanders (grandson of William Grant and Elizabeth Boone), whose first cousin, Agnes Grant, was married to John James Flournoy (son of Matthew Flournoy), who started a distillery at Petersburg, KY. There are several cases where my ancestors moved West in the early 1800’s (to KY and IN), and then back East again (such as Agnes McRae, mother of Elizabeth Crowder, and Daniel McCarty Fitzhugh Thornton, grandfather of Grayson). Some say that it’s possible that Samuel G. Flournoy is descendend from the branch of Flournoy’s that went to GA (i.e. Gibson Flournoy), and that he came back to Richmond, later in life.

    Thanks for your help.

    Chuck Thornton

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