Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Remembering That Goal

It didn't seem quite right, while speed-researching that Riley family tree, to just move on ahead without any notice when encountering the sobering story of William F. Riley's unfortunate grandson, "Junkman Froggett," fallen at the hands of a hit and run driver in Illinois. And yet, despite stumbling down research rabbit holes, we are still left with a research goal that is patiently awaiting an answer. The main task at hand is to discover what happened to William F. Riley, himself, so that we can find the report on his death record noting what became of his parents.

It was William F. Riley's parents—the original William Riley and his wife, Cassandra Fincher—whose origins have had me stumped. True, I have a partial report on the junior William's sister's death certificate that they came from North Carolina, but that isn't enough to help me. After all, North Carolina is a sizeable state—and Riley is a common surname. A little more guidance would be appreciated.

Yet, the elder William Riley's namesake turned out to not provide much guidance with my brick wall research problem (though he did lead us to some curious newspaper articles). And so we sit, at the end of the research trail, with the younger William and his wife fading off into the distance at the last place where we saw them, in Putnam County, Indiana.

Considering the younger William was born about 1830, it's a sure thing that he left a death record somewhere—but where? While I could find nothing in Indiana—nor even in Decatur, that Illinois city where his unfortunate young grandson wandered—there was one tempting document left for me to consider. The drawback was that the William F. Riley this document belonged to died back home in Washington County, Tennessee—a place our William had not seen in decades. What were the chances?

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