Thursday, April 27, 2023

Asking Questions to Find
the Rest of the Story


It was Mary Elizabeth Carr Fenley whose sudden death in Quincy, Massachusetts, plagued me with questions. Though I only this week had found the woman's name and family constellation, it seemed odd that a woman in 1890 would have died so far from home. I had to find the rest of that story.

Seeing her name on the death register, listed for Quincy as was often done during that time period—line by line on one page for the same month and year—revealed that Mary was not the only Fenley who had died on the same day. Delving further into the records, I could see there were others with different surnames among the dead that day who had also come from Mary's home in Louisville, Kentucky.

Despite having the help of archived newspaper collections to learn more about the cause of Mary's sudden death—and that of the other Fenley family members who lost their lives in that horrific twenty four hour period—there were some challenges to piece together who was who. Newspaper reporters, as we've seen in the past, can make mistakes.

Especially considering the sheer numbers of dead and injured in the train wreck which precipitated the loss of their lives, I certainly understand how the surrounding circumstances might have mangled reporters' ability to keep lists of casualties straight. It was back to the genealogical drawing board for me, after reading as many news articles as I could find, to sketch out the true relationships of the Fenley family members involved.

Mary, herself, was widow of John Norris Fenley, and mother of traveling companion Mary Fenley Abbott, who was accompanied by her husband, William. The party also included Mary's daughter-in-law Alice Short Fenley and her daughters, Mary's grandchildren Elizabeth, Mary Catherine, and Alice. Rounding out the party was another of Mary's granddaughters, Susan Fenley, daughter of Mary's son William.

All but son-in-law William Abbott and granddaughter Elizabeth died in the Quincy train tragedy within twenty four hours of its occurrence in August that year of 1890. Even so, both William and his niece Elizabeth were badly injured, marks which they bore through the rest of their lives and which, apparently, brought the young girl Elizabeth much anguish over the remainder of her brief life.

Before answering the question of exactly how—and why—I stumbled upon this family's unbearable loss, we'll first need to take a closer look at Elizabeth's story, tomorrow.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...