Ferdinand Flournoy and Margaret Johnson Fleshood

This is an e-mail from Susie Abernathy Jones (1930-2007) to Joyce Fleshood Ryder on July 22, 2004. Susie and Joyce are both granddaughters of Ferdinand Flournoy (1855-1937) and Margaret Lee Fleshood (1863-1936).

Dear Joyce,

     I will write you what I have learned from others and what I remember about the grandparents. Please excuse my spelling.

     Ferdinand Flournoy Fleshood was born February 16, 1855 in Brunswick County. His mother was Harriett Buckley. He married Margaret Lee Johnson on December 20, 1882. He had a brother, Francis Fayette, born August 17, 1849, and two sisters, Lydonia, born 1851 and Isabella, born 1858.  Her full name was Harriett Isabella. She was your Dad's [Ferdinand Flournoy Fleshood, Jr.'s] aunt who lived in Petersburg, married a Tucker and was called "Bell".

     Ferdy's mother died July 17, 1861 at 30 years of age of congestive fever. Lydonia died September 16, 1861 at 10 years old of bowell complaint. His father, William "Jack" enlisted in CSA on April 1, 1862 and died in Winchester around Oct 15, 1862.

     Frank, Ferdy and Bell were brought up and educated by an uncle and aunt, James and Martha Buckley. At one time Ferdy worked in a department store in Petersburg. He later worked in a store in Warfield which is where he probably  met Lee. Her home on 'Simmon Hill" was not very far from Warfield [Brunswick County, Virginia]. Daddy told me that Ferdy helped teach some of the black children in the area. You know it was against the law to teach them before the war so he thought we would be better off if he taught them to read and write. After he married Lee he bacame a tobacco farmer, of sorts, and raised other farm products. Lee's father, Heartwell Johnson, was a fairly large land holder so as each of his children married he gave each a piece of land. On this land is where Ferdy and Lee raised their children.

     I don't know what year the house burned but it was some time after Estelle was born in 1914. She often went there and remembers the makeup of the building. Part of the house was log but Ferdy later added a part with weatherboard.  Estelle [Abernathy, Susie's and Rachel's sister] said she did remember that the whole family was musical and there was always a good time going on. I think there was only one item saved when the house burned and that was a music stand which is now in the posession of Kay Rattley in Hopewell who is granddaughter of Uncle Bunny (Vernon).

     Ferdy went blind sometime after 1919 and before 1921. Edith [Abernathy, a granddaughter] was born in 1919 and Mom [Jane Heartwell Fleshood Abernathy] told me she was the last of her children to be seen by her Papa.

     After the house burned they never had another house.  Ferdy and Lee visited in the homes of the children for the rest of their lives, I remember being very happy when they came to stay with us. Lee kept a large hunk of maple sugar in her trunk and when she came she would break off some hunks of it and give it to us. In those days there wasn't much candy around unless you made it yourself and that took place only around Christmas. They usually stayed longer with us because Daddy was always home to talk with Ferdy.  It is amazing the things he could do, though blind. Dad said he would help with the tobacco in certain areas; he shelled corn, peas, beans, etc and Rachel said he always did the churning for Mom. It's too bad all the time he and Dad were conversing Dad didn't find out about William [Joseph Fleshhood]. All Dad knew was that he went to war and didn't come back. Dad thought Ferdy spent so much time reading by candlelight that it may have caused him to lose his site.   I think he just was suffering the general breakdown of old age. It happens, you know! Dad [Charles Hubert Abernathy] said Ferdy was a very smart man and posessed a great wisdom. He had much common sense.

       Dorothy told me when she was growing up, many learned people from Lawrenceville and other places would come to the house to seek advice from Ferdy. She said they didn't have much so she wondered why they made inquiry of him.

     When he stayed with us I was amazed at how he could feed himself without being able to see. He was a very stubborn man and would not accept help.

     Rachel [Abernathy Pearson] said when she and Edith were little girls they loved sitting on his lap and playing with his moustach. He could take a piece of string and make things such as crows feet and Jacob's ladder, etc. He made some kind of pull toy out of a handerchief. He would fold it a certain way and when he finished it was a roll in the middle with two pull ends which the girls love to pull.

      Grandma Lee was a tiny frail lady but she was full of energy. She helped Mom cook, clean and whatever else that needed doing with so many children in the house. She died at Aunt Honey's [Florence B. Fleshood Ellis's] on December 14, 1936. What a sad Christmas that must have been for the family. Ferdy died at Aunt Honey's the next year on May 20, 1937. I was only 7 years old so I don't have too many memories of them.

     Dorothy [Fleshood Jones (1905-2000)--a daughter of Ferdy and Margaret] asked me once if one could go to Heaven without belonging to a church. I didn't know how to answer her except to say that we didn't call the shots on such things.  She was near the end of her life and I guess she was wondering whether she would see Papa again. Mom told me once that Dorothy was the "apple of Ferdy's eye" and that he spoiled her so much that that is why she acted like she did. But John [Susie's husband] and I finally let things go by and did go to see her a number of times after we moved back to Lawrenceville. I don't think the Fleshoods were so strong on church but the family was greatly respected. Aunt Honey, Harry T, Mom and I think Uncle Bunny [Vernon Edward Fleshood (1896-1974)] always went to church. Aunt Buck [Bertha Buckley Fleshood Roberets (1885-1971)] went sometimes but I never remember seeing Aunt Lila Mary Lila Fleshood Kirkland (1887-1963)] at church.

     Dorothy also told me that Papa sent Margaret [Rose Fleshood Ellington (1883-1930)] and Sis Buck to Petersburg [Virginia] to charm school. She said she didn't know where the money came from but he managed to find it some place. That is no doubt how Aunt Meg met Uncle Joe Ellington and raised a fine family. Sis Buck was also married to someone from there I think, but that didn't last but a few days. She came home and married Uncle Lynn Roberts.  Isn't that funny!

     I am going to try to send you an attachment of Ferdy and Lee's 50th wedding anniversary party. Mom never told me about this but it came from a newspaper clipping which was in Sis Buck's Bible.

     Did Eleanor send you a copy of the precedent-setting court case between my two grandfathers? The subject was "Reuben". Mom said it cost her Papa all the money he had left and through the years there was a little strain between the two.

     If you have any particular questions you would like answered I will try. Wish you would come down for a few days and we could do some hunting. The Fleshood reunion is next summer, if we are up to it . . .
L to R: Dorothy Fleshood Jones, Ferdinand Flournoy Fleshood, Margaret Lee Fleshood Ellington, Maggie Lee Johnson Fleshood, Charles Rousseau Ellington, Jr. Photo courtesy of Rachel Abernathy Paulson.
 Heartwell Jefferson Johnson, father of Margaret Lee Johnson Fleshood. Photo courtesy of Rachel Abernathy Pearson.

Ferdinand Flournoy Fleshood, Jr. and Margaret Johnson Fleshood. Courtesy Joyce Fleshood Ryder.













 Ferdy Flournoy and Margaret Lee--a sweet, loving couple. Photo courtesy of Rachel Abernathy Pearson.