Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sentimental Sunday - The Untimely Death of Clarence W. Armstrong

One of the reasons I have really dived into my genealogy research is a idea of remembering those that came before me.  Because, really, we owe each of our ancestors a debt to remember them and make their memories live on.

But what about those relatives who never married or never had kids.  In many ways, their memories die with them as there is no direct descendants to keep their memories alive.  

Those of you, who like me, do a lot of your genealogy research on have probably noticed that relatives who die young or childless are often omitted from family research like they never existed.

This seems to me like a special kind of tragedy.

I will be devoting many future blog posts to those relatives who have few to remember them.  I have already posted about my great uncle, James Kurtz, who died during WWII.  My grandfather named his son, James in memory of his brother.

Clarence W Armstrong was my great grand uncle.  He was son to my paternal great great grandfather, John B. Armstrong.    I don't know very much about Clarence Armstrong except the circumstances of his untimely death.  He was born March 5, 1870 in Cape Elizabeth, Maine and died at the age of 39, September 8, 1909.   He was unmarried.

On the day he died, he had been doing some work at Fort Williams, he was driving a team of horses or mules with supplies for the fort.  He was driving along Commercial street when his horses became frightened by at Grand Truck engine (Grand Trunk was a commercial railroad company) that was passing nearby and started to run.  Clarence leapt from the carriage, probably to escape the runaway horses, but as he leapt his feet became entangled in the reins and he struck the side of the wheel which probably knocked him unconscious.  He was dragged quite a distance and when help reached him he was already dead from a broken neck.
Source: Public Documents of the State of Maine Being the Annual Reports of the Various Departments and Institutions
for the year 1909, Vol III, pg. 248

Clarence W. Armstrong, gone but not forgotten.


  1. I agree with you completely. I have a small collection of photos taken by my grandmother's brother during World War I. He never married. I took the pictures because no one else wanted them. They really don't mean a lot to me because I don't know the people in the pictures except for him. But if I don't do something "big" with these pictures, no one will ever know that he had a life here and it mattered. These pictures were important to him.

  2. @Wendy, I am in a similar situation with my great uncle's WWII photos. I was thinking of trying to find out some of the other people in the photos (trying to find out the unit he served in) and see if they mean something to those families. Keeps the photos alive and maybe something that other families would cherish.