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Genealogical research has its fair share of heavy moments and painful stories. One that left a lasting scar on the Fleischhauer family was the death of Friedrich William Fleischhauer, who at only eleven years old, was killed by a moving train on the Long Island Railroad Tracks. While the event was remembered by living descendants, many details remained in obscurity until I pursued researching this family tragedy. The few documents that were located tell more of the story.

Friedrich William Flesichhauer was born 7 Oct 1893 in Brooklyn, New York to Franz Emil and Meta (Rankin) Flesichhauer.[1] He was the eldest of his siblings that included two brothers and two sisters. Friedrich was the name of Franz’s father, a glass engraver, but for his shot natural life, Friedrich William chose to be called William.

Millions of newspaper volumes for the New York City Area have been digitized, the largest collections being fultonhistory.com and New York State Historic Newspapers. The Fulton collection led me to my first breakthrough. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported on Sept 18 1905 that William Fleischhauer, an 11 year old boy, was struck by a train while crossing the Long Island Rail Road tracks near the Hollis depot. The operator of the locomotive was engineer Harry Williamson.[2]

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Image Source: fultonhistory.com

The newspaper article attests to the fact that his death was instantaneous and that the engineer did not recognize that he had hit someone or refused to stop. Poor William’s death was gruesome; several cars rolled over his body and the reporter stated that “his head was horribly mangled.”[3] The engineer was reportedly charged with homicide and the body of young William was taken to Everitt’s morgue under the discretion of Coroner Ruoff. The Long Island Farmer, published 22 Sep 1905, adds one new kernel of information; specifically that William was killed at 5pm Monday afternoon. At that time of day, it was still light outside and the excuse of darkness couldn’t be justified in the engineer’s defense for not seeing young William on the tracks.[4]

 

William was only a mile away from his home in Hollis where the accident happened. The article published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that the Fleischhauer family had just recently moved from Brooklyn to the village of Hollis in Queens, New York and were residing at the corner of Husson and Prospect Streets.[5] Only 3 three months earlier, the Fleischhauer family was enumerated in the 1905 New York State Census at 157 Cornelia Street in Brooklyn, which leads to the conclusion they moved to Queens between June and September 1905.[6] Brooklyn city directories continue to list William’s father, Franz (Frank) Flesichhauer residing at 157 Cornelia St. in Brooklyn through 1908.[7] He could have continued to use this address as a work facility for manufacturing thermometers.

 

Google Earth located the Hollis railroad depot, but was unable to find Husson or Prospect street. Many of the street names in Queens changed during the 20th century. Steve Morse has compiled a thorough list of all the name changes in Queens and his webpage showed that Husson Street is now 187th Place.[8] I was intimately familiar with 187th Place; many records list the Fleischhauers address as 89-36 187th Place in Hollis. The street view shows the house standing at the intersection of two streets. Intersecting with 187th Place is 90th Avenue, which was formerly Prospect Ave.[9] I had confirmed that the Fleischhauer family had moved to their home in Hollis which stayed in the Fleischhauer until Franz and Meta, parents of William, passed away after World War II.

 

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Image Source: Google Earth

 

 

The death certificate of William identifies him by his first name of Frederick (Friedrich). Not only does the document confirm, the location and date of his death, it also adds more medical information. In addition to a severe head fracture, the coroner’s examination also note a broken arm and leg.[10] The undertaker was named Benjamin F. Everitt, corroborating the fact that William’s body was brought to “Everitt’s Morgue.”

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Image Source: Author’s Collection.

 

There are still a lot of loose ends in the investigation, particularly concerning finding out what happened to the engineer Harry Williamson:

 

  • The courthouse in Queens County, New York may have a file on Harry Williamson, but no inquiry to their holdings has been made yet. Google Books does hold digests and reports hearings for many courts in New York City, but searches have failed to locate any mention of a trial.
  • The identity of Harry Williamson remains unclear. Two men named Harry Williamson lived in separate apartments at 327 Second Street, Brooklyn, New York. Engineer Harry J. Williamson is listed as 46 years old and born in Ireland. He arrived in about 1868.[11] The second Harry Williamson, also an engineer, lived a couple of apartments over as a boarder in the household of Patrick Ratay. He was born about 1879 in the United States[12] An article from 1906 in the Hempstead Sentinel reports a break in on 4 Oct 1906 to a house owned by Harry Williamson. The article identifies him as an engineer, but otherwise, there is little certainty of his identity.[13]
  • Coroner Ruoff ‘s full name was Leonard Ruoff Jr., who died in 1907.[14] William Fleischhauer did not appear in New York City Coroner Inquests for 1905 or 1906, microfilmed by the Family History Library.[15] Coroner records dating back to 1906 are in custody of the New York City Municipal Archives. Records for William’s autopsy may or may not be in this collection, as January 1906 is three months later than the death of William.[16]

 

From family papers, I received a copy of the deed showing a cemetery plot purchased by Franz Fleischhauer 27 Sep 1905 at the Lutheran Cemetery in Queens.[17] I can’t imagine the difficulty of a father burying his child. This same plot in the Lutheran Cemetery holds the remains of William, his parents Franz, Meta, and William’s brother, Frank Julius (my great-grandfather). May they all rest in peace.

 

lutheran cemetery deed frank flesichhauer-1

Image Source: Author’s Collection.

 

 

 

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Image Source: Author’s Collection.

 

 

[1] “New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2W74-82F: accessed 20 April 2016), Friderick Fleischhauer, 07 Oct 1893; citing Birth, Brooklyn, Kings, New York, United States, New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1324416.

[2] “Schoolboy Killed By Train,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Tuesday, 19 Sep 1905, page 1, column 2, image copy: Old Fulton NY Post Cards (http://www.fultonhistory.com: accessed 12 April 2016.)

[3] “Schoolboy Killed By Train,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 19 Sep 1905.

[4] “Boy Killed At Hollis,” The Long Island Farmer (Jamaica, New York), Friday, 22 Sep 1905, page 1, column 7, image copy: NYS Historic Newspapers (http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn87070021/1905-09-22/ed-1/seq-1/: accessed 19 April 2016.)

[5] “Schoolboy Killed By Train,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 19 Sep 1905.

[6] “1905 New York State Census,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MKSB-FH3: accessed 12 June 2016), household of Francis Fleischhauer, Brooklyn, Election Dist. 24, Block C, 20th Assembly District, page 26, line 28, county offices, New York, FHL microfilm 1930279.

[7] Upington’s Brooklyn Directory (1906), p.350; Upington’s Brooklyn Directory (1907), p. 315; Upington’s Brooklyn Directory (1908), p.325, Brooklyn Public Library (http://www.bklynlibrary.org/citydir/: accessed 13 Jun 2016.)

[8] Stephen P. Morse, “Street Name Changes* in Queens, New York,” (http://www.stevemorse.org/census/changes/QueensChanges2_161to271.htm: accessed 13 June 2016.)

[9] Stephen P. Morse, “Street Name Changes* in Queens, New York,” (http://www.stevemorse.org/census/changes/QueensChanges1_OtoQ.htm: accessed 13 June 2016.)

[10] Hollis, Queens County, New York, death certificate no. 2352 (18 Sep 1905), Frederick W. Fleishauer, New York City Municipal Archives, New York, New York.

[11] “New York State Census, 1905,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MKSH-1QT : accessed 13 June 2016), household of Harry Williamson, Brooklyn, A.D. 12, E.D. 06, Kings, New York; citing p. 51, line 36, county offices, New York.; FHL microfilm 1930262.

[12] “New York State Census, 1905,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MKSH-1QT : accessed 13 June 2016), Harry Williamson in household of Patrick Ratay, Brooklyn, A.D. 12, E.D. 06, Kings, New York; citing p. 51, line 48, county offices, New York.; FHL microfilm 1,930,262.

[13] Hempstead Sentinel, Thursday, 4 Oct 1906, page 1, column 4, image copy: Old Fulton NY Post Cards (http://www.fultonhistory.com: accessed 13 Apr 2016.)

[14] “Coroner of New York City,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coroner_of_New_York_City: accessed 13 Jun 2016.)

[15] “Records of Coroner’s Office, Inquests to Deaths, New York City,” Inquests, 1903-1914, Family History Library Microfilm 501155.

[16] “Coroner’s Records, 1906-1918,” ArchiveGrid (https://beta.worldcat.org/archivegrid/collection/data/122378459: accessed 13 Jun 2016.)

[17] Lutheran Cemetery (Middle Village, Queens, Queens, New York), Indenture to Frank Fleischhauer (27 Sep 1905).


 

Copyright (c) 2016 Jake Fletcher.

Jake Fletcher. “Investigating The Death of William Fleischhauer,” Jake Fletcher, posted 13 Jun 2016. https://travelyourgenealogy.com/2016/06/13/investigating-the-death-of-william-fleischhauer

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