Albert B Osborne.

Makers of America; biographies of leading men of thought and action, the men who constitute the bone and sinew of American prosperity and life (Volume 3) online

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1720, to Elizabeth (Williams) Jones, the widow of Orlando Jones,
whose father, Reverend Roland Jones was the first pastor of
Bruton parish, Williamsburg. Mrs. Flournoy was a daughter of
James Williams, a Welsh lawyer, and was born on Christmas
Day, 1695. Her mother was Elizabeth Buckner, also a native of
the Old Dominion. Jean Jacques, the emigrant, w r as son of
Jacques Flournoy and Julia Eyraud, son of Jacques Flournoy and

Judith Pueray, son of Jean Flournoy and Frances ,

son of Laurent Flournoy. All of these Christian names born by
the Geneva heads of family have been reproduced among their
Virginian descendants. By an Adams intermarriage there is quite
a large connection with the Washington, Lewis, Lee and Warner
families of Virginia. Robert W. Flournoy was a son-in-law of
Mildred Lewis, who married John Cobbs. John James Flournoy,
grandson of the emigrant, whose family seat was at "Union
Grove," Prince Edward County, was a soldier of the war of 1812,
and lived to be nearly eighty years old. He was received into
Briery Church in 1822. His father was Thomas Flournoy, born
in 1738 ; who was under-sheriff of Prince Edward in 1757, member
of the Virginia house of delegates in 1780; County Lieutenant
from 1783, and high-sheriff in 1786 and ? 87. He was also a mem-
ber of Briery Church. Thomas died late in 1800 or early in the
following year. He was one of the ten children of the emigrant,
and a brother-in-law of Thomas Spencer. In King William
County records there is a judgment recorded in 1721 by John


James Flournoy, and wife Eliza, against Francis Martin for "730
Ibs. of Sweet Scented tobacco in Cask Convenient." A letter from
the debtor complains that "This has been a sorry year for crops,
and I have no tobacco left" (with which to pay the judgment,
tobacco being then recognized as a form of currency).

The French estates abandoned by Laurent when he fled to
Switzerland were located, each about a league apart, in the juris-
dictions of Attancourt, Magneux, Brousseval and Flornoy. The
Flournoys w^ere a race of watchmakers, lapidaries, goldsmiths
and jewelers; Laurent was a lapidary. The name appears vari-
ously as Fleurnoy, Flournois, Flornoy, and Flournoy, the latter
being the accepted form in America.

Kegarding the American branch of Professor Clary's dis-
persed family, Whitfield S. and an only sister, Miss Sallie A.
Clary, are living. The former is a resident of Greensboro, North
Carolina, and his sister now resides in the city of Washington.

Mr. Clary might well be called a tobacco expert, having
devoted some thirty-five years to a study of its culture and manu-
facture. At the age of seventeen he went to Danville to learn the
business, but after reaching that age of self-confidence when he
might be supposed to "know it all," he was still sufficiently
modest to sense the existence of so-called trade secrets among
growers and manufacturers, which he determined to master.
After five years of close observation and toil, in the fall of 1884
he removed to Henderson, North Carolina, where for seven years
he engaged in the leaf tobacco business. On April 29, 1891, while
living in Henderson, he was married to Miss Corinne S. Scales,
at Village Springs, twenty miles from Birmingham, Alabama.
Mrs. Clary is a daughter of Major Nathaniel Eldridge Scales.
Her mother's maiden name was Minnie Lord, between whom and
the family of Lord in Wilmington, North Carolina, there exists a
close kinship. Mrs. Clary is a native North Carolinian; her
parents are residents of Salisbury, formerly of Morganton, where
she was born April 26, 1869. After his marriage Mr. Clary was
temporarily attracted to the agricultural and commercial possi-
bilities of Winston-Salem, where he continued in the same line,
also engaging, while there, in the manufacturing end of the busi-
ness. From Winston-Salem he went to Kocky Mount, where he
remained eleven years in the leaf tobacco trade. In 1907 he set-
tled in Greensboro where he is well known as a tobacco man and
President of the Tobacco Board of Trade. Mr. Clary is not a
member of any fraternity, save that of church-club and Sunday-
school the "brotherhood of Christian work," and the Young Men's
Christian Association, of which he w T as director and President
while in Winston-Salem. He was for several terms superintendent
of the Presbyterian Sunday-school in Kocky Mount, and assistant
superintendent in Winston and Greensboro. He was elected elder


of the church at Henderson, and later filled a like appointment in
the church at Winston and at Kooky Mount. Mr. Clary comes of
pious, God-fearing stock. He is a member in good standing of the
First I'reshyterian Church of Greensboro, one of the largest of
its denomination in the South; also a member of the Sunday-
school. In politics Mr. Clary is a Democrat; in fact it might be
said that Mr. Clary has come to look for bumper yields of "leaf
only during a Democratic administration, or when "the sun
shines on'' his party and the tobacco evil is not in evidence. He
was one of the organizers of the Commercial National Bank of
Greensboro, which was consolidated with the American Ex-
change, and was a prime factor in their consolidation. He was
also prominently concerned in the successful movement to convert
the amalgamated institution into the American Exchange Na-
tional Bank. He was made a director of the Institution at the
time of consolidation and is still a member of its directorate. Mr.
Clary is also Vice-President of the Greensboro firm of Ricks-
Donnell-Medearis Company, Haberdashers, in addition to manag-
ing his interests in leaf tobacco and a real estate and insurance

While the son and grandson of educators and scholars,
through the misfortunes attending the year of his birth, Mr. Clary
failed to receive the advantages of the higher education to which
he was entitled. Although Henry Eldridge Clary left to each of
his boys a scholarship at Hampden Sidney College, young Whit-
field had the benefit of only a common school education. He has,
however, become a successful business man, a useful citizen, and
an honor to the field of his endeavor; demonstrating thereby
that in his case his earlv loss did not hold back the evolution of


his character. The children of Whitfield S. and Corinne Clary
are: Whitfield Spencer, Junior; Robert Scales; Henry Eldridge;
Elizabeth Maxwell Steele, and William Thomas. Whitfield, Jun-
ior's Alma Mater is Davidson College. Robert was also educated
at Davidson, and Washington and Lee University. Miss Eliza-
beth and Masters Henry and William are attending the Greens-
boro High School. Whitfield S. Clary, Jr., is now associated
with the Export Tobacco Company of Richmond, Virginia. Rob-
ert S. Clary is with the Aviation Corps of the United States
Army, stationed at Fort Wood, New York Harbor in 1916, and
now serving in San Diego, California.



A WORTHY descendant of a distinguished Welsh and Eng-
lish ancestry was Captain William Graves Crenshaw of
Hawfield, Orange County, Virginia. He was the son of
Spotswood Dabney Crenshaw by his wife Winifred (nee)
Graves, and born July 7, 1824, in the historic city of Richmond.
Captain Crenshaw lived to accomplish great things. The record
of his achievements causes his name to stand out pre-eminently
in the history 7 of the South with a fourfold claim to imperishable
remembrance ; as an unselfish patriot and benefactor ; as a valiant
soldier; as a trusted and distinguished diplomat and as a busi-
ness executive of rare initiative and sound judgment.

Naturally studious, he had, at an age earlier than usual,
acquired the essential elements of a liberal education. Advanced
for his years, in his studies and being impatient to engage in
active business in which he was, later, to prove so successful, his
parents reluctantly consented to the omission of a college course.

On May 25, 1847, Captain Crenshaw, then aged twenty-two,
married, at Pleasant View, Orange County, Virginia, his cousin,
Fanny Elizabeth, daughter of Jonathan and Margaret (Long)
Graves, and to the influence on his life of this happy event much
of his success in later years was, doubtless, due.

Such was the remarkable business acumen and ability dis-
played by him that, before reaching thirty-five years of age, he
had attained the senior membership of the important firm of
Crenshaw and Company, Richmond, Virginia, a firm widely and
favorably known and doing business over a large portion of the
habitable globe. The fleet of vessels which carried the produce
imported and exported by his firm was owned and operated by
himself and his brothers.

While thus actively engaged in these successful and profit-
able business pursuits, war was declared between the States ; and,
in 1861, on the secession of the State of Virginia from the Union,
he immediately discontinued business and entered the Army.
The sacrifices which he voluntarily and willingly made for his
beloved Southland were signal and extensive. A large sum in
gold, then to his credit in England, was promptly advanced by
him to the Confederate Government, the whole of which was, of
course, eventually lost. In addition, he equipped, at his own ex-
pense, a battery of six guns, he also supplying handsome uniforms,
overcoats, blankets, shoes, underclothing and everything neces-



sary for its comfort. Not content with this, however, he still
further advanced money for the purchase of guns and horses, and
for other necessary purposes, so as to expedite his active partici-
pation in the war. Of this "Crenshaw Battery" so named in
his honor he was the first captain, and so effective was the work
performed by it that it became famous during the war and its
achievements are matters of permanent national record. Captain
Crenshaw participated, with marked credit, in all the battles of
the arduous campaign of 1863, from Mechanicsville to Sharps-
burg; and General Hill, in his official reports of the battles in
which he commanded, repeatedly accords special mention to the
Captain for conspicuous gallantry in the field.

Following these engagements, and after rendering this val-
iant service, Captain Crenshaw had the signal honor of being
chosen to serve the Confederate Government as its business rep-
resentative in Europe, his duty being to secure munitions of war,
clothing and other needed supplies for the Southern Army, and
to arrange to get as great an amount of these ammunitions as pos-
sible. This post of honor, difficulty and responsibility he filled
for some months with marked success, while still retaining his
commission and command in the Crenshaw Battery. Despite
innumerable difficulties he succeeded in passing large quantities
of ordnance, clothing, provisions and other supplies into the Con-
federacy, through its blockaded ports, for his government; he
built steamers for the purpose of transporting and landing them
in blockaded ports, and even constructed and equipped several
privateers for use by the Confederacy. Having, too, always in
mind the welfare of his own battery, he remembered the perils
and hardships which he had shared and from which, to his per-
sonal regret, he was now separated, he repeatedly sent over,
through the blockade, at his own expense complete uniforms,
boots and other needed supplies for the particular use of his
own command. On one occasion, indeed, when advised that a
shipment made, had never reached his men, he at once duplicated
the consignment.

As an illustration of Captain Crenshaw's foresight and busi-
ness sagacity, and as an indication of the value of his services
to the Southern cause, it should be stated that, in the early days
of the war, he submitted to the Confederate Cabinet a plan
he had devised for buying all of the cotton and tobacco in the
South, paying for it in Confederate bonds, and shipping it to
Europe to be used as a basis of credit. At the time he was urging
the adoption of this plan cotton could have been bought at about
fifty dollars per bale in Confederate money. A complete justi-
fication of the wisdom and expediency of his plan lies in the fact,
that shortly afterwards, the blockades were more firmly estab-
lished and cotton advanced to five hundred dollars gold, per bale,
delivered in Liverpool.


About the beginning of the war when the need of supplies in
the South was great and demands insistent, Captain Crenshaw,
anxious to be of the greatest possible service to his Government,
became one of the founders of the Crenshaw Woolen Mills of
Kichrnond. He assisted its operations in practical fashion and
caused it to manufacture much of the cloth used to make uni-
forms for Confederate soldiers, large quantities of blankets for
the use of the Southern troops, and similar articles for which
there was such desperate need. It was too important to the Con-
federacy to be allowed to continue its work long, and was de-
stroyed by fire at night, believed to have been incendiary work,
and often surmised to have been done by those in sympathy with
the Federal Government.

Such was the activity of Captain Crenshaw, and so great the
extent of his operations in Europe, that, although the war came
to an end in 1865, he was unable to return to the United States
until 1868, his presence being imperatively needed to close up the
business of the position he held. Again an opportunity arose for
the exercise of his liberality and self-sacrifice, which he cheerfully
embraced. Certain consignments of cotton made to him from
the South failed of delivery, falling, presumably, into the enemy's
hands. Being unable, in consequence, to turn these lost cargoes
into money, he was without funds from his Government to take
care of maturing obligations incurred by him for the purchase of
vessels. He, thereupon, voluntarily, assumed personally the lia-
bilities of the Government he represented, thus suffering consid-
erably further financial loss. On his return to America, his mis-
sion well and honorably fulfilled, he, like many others victims
of their patriotism and devotion, was compelled to begin life
anew. With undaunted courage he again engaged in active busi-
ness ; this time in New York, and became President of several in-
dustrial corporations including the Sulphur Mines Company.

One of Captain Crenshaw's predominating characteristics
was his love of agricultural pursuits. Always an enthusiastic
and successful farmer and raiser of good stock, he never missed
an opportunity of spending as much time as possible on his family
estate of Hawfield, where he settled permanently for the ten years
immediately preceding his death. The estate, originally five hun-
dred acres in extent, with its house dating from the seventeenth
century, was purchased in 1847 by Jonathan Graves for his
daughter Fanny Elizabeth, the wife of Captain Crenshaw. It
was extensively added to by him until it is now a fine property of
more than three thousand acres and is still in possession of the
Crenshaw family. The house and grounds were much used by
the Southern army during the Civil War, especially as winter
headquarters, and many notable manoeuvers and reviews took
place there.


On May 24, 1807, Captaiu Crenshaw terminated his career,
so notable for its achievements, self-sacrifice and devotion. His
wife predeceased him by only six months and both are fittingly
laid to rest in Hollywood Cemetery at Kichmond that city to
which their eyes were so constantly turned during the enactment
of the drama of 1861-65 in which so prominent and praiseworthy
a part was taken by William Graves Crenshaw.

The children of William Graves and Fanny Elizabeth Cren-
shaw are: William Graves, Jr., Fanny Holladay, Mary Lewis,
Spotswood Dabuey, Margaret Winifred and Anne Grant.

William Graves Crenshaw, Jr., married May Virginia Petty
and had issue William Petty, May Virginia, Jr., John Lewis and
Lewis Dabney.

William Petty Crenshaw married Louise McMillan of New
Orleans, Louisiana, and has issue Calvert McMillan and Dorothy.

Spotswood Dabney Crenshaw, who married Anne Clay,
daughter of Cassius Clay of Lexington, Kentucky, had issue Mary
Warfield, Fanny Graves, Spotswood Dabney and Clay.

Anne Grant Crenshaw married Byrd Charles Willis, sou of
George Willis of Orange County, Virginia.


HAT a man lived and planned and worked unselfishly for
fellow man and State and Nation as did William Wilson
Finley, is a subject for his country's thanksgiving, as
well as for her deepest grief that such an one should pass
away in the prime of his usefulness. Among the Makers of
America, William W. Finley stands pre-eminent.

Born September 2, 1853, and reared through the years when
his section was crushed and bleeding, he was a Joshua raised to
stanch her wounds and lead her back to prosperity.

He was the sixth of nine children of Lewis Augustus Finley
and Lydia Rebecca (Matthews) Finley, and their summer home
was in Pass Christian, Mississippi, where he was born. In this
old citv by the sea William W. Finlev received his earlv educa-

V t/ l> /

tion in the private schools, and grew to manhood, through the
years of the Civil War, and the period after, which was worse
than during the time of organized strife. It was no doubt the
suffering then endured and his sympathy with the people of the
"conquered banner," that bound him ever after, so closely, to his
beloved Southland.

He was but twenty when he entered the service of the old
New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern, and the Chicago, St.
Louis and New Orleans railroads. He spent three years in the
Vice-President's office as stenographer, and was successively Sec-
retary to the Receiver and Secretary to the Agent for the Trus-
tees. Four years he was Chief Clerk of the general freight depart-
ment and three years, Assistant General Freight Agent. From
1883 until 1908, Mr. Finley was rising ever higher among railway
officials until 1908, when upon the death of the late Samuel
Spencer, he was elected to succeed him as President of the South-
ern Railway Company. He was also President of the Southern
Railway Company in Mississippi, the Mobile and Ohio Railway
Company, the Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific Rail-
way Company, the Alabama Great Southern Railway Company,
the Georgia, Southern and Florida Railway Company, the Vir-
ginia and Southwestern Railway Company, and the Northern
Alabama Railway Company.

Mr. Finley was a director of the Chicago, Indianapolis and
Louisville Railway Company, the old Dominion Steamship Com-
pany, the Equitable Life Insurance Society, and other companies,
and a trustee of the John F. Slater Educational Fund.



On March 3, 1910, the degree of LL.D. was conferred upon
Mr. Finley by the Tulane University of New Orleans, and on June
2, 1910, the same degree was given him by the University of Ken-

Mr. Finley married Miss Lillie Vidal Davis, daughter of
Alfred V. and Sarah (Surget) Davis of Natchez, Mississippi.
Five children were born to them : Lottie Vidal, Lillie Davis, Wil-
liam Wilson, Jr., Leonora Matthews, and Celestine Page. A
daughter, Dorothy Surget, died in infancy. Mr. Finley's only son
married Miss Vera de K. Downing of the City of Washington.

William Wilson Finley died suddenly on November 25, 1913,
at his residence in Washington.

Mr. Finley's sisters surviving him are Mrs. John W. Chester,
residing at Detroit, Michigan, and the Misses Jane Matthews and
Isabel Bowman Finley, residing at Pass Christian. His brothers,
Lewis Augustus, Leonard Matthews, and Kidgely, and his sisters,
Leonora and Lyclia Kebecca are deceased.

Pass Christian on the Gulf of Mexico is unique in its char-
acteristics; its illimitable outlook over the gulf to the ocean ex-
panded the boy's soul, the interminable rushing of the waves in
their rhythmic beating upon the shore taught him perseverance.
As the years brought him near his young manhood, his heart was
rent with the sufferings and indignities to which his people found
themselves subjected. The war fought for the preservation of
their political rights was ended, but a more crucial struggle with
carpetbag and negro domination, during the re-construction
period, was waged for their freedom and their very lives.

Words fail to depict the character of the man evolved through
all these environments, intellectually so broad, so wide, so deep ;
his heart teeming with love of country and of kind, never failing
to recognize the imprint of divinity calling for respect to even the
lowliest toiler in the tangled scheme of civilization.

From a few of the notices of the press the excerpts below are
chosen, as helping to portray the scope of an eminently useful and
most beautiful life.

"W. W. Finley was a great man. The South has not yet
realized his real worth, but the realization will come in the full-
ness of time.

In his passing the good roads movement has suffered a loss
that is almost irreparable, and the South has lost one of her
mightiest sons." The Lexington, North Carolina, Southern Good
Roads, December, 1913.

"President W. W. Finley, of the Southern Railway, stood
at the head of the progressive forces in the South. Born in Mis-
sissippi; true to the higher aspirations of his people; broadened
in his vision by long and intimate association with the larger life


of wider communities; gifted with the genius of statesmanship,
yet never a politician, and meeting with courage and constancy
every duty required of him, his death is deplored by all men who
value high character and great achievements, and particularly
by his own people, in whose interest his life was literally worn



"Mr. Finley had an idea that the railroad is really something
more than an affair of tracks and stations and cars and locomo-
tives ; that it should be also an educational enterprise, and it was
in this spirit that he instituted and encouraged the educational
trains which were sent every year over his lines to demonstrate
the practical advantages of intelligent and advanced methods in
marketing agriculture, of cattle raising, of dairy farming, of pub-
lic roads, of co-operative methods and marketing, and in the
same spirit and for the same purpose, the necessity of bringing
back natives of the South." Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Public
Ledger, November 27, 1913.

"The death of President W. W. Finley, of the Southern Kail-
road, came as a bolt from the clear skies to all those who knew

"The shock probably came greater to the employees of the
Southern Kailroad than anything since the sudden demise of
President Samuel Spencer, whom President Finley succeeded.

"The trackmen and their helpers laid down their picks and
shovels; the trainman, the depot agent, the fireman and the
engineer, all were deeply affected, and there seemed to throb over
the entire svstem a sigh.

*/ o

"President Finley had during his seven years at the head
of this great Eailroad System fused a breadth of thought, a fresh-
ness of spirit, and a conservativeness in handling questions affect-
ing the vast army of workers under him, in such a manner as to
draw them to him in a close fellowship. A keener understanding
between a railroad president and his employees was never had in
the railroad historv of the South.


"President Finley in an address not long ago in the City of
New York, stated clearly his ideas as to the relation a railroad
held toward the public, when he said : 'A railroad's last thought
should be politics, and its first and ever present thought, of its
duty to the public, thus it will move prosperously forward sus-
tained by its own worth, and justified before the people.'

"He had the same broad views as to the relation which a rail-
road should hold toward its employees in every department.
Not a man in the railroad service, from the highest official under
him to the day laborer, but whom harbored in his breast a firm
admiration for the splendid man at their head.

"Not only the rank and file of the employees lost a friend


and a benefactor; but the public at large, especially throughout
the South, have lost truly a leader of prosperity; inasmuch as he
had started great plans toward the building up of the territory
along the Southern Railroad lines in the encouragement of truck
farming, agricultural exhibits and schools. He had entered into
a sphere of enlightenment along many lines of which the people

Online LibraryAlbert B OsborneMakers of America; biographies of leading men of thought and action, the men who constitute the bone and sinew of American prosperity and life (Volume 3) → online text (page 20 of 48)