Sunday, February 26, 2012
The Death of Young John Cullen - Investigation
The query of this investigation: what happened to George Fleener after he killed Cullen?
The case: The State of Indiana vs. George Fleener, Joseph McClung, and Nathan Fritch.
(Please read the last post of this name if you haven't already to catch up on details.)
In researching any topic thoroughly one must look at every aspect involved. The area that this event, the death of John Cullen, took place in was hilly country. Farms spotted the hills and valleys. Travel might have taken a day to get to the gathering places such as the country store, the church gathering, or the country school, but all in all it was a community. Looking in the 1870 and 1880 census during this time of Cullen's death in 1873 tells a lot. Cullens, Robertsons, Fleeners, Fritchs, and McClungs were relatively close neighbors. The area was situated in Jackson township which is in the northwest corner of the county close to Monroe County. A lot of families went to Monroe County to do business so both counties needed to be checked.
The two main characters in this event were John Cullen and George Fleener. It might be good to check on their family lines. John Cullen was born abt. 1851 in Noble County, Ohio, the son of James Cullen and Rosanna Haeffer. His father born in Ireland and mother born in Pennsylvania. He had brothers and sisters: Peter Wilson, Mary A., Harriet, Samuel, Elizabeth, Hester A., Catherine, Rhoda Dora, Susan M., James H., and Rosea. All of this was taken from census records and family histories.
The accused, George Fleener, was born abt. 1854 and his parents were Abraham Fleener and Sarah Jane Alexander. His siblings were: Nancy Jane, James A., Alexander, William Thomas, Mary Eliz., Sarah Ann Marie, Andrew Jackson, Fleming Valandingham, Catherine, and Martha Ellen.
To begin with we tried to find any other information on George so all of his siblings and his parents were researched. None of the obituaries that we were able to obtain from the brothers or married sisters mentioned George as a brother or his whereabouts. We hit a dead end here. Next we needed to look at family histories so a trip to the library was the next destination.
In the book, "History and Families - Brown County, Indiana" under a family history of the Fleener family one line at the bottom on this family read, "George married Gabriella Robertson and moved west early in life." So this gave us another clue, at least he lived to marry and moved away. Looking for a marriage record for George and Gabriella proved fruitless in both Brown and Monroe Counties. It was decided then to do some more checking on Gabriella Robertson's family. Digging further in another family history on the Claiborn Robertson family Gabriella was listed as a daughter. Her mother was Mary Stephens and she had 8 other siblings: Jacob, George Winfield, Lazarus, Agnes, James H., Della Jane, Amanda, and Louisa Robertson.
At the bottom of their family group sheet was a few lines on Gabriella.
"There is a mystery about what happend to Gabriella. Her name was never mentioned in the family. It was as if she had never lived. Her sister, Amanda, wrote: Gabriella did not go west with that man, Fleener, involved in the stabbing of John Cullen. It seems that Gabriella was considered his girlfriend. The last time anyone seen her was when she was leaving for Taintor, Iowa. It is believed she went west in the year 1873."
The previous quote suggests they did go west together. Looks like some of the family still denied it and others just preferred not to talk about it.
John Cullen's death was in 1873, so why would Gabriella go west in 1873 except to go with Fleener. But we can't determine this for certain not just yet.
As best could be done the obituaries of her siblings were checked for a mention of their sister, Gabriella. None gave any more clues. The Criminal Court books still need to be checked to see if a verdict was given in the case. Since I didn't get to go last week now it is definitely on my to do list for this coming week. Stay tuned for Part 3.