Surprises in Genealogical Research
By Mark “Duffy” Floyd
When I first began doing genealogical research it entailed many trips to courthouses near and far and also trips to the local LDS Family History Center ordering microfilms and microfiche. This was followed by hours spent viewing these records with their associated readers for snips of information which with luck, would allow one to further their lines of research. Many times a series of ordered records lead to no new information. At other times it seemed like the puzzles of the “National Treasure” movies with riddles followed by riddles…clues but no answers. This resulted in yet another order to the LDS Library in Utah and a week or more of waiting for the order to be filled. Oh, and don’t forget the pleasures of using a microfilm/microfiche printer and the varied quality of the print you obtained.
Today the game has changed. The internet has allowed access too many sources of information heretofore spread far and wide beyond the reach and resources of most amateur researchers. Many times it is possible to print the articles and records directly from your computer or in the very least save the record for later review. You are also able to compare and contrast records from a variety of sources, quickly allowing you to make critical assessments of the validity of the data you are viewing and obtaining a better view of the historical events being studied. Such is the story of my recent dabbling in web-based genealogical research.
My story revolves around my Grandfather Victor Charles Duffy Floyd who was born in Gilmer County WV, October 10, 1885. His father was Jesse Lewis Floyd and his mother Angeletta (Stout) Floyd. My Grandfather passed to the beyond 4 days before my 10th birthday on February 3, 1966.
I always knew my grandfather had played football at WVU in the early 1900’s. I had a copy of a picture of him in his football uniform but no details to flesh out the story. Recently I decided to see if I could expand my knowledge of my Grandfather’s career by doing a series of Google searches. The first fact I tried to establish was when he might have played at the University. I knew my Grandfather never went by his full given name. I was already in my 20’s before I learned his first name really was Victor. I always knew him a as C. D. Floyd or heard him called Duffy, a nickname I adopted as a 6 year old as my own.
I found a WVU site which established C. D. Floyd played guard in 1910 and 1911. I then innocently went about trying to find a picture of this team by doing a search on a variety of combinations of “WVU + Football + 1910” The very first story that was listed was one titled “A look back: Death of player in WVU game in 1910 led to murder charge” which was an article published in the Charleston Daily Mail November 13, 2008 and was written by Justin D. Anderson. I read this story as well as some of the comments below and found a link to the [Newspaper Articles] page which had several articles of interest about this incident. So here is the story in condensed form so I don’t overstay my welcome.
November 12, 1910 WVU played against Bethany College for the state championship of WV at Island Park in Morgantown. This was in the days of leather helmets with no faceguards and the forward pass was a relatively new tactic being introduced to college football only in 1906 as an attempt to open up the game and reduce the number of injuries. Touchdowns yielded 5 points and the “drop kick” was a popular tactic as the football in those days was shaped more like a rugby ball. To place the times in context, the famous Knute Rockne of Notre Dame fame was not even a player on that team yet, let alone the coach that became famous in the 1920’s-1930’s. The “modern” shape of the football did not arrive until 1934.
Towards the end of this game with WVU leading 8-0, Rudolph Munk, WVU Captain and Left Halfback who had been instrumental in the WVU lead was running interference for a running play around the right end where the other WVU halfback, player Bell, was attempting to advance the ball, again threatening the Bethany goal line. A Bethany player, Tim McCoy right end, collided with Munk and either hit him in the chest or in the back of the head with a fist and Munk went down. The accounts of what happened were in dispute which ultimately played a role in the decision of the coroner’s inquest held the following day. Player McCoy interestedly had left school three weeks before the game and should not have been playing in the game at all. Munk was taken from the field never regaining consciousness and later died of a cerebral hemorrhage.
Following the game, a warrant was issued for McCoy charging him with murder, a first in the history of college football where a player was charged in this way for the actions he had taken on the field. A Coroner’s Inquest was held and testimony taken from game officials and players from both teams. Ultimately the actual cause of death could not be attributed to what McCoy had or had not done though it appears several witnesses changed their testimony compared to statements made directly following the game. WVU cancelled the rest of their season. The news story made the New York Times and was national news for a time but when you realize that 14 players were killed in college football during the 1910 season, it was news only for a moment, though it did result in calls to ban football at WVU due to violent nature of the game as played then.
Through these articles I was able to establish that my Grandfather played left guard in the game and was a letterman for both the 1910 and 1911 seasons. But you might ask what does this have to do with Harrison County?
My Grandfather lived in Clarksburg, Harrison County from the late 1910’s through most of 1946. He was a prominent member of the community running a series of real estate and mining concerns. He was a charter member of such organizations as Kiwanis, the Automobile Club and the Masonic Lodge. He helped organize the Wild Life League of West Virginia and built 5 artificial lakes as real estate investments within the state, two of which are near Clarksburg. One lake is Lake Floyd and the other Maple Lake east of the town. He was married in Clarksburg to one Bessie Edna Crummitt and my father William David Floyd was born there.
The surprise of this story is, I found there is not a single living member of my family, some of whom knew my Grandfather personally, that were aware of this incident in his life. The point of this story being that there is a vast amount of information available to today’s researchers that was hidden before the days of the internet. Please take advantage of it to flesh out the stories of the lives of your ancestors in order to place the lives they led into context. To me Genealogy is more than just a series of facts and relationships but is known as Family History for a reason. The inability to place one’s life within the context of times they were led denies you the ability to understand who your ancestors really were and why you are who you are.
Football game November 12, 1910
Following was the line-up:
WVU - 8 Bethany - 0
Bachman-Feller L. E Umbenhower
King L. T Kemp
Floyd L. G Kerfoot
Tyler C Bradford
Conoway R. G Watson
Amos R. T Sunderman
Spear R. E McCoy
Karfer Henley (capt.)
Thompkins Q. B Shuttleworth
Bell R. H Bowers
Munk (capt.) L. H Smith
Taylor F. B Bishop
Touchdown - Thompkins.
Touchback - Bishop.
Goal from field - Munk.
Referee - Sugden, of Harvard.
Umpire - Young, of Michigan.
Field judge and timer - Rau. of Pitt.
Head linesman - Wiatt, of West Virginia.
Linesman - Huey, of West Virginia; McLain, of Bethany.
Time of quarters - 12 1/2 minutes each.
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