NORTHERN NEW YORK
Genealogical and family history of northern New York: a record of the achievements of her people
in the making of a commonwealth and the founding of a nation.
New York: Lewis Historical Pub. Co. 1910.
Transcribed by Coralynn Brown
This name is of French origin. It comes to America through England. Persons known by the name of Floier held large possessions in Devonshire, England, immediately after the Conquest. One of the ancestors of the famly herin traced, Captain William Floier, was born near the city of Exeter, England, in 1450, and accompanied the army of King Edward IV, in the descent on France in 1490. He married Phillipa Crooke and became later a resident of Willston, Dorsetshire. Of his three sons, William, born 1530, married Elizabeth Kirk.
(I) From this marriage descended Lamrock Flower, the progenitor of the American branch of the family. He was born in Whitwell, Rutlandshire, England. The date of his emigration is not known, but he settled, in 1685, at Hartford, Conn., where he died in 1716. He was the father of eight children.
(II) Lamrock (2), second child and eldest son of Lamrock (1) Flower, was born at Hartford, March 25, 1689. He had a daughter and a son.
(III) Elijah, son of Lamrock (2) Flower, was born April 15, 1717, at Hartford, where, in 1742 he married Abigail Seymour, by whom he had six children.
(IV) George, son of Elijah Flower, was born at Hartford, April 26, 1760. He married Roxaline Crowe, and soon after the birth of his son George moved to Oak Hill, Greene county, New York. He was the father of ten children.
(V) Nathan Munroe, seventh child of George Flower, born at Oak Hill, Dec. 14, 1796, was married in Springfield, N.Y. to Mary Ann, daughter of Philip Boyle, of Cherry Valley, N.Y. Mr. Boyle was a native of Ireland, coming to this country in his childhood, where in due time he engaged in extensive contract work, being one of the contractors of the first water works in New York City. After his death the family moved to Springfield, N.Y. Soon after his marriage Nathan M. Flower took up his residence in Theresa, Jefferson county, where he erected a cloth mill, and the business prospered under his intelligent management. For many years he was a justice of the peace at Theresa, and during his residence there one of the most active members of the Presbyterian church.
He died April 4, 1843, in his forty-seventh year. Of the nine children born to Nathan M. and Mary Ann Flower, seven were living at the date of his untimely death, the eldest being but fifteen, the youngest, Anson R., having been born in June, 1843, two months after the death of his father. Mrs. Flower made a brave and successful struggle to rear her family into meritorious manhood and womanhood. Her children, all born in Theresa, were:
Caroline, Jan. 21, 1821.
Roxaline, March 15, 1826.
Nathan Monroe, Jan. 21, 1828.
George Walton, Aug. 5, 1830.
Orville Ranney, Jan. 12, 1833.
Roswell Pettibone, mentioned below.
Marcus, Aug. 11, 1837.
John Davison, April 16, 1839.
Anson Ranney, June 20, 1843.
(VI) Hon. Roswell P., son of Nathan M. Flower, one of the most masterly of the brilliant statesman who have adorned the high office of governor of the state of New York, was born at Theresa, Jefferson county, Aug. 8, 1835, died at Eastport, Long Island, May 12, 1899. He came of an excellent ancestry, from which he derived superb physical vigor and sterling principles, and he forged his own character in that white heat of poverty and necessity which consumes all dross and leaves a perfect metal. He was left fatherless at the tender age of eight years. As a lad he worked at wool picking, in a brickyard, and upon a farm. He attended school as he could and was diligent in his studies as he was industrious in his labors, and graduated in the high school course when eighteen years old. He was for some time a teacher in a district school, acquitting himself most creditably and conquering the respect of his pupils when they were disposed to resent the authority of so young a master.
He made his home with his sister's husband, Silas L. George, a merchant, who boarded him and paid him a monthly wage of five dollars for his services. He was afterwards a clerk in the post office at Watertown. He was closely economical and saving, and in a few years had accumulated a little fortune of a thousand dollars. This he invested in a jewelry and brokerage business, which he successfully conducted until 1860, in which year he removed to New York City, having been made executor of the estate of his deceased brother-in-law, Henry Keep. In this important trust he displayed the finest executive and financial ability, and the estate quadrupled in value under his management.
In 1871 he became a member of the banking and brokerage firm of Benedict, Flower & Company, from which he retired in 1875 to become senior member of the banking firm of R. P. Flower & Company. He was also officially connected with various corporations, and was a trustee and honorary vice-president of the Colonial Trust Company, a trustee of the Metropolitan Trust Company, and a director in the Corn Exchange Bank, the National Casualty Company, the People's Gas Light & Coke Company, of gas companies in Chicago, and of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad Company.
He retained a home in his native village, with whose interests he never ceased to be actively and usefully identified.
Governor Flower was, during all his active career, one of the most potential political figures in the state. A Democrat of the highest stamp of character and ability, he took an earnest part in support of Seymour and Blair in the presidential campaign of 1868. In 1876 he was foremost as organizer of the initial movement which led to the nomination of Samuel J. Tilden for the presidency. At the succeeding election he was elected to the forty-seventh congress for the eleventh New York district, defeating William Waldorf Astor. In 1882 he was represented as a candidate for the gubernatorial nomination, and in convention received one hundred and eighty-three votes as against the same number for General William H. Slocum, and sixty-one for Grover Cleveland. At this juncture it became apparent that political necessity demanded a candidate from outside the city of New York, and Mr. Flower withdrew to make way for Mr. Cleveland, who was made the nominee, and thus placed upon the highway which led him to the presidency. In the same year Mr. Flower was made chairman of the Democratic congressional committee. In 1883 he declined a nomination to congress, and two years later declined the nomination for lieutenant governorship. In 1888 he was again elected to congress, and the same year he was a delegate-at-large in the Democratic national convention at St. Louis, which nominated Mr. Cleveland for the presidency, and was chairman of the delegation from the state of New York.
In the same year he was strongly urged to become a candidate for the lieutenant governorship, but declined for business reasons. In 1889 he was returned to congress by a majority of more than twelve thousand. In 1892 he was prominently mentioned for the presidential nomination. In that year he was elected governor, receiving a majority of nearly fifty thousand over Hon. J. Sloat Fassett. This fine tribute was due, in large degree, to his integrity, and his unselfish care for public interests as shown in every instance where a trust was committed to him.
His administration was broadly practical and sagacious, and his every act was based upon conservative views and an accurate estimate of conditions and necessities. In congress his conduct was marked by the same high standards. While an ardent supporter of Democratic principles, he would subordinate no public interest to partisan ends, and in whatever legislation he advocated or opposed his sole object was the promotikon of the welfare of the country and the people. Once, when congratulated upon the excellence of his congressional record. he remarked that whatever of usefullness he had accomplished was due to his constant endeavor to learn as much as any other and, if possible, more, concerning whatever matter was entrusted to a committee of which he was a member. In the fifty-first congress he made an enviable record in championship of a movement for the holding of the Columbian Exposition of 1893 in New York City. He earnestly opposed the McKinley tariff bill and the "force bill" as he did the attempt of the Farmer's Alliance to establish a system of sub-treasuries for the loaning of public funds on field crops, domestic animals, etc. He was a warm advocate of liberal, but ell guarded, soldiers' pension legislation, of the election of postmasters by the people, and of the irrigation of the arid regions of the west.
Governor Flowers amassed a large fortune, estimated at about $25,000,000, and in its acquistion no taint of wrong-doing, either in personal or public life, ever attached to him. He was broadly philanthropic, and for many years set apart one-tenth of his income for benevolence, and the sums thus distributed amounted to more than a million dollars. He built the Flower Surgical Hospital in New York City, and with Mrs. Flower he erected the St. Thomas Parish House in the same city, at Fifty-ninth and Sixtieth streets on Second avenus, for work among the poor. The inspiration for this noble benefaction is told in a memorial tablet bearing the following inscription: "Erected to God by Roswell P. Flower and Sarah M. Flower, in memory of their son, Henry Kepp Flower."
Mr. Flower also built, as a memorial to his parents, a Presbyerian church edifice at Theresa, N.Y., and he and his brother, Anson R. Flower, of New York City, erected Trinity Protestant Episcopal church at Watertown, N.Y. His donations to all manner of charitable and benevolent institutions are accounted for in previous references in this narrative. It is to be added that, while governor of New York, in 1893, there arose urgent necessity for the purchase of Fire Island as a state quarantine station. There were no available public funds, and Governor Flower unhesitatingly advance the amount needed, $210,000. That he was afterward reimbursed by act of legislation no way detracts from the merit of his act.
Governor Flower was essentially a self-made man, and in large degree he was self-educated. He was a man of broad knowledge, not alone in the fields of finance and politics, but in literature and the arts. His city residence in Fifth Avenue, New York City, and his summer home at Watertown were both eloquent in their furnishings and contents, of his refined tastes. His library was rich in the choicest of literature, particularly of Americana, and he was the owner of a large mass of valuable autographic relics of all the presidents of the United States, from Washington down to his own day. In recognititon of his high attainments and signally useful public service Lawrence University in 1893 conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.
Governor Flower married, in 1859, Sarah M., daughter of Norris M. Woodruff, of Watertown, N.Y., a lady of beautiful character, who was her husband's active ally in all benevolent and charitable works. Three children were born to them, of whom a son and daughter are deceased. The living child is Emma Gertrude, who is now (1910) the wife of J. B. Taylor, of Watertown, New York.
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