Monday, May 20, 2013

The Story of Madge

It doesn't end well...

Greenwood Town Cemetery; Greenwood, Caddo Parish, Louisiana

Almost two years ago I went to the Greenwood Town Cemetery in Greenwood, Louisiana on small town near the border of Louisiana and Texas.  This is a pioneer town and this particular cemetery has some of the who's who of north Louisiana interred there.  It still has active burials, which is a tad unusual, but very neat to me that forefathers had insight to bury their antecedents over a century later with the purchases of family lots.    There are many Irish immigrants that came to the farming community and thrived there.  Some of the names are  prominent in Caddo Parish and recognizable by anyone who lives there: Flournoy, Hoss, Dunn, Scott, Vaughn to name a few.  It was at the Flournoy lots that on the very edge, near a huge oak tree I spotted this grave of Madge O. Suratt's.  I was struck because Madge is my middle daughter's nickname.  Who was this Madge?  My first thought was she might have been a domestic worker for the Flournoy family given her place of honor on the outskirts of the lot.  I know everyone's story ends in cemeteries, but I always wonder what their lives were like.  Who cried over their loss?  Who thought enough to have a marker carved and in Madge's case, an urn set at the head of her grave?  It never fails to surprise me when I google a name of someone long gone and get a hit and I did with Madge.  Madge's life...and her death, shocked me to my core.  Madge was a modern woman in old times.  After seeing her death articles, I dove into finding out about her in the times when she was alive.  She is enumerated in the census for Manhattan as a single woman working as a vice-president of Carlton Illustrators.  Other articles in Shreveport newspapers had her wintering in Denver, Colorado and directories for Denver had her living there in 1911-1912 working for the Chamber of Commerce.  She was clearly an independent woman of means, but her death tells of her vulnerability and incurable heartache.  On the afternoon of March 25, 1916 in the Ebbit House Hotel in downtown Washington D. C. , a maid discovers the body of a woman.  The police get in a tizzy because the only clues found to her identity was an aka of "Selma Thomas" and a drinking paper cup with Denver, Col. stamped on the side.  Days later, after much investigation, the police release the name of Madge O. Suratt with cause of death: suicide by drinking prussic acid.  Apparently Madge had been in love with an attorney from Houston, he'd broken up with her, love letters are found written to her in Spanish and letters to her sister, Mrs. W. B. Cantrell of Little Rock, Arkansas.  Mrs. Cantrell denied claiming her sister for burial for reasons we don't know.  She had instructed detectives to send the body to John B. Hutchinson, a planter and businessman of great notoriety in Caddo and Bossier parishes.  His wife, Nina Flournoy Hutchinson, was close to Madge, according to Shreveport newspapers that detailed Madge's visits to Nina in it's society columns and spoke of them as cousins.  Although Madge is not interred with the Hutchinsons, she is with the Flournoys, her extended kin. As much as I know of her death, there are still unanswered questions about her life I would love to know. 


  1. Another great Story Scout! Please if you find more post them. :)

  2. very interesting the plot thickens.

  3. Just an fyi and something I have worked years on to prove that Madge was the daughter of a minister named S. B. Suratt who was married to a Flournoy. Still trying to find positive proof!

  4. Just an fyi and something I have worked years on to prove that Madge was the daughter of a minister named S. B. Suratt who was married to a Flournoy. Still trying to find positive proof!

    1. Years later and still looking, but I have found that Madge was the daughter of Rev. Samuel Boule Suratt, a Methodist minister and Pattie Flournoy. It is the Flournoy plot where Madge lies near that of her maternal grandfather and pioneer Greenwood, La. citizen, Alfred Flournoy. Madge's sister was Mary Grace Suratt Cantrell, the wife of William Armour Cantrell, Jr. I have found the burial places of both Rev. Suratt and W. A. Cantrell, Jr., however, none for Pattie and Mary Grace.