Chester Flanagin
(b. 1 Jun 1869)

What happened to Chester? Based on the census data Chester and Florence were divorced, but the divorce record has yet to be found in Knox, Blount, Sevier, or Roane County. The name Chester Flanagin cannot be found in any data base after the marriage record of Chester and Florence. The 1890 U.S. Census was basically destroyed with only partial entries recovered from various States - Tennessee was not one of those States.

Family stories from the descendants of Chester's brothers are all that we have to go by. It seems that Chester was considered to be the smartest of the five children. It has been said that he had beautiful handwriting and was extremely smart. The problem was that he was always in trouble with the law. Not that he was a mean, or vicious person, just that he stayed in trouble all of the time.

Supposedly Chester was sent to prison and escaped, never to be heard from again. Until recently it was assumed that Chester was sent to Brushy Mountain Prison and made his escape from there. Fact: Chester was never imprisoned in the Tennessee State Prison System. Documentation is in hand indicating that he was never on the books of the State of Tennessee as a prisoner. The State has suggested checking local sheriff departments and county penal farms. This is being done, but it takes several months to get an answer from those agencies. It took nine months to get a response from the State.

The prison, or penal system, that Chester was in was located in an area where coal mining was done, and prisoners worked in those mines. It is told that Chester had learned that the large stream which ran through the mine, and disappeared in the mine, exited on the other side of the mountain. One day, it is said, Chester dove into the stream and was never heard of again. There is more to the story. It has been told that Chester's brothers and sister, once each year, would each put in $250.00 ($1000 total) and send it somewhere. Their spouses were not supposed to know about it but they did. It was always assumed that the money was being sent to Chester. No one knows, or has a memory of the name that was on the envelope, but seeing Texas on the envelope is remembered.

The final chapter to this story occurs at the funeral of Houston Flanagin (Chester's younger brother) in November 1946. It was common practice for the body of the deceased to be brought to their house for family and friends to come by, pay their last respects, and visit with the family and friends of the deceased. Several of the grandchildren, nephews and nieces were in the front yard when a large black sedan pulled up to the house. Three men got out of the car. All were in dark suits; two younger men and an older gentleman. The three men walked to the house, opened the screen door, went over to the casket, and then exited the house returning to their car and driving off. Not one word was spoken to them or by them. As the car drove away one of the children commented to the other kids that the car was from Texas.

There is one reference to Chester regarding Logan, West Virginia. Logan is a coal mining area, deep in the WV mountains, and there is a prison located there too. That information is still being pursued.

--Phil Flanagan