A Flora Bouquet

Two women named Flora Purinton are buried in the same row in New Meadows Cemetery. They each lived at Pine View Farm, though at different times, and were each related to Charles I. Purinton (1892-1976), though in different ways.

Flora Ellen (1850-1927) was born at Pine View Farm at New Meadows in Brunswick, the second of 4 children of Daniel T. and Paulina S. (Marriner) Purinton. Her siblings were brothers, Josiah and Daniel G. (called Gorham), and the baby of the family, sister Ada. Her father was a farmer, brick mason, and town tax collector. The family was staunchly Baptist.

Pine View Farm

Pine View Farm

Flora Ellen lived all her life at just two New Meadows farms. For fifty years she stayed at her childhood home, Pine View, which in adulthood she shared with her parents and her brother Gorham, his wife Mary, and their two children, Grace and Charles. Then in 1900 she moved to her sister Ada Holbrook’s home. No family events that year provide even a hint for her reason in moving to a new home. That year’s census listed her as a boarder in Sumner Holbrook’s household, rather than by her familial relationship as his sister-in-law.

Flora Ellen and the other women on the farms had plenty to do. There were beans to string, chickens to pluck, milk to separate for cream or butter. Though she never married or had children of her own, she no doubt shared in the care of her nieces and nephews, first Grace and Charles, then Sumner and Ada’s 7 children, who in 1900 ranged from 2 to 13 years old.

Flora Ellen's Quilt Square

Flora Ellen’s Quilt Square

There was always sewing to do, too, especially mending. New Meadows women often met to turn un-mendable clothing into quilts. Flora Ellen contributed her own signature square to a wedding quilt for her niece Grace.

DSC01857

Flora Ellen died in 1927 at her sister Ada’s home where she had lived for 27 years. Her siblings gave her pride of place in the family burial plot, next to their parents,  “Sister” engraved across her tombstone’s top.

Another Flora Purinton is buried near Flora Ellen. This one was born Flora May Silva (1892-1960). She told her children her father was a Portuguese fisherman. She wasn’t sure if her father deserted the family or if he was killed while out fishing. When she was 10, her mother took her and her sister, Alice, from their home in California to Massachusetts. She recalled the three of them standing on a dock when her mother disappeared. Flora and Alice never saw their mother again.

Flora Silva

Flora Silva

They were taken to an orphanage where Flora was taken by several families, but was always taken back to the orphanage once she had finished cleaning their homes. Eventually she was taken into the home of the Leonard family of Brunswick, though never adopted by them. Alice was adopted by the Kelleys in South Portland. The sisters remained close their entire lives

Flora had black hair and big brown eyes. She was soft-spoken and tenderhearted — and a Catholic. Charles Purinton, a Baptist like the rest of his family, never the less fell in love with her. They married in 1917 and lived at Pine View Farm with Charles’s mother, Mary, and his sister, Grace. Mary was a strict, unsmiling woman with strong opinions, particularly about Catholics. Not surprisingly, Flora was unhappy at Pine View. They left the farm as soon as Charles finished building their own home on McLellan St.

One can’t help but wonder if Mary’s personality was the reason Flora Ellen moved away from the farm at the age of 50 back in 1900.

Flora Purinton and baby Alice Purinton at Pine View Farm

Flora Purinton and baby Alice Purinton at Pine View Farm

Flora worked hard caring for home and family, cooking on a wood stove, doing her laundry in an old-fashioned wringer washer and a concrete set-tub Charles built in their kitchen. On fair days she lugged her heavy clothes basket outside in nice weather to hang the laundry on a clothes reel in the back yard. When it rained or snowed, she lugged the wet laundry up two flights of stairs to the attic, pinning the clothes to lines strung from one end of the room to the other. She delighted in the every-day, declaring the clothes reel a wonderful invention and her good fortune at having an attic in which to dry the laundry.

Flora didn’t sew quilts with her un-mendables. She sold them for a few cents to the Rag Man who went door-to-door collecting them. As soon as he left, she sent one of her 8 children to the corner store for penny candy for them all.

Every Sunday, Baptist Charles took his wife and 8 children in his pickup truck to St. Charles Borromeo Church, the Catholic church on the corner of Maine and Noble Sts.

Charles and Flora Purinton

Charles and Flora Purinton

And every Thursday night Flora and Charles went to the Past Time Theater on Maine Street. Charles, a carpenter, was always so tired that he fell asleep as soon as he settled into the theater seat. Flora watched every movie by herself, but her children thought she probably simply enjoyed having an evening out away from them.

In the mid-1950s, she showed signs of dementia. Her family cared for her at home as long as they could safely do so. Finally, in those days before local dementia and Alzheimer care facilities, Charles’s only option was to commit Flora to the Augusta Mental Hospital. He visited her faithfully until her death in 1960.

Photo by Barbara A. Desmarais, May 2015

Photo by Barbara A. Desmarais, May 2015

Flora (Silva) Purinton was buried in New Meadows Cemetery where 16 years later Charles was laid to rest beside her.

Two Floras, separate, but connected. My Flora bouquet.

Next Blog: My Mother’s Mother’s Mother

Sources:

  • Ancestry.com: Various including City Directories, Family Trees, United States Federal and State Censuses, Vital Records (Birth, Death, and Marriage) 
  • Stella Marguerite Purinton (Trials and Tribulations of) or (Growing Up In a Large Family), Stella M. Bernier, Brunswick, Maine, 2003
  • Brunswick Record, June 30, 1927
  • Brunswick Telegraph, February 15, 1889
  • Family Photos from Alice Purinton’s Personal Photo Album
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About Barbara Desmarais

Writer and amateur historian
This entry was posted in Purinton & Silva Genealogy and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Flora Bouquet

  1. Cathy Leonard says:

    Lovely article, Barbara. My grandparents, aunts and uncles always spoke very fondly of Flora and the Purinton clan.

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