Sunday, December 15, 2019

Her Story: Clara (Moulton) Lord (1852 – 1927)

Clara Priscilla Moulton was born March 30, 1852, the 8th of 9 children born to William E. and Priscilla (Towle) Moulton in Parsonsfield. Her father built Parsonsfield’s Town House.     

  She became a school teacher as a young woman and married John B. Lord of Cornish in 1878 and the couple settled near her parents in Middle Road Village. They had one daughter, Katherine who married Fred Gale.  Clara continued to teach through most of her adult life and was active in the Union Church of Middle Road Village, where she played the organ at services as long as her health permitted.

        Clara started one of the earliest public libraries in Maine. In 1900 the library had only 24 books, but it quickly grew to 4 or 5 thousand volumes with subscriptions to 15 different magazines. It was housed originally in the “Cass House” on the SW corner of Merrill Hill and Middle Road. We believe she and John lived there for a time, and then moved down the road to the former Silas Ricker House (later known as the Gale House). Neither of these buildings still exists. The library itself grew and was moved across the street to the Masonic Lodge building where it was on the first floor. After her death in 1927, the library lived on for a time. Helen Peers, another Middle Road villager, became the librarian. It finally ceased to exist sometime in the late 1930’s.

        Born in 1852, she did not conform to the role of the stereotypical Victorian woman. She was active in town affairs; she wrote articles for local newspapers; and poetry for her friends and neighbors. One poem, about the demise of the Middle Road Village post office and its effect on the community, was included in the Historical Society’s recent publication – Parsonsfield Maine: A Town of Many Villages.

        She contributed articles to the Sanford Tribune, the Biddeford Record, the Carroll County Independent and the Granite State News. She was also well known for her “Aunt Jerusha” poems. (If anyone has a copy of one of these, please let us know!)

        She was cared for by her younger, unmarried sister, Hattie Moulton during the final years of life.  She passed away September 25, 1927, two months after her husband’s death.  She was buried in a small family cemetery with other family members located off Middle Road just across from where her parents’ home used to be.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Her Story: Eleanor (Syphers) Garner (1911 – 1988)

Eleanor (Syphers) Garner was born in Cornish on August 26, 1911, the daughter of Dr. LeRoi S. and Charlotte (Bolton) Syphers.   

She attended Cornish and South Portland schools and graduated from Gorham Normal School in 1931.  She received her bachelor’s degree in education in 1966 and master’s degree in library science in 1970.  Eleanor taught English and government at Porter High School and was librarian at Sacopee Valley High School for 15 years, retiring in 1981.  

Eleanor was very active in women’s club work.  She was a member of the Kezar Falls “21 Club” for 57 years, director of District 13 of the Maine Federation of Women’s Clubs from 1949 to 1951 and president of the Maine Federation from 1956 to 1958.  At the time of her death, she was    parliamentarian of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, New England Regional Conference. 

Eleanor was a member of the United Riverside Methodist Church of Kezar Falls for 39 years, and a member of the United Methodist Women.  She was also a member of the Parsonsfield-Porter Historical Society and president of the Kezar Falls Circulating Library. 

In 1959 Eleanor S. Garner was named in the “Who’s Who of American Women”. 

In 1931 she married Allen F. Garner.  They resided in Kezar Falls and had a son, William A. Garner and daughter, Ruth Elizabeth Garner.  Eleanor died April 2, 1988 at the age of 76.