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.

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