Association for the Relief of Aged Indigent Women aka Home for Aged Women, Portland, Maine

The Association for the Relief of Aged Indigent Women was founded in 1856 and their first residence opened on Elm Street at the corner of Oxford Street. The building was razed in the 1970s but occupied the small parking lot next to what was until recently the Lighthouse Shelter for teens. At the time the building was occupied by the Home they owned both lots. In 1872 they removed to a larger home they had built on Emery Street which is still extant and part of Waynfleet.

During their tenure on Elm Street the largest number of women in the home was nine, but more frequently it was eight or fewer. I have tried to identify each of the women, their birth family, and if they married, their spouse(s) and child(ren), as well as any information about them which I could glean to understand the circumstances that led them to the Home.

I will share what I know but would appreciate any additions or corrections.

The women were:

Mrs. Esther Davis, admitted 12 Aug 1856, aged 72, died 10 Apr 1875, buried Evergreen Cemetery

  • Home records indicate she was born in Bridgton and when she was admitted had living children who were unable to support her. I have not been able to identify her.

Mrs. Jo(h)anna Farrington, admitted 12 Aug 1856, aged 71, died 20 Aug 1874, buried Western Cemetery

  • Maiden name Tyler, born in Portland, parents not identified. Married Eliphalet Farrington in Portland 15 Aug 1812. No known children. Eliphalet was from Dedham, Massachusetts and they lived there until he died there 14 Oct 1840. She returned to Portland where she supported herself as a seamstress.

Miss Ruth Jordan, admitted 12 Aug 1856, aged 69, died 23 Feb 1867, buried Western Cemetery

  • Born in Cape Elizabeth 24 Jun 1781, daughter of Tristram and Hannah (Lassell) Jordan.

Miss Cyrene/Serena Libb(e)y, admitted 12 Aug 1856, aged 50 (exception to the minimum age made as she was completely blind and ill), died 11 or 12 Jul 1859, buried in Scarborough

  • Born in Scarborough 17 Mar 1809, daughter of Capt. Sewall and Sarah (Libby) Libby

Mrs. Esther Ingalls, admitted Aug 1856, aged 63, dismissed from the home after 3 months

  • Maiden name may have been Conant, parents not identified. Married Nehemiah Ingalls who died in Bridgton 17 Feb 1819. Lived in Westbrook. Four known children: William, b. 1807; Lucy Ann, b. 1809 (may be Lucy who married Allen Williams in 1828); Henry, b. 1811; and Charles, b. 1813. She was dismissed from the Home because she would not conform to the rules of the institution. Her death date and place have not been found.

Mrs. Elizabeth Thompson, admitted Aug 1856, aged 85, died 24 May 1861, buried "in the North Yard" (Evergreen?)

  • Maiden name Hanes or Hance. She married Thomas Thompson in Portland 22 Jun 1786 or 1787. He died there 1 Jun 1846. One son alive when she was admitted to the home, but unable to support her.

Mrs. Hannah Carr, admitted Sep 1856, aged 65, dismissed from the home after 8 years

  • Born in Maine, but little else is known. The note in the resident book states: “After continuing eight years in the family and for the most of the time proving a very uncomfortable member, she was dismissed.” She died in Portland 23 Mar 1872, buried Eastern Cemetery.

Mrs. Eliza Noble, admitted 12 Sep 1856, aged 84, dismissed from the home after one year

  • Nothing further known. She was a resident of the home for only a year, having been “dismissed for non-conformity to the rules and regulations of the house.”

Mrs. Althea Gordon, admitted Apr 1857, aged 92, died 29 Jun 1858, buried Eastern Cemetery

  • Born Alithea Mitchell in North Yarmouth 5 Jun 1766, daughter of Seth and Alithea (Blanchard) Mitchell. She married Capt. Nathaniel Gordon II in North Yarmouth 7 Feb 1809, as his second wife. Capt. Gordon died at St. Bartholomews in 1871. Only known child, son Francis, was lost at sea. Among her six step children were William and Nathaniel III Gordon who married sisters Harriet and Mary Brazier who would also become residents of the Home in the 1870s.

Mrs. Rhoda Thompson, admitted 14 Jul 1857, aged 62, died 25 Mar 1870, buried Western Cemetery

  • Rhoda C. Hoyt was born in Portland, daughter of John Millet and Catherine (Cox) Hoyt. She worked as a nurse. At the age of 50 she married Edward R. Thompson, a mariner from Pennsylvania, who died between the time of the 1850 census and her admission to the home as a widow without any family.

Mrs. Susan Griffin, admitted Dec 1858, aged 73, died 14 Nov 1866, buried Evergreen Cemetery

  • Maiden name Tukey, apparently daughter of John and Rebecca (Bangs) Tukey. Married Nathaniel Griffin, a shoemaker. One source says she had 5 children but does not identify them. At least some of whom were alive but unable to care for her when she was admitted to the Home. In 1850 she was living with her daughter Susan and her husband Ebenezer Chenery (Ebenezer died in 1857, but Susan probably survived him). Another daughter, Elizabeth (Griffin) Farwell, was also still alive, she died in 1899.

Miss Catharine Simmons, admitted Dec 1858, aged 80, died 19 Sep 1869, buried Eastern Cemetery

  • Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia but a resident in Portland from age 15, so the Home made an exception to the rule of only admitting American women. Her parents have not been identified.

Miss Lavinia Mayberry, admitted 16 Aug 1861, aged 83, died 17 Jan 1862, buried "in City Tomb"

  • Lovina, later Lavinia, Mayberry was born in Windham 11 May 1870, daughter of Thomas and Mary (Worster or Wooster) Mayberry. Her admission to the Home was paid by a niece.

Miss Nancy Butman, admitted Jun 1862, aged 74, died 2 Sep 1864, buried Western Cemetery

  • Nancy Butman or Bootman was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts 5 Mar 1788, daughter of Jonathan and Elizabeth (Harrenden) Butman. Paid for admission to Home from her earnings but no indication of her occupation.

Mrs. Martha Winship, admitted 4 Jul 1865, aged 88, died 9 Feb 1869, buried Eastern Cemetery

  • Martha Swett was born in Windham, daughter of Joseph and Mehitable (Goodwin) Swett). She married Gershom Winship in Windham 30 Nov 1791. He was a merchant who died in Portland 20 Feb 1826.At least two known children, William d. 1818 and Martha, d. 1827; all her children were reported to have died before she was admitted to the Home. Home records report that she lost her property “by misfortune of business.”

Miss Betsey Holland, admitted 21 May 1866, aged 89, died 27 Aug 1871

  • Home records indicate she was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but her parents are not known.

Mrs. Nancy Gates, admitted 20 Feb 1867, aged 83, died 30 Jan 1878

  • Nancy Huston was born 15 Jul 1785 in Portland daughter of Nathaniel and Nancy (Cox) Huston. She married Frederick G. Gates in Portland 28 Dec 1814.He died in 1831. Three sons who each married and had children: Frederick J or G., b. 1815, d. 1846; Joseph, b. 1817, d. 1836; and Samuel D., b. 1819, d. 1851.

Mrs. Elizabeth “Betsey” Mitchell, admitted 23 Sep 1869, aged 74, died 3 Dec 1871

  • Elizabeth Mitchell was born in North Yarmouth 19 Aug 1796, daughter of Solomon and Dorcas (Gray) Mitchell. She married Isaiah Mitchell in Cumberland 22 Jan 1818. He was a cordwainer and died in 1842. She supported herself through quilting and other work, but lost her belongings in the 1866 fire. Only known child, David G. Mitchell, was his father executor. In 1860 Betsey was living with David and his family. David removed in Boston after his mother died.

Mrs. Elizabeth Deering, admitted Oct 1870, aged 75, left the home after a year to stay with friends

  • Elizabeth Cummings was born in Saco 17 Jul 1794, daughter of Nathaniel and Sarah (Junkins) Cummings. She married Noah Deering there 19 Jan 1817. Noah was a stevedore in Portland although his obituary called him Capt. Noah and Elizabeth had nine children, the first six in Saco and the last three after they removed in Portland: Noah A (changed to Alexander Warren), b. 1818; Sarah Jane Cummings, b. 1819; Mary Elizabeth, b. 1824, d. 1851; William H., b. 1825; Thomas A., b. 1827; James N., b. 1831 d. 1835; Charles I., b. 1833; Joseph, b. & d. 1835; and James I. or J. b. 1837; d. 1841. After the 1866 fire; housing prices forced them back to the Biddeford/Saco area. Noah died in 1869 and Elizabeth was admitted to the Home the next year based on her longtime residence in Portland even though she had not lived there a full 10 years before admission.

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Comment by Chris Dunham on June 22, 2013 at 11:11pm

This is a fascinating project. Thanks for sharing your research.

Comment by Renee Boudreau on September 4, 2015 at 12:14am

!!! Nancy Bootman is the youngest half sibling of my 4th Great Grandmother, Judith (Bootman) [LeBarron] Witham who died in Portland in 1846 at the age of 84. (daughter of Jonathan Bootman and his first wife, Hannah Griffin of Gloucester, MA; Elizabeth Harraden was his second wife.) Thank you so much for your research! I was wondering what happened to Nancy! (I just had my Bootman break through this past evening so the timing is perfect!) 

Comment by Nancy Kirk Davis on November 22, 2015 at 2:35pm

Great project, to read delightful...wish there were more researchers to take the time to remember the forgotten ones...Thx!

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