On 26 June 1852, James Flower (1829-1918) married Mary Matilda Clark (1828-1913). 160 years, congratulations! James Flower was the youngest son of Anthony and Mary Green Flower, and the third of four children. Mary Matilda Clark was the daughter of Gershom Clark and the granddaughter of John Clark, the man who sold Anthony Flower the 200 acre property on which Flower established his homestead in 1818. Upon their marriage, James and Mary Matilda lived on the family farm at MacDonald’s Corner with Anthony and Mary Flower and raised eight children while maintaining the family farm. The framed wedding license of James and Mary Matilda includes in the lower corner of the frame a photograph of an elderly James and Mary Matilda standing by the west front of the Flower House.
As a result of the marriage and growing family, in the early 1850s the Flower family expanded the little house of Anthony and Mary. To the house was added an entry hall and staircase on the first floor, and a hall, closet and two bedrooms on the second floor. It strikes us as odd that while the roofline of the addition reached the same level and pitch of the earlier section, on the interior, the ceiling height of the rooms of the addition are 6-8 inches lower than that of the older part. This allowed for slightly more headroom on the second floor, but not that much. One of the many mysteries of the Flower House that will remain unknown we expect.
Known for using his family as his portrait subjects, Anthony Flower painted his son James and Mary Matilda in 1864. The companion works are in similar frames with the same face-on poses. James Flower is painted facing forward and is wearing a blue coat with three buttons on each side, a royal blue bow tie, and a red vest with six buttons. This painting remains in its original plain wooden frame. The caption on the bottom of the painting reads, “JAMES.FLOWER, 1864 Son of Anthony Flower Son of Cornelious Flower of Little Heath Farm.Burkhamsted Hartfordstire GREAT.BRITON”. Mary Matilda is also painted facing forward and is seated with her hands crossed. She is wearing a yellow dress with several buttons on the front, and has long light brown or blond hair with ringlets showing. The Flower women were not strangers to the latest fashions and were not shy about displaying their jewels; Mary Matilda wears a pair of lovely drop earrings similar to those worn by her mother-in-law in an 1836 portrait, and at her neck is a brooch outlined in gold.
In 1868 James purchased the farm from his father for $800. James’ mother, Mary, had died in 1867 and we believe Anthony decided to settle his affairs prior to his own death. Anthony remained at the farm with James, Mary Matilda and their children until his death in 1875. James and Mary Matilda continued to live on the farm until their deaths in 1918 and 1913.
The portraits are currently part of the student curated exhibition at the Flower House, Anthony’s Portraits, which will be in place until the end of July. For more information about the Flower Family, contact Queens County Heritage at email@example.com.