Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Search for Descendants: Purmans

The Hamilton family members do not have caches of documents hidden away. I cannot find any Fleishman/Heymann descendants and I assume that they would be so attenuated from their family history, that I doubt they would have any useful information. The Purmans, on the other hand, appear to be a promising resource. Hamilton's best friend and brother-in-law, William James Purman lived until 1928. Leaving Florida in the wake of the 1876 election debacle, the Purmans first moved to Pennsylvania to set up a farm. They moved to Roxbury in Boston where they lived from the early 1880s until the mid-1890s where Purman worked in insurance. Purman lived the last 30 years of his life in Washington DC, first at 1428 Q St, then at 17 Grant Place. Purman and his wife, Leadora Finlayson, had six children: Leodora (or Lola) in 1872 in FL; Faith (Fairy) in 1875 in DC; Carroll (Bud) in 1877 in DC; Stanley in 1883; Helen in 1884 and Gladys (Cootie) in 1885 in MA. Purman's Washington Post obituary listed five children and only two grandchildren as survivors. Leadora Finlayson Purman died in 1921.
Lola, the oldest daughter, married Senator John M. Thurston of Nebraska in Nov. 1899. There is a whiff of scandal associated with that marriage. Senator Thurston was recently widowed, quite a bit older than Lola with a son at Harvard. He had written a passionate poem for her, titled "The White Rose." The Chicago Tribune stated that the notoriety associated with this poem ruined Thurston's chance for re-election. Thurston died in 1914 and the couple had a daughter, Ruth. Lola remarried Dr. William Alanson White, a prominent psychiatrist and superintendant of St. Elizabeth's Hospital in D.C. for many years until his death in 1937. Granddaughter Ruth made occasional appearances in gossipy news items. In 1922, Ruth married the then reknowned aviator, Lester J. Maitland who had made the first flight to Hawaii. They had a daughter, Patricia Ruth, born about 1925, and divorced in 1930. Ruth then had a brief marriage to a journalist, Cecil B. Dixon beginning in 1931. Two years later, she entered the news once again when she married Dewey Howard. Lola continued to live in Washington after Dr White's death and then moved to join Ruth (now Breen) in Jackson, Mississippi in 1954 where Lola died two months later aged 83. Ruth Thurston Breen died in Dickens, Texas (somewhat near Lubbock) in Feb. 1984 also at the age of 83.
As far as the other Purman children. Carroll was initially associated with commissioning a massive painting of General Pershing and his staff. Carroll later moved to California. He married Mary Allen and returned to DC where he died on Dec. 19, 1949. His widow died in 1957. Stanley seems to have been something of an invalid and died in 1936.
Two daughters moved with their husbands to Arkansas. Helen married Bernard Hoskins Slattery of Newton , MA in 1911 [is this George Flattery?] and another daughter, Faith, married Edward Murray Jarrett of Little Rock in 1914 [Washington Herald, Feb. 7, 1914]. At the time of Purman's death, the Slatterys had a daughter, Dorothy. In light of the fact that Purman's youngest daughter, Gladys, died childless at the age of 27 in 1912 (and assuming that the Post is correct in listing only two grandchildren), Purman may very well not have had any other direct descendants
The leads:
1. The estate of Dr. William A. White (Lola's second husband) of DC
2. Family of Ruth Thurston Breen in Texas and her daughter Patricia Ruth
3. Dorothy Slattery - daughter of Helen of AK
4. Estate of Carroll and Mary Purman of DC
In short, I have not been able to find any Purman descendants, let alone a trove of family papers that I hoped would contain letters from Hamilton, Dickinson and Thomas Fortune, and documents about the Bureau and Florida Reconstruction era politics.

UPDATE [Dec. 28, 2011]:  Gladys Purman Carr: 1885-1912.  Washington Herald, July 27, 1912:  "To Bring Ashes Home - The body of Mrs. Gladys Purman Carr, formerly of Washington, who died in London Thursday will be cremated and the ashed brought to this city. She was formerly Miss Gladys Purman, and was popular in Washington society. Besides her husband, Henry Clay Carr, she is survived by two sisters, one of whom is the wife of former Senator Thurston of Nebraska and the other, Mrs. George Flattery, of this city."   More details from the Washington Times, July 26, 1912: Relatives and friends in Washington were shocked to learn of the sudden death yesterdayiIn her flat in at St. James court, London, of Mrs. Gladys Purman Carr, wife of Henry Clay Carr, and formerly a beautiful and clever young woman in Washington society. Her death came from an overdose of a medicine containing carbolic acid. The coroner's Jury returned an open verdict that there was no evidence whether she had taken the poison purposely or accidentally, although, according to her own statement, it was taken by accident. Mrs. Carr was formerly Miss Gladys Purman, a member of the well-known Purman family who live on Garfield place. She had two sisters, one of whom is the wife of former Senator Thurston, of Nebraska, and the other Mrs. George Flattery, of this city. Her husband. Henry Clay Carr was a mining engineer and is well known by his work on the Pacific coast. The couple had recently been in Spain and Portugal, where Mr. Carr had been employed In his profession. Mrs. Carr, it is said, had been in a nervous conition for some time, and when she went into the bathroom at their apartments yesterday It was presumably for the purpose or taking a sedative. In a few moments her loud screams called her husband, and she told him she had taken a dose out of the wrong bottle. She fell to the floor, unconscious, and died within two hours. Mr. Carr was Prostrated by his wife's death to the extent that he was unable to attend tho coroner's Inquest, his physician stating to the coroner that he was not in fit condition to give evidence. The body will be cremated and the ashes brought to Washington.

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