The Nurse from Milton Mills, New Hampshire: Flora N. Runnels (1866-1960)

Written on the back of the photograph: "Flora n. Runnels, Milton Mills, Strafford Co., N.H."

Written on the back of the photograph: “Flora n. Runnels, Milton Mills, Strafford Co., N.H.”

She has a fairly plain face, intelligent dark eyes, curly hair. She wears the pinstriped frock of a nurse over her dark dress. Her collar is tightly and demurely closed with a pin.  The name of the woman in the photograph is Flora N. Runnels.  I should also add here that it turns out (yes again!) that she is a cousin, albeit distant, from me.

I would have liked to learn more about her, but information is lean. She was born in Acton Maine, and by 1880 she was 13 years old and living in Milton Mills, New Hampshire with her parents Isaac and Mary along with several siblings. Census records show that she graduated from high school, not a small feat for women of her time in a farm family. Possibly she took classes or courses for nursing, but sometimes women became adept by watching other women.

Old photograph of Main Street, Milton, New Hampshire

Old photograph of Main Street, Milton, New Hampshire

By 1920, age the age of 53, she was living in Cambridge MA with John J. & Elizabeth C. Spaulding, a nurse in that house, though it is unsure which of the two, or if both, needed her nursing care. By 1930 she was living with her brother Eugene and his wife back in Milton Mills NH, but still working in the home of a private family. In 1940 she is still in Milton NH, on Highland Avenue, now living alone there. She died in 1960.

Margaret L. Rogers wrote an article on “Private Nursing” in 1901.  Remember when you read this that female physicians were rarer than hen’s teeth (well almost) at this time, and that few women thought of becoming a doctor.  Margaret’s nursing article stated: “Of all the professions now open to women there is none possessing the possibilities of nursing. The deeper our medical men penetrate into the science of medicine, the wider grows the horizon of the trained nurse. Scarcely a quarter of a century ago the physician regarded her with a feeling of distrust, fearful that as soon as her training was completed she would proceed to the practice of medicine and in time share, if not entirely absorb, his circle of patients. Time has proved the fallacy of that idea, until to-day the reputable physician refuses to take a serious case unless the responsibility is shared by a competent nurse…..It is in private nursing that the large majority find an opening most suited to their capabilities. The reason for this is because of the great pleasure in personal ministration….From the financial stand-point, the private nurse is paid better than any other; if she is an active worker, she can be busy from nine to ten months in the year….


William Reynolds, son of William & Esther (Roth) Reynolds, b. 1613 in Kennebunk, York, Maine and d. 10 April 1675 in Dover, Strafford Co. NH. He m. 30 Aug 1638 in Plymouth MA to Alice Kitson. She was. b abt 1610 and d. 12 Apr 1675 in Cape Porpoise, York Co. Maine. [also see this basic history] [line 13 of Reynolds Family Association]
Children of William & Alice (Kitson) Reynolds:
1. Jane Reynolds/Runnels; she m. William Wormwood
2. Samuel Reynolds
3. William Reynolds Jr. [I am a descendant of this line, through his son, Samuel]
4. + Job Reynolds b. 1645
5. Hope Reynolds b. 1650; she m. 23 Oct 1664 at Saco, Maine to Thomas Sanders
6. John Runnels b. 1651; he d. Before 1722 in Portsmouth, Rockingham, NH; m. 1674 in Portsmouth, NH to Sarah Crawford


Job Reynolds, son of William & Alice (Kitson) Reynolds, b 1645 Durham NH, d. 11 Jul 1722 in Dover, Strafford Co. NH. He m. Sarah Wiley Crawford. She was b. 1648 in Durham NH and d. 1747 in Oyster River, NH. 6 children
Children of Job & Sarah Wiley (Crawford) Reynolds:
1. +Job Runnels, b 1685
2. John Runnels 1689-1756.
3. Alice Runnels 1691-1786
4. Mary Runnels 1693-1788
5. Martha Runnels 1697-1792

Job Runnels, son of Job & Sarah Wiley (Crawford) Reynolds. He was b 1685 in Durham NH and d. 1 May 1763 in Durham NH or Falmouth Maine. He m. abt 1713 to Hannah Huckins, dau of Robert & Welthen (Thomas) Huckins. She was b 1692-95 in Dover, Straford Co. NH. She had m1) John Chesley and had 2 children. She had 8 children by Job Runnels and d 1790 in Oyster River, Durham NH.
Children of Job & Hannah (Huckins) Runnels:
1. Abigail Runnels 1717-1746
2. Susan Runnells b 1719
3. Enoch Runnells 1721-1753
4. Mary Runnels, b 1724
5. Job Runnels, 1727-85
6. Hannah Runnells, 1728-1752
7. +Samuel Runnells, b. 1730
8. Jonathan Runnells 1731-1807


Samuel Runnells, son of Job & Hannah (Huckins) Runnels, b. 1730 in Dover NH, and d. 1774 in Woodstock NH. He He m1) — and had children. He m2d) Love Tibbetts, daughter of Joseph & Sarah (Huckins) Tibbetts. She was b. 1750 Stratford NH and d. 10 March 1811 in Stratford NH. They had no children. He was a soldier in the old French and Indian War.
Children of Samuel & ? (?) Runnells:
1. +Samuel Runnels, b. 1754
2. Hannah Runnells, b. 1756; m. — Drew; settled possibly in Albany NH
3. Love “Lovey” Reynolds, b. 1759, d. 1826; m. Joseph Percy, had issue. [the Reynolds Genealogy states she died early]


Samuel Runnells, son of Samuel & ? (?) Runnells, was b. 1754 in Lee NH, and d. 19 Dec 1797 in Milton NH. He married Olive Farnam. They had 7 children.
Children of Samuel & Olive (Farnam) Runnells:
1. Mary “Polly” Runnels, 1784-1850
2. Eunice Runnels 1786-1850
3. +Samuel Runnels, b 22 June 1788
4. Paul Runnels, b. 1790
5. Betsey Runnels, b 1792
6. Olive Runnels 1794-1855
7. Asa Runnels 1796

Samuel Runnels, son of Samuel & Olive (Farnam) Runnels, b. 22 June 1788 in Shapleigh Maine. He d. 29 March 1854 of smallpox. He married Hannah Farnham, daughter of Ralph & Mehitable (Bean) Farnham. She was b. 1788 and d. 14 Oct 1861 in Acton, Maine. They had 9 children. Buried in Runnells Cemetery, Acton Maine.
Children of Samuel & Hannah (Farnham) Runnels:
1. Asenath Runnells, b. 28 Oct 1811
2. Eli Runnells, b. 21 Feb 1815
3. John Runnells, b. 9 March 1817
4. Asa Runnells b 10 Apr 1818; d. 30 March 1825
5. Hosea Runnells, b. 11 July 1820
6. + Israel Runnels, b. 5 July 1823
7. Alvah Runnells, b. 1 Dec 1825
8. William Buzzell Runnells, b. 14 Aug 1828
9. Almira Runnells, b. 18 Jan 1831


Israel Runnels/Runnells/Runalls, son of Samuel & Hannah (Farnham) Runnells, b 5 July 1823 Acton, Maine, d. 1912; He m1) 15 May 1850 to Sarah Lowe. She b. 29 Sep 1829 in Newfield MA and d. 11 Dec 1864, aged 35. he m2) 23 April 1865 to Mary E. Rogers. She b. 22 March 1840 Parsonfield, Maine, d. 27 June 1919 in Acton, York Maine. He succeeded his father as a farmer on the old homestead in Acton, Maine, and as deacon of the Free Baptist Church at Milton Mills NH, elected 1861. Israel and his 1st wife are buried in the Runnells Cemetery, in field of Mr. Peck near Peck/Hopper Roads.  [Runnels Cemetery on page 49/3544]
1870 US Census > Maine > York > Acton
Isreal Runnels M 46 Maine
Mary E. Runnels F 30 Maine
William T. Runnels M 19 Maine
Eler F. Runnels F 16 NH
Elmer P. Runnels M 14 Maine
Sarah T. Runnels F 10 Maine
Walter E. Runnels M 9 Maine
Flora Runnels B 3 Maine
Etta Runnels F 1 Maine
1910 US Census > Maine > York > Acton
Eugene E. Runnels 35
Carrie D. Runnels 33
Othello D. Runnels 8
Clyde E. Runnels 5
Ralph I. Runnels 8/12
Mary E. Runnels 70
Israel Runnels 87
Children of Israel & Sarah (Lowe) Runnells:
1. William Victor Runnells, b 23 May 1851 Acton ME, d. 1876.
2. Ella Frances [Eler sic] b 3 October 1853 Maine
3. Elmer Pym Runnells, b 29 April 1856 Maine
4. Sarah Inez Runnells b 1 March 1859 Maine
5. Walter Ellsworth Runnells, b 18 April 1861 Maine, d. 1874.
Children of Israel & Mary E. (Rogers) Runnells:
6. Flora Nellie Runnels, b. 26 July 1866 Maine
7. Isetta M. “Etta” “Izette” Runnells, b. 12 March 1869, Acton Maine, d. 21 May 1894, aged 25 yrs 2 months
8. Grace Belle “Gracie” Runnells, b. 8 March 1871 Acton Maine
9. Eugene Ellsworth Runnells, b. abt 1874 Acton, Maine; d. 21 Dec 1956 Milton Mills NH; He m1) 10 April 1899 in Milton NH to Carrie A. Deane, dau of James R. & Ellen (Parker) Deane. She was b. 1876 in Millbury MA. He m3) 20 Dec 1945 in Milton NH as her 3rd husband, to Mrs. Maud (Ralph) Wiltsey, dau of Joseph Hall & Luella Mabel (Mason) Ralph. She was b. in Worcester MA He was a carpenter


Flora N. Runnels [Note: this story is about her, see photograph above], dau of Israel & Mary E. (Rogers) Runnells, b. 26 July 1866 Acton Maine; died 4 March 1960. She is buried in Milton Mills Cemetery, Milton Mills, Strafford Co. NH. In 1920 she was living in Cambridge MA, nurse in the family of John J. & Elizabeth C. Spalding. In 1930 living with her brother Eugene and his wife Alice in Milton Mills NH, where she is a servant to a private family. In the 1940 US Census she is single living in Milton Mills. Graduated from high school.
1880 US Census > NH > Strafford > Milton Mills
Israel Runnells self M 56 Maine
Mary E. Runnells wife F 40 Maine
Sarah J. Runnells daughter F 21 Maine
Flora N. Runnells dau F 13 Maine
Isetta M. Runnells dau F 11 Maine
Gracie B. Runnells dau F 9 Maine
Eugene E. Runnells son M 6 Maine [ b 1874, d. 21 Dec 1956 Milton NH, age 82]
[Eugene death]
1920 US Census > MA > Middlesex > Cambridge > Highland St.
Spalding John J. Head M W 77 married naturalized b. at sea, England MA
Spalding, Elizabeth C. wife F W 75 married MA MA MA
Runnels, Flora N. Nurse F W 53 single Maine Maine Maine private family
single, no children

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2 Responses to The Nurse from Milton Mills, New Hampshire: Flora N. Runnels (1866-1960)

  1. Pingback: 2016: Celebrating Women’s History Month in New Hampshire | Cow Hampshire

  2. Mark Brogan says:

    We read with interest your article about the Runnels family. I am a 4th great granddaughter of Samuel Runnels 1754-1847, buried in New Durham, NH. His father Abraham is also buried in the same family plot in New Durham. We are cleaning up this family cemetery and are interested in any further information you may have on this family. Barbara and Mark Brogan

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