Flora Ella-The Child Bride


Married at thirteen with her first child at fourteen! Who is she? My friend Sharon’s grandmother, Flora. The child bride went on to have five more children.

Here she is two years before she wed.

Here she is two years before she wed.

Young marriages were normal and accepted in the late 1800s. Many girls were married as early as ten. The youngest bride on record in the Oregon territory was eight!

Only eight! Why would they do that?

Men were given the incentive to marry by Oregon’s Donation Land Claim that allowed 320 acres to be given to an 18-year-old or older single male and 640 acres to a married couple if they would live on the land and cultivate it for four years.

Both my daughters are in that age group. I can’t imagine them married much less with kids. Some serious head-shaking going on.

After I got past the idea of a thirteen-year-old bride, Sharon showed me Flora’s quilts, crochet work, tatting and other hand-crafted projects.



Such beautiful work.

Whether she was making everyday pieces or special occasion items, I’m inspired by the art and beauty that shines through her. I marvel at the patience required. How much time went in to each piece? And to think, she did it all by candlelight too.

I loved watching Sharon’s face light with passion as she fingered the blankets and doilies and told me her family’s story. Flora taught her daughters to sew and one of them taught Sharon and her sister. They all still share and love the craft—what a legacy one little thirteen-year-old left behind, beginning clear back in 1890.


Wedding Photo from 1904


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