Flora T. Little
Mr. and Mrs Little were major contributors to the Town of Bridgewater and to the establishment of the current library.
Just who were Flora and Walter Little?
Flora T. Little (1875-1967) was educated in the Bridgewater school system. She graduated from the Normal School (now known as Bridgewater State College) in 1895, and the Massachusetts Normal School of Art in 1899. She was art teacher and supervisor in several area schools including Bridgewater, and from 1902 to 1910 she was Art Assistant at the Normal School. She was also active in civic affairs, including the Ousamequin Club and the Massachusetts Federation of Women’s Clubs. She served on the Board of Library Trustees as Secretary.
Flora Townsend married Walter S. Little in 1902. He was born in Bridgewater, but graduated from Comer’s Commercial School in Boston in 1896. Walter worked as a bookkeeper for the Bridgewater Box Co. from 1891 to 1896. In 1897, he founded the Eastern Grain Co. and served as its President until 1941.
The Littles traveled extensively throughout their marriage. Indeed, Mrs. Little kept detailed journals of their travels to the Far East, the West Indies, Europe, South America, the United States, and Mexico. They were avid photographers, and took roll after roll of pictures to show family and friends upon their return home from their latest “tour”. Mrs. Little later recorded her reminiscences of these trips – plus life in Bridgewater – in an unpublished manuscript entitled A Wreath of Memories, which includes three supplements.
One chapter from A Wreath of Memories, which Mrs. Little called “Exciting Moments”, recorded their experience on a tour of England, Austria and Norway at the outbreak of World War I. Mrs. Little wrote of the experience in a later chapter,
In an earlier chapter of this narrative, called exciting
moments, we told of seeing the German Kaiser himself
strutting about in Balholm, Norway, establishing his alibi
of vacationing. Also that next day he and his warships had
disappeared, while wireless news to our ship told that Austria
had declared war against Serbia. I recall how surprised we
were, — being innocents unaccustomed to thinking in terms
of world politics…Our American sense of security held us
aloof from conclusions. These were soon forced upon us when
we returned to England and sought to continue our tour as
planned (by Cook & Sons) to Scotland and Wales. When this
became impossible we took steerage quarters on an overloaded,
American liner, to return…”
Although this was a harrowing experience, Mr. and Mrs. Little continued to travel for many years afterward. They had an extensive collection of souvenirs and collectibles, some of which are on permanent display at the Bridgewater Public Library. The collectibles include dolls, carved ivory figurines, pottery and beadwork.
Mrs. Little began to write A Wreath of Memories (and its supplements) after the death of her husband in 1962. She dedicated the works to him. When Mrs. Little died in 1967, she bequeathed half a million dollars to the Town of Bridgewater specifically for library purposes. The Board of Library Trustees used these funds to erect a new building at 15 South Street, just north of the old library (the Memorial Building).
Mrs. Little left all of us quite a legacy, in the form of a beautiful library that we continue to enjoy in the next century. She also left us her written words which convey a simpler time – especially when she discusses Bridgewater and the changes that she saw for the town. Her travel experiences are a joy to read, simply because of the wonder that she was able to write about with such eloquence. She was a remarkable woman for her time; she would be considered “an original” by today’s standards.