Bradley, Flowers, and Sams: A Blended Family

Lydia Bradley —/-Harry Flowers

Mary    Samuel      Josie                        

Harry Flowers  –/– Nancy Sawyer

            Chauncey     Fred     John    Rachel     Theodore     Vincent     Gladyce     Hilda

Nancy Sawyer   ——Henry Sams

              Henry Jr


I am in a blended family. Once my mother married my step-father, we joined his family and he joined ours. My mother now had three step-daughters and four grandchildren along with her five children. Although we did not live under the same roof, there are still times where we are together whether it is for family functions, holidays, or reunions. There is beauty in blended families as well as your usual arguments and disagreements.  

Now when Harry married Nancy, he brought into the relationship his three children from a previous marriage to Lydia Bradley–Mary, Samuel, and Josie. Harry and Nancy had  eight children–Chauncey, Fred, John, Rachel, Theodore, Vincent, Gladyce, and Hilda. After their divorce, Nancy married Henry Sams and together they had a son, Henry Jr. For all of you who stopped keeping count that is 12 children. By the 1930s (with the exception of Lydia), Harry, Nancy, Henry, and the 13 children all resided in Philadelphia making the long trek from Jacksonville, Florida over the course of the early 1900s (separately of course). I am unsure of what the journey looked like for Mary, Samuel, and Josie for only death certificates told me they migrated North; however, the only census record I have for Harry Flowers in Pennsylvania is in 1920 and only Rachel, Vincent, Hilda, and Gladyce are listed as members of this household. 

Naturally, I was interested in this family’s dynamics. How did this all work? Did they even get along? Did they know the other existed? Despite the many letters and the lack of information held within census records, I found my answer in newspaper articles.

Philadelphia Tribune, 1936
Philadelphia Tribune, 1936

You will notice that in the obituary of Chauncey Flowers that both Mary (Mrs. George Conway) and Henry Sams are listed as surviving siblings. Yes, they knew about one another. Yes, they must have acknowledge one another and spent time with one another in order to be in an obituary most likely written by Ernestine Flowers (Hagins) who had no direct connection to the family outside of marriage.

Harrisburg Telegraph, 1928
Harrisburg Telegraph, 1928

The same goes with the obituary of Harry Flowers, 11 out of 12 of the children’s father. Here, it is stated he is only survived by eight children which means three of children have passed away by this time. I know for certain Chauncey, John, Theodore, Rachel, Mary, Gladyce, Vincent, and Hilda were alive, which leaves Samuel, Josie, and Fred as the presumed dead children. On one hand this makes sense for I am unable to find records for the three individuals only possible “matches”. This obituary was most likely written by Rachel, the same daughter who completed Harry’s death certificate. Now, these obituaries only reveal so much. Rachel’s and her siblings festivities reveal much more.

Rachel and her sisters were hostesses. They threw extravagant parties, hosted leaders from around the world, and was involved in church events.

Dinner Party-1930

Check out the guest list. Not only was their half-sister invited (remember: Mrs. George Conway), but Gladyce and Hilda future husbands attended as well, Mr. Paul Stevenson and Mr. Herbert Wilson. Mary would attend many of her half-sisters’ events and they associated with the same groups. I noticed in many articles whether Mary was attending their event or another social gathering the guest lists were not different.

As for the Flowers siblings younger half-brother, they seemed to have held a good relationship. At one point, Rachel and Henry lived within the same household on 422 North Sanford Street in Philadelphia. This was their mother’s home.

1975 Henry Sams

If you take a look at his obituary particularly the surviving family members you will find the names of his sisters and brothers who were living in 1975. I will also note that his niece attended his funeral in Philadelphia for I found his funeral program within her archival collection.

In conclusion, the Flowers children knew the other Flowers children who also knew the Sams child. This interesting and even complicated family dynamic is one to be admired. The siblings attended each other events and were even listed as surviving relatives in a few obituaries. I can imagine their relationship, like many, was not perfect, yet one did existed.

Until the next post and find,

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