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History of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants: 1940-1949

George Ernest Bowman died September 5, 1941, after suffering a heart attack on the street near 9 Walnut walking back from the Somerset Club. The last living incorporator of the Society, Bowman's health had been poor for a number of years, and he had been in and out of the hospital several times. Bowman was 81 years old and was survived by his sister Mrs. William Dwight Parkinson of Fitchburg and several of her children.

Bowman's successor as Secretary was a remarkable woman. Isabelle Frances (Cushman) Nason, age 60, was born in Halifax, Massachusetts, in 1881, the daughter of Frank H. and Cordelia W. (Cushing) Cushman. She grew up in Plymouth and had a deep affection for the town and its history. She married Frank L. Nason in 1908 but had no children. A paragon of the hereditary / patriotic society matron, Isabelle, in her lifetime, was regent of the Massachusetts Daughters of the American Revolution, registrar of the National DAR, president of the Alden Kindred, founder and first president of the Massachusetts Court of Assistants, and the National Society of Women Descendants of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, founder of the Patriot's Society, member of the Colonial Dames and the Huguenot Society, and one of the organizers of Plimoth Plantation. She was also a staunch Republican and member of the National, Massachusetts and Norwell Republican Clubs. In her spare time, she wrote historical plays. She was a diminutive woman with a personality as pleasing as Bowman's was acerbic. However, although she stated that Mayflower was a bit closer to her than any of the other societies with which she was involved, Nason's time was divided among many such "children." In addition, her husband was ill, and she often had to abandon the office to take care of him. At most, she would be in the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants office once or twice a week, the rest of the work being handled by the hired secretary. Nonetheless, her attention to the detail of the duties of the Secretary was complete. She answered every inquiry in a warm and friendly manner.

The most crucial problem facing those whose job it was to administer the Society after Bowman's death, was finding out what was going on. Complicating matters at the time was the illness and retirement of his long-time secretary, Miss Richardson (who was in the hospital when he died), and the sudden heart attack and retirement of John Smith, custodian of the house. Along with Bowman, these two people had been responsible for the office and the house since it had been purchased. Mrs. Nason and the other Board of Assistants found themselves without a clue to what or where anything was. As Mrs. Nason put it, "Therefore a new Secretary, and new secretary to the Secretary, and a new Custodian had to take over, none of them having done actual work for this Society before. It had taken these four years [1941-1945] to try to get in the even stride of the work."

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