Flavilla Eveline Madden Brundrett, my great grandmother, was born in Louisiana in 1858. She was the fifth of six children born to Mary Eveline Bludworth, of the shipbuilding family, and Dr. James Frederic Madden, who was a doctor and circuit riding preacher. He traveled between Refugio and Rockport, timing his sermons to coincide with when his women patients were expecting babies. He was a good friend with George Albert Brundrett Jr.
When Flavilla was a little girl, George A. used to bounce her on his knee. Many years later, George A. Brundrett, a 47-year-old widower with three stepchildren and five biological children, married 25-year-old Flavilla, who was working as a governess. They lived on Matagorda Island, where in 1868, George and his brother John bought 15,000 acres and began ranching. Flavilla and George A. Jr. had 10 children. Eight of their 10 children lived into adulthood. Mary died as a three-day-old infant and Alice Olivia fell on a picket fence and died when she was only nine years old.
My grandfather told me his mother liked being pregnant because when she was pregnant, his papa hired someone to do the family laundry.
The family lived on Matagorda Island until the storm of 1887 destroyed Indianola. Several of Flavilla’s family members were killed during the storm. George decided it would be safer to live in Lamar because it would be somewhat protected by the barrier islands. They moved to Lamar, where they lived for 20 years. From Lamar, they moved to the Blackjacks for 10 years, before moving to Rockport in 1917. They bought a house on North Live Oak, which now has a historical marker.
Flavilla’s father taught her many doctoring skills and she delivered many babies when a doctor wasn’t available. Her children said they never knew if she would be home when they woke up in the morning because she was often called out during the night to use her doctoring skills. She would also turn her parlor into a makeshift hospital to take care of someone who was ill.
When her daughter Villie died, Flavilla and her daughter Trudie raised Villie’s three girls along with Trudie’s two boys. A room was added onto the back of the house for the three girls. One day the three girls walked down the road and spotted a small travel trailer and a man with his pregnant wife. They later learned they were migrant workers. The girls rushed home to tell their grandmother, who immediately walked down the block and convinced the couple to come live with her until after their baby was born. The girls were not happy to learn they were temporarily losing their room and would be sleeping on pallets in the parlor. Several weeks after Flavilla delivered their baby, the couple moved on and the girls got back their bedroom.
Flavilla was devoutly religious. She took a leading role in organizing Sunday Schools in many early-day settlements. She once invited a minister to hold a three-day revival in the hall of her home. She was a charter member of the 1st Presbyterian Church and taught Sunday school for 54 years.
The family continued to ranch on Matagorda Island until 1940. My mother had many fond memories of the times when the first cousins and their parents would ride a barge to spend time on the island. With 17 first cousins, someone could always come up with something fun to do.
George A. and Flavilla both died at the age of 84.
Found in her husband’s desk was a handwritten note by Flavilla that best sums up her life.
(Written by Flavilla at age 75.)
Flavilla E. Madden Born in La Apr 9 1858
Came to Texas in 1858
And in Texas all my life
Was converted and joined the presby church in 1880 in Jackson Co
Came to Hines bay in 1882
Was married to Geo. A. Brundrett Feb 27, 1884
To us was born 10 children 8 became grown and two died when young and two since grown
Start Sunday school in Lamar Texas 1887
Have been teaching Sunday school now 52 years
Taught 2 years before I was married
My father was a doctor and I loved to wait on the sick and dying in and around Lamar 100 in Rockport 36
Takin a church paper 45 years