Dora Thurston Whitney lived in Cochituate where her husband Hiram Thurston was in the shoe industry. Her husband died from sickness in the war. She was left a widow with four children. When her husband went off to war, her youngest was only 10 days old. Few letters were written to home by Hiram, but it is understood from others in the 38th regiment that he was not an enthusiastic soldier. He had been on the Red River expedition and the long march tested his endurance. On his return he became exhausted and sick with chronic diarrhea and died. His remains were brought home and buried in Natick.
What did the town do to support Dora? It was the town’s policy to support the family left behind financially and “morally”, and to help defray the expense of bringing the body home and of burial. She did stay for some years because it is noted that Dora was a member of the Methodist church in the 70s and then moved to Natick. She remarried and had additional children. Irish by birth, Dora was not the only Irish immigrant who came to Cochituate as the population of that village began to reflect more diversity as the shoe industry attracted immigrant workers. It is interesting to note the number of Irish residents who moved to Wayland. Helen Emery’s book quotes their population figures..
While less is known about Dora than about many other Wayland characters, she is of special interest in learning about the immigrant experience in a town like Wayland.