The Purdon Family

Edward Anthony Harry Purdon

Birth: 18 November 1872, in Ireland

Baptism: 1872, in Sandown, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England

Father: John Edward Blakeney Purdon

Mother: Hannah Selina (Kilroy) Purdon

Occupation: Physician.
Edward obtained his M.D. from Grant University, Chattanooga, in 1892. He was granted a certificate to practice by the Cullman County Board in Alabama in 1892. The biography of Edward's father, John in Biography of Eminent American Physicians and Surgeons by Stone, R. French (1894) p414, mentions that Edward, the eldest of four surviving children, is a physician in practice with his father, in Tampa, Florida. the Transactions of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama (1897) record that physicians John Edward Purdon and Edward Anthony Harry Purdon moved from Cullman county to Corinne county, Utah.

Death: 2 August 1904, at Ogden General Hospital, Ogden, Weber county, Utah, United States, from an abcess of the liver, aged 32. Edward's residence at the time is noted to be Corinne, Utah.

Buried: 4 August 1904, in Corinne, Box Elder county, Utah, United States

Sources:

Hannah S. K. Purdon

Birth: July-August 1880, in Guernsey, Channel Islands

Father: John Edward Blakeney Purdon

Mother: Hannah Selina (Kilroy) Purdon

Census:
1881: 2 Cumbria Villa, St Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands

Sources:

Henrietta Sarah Katherine Purdon

Birth: 11 August 1874, in India

Baptism: 6 September 1874, in Trimulgherry, Hyderabad, India

Father: John Edward Blakeney Purdon

Mother: Hannah Selina (Kilroy) Purdon

Occupation: Train Nurse?
Henrietta's occupation is listed in the 1900 census, but I am not sure about the second word.

Notes: Henrietta emigrated to the United States with her parents in 1883

Census & Addresses:
1881: 2 Cumbria Villa, St Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands
1900: Turlock, Stanislaus county, California

Sources:

John Edward Blakeney Purdon

Title: Doctor

Birth: 25 May 1839, in Dublin, county Dublin, Ireland

Father: Edward Purdon, Lord Mayor of Dublin

Mother: Sarah (Murphy) Purdon, of Silver Hills, county Kildare

Education: John entered Trinity College, Dublin, in 1857, and graduated in arts in 1862, as a Scholar of the House, having obtained the senior moderatorship, and gold medal in Experimental and Natural Sciences at the Bachelor of Arts examination the previous year. In 1863 the separate degrees of Bachelor in Medicine and Master in Surgery were conferred upon him by Trinity College Dublin and the M.D. on 2 June 1885.

Married: Hannah Selina Kilroy in 1866, in Cavan district, county Cavan, Ireland

Children: Occupation: Physician. John was an army surgeon serving in the Isle of  Wight, India and, with the 87th Royal Irish Fusiliers, in the Channel Islands. Upon his retirement in 1883, he emigrated to the United States  where he continued to work as a physician.
Hart's Army List for 1870 lists John as an assistant surgeon with the rank of Liutenant stationed in Bengal, ranking as of 2 October 1865. The 1871 list shows John still as an assistant surgeon with the rank of Liutenant but not stationed anywhere. Perhaps he is returning from India, or on leave following the tour. Hart's Army List for 1872 and 1873 list John as an assistant surgeon with the rank of Captain stationed in Sandown (Isle of Wight) and Hart's Army List for 1875 lists John as a surgeon stationed in Madras. The 1882 list shows John as Surgeon Major, stationed in Guernsey, having reached the rank of Surgeon on 1 March 1873, and the rank of Surgeon Major on 2 October 1877.
The 1881 census list John as a surgeon with the 87th Royal Irish Fusiliers, stationed in St Peter Port, Guernsey.

Notes:
While a student at Trinity College Dublin, John jumped into the River Liffey in an attempt to save a drowning woman, as noted in the Cavan Observer on 20 July 1861:
A COURAGEOUS ATTEMPT--A few evenings ago as one of the steamers was leaving her berth at the North-wall, a woman fell into the Liffey, and sank almost immediately. Mr. John E. Purdon, 23 Bachelors'-walk, who was standing with the crowd, at once jumped into the river without waiting to divest himself even of his coat, and dived in the direction in which he saw the woman go down. The woman rose to the surface in the mean time and succeeded in grasping a rope which was thrown out to her, and was thus saved. This however does not detract from the laudable effort of Mr. Purdon, who narrowly escaped, to say the least of it, severe injury himself, as the paddles of the steamer were in motion at the time, one of which lightly struck him on the shoulder and tore his coat.


Upon emigration to the United States, John seems to have lived first in Mentone, Alabama in 1887, then to Tampa, Florida by 1894.
The Transactions of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama (1895) contains the note from the Cullman County Medical Society that the physician John Edward Purdon had recently moved from Huntsville, Madison county to Cullman county, and the Transactions for 1897 record that physicians John Edward Purdon and Edward Anthony Harry Purdon moved from Cullman county to Corinne county, Utah. On 3 April 1898 John is granted a certificate to practise medicine in California, and at that time he is noted as living in Turlock, California where we find him in the 1900 census.

Story of an Amazing Mountain by John Wilson, excerpted at the Lookout Mountain Land Company website tells us that;
Dr. John E. Purdon, a former British Army surgeon who was an early guest at the Mentone Springs Hotel, was so impressed by the Mentone area that he determined to found an English colony there.
He advertised in English newspapers, offering to teach young Englishmen the art of farming.  A few young men did come from England to inspect Lookout Mountain, but none stayed on to farm the land.

In Mentone, Alabama: A History by Zora Shay Strayhorn, we find that the Purdons lived at what is now Camp Laney, near Mentone:
History of the Camp Laney site began in 1887 when Dr. John Edward Purdon and his wife Katherine came from Athlone, Ireland, with their servants to Mentone. He had been a Major Surgeon in the British army, a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin.
In Mentone he practiced medicine, often without pay. The Purdons’ friends, Mary and Thomas Sproule also brought Irish servants and a parrot to Mentone and built a house on the adjoining property. They are buried in Bankhead Cemetery.
The remains of an old fireplace still stand as the only evidence that the Purdon family lived on the Camp Laney site.

and also:
Among these early settlers was Dr. John E. Purdon, a retired British Army Surgeon. Dr. Purdon, in turn, encouraged young Englishmen to come and live with him while he taught them how to farm. At least three young men did come, but the venture failed because of one flaw in Dr. Purdon's plan: he knew nothing about farming.
The Purdons lived across the DeSoto River (the West Fork of Little River) from the Masons and were later joined by relatives, the Thomas F. Sproules, a titled Irish family driven out of Ireland during an uprising. The Purdons left Mentone, but the Sproules lived out their lives there and received an annual income from the revenues of their Irish home..


This biography of John appeared in Biography of Eminent American Physicians and Surgeons by Stone, R. French (1894) p414, transcribed by Barbara Walker Winge
JOHN EDWARD BLAKENEY PURDON
John Edward Blakeney Purdon, of Tampa, Florida, was born in Dublin, Ireland, May 25, 1839. He is the son of the Late Alderman Edward Purdon, formerly Lord Mayor of Dublin, and his wife, Sarah Murphy, of Silver Hills, County Kildare. He entered Trinity College, Dublin, in 1857, and graduated in arts in 1862, as a Scholar of the House, having obtained the senior moderatorship, and gold medal in Experimental and Natural Sciences at the Bachelor of Arts examination the prevous year. In 1863 the separate degrees of Bachelor in Medicine and Master in Surgery were conferred upon him by the University of Dublin [Trinity College] and the M. D. in 1885. In 1865 he entered the British Army, by competitive examination, as assistant surgeon, and proceeded to India, where for several years he was engaged in the study of cholera, dysentery, malarious fevers, and all the diseases incidental to life in the tropics... Doctor Purdon has resided in America since his retirement from the Army in 1883, and is a member of some of the leading medical societies of the South... He was married in 1866, to Hannah Selina, daughter of Anthony Kilroy, Esq., of Ornand County Cavan, Ireland. The eldest of their four surviving children, Edward Anthony H., is a physician engaged in practice with his father.


John was interested in the occult, and used his scientific and medical training to try to shed light on the topic. In an article entitled The Usefulness of History by Fraser Nicol published in the journal Research in Parapsychology and transcribed on Michael Prescott's Blog, John's early research recieves a mention:
THE SPHYGMO-GRAPH. More than 90 years ago Dr. John E. Purdon, an English physician with wide experience in psychical research, performed experiments on percipients and agents which may be described as forerunners of the plethysmograph work done by Figar and others in recent years. Using the sphygmograph to measure pulse rate, Purdon claimed that the rate varied with the success or failure of telepathic transmission. He also believed he had found that if two people in the same room happened to think of the same thing, their sphygmograph records would show it. A self-critical man, Purdon appealed to researchers better equipped than himself to pursue the investigations further. No sustained attempt was made to do so, and for three-quarters of a century his ingenious ideas were lost to history.

In an article in Light (May 10, 1902, p. 223), quoted at Answers.com, John E. Purdon writes that: "On one occasion in my quarters at the Sandown Hospital, Isle of Wight, I held the feet of Miss Florence Cook firmly against the floor, and can certify that there was no lifting of the heels, either with or without her boots, and that there was such an elongation that my brother-in-law, the late assistant-surgeon, Mark A. Kilroy, whose hands were on her shoulders, cried out 'She is dragging me up to the ceiling.' As he was over five feet nine inches in height there could have been no posturing that would account for his experience. Further, I most distinctly remember Miss Cook coming back with a jerk to her normal stature. My wife, who was present and heard her brother make the above remark, fully endorses my statement."

A Dr. John E. Purdon is quoted often as a leading supporter of eugenics laws in Alabama requiring the forced sterilization of the mentally deficient. I am unsure if this is our same John Purdon, who had been a physician in Alabama, but is found living in Turlock, California, in the 1900 census. That does not preclude him from speaking at an Alabama meeting in 1901, but makes it at least doubtful that it is the same man. I have found no biographical information on this Dr. Purdon that correlates ages or refer to his Irish or British Army past. An example of the beliefs of this Dr. Purson are described by Lutz Kaelber, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Vermont, who writes in Eugenics: Compulsory Sterilization in 50 American States
At the 1901 meeting of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama (MASA), Dr. William Glassell Sommerville, Trustee of the Alabama Insane Hospitals, declared it a proven fact that “the moral disposition for good and evil, including criminal tendencies…are transmitted from…one generation to another…and is as firmly believed by all scientific men as the fact that parents transmit” physical qualities to their children (Dorr, “Defective or Disabled?,” pp. 383-4).  At that same meeting, John E. Purdon stated that it was a “‘proven fact’ that criminality, insanity, epilepsy, and other alleged manifestations of degraded nerve tissue were hereditary” (Larson, Sex, Race, and Science, p. 50).  He emphasized that “‘[i]t is essentially a state function’ to retrain ‘the procreative powers’ of the unfit” (Larson and Nelson, p. 407).  He suggested that the use of sterilization would benefit the race by saying, “[e]masculation is the simplest and most perfect plan that can be adapted to secure the perfection of the race” (Larson, Sex, Race, and Science, p. 50).  Finally, Purdon explained his belief that “the goodness, the greatness, and the happiness of all upon the earth, will be immeasurably advanced, in one or two generations, by the proposed methods” (Larson and Nelson, p. 407), and, based on his belief that “weakness begets weakness” feared that “humanitarianism would ‘assist the imperfect individual to escape the consequences of his physical and moral malformation’” (Dorr, "Honing Heredity," p. 29).

Census & Addresses:
1861: Batchelor's Walk, Dublin (newspaper article)
1881: 2 Cumbria Villa, St Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands
1900: Turlock, Stanislaus county, California

Sources:

John F. W. Purdon

Birth: December 1881, in Guernsey, Channel Islands

Father: John Edward Blakeney Purdon

Mother: Hannah Selina (Kilroy) Purdon

Occupation: Day labourer, railroad

Notes: John emigrated to the United States with his parents in 1883

Death: 20 April 1950, in Trinity county, California, United States, aged 69

Census:
1900: Turlock, Stanislaus county, California

Sources:

Kate Selina H. Purdon

Birth: 17 September 1876, in Roscommon district, county Roscommon, Ireland

Father: John Edward Blakeney Purdon

Mother: Hannah Selina (Kilroy) Purdon

Census & Addresses:
1881: 2 Cumbria Villa, St Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands

Sources:
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