Almira Almeda was a proud woman with a strong jaw. She would look you directly in the eye with her well-honed confidence and ever-so-slight smile on her lips. Almira Almeda remembered working as a shy child raking blueberries to fill plastic tubs in the hot, dusty fields at the very top of the hill until her arms ached, and her back was red with sunburn. She knew then that it would take many years of hard work to save enough money to buy the parcel for her own, but still she woke up each morning dreaming of that day.
Within her tattered, crumbling journal, Almira Almeda remembered her grandfather’s huge weather beaten hand enclosing hers, tiny, smooth and pink, as they earlier walked through the same blueberry fields when she was only 8 or 9 years old, him talking about wanting to own property on the hilltop. She thought about the gleam in grandfather’s eye as they soaked in the breathtaking sight on a clear blue-sky sunny day. She remembered as a teenager, slowly straightening up from what seemed endless hours of blueberry raking and dry lips, to see the snow capped purplish mountains far on the western horizon. Local people enjoyed riding their horses to the top field just to see that spectacular 360° view for miles around.
Almira Almeda silently vowed to herself early-on that she would someday own the top fields grandfather coveted, where she had raked blueberries with a crew of other Dresden and Pittston high school kids during her early years. It was her girlhood dream to someday make the announcement there would be a grand log house raised on her land where she could gaze endlessly out her parlor window to see that very special view overlooking the Eastern River. She often escaped her siblings; another well-worn book and her journal with then mostly empty pages in the crook of her arm as she hiked to her hiding spot, a huge boulder warmed by the sun, which she hid behind to read or write in her own private world for hours in the fresh air under the soaring eagles.
When Almira Almeda was 23, she married 25-year-old Zina Blinn from Dresden in a happy mid-August ceremony at her family home in Pittston (near the peak of Blinn Hill) with all 16 of her siblings and his 10 brothers and sisters surrounding them, quite a crowded house that day. Baby Alice came along within the first year of their marriage. By the time their second child, Effie Jennette was born in 1861, Almira Almeda had begun to hold well-attended Suffragette meetings at their modest home. Other strong women were attracted to what she had to say and impressed by her beliefs, her ability to draw interesting speakers to fan the flames of passionate local women for the cause.
The East Coast was a hotbed for the women’s movement in the United States during the mid-1800s, when Almira Almeda Kincaid Moody, Blinn lived in Maine. During the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, female leaders gathered for what would be remembered as the birth of the women’s suffrage movement.
Almira Almeda’s passion became the origin of her being known as a driven woman, a social organizer of local women, and their strong political values. She learned confidence from the value of hard work as a young girl from a large, demanding family. As a young married woman, she not only continued to hold meetings and tend to her husband and little family, also birthing twin girls she and Zina named Helen Grace and Grace Hannah in 1874. She was notorious for having taken extraordinary social risks for her time in addition to tending to the demanding schedule of housekeeping, gardening and mothering, providing inspiration, rewarding to her and many others in her town. She was also known to have made the best blueberry jam in the area!
Almira Almeda indeed finally achieved the breathtaking view of the mountains as owner of Blinn Hill property. She met the challenges, disciplined herself to stick with the hard work, invested her hard-earned money, and at last reaped her reward. She was truly “Blinn Hill Baronness” in the huge estate at the very top of Blinn’s “blueberry hill.” You can visit her and Zina’s gravesites in the Pine Grove Cemetery; halfway along the road to the peak of Blinn Hill, nestled in with scores of other Blinn’s, now spelled Blen after cousin Owen changed the spelling of their name later, due to a family tragedy.