Flora Clarinda Gleason Johnson Washburn was born August 2, 1819 in Tolland, Birkshire, Massachusetts to Lorena Willams Gleason and Joel Gleason. In 1824, they moved to Lenox, Ohio. Flora's mother died 16 days after their arrival, leaving a two-week-old infant. Flora's father later remarried, and Flora spent her childhood living sometimes at home and sometimes with relatives. As a young woman, Flora went out to nurse and did dressmaking on the side to earn more money. She was engaged to a young man, Hugh Gillon, and had great hopes for their future together, but he died before their wedding day. During this time Flora joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She longed to gather with the saints to Nauvoo, but the family of her late fiance wanted her to live with them for awhile. She stayed with them for about two years. The Gillons were very wealthy, and they gave Flora the same advantages as their two daughters. She had many fancy clothes for parties and dances. Flora returned to keep house for her father after his wife died, and was there for several months. Then, she moved to Macedonia, a settlement 22 miles from Nauvoo. At first, she stayed with a friend, but mobs burned down the house and Flora lost all her possessions. She then lived with Patriarch John Smith's family. After the Prophet Joseph Smith's death, Flora lived with B. F. Johnson and his wife Melissa in the Mansion House. She received her endowment in the Nauvoo Temple and was married there to B. F. Johnson. The two families began traveling to Utah together, but then B. F. Johnson sent Flora ahead because he wanted to court another wife. She did not see him until long after she arrived in the valley. When Flora arrived in Winter Quarters, the men were working as fast as they could to build housing. Abraham Washburn began working on the chimney of a house for her, but before it was finished she gave birth in a wagon to her first child, Huetta Clarissa. Flora traveled to Utah in the spring of 1848 and drove her own team the entire way. She pled her case before Brigham Young and obtained a divorce from B. F. Johnson. She then married Abraham Washburn on February 11, 1849 as his second wife. They became the parents of seven children: Almeda Maria, Louisa Ann, Hyrum Smith, Philena, Parley Pratt, Lorena Eugenia, and Orson Pratt. They were called to settle Manti, Utah and arrived November 21, 1849. At first Flora lived on the south side of Temple hill. Then, she moved into the fort, and later Abraham built a house for her in town. Flora was the Relief Society president in Manti for many years. She organized handicrafts among the Relief Society sisters, taught emigrant women to make a living, and pioneered the introduction of fruit trees, berry plants, and ornamental shrubs to Manti. In 1872, the family moved to Monroe, Utah, where Flora was Relief Society president for 25 years. She taught school for several years, nursed the sick, found employment for the poor, and laid out the dead for burial. Flora died on August 13, 1900 in Monroe, Utah.
Flora's nine-page, typewritten biography was authored by her daughter Lorena Eugenia Washburn Larsen. Included in the collection is a biography of Abraham's first wife, Tamar, which was also written by Lorena. Flora's biography gives broad outlines of her life and tells stories about the service and work that she accomplished in her community. While she was living in Manti, she learned of two needy emigrant couples who had just arrived. They had no shelter and could not speak any English. Through a translator, Flora offered to divide the space in her living room and let them stay there until they found something better. They gladly accepted and lived there some time. Although they could not speak with each other, this experience was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. The biography also describes the Relief Society work meetings that Flora held. They would assemble in the morning in the old Council House and quilt, sew rags for rag carpets, card wool, sew hats, braid straw, knit men's socks, spin wool yarn, and make tidy and lace. At noon they would have a picnic lunch and then work into the afternoon with an occasional dance in the evening. Their handicrafts were displayed at the annual Sanpete County Fair. The biography also describes the baking that Flora did. She had a large adobe oven outside that would hold 40 loaves in one baking. Once a week, she made bread, pies, cakes, and gingerbread. The bread was kept in a barrel in the cellar. She also made sacks of crackers for the teamsters who were sent from Manti to bring emigrants to Utah. The biography describes how the children helped with this process. Because Abraham ran a molasses mill in Manti, there were many candy pulling parties in the community. Before and after the Black Hawk War, Flora would travel to Utah Valley to obtain fruit for preserving. The biography contains several stories about scares Flora's family had with the Indians.