Looking Back: Mae Axford

Rochester Post | Published August 25, 2020


ROCHESTER — Mae Axford’s list of accomplishments include serving as a director of the Red Cross for 22 consecutive years, making over 100 quilts and being an active member of at least eight organizations.

Her name can be found throughout dozens of local newspapers because of her many social and volunteer commitments. A few of these articles reveal another fascinating fact about her: Mae was the proud owner of night blooming cereus and cactus plants for over 20 years.

From 1908 to 1948, the Rochester Era newspaper chronicled the blooms of these rare plants, which happened only once a year for a single night. To share in this momentous occasion, Mae often invited friends to her house at 429 Walnut Blvd. In 1931, a reported 50 “Rochesterians,” as the newspaper called them, came out to witness the unusual blooms.

As another article explained, “the plant was a thing of beauty, the sight of which was worth going a long distance to see.” This photo shows Mae Axford (left) and Elna Plassey (right) with one of Mae’s beloved plants.

Check out the page five 1931 newspaper article about her plants on the Oakland County Historical Resources site: http://oaklandcountyhistory.org/awweb/awarchive?type=file&item=205582.

To discover more local history and check out upcoming programs, visit the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm website at www.rochester hills.org/museum.

 — Samantha Lawrence, Museum Archivist at the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm