Another Excellent Adventure to Probate Court – Essex County, Massachusetts! #52Ancestors week #17

No Story Too Small has issued a New Year’s Challenge: “Have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

This week , being in Boston for Easter and the Marathon, I seized the chance to hunt down some Essex County probate records.

The Essex County Probate Office is located at 36 Federal St, Salem, Massachusetts. A 30 minute ride from Boston via commuter rail, then a 2 minute walk.

From Boston, I headed to the North Station commuter rail (inside the TD Garden, home of the Bruins & Celtics) and bought a round trip ticket to Salem on the Newburyport/Rockport line. The tickets are $6.50 each direction at the ticket office, but cost $9.00 each way if you buy them on the train. I arrived about 10 minutes prior to departure, and had plenty of time to purchase tickets and board.  The train schedule can be found here.

On arrival, I crossed the road to the court house.  After security, I headed to the second floor, where a sign read: “Essex Probate and Family Court is moving to its new location at 45 Congress St., Ste. 170, on April 28, 2014″.   It appears that the new location is about 1.3 miles from the train station.

The room was fairly small.  Indexes dated back to the early 1600′s.  The early indexes and probate documents are microfilmed and on file at NEHGS on Newbury Street; but I got better photographs of the “Pinder” entries from these books.  Bound indexes run through 1988.  A file cabinet holds index cards for records 1988 and forward.  I also noticed a series of divorce record indexes (I neglected to record the date range).

The staff was VERY nice.  Unlike past probate experiences in other locations, every person I encountered here went out of their way to help me; all were upbeat and friendly.  I overheard a few “crazy” customers during my visit; there wasn’t an ounce of frustration from the employees.  They happily and patiently dealt with each issue/question.

I located six index entries related to my and my husband’s ancestors and completed one form (located at the front desk) for each docket.  Within minutes the dockets were delivered. I was given permission by the manager to photograph the records with my Iphone!  I have found that probate offices usually don’t allow cameras, typically I spend a small fortune making copies and scanning them into my tree later.

Using’s Shoebox application, I photographed, tagged and immediately uploaded each image to my tree.

My search included my husband’s 2nd g-grandmother, Anna/Annie Elizabeth Callahan/Callan of whom I have written previously: here – I had hoped to find a copy of the handwritten will, mentioned in a newspaper article shortly after her death.


I was not disappointed, it reveals a bit of her personality and perhaps a strained relationship between Annie’s daughter and husband.

Anna/Annie Elizabeth Callahan/Callan was likely born about 1868, near Dublin, Ireland.  She immigrated to Massachusetts and married first, William Brown/Braun, a German immigrant.  They had one known child, Anna Maria “Annie” Brown, born 24 July 1894.  William likely died before 1905.  She married second, a German immigrant, John Carl Blazer, in Portland, Maine,  on 7 December 1905.  He had one known living child, Carl Paul Blazer from his first marriage to Mary Louise Therault.  Mary and their infant son, Phillip, died in 1899.

In 1910, Annie E., John and children Annie M. and Carl, rented a home on 364 Summer Street, Lynn, Massachusetts; shared with two boarders.  In 1920, Annie E. and John were renters at the same residence and living alone.  By 1930, they were listed as owners of 394 Summer Street in what appears to be a co-owned home.  Annie E. and John Carl were enumerated with a boarder.  Daughter Annie M., was enumerated with her husband Herbert White/LeBlanc (also listed as owner at the same address), their daughter Dorothy, her husband David Little and their infant son David.

Dorothy and David Little went on to have six known children – Annie’s g-grandchildren - at least three of whom were born prior to her death.  David R., Dorothy Elizabeth, Herbert John, Anna “Chick”, Donald and Robert.

Home in 2014

house today

On 24 March 1937, Annie died from Grippe-Acute Bronchitis Myocarditis Mitral Regurgitation at the age of 69. She was buried at St Mary’s Cemetery, Lynn.

Her handwritten will reads:

West Lynn, Mass
Sept 14, 1936

My Final Will

I Annie E Blazer of good sound mind and judgement will my half Share of house at 394 Summer St to my daughter Annie M White of 394 Summer St West Lynn Mass I also want My husband John C Blazer to have the use of the same rooms we  both now use and to make his home there as long as he lives or else do just as he wishes about his living.  

I also want Annie M. White to Pay all bills due on house and fence I also want her to be able to take a $2,000 morage [mortgage?] on house and Pay taxes and fix up the way I want it fix for Annie M White knows all my wishes I also leave around $600.00 file Insurrender [?] to my husband John C Blazer to pay all my funeral expences also John and myself have $1,000  in GE Bonds we also have a Joint Bank acount in West Lynn Secicurity [Security?] Trust company of a little over $200.00 all to go to my husband John C Blazer 

Carl P Blazer owes me $50.00 cash. I also wish to call it square his share I want my husband John C Blazer to make over to his son Carl P Blazer all GE Co life insurance also the Weapidy Insurance witch will give Carl P Blazer more than My daughter Annie M. White I also want my grand daughter Dorothy E Little to have all my clothes also my Paino and Diamond Ring and watch. 

I also want my husband John C Blazer to have our dog killed when he wont be able to take care of her himself

I want no fighting when I am gone between Annie John and Carl I ask in the name of God for peace and quietness I would like my husband John C Blazer to cash a few GE Bonds and take a trip to germany this is my Sinciar [sincere] wishes I want Lawyer James Sullivan and Lawyer Walter Pyne of Lynn to take care of everything as I wish it


Annie E Blazer 394 Summer St West Lynn Mass

Grace B Camor 444 Essex St  Lynn witness

Mrs Julia Coates 10 Circuit Ave Lynn

Mrs. Thelma Smith 406 Essex St Lynn 

 pg 1 will

pg 2 will


0ece61cf-528f-41d0-a4a2-f3824556289b  f5208e78-66cb-4833-936f-b49f04ba7212


Annie E.’s daughter Annie M., died in 1942 and granddaughter Dorothy in 1964.  Annie M.’s husband Herbert White/LeBlanc appears to have disowned all six of Dorothy’s children (his grandchildren). His sister Agnes’s five children are named as heirs to his $19,000 estate (another “find” at the Essex probate office).  I am hoping to track some of these descendants (a few still living) to discover more of “the story”.

829acabe-3d23-4be0-bcab-68831f8c01d0 (1)

52 Ancestors, week #16 – Boston Strong!

No Story Too Small has issued a New Year’s Challenge: “Have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

I ran and finished the Boston Marathon in 2009 with a time of 5:13.


I have watched the runners on Boylston Street (near the finish line) and in Copley after the Sox game, every year, for as long as I can remember.  “Marathon Monday”(Patriot’s Day) is one of my favorite holidays.  So much so, that in 2010 it led to my departure from a well paid finance position in Corporate America due to the boss’s refusal to let me take “Marathon Monday” as a vacation day. She deemed it “too close to quarter end”. Boss lady was not a Bostonian.  I was a telecommuter; I took the day anyway.

I missed the Marathon on 15 April 2013, for the first time in my adult life.  I was headed to the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium (NERGC) in Manchester, NH  on the 17th and was commuting with a friend from my new hometown of Jackson, New Hampshire. I decided to skip Boston versus driving an extra 6 hours and leaving my cats alone for two days.  However, I encouraged my husband (who had just returned from a business trip, and was in Boston)  to go watch the Marathon without me; he was busy with work, we bickered a bit,”work isn’t everything”, I said, “you should go” –  he didn’t listen; he drove back to his office in North Conway, NH that morning.  None of my many friends who attended annually were there – everyone, miraculously, had another commitment.

Today is the first anniversary of that horrific and tragic event that occurred in our city, a city often known for it’s accent where the “r” is “ah”.  Home to the Boston Tea Party, the precursor that sparked the American Revolution and eventually the birth of the nation. A place, where everyone, regardless of age, knows the names Yaz, Williams, Bird, Brady and Orr.  A society that came together to show the world that even one fatality is too much, “We Will Find You”. I am honored to be from this great, proud and STRONG city – God Bless Boston - I love my city and am proud of it’s protectors!  For that reason, I decided to dedicate this week’s blog to one of my family’s protectors.

The Malden Fire Department was established in 1820 when a bucket engine, Alert No. 1 was purchased and a company organized. In 1833 the Volunteer Engine Company was organized, and a new Hunneman engine was purchased. In 1848 the General Taylor Engine Company was organized at South Malden (now Everett) and in 1854 the Daniel Webster Engine Company was organized at Edgeworth.

In 1849 the City voted to pay it’s firemen $10 per annum and was one of the first  Cities in this Country to pay firemen for their services.

In 1864 the first steam fire engine was purchased, the Wanalancet No. 1, which was made by J.B. Johnson at Portland, ME.. the Thomas W. Hough steam fire engine was purchased in 1881.

In 1882 the Daniel P. Wise Hose Company was organized at Maplewood. That same year the John M. Devir Hose Company was organized at Edgeworth.


This week’s ancestor is Thomas Whitehead Hough, my 2nd great grand uncle through his marriage to Abby Frances Hall.   Abby was a sister to my paternal g-g-grandfather Ephraim Augustus Hall; daughter of Horatio Hall and Elizabeth Pinder (and sister to aunt Ellen Sophia Hall read of Ellen and the city of Malden, in that era, by clicking here).


Family Timeline

Thomas was likely born 14 Jan 1837 in Dover, Strafford, New Hampshire to John Hough (a carpenter/pattern maker) and Lurana(h) Young.

His mother Lurana(h) Young first married Nathaniel Hobbs on 14 July 1833 in Dover.  They had one known child, Nathaniel Hobbs jr. b. 1834.

Then on 21 March 1836, Mr. John Hough and Miss Lurania Hobbs, both of Dover were married by Benj. Brierly.

Thomas had six known full siblings: John b. 14 Nov 1838; Joseph b. 20 Oct 1840; Lurana(h) (Lorraine) Young, b. 27 April 1842; George Henry, b. 1844; Mary E., b. 27 Feb 1855; and Anna, b. 1857.

Siblings John (age 3) and Joseph (age 6 mons) died within four days of one another in April 1841 in Malden, Massachusetts, cause unknown

In 1850, John, Luranah and children,Thomas, Luranah & George, are found in Lawrence, Massachusetts living with John, Deborah & Charlotte Naylor (relation, if any, unknown). They were also enumerated in Malden, Massachusetts residing with John and Harriet Warren (relation, if any, unknown) [newspaper accounts mention homes in Dover, Lawrence, Malden and Providence, Rhode Island].

In 1855, John, Luranah and children,Thomas, Luranah & George, and Mary E., are residing in Malden; there is a 21 year old Bathiel Hough with the family (likely Thomas’s half brother Nathaniel Hobbs, jr.).

On 11 Mar 1857 Nathaniel Hobbs, jr. married Harriett E Turner in Malden.

Thomas married Abby Frances Hall 11 June 1858 in Malden and became a prominent Malden citizen.

Mary E. died 08 Aug 1858 in Malden, age 3, of hooking cough (likely whooping cough).

In 1860, Thomas and Abby are residing in Malden; Lorraine (who married Isaac Sawyer Evans, on 24 November 1859, in Amesbury, Massachusetts) has relocated to Charlestown, Massachusetts and Thomas’ parents are living in Andover, Massachusetts with their children George and AnnaNathaniel Hobbs, jr. and his wife, also reside in Malden.

On 8 Jul 1863, Nathaniel Hobbs, jr’s., death from apoplexy (the sudden loss of the ability to feel or move parts of the body caused by too little blood going to the brain) was reported in Malden.  He was a gunman in the US Navy and died aboard his ship.

By 1865, Thomas’s parents, George, Anna and daughter Lurana(h)/Lorraine with Isaac and their 4 year old child were residing in one household in Malden. Thomas and Abby are nearby, in a separate household (addresses are not given, but they are enumerated as families #209 & #214 on the same census page).

In 1867 George married in Lowell, Massachusetts, Mary A Sampson, daughter of Eden and Mary A. (Tufts) Sampson.

In 1870 & 1880, Thomas and Abby are residing in Malden; his parents are also in Malden, with Anna.  George is enumerated as “G H S Huff” in 1870 and is residing with his in-laws, wife and newborn baby in Malden, by 1880 he is residing in Chelsea, Massachusetts with his wife and four children. Lorraine is residing in  Irwin, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

Anna married in Malden, on 22 Nov 1882, Francis O Bacon.

Thomas’s father John died in Malden on 12 Sep 1896 age age 82, 11 months and 2 days of “senile gangrene”.

John Hough obit

Thomas’s sister Anna passed away, 19 Oct 1887, age 30, of phthisis (pulmonary tuberculosis or a similar progressive systemic disease), in Malden.

In 1897, Thomas’ mother, a widowed Lurana(h) was living at 20 Russell Street, Malden.

Thomas’s sister Lorraine Young (Hough) Evans, passed away on 5 February 1900 in  Irwin, Pennsylvania a week after her husband’s death.


By 1900, Thomas’s widowed mother, Lurana(h) moved to Chicago and was residing with her grandson Harry’s family (George’s son).  George is  residing with them and  listed as “widowed” (? his wife Mary died, from cancer, in Malden, 7 years later on 12 Feb 1907 - perhaps he left her?).

Thomas’s wife Abby died suddenly of pleuro pneumonia at age 61, in 1901. Her eulogy was touching.  The reverend described her as “a type of sunny brave and noble womanhood, a sturdy friend when days were dark and lowry”.  Much of the town, including the mayor, attended the services. The obituary declares, “few woman in this city were better known and will be more widely missed than the kindly wife of the man who for so many years [has] been at the head of the fire department matters in this city… In her home life, Mrs Hough was devoted and lovable. She entered into the ambitions of her husband with true womanly affection and maintained the deepest interest in everything that pertained to his business and political life…In the many societies with which she was identified, Mrs Hough was an active and zealous worker. She was a general favorite with all and her kind, genial ways will be missed by a large circle.”

On 27 November 1907,  brother George married, Charlotte Kalkofen,  a German woman (30 years his junior) in Grand Rapids, MI, where they resided in 1910.

A widowed Thomas Hough resided in Malden in 1910, with his Bermudian housekeeper, Eveyln Bean [who is named in his will], age 30.  He passed away in 1912, at age 75. Thomas and Abby had no known children.

death cert

Death records have not been located for Thomas’s mother Lurana(h) (she likely died before 1910 in Chicago) or brother George [who likely died between 1910 and 1920; by 1920, his wife, 46 year old Charlotte, is residing in Malden, and listed as widowed].


Much of Thomas Hough’s life was documented in the Malden newspapers:

Malden News, Saturday, March 14, 1885


Our Portrait Gallery

No. 4 – Thomas Hough, Chief Engineer of the Malden Fire Department

Chief Engineer Thomas W. Hough, of the Malden Fire Department, is one of our best known citizens, and a gentleman of high standing in the community.  He was born at Dover, NH, January 14, 1836 and is consequently 49 years of age. He was educated in the public schools of Dover and Malden removing to this place with his parents at an early age.

Upon attaining the age of seventeen years he learned the machinist’s trade, serving his time with the Mattapan Company, at Edgeworth, where the Nitre Works are now located. Since 1865 he has been in the sewing machine business as a member of the firm Hough & Rumney, 576 Washington and 16 South streets, Boston and also in Lynn. He has also recently taken charge of the business of the New Home Sewing Machine Company at 576 Washington street, Boston.

Mr. Hough is best known in Malden, however, as a member of many years’ standing of the Fire Department now standing at its head. At the age of sixteen years he joined the department (in the old volunteer days) as “torch boy”. Next he became a regular member, and was for many years foreman of the old “Wannalancett”.  For the past sixteen years  he has served as Chief Engineer of the department, having (until last January) been re-elected under town and city government year after year by a unanimous vote.

He is ably assisted by a corps of four associate engineers, and under their management during the last sixteen years the department has never lost the second building at a fire but twice, – one notable occasion being the great conflagration at the rubber works at Edgeworth, in December, 1875.

When Chief Hough first assumed his present duties, the department was in no such well-equipped condition as it is today. There was but one steamer, and the horses used on it were worked for the town, often occasioning much trouble and delay in responding to alarms.  Chief Hough’s first move was to secure a hose carriage and a permanent horse.

The  new Central Engine House was completed in 1874, the Hook & Ladder truck obtained about the same time, the fire alarm telegraph a few years later, and in 1881 the splendid steam fire engine now in use and so appropriately named the “T. W. Hough, No. 2″ – the old “Wannalancett” ranking as No. 1, by virtue of priority in the service.

Chief Hough has under him an able and well-trained department of 47 men, divided as follows:

Four assistant engineers
12 steamer men
10 H. & L. truck-men
16 men (8 in each) in 2-hose companies
3 permanent drivers
1 steamer engine
1 stoker

The chief is a member of the Malden Lodge No. 352, Knights of Honor, Mount Vernon Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, and all the Melrose organizations, including Hugh de Payens Commandery, Knights Templars, Wyoming. He belongs to all the Scotch rights, having attained the 32d degree.

In politics he is a Republican. He is a married man, and has a pleasant home on Linden Avenue.  He is a man of genial appearance and social inclinations, having a wide acquaintance and many warm friends.

Malden Mirror, April 11, 1891

Close of the Mirror Piano Contest
Thomas W. Hough, Chief Engineer, M.F.D., Secures the Elegant Everett Piano
Offered to the Most Popular City Employee.


Chief Engineer T.W. Hough of the Malden fire department is to be the fortunate possessor of the elegant piano, which the MALDEN MIRROR offered to the person in the employ of the city who should receive the largest number of votes.

At the time of our last publication, the vote of the three leading ones in the contest stood as follows: T.W. Hough, 11,650; Geo. W. Stiles, 10,842; Leverett D. Holden 10,420.  During the past week considerable work has been done or else a good many votes have been held back, for large bundles of coupons for the leaders were deposited with us, quite a number arriving just before the close of the polls. The polls closed, as advertised, precisely at 6 P M on Tuesday of this week, when it was found that the friends of Chief Hough had increased his number by 2968 since the last quotation , making a total of 14,634: for Geo. W. Stiles 2886 new votes had been received, swelling his total to 13,728; City Clerk Holden received 2305 additional votes, making a total for him of 12,725.

The piano will duly be presented to Chief Hough, with the compliments of the MIRROR, and his host of friends are all anxious to hear him play a tune on it. The piano has been on exhibition at the rooms of the agent, S. A. Hawke, Pleasant street, opposite the post office, during the weeks of the contest, and a description of it seems quite unnecessary, further than to say it is the latest style Everett cabinet grand piano , an elegant piece of workmanship and a very superior instrument.

Thomas W. Hough, the successful candidate in the contest, an excellent portrait of whom is above given, was born in Dover, NH and is 53 years of age. In his youth he also lived in Providence, R.I. and Lawrence, Mass. He came to Malden to reside when he was about 13 and at 16 he entered the fire department as a torch boy in the Volunteer engine company, which all old residents will remember.  He has been connected in some capacity with the department ever since, being the oldest in service, except one, in the city, and that one is Lewis B. Wilkinson, the genial fireman of the center steamer.

Chief Hough was for several years foreman of the Wannalancet steam fire engine, and was assistant engineer for some time. He was subsequently elected chief of the department, a position that he has held for more than twenty years, and rendered most excellent and valuable service. Since he became head of the department, the system of management and the apparatus used in controlling and subduing fires has undergone a complete change, and many great improvements have been made, necessitated by the rapid growth of the place, and made possible by the progress of mechanical invention and the development of scientific knowledge; and, today the Malden fire department stands second to none in the state for discipline and efficiency.

In social life,  Chief Hough  has always held a prominent place, and has made a host of friends. He is a member of the Converse Lodge. A. F. A. M., Royal Arch Chapter of the Tabernacle, Melrose Couneu; Beaumont Commandery , K. T.; a thirty second degree member of the Scottish Rites in Masonry,   Malden Lodge, I. O. O. F., Knights of Honor, Malden Club and Kernwood Club. He is president of the Malden Fireman’s Relief Association, of which organization he was the originator and is also a member of the National Association of Fire Engineers.

In business, he is a member of the firm of Hough & Rumney, 16 South street, Boston, sewing machines, the firm having carried on business for upwards of 21 years. His residence is at 64 Linden Avenue where his friends have found him always hospitable and fraternal these many years.

As an employee of the city, through which position he was an eligible candidate for the MIRROR piano, it may be properly stated in this connection that he has seen the longest service of an official now in the city’s employ. The MIRROR extends to him, in company with his numerous friends, its congratulations on his success in securing the elegant piano, and hopes it may be to him a source of great pleasure on account of its intrinsic worth as an instrument of concord as well as a beautiful souvenir of the attachment of his friends.

The final result of voting is shown in the following table:

T. W. Hough, chief engineer fire dept., 14,634
George W. Stiles, supt. Almshouse 13,729
Leverett D. Holden, city clerk 12,723
Arthur L. Doe, principal of Maplewood school 90
George E. Gay. Principal High school 60
Ida F. Lewis, teacher Belmont school 60
Miss Laura Leonard, principal of West school 41
John H. Hannon, captain fire dept. 23
Ella P. Payson, principal of Greenwood school 20
Eliza A Brand, teacher Linden school 16
Alice M Crane, teacher in Maplewood school 15
Marvin Lincoln, truant officer 14
Daniel W. Sullivan, deputy police chief 10
John L. H. Staples, clerk Steamer Co. 9
Sylvester Butler, janitor of Maplewood school 9
Annie K. Bragdon, teacher Center school 6
L.H. Richards, chief of police 4
G. A. Weatherbee, city engineer 4
O.J. Whitney, teacher Center school 3
M. D. Carr, police officer 2
C. A. Daniels, supt. of schools 1
Lillian A. Sinnott, teacher in Maplewood school 1
George A Gardner, clerk of common council 1
Frank Turner, driver hose No. 2 1
Vesta H. Sawtelle, teacher West school 1
Frank Vaughan, clerk board engineers 1
P. McShane, janitor Emerson school 1
Tristram Griffin, architect 1
A.K. Cox, street commissioner 1
Mary Ann Russell, Converse school 1

Generous Malden Firemen

Date: Tuesday, June 28, 1892  Paper: Boston Journal (Boston, MA)  Volume: LIX  Issue: 19345  Page: 3

generous fireman


Date: Tuesday, January 29, 1889  Paper: Boston Journal (Boston, MA)  Volume: LVI  Issue: 18277  Page: 1

annual report

John H. Hannan, Probable Malden Fire Commissioner

Date: Saturday, January 22, 1910  Paper: Boston Journal (Boston, MA)  Issue: 24923  Page: 2


Malden Fire Causes Loss of $200,000

Date: Friday, February 3, 1911  Paper: Boston Journal (Boston, MA)  Issue: 25285  Page: 1

Converse fire story

Declares Malden Fire Engine Fit. Commissioner Hough to Issue Statement on Converse Blaze

Date:Saturday, February 11, 1911, Paper: Boston Journal (Boston, MA), Issue:25293, Page:3
converse fire

Date: Thursday, March 9, 1911  Paper: Boston Herald (Boston, MA)  Page: 2

no likey

Burgess to Resent Act of Fire Commissioner Hough

Date: Friday, July 21, 1911  Paper: Boston Journal (Boston, MA) Volume: LXXVIII  Issue: 25453  Page: 6

man fired


No Bonfires for Malden Boys on June 17 or July 4

Date: Tuesday, June 13, 1911  Paper: Boston Journal (Boston, MA)  Volume: LXXVIII  Issue: 25415 Page: 9



Date: Wednesday, July 12, 1911  Paper: Boston Herald (Boston, MA)  Page: 3



The history of the Malden fire department, written in the 1920′s by former fire chief, John Hannan, describes a horrific fire at Edgerley’s Bakery in May 1864, the year after Thomas was named foreman. While the men were fighting flames on the first floor, the second floor gave way and collapsed on three on them; namely Thomas W. Hough, George E. Fredericks and James Pagan who died from his injuries.

On Saturday evening, 9 November 1872 word reached Malden of the “Big Fire in Boston”. The Wannalancet responded and did valiant duty.  A Maldonian, Walter Twombly, lost his life.

In 1882 a steam fire engine was purchased by the city and named in honor of Chief Thomas W. Hough. The steamer was in service 35 or more years before it was sold for junk.

The final paragraph of the history reads:


His obituary reads:

Tolling Bells for TW Hough
Veteran Former Head of Fire Department Succumbed Last Evening to long illness of Kidney Trouble At His Home on Linden Ave.
Was in Sewing Machine Business. Prominent in Masonic Circles. Head of Fireman’s Relief. Funeral to be at Universalist Church Monday.


The striking of 75 blows on the fire alarm system about 8 o’clock last night announced to the public the passing away of the former fire commissioner of Thomas W. Hough at his home, 64 Linden Ave, age 75. The end came peacefully at 7:45 o’clock after a long and tedious illness. His brother George and his wife, J. H. Hannon and the nurse Miss Freeman were at his bedside. Mr. Hough had been at the point of death for the past few days and kidney trouble and general breaking up was the cause [his death certificate indicates the cause was prostate cancer]. Dr. C. D. McCarthy was the atending physician and was amazed at the patient’s vitality.

He had been indoors for several months and his last appearance upon the street was just after new year. An only brother, George, of Grand Rapids, Mich. who came on from the West last Saturday survives him. The plans for the funeral were made by Mr. Hough several days ago and left in the hands of his former clerk J. H. Hannan. The body may be viewed by friends at the homestead on Sunday afternoon and the funeral will be held Monday afternoon at the First Universalist Church.

Fire Fighter for Half a Century

Mr. Hough had been at the head of the fire dept. for over half a century as engineer, chief and commissioner, and the fire dept. was part of his life, growing with his years. He retired about a year ago, but still continued an active interest in its affairs and its members. He was born in Dover, N.H. on Jan 14th, 1837 and was the son of John and Luranah Young Hough.  He received his education in Dover and this city, coming here to live at the age of 11.

His first employment was at Mattapan Iron Works in Edgeworth as a machinist after which he he associated himself with the Leavitt Machine Co. in Bowdoin sq. Boston, opposite the old Revere House, being in charge of the assembling room in the sewing machine dept. which was the largest branch of the concern’s business.

Hough and Rumney

He then went with Elias Howe manufacturer of the Howe sewing machine and later formed a partnership  with Isaac Rumney of Somerville as Hough and Rumney, sewing machines manufacturers, taking quarters on old Spring lane. The business grew and  they opened a shop in Lynn with offices in the Moore block in Central sq. Lynn. They also took larger quarters on South st. Boston.

For over 25 years he continued in the sewing machine business retiring some 15 years ago, since which time he has been in the stock and mining business until quite recently.

Thirty-Second Degree Mason

Mr. Hough was a 32nd degree mason, a member of the Converse lodge, Beauseant commandery, Melrose council, Tabernacle chapter and the Consistory. He was also a member of the Crystil chapter, Eastern Star, Middlesex lodge of Odd Fellows and other fraternal orders. He had been president of the Fireman’s Relief ass’n since it’s inception in 1885 and took great pride in its fine financial standing.  He was for years a member of the Malden club and one of its most influential directors.

He was always affectionately termed “chief” “T. W.” or “Major” by the members of the department. His wife passed away about 11 years ago and this was a severe blow to him.

In fire department circles, Mr. Hough was well known throughout New England having attended fire conventions as far West as Chicago. He entered the fire dept. at the age of 16 as a torch boy in the Volunteer Engine Co. of this city. He then became pres of the Wannalancet steam fire engine and later became asst engineer. For 20 years he was chief of the dept.

Mr. Hough was for years a political storm center. His rugged, positive personality made him a picturesque figure in local politics. He was a stalwart republican and never wavered in his allegiance to the G O P. For a generation he was a delegate to the congressional conventions and was a Barrett man in the great Barrett-Hayes contest. He belonged to the old school politicians most of whom are now dead and who ran Malden from the Malden Club in its early days Jas Pierre, A. H. Davenport, F. H. Odiorne, Benj Faulkner, S K Abbott and others.

During the Pierce administration in 1892 the city went to the legislator and had a fire commission of three authorized.  Mr. Hough of course was to be one of the three. But Mayor Pierce was defeated by Mayor Winn and Mr. Hough for the first time was left out in the cold for a year.  Spaulding, Scott and Newville were appointed. In 1894 Mayor Stevens came in an Mr. Hough was made commissioner.

“Brave and Gallant”

It  was during this fight that at a banquet of the old Faulkner Citizens association Winslow True Perkins, then supt, of the Eastern division, referred to the grim old fire fighter as “brave and gallant Tom Hough” an epithet that brought down the house and which stuck to Mr. Hough for years.

After he became commissioner he rarely interfered with the fighting of fires. Once, however, the old spirit was too strong for him and he broke through lines entering the thickest of the flames to lead his men.  A young policeman, not knowing who he was grabbed him by the collar and threw him out. He magnanimously complimented the policeman for doing his duty.

The boys in the department always found in him s warm friend. They would have to go pretty far astray before he would discharge them. He was a connecting link between the days of hand tubs and motor apparatus.

The Fireman’s Relief was his particular pride. He handled its funds judiciously and never misinvested a dollar. He was often under fire but held his own in all his fights and was strongly supported.

Date: Saturday, May 25, 1912, Paper: Boston Journal (Boston, MA)

 Volume: LXXIX, Issue: 25732, Page: 7

obit boston


Funeral Services at Universalist Church Largely Attended. City Hall Closed and Bells Toll. Rev Drs W H Rider and R E Sykes Officiate.

Former Fire commissioner Thomas Whitehead Hough was laid at rest beside his good wife at the family lot at Forestdale yesterday afternoon. Full fire dept hnors were paid the brave and gallant fire fighter who for over 50 years gave his time and attention to the local dept and is mourned in death by legions of friends. The body lay in state yesterday afternoon at the family home and hundreds came to view the remains.

The funeral services were held yesterday at 2:30 o’clock at the First Universalist church and the Rev Wm H Rider DD of Gloucester formerly pastor of the church and a close friend of the deceased officiated, assisted by present pastor Rev. Richard Eddy Sykes, DD. The Franklin male quartet rendered “The Eternal Goodness”  “Crossing the Bar” and “Nearer to Thee” after which the masonic ritual was conducted by the officers and members of Converse lodge of Masons. Wor Willis I Foss, presiding, assisted by E S Wellington as acting chaplain, Alvin F Pease senior warden and Arthur F Pease junior warden. During the reading of the ritual the quartet rendered “Gathering Home”.

Rev Mr. Rider pronounced a touching eulogy. He said that the “two blows” – all out- had been sounded for the deceased. He dwelt on the long and useful life of Mr. Hough and of his sterling qualities and kindly heart. He told of the unselfishness and devotion to duty, and other strong points in the character of the deceased. Rev Dr Rider also officiated at Mrs hough’s funeral 12 years ago.

By order of Mayor Farrell the City hall was closed durning the afternoon and the flags at half staff on City hall, the fire stations and at the Malden club.  Mayor Farrell and members of the city council were among the friends which gathered at his bier. Capt Brophy and other friends from the Boston fire dept, the chiefs of the neighboring cities a delegation from the Fire Chiefs club, ex mayors Fall, Richards and Warren. Hon A E Cox and delegations from Converse lodge, Beauseant commandery, Melrose council. Royal Arch chapter, Crystal Eastern Star, Middlsex lodge of Odd Fellows, the Workman, Malden club and other organizations.

The remains were escorted to Forestdale by a delegation of fireman in full uniform under the command of Capt John T Nicholls of Engine Co 1. They were hoseman Wm Moran of the Auto Co, Wm Prindall, H O Rounds and Peter Kelliher, Engine Co 1, Arthur B Stephenson, James Coombes, A S Smith, Richard Trapp, August Magnuson, Hose 2; John F Tracy, Thos Magner, Hose 3, Driver Goddin, Chemical 6.

As the funeral cortege passed through Central sq the bell on the Central sta tolled. The pall bearers were Wor Joseph W Sander, past master of the Converse lodge and Wm W Lee of Beauseant commandery, representing the Masons; pres John M Keen and Edw G. Wise of the Malden club. Capts J J Connell of Hose 3 and J L Stephenson of Hose 2 representing the fire dept; N G Laforest H Sargent and VG, N A Kendall from Middlesex lodge of Odd Fellows. Col Harry E Converse, a close friend of the deceased and an associate on the late board of fire commissioners was unable to attend the funeral and he sent a floral blanket, six feet long containing 75 red roses, which covered the casket. Other floral tributes were official emblems from Beauseant commandery, Converse lodge and Consistory of Masons, Melrose coucil. Royal Arch chapter, Crystal chapter Eastern Star, Middlesex lodge of Odd Fellows; standing wreath from Fire Chiefs club of Mass, pillow roses , Malden relief ass’n;  standing wreath of roses, Malden Fire dept; large wreath of sweat peas aroses, Malden club; Mr and Mrs Geo H. Hough, pillow of roses and carnations marked brother; Mr and Mrs J H Hannan, large spray roses; other pieces from Rep and Mrs A E Bliss, Mrs Blanche Chandler, H W Greene, C L Brett, Henry M Corliss, H M Crosby, H H Schenes, Miss Clara Preanen, Mrs Fred Fellows, Miss Elise Creme, Mrs C O Junkins, Mrs L F Gayton, Horatio Hall [his wife Abby's brother], Mrs A F Howell, Ellen S Nichols [his wife Abby's sister], Mary E Patten [his wife Abby's sister], E A Hall [his wife Abby's brother and my g-g-grandfather], C L Davenport, Mr and Mrs D D Hall, Mr. and Mrs. C M Hall [my g-grandparents], J F Vaughan, Mrs M E Tilson, Mr and Mrs C K Parker, Mr and Mrs H S Abbott, Mr and Mrs C F Shute, Hon and Mrs A E Cox, Mr and Mrs Robt L Stone, Mr snd Mrs H A Morse, Mr and Mrs E A Brooks, Geo A Metcalf, L D Holden, Mr and Mrs W A Keddie, Mrs Lovejoy, A W Latham and family, Ada K Cummings, Mr and Mrs Turner, R R Robinson, Mr and Mrs W H Brackett, Mr and Mrs J H Hadley, Mrs T H Buck and family, Mrs A H Davenport and family, Geo H Fall, Mr and Mrs Wm Ord, E D and F R Kaulback, Mr and Mrs Fred Chesley, Miss E S Tebbetts, Horace R Brown, and Miss Brown, Geo T Whitman.

[Note: Thomas's death certificate says that he is buried at Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge - Abby's death certificate does not specify a cemetery - both obituaries indicate they are buried at Forestdale in Malden]


In 1912, Thomas’s estate was valued at $33,855.22 which included an interesting array of mining and sewing machine stocks and 1/14 interest in the estate of Elizabeth Hanson, late of Dover NH [$100 value]. In a will dated 1908, he left small sums and items to a number of friends.  These included: Mrs. Alice Woods Howell, wife of Augustus Howell of Dorchester $500;  Mrs. Nancy Ella (Linett) Buck, wife of Theodore H. Buck, now of Malden $1,000; Mrs. Mary E. Tilson, widow of Julius W. Tilson, $1,000; Mrs. Hattie E. Morse wife of Herman A. Morse of Malden, “my china dinner and tea set”; Mrs John Hannan, wife of John H Hannon of Malden, “my piano”; Miss Evelyn M. Bean, “my colored housekeeper”, $300.

He bequeathed $1,000 to his sister-in-law Mary (Hall) Patten; $500 to his nephew Charles M. Hall [my g-grandfather]; $5,000 and his residence consisting of house and its contents, stable and land located at 64 Linden Ave (total of 6580 square feet) to his brother George Hough of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The remainder of the estate was split 50/50 between his brother George Hough and the First Parish Universalist Church of Malden.  George Hough of Grand Rapids, Michigan and Harry E. Converse of Marion, Massachusetts were named as co-Executors.



History of Malden FD:

Dover Marriages recorded in the Old Books, 1816-1838 -

“Massachusetts, Marriages, 1841-1915,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 Apr 2014), Isaac S. Evans and Luranah Y. Hough, 24 Nov 1859; citing item 1, Andover, County of Esex, Massachusetts, State Archives, Boston; FHL microfilm 1433017.

“Massachusetts, Births and Christenings, 1639-1915,” index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 Apr 2014), Luranah Hough in entry for John H. Hough, 14 Nov 1838; citing Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts, p 42; FHL microfilm 14774.

“Massachusetts, Births, 1841-1915,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 Apr 2014), Mary E. I. Hough, 27 Feb 1855; citing Malden, Massachusetts, 124, Massachusetts Archives, Boston; FHL microfilm 1428235.

“Massachusetts, Deaths and Burials, 1795-1910,” index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 Apr 2014), Luranah Hough in entry for John H. Hough, 07 Apr 1841; citing Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts, reference p 353; FHL microfilm 14774.

John Hough Obituary – Saturday, 12 Sept 1896, Boston Journal, Vol LXIII, Issue 20741, pg 3

“Massachusetts, Births and Christenings, 1639-1915,” index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 Apr 2014), Luranah Hough in entry for Joseph Y. Hough, 20 Oct 1840; citing Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts, p 42; FHL microfilm 14774.

“United States Census, 1850,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 Apr 2014), Lurana Hough in household of John Hough, Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; citing family 93, NARA microfilm publication M432.

“Massachusetts, State Census, 1855,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 Apr 2014), Thomas W Hough in household of John Hough, Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; citing State Archives, Boston; FHL microfilm 000953951.

“United States Census, 1860,” index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 Apr 2014), Thomas W Hough, The Town Of Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; citing “1860 U.S. Federal Census – Population,”; p. 112, household ID 918, NARA microfilm publication M653; FHL microfilm 803506.

“Massachusetts, State Census, 1865,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 Apr 2014), Luranah W Hough in household of John Hough, Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts; State Archives, Boston; FHL microfilm 0954570.

“Massachusetts, State Census, 1865,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 Apr 2014), Thos W Hough, Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts; State Archives, Boston; FHL microfilm 0954570.

“United States Census, 1870,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 Apr 2014), G H S Huff in household of Eden Sampson, Massachusetts, United States; citing p. 62, family 501, NARA microfilm publication M593, FHL microfilm 000552128.

“United States Census, 1880,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 Apr 2014), Lurana Hough in household of John Hough, Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; citing sheet 427B, NARA microfilm publication T9.

“United States Census, 1880,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 Apr 2014), Thomas W Hough, Malden, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; citing sheet 378C, NARA microfilm publication T9.

“United States Census, 1900,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 Apr 2014), Abbie F Hough in household of Thomas W Hough, Malden city Ward 4, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; citing sheet 5B, family 72, NARA microfilm publication T623, FHL microfilm 1240662.

“United States Census, 1910,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 Apr 2014), Thomas W Hough, Malden Ward 4, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 897, sheet 9A, family 173, NARA microfilm publication T624, FHL microfilm 1374614.

“United States Census, 1920,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 Apr 2014), Charlotte F Hough in household of Mary E Newhall, Malden Ward 4, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States; citing sheet 5A, family 69, NARA microfilm publication T625, FHL microfilm 1820713.

Mason membership:


52 Ancestors, week #15 – Vacation!

No Story Too Small has issued a New Year’s Challenge: “Have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”  

No real post this week…just a few facts and pictures.  We are getting out of New Hampshire (yes, I skied this morning and the conditions are still fabulous), headed for sunny Florida at 6AM tomorrow, with hopes that spring arrives by the time we get back. Although, it is always sad when skiing comes to an end, but this year was just too cold!

We are flying Jet Blue and will likely run into my husband’s cousin who works at their counter.  He saw her last week, while traveling for business, and she mentioned that her mom was doing genealogy.  My husband returned home and asked “does the name Napoleon ring any bells?”  Yes, husband, we have talked extensively about Napoleon….he is your g-grandfather.   Husband says, “I thought the name sounded familiar, I can’t remember all these people!”

I met a Canadian cousin of his last year…  He had a very cool picture of Napoleon who was born Louis Napoleon Chalifour.


I took a French Genealogy class at SLIG several years ago, and with the help of the instructor, was able to trace  Napoleon back to Mathurin Chalifour born abt 1593 in La Rochelle, Charente-Maritime, Poitou-Charentes, France!  My husband’s response when I called with the news: “You mean I am French?”…. “Yes, dear, where did you think the French Canadians came from? Australia?  :-)

Louis Napoleon Chalifour was born in 1879 in Quebec, Canada to Jean Elie Chalifour and Helene Gagnon.  He married, in Montreal, Marie Josephine Rose de Lima LeBlanc (an Acadian who is the link between my husband and I – yes, we are 7th cousins!)


The couple had four sons – Henry, Leon Pierre, Louis Albert and George between 1903 and 1907.  My husband descends from Albert.

In 1911, the family lived in Jacques-Cartier, Quebec.  They are Catholic, primary language is French, and Napolean is in construction.

Napoleon census 1911

Napoleon emigrated to Salem, Massachusetts (my husband’s birthplace) before May 1915 – the date when his family joined him.


They were all living together on Farter Street in 1920, Napoleon was listed as a house carpenter and he had applied for Naturalization.

Napoleon census

That’s where the trail ends.  By 1930 his wife claims to be a widow.

Family lore says: “We do not know when Napoleon died as he went to Pennsylvania to find work, and no one ever heard from him after that.  He may have been killed in a log-jam as he was working there. “

So… Napoleon is on my “list” of folks to research this summer.  To date, I haven’t found any record of his death.

52 Ancestors, week #14 – “The Mayor of Framingham”

No Story Too Small has issued a New Year’s Challenge: “Have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”  

I didn’t know my Uncle Charlie, the youngest of my mother’s three siblings.   He was born on 2 July 1941.  The family was split up and the kids placed in foster care. My mother, who spent her entire childhood in foster care, was later informed that 3-year old Charlie had died.

Turns out, he was very much alive.  In 1997 a friend of his, named Rose, a genealogist, uncovered some members of the family; I was in my 30′s, living in California, and unaware of the reunion. Until I began to delve into my family history a few years ago, I literally knew nothing of my mother’s family except that I was Lithuanian and French Canadian.  I met her sister once or twice, as a very young child, and my only memory is that she made us an amazing batch of Southern biscuits.  I guess I knew my mother had two brothers, one in Vegas and another who I recollected was in an institution, and both physically and mentally handicapped.  I never asked for specifics and she rarely spoke of her past.

Uncle Charlie died three years ago, on 14 March 2011.  I never met him. I wish I had – he sounds like an amazing man! After Uncle Charlie died, my mother forwarded me an online news article about him.  It was after his funeral. What an amazing life! I was floored – he was not at all as I had imagined!

One good thing came from his death. A woman named “Nona” had posted a sweet comment, under the story in the MetroWest Daily News blog; signing as his niece.  This led me to connect with my aunt and my meeting three generations of cousins in Alabama (whom I had never met) through the power of Facebook.  Turns out, a few months after Charlie’s passing,  I was headed to Birmingham, Alabama for IGHR (Samford Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research) , just 45 minutes from them, what a wonderful reunion and great people!  I am looking forward to another visit in a few months.

It is unfortunate that I didn’t find this message board post about Uncle Charlie a few years earlier…. Message Board Post from 2000

Hi List members,

A few years ago I helped a man find his Family. He was left at the Wrentham
State Hospital.

After two years of researching I found a death certificate, found the obit. in the
newspaper,looked up the telephone number of a relative in the obit., and of
course called. His family and two sisters and a brother were told he had died
as a young child. Charlie was in his forty’s at this time. Well, they ended
up contacting Charlie Billings of Framingham, MA. They brought him pictures
of his parents, family and a huge stuffed bear. This was the Christmas story in
the local paper. And,all because of a phone call !! So, give it a try, CALL!!


Charlie’s Story: A Framingham man’s remarkable life and legacy

By Julia Spitz/Daily News staff  (MetroWest Daily News)


If our worth can be measured in the number of lives we touch, Charlie Billings died a very wealthy man.

Some called him “the mayor of Framingham.” Some knew him simply as the man on the cherry-red scooter.Whether they knew him by name or not, when Billings was found dead in his Rose Kennedy Lane apartment March 14, he left a vast circle of friends.

“He could sit down with a millionaire or somebody who crawled out from under a rock, and bring out the best in them,” said Hopkinton resident Don MacNeill.

“He had friends from all walks of life,” said Leo Gleason of Framingham, former director of the Bowleros special-needs bowling league.

He was a friend of firefighters at the Concord Street station, a friend of the Old Guard Riders veterans assistance and motorcycle group, a friend of the local police. “If you were on a detail, Charlie would come over and talk,” said Framingham Police Lt. William Delaney. “You’d look forward to him coming over. He never overstayed his welcome.””

His smile used to brighten my day,” said the Rev. Francisco Anzoategui, co-pastor of St. Stephen Church, where Billings faithfully attended Mass.”

He was loved by everybody,” said Mostafa “Mozie” Qerqach, owner of Hartford Street Pizza, where Billings would go for cheeseburgers and veal.

“He had nothing to give but himself,” said longtime friend Ed Convery, retired principal and former Framingham Historical Society president. “Charlie was sent into this world to show acceptance.”

Acceptance of his fellow man, no matter what form they come in, no matter what their strengths or weaknesses. Acceptance that the past can’t be changed, only learned from, and used to make the present and future a little brighter.

He could have been bitter’

Billings was born 69 years ago in Gardner, but “Charlie’s family was broken up when he was 3 years old,” said Alison Arnold, a social worker who was Billings’ longtime case manager. He was left on the steps of Tewksbury State Hospital [NOTE - not true, see his sister's comments below].

At 12, he was moved to Wrentham State Hospital.”We were just amazed when he talked to us” and told some of what he had endured as a child, said Arnold. “He said, “In Wrentham, I was beaten every single day”.

In talking to a reporter in the 1980s, Billings recalled, “Nobody taught us anything. I just sat most of the day with my arms folded in the day room. … I was beaten. What reason? No reason.  Every day, I was hit over the head with keys or across my legs and feet with a baseball bat. “When he was 12, somebody at the state hospital took a baseball bat and broke both his kneecaps,” said Gleason.

Billings wore braces on his legs for most of his life.  Eventually, his mobility became so limited he needed to use an electric scooter to get around.

“He didn’t like the idea of a wheelchair,” said MacNeill.” He could have been a bitter person for all the atrocities that were done to him,” said Gleason. “He never had bitter words for people. He always had a smile on his face.”

“Charlie was one of the first out” when deinstitutionalization began in the 1970s, said Arnold.

Fred Gaspari, who worked tirelessly on behalf of the South Middlesex Association for Retarded Citizens, picked Billings to be among the first Wrentham residents moved into the community. Billings was placed in a group home in Framingham, then became one of the first to transition to living on his own in the 1980s.

He couldn’t read or write, but he managed. “His social skills really got him through,” said Arnold.

In 1985, he received the national Bill Sackter Citizenship Award, given in honor of the man whose life story was portrayed in the Emmy-winning TV movie, “Bill,” a man whose story of moving from an institution to independence mirrored Billings’ life.”

The similarities were unreal,” said Alfred Bergeron, Billings’ cousin.

The national honor meant a great deal to Billings, his friends said. He used his painful lessons to help others, speaking to groups of new Department of Mental Retardation employees going to work in community programs, and also to college students. “He was a powerful speaker” who could explain such things as why a client might not close the door for privacy, because in an institutional setting, there were no doors, said Arnold.

MacNeill, who is national director of the Old Guard Riders, asked Billings to use his insights to be a disabled veterans’ advocate with the group, and Billings, though not a veteran, happily took on the role.

“Charlie had a huge heart,” said Fred Collotta, co-owner of Collotta Hairstyling on Hartford Street. About four years ago, he bought Honey Dew Christmas stockings for Fred and his brother, Peter Collotta. “People that had a lot more than Charlie would never do that.”

After the recent funeral of Delaney’s cousin, Billings “got up and walked about 10 rows to shake my hand and pat me on the back,” the police lieutenant recalled. The act of kindness was all the more special because of the effort it took for Billings to walk.

“He always joined us on Christmas Eve,” said Arnold, but one Christmas Eve Billings insisted they stop at a dialysis center to visit a friend in treatment. The friend told her, “Charlie sits with me day after day when I have dialysis.” “He’s been my close friend all my life,” said Natick resident Michael Sheppard. “We both came out of Wrentham together.”

“Charlie was of great assistance to Michael,” who was born without hands, said Deborah Kent, who works with Sheppard.

Friends and family

Billings’ interests were as varied as his circle of friends. He held several jobs through South Middlesex Association of Retarded Citizens, and a few he got on his own. Sheppard recalled how they worked at the Sheraton in the laundry room together. About 10 years ago, Billings worked at the Dunkin’ Donuts on Concord Street, where he was a frequent patron.”He was busing the tables on his own” because he liked things neat, said Arnold. “They asked if he wanted a job.”

“Charlie had a fascination with motorcycles,” said MacNeill, who met Billings at a charity ride about 15 years ago. “I came out and he was sitting on my bike.”

He also enjoyed watching wrestling on TV with Sheppard on Monday nights.  He liked going to Mohegan Sun, on trips planned by the Arnolds, said Gleason. “He’d come back and be telling stories about the people he met down there.

A favorite saying was “everybody’s in a hurry to go nowhere,” and yet, for a man who wasn’t in a hurry, he got around. “We were pretty amazed at the distance he covered in that electric scooter,” said Stone, the Fire Department captain. “He’d show up everywhere.

“Billings had his picture taken with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson when the wrestler-turned-actor was in Framingham to shoot scenes for “The Game Plan” in 2006.

A Daily News photo taken last fall shows him talking with Gov. Deval Patrick.

On visits to see his cousin, “I met people all through Framingham,” Bergeron said. But the visits between the cousins only began about 15 years ago. Until Billings’ friend, Rose Baldini, did some records and genealogy sleuthing in the mid-1990s, Billings had no idea he had family, and they had no idea about him. He had a reunion with sisters, Shirley and Elizabeth, in 1997. “That was a precious moment for him to see his two sisters,” said Bergeron, who lives in Orange.

Arnold and her spouse, Amanda Arnold, took Billings to meet his brother, Ralph, in Las Vegas, a few years ago. While they were there, they took in some shows and saw the sights, said Alison Arnold.”We’ re so thankful we did that with Charlie,” she said.

“I just wish a lot of people who saw him through the years (knew) they missed out on a lot not getting to know him,” said Gleason.

Visitation will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at St. Stephen Church, followed by a funeral Mass at 11.

Cousin Alfred Bergeron, Aunt Lena Roy and Charles A Billings Jr

Charlie’s Obituary:
Charles A. Billings, 69, a longtime Framingham resident passed away suddenly at his home on March 14, 2011. Born in Gardner, MA, he was the son of Charles and Yvonne Mary (Roy) Billings.

Charlie was one of the earliest residents to transition into the community from the Wrentham State School.  His life in Framingham marked a very successful journey from institutionalization to independent living for which he was honored at the national level in 1985 as the second ever recipient of the Bill Sackter Award.

His work history included employment at SMARC, Framingham Union Hospital and Dunkin Donuts.

His real passion was working as a consultant for the Dept. of Mental Retardation speaking about his life experiences and being an active advocate for people with developmental disabilities. He was recognized by many news organizations and the state legislature for this valuable work.

Charlie was well known and loved by many people throughout the MetroWest Area and he could often be seen rolling around town on his red scooter.

He was a special friend of the Framingham Engine #6 Firefighters and he was an active member of and Veterans liaison for the Old Guard Riders Inc.

He was always willing to lend a hand to those in need.

He participated in the Special Olympics and the SMARC Bowleros bowling league.

Charlie is survived by his sisters, Shirley Smith of Sylacauga, AL and Elizabeth Hall of Malden, MA, his brother, Ralph Billings of Las Vegas, NV and his cousins Alfred Bergeron and family of Orange, MA.

He was a communicant of St. Stephens Parish at 251 Concord St. Framingham, where services will be held. Visitation will be at the church on Saturday, March 26th from 9 to 11AM followed by an 11AM Funeral Mass.

Donations in his memory may be made to a charity of your choice.

One of His Sisters Recalls:
Charlie was born with a club foot and that was part of his problem walking.  I understand somewhere along the way he had surgery on it.

I don’t understand why it is constantly being said that he was left on a doorstep!

We were in the house on Green Street in Lynn, MA. A women and two policemen came to the house. Our mother was in the hospital with Tuberculousis. Our father was home with us.  These people said we had to go with them.  Our father sat at the kitchen table begging them not to take us.  Needless to say they did anyway, saying he could not take care of us.

I understand that a neighbor said we were left alone while he went to work.  He did, but the lady upstairs always kept an eye on us.

The state took all four of us to Tewksbury Hospital to be evaluated.  NO ONE was left on it’s doorstep.  When we left there we were all separated.  I have no idea where the others went.

 More Thoughts

There seem to be many folks out there who knew Charlie.  A Google search didn’t reveal any further information about his experiences (bowling, Special Olympics, etc.) or awards.  If you are reading this blog and knew Charlie, I would love to capture your stories! -  I will only add your comments here if you want me to, please specify that you wish to keep your thoughts private or anonymous if that is the case.


The Framingham Patch was kind enough to post a link to this blog on Facebook.  I would like to post the comments to capture them for future generations of my family.

Sheree Ginsburg-King I have known Charlie for many years since I was 20 he use to come into my salon and get his hair cut and would always buy me Charlie perfume for my tip. We lost track of each other for a bit, I married a Framingham Fire Fighter and low an behold one day while my husband was at work there was Charlie talking to him. My husband said I want you to meet someone, and I said OMG Charlie and we began our friendship like it was before. I was able to go to the church for his service. Charlie would take my daughter for a quick ride on that little red scooter around the Fire house. Charlie will always have a piece of my heart as he always gave me his. So glad I saw this on FB today put a smile on my face and I needed it.


52 Ancestors, week #13 – Memories of Nana (1 Oct 1907 – 25 July 1999)

No Story Too Small has issued a New Year’s Challenge: “Have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”  Note: You can “click” on any image to view a larger version.

I remember my Nana, Edith Anna (Haines) Hall, known by friends as “Ede”, as a pleasantly plump, happy-go-lucky woman with an infectious laugh, who found the good in everyone and everything.


Edith’s early life wasn’t easy. Her parents had lots of mouths to feed. There were times when they had to go without; during the depression, they used coats to keep warm in the winter, as blankets and heat weren’t affordable.  Nonetheless, they learned to enjoy life.  The following poem, depicting their childhood, was written by Nana’s younger sister, Natalie:

You’re Only Young Once

… A rhyming version of Depression days

Depression Days were then at hand
(Financial woes throughout the land.)
A seventh child was added to
A family which grew and grew.

Their worries big, their money small,
Their laughter rang from hall to hall.
Each day brought on a new event
From buying shoes to paying rent.

They picked blueberries in the sun
And sang on rides ’til day was done.
The castles were all made of sand;
The water cool, the sunshine grand.

The root beer was, of course, homemade;
Each holiday, a new parade!
The bonfires bright, who can deny,
Were better than the last July.

The icy tunnels dug in snow;
The car would need a push to go.
The swan-boat rides meant trips “in town”.
The clothes were mostly hand-me-down.

The marks in school were of the best…
Such praise for every “A” in tests!
A photograph in groups, you know,
Would find them always in front row.

The house was clean, there was no clutter,
But, oh, “Go easy on the butter!!”
The Market on those weekend nights,
With pushcarts for their city sights.

Their visiting was done in groups,
But picnics called out all the troops!
A wink from Dad, a smile from Mum,
Would mean a happy time to come

With dishes washed and windows closed,
The bathroom busy, off they’d go!

Besides the Great Depression, Nana lived through her young husband’s nervous breakdown which caused them to live temporarily with a mother-in-law who disliked her [she considered her son's marriage to my grandmother a social step in the wrong direction]. Nana worked tirelessly helping to manage the veterinary business and a household. She battled cancer and lost a breast at a fairly young age. One of her arms swelled and stayed that way (I don’t know if doctors ever discovered the cause). She nearly lost her youngest son, to illness, while he was stationed in Germany. Despite the challenges, she loved life and was never without a smile. She had loads of friends, belonged to many social clubs, volunteered at the local hospital and joined every imaginable church committee. After Grampa died in 1976, Nana spent years exploring the world with friends - London, France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Austria, Vienna, Niagara Falls, Alaska, the list goes on….

Nana (far right) with friends Muriel, Barbara & unknown

She was one of my best friends – loving, kind and sweet.

Me & Nana circa 1963

Throughout the sixties and seventies, my parents dropped us three kids, at my grandparents, across town, every Saturday [four of us, in the early seventies, when my youngest brother was born]. The day would commence, with Nana and I assisting with the spay/neuter operations – she would administer ether while I held the dog/cat’s legs - we laughed and talked.

We spent Saturday afternoons making toll house cookies (licking spoons and bowls), mock-cherry pies and/or cream cheese and maraschino cherry sandwiches (shaped like jelly rolls. We learned to knit, crochet and paint [Nana was an incredible painter].

An abstract by Nana; my favorite as a child 

We played games, like “The Oregon Trail”, Chinese checkers or chess.  Many weeks we took the bus/train [she didn't have a driver's license] to Boston where we sailed on the Swan Boats at the Public Garden, meandered along the Freedom Trail or gaped at the Jordan Marsh Christmas display. Many times we attended her church events (my favorite being “decorate your own cup cake” at the annual Christmas Fair).  Dinner was meat and potatoes on folding “TV trays” while watching Grampa’s favorite show “Let’s Make a Deal”.  My grandparents would drive us home Saturday after dinner.  We would pile into Grampa’s big green truck (or in later years, his green Dodge Dart) and sing old songs like “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do, I’m half crazy over the love of you….”


Nana would call often when I moved to my first apartment in the mid-eighties.  I of course was at work, but had an answering machine.  My roommates and I adored her messages. She would start off with “Dear Linda”….then relay her message….and end with an emphatic “Love, Nana”  in a cheery voice.  It was so cute, I wish I had thought to save them.

Nana often spoke of her days working at John Hancock where one of her tasks was to alphabetize hundreds of index cards.  One day she tripped, dropping the entire pile down a flight of stairs.  Cards flew everywhere. It was a disastrous mess! She recollected this story frequently, each time belly laughing hysterically until tears formed in her eyes.

While in her late 70’s Nana was hit by a car while out for her daily walk.  As she lay in her hospital bed with a bruised body, she recounted how fun it was to go flying up in the air when the car struck her. “I was higher than the car roof!! It was sooooooo exciting,” she giggled.

In the nineties, we bought Nana a new phone for Christmas, after realizing she had been “renting” her rotary phone for years and years – likely paying several thousand dollars over time.  To discontinue the fees, she had to return the phone – so we decided to make a day of it!  As we drove, Nana confessed that it had taken her almost six hours to clean the “gunk” off the cord (so they wouldn’t try to charge her extra for cleaning). We arrived at the “phone store” and indicated to the man behind the counter that we would be returning their rented phone.  He looked at it and immediately hurled it 25 feet behind him to the “junk pile”.  I was mortified!  But in an instant, Nana began laughing uncontrollably, I joined her in hysterics. It took a good ten minutes for either of us to be able to speak and explain to the clerk that she just spent six hours cleaning the “junk pile phone”.  He felt so bad, he looked as though he wanted to crawl under a table, which caused us to laugh harder.

On another occasion, while in her late 80’s she decided to take the bus a few stops away to visit my dad who was hospitalized with cancer.  Several hours later she was nowhere to be found. My entire family was panic stricken.  Finally to our relief she arrived. She was happy as a clam.  Nana had taken the wrong bus and had traveled for hours having to change buses a few times to find her way back home with the help of some friendly bus drivers.  “The best part”, she exclaimed, “was that I got to see the ocean, and the whole trip only cost me a dime!!”

Years before her death, she labelled her collection of precious Hummels, ensuring that each of her loved ones would receive a keepsake (they were acquired in the fifties, while Nana was in Germany, visiting her youngest son, who was quite ill).

She was truly an amazing woman, who lived to be 91. While on her deathbed, she told me not to look so sad, she had had a terrific and exciting life.  In her last moments, she worried about her family, as was her character, not thinking of herself.


Edith Anna Haines was born at 101 Maxwell Street, Dorchester, Massachusetts on 1 October 1907; eldest child of John Glatis/Galatis Haines and Edith Bernice Lansil.  Soon after her birth, the Lansil home was sold and the Haines family relocated.  They moved frequently, residing in Melrose, Malden and for a short time Saugus (until sister Doris showed interest in a “colored boy”).

Siblings included  John “Jack” Galatis/Glatis Jr., Walter Lansil (who died at 11 months from acute enteritis and colitis), Doris, Marion Jeanette, William Alexander “Billy”, Bernice Frances and Natalie.


Edith met her husband, Charles George Hall, son of Charles Milton Hall and Georgianna Hughes/Clough at a dance at the Congregational “branch church” on Forest St., Malden; she asked the minister to make an introduction.  It later became an independent church, but by that time Edith (from Melrose) had married, and enrolled her two sons in the Sunday School of the Congregational Church on Pleasant St., Malden.



Ceremony Performed at Bride’s Home in Melrose by Rev. W.H. White..
Couple will reside in Boston.
Bride prominent in Forest Dale Chapel Activities..
July 18, 1930
A pretty home wedding was celebrated yesterday afternoon when Miss Edith Anna Haines, 8 Oxford St., Melrose, daughter of Mrs. John G. Haines became the bride of Dr. Charles G. Hall of Lawrence St. Linden.


The ceremony was performed by Rev. W.H.White, ass’t pastor of the First Congregational church.


The bride was attended by her cousin Miss Doris Marshall and Miss Doris Haines her sister.  Dr. Cornelius Thibeault of Reading attended the groom.


A reception followed the ceremony and over 50 attended.  A catered supper was served.  the couple left on a honeymoon by auto to parts unknown. They will make their home in Boston.


The bride was attired in white chiffon trimmed with lace.  She wore a tulle veil caught up with orange blossoms and carried a shower bouquet of birde’s roses and lilles of the valley.


Miss Marshall was gowned in embroidered organdy trimmed with blue and Miss Haines wore embroidered organdy trimmed with pink.  Both carried pink roses.


Miss Doris Jenkins of Milton rendered “O Promise Me” and was accompanied by Mrs. E.H.Thompson also of Milton.  John Haines Jr. a brother of the bride, played the wedding march. 


The bride is a graduate of Melrose schools and was employed at the office of John Hancock Ins. Co. of Boston.  she was a member of the Queens of Avalon of the Congregational church.


The groom is a graduate of Ohio State University and is a member of the veterinary staff of the Angell Memorial Hospital.  He is a member of the Omega Tau Sigma fraternity. He is also a graduate of Malden High and Linden school.


7e22934a-7f49-4d4a-a656-2cd05e5eb21eEdith 1930's
7071795861_9d3ba87369_oEdith & Charles
The business and their residence was located at 228 Main Street, Malden.  Grampa bought her the house next door as a birthday gift – it was occupied by tenants.  After Grampa’s death, her sons sold both homes and moved her to a studio apartment, #411 at The Heritage on Pleasant Street, Malden – keeping the phone number we all had memorized – 324-0278.


The “Haines girls” were talented poets.  The following (likely by sister Natalie) gives a glimpse of  Edith’s life:



… By a Younger Sister

Nineteen-Aught-Seven, in the fall
In birthing room off upstairs hall
Of Family Manse at “One-Oh-One”,
Her fruitful life was first begun.
First child of Edith and of John
The same room where her Mum was born,
Descended from the Grouts and Paines
Came Edith Anna (Lansil) Haines.


She stayed so sweet as years went by
(The apple of her family’s eye)
She was so loving, kind and good
(The one who always understood!!)
The next score years that family grew
And six more siblings Edith knew.
She learned there at her mother’s knee
That she was special – we agree!
She set the pace (her standards high);
Ours just to do, not reason why.


In Forestdale she really shone.
No wonder Charlie Hall came home
To claim his bride (his life long mate);
They started on their own sweet fate.
She pushed the prams and answered phones;
She cooked the meals, went out alone.
She smiled and mingled socially;
Held dogs and cats professionally.
She fretted for her growing sons
And all the while those four had fun.


Artistic talent came to fore
Creating “favors” by the score.
She mastered canvas stretched on a board
(Her “SEAGULLS” won a Grand Award.)
Her sons grew up to be fine men
With lovely wives…she breathed “Amen”!


And in the meantime (in between)
She never left our family scene.
So long, so well, she’d helped our Mother.
She tried to guide each Sis and Brother.
She shared in all our joys and tears.
And mellowed with us o’er the years.


Each niece and nephew she’s include
Within her ever-growing brood.
Of Grandkids, whom she loved galore
(They filled her heart…she asked no more).
For twenty years each “took a turn”
With “Nana Visits”… How they learned!


Today, within four generations,
Mid changing, sticky situations,
An anchor ‘twixt the ages, SHE
Can sympathize and easily
Remember how it is when young,
When every day “Life’s song is sung”.
A Daughter, Sister, Mother, Wife,
A Nana, Friend, a rich full life!
Upon this Earth she’s left her mark,
And earned the title MATRIARCH!



Nana’s 80th Birthday


52 Ancestors – week #12: Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

No Story Too Small has issued a New Year’s Challenge: “Have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”  Note: You can “click” on any image to view a larger version.

I grew up near Boston. In my college years and early twenties, my friends and I headed to the Purple Shamrock on St. Patty’s Day, to Studley’s in Somerville every Thursday night, and to the Improper Bostonian on Cape Cod most summer weekends – to sing along with musician Jim Plunkett (not to be confused with the football player) - there were lots of favorites – Sweet Caroline, Brown Eyed Girl, Love that Dirty Water (Boston You’re My Home), Charlie on the MTA….   This short video, filmed when the Improper closed a few years ago, gives you a taste:

During the “sing along”, Plunkett yells – “Let’s hear it from the Italians” – they all scream; Then… “Let’s hear it from the Irish” – they all scream.  Although I grew up in an Irish/Italian neighborhood, I believe I am neither.  Being blond with fair skin, I join in and cheer with the Irish, longing to belong.

Me – 2012 St Patrick’s Day in Boston

Come to find out, all these years later – I AM Irish!!! – my DNA results show between 4-38% (I am likely on the lower side – see Randy’s post for some insight:

Irish DNA

My known Irish heritage equates to about 6.25% through my 2nd g-grandmother Roxanna Amelia/Aurelia “Anna” (Wilson) Hall who was 100% Irish.


How ironic that I spent my life “pretending” to be Irish, while my Irish ancestors spent theirs proclaiming to be Canadian. Roxanna’s parents and eldest two brothers arrived in Boston in 1852/3 during the Irish potato famine.  After residing in New Brunswick for several decades, they likely passed themselves off as Canadians, to avoid rampant discrimination in Boston.

Roxanna, youngest of six, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on 12 Oct 1859 to David M. Wilson, a paper hanger/painter and his wife Elizabeth Long.  Siblings included James Alexander (1850-1886 b. New Brunswick), David M. Jr. (1852-1886 b. New Brunswick), Eleanor/Ellen Jane (1853-1910 birth recorded in Chelsea, Massachusetts and 148 Prince Street, Boston), Annie Elizabeth “Bessie” (1855-1932 b. ? – no birth located, “place of birth” on marriage record is blank, death record riddled with errors lists a Malden birthplace which is unlikely) and Charles L. (1857-1880 b. no birth located, one death record lists a birthplace of Lebanon (?), no state listed; another lists Boston).

family tree

birth record

What I know of Roxanna’s parents can be found in my blog post: I have not located their birthplace in Ireland.  I don’t know if Roxanna had aunts or uncles or whether her  grandparents also settled in Canada.  Names are common, records sparse.  Records that do exist claim a Maine or New Brunswick birthplace. The 1851 New Brunswick census is the only document that mentions their Irish immigration; a record I believe to be accurate. Her dad, son of Thomas Wilson and Jane,  immigrated in 1830, at age 6 or 7, and her mother, daughter of Alexander Long, in 1840, age 17.

Census Saint John County, Dukes and Queens Wards, page 136; FID 24398 -

1851 census

The 1860 census, lists her dad as a paper hanger, born in Maine.

1860 census

In 1870, a few boarders have joined the family (it is unknown if they are relatives).   Her dad is listed as having been born in New Brunswick and he has not become a US citizen.  Her mom can not write and her brother Charles is listed as blind.

1870 census

Roxanna’s birth reflects an address of 6 Portland (likely off Causeway in the North End). Her family moved frequently to various addresses in the North End, besides Portland Street, they resided on Prince Street and South Margin. Although today the North End is primarily Italian, between 1845 and 1853, over 14,000 Irish immigrants settled there; making the neighborhood predominantly Irish (Boston’s overall population went from Yankee/Protestant to a third Irish in just a few years). Between 1865-1880, the North End was almost exclusively Irish/Catholic, an area which was decrepit and impoverished.  Families were crammed into one room dilapidated apartments and beat up boarding houses.  By 1880, more than 70,000 Irish lived in Boston. A decade later, Boston had become the only city in the United States where the Irish represented more than half of the foreign-born population.

old Boston map


In 1871, Roxanne’s eldest brother James, a painter, who had become a US citizen, married Susan “Susie” Jane Perkins, daughter of George and Margaret (Taylor) Perkins.  They resided in Malden and Boston, Massachusetts and had 7 known children – Walter Francis, Ella/Ellen May, Herbert, George Frederick, Thomas Cutting, Grace Adelaide and James Alexander.

Sometime between 1872 and 1880 the remaining Wilsons settled in a rented home at 177 Bennington Street, East Boston. Here Roxanne’s father died, on 31 August 1879, reportedly by suicide (or perhaps trying to relieve a toothache –

By 1880, Roxanna was working in a rubber factory, and was still living on Bennington Street with her mother, brother David, and a boarder (relation unknown). Her blind brother Charles had passed away earlier that year, 31 March 1880 (in Malden), at age 23, from inflammation of the bowels, after a week of sickness. Roxanna’s sister, Annie Elizabeth “Bessie”,  five years earlier, on 25 Oct 1875, had married a Malden boy, George Ira Pratt, son of James Pratt Jr. and Clarissa Corson – in 1880 they were residing there with two young children. Her sister Eleanor’s whereabouts are unknown in 1880 (she married in 1884 – in 1880 there is a Jennie [Jane?] E. Wilson of the right age working as a servant, living on 12 Bennett Street, Boston, who is a likely candidate).

1880 census

Bennington Street at Day Square in 1918

Bennington Street, East Boston, circa. 1915-1930


About a year after her father’s death, on a cool, perhaps rainy, Tuesday evening, 7 Sept 1880, a 20 year old Roxanna married Ephraim Augustus Hall, a 26 year old milk dealer living in Malden, Massachusetts; youngest child of Horatio Hall and Elizabeth Pinder. The marriage was performed by Rev. Dr. Lewis Benton Bates a Methodist of East Boston, affiliated with the Meridan Street Church.



Roxanna’s brother-in-law, (Bessie’s husband) George Ira Pratt was the son of James Pratt Jr. and Clarissa Corson.  The Pratt’s were well known, large landholders, having been in Malden for generations. George and Ephraim were two months apart in age and likely school chums. In 1880, George was also employed by a rubber factory, perhaps the same employer as Roxanne.  Perhaps George made the introduction.

George and Bessie had at least eight children (Ira Wilson, Clara Rebecca, James A., Daisy Bell, Charles Mellen, Walter Edgar, Florence Gertrude and George Harrison) – Ira changed occupations frequently, also working as a metal caster, butcher, boot maker, farmer and carpenter.  The Pratt family resided in Malden;  Melrose;  Townshend and Athens, Vermont; Madbury and Dover, New Hampshire.

birth Ephrain and George

Once married, Roxanna relocated to Malden where she resided in the Hall family’s rented home on Richardson Court with Ephraim’s parents and his siblings Horatio Jr., Lucy and Mary (and Mary’s husband David Patten).  Roxanna and Ephraim’s only child, Charles Milton Hall was born six months later, on 7 March 1881. Roxanna likely named him after her reportedly blind brother, Charles Wilson, who died a year earlier.

By 1883 Ephraim was working as a foreman at the Malden fire department. A few years later he became a carpenter.

In 1886 Roxanne’s two remaining brothers passed away - James (died 14 Sep 1886, consumption) and David (who never married, died 20 Jun 1886 of meningitis, he was also living in Malden).

In 1887  a $1 land sale was recorded.  George Ira Pratt gave to his sister-in-law Roxanne (Wilson) Hall  lots 2, 3 & B on the intersection of Forest/Sylvan & Echo Street in Malden.   However, the couple, continued living on Richardson Court with the Hall family.


In 1891 another sale is recorded of $1 from George Ira Pratt to his sister-in-law Roxanne (Wilson) Hall – lots 8 & 13 on the intersection of Forest/Sylvan & Echo Street in Malden  - subject to a $1,200 mortgage to Lizzie Knapp and payment of 1891 taxes. Roxanne and Ephraim relocated to the property that year.


The home (today numbered 335 Forest Street), was directly across from the Malden Poor farm, pictured below.

UPDATE: From Martha Prince Warren via Facebook – “I think the White House in the background behind the field is actually in Melrose. The wall goes all the way across the boundary of Malden and Melrose. The building on the far right along the wall is the piggery and the larger building is the barn. The house on the corner of Forest and Sylvan was across from the horse pasture. This area was our playground when we were young. The wall is still there from the Forest street side all the way going east at least to the back of the Forestdale school”.


The home as pictured/described today: Bedrooms: 5 beds; Bathrooms: 2 baths; Multi Family: 2,232 sq ft; Lot: 6,534 sq ft; Year Built: 1880; Last Sold: Jul 2012 for $388,650.


In 1894, a third land deed was recorded: $1 from George Ira Pratt to Ephraim Hall on the intersection of Forest/Sylvan & Echo Street in Malden – lot 4 marked A. The 1897 map, below, depicts the land transfer from the Pratts to Roxanna and Ephraim.

map 1897

Roxanne’s mother, who had relocated to Malden, passed away on 25 Feb 1897, from diabetes.

death mom

By 1900, Roxanne, Ephraim (a carpenter) and 19 year old Charles (a last finisher in the shoe industry) are living in same two family home, renumbered to 309 Forest Street.  They are renting to Roxanne’s older sister Eleanor/Ellen and her husband James Mellon Chase, son of George W. and Margaret (Bartlett) Chase (married 17 years, with no children).

1900 census

On 19 June 1904, Roxanne’s only child married Georgianna Hughes/Clough, daughter of John Hughes and Katherine “Kittie” (Perry) Hughes/Clough/Shipman, born in Rome, New York, who was residing in Lynn, employed as an “operative” at shoe manufacturing company (likely where she and Charles, nicknamed “Garrie” met).

Six months later, on 8 December 1904, Georgianna gave birth to Roxanna’s only grandchild who survived to adulthood, Charles George Hall.  They lived less than a mile away, on 17 Dale Street.


Pictured – 3 generations – Roxanne’s husband Ephraim, son Charles & grandson Charles

In 1910, Roxanna and Ephraim (a carpenter) were living in same home, now mortgage free, renumbered to 315 Forest. They were renting to 31 yr old Clara A (Pratt) Williams, Roxanna’s niece, daughter of George and Bessie (Wilson) Pratt, and her husband Charles.

1910 census

Malden Square – 1910

In Januray 1910, Roxanna’s sister Eleanor/Ellen passed away from ovarian cancer.  Roxanna died that same year, on 1 November 1910 of chronic heart disease, at the age of 51.


Her obituary and funeral notice published in the Malden Evening News reads:

Mrs. Anna A Hall – Mrs. Anna A., wife of E A Hall, passed away last evening at her home, 315 Forest st, after a protracted illness, heart disease being the immediate cause of her death. Mrs Hall was born in Boston and educated in the public schools of that city. She was the daughter of David Wilson and had lived in Malden over a generation. In 1880 she was married in East Boston to Mr. Hall by the late Rev Dr L. B. Bates. Her husband, a son Charles M. and a sister, Mrs. Bessie Pratt of Dover, NH survive her. Mrs. Hall was a member of the Rebekahs and much interested in their work and they will assist at the funeral which will take place on Friday at 2 o’clock.  Mrs. Hall was a devoted wife and mother and was endeared to all who knew her. During her long residence here she became highly esteemed and her passing away means a distinct loss to friends and neighbors.


The funeral of Mrs. Anna A, wife of E A Hall of 315 Forest Street, a well known and esteemed resident, was held at her home yesterday afternoon.  Rev M C Hunt, pastor of the Forestdale Chapel conducted the services. The house was filled with relatives and friends and Mrs Mina Rich Sargent was the soloist rendering “Face to Face” “Passing out of the Shadow” “My Heavenly Home” Resolute Rebekah lodge members attended the service in a body and the usual ritual of the order was conducted by the NG Mrs. D E Kelley; V G Mrs. H R Campbell and Chap, Mrs. F.A. Magee.  There was a most beautiful profusion of floral tributes from friends and relatives. The interment was at Forestdale.


Odd Fellows, recognizing the need for a woman’s touch and her helpfulness in carrying out the principles of Odd Fellowship, brought into being the Rebekah degree, founded upon the principles of faithfulness, hospitality, purity and dedication to the principles of the Order as portrayed by women characters of the Bible. 

I believe in the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of man, and the Sisterhood of woman.
I believe in the watch-words of our Order – Friendship, Love and Truth.
Friendship – is like a golden chain that ties our hearts together. Love – is one of our most precious gifts, the more you give, the more you receive. Truth – is the standard by which we value people. It is the foundation of our society.
I believe that my main concern should be my God, my family and my friends. Then I should reach out to my community and the World, for in God’s eyes we are all brothers and sisters.

Ephraim Augustus was committed to the insane asylum at Danvers State Hospital (Massachusetts) in 1916.  His son filed for guardianship of the $2,807 estate, which included the Forest Street home.  Ephraim’s sister Ellen signed along with Kittie Shipman (his son’s’ mother-in-law). Less than a year later, Ephraim died from septicemia following gangrene of the foot.

Roxanna and Ephraim are buried at Forestdale Cemetery, Malden, Massachusetts, burial plot: section 33, lot 22 with their son Charles M., his wife Georgianna, grandson Charles G. and his wife Edith Anna (Haines).

911167ef-5cdb-4dbc-8165-306c455fdbf2 7b9dcbe2-9a3f-4d9f-a96d-b6654bbeb3ba

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to all – a day to celebrate that I REALLY am Irish!


Thoughts and future research….

(1) Roxanna’s parents David M. Wilson (son of Thomas & Jane) and Elizabeth Long (daughter of Alexander) were wedded Tuesday evening, 20 July 1847, by Rev. Wm. Harrison on who was affiliated with St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Main Street, Saint John, New Brunswick.

Follow up – Church records for the St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Saint John, New Brunswick are microfilmed -  at PANB.  Either I (or a hired researcher) need to look through them for Wilson/Long – baptism, marriage, death and other church records. Perhaps there will be a reference to an area in Ireland or other relatives who if traced could reveal Irish place of origin.

church records

(2) In 1851 & 1861, all of the census records that survive of Anglicans with the surname “Long” place them in Donegal (note that many census returns were destroyed). Could this be Elizabeth’s place of origin?

1851 and 1861 irish census NB

(3) There is one Alexander Long in New Brunswick, b. 1811, he is likely too young to be Elizabeth’s father (she was born 1823), he arrived in 1821 (she claims to have arrived 1840), but lots of similar family names – maybe a relative? There are three Long families who are neighbors in Westfield, Kings County, NB - Westfield was a parish very close to Saint John’s County (the Long/Wilson marriage location).

1851 and 1861 Long families

(4) What does the “M” stand for in David M. Wilson?

- Daughter Roxanna names her child Charles Milton Hall.  I believe Charles is for her recently deceased brother – could the Milton be from her dad’s name? [her husband did have an uncle Milton Hall]

- Daughter Elizabeth names a child Charles Mellen Pratt – could this be the M. in David’s name? [her sister Ellen married Charles Mellen Chase - coincidence?]

- Son David M. Wilson, jr. died in Malden in 1886, age 36, single – his birth/death records do not list anything other than “M”.

(5) It is possible that David Wilson’s parents are also living in Westfield in 1851 – a Thomas, Jane with a son John are listed but with an 1837 arrival date (David in 1851 claimed an 1830 arrival).  Note that they are neighbors with the Elliot’s, Note that a Jane Long married Thomas Elliot on April 12 1851 in the Portland Parish – perhaps a relative of Elizabeth’s?  The 1851 Portland Parish (SD 68) census does not survive.

1851 Wilson

By 1861, John is running the farm, Jane is living with him in Westfield, and a “nephew” John S. Breen has joined them.  Did one of John’s sisters marry a Breen?  Did father Thomas die between 1851 and 1861? In 1861, Jane is listed as Presbyterian, not Anglican.

1861 Wilson

I looked through the PANB records online and found no evidence of the death of Thomas Wilson or the marriage of a Wilson to a Breen.

(6) In the 1851 & 1861 censuses, the Wilson’s (all Presbyterian) living in Westfield claim to come from Derry - – could this be David’s birthplace?

(7) Witnesses to David Wilson & Elizabeth Long’s marriage in Canada were James & Catherine Crawford – who were they?

Ancestry New Search Stinks!

I am all for change, I wasn’t tied to’s “old search”, I tried new search a number of times and found it clunky and always reverted back to “old search” where I could narrow the records and actually find records that met the search criteria.

Last week, removed “old search” as an option.   Anyone else find it frustrating???!!!

I just did an “exact” search for William Little born within two years of 1865.  The first search gave me zillions of records – the exact search sliders were not set to “exact” even though I requested “exact”!  I slid them to exact and specified “US Records” only.

I get a list of records already attached to my tree (good).  Then a few thousand other records.

My first match is from a collection “1916 Canada Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta” a person with the name John Little.   So Canada is now part of the US and John is an exact match to William????  I did say exact match, US records only, right? Ahhhh John has a kid named William….  So exact match William within two years of 1865 = find all the people born within two years of 1865 with a kid named William born in 1906????

Second, third and fourth matches are from England….  “Exact”ly  looks like England has merged with the US too.

My next 10 matches are “Private Member Photos” that I can’t see, but when I click on the link, I see they are from my own tree!!! Why are these listed separately and not included in the top list of records already attached to my tree???

FRUSTRATING!!!!!  To those bloggers saying that all us “old search” folks are simply against change – I am simply against paying $300 a year for a CRAPPY search tool when the old one actually worked!


A Facebook member mentioned an issue:

(1) since I am searching from my tree the “exact” sliders work, but even through I have the pull down box set to US Collections, I don’t get just US Collections unless I click on “edit search”, then click on “show advanced” and then select “show only records from these collections” – NOT Intuitive and a bunch of extra steps.

Ancestry frustration4

I then hit search.

It takes me to different search results, but now ALL of the sliders that were previously set to “exact” have automatically been reset to “broad” – ANNOYING!

Ancestry frustration5

I move the top three back to “exact” and get 234 records.  I only want the William Littles born in England.  I can’t move the slider to exact, because Ancestry has pre-populated all the fields in the search form.  So instead of quickly typing in “England”,  I have to click “edit” again, delete the pre-populated information and type in “England”.  I then have to hit “search”, this takes me back to the results page where I now have to move the slider to “exact” and then hit “update”….  So about 5 extra steps instead of just typing in “England” like we did with “old search”.

That gets me exactly 3 records.

Ancestry frustration6

I know that there should be more.   So I just go to the “search all records”, I type in William Little, b. 1865 in England and select “exact”. I search again and get 4 results. There is a Massachusetts census record that appears on this search that wasn’t included in the last search.  Meaning I should no longer search right from my tree??

Ancestry frustration7

Still doesn’t seem right. I “uncheck” the exact box and set all the other fields to “exact” I do NOT select the. phonetic or similar radial buttons.  I do decide to check off the boxes for photos, family trees and stories.

Ancestry frustration9

I now get 10 matches.  The first is a family tree with a William Little born in Ireland? in 1918?  All the sliders are set to exact.  The results only show this one  UNMATCHING family tree, yet the results on the lower left say that there are 62 matching family trees.

Ancestry frustration10

I then get the same 4 record matches as my prior search and 6 public or private member stories that are NOT exact matches as requested – the first “exact” match – a man named William Jardine with a grandchild named “Little Willie”.  There is a radial button on the “private” member story that says “read story”, I click on it and it brings me to the member profile  telling me to contact them for more information (perhaps nit picky, but why does the button say “read story”?? when you can’t read private member stories?)

Ancestry frustration11


I could go on….. but seems pointless.  If Ancestry cared about their loyal users (yes, I have had a paid World membership since 25 June 2007!) they would have asked for our feed back or done a bit more testing to iron out the bugs.  There are many other websites out there with “crappy” search engines (like Fold 3), but I knew that before subscribing!  I continued to subscribe to Ancestry because I could actually find what I needed with old search.


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