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: http://vimeo.com/50016097

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 know the the ethnicity estimates are, as Judy Russell puts it,”not a whole lot more than cocktail party conversation”, but still exciting!

Irish DNA

Turns out my known Irish heritage probably equates to about 6.25% through my 2nd g-grandmother Roxanna Amelia/Aurelia “Anna” (Wilson) Hall who was likely 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 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: https://passagetothepast.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/suicide-or-toothache/ 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 – http://tinyurl.com/3ag9nzd

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 – https://passagetothepast.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/suicide-or-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 1905: Buster the dog, Charles G. Hall and Roxanne.



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 – http://tinyurl.com/m8qlkcf – could this be David’s birthplace?

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


5 responses to this post.

  1. Lucky you, to be Irish on St Patrick’s Day!



  2. Posted by Andrea Read on May 16, 2014 at 12:27 AM

    So interesting to read! I’d love to know where you found the photo of the poor farm in Malden. My mother was born in 1930 and lived for almost 12 years at 29 Sylvan Street, just across from the poor farm. She always told me that her own mother (my grandmother) was afraid of ending up at the poor farm when she was old. I’ve tried finding information and photos of the poor farm from that time—do you have any suggestions? Thanks!



    • Thanks for reading Andrea! The Malden poor farm was in later years called Mcfadden Manor (Google it). There is a great book called “The Poorhouses of Massachusetts: A Cultural and Architectural History” By Heli Meltsner – many libraries have it, also try contacting the Malden Public Library they have a great history room.



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