52 Ancestors Week #27 – A Beginner’s Blunder

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 leapt into genealogy several years ago, when my “Great” Aunt Natalie shared 30 years of research.  I accept the pedigrees as fact, and entered them into an online tree.  She had collected some fascinating documents – diaries, photos, vital records, census data and lots of correspondence from many newly met “cousins”.

“Back in the day”, these cousins collaborated and concluded that  my 3rd-great grandfather, John Hains (Haynes), had two wives and ten children. Imagine my surprise when I came upon John’s probate records at NEHGS this past summer and discovered another grown child!  The mix up?  With his first wife, he had a daughter Elizabeth “Lizzie” Hains; with his second wife, an Annie Elizabeth Hains.


On page 9 of John’s 1901 probate file, his widow Jane names the surviving children:

….and three sons namely

Alexander Haynes in the city of Boston in the State of Massachusetts – Fisherman;

George Haynes of the city of New York in the State of New York – Sailor;

John Haines in Chelsea, State of Massachusetts – Laborer [my g-g-grandfather William John Hains who married Jennie Ferguson – her story here]

and four daughters

Mary Stevens wife of R.J. Stevens of Ishpeming in the State of Michigan – Agent;

Elizabeth Hegland wife of Oliver Hegland of Boston aforesaid Laborer;

Annie E. Morell wife of Walter Morell of Newcastle aforesaid – Mechanic and

Carrie S. Craik wife of William Craik of Newcastle aforesaid  – Laborer ….


Annie E. Morell was a new name to me. And according to the paperwork passed on to me, Alexander Haynes was dead in 1901! Every tree online seems to concur!  Aunt Natalie’s note reads “lost at sea?”

So I am here today in the hopes that all those tree owners will find this blog post and update their records!  As a newbie, we all make mistakes, the key is to go back and “fix” things as we evolve genealogically…

Alexander Hains/Haynes

Thirty years later, quite a bit more is online. With a bit of armchair research, I found our Alexander.  His first wife, Susan M. Gorman, with whom he had no known children, died in 1875.



Alexander was in Boston after Susan’s death.  His sister Mary (who was living in Boston, working as a nanny for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s grandchildren) mentions him in her diary:


Alexander was a mariner.  He sunk Schooner Clytle in the fall of 1891.

boat sinking

[A fathom is a unit of length in the Imperial system used mostly for measuring the depth of water. There are 2 yards, ~ 6 feet in a fathom.]

In January 1900, he was enumerated in Gloucester, Massachusetts as a Fisherman.


At age 49, he married second, on 19 Feb 1900, a 24 year old Minnie E. Lewis.  The marriage record confirms Alex’s parents as John Haynes and Edith Childs of New Brunswick.  His occupation is “Captain”.  He relocated from Gloucester, Massachusetts to Booth Bay Harbor, Maine  and went on to have three children with Minnie – Edith Madeleine “Madeleine” Haynes b. 1901 [m. Phillip Westbrook Hodgdon], Ruth E Hains b. 1903 [m. Frank Irving Adams] and Herman Lewis Hains b. 1906 [no known spouse].

marriage 2

I was able to connect with one of Alexander’s descendants who writes: “I have a copy of a letter and an obituary for Alexander.  He died December 17, 1907 in the Cape Verde Islands from a “fever”. He shipped out of Gloucester.  The obit said he was from Mirimichi, New Brunswick.”

His wife Minnie did not appear to remarry.  She was reported to be a dressmaker. She and her young family moved in with her widowed mother by 1910.  She died 29 Aug 1969; age 98.

So what about our Elizabeths?

Elizabeth “Lizzie” (Hains) Heggeland

John’s daughter Annie Elizabeth (Hains) Morell was included in the 1871 and 1881 Canadan censuses as “Annie”, yet I had attached those records to her half sister Elizabeth! Since Elizabeth is “missing” from the 1871 and 1881 Canadian and 1870 and 1880 United States censuses, my “facts” fit perfectly!


In reality, Elizabeth’s whereabouts are unknown from 1861 until she married Oliver/Ole Heggeland, a mariner born in Norway and residing in Chicago, 5 January 1887, in Chelsea, Massachusetts. She likely relocated to Chicago and had four children, Edith, Mabell, George Ole and Lilian, all of whom died as babies. The couple separated a few days after the death of their last living child. “Lizzie” returned to Boston (she is found there in 1900 working as a house servant) and eventually made her way to Vallejo, California (she is found there in 1910 working as a housekeeper for a private family) to live out her years near (and possibly with) her sister Mary. Although the census taker reports that she is single, she continues to use the surname Heggeland. She was not located in the 1920 census or the California death indices, but according to family lore, died there in 1921.


Lizzie married

Lizzie census


Annie Elizabeth (Hains) Morell

Annie Elizabeth married Walter Morell  “Daniel F. Johnson : Volume 63 Number 2075, Nov 27 1885, Saint John, The Daily Telegraph- m. At residence of bride’s father, 24th Nov., by Rev. T.G. Johnstone, Mr. MORELL, Newcastle (North. Co.) / Miss Annie HAINES, Derby”

Note to Walter Morell from the [Rev.] T.G. Johnstone, the “Manse, Blackville” saying he will be happy to perform the marriage ceremony for you at the Haines Residence, on Tuesday evening (the 24th); note dated 19 November 1885.

marr req.png

They settled in Newcastle, Miramichi, New Brunswick, Canada and went on to have at least 10 children.

annie kids

According to family records, Annie lived until 28 May 1960 and was buried at Mirimachi.


Annie lived through both World Wars and sent sons off to each.  She seemed to be close to her children.  They wrote frequently and seemed to care deeply for their mother and siblings.  From my limited exposure, the “Haines boys” were all good looking, vivacious, “glass half full” type of characters. It is clear that Annie’s sons and grandsons were of the same mold.  An excerpt of a letter dated 1943 from England shows the personality.


The collection of letters can be found HERE.  The ones to Annie and between her children start half way down the page in the section labelled “MS4”.

Even if this isn’t your family, the letters are wonderful. Read a few (or all of them). Especially if you had ancestors stationed over in Europe during the war. If your ancestors were of Newcastle, Miramichi, New Brunswick, Canada in the same time period there is a chance they might be mentioned!

The fond description reads:

“Of particular interest are letters addressed to Walter Morell or his wife, Annie, from their sons, Fred, Herbert (Herb), and Horace (Horrie) who served overseas during the First World War. Herb writes most frequently but there are letters from all three soldiers.

Horace Morell was killed in the battle of Amiens in France on August 8, 1918 – but his two brothers returned home safely in 1919. These letters span the years, 1916-1919.  There are also letters (dated 1941-1945) from Walter and Annie’s youngest son, James (Jimmie) and their grandsons, brothers Fred Morell, Jr. and Horace Morell, who served overseas during World War II.  Many of the letters from the Morells serving overseas are addressed to Janet Morell or Annie Morell and occasionally other family members. 

The soldiers’ letters in this fonds are unusual because they are from two wars and six different soldiers all from one extended family.  Son Jim’s letter to his mother from Camp Sussex (sometime in 1941) as he prepared to go overseas indicated that for a mother to have sons in both wars was not normal; he wrote “For you to have to go through it all again after the last time isn’t any small thing.” Both the frequency with which the soldiers write, and their choice of words signify close family ties. They also indicate that they received lots of “goodies” and letters from the home front, which was vital to soldiers.  Letters contain details about how soldiers passed their time when not fighting and often contain news of their other Morell soldiers – amongst whom there was a lot of contact.

Finally, the fonds includes post war letters (1946-1958) to Janet Morell (in Montreal) from her mother, Annie Morell; a letter to Grandmother Annie and aunts Jen and Annie from Dilys Morell at Camp Medley, 1947; a genealogy of the Morell family and the annual report for St. James’ [Presbyterian] Church, Newcastle, December 1913.”

A few other sample letters/postcards:


This postcard is undated but is addressed to Annie and reads: “This is my home while I am in Edinburgh. It is a splendid place and well looked after. H [orace]


Letter from Fred Morell to his mother Annie Elizabeth dated 10 Jan 1918 from France.  Fred speaks of being away from his unit and at artillery school for a six week course.  It is a nice break from warfare.  He mentions that his brother Horace had visited with lots of letters and then goes on to name several friends and cousins who he has run into while stationed in Europe.

letter from fred

In another letter, Annie’s son James Morell dated 2 January 1945 [about 6 months after D-Day].  He thanks her for the gifts and speaks of the vast array of gifts that arrived for him and others, they will be feasting for weeks.  He describes their Thanksgiving meal and mentions the cigars smoked afterwards.  He speaks of a short trip to Paris, the bitter cold and their accommodations.  They seem to take up in old bombed houses, missing half the roof with broken windows but with beautiful furniture, now of little value, where they can  put their feet up and feel as though they are living extravagantly without worrying about getting [cigarette] ashes on the rug.  He speaks of people skating with queer wooden skates, men on leave to London and mentions an invite to a local home for New Years.  They spoke “half good English” but he is getting very good with sign language. Having been to France, Belgium. Holland and London Cockney he’s not sure what language he speaks but is becoming bilingual. He mentions McCartney being killed by a shell in Schelt, Holland and closes wishing her a Happy New Year.

letter 3

The moral to the story. Go back and “re-fact check” the ancestors added to your tree when you were a “newbie”  – confirm you have done a “reasonably exhaustive search”.  Even if you think you are “done” with an ancestor’s story, periodically look for more.  You may find something amazing!

Welcome back to the “Family” Annie Elizabeth and Captain Alexander Hains/Haines/Haynes!

UPDATE April 2017: One of Annie Elizabeth’s grandsons found my blog and writes:

I certainly remember her, in her late 80’s and 90’s, as the matriarch of our family. She was kind, generous and capable. She knit mittens and socks year round to give to us kids for the cold winters we have in N.B. And she read Burgess Bedtime Stories to us (Reddy Fox, Chatterer the Red Squirrel, etc). She celebrated her 95th birthday at our home in the fall of 1960 and died the following May.

Photo of Grandma (Annie) with several of her grown children (my Dad is in uniform, back row right side) and grandchildren. Probably taken 1940.

Annie Haines Morell family.jpg

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by ethomson1@comcast.net on July 2, 2014 at 7:35 AM

    Fantastic work. More sea captains in the family!



  2. […] – “A Beginner’s Blunder” (John Hains) on Passage to the Past’s […]



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