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.”
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George Lansil, was born 28 Jan 1839 in Bangor, Penobscot, Maine, to Captain James P. Lansil and Martha Colby and thus a grandchild of my 4th g-grandparents Charles V. Lansil and Ruth Paine and my first cousin 4 x removed. He attended the Hammond Street Congregation Church Sabbath School.
In 1860, George and a younger brother were residing at a boarding house and he was employed as a Molder.
He went off to serve in the Civil War (applied for a pension, which was rejected as he only served 60 days); his discharge papers were in 2008 auctioned on Ebay, the description reads:
ORIGINAL CIVIL WAR DISCHARGE PAPER FOR PVT.GEORGE LANSIL FROM COMPANY B FIRST REGIMENT OF MAINE STATE GUARD VOLUNTEERS. DATE OF SERVICE IS LISTED AS ENROLLING ON SEPT. 3, 1864 FOR SIXTY DAYS BUT HE WAS DISCHARGED ON NOV. 7 1864. REASON GIVEN WAS EXPIRATION OF HIS TERM OF SERVICE. OCCUPATION WHEN ENROLLED IS LISTED AS AN ARTIST AT 25 YEARS OF AGE. BORN IN BANGOR MAINE. 1839. HIS COMMANDING OFFICER WAS CAPT. JOSIAH S. RICKER’S. PAYMASTER WAS G.W. PALMER. I CAN’T MAKE OUT THE NAME OF THE MUSTERING OUT OFFICER.
By the late 1800’s, George Lansil was described as a “painstaking, thorough artist” and one of Bangor’s finest photographers (he is credited with assisting Mathew Brady, the well known Civil War photographer during the War – see his work HERE). He became established as a photographer in the early 1860’s. By the mid 1880’s, he was located in his Main Street studio, and had 5 assistants. His studio occupied three floors and was comprised of eight rooms.
Langdon’s List of 19th & Early 20th Century Photographers
GEORGE L. LANSIL
Lansil, George L., photographer, 3 Bowman’s Block, brds Bangor House, Bangor, ME (1882)
Lansil, George, photographer, 3 Bowman’s Block, brds Franklin House, Bangor ME (1871-1872); photographer, 3 Bowman’s Block, brds Penobscot Exchange, Bangor, ME (1873); photographer, 3 Bowman’s Block, brds J. W. Abbott’s, May, Bangor, ME (1875); photographer, 3 Bowman Block, brds Bangor House, Bangor, ME (1879-1880).
In 1871 he had joined C. L. Marston.
By 1880 our bachelor is residing at the Bangor House on Main Street.
In 1883 he formed a partnership with Charles R. Gould who declared him to be “the finest photographer and most finished artist this side of Boston”.
George married Ella Severance, 27 Mar 1884, widow of Edward E. Small, daughter of Samuel and Betsey (Thompson) Severence. Ella had a daughter Flora Lilly Small born 24 May 1874.
On 19 Mar 1885 Ella and George’s only known child who survived to adulthood, Martha Louise “Mattie” Lansil, was born (the 1900 & 1910 censuses claims Ella has given birth to three, one living).
Her half sister Flora Lilly Small died 20 Jun 1890, age 16.
A cousin writes “I remember grandmother Mattie Lansil Richardson very well. She spent her last years living with her daughter Helen and her son-in-law Gordon Danforth in Orrington ME. She told wonderful stories of old Bangor. She had one half sister, Lilly who died of diphtheria I think, when she was a little girl. Ella Severance was the love of George’s life as the story goes. She married Small and broke his heart. Small was wounded in the war, returned home, but was never really well again. He died and George got the girl”.
Edward Small’s obituary:
In 1900-1, George advertised in the University of Maine at Orono’s yearbook.
George photographed his only daughter at many stages of her life. One hundred years after her birth, in 1985, the GAR Museum featured this collection.
I recently visited and found the exhibit is no longer on display, but is stored in a back room not open to the public. The curator was kind enough to allow me access to photograph the collection.
The local newspaper, The Daily Whig and Courier offers small glimpses of their lives:
In 1887, the family spent the summer in Northport.
That same year, George secured a gold watch from the 99 cent store!
In 1892, seven year old Mattie was awarded 25 cents for her crochet work.
Is 1893, George fell ill, and had someone temporarily take over his studio. He recovered, and had planned to spend the summer at the Warren A. Bragg cottage in Islesboro, an island off the coast of Maine. They instead used Col. F. Pullen’s as the Bragg’s cottage had been damaged by fire.
In 1895, Mrs. George was in business as a Cook.
I am including the next article from 1896 because I find it humorous that they mention the weights of the six sisters who George photographed.
In 1900, George and Ella are residing in Bangor with their daughter and George’s father; by 1910 they were alone with two borders. A 69 year old George is listed as a photographer. The 1920 census places George (now listed as age 83) and Ella (age 76) in Bangor, neither are working but they have nine lodgers.
Although rejected a number of times, George and Ella continue to apply for a pension from 1916 until George’s death, claiming he is incapacitated from performing manual labor and destitute of property and income and having to rely on his wife and friends for support:
George’s daughter Martha married a Canadian, Endymion “John” Christopher Richardson on 11 Jun 1908, thus losing her US Citizenship. The pair initially resided in Bangor. Endymion worked as a Clerk for the Railroad. Martha gave birth to one child who had died by 1910. By 1920, they had a second child, Helen M., age 5. In both censuses, Martha’s widowed mother-in-law is enumerated in the same household. By 1930, she was no longer with them and the family of three had relocated to Hampden, Maine. In 1940, the couple owned a home in Bangor valued at $2,000. Their daughter by that time had married Gordon Danforth.
George died of a Cerebral Hemorrhage, 14 Jul 1926. After his death, Ella was able to collect a small pension based on the service of her first husband.
Ella died on 6 Feb 1930; Endymion on 9 Jun 1961 and Martha on 22 Jan 1970; all four are buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Bangor.