The Mystery of Edith Haines….and Scandal!

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What I Know

My 2nd g-grandparents, William John “John” Haines and Jennie Ferguson both of Richibucto, New Brunswick, Canada, had eight children: Edith, John Galatis (my g-grandfather), Alexander (who died tragically in WWI –, Ella May, Margaret Elizabeth, Joseph (who died as a child), Minnie and Jennie.  I have photos and a pretty complete genealogy of those who lived to adulthood, with the exception of their first-born, Edith.

Haines kids

The pedigree chart prepared by my Aunt Natalie claims Edith married twice –  a Savard and a Taylor.  A handwritten note in the files I inherited places her death at 20 October 1940 and burial at Mt Hope, Dorchester section G #1541.  An arrow points to Edith Taylor and Edith Savard with a notation “SAME”.


In 1918, Mary Alice (Haines) Stevens (William John “John” Haines sister) writes a letter and addresses it to her niece, Edith Taylor on Wadsworth Street (a known address of William John “John” Haines).  The letter was returned.


A Look at Vital Records

Since John and Jennie’s marriage was recorded in Chelsea, Massachusetts on 8 March 1882 and my g-grandfather’s birth (the second child) was also recorded there on 22 Feb 1885, Edith was likely born in Chelsea. Other records place her birth in Chelsea [death/marriage record] on December 1882 [1900 census], just 9 months after her parents were married, however a search of Massachusetts Vital Records revealed no likely birth record for an Edith or female Haines in Chelsea or elsewhere.

A 25-year-old Edith married 24-year-old Edward Savard, son of Joseph Savard and Mary Emmen on 25 May 1908 in Boston, Massachusetts. Both claimed it to be their first marriage.  They resided at 7 Temple Street, she a waitress, he a waiter. They were married by JP, Robert McLeish.

No records were found of Edith Haines’s marriage to a man called Taylor.

edith marriage

Edith died from “Cancer of both Breasts” at age 57, on 20 October 1940, and is listed as the widow of Edward Savard.  Her death was recorded in Fall River, but her residence was given as 3 Malbow [likely Malbon] Place, Roxbury, Massachusetts. She was buried at Mt. Hope.

Edith Haines Savard death

Census Data

I began with the most recent and worked backwards:

In 1940, Edith, age 50 [likely an error since her death certificate a few months later lists her as age 57] was living as the wife of Peter Savard, age 57, at the same address of her recorded death, 3 Melbon [likely Malbon] Place; the same place they had resided in 1935. They were renting for $16 a month.  He was Massachusetts born, a barber working on his on account.  She was not employed.  Both had been educated through grade 8.  Peter was the informant, so the information is likely accurate. There were three families residing at this address.

Peter?  not Edward?  Was her husband’s name Edward Peter?   Did he change careers from waiter to barber? If Edith was a widow when she died, there should be a death record of Edward or Peter Savard between the census date of 11 April 1940 and her death 20 October 1940.  A search of the Massachusetts death indexes revealed no likely death.

1940 census

In 1930, the pair is found at 58 Highland Street, Boston with a border, Catherine Nash, a helper at a factory.  They were renting a home for $30 a month and had a radio set.  Peter, age 47 was “first married” at age 25.  Edith, age 46, was “first married” at 24.  Peter, born in Canada, was Naturalized and he worked as a Barber on his own account.  Edith is not working. There were three families residing at this address, the informant is unknown.

1930 census

The likely 1917 draft registration card was located for Edward.  He is a waiter living on 112 Howard Ave in Roxbury and claims that his nearest relative is Edith Savard of 490 Middlesex, Lowell.

draft city directory

A search of the 1920 census reveals only one possible match of an “Edith Savard” of about the right age (33), and sure enough, it is in Lowell.  She is married and working as a waitress.  But there is one inconsistency, Edith is listed with Massachusetts born parents, not Canadian.   But since Edward’s 1917 draft registration card indicates that his closest relative, Edith, resides in Lowell, there is a strong possibility this is our Edith.

Interestingly, a Peter Savard, age 49, is listed two lines away as “widowed”, born in Massachusetts to Canadian born parents. A different Peter? Neither an Edward or Peter were identified elsewhere in 1920.

1920 census

No likely entry was found for Edith with Edward or Peter in the 1910 census.

In 1900, Edith resided with her parents at their home on Wadsworth Street, East Boston.  She is 17 and working as a Baker’s helper.

1900 census

City Directories

I reviewed city directories with hopes they would reveal a move to/from Lowell or give a date of Edward/Peter’s death.

There were two entries in the Lowell directories, likely our Edith:

In 1920, Edith is residing on Central, but the only Peter (a barber), is at the same address as Catherine; 53 Washington. Interestingly, a Mrs. Catherine Savard (according to Massachusetts marriage records, Peter’s wife) is also listed separately at this address.  This is unusual as in the time period, women were typically listed only if single, divorced or widowed.

There is an Edouard (Malvina) listing, but through other records, I determined this was a different man and not the Edouard who Edith married.

1920 city directory

By 1920, Peter the barber has relocated to Central, he is in room 53 and Edith is in room 42.  Mrs Catherine Savard continues to reside at 53 Washington.

1921 city directory

Peter’s 1917 draft card reveals that he resides with Catherine on 53 Washington.  I begin to think this is not our Peter…. Then I notice that the draft registration lists a work address of 490 Middlesex.  This is the SAME address Edward gave for his closest relative Edith Savard on his draft registration.

peter draft

Edith was residing with Peter, a barber, and his wife Catherine in Lowell?  There must be a connection!   I began to look at Boston directories. Peter is listed in Boston beginning in 1923.  No listings were found for Edward.

In 1932, the directory lists Edith, widow of Edwd, at 52 Lambert Ave. Roxbury and two Peters.  Both are barbers – one listed as residing at the same address as Edith, the other works at 170 Neponset but resides in Lowell.  So Edward and Peter are two different people? Are there two Peters? Business directories list only one Peter Savard as a barber in Boston.

1932 city directory

The 1940 directory lists one Peter (Edith) implying they are married.  Peter is a barber at 170 Neponset (the same address where the Lowell Peter worked in 1932). Further review shows that they began being listed together in city directories commencing in 1934.

1940 city directory

I begin to suspect that Edith first married Edward, he died and subsequently she married Peter, however a second marriage record was not found.

The Savards

With the aid of some Savard descendants, I pieced together the Savard tree.  Edward and Peter appear to be brothers born to Joseph Theophile “Taffy” Safford and Marie Louise Emond/Hemond.  They were born in Canada, but by 1900, resided at 67 Leverett St., Lowell, Massachusetts.  Their mother, reported giving birth to 18 children, only 8 of whom are living in 1900.  Besides Edward and Peter, those with the family included Joseph, Henri, Charles, Frederick [Alfred ?] and Robert.  The 8th was likely Antoinette, who had married Edmund J. Charron in 1894.

1900 census

Edward married Edith Haines and had no known children while Peter married Catherine Wilkes, daughter of Job Wilkes and Helen Wilson, and had two known children, Alice Helen (who likely died young) and Beatrice (m. Arthur Pratt).

Peter marriage

My theory is that at some point, Edward and Edith separated.  He is last known to have been residing in New York in 1938, according to a sister Antoinette (Savard) Charron’s obituary (although this is inconsistent with the 1932 city directory which lists Edith as widow of Edward; it would not be unusual for a woman to claim being a widow to avoid the embarrassment of abandonment).

Antoinette’s obituary dated 1938 lists six brothers: Peter of Boston, Henri of Lowell, Edouard of New York City, Charles of Lake Sargent, Canada, Alfred of Lowell and Robert of Elizabeth, New Jersey.


Whether Edward died or left the marriage, Peter appears to have taken up with Edith. They could live as husband and wife without anyone knowing as they both used the surname Savard.  This would explain why Edith’s death record reported she was the widow of Edward (especially if Peter or one of her siblings was the informant).  The order of events is unknown.

Peter is mentioned as Catherine’s husband of 44 years in her obituary of 1950, yet she is living without him from at least 1920 to 1940.  It’s unlikely they reconciled after Edith’s death as Catherine’s obituary mentions she was living with her daughter in Chelmsford.  No spouse is listed in Peter’s obituary.  No obituary has been found for Edith or Edward.

Catherine Savardpeter death

That being said, although they were residing in different locations, Peter’s 1942 draft registration does list Catherine as “someone who will always know your address” and in parenthesis writes “wife”.

peter 1942

I love a good family scandal!  Perhaps a “cousin” will find my post and have the answers…..

My questions: 

1. Who was the Taylor that most online trees and my aunt have connected to Edith as a spouse?

2. What is the story behind Edith living with Peter Savard?  Would Peter’s living g-grandchildren, the children of Arthur Pratt & Patricia (Pratt) Ludwig, have additional information?

3. Where/when did Edward die?

4. Was there an obituary for Edith or Edward?

5. Are there other Savard family obituaries that may have clues?

6. Would Mt Hope Cemetery have additional information? The records are held at the City of Boston Archives and Records Management Division and are available to researchers by appointment only at 201 Rivermoor Street West Roxbury, MA 02132, 617-635-1195. The require 24 hour advanced notice.  The collection consists of 37 cubic feet of records and spans the period of 1876-1952, click here for: Guide to the Mt. Hope Cemetery records_tcm3-33013

7. Why was Edith’s death reported in Fall River when she resided in Roxbury? I’d like to pull the original death record at the Vital Records office when I am next in Boston to see if information was omitted.

8. Why are there no photos or family memories in the collection of correspondence I have for Edith?  Was she estranged?

9. Where are Edward in Edith in 1910?  and where is Edward in 1920, 1930 & 1940?  It would be unusual for a person to avoid census takers for four decades! there is a potential in 1930 there is a widowed Edward in Fall River of about the correct age working as a Hatter – link (requires subscription) in 1920 the same man might be listed as a single roomer working as a Hatter in New Jersey – link.  The 1942 draft registration – here – claims this Edward, a hatter, was living in New Jersey in 1942 . His birth is given as 18 Feb 1880 in Fall River [slightly off – our Edward likely was born in Canada in 1883 given an age of 24 when married, however our Edward did list a birth year of 1880 on his 1917 draft registration] He lists a contact name of Irma Martel in New York.

It is difficult to tell if the signatures on both registration cards were by the same hand…the E and S are clearly different… but both appear to be abbreviated Edwrd:


Descriptions are similar – both have brown eyes, medium height/5’4″, medium build/130 pounds, brown hair/gray hair – the 1942 card claims he is “very deaf”.  No birth has been located, but there is a marriage record (FamilySearch) in Fall River, for a Ophelia Gagnon to Edward Savard born 1880, son of Jean C Savard and Mathildel Stebin….so this may not be our Edward.

There was also an Edward residing in Franklin County, New York during this time period who through other records has been proven to be another Edward.


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