Archive for the ‘Famous Folks’ Category

Saving the Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Grandson

On 28 May 1880, the entry in Mary Alice Haines  journal reads:

I came to Mrs. Dana as a nursery maid to dear little Dicky, a lovely little blue-eyed baby of nine months.

may 28 3.jpg

Mrs. Dana, was the former Edith Longfellow, daughter of poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The “golden-haired” Edith immortalized in her father’s poem “The Children’s Hour” was Wadsworth’s middle daughter.

Edith married Richard Henry Dana III, son of author, Richard Henry Dana, a friend of Longfellow.  Their first child, Richard Henry Dana IV “Dicky”, was born in his grandfather’s home, the Craigie House, Cambridge, Massachusetts on 1 September 1879.


Dicky’s nursery maid, Mary Alice Haines (who the Dana’s called “Allie” or “Alice”), was my 3rd great-aunt, born 8 May 1855, in Richibucto, Kent, New Brunswick, Canada, to John Hains and Alice/Alise Edith Childs. Siblings included Joseph, Alexander, George, James, William John (my 2nd g-grandfather) and Lizzie.  After their mother’s death in 1860, their father remarried Jane Clare adding four half sisters, Alice, Annie Elizabeth, Caroline Sophia and Christina.

Marys chart

Mary was enumerated with the Dana family on 4 June 1880 at 39 Mount Vernon Street [likely an error, they lived at number 33 not 39] in Boston, Massachusetts.  She was listed as a servant.

Mary 1880.png

mt vernon

bus card.png

Ten days later, on 14 June 1880, Mary writes:

Mrs. and Mr. Dana start for Nahant [Massachusetts] to spend the summer, taking with them their dear little Dicky and myself.

The following day she adds:

I don’t like Nahant. I think it is a perfectly horrid stupid place.

Then on 1 Sepember 1880

We expect to return to Boston soon. I shall be glad, although I have had a very nice time after all.  I went to ride often with Mrs. Dana and took little Dicky; and very often we row in the evenings.

They arrived in Boston 20 September 1880.  On Christmas she writes:

Mrs. and Mr. Dana went to Cambridge with Dicky to lunch with his Grandpapa, Mr. Longfellow, and I had the afternoon to myself.

She writes often of her days with Dicky. Mary’s brother Joseph passed away 24 January 1881 in a hospital in London.  A few weeks later she writes:

Ever since the death of my dear brother I have had lovely flowers sent to me. Little Dicky frequently brings me a pretty rose in his own, sweet, dimpled hand.

Two days after her brother’s death, Mary writes:

Dicky had  little brother born last night. He calls him a little dolly and wants to shake hands with him [Henry “Harry” Wadsworth Longfellow Dana]

Pictured below, Mary with Dicky and Harry:


On her birthday, Mary received an apron from Mrs. Dana and flowers from Dicky. On 28 May 1881 she writes:

One year ago today I came to take care of little Richard H. Dana III, a dear little blue eyed boy of nine months with long golden hair.  I was not at all taken with his appearance for I thought him very dull and not at all interesting.  But today he is a real boy in every degree and running around and saying many words. He is very fond of flowers. I am now with him in Cambridge making a visit to his grandfather, Professor Longfellow, and he enjoys being here. He is a dear little fellow. I am getting so fond of him. I hardly know how I can ever leave him and he is so fond of me. He calls me A-ie; and since he has been here he has learned to hail the horse car; and if it doesn’t stop he will run into the street and scream, car! car!

Beginning on 18 June 1881 she again summered in Nahant with the family. When they returned to Boston on 21 Sept 1881 she reports that Mrs. Dana and Dicky were sick with “slow fever”.  On 15 October 1881 she comes to Cambridge (from Boston)  to Mr. Longfellow as Mrs. Dana is very sick with typhoid fever. On 8 November she writes that she is still in Cambridge, with no hope of returning to Boston for weeks, as Mr. Dana is now very sick. The children are fine.

28 November: We are still in Cambridge. Oh dear I do wish I could go home. I am so tired of Cambridge.

Mrs Dana writes to Mary: Dear Allie, Miss Alice said the children went to bed at half past five. I don’t understand, for Harry always had his supper at six. Have you changed all his hours–and why? I want him to have his supper as late as possible so as not to make such a long night, and I don’t understand why both children don’t go to bed as they always used to. Do write and tell me about it. I miss you all very much and wish you could come home again. I had no idea you would have to stay more than a week or two, but now I suppose we can’t have you back until Mr. Dana gets better.

17 December: This is my last Saturday in Cambridge. I was so glad Mrs. Dana came out to Cambridge and said we could go home Monday. I am so delighted. Mr. Longfellow had a party for the children today. Dicky and my sweet little Harry were there.

On Christmas, Longfellow and Dicky presented Mary with the Longfellow Birthday Book written by Charlotte Bates, with quotes from the works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to go with each day of the year. The quotes appear on the left-hand page, and opposite them, two dates appear. There is room under each date to write the names of people who have that birthday. Longfellow added his signature under his own birth date.

On 24 March 1882 she writes:

This is a sad day in our home. Mrs. Dana’s father, Professor Longfellow died. We were to sail today but owing to Mr. Longfellow’s death we are to remain till 6 April.

Longfellow article.jpg

On April 4th Mary traveled to New York with the Dana family.  It was stormy and rainy. They boarded a ship, which departed for Europe, the following morning.  Mary woke to sailors singing, it reminded her of her five brothers (all of whom were seamen).  The sea was calm for a few days, then “frightful…running mountains high” causing seasickness. Finally, on April 15th they arrived in Liverpool.

Mary writes extensively of her journey, the tug boat that pulled them ashore, a forest of vessels, so many colors, funny looking cabs and ancient buildings.  First stop was the Northern Western Hotel.  She was shocked to learn, in Europe, she and the children were to eat dinner with the other servants in a separate small dining room.

A few days later the group traveled by rail to London, where she noted pretty green fields, so much greener than those at home, trees in bloom and “funny” thatched houses.  They drove four miles via carriage through the lovely Hyde Park to the hotel.  She loved London’s cleanliness, the grand looking granite buildings and pretty Thames River.  She rode from Kensington to Westminster using the underground railroad (which she described as a horrid black hole”), to visit the hospital where her brother Joseph died, to meet his nurses. She describes the view out his window which includes Westminster Bridge, Parliment House and Big Ben  A few days later she visited his grave.

On April 24th they arrived via steam car at Hotel St. Romain in Paris, Mary writes:

I went to ride today with Mrs. and Mr. Dana and the children. We had a lovely ride. How beautiful. I think I never saw anything so lovely. We saw the ruins of the castle of the French Emperor, and also the castle where Napoleon lived, all all the beautiful monuments….little did I think when I used to read about these historical buildings when I went to school, that I would ever see them.

Next stop, via steam car, was Skes La Barre, France [?], then over the Alps into De Touin, Italy, on to Florence then out to the Villa Angelina [possibly in Sorrento ?] where she describes oranges, lemon and olive trees and writes of Dicky tossing bread into a pond with hundreds of kinds of fish who swam to feed. Two girls at the villa taught her some Italian.

Mary is amused to see people washing clothes in the river instead of with a tub and washboard.  They slapped the clothes on stones to beat the dirt out, instead of rubbing them with the hands.

After several days, they returned to Florence where they visited a high cliff overlooking the city and she attended a Scotch-Presbeterian church service (her journal describes the beautiful church, tells of them chanting hymns vs. singing and mentions the sermon was a striking one), then on to Milan for shopping and to see a cathedral and the evening gaslight illumination, then to Lake Como where they sailed in a steamboat and the following day took out a rowboat, “which charmed the children”.  On her second anniversary with Dicky, he presented her a jewel case with a pretty set of ear drops and pin.

On 28 July she notes “there are eight of us” Mr. and Mrs. Dana, Dicky, Harry and myself, Miss Dana, Miss Isabella Dana. They travel to a number of villages – Switzerland is cold.

On July 30th she says she has been Harry’s nurse for one year.  She is homesick much of the time.  Although she enjoys the trip, she longs for letters from home and to be able to see home.

They traveled to Bologna, then Mr. and Mrs. Dana leave for Switzerland leaving Mary and the children behind. Here Mary writes “baby walked all around the yard for the first time”.  A few days later she and the children traveled to Switzerland first by steamboat then via a carriage drawn by four horses.

on 11 August she writes:

Thusis, Hotel Viennala: We left here today but met with a sad accident and had to return to the hotel until Monday.

Mrs Dana writes home of the accident, where our Mary Alice saves baby Harry:

…We meant only to stay here a day or two but an unfortunate accident has upset our plans and shaken our nerves. We engaged a very nice three horse carriage and started in fine style yesterday morning about nine o’clock , Richard and I upfront in the banquette with Dicky between us and Alice [Mary] and Harry inside. About 1 1/2 miles from Thusis the leader shied at a log on the side of the road and bolted right off the other side of the road, which was built seven or eight feet above a grassy meadow, with trees.  There were no posts or railing and the leader going over first dragged the pole horses and carriage after him.

Richard told me to jump out as I was on the up side, but it seemed so preposterous that we could go over and spoil our nice trip and perhaps all be killed in the bargain that I seemed paralyzed and stuck to my seat.  R. could not get out past me and so over we went crash, the carriage turning completely over us but by a happy chance, whether by the struggling of the horses or not I don’t know, it turned half over again on to its side and so set us free.

I had a confused sensation of dust and darkness, breaking wood and brown horses legs flying across my face and then with great effort I made a sidelong plunge to get away from the debris. I saw Dicky lying in a small ditch with Richard on top of him, but both alive.  I was perfectly sure Harry was killed, and dashed back to the carriage turned on its side where in the midst of broken glass, cushions, baskets and boxes I found poor Alice crouching on her knees with Harry in her arms. His face was all bloody and she thought he was very much hurt for the carriage door had stuck him full in the face, but it turned out to be only a bad knock on his forehead and scratches on his face and nothing serious. Alice showed great presence of mind for Harry was sitting on the seat by her and when she found the carriage going over, she seized him in her arms protecting him from the sides and top of the carriage which pressed down upon her, bruising her arm and tearing her dress and apron.

Presently we were all seated on the grass, dusty and bloody, the children wailing dismally, but all absolutely unimpaired! Was it not a miracle? It was such a relief to find we were not all killed or broken to pieces, we could hardly believe it, and I cannot really understand now how we escaped.  Richard was very faint, but fortunately we had brandy in the lunch basket which revived us both and he was well enough to go back to the hotel.  The driver with many “A, Dio!s” had disappeared and the horses were standing quiet as lambs, eating branches of the tree. Meanwhile we were the object of much interest and curiosity for the passers by, who saw with much dismay the broken carriage in the field below and two disheveled women holding two wailing children. All the beggars and children in the neighborhood flocked to the scene of disaster, the diligent stopped to inquire and many carriages. When they heard no one was hurt they went on again, the nervous females probably very unhappy for the rest of their journey.

One very kind Englishman came down to see if he could do anything for us. He seemed very much shocked, and finally presented me with a bottle of coloque [?] which I took to please him although we did not need it. My first thought was to get Dr. Wigglesworth and by dint of running part of the way Richard succeeded in getting back to the hotel just as he and his wife were on the point of taking the diligence over the Splugen [?]. They not only gave up going then but with the greatest kindness and generosity they insisted upon staying over until this morning to make sure that we were alright.  I thought it was very good of them but I wished they would not do it for it was not necessary and it seemed too bad to spoil their plans as well as our own. And worse than all Mrs. Wigglesworth is very nervous about driving and of course this accident will not do much to reassure her. We saw them off in the diligence this morning and I felt very badly to see her so nervous. Dr. W came back in a carriage with R. to the scene of disaster and examined Dicky’s knee under an apple tree. It was very badly bruised and hurt him a good deal. Nothing was broken, however, and Dr. W. has examined it twice since and thinks it will be nothing serious. Poor little Dicky was very much frightened and I am afraid his nerves have received a severe shock. Dr. W. carried him carefully up to the carriage and all the town turned out to see us as we drove slowly through the main street.

Dr W. got us new rooms (ours had been given to others) escorted us to them and made us lie down. We kept Dicky in bed all yesterday but today he is dressed and sitting on a shawl in the garden. Harry did not say a word for full twenty minutes after the accident then when we were sitting on the grass he opened his mouth suddenly and said in the most piteous little voice “Dumpy down!” which made us all laugh….

After a few days of recovery, they end the trip by touring Germany, visiting several spots including Heidelberg Castle and Strasburger Cathedral, they stopped again in Paris to shop and London where Mary again visited her brother’s nurses and grave.  On 17 September they departed Europe, arriving in New York by the 25th on the Servia.

boatship manifest

The journal comes to an end:

29 Sept: One more day and I leave my dear boys. I am give them up to a new nurse Sunday evening.

2 Oct: What a lonely day I spent. My first day away from my dear boys.

22 Oct: John R. Stevens arrived here today from Michigan. We have not met for seven years.

Edith Dana writes from Cambridge, 15 October:

Dear Alice,

It seems a very long time since you went away although it is only two weeks today. It was very hard at first. The first night I slept with Dicky and could not sleep at all. I was so worried and troubled and did not know how we could ever get on without you.  The new nurse did not come until three o’clock Monday afternoon. And I was so tired out by that time, she had to take the children that night and has had them ever since.

Dicky seemed to feel your going more than Harry. He cried a great deal the first night “oh Mary gone!”, “Mary come back! come back!””Mary stay” and he was very suspicious of Margarete at first and would not let her do anything for him. She seems to be a very good girl and is kind and gentle with the children.

I am only afraid she will be too gentle with Dicky and will not be firm enough with him. She is very fond of Harry already and thinks he is the best baby she ever saw. Everything goes on the same as when you were her, only Dicky’s hair that looks a little differently. Margarete curls it, but it looks more meek than when you did it. Dicky has a velocipede now and can ride it in the street.

They have seen “Cuddy Waddy” several times and she is going to be with Grandma in Boston. At least until Christmas time she and her ___ are now going to stay at 33 Mt Vernon St. and perhaps you will see her there.  I hope I shall meet you there someday.  Have you got all your things? Your parasol was in the corner of the big closet.

Miss Annie is very glad you like her presents and says you need not trouble about writing.  I was very sorry to here that John Stevens hurt his eye.  I hope it is nothing serious. Be sure to tell him before you are married about your fainting fits.  He has a right to know and it is your duty to tell him. If you do not he may blame you afterwards.  Have you decided when to be married. I hope Johnie and Jenny are well [my gg-grandparents].

I did not dare to tell the children I was writing to you but they would send a great many kisses if they knew. They are fast asleep now and look so sweetly.  When Dicky plays steam cars he always says “Mary go too”.

Harry has learned a good many new words. He can say “Jumbo” and “corner” and many others.  Mr. Dana and I went to Newport last week for three days and saw Mr. Appleton and the girls who were all interested in hearing about you.  The girls liked the bows we bought for them at the “Bon Marelie”

I hope you will write to me.

Yours very truly

Edith L. Dana

dana letter.jpg

Mary was married in Boston, 26 October 1882, to John Roderick Stevens, an old flame from Canada (he had first married Lucy A Higgens on 10 Jul 1880, she died ten days later).

Alice Longfellow sent a painting as a gift.

picture letter.jpg

wedding gift

The newlyweds returned to Michigan where they raised a family of six (four who lived to adulthood).

For some time, Mary kept in touch with the family writing to Edith Dana and her sisters Alice and Allegra.  The letters indicate they valued Mary’s confidence, advice and sympathetic ear as well as her more mundane services as nursemaid to the boys and any other family member needing help. Edith updates her with stories of the boys antics and progress and always sends their kisses.

Drawing to Mary [Allie] from Dicky:

A year after their European voyage, Edith writes saying:

Dear Allie, It is just a year ago today that we left this house to to to New York and sail for Europe. How thankful I am we are not starting off now! I wounder how how now we ever had the courage to undertake it with that two small children.  Harry not even able to stand alone. I think we ought to be very grateful all at home again safe and sound. And you really married and out at “Dan Teacy’s house” [?] in Michigan!  How much has happened in one short year!…

It goes one to tell stories of the boys and how excited they were to receive her letters. She congratulates Mary on the baby expected in August and offers to send some of Harry’s baby clothes.  She mentions Mrs. Dana’s fall on Mt. Vernon St. which resulted in a broken hip which is making her quite uncomfortable and depressed.  She expresses how much they miss her and sends kisses from the boys.

year later letter

In 1884, Mary is still sending gifts to the boys.  She writes “Harry Haines” on Harry’s card, perhaps a private joke between them which Mrs Dana mentions in a thank you note sent from 33 Mt Vernon Street.

In another letter, Edith writes to Allie with well wishes for Jennie [Ferguson ?] and says that God can save her, just as he saved them in the carriage upset:


In 1885, Edith Dana writes saying it was very kind of Mary to name her baby Edith after her and hopes that she can meet her someday.

Dana Edith

Dana children 1893:

dana children.jpg

**Special thanks to Mary’s descendants for sharing her journal, photos, artifacts and letters.

UPDATE August 2016:

Today I visited the Massachusetts Historical Society on Beacon Street in Boston.  In their manuscripts collection are the Dana family papers which include the journal of Richard and Edith (Longfellow) Dana III (a few pages below).  Richard notes that Edith did not write in this time period. His writing adds color to Mary’s experiences.  He speaks of Dicky as an infant and Harry’s birth; summers at Nahant; intimate details of having typhoid fever; his father-in-law’s death and the trip to Europe which includes his version of the carriage accident.

To be transcribed at a later date….  Next stop Cambridge to read through the Longfellow family letters!!

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Humphrey’s Hughes’ Claim to Millions!

One of my brick walls is my 2nd g-grandfather John Hughes.  When he married Kittie (Katherine) E. Perry, daughter of George Perry and Ann Jones (who were Welsh and of Rome, NY) in June 1880, the newspaper lists Hughes as being of Ilion, Herkimer, New York. Ilion was a small section of German Flatts.

John Hughes

Kitty marriage.png

On 18 Feb 1889 Kittie married second Frank Clough of Bath, NH in Frankfort, NY.

The listing from the 1889 village directory shows Humphrey L. Hughes as a boarder at the home of Frank Clough, 129 Main Street, Frankfort.  In the 1891 directory this same man is living at 26 Main Street and is a “car inspector.” He is also listed in the 1892 State Census as a “car builder”.


A memorial book created by Kittie’s niece Annabelle Palmer (daughter of Kittie’s sister Cordelia b. 1885) has three entries – her father, a brother who died at age 16 and Humphrey who died when she was ten.  This leads me to believe that Humphrey was related.  Is there a tie to John or another of my ancestors?  Hughes was a common Welsh name in the area.

Humphrey mass card

Humphrey was born in Tremeirchion, Flintshire, Wales about 1846. His baptismal record has not been located.

He does not appear in Herkimer County in the 1850, 1860 or 1870 federal censuses or in the 1855 or 1865 New York State censuses which leads me to believe that he is not a native of the county. There is a Humphrey Hughes (no middle initial) listed in Little Falls in the 1880 census as “single” and a “hostler,” but it is impossible to know if this is the same man.

He was injured at work in January 1895, died 29 March 1895 in Utica, New York and is buried in Floyd, New York.

humphrey injury

humphrey death notice

Also buried at Floyd Cemetery:

Hughes, Elizabeth, d. 25 Aug 1898, age: 66yrs, wife of Edward Hughes
Hughs, Edward, d. 21 Nov 1894, age: 80yrs

A death notice from the Ilion Citizen  (5 April 1895) reads:

“Alleged Heir To Millions – It is claimed that Humphrey Hughes, who died Wednesday, was a nephew of Blythe, the California millionaire. Hughes was a railroad workman, and spent considerable money attempting to prove his claim the Blythe millions. Hughes’ death was a result of an accident about a year. ago.”

Another obituary from the Little Falls “Evening Times,” 4 April 1895:

“Humphrey Hughes died at the residence of his sister in Utica Monday morning. He was born in Tremerchion, Flintshire, Wales, 49 years ago and came to this country about 20 years ago. …”

ny times

It appears Humphrey never married.  He left his assets to George Twill, relation unknown.

Humphrey’s living relatives seemed to be: Maria Jones (aka Mrs David J Jones) of Utica, Elizabeth Roberts of Romeo St. Kirkdale, Liverpool, England and John Hughes of Detroit Michigan and perhaps two other brothers. Could John Hughes of Detroit be my gg-grandfather???

humphrey obit.jpg

Heirs Humphrey Hughes.png

probate Humphrey Hughes pg2

probate Humphrey Hughes

But what about the millions?

The Thomas Blythe case was well documented Nationwide and in Europe I have read a few hundred newspaper articles seeking a connection between Humphrey Hughes and Blythe, finding none.

There are many versions of the story, one follows:

Blythe came to California in 1848/9 from Wales. In 1850/1, through the purchase of two quitclaim deeds for the total price of slightly over $2,000, he had acquired a triangular-shaped, block sized parcel of real estate located amid the sand dunes in the northeastern portion of the San Francisco peninsula. This area afterward became the heart of downtown San Francisco and this single piece of property, which came to be known as the Blythe Block and which was bounded by Market, Geary, and Grant (then Dupont) streets, made Blythe a millionaire.

Blythe went on to invest in other properties and companies. He died in 1883.

Blythe’s estate, exclusive of the Mexican holdings, was worth between $2,000,000 and $3,000,000. Although Blythe’s attorney, W. H. H. Hart, claimed that Blythe had made a will, and produced an office copy to prove it, no legally admissible will was ever found.

Nearly two hundred aspirant heirs from various parts of the United States and the United Kingdom filed their claims with the San Francisco probate court.

Another reads:

On the evening of April 4, 1883, the person whose name heads this article died in the city of San Francisco, leaving an estate at that time worth at least $6,000,000, and which said estate has increased in value until it is now worth at least $20,000,000.

At the time of his death little was known of the millionaire Blythe, except that he was the sole owner of that splendid property on Market street in San Francisco, comprising all of the block of land and building bounded by Market, Grant avenue and Geary street; and being now the best block of real property in the city of San Francisco, and, perhaps, the very best upon the American continent, from the fact that its position in the city of San Francisco makes it the key to the entire business portion of the city.

Mr. Blythe had so lived that none of his most intimate friends seemed at that time to know much about him, or who, or where, his kinspeople, if he had any, lived. Having left no wife or family, and dying intestate, it was for a time the all absorbing topic of the community as to what disposition would be made of his vast fortune.

The case was finally resolved in 1897 when Blythe’s illegitimate daughter, Mrs. Florence Hinkley, was determined to be sole heir of the fortune!

The article states:

The case of ” Tom” Blythe, thus settled, Is historic. Blythe was an eccentric old Welshman, over whose millions his relatives, real and imaginary, have quarreled in the courts for twelve years….

Blythe’s real name was not Blythe at all, but Thomas Williams. Blythe came to America from Wales In 1848, when he was 21 years old…..

Blythe went on a visit to Europe In 1873. Hle dressed shabbily, but he gave champagne suppers Ad libitum. One day he met Julia Perry….

Blythe left Julia and returned to San Francisco, and in December 1873, he received a letter from Julia Perry in London announcing that a daughter had been born to him and that she had been named Florence. In response Blythe sent her a draft and a friendly letter. When Florence was 3 years old her mother married a London man named Asheroft, a drunk.

It Is not known that Blythe ever knew of the of Asheroft. Up to the time of his death he and Julia Ashcroft wrote to each other as man and wife might have done, and the little girl, Florence, also received numerous letters from her father, many of which were preserved and have been the most important of all the evidence In the twelve years’ litigation.

In these letters Blythe displayed great affection for the little girl he had never seen. He referred to her as his darling child, and promised to educate her.


Although the millions were awarded to Blythe’s illegitimate daughter, the Williams family made a good case that Blythe was actually Thomas Henry Williams, one of five children born to John Williams and Elizabeth Savage, about 1822, in Mold, Flintshire, Wales (about 13 miles from Humphrey Hughes’ reported birthplace).  Siblings included  John, Elizabeth Powell and Sarah Roberts.

map flintshire


thomas williams birth

blythe welsh

williams claimants

It seems that all court records related to this case were destroyed by the San Francisco earthquake. CA Supreme Court record on the case:

I am posting with hopes that someone reading knows more of Humphrey, his family, relationship to Blythe and perhaps his connection to my family!

UPDATE May 2017: My Uncle has a Hughes DNA match (56 cM) to a descendant of Edward Hughes born abt 1813 in Dymeirchion (aka Tremeirchion), Flintshire, Wales [also birthplace of Humphrey], died November 1894, Floyd, Oneida, New York [Edward and Humphrey are buried together at Floyd Cemetery]. The tester comes through Edward’s son James and thus would be a half 3rd cousin to my uncle. Although one DNA match won’t “prove” a relationship, 56 cM is about what would be expected for this relationship.  I have built out the tester’s tree and no other relationships seems plausible.  At the moment, the two have no other shared matches.

Edward Hughes death.jpgHumphrey was likely the son of Edward (as noted previously Edward, his wife Elizabeth and Humphrey are the only Hugheses recorded as being buried at Floyd Cemetery).

Another son of Edward was William. His obituary names living siblings:  Maria, Elizabeth, Edward, Reuben, John, Robert & James!   “John of Buffalo” could be my gg-grandfather!!

Edward was married at least twice, thus some of these children may have had different mothers.  Birth/marriage records for Dymeirchion (aka Tremeirchion) for this time frame are not currently online, microfilm is available at the archives in Wales (unfortunately there are no copies at the FHL).  A researcher will be hired to locate these records.

William Hughes death.png

UPDATE December 2017: The same cousin who holds Annabelle Palmer’s memorial book (mentioned above), recently came upon a family scrapbook in his collection.  Inside is the obituary of John D. Hughes dated 1904.  John’s siblings are named as Mrs. David Jones [Maria] of Utica, Mrs. Mary E. Roberts of Liverpool, England & half brother James of Whitestown.  His first job was in Illion (the residence of the John Hughes who married Kitty Perry).  John is likely Humphrey’s brother and father to my great-grandmother Georgiana!

A number of descendants of John’s sister, Elizabeth Roberts of Liverpool, have online trees at Ancestry.  I have hopes that one or more of them will consider an AncestryDNA test to help prove/disprove my relationship to John (I am also seeking descendants of John’s other siblings!). If you are related to this family, and reading this, please email me 🙂

John Hughes.jpg

And if the newspapers are correct, Blythe might be my 1st cousin 5x removed!!

Blythe rel

UPDATE March 2018: Last month, a descendant of John and Humphrey’s sister, “Mary E. Roberts, of Liverpool” agreed to take a DNA test.  His results are in, and we are a match!! With two matches, one who descends from the only sibling who remained in Wales (and whose family still resides there), coupled with documentary evidence, I am highly confident that Georgianna’s father has been  found!!!!

Roberts match

52 Ancestors Week #26 – A Movie Star in the Family!!

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.”


A silent movie film star – our cousin?!?!?

Mary Lloyd Warrener, who  likely became the silent film star Mae Gaston, was a first cousin to my g-grandmother Edith Bernice (Lansil) Haines. Their mothers Jane Catherine (Roberts) Lansil and Grace (Roberts) Warrener were sisters.

Mae Gaston photos


My acquaintance with Mae Gaston (also May/Mame/Mayme) came from an online blog post, “The Wandering Warrener’s” – where a “long lost cousin”, Lol, analyzed a branch of the family.

He says:

“Mary appears in none of the censuses, but she apparently married and became Mary Baker, before adopting the screen name of Mae Gaston and having a very successful film career in silent movies between 1914 and 1920. There is some conflict here with the fact that Mae Gaston is quoted and coming from Boston, Mass. – but this seems unlikely, unless Edmund and Grace originally landed in Boston and spent time there prior to moving to Illinois.”

He shared Edmund’s obituary, which appeared in The Chicago Tribune  on Saturday, July 12, 1930.  It reads as follows:

   WARRENER–Edmund F. Warrener, late of 3431 N. Troy St., dearly beloved husband of Jennie (nee Saunders), fond father of Jane Neddo, Nan Miller, Robert, Mary Baker, Warren and Edmund Jr., at rest in the funeral church, 3834-36 Irving Park Blvd., where services will be held  Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. Interment Elmwood Cemetery.


Our story:

My g-g-grandmother, Jane Catherine Roberts was born in 1862 in Lanfairfechan, Caernarvonshire, Wales to Robert Roberts and Jane Roberts (Roberts married Roberts, no relation), in a mountainside stone home named Cae haidd.  Jane had three sisters – Mary Ann (b. 1855), Margaret (b. 1867) and Grace (b. 1857) – her story here.

Sister, Grace married an Englishman, Edmund F. Warrener (a gamekeeper, born in Barlborough, Derbyshire in 1853, the 2nd son of John Walter Warrener and Jane Cordwell), and had 3 children  in Lanfairfechan – Jane (b. 1879), Ann/Nance (b. 1881) and Robert Cordwell (b. 1882).

Between Sept 1883 and Oct 1885  the Warrener family, Jane Catherine Roberts and Margaret Roberts sailed for Boston, Massachusetts. The Warrener/Roberts family initially settled in East Boston on Wilbur Court.  Edmund worked as a mason. There, on 11 Nov 1885, they had a daughter who was given a birth name of Mary Lloyd Warrener, after Grace’s paternal grandmother –

Mae Gaston birth

On Thursday, December 23, 1886 a 24 year old, pregnant, Jane Catherine Roberts married 47 year old Edwin Lansil (a lumber surveyor).  She settled with Edwin in Dorchester, Massachusetts and raised three daughters there – Frances “Fanny”, Edith Bernice and Doris. Soon afterwards, the Warreners packed up and relocated to Illinois (Margaret Roberts followed; she married John Williams, also a mason and raised 5 children – Jane Catherine, David, Robert, Grace and John).  In Illinois, Grace and Edmund had 3 more children – Warren (b. 1889; he went on to Vaudeville), Margaret (b. 1891) and Edmond (b. 1894).

Sadly, the day after Christmas, December 1897, 39 year old Grace died of complications while giving birth to their eighth known child [her obituary states that only six of her seven children survive – I believe that to be a typo, seven seemed to have survived; Margaret (Warrener) Brayton did predecease her father by about five weeks in 1930, which is why his obituary lists only six children – their deaths were seemingly unrelated, Margaret died from breast cancer and Edmund from a heart attack].



grace death

Two years later, in 1900, only Edmund jr. was at home. The remaining children were split up (some adopted, others taken in by their aunt Margaret). Edmund had remarried to Sarah Jane “Jennie” Saunders of Toronto, Canada.  I was able to track six of the seven living children through marriage and death – all except Mary Lloyd Warrener born in Boston – she was a mystery. Grace’s obituary claims only six of her eight children were living.  Did  Mary Lloyd die?  I hadn’t located a death record, but she is the only child of the seven unaccounted for in the 1900 census.

Then I read my cousin’s blog! Perhaps she became Mae Gaston?!?!?

I searched in vain for information about Mae Gaston’s childhood. I located many photos and newspaper articles chronicling her film life from 1914-1920. First she was under contract with Reliance Majestic and Fine Arts Studios; then she signed a contract with David Horsley Studios in Los Angeles.  Studio directories claim she was born in Boston in 1894, educated there and Lakeview High School, Chicago [there was a Lakeview public school and a private boarding school that existed in Chicago during that time]. She was described as 5’5″, 125 pounds with light brown hair and dark blue eyes. For “recreation”, she rides, swims, plays golf and tennis.

So, the silent film star was in Boston and then Chicago, just like our Mary Warrener!

Mae Gaston stories2


Mae Gaston signing

Mae in marriedMae and Ford

She appears in over 40 titles, many as leading lady with Francis Ford.

Mae Gaston stories

On Sunday, 24 Oct 1920, the Boston Herald describes  a movie town known as “Filmland City” on the Fellsway in Medford, Massachusetts where eight episodes of the popular “Nick Carter” series have been recently filmed. Mae is the leading lady opposite star Tom Carrigan.

Mae in Medford2Mae in Medford3


Nothing after 1920 – she disappears – no marriage, no death or obituary, no more films. Maybe she was a cousin, but there was no evidence; I gave up.

A few years later I discovered a letter dated August 1977 written by my grandmother’s sister Natalie of her visit to Aunt Doris (Lansil) Jenkins, Jane Catherine Lansil’s youngest daughter, on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.   Natalie writes to her sister: “…We did learn that grandmother Jane Catherine had other sisters. One sister Grace had a daughter who became May Gaston, a movie star (never heard of her).  Doris showed us a picture of her autographed to “My dear cousin Frances Lansil”….”

In another letter addressed to Natalie, dated September 1977,  Jane Catherine (Williams) Peterson says:

….My mother’s name was Margaret she had two sisters Jane Lansil and Grace Warrener – her husband was Edmund Warrener who was born in England. There were no boys in the family. My grandparents landed in Boston. My mother stayed there for awhile – she met Dad – he came to Chicago to seek work – he was a stone mason and she came later because Aunt Grace and hubby came here sometime before. Aunt Grace’s daughters were such beautiful girls. Mayme was in the movies years ago and Warren (my cousin) was an actor and was the original sissy in “School Days”….”

So three cousins, who knew nothing of one another, all claim a “film star cousin”, Mae Gaston through Grace Roberts Warrener! My interest piqued.

In the few years that had past, both and have added millions of records to their databases and perhaps my genealogy skills have improved a bit 🙂  I had never tried searching for “Mae Baker” (remember? a daughter, “Mary Baker”, was listed in Edmund F. Warrener’s obituary) – silly me!

death index

On, a Mae L Baker in the California death index – Mother’s maiden name “Roberts”! Birth date of 11 Nov 1885, an exact match to Mary Lloyd Warrener born in Boston!

I sent for her SS-5.   Here is seems she lies about her birth year saying she was born in 1904 vs. 1895.  But it IS our Grace.  Once she reached retirement age she must have submitted a correction to collect benefits, which might explain why the SS index has a correct date. The SS-5 is undated (or I can’t read the date), but probably 1949 since she says she was 44 on her last birthday). She was living at 1341 West 164th Gardena, California (the house was built in 1923:

Mae SS-5

Then on a marriage license:  In 1928, she married a bond broker, 30 year old Harold Hoover Baker, son of Abraham Lincoln Baker and Ida Mae Hoover. Mae again seems to have lied about her age – A 43 year old divorcee claiming to be 32 residing in Beverly Hills (home of the rich and famous?)!!! And it is her second marriage!?!?

a9bfdec2-272d-442a-8147-01c77685e82b 7a7fc3bc-e3eb-4dc2-ae11-4095eed38233


USGENWEB lists ( THE HAROLD HOOVER BAKER FAMILY – Harold Hoover Baker-5, b. Oct 19, 1898, m. Nov 24, 1928 to Mae L. Warner. [1939 Address]: 17104 So. Figuerroa St., R.R. #2, Box 240, Gardena, California.

There is a Mae and Harold Baker living alone in 1940, both age 40 (which is about right assuming Mae was continuing to lie about her age), Mae born in Massachusetts and Harold born in California.  They have been living on 17104 Figueroa in Compton, California, for at least 5 years, a home valued at $2,500 (one of the least expensive in the area). Harold is an Operator on a Poultry Ranch (perhaps a changed career related to the Great Depression of the 1930/40’s?).  In 1930, Harold’s parents Abraham and Ida Baker  were living nearby at 17318 Figueroa.  According to Wikipedia, Figueroa is one of the longer streets in Los Angeles, it runs in a north/south direction for more than 30 miles.

Mae & Harold 1940:

Abraham & Ida 1930:

Still no Mae in any other censuses or city directories. But now I knew that she had a first husband.

I wrote again to cousin Lol to share my findings.  He responded with an old email from another Warrener cousin (Grace’s daughter Jane Catherine Warrener’s granddaughter) which read:

….”One of Grandma Jane’s brothers, “Warry,” was in vaudeville and on the same bill as Eddie Cantor and Al Johlson.  He died in a vaudeville retirement home in Chicago.  In the 1920’s, her sister Mary (Mame) was in silent movies and used the stage name “Mae Gaston.” She had an illegitimate son her husband never knew about.  Her married name was Baker”…..

The plot thickens! An illegitimate son that her husband never knew about? Scandalous!

I located a marriage entry in the Cook County Indexes on  Was this our Mary Warrener? Was Fred Curtis Aldrich (son of Christopher C. Aldrich and Elizabeth Blencoe) her first husband? I couldn’t be sure.  I ordered a copy.  It will take weeks to arrive.  I am not good at waiting 🙂

marriage index

I continued my search.

In the 1920 census, Cook County, there is a Fred C. Aldrich living with wife Estelle and children Edmund (16) and Ardelle (14) – – Edmund?  Named after Mary Warrener/Mae Gaston’s father? Estelle was just 31 – had she given birth at 16 or was she a step-mother?

Another marriage index shows that Fred C. Aldrich and Estelle Hendricks were married 30 Dec 1913, long after the birth of Edmund and Ardelle!   So likely this was our Mary Warrener (I have not located birth records for the children).

Fred Aldrich died in June 1946.  The obituary says his son Edmund is deceased.

Fred Obituary.png

Chicago Tribune June 19, 1946:

ALDRICH- Fred C. Aldrich, husband of Estelle, father of Mrs Ardelle Thibault and the late Edmond, son of Elizabeth Aldrich, brother of Ardelle, Harry and the late Ralph……

Chicago Tribune June 20, 1946:

Fred C. Aldrich

Services for Fred C. Aldrich, 64, teacher and shop superintendent at Schurz High school for 35 years, will be held at 3 p.m. today from the chapel, at 3918 Irving Park rd. Burial will be in Acacia Park. Mr. Aldrich died Tuesday at his home, 4031 Waveland av. He also was in charge of veterans’ counseling at Schurz, and coached its first football team many years ago. He is survived by his widow, Estelle; a daughter, Mrs. Ardella Thibaut; his mother, a sister and a brother.

is Edmund Aldrich is found buried with his grandparents, Christopher and Elizabeth Aldrich, at Oakridge-Glen Oak Cemetery, Hillside, Cook, Illinois. He died in 1923, age 20 (five years before Mae married Baker). The cemetery records show only that the deceased came to them on 7 September 1923 and is buried in sec 19, lot 462.  There is no funeral home reference, or any other information, just the name Elizabeth Aldrich (his grandmother?).



Fred’s  daughter Ardelle held an MBA from DePauw University, became an elementary school teacher, married Richard Carlisle Thibault and moved to 5931 Morningside, Dallas, TX where she passed away from breast cancer on 31 August 1956 at the age of 50.  Her obituary (Dallas Morning News, 1 Sept 1956, section 3, page 15 and Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 03 Sep 1956: c10.) does not mention any children (or her brother Edmund) and names her mother as Mrs. Fred C. Aldrich of Gobles, MI.  

dedc0564-20f9-4f55-a8b5-154e3febfba8ardelle death.png

No mention of Mary Warrener or Mae Gaston (who was still living) in the obituary.  But, she was listed as “mother” on Ardelle’s death certificate found on If Edmund was born in 1903, then Mae was likely pregnant (or just had the baby) when she married Fred Aldrich in March of that year.

Since Fred raised the children and is named as Ardelle’s father on her death certificate, it is likely that the children were his.  However, I am still looking for their births and Edmond’s death and obituary which might give us a definitive answer.


So sad…  What happened to 13 year old Mary Warrener when her mother Grace died? How was her screen name chosen? There must be some document out there with Mae Gaston’s birth date (perhaps she lied about the year, but wouldn’t she be truthful about the day/month – would it match our Mary Warrener?)! Did Mary/Mae abandon her two children for fame and fortune as a silent film star and then deny their existence to marry a much younger, wealthy bond broker?  It certainly seems so.  Did she ever regret her decision or see the children again? Did she have more children with Baker? Why did she leave the movie world? So many questions that may never be answered.

Mae’s obituary found in a Sonoma paper mentions nothing of a former career or screen name of Gaston.

Mae BakerHarry Baker

Someday I hope to find her probate in Sonoma and perhaps track down Edmund Aldrich and his descendants…..I would love to locate Mae in the 1900 -1930 censuses – I have never had an ancestor with the ability to avoid censuses takers for 30 years! She has to be there someplace!  We do know she was filming in Medford, MA in the fall of 1920….but she wasn’t found in any census in the US other than 1940.

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:


A Trip to Venice, by Walter Franklin Lansil (1846-1925)

Walter Franklin Lansil, my 2nd great grand uncle, on my dad’s side was a well known marine artist.  He is my g-grandmother Edith Bernice (Lansil) Haines’s uncle through her father Edwin Lansil.


Walters business card

According to family lore, My grandmother (Nana Hall), a pretty great artist herself, took art lessons from Walter as a teenager.

Nana’s son Charlie adds:  “My version of the painting lesson story has a little different twist. In the lore that I remember, Nana Hall’s mother, Edith (Lansil) Haines, was always described as a Lansil favorite. I can imagine Edith putting pressure on Walter to teach Nana Hall. To keep the story short, the teenage Nana Hall showed up late for the lesson, Lansil refused to teach her and sent her home. When the adult Nana Hall told me the story she still had shock in her voice. I think the experience was really a life lesson learned”.

Walter died when Nana was 17. Sadly, my Nana died at the age of 91 (I was 36),  long before my interest in genealogy, long before I knew the name Walter Franklin Lansil and long before I thought to ask any questions.

The family historian, Aunt Natalie of course knew of him.  She lovingly refers to him as “Uncle Waddie” and his brother Wilbur a cattle artist as “Bibber” .

According to the blog My Old Ohio Home,  there is an unsigned note in the possession of a descendant of Walter’s brother Edwin which says this about Walter Franklin Lansil:  — “Mom said he was a terrific guy. Everyone was his friend — no business head. Never said anything wrong about anyone. If he said anything bad about anyone it was ‘He’s a pill.’ That was his only usage of bad words!”


lansil_walter_franklin-venice_noonday_on_the_river~OM619300~10603_20130201_2635B_435 artwork_images_424116582_477256_walterfranklin-lansil

Walter’s studio is depicted in a painting done by Enrico Meneghelli  in the 1880’s held in the MFA’s collection:

walters studio

Our Walter was born 30 Mar 1846 in Bangor, Maine to  to Asa Paine Lansil (a Mayflower descendant of Stephen Hopkins) and Betsey Turner Grout (a descendant of William Grout who fought  in the Revolutionary War at the Battle of Lexington and the Battle of Bunker Hill and a descendant of Captain John Grout, a Puritan, who came here in 1637).  The Lansil’s were members of Hammond Street Congregational Church.  From 1843 to 1848, they lived on 101 Hammond, a brick tenement in the Bangor in the neighborhood of Barkerville.  Walter’s siblings included Enoch Howard (1836-1843), Edwin (my g-g-grandfather, 1839-1904), Frances Ellen (1841-1886), Asa Brainard (1849-1904) and Wilbur Henry (the well known cattle artist, 1855-1897).  Asa was a self-employed Cooper who was fairly well off having a net worth of $3,500 in 1860 and $5,500 in 1870.

In 1870, Walter, then a cistern maker – was his dad’s only employee, in a business netting $1,200 annually.  He was also a volunteer fire fighter along with brother Asa (double click on the image to see a larger version):

1870 census


Walter’s sister Frances married a Bangor lumber tycoon, Carleton Sylvanus Bragg.  About 1870, the Bragg family and Walter’s brother Edwin moved to East Boston, Massachusetts where they started a lumber operation under the name Jones, Bragg and Lansil.  A year later, Asa P., Betsey, Walter, Wilbur and Asa B. followed, (Enoch died in 1843 at the age of 6).

The family initially boarded at 119 Webster.  Soon Asa Sr. and Edwin purchased a home together for $5,600 on Trenton, at the corner of Putnam (lot 169, sec 3).  The Braggs owned a home on White St., but by 1876 they join the family on Trenton.

A full listing of the Lansil clan, including daughter Fannie Bragg’s family in the 1880 census, Walter’s occupation was recorded as “Artist”:
 Walter was on his way to fame! A small sampling of some of the newspaper accounts of his activities:
Art Notes

Sadly, on 1 Nov 1880, Fannie’s husband Carleton passed away suddenly after being sick for just two days from apoplexy (sudden loss of consciousness, sensation, and voluntary motion). The following year, on 3 March 1881, Walter’s mother, Betsey Turner (Grout) Lansil, died of dropsey caused by scirrhus of the liver.

By 1882 the entire family was still living together but, had relocated to Dorchester (with widowed sister Fannie Bragg and her children), most likely due to changing demographics (incoming immigrants) in East Boston. Dorchester was still a primarily rural town and had a population of 12,000 when it was annexed to Boston in 1870. Railroad and streetcar lines brought rapid growth, increasing the population to 150,000 by 1920.

The 1882 through 1886 city directories indicate that perhaps Asa P. owned the home on Milton Avenue.  No entry was found in Suffolk County land indexes to support this – all of his sons and presumably the Braggs continued to reside in the same household.

Walter’s popularity continued to grow. Meanwhile, Coleman, Lewis & Co., a small wares company where Wilbur was a shipper for years, dissolved in late 1882. Wilbur decided on a career change and joined his brother as an artist.

The brothers applied for and received passports on 5 August 1884.

Walter Wilbur passports.png

Days later, they headed to Europe to study at the Académie Julian in Paris; family lore says Edwin funded their jaunts across the sea to study and paint; but it seems the funding was from Walter auctioning 122 pieces of his artwork, in May 1884 (see newspaper clipping below).


Walter auction

Walter Lansil

They remained great friends.


Lansil, a name with French origins (Lansell, Lansel, Lancle, Lancil, Lancel), is an unusual name during that time period.  So surname Google searches offer great results…unlike my Hall, Jones and Roberts surnames.

A recent Google search revealed that Walter had written a memoir of his journey to Venice:–walter-lansil-7859

The Boston Public Library’s Art department has a copy on microfilm.  There are two copies, handwritten.  In transcribing them, I tried to keep the same spelling, punctuation and capitalization that Walter used.  It seems that he kept notes of his journey, likely arriving in Venice early in 1885, and then wrote about them some 30 years later in 1914.  He was about 40 and brother Wilbur 30 when they began their journey.


A Trip to Venice

I had now been in Paris several months studying and as spring was approaching made arrangements to take a trip to Venice to make studies of the City that I had so long wished to see and had read so much about.

Accompanied by my Brother [Wilbur] we took our departure on a cold February day soon after a snow storm, something very unusual for Paris, buying our tickets to Turin Italy. The train starting at 6o’ck PM. Our companions consisting of two Gentlemen and two Ladies made up the party, as usual luck followed us as it generally had while travelling for one of the Gentlemen spoke English and it made the time pass pleasantly.

Late in the evening three of our party left us at a way Station our English speaking friend remaining.  The nights being intensely cold we were obliged to sit with our overcoats on and it was out of the question to sleep, there being no heat in the cars but we made the best of it. About midnight we stopped at a Small Station and the Conductor added one more to our number a French woman weighing nearly three hundred pounds having a large market basket on her arm.

The conductor had about all he could do to get her into the car. After she was seated a few minutes she took from her basket a large bottle of Wine and a loaf of bread and began to eat which she nearly accomplished before going to sleep and although large I very much doubt if she could have held much more and between her snoring and the cold it was almost more than we could stand but we were obliged to put up with it all through the night.

Our English friend was born on the Island of Malta his father was a Brittish G_____ his mother being a Maltese and a native of the Island.  He was a very interesting Man, had travelled a great deal had been to England on business and was now on his way home. He knew the Country we were travelling through by heart and his explanation of the different places was very interesting and helped to make the night pass more pleasantly.

The morning lights began to break and we now caught sight of the snow capped Alps which was one of the grandest sights I ever saw.  But one thing was striking and seemed to me careless,  that was the closeness the houses were built to the base of the cliffs the people seeming in no fear of their homes being crushed by the heavy Avalanches that roll down from the Mountains, Sometimes crushing whole Villages by the heavy weight of snow.

As we rode on the Alps became more and more plain to our view, the snow packed higher and higher and the Villages appearing on every side. The buildings built of stone and the Mountains seemed to be one solid mass.  As the sun arose it presented the most beautiful sight I ever beheld, at first it touched the snow clad hills presenting to our view a most beautiful effect with its brown dark foreground in shadow was in striking contrast to the scarlet tops.

It touched some very green trees almost at the Summit and added greatly to the beauty of the scene. The sky had shown a purple cast the earlier part of the morning and now was growing brighter every minute as we passed Village after Village. The smoke rising from the chimneys in the cool of the morning had a very curious effect.

We now began to pass through several tunnels taking from one to thirty minutes. At the entrance of one we found an Avalanche had descended a short time before delaying our train, seeming to be impossible for us to proceed but after some hours delay we were enabled to resume our journey. A small village was completely buried beneath the weight of the snow, only the chimneys and now and then broken spire (?) told where the village stood not a sign of life was about and very few people could be seen about the ruins.

We were now approaching the Grape Country of Italy. The Lou Valleys [Loire, Valley?]and far up the Mountainsides were covered with thousands of acres of Grape Vines reaching as far as the eye could see looked like a great net thrown over the country. Old Forts and Castles were passed on every h____, relics of bygone days.

One in particular not far away nesting among the hills showing out amongst the brown dead grass of the passing year was very impressive, but the grandest and most beautiful of all we had seen came as we swung around the mountainside and saw an old Stone Castle standing high above the Valley in the dark grass against the snow covered sides of Majestic Old Mont Blanc in the sunlight was seen, I can assure you, a sight of such surpassing loveliness which once seen could never be forgotten.

We could now see thousands of feet down the Valley in the cool soft morning light Sta___ Farmers plowing in the fields. It begins to grow warm as we are nearing the end of our journey.  We arrived at Turin at about 1:30 PM and remained there about 4 hours which gave us time to go about and see the city and its beautiful buildings.

We took the train for Venice at 5:45PM. Stopped at Milan a short time.

Our English-Maltese friend one of the most genial and interesting travelling companions I ever met, a real jovial good fellow left us here and it was feelings of sadness that we bid him goodbye. We were found here by the Italian from New York who spoke a little English and with whats French I could mutter we managed to carry on a pleasant conversation for a few hours, he left just before we reached Venice which was about 5 o’clock in the morning, cold and very tired. It had rained hard during the night and everything was cold, damp and dreary. Few people were stirring and the city looked gloomy and deserted.

After our baggage was examined we took a Gondola for our destination.

We were now in Venice. Not indeed the charming Venice that we expected to see painted by artists and praised by poets the mention of which sends a thrill through every human soul that loves the beautiful in art and nature, but a dark and dreary dismal city. Fog settled all around the buildings and to say the least we were sadly disappointed by our first impression of the fair bity of Venice for it was anything but pleasant.

After settling a dispute with three Gondoliers each claiming I had employed him. I soon adjusted matters by cutting the number down to one I had hired – The others soon left disgusted and beaten and we went on our way down the Grand Canal passing old and beautiful Palaces on every hand, Towers rising high in the morning mist, Many Picturesque and Ornamental Bridges the stillness only broken by the Boatman’s cry as he turned the corner of some Canal or the splash of the oar as we paddled on.

We finally arrived at our Hotel and after presenting our letters found we could not get accommodations as every room was engaged. We employed a man to carry our Baggage and started for the Grand Canal and found a Gondola ready to cross. There were a few men in it and fearing to have the same trouble I had at the Depot, I told them that one man was enough to carry us over, and refused to start until all but one got out, they had a good laugh after talking it over, one who could speak some English informed us that it was a ferry boat and they were passengers, so I said nothing but got aboard and soon was across the Canal. I had been using a Guide Book and found it was not quite reliable and shut it up.

We crossed St Marks Square to the Piazzetta and before us we beheld the Palace of the Dodges [Doge’s Palace]. The Sun was just arising above a thick bank of mist and throwing a shimmering light across the waters of the Lagoon and through the dark arches of the Ducal Palace [Doge’s Palace in Italian is Palazzo Ducale]. One solitary figure with a heavy cloak thrown around him was pacing backward and forward between the columns of St Mark and St Theodore. Everything seemed to be deserted and reminded me very much of “Turners” Painting of Ancient Italy memories of bye gone days. It was an impressive Scene and I fully realized that I was in Venice and that our Journey was over. 

After a couple of days rest we located in a Cosy [cozy ?] Hotel over a Palace having a larger Studio well suited to our purpose situated at the entrance of the “Grand Canal” and near the “Santa Maria del Saluta” [Santa Maria della Salute] which sits on land once owned by the “Crusaders” in ancient days. It was kept by a man of the old School who Spoke English fluently and had seen better days but now living on past glory who loved to tell of the deeds done by his ancestors. He had no particular admiration for a man that was poor and in referring to such a person would say yes : he is a good fellow but he has no money : – He and his wife who was a German woman did everything they possibly could to make our stay comfortable and pleasant.

The View from the Hotel down the Grand Canal was superb far out on the waters of the “Adriatic”. Ships of many nations lay at Auchan (?) and the beautiful sails of the Fishing Boats reflecting their Colours in the blue waters of the Harbor was a scene of beauty I can never forget.

To anyone visiting Venice his stay would not be complete without sailing up the Grand Canal in one of its very beautiful Gondolas more particularly on a bright moonlight summer night. The scene is most delightful when the Canal is througed (?) with Boats and the Sweetest Music floats far away over the waters of the dark Lagoon to the waters of the Adriatic until long after midnight.

Venice is a most interesting City lying two and a half miles from the Main land in the Lagoon a shallow part of the Adriatic Sea. It is about 25 miles long and 9 miles wide, a short time ago there were Fifteen Thousand Palaces and Houses on the three large and one hundred and fourteen small islands comprising the Ancient City joined by one hundred + fifty canals spanned by three hundred and seventy eight Bridges of stones and over 200 miles in circumference.

The population which at one time was fully 200,000 dwindled down to 96,000 after its dissolution as an independent State in 1797 and 40 to 50 years ago its population had increased to 133,000 of which one fourth were said to be Paupers –

Venice is considered to be one of the greatest Sea Ports of the Adriatic. Ships of England, Greece, Turkey, Holland and other Nations find a Harbor here on their way to and from India and other Ports and the great number of sailing vessels large and small sailing between Italian and other ports help to make up the mass of shipping whose tall masts towering against the beautiful “Santa Maria del Saluta” make a most beautiful picture which one will long remember.

The Fishing Boats long the pride of Venice are now missed from their moorings at the Public Gardens where they used to lay in groups their beautiful colored sails reflecting great masses of color and the Picturesque Costumes of the Fisherman mingled with the deep greenish waters of the Lagoon under a Cerulion [Cerulean] Sky of blue made a picture of beauty. But one by one they have departed until very few remain in Venice.  They have gone to the little Island of Chiogga [Chioggia] an ancient city founded about the same period as Venice.  The Inhabitants have always differed materially in Language and Customs from the Inhabitants of the Lagoon District. This is a great Fishing Port and one of the Most Picturesque Islands in the Adriatic Sea and interesting and Valuable Sketching ground much admired and frequented by Artists.

The Grand Canal the Main Artery of Venice is nearly 2 miles in length varying from 38 to 66 yards in width curving around in shape like the letter S. Many gondolas and other small boats are moving in all directions making a scene of activity and beauty. Lately the Grand Canal is undergoing many changes. Tall Modern buildings are being erected taking the places of Old and Ancient Palaces which were once the Pride of the City.  Motor Boats are also seen mooring about and the real charm of Venice is fast disappearing. Here handsome and Magnificent Palaces rise above the water for this is the Streets (water streets) of the old aristocracy of Venice. Far up the Grand Canal is the Rialto the oldest Bridge connecting the old and new Venice and near it the Fish Market one of the most interesting spots on the Canal. The Rialto built in 1588-1591 by Antonio di Ponte is 158 feet long and 46 feet wide with a single marble arch 74 feet span and 32 feet in height resting on 12,000 piles.

Friday is the great Fish Market day in Venice when the market is abundantly supplied. I was very fortunate in securing for my Gondolier a faithful loyal grand old man who has seen much of the world one who had fought under Garibaldi in his many campaigns, his anecdotes and stories of that great leader which he almost worshipped were very interesting and he used to beg me to allow him to wear his Garibaldi Shirt of Red when on his trips with me. He was very proud of that “Red Shirt”.

I found the people very kind considerate and hospitable ready to do you a favor at all times. They are great home bodys. Very seldom leave homes, I doubt that you can find a Venetian in Boston today. The Italians who come here are from the Bay of Naples, Sicily, Syria and other sections of Italy. Many of them from the lower and most undesirable class.

I will tell you how considerate they are. I was sitting one morning painting a group of boats at the Public Gardens there was hardly a breath of air not enough to make a ripple on the water when I discovered a small steamer approaching towing a number of barges filled with men who were singing and cheering at the top of their lungs. As they came in the direction in which I was at work I saw they were government troops on their way to the fortifications. As they came nearer and first before they had reached me one of the Officers standing on the docks of the Steamer raised his sword and gave an order. Suddenly the Engine stopped, the noise ceased and they floated by me without a Rufyls [? can’t read word]. After passing a short distance the officer again raised his sword gave an order, the engine started up and bedlam was let loose. I saluted them. The steamers returned it with 3 whistles and the men cheered until they were far down the Bay. They were very careful not to disturb me at my work and that is the respect and consideration they show to Visitors especially Artists.

At another time while sketching near the Dorgano or Custom House a large schooner came drifting in near where I was. The Captain entered into conversation with my Gondolier I enquired what the Captain wanted and was told that he wished to know how long before I would be through as he wanted to come in where I was and make fast, I told him to come in as it would not interfere with me, but he would not until I had moved away which I did and then returned and finished my sketch and was shown every attention that they could give me and I found that was characteristic of the people in general wherever I came in contact with them.

At the extremity of Venice are the Public Gardens laid out by Napoleon in 1807 who demolished several monasteries to be able to abtain space to build them using the _____ from the monasteries in their construction. They are almost 900 feet long and 300 feet wide planted with rows of Acacia, Sycamore and other shrubs.

The grounds afford full views of the City and the Lagoon just at sundown when the Venetian Chimes send their inspiring music far out on the waters from this City of the Sea the effect from these Gardens is out of great splendor and great enjoyment.

Below the Gardens and at the lower entrance of the Lagoon is the Lido or bathing place of the City a beautiful sandy beach running far along the shore reaching out into the sea reminding me somewhat of our own Revere Beach with Nahant in the distance.

Thatched huts are scattered every little way apart which are occupied by government soldiers who are daily on the watch for smugglers or anyone who break the laws. They are a fine class of men and are always ready and willing to impart information on any subject you desire. It is a beautiful place to spend the day and the view is perfectly lovely.

But Venice is not always the Same. It has its drawbacks and troubles as well as its joys and beauties as has all places.

I once witnessed a riot at the entrance of the Grand Canal one morning as I started out to work. As we reached the “Santa Marie del Saluta”. We found the Canal crowded with hundreds of boats blocking the entrances men and women had congregated on the Quay and were shouting and cheering at the top of their voices. They were destroying the Gondolas belonging to the Hotels going from one to another until all were destroyed.  The Hotel Proprietors had put on their own Gondolas and cut into the business of the regular Gondoliers.

Hence the riot and the destruction of the Hotel Keepers Gondolas some of which cost as high as 500 dollars each, one having 1500.00 Dollars and took the first prize at Vienna. Now I saw a crowd of gatherers at the Palace of the Dodges and coming from the Piazzetta as it came near I found it was the Mayor and a body of Gendarmes.  He had a wide red sash across his breast and came within a short distance of where we were. He stood and read the “Riot Act” then gave orders to arrest the leaders about a dozen or more. The Officers drew their swords and ordered them to surrender. One of the Gendarmes placed his gun near a leaders head who unbuttoned his shirt placed his bare chest against the nozzle shook his hand in the Gendarmes face and dared him to fire.  It was the most dramatic thing I ever saw. I tried to get out but was so blocked up found it impossible to do so. The leaders soon gave up and under escort went ashore where they were tried and fined 400 dollars each and sent to jail for 15 days they served their sentences but the fines were never paid. The day they were liberated the City was draped in color and a general holiday and procession took place led by a band and escorted by hundreds of boats up and down the “Grand Canal” and the celebration was kept up long after midnight. The Gondoliers Won!

My work from day to day was somewhat varied and nearly every morning as early as 5 o’ck I was on my way to study and sketch the beautiful sunrise effects as the [sun] cast their golden lights across the dark waters of the Lagoon and touched the tops of the many Palaces and Domes that rise above the White City the “Queen of the Adriatic”.

One of the pleasantest sails is up the “Giudecca Canal” the shipping port of Venice.  A very wide and long Canal the largest ships of all descriptions lay at anchor. Leaving we pass out and by the oldest and most ancient Palaces beautiful in their day, but now only memories of the past. They are also occupied by Fisherman and it is known as the fishery section of the Island of  Giudecca. Pass the churches of the Redentore and St Sebastian which contain some of the Master pieces of Italy and beneath the latter reprose the dust of Paul Veroneso + passing out from the Canal a short distance and we get a broad view of Mont Eugenia with its Snow capped peaks 50 to 75 miles away and in clear weather can be seen very plainly.

In retracing our way back in the afternoon as the sun is going down we now see the City in its beautiful golden lights bathed in a warm creamy haze St George’s like a beacon in the Sea with its reddish tower and dome sitting alone in the harbor once belonging to a supposed Benedictine Monastery and now used as an “Artillery Barrack”. Here the morning, noon and evening gun, is fired.  The building was cornered in 1560 and finished about 1575. We now meet the boats from Genoa and Trieste and Fisherman from the Adriatic returning at night with their beautiful Lateen Sails, ornamented prowes and weather beaten Sailors, The Ancient “Palace of the Dodges” with its Campanile rising far over the Piazzetta, its Bridge of Sighs and its prison Gondolas drawn up in line at its base and its colored striped ports all reflects its colors in the Bay and its many Islands stretching far out to sea, the distant Island of Murano where is manufactured the finest Glassware in the world, sold in every land.

The Santo Maria del Saluto with its rich appearance is also a picture one must see to appreciate. A great event took place shortly before I came away, which I would not have missed for anything. A Fete (?) Day when Venice was seen in all its glory in honor of the King.

Preparations had been going on for several days and now all was ready for the great affair.  The Harbor was full of shipping everything draped in the National Colors and every bit of color that could possibly be displayed was thrown from windows. Spires and every available spot which could be used. The people dressed in rich and gaudy dress, scarfs, tablecloths, handkerchiefs were hung from the windows of the Grand Canal. Till the whole City looked like one Massive Bouquet, Gondolas were moving in all directions with their rich colored brilliant suits. Guns were fired to greet the morning Sun as it rose far out over the Lido and threw its light over the Magnificent Scene and and contributing its quota of homage and beauty to the occasion. All is bustle and gaiety. A Fairy Pageant. A Floating Caravan. A City of Poetic fervor and Artistic Splendor. Allowing the fervor of its Patriotism and love of Country to express itself in honor of its King.

It was a reminder of the Ancient Splendor and power of days long past.  They are gone but much of the beauty still remains. All day and far into the night the gaiety was kept up and as the sun sank to rest in all its splendor behind the Domes of the “Santa Marie del Saluto” I could not help feeling the decay of Venice notwithstanding all its beauty and magnificence.

We had been here nearly a year and had seen Venice in its various moods + had seen it in gloom and grandeur. We had seen its Marble Palaces and its Antique Buildings, Trod its Marble Halls and Streets, Sailed over its Canals and Waterays, Visited its Ancient Churches. Studied the works the great Masters, its Titian, Tiutoretta, Ver__ese(?) Georges and many many Painters of Ancient days.

We crossed the Marble Bridge of Sighs and Visited the Palace of the Dodges. That Magnificient Structure on the west side 246 feet in length on the South 234 feet covering over 1 ¼ acres of land.  It was founded in the year 800 and was destroyed Five times and as often rebuilt. It is flau_ed (?) by two Colonades on its West +South 107 columns and 36 below and 71 above and beneath its roof the east room Tintoretto’s Paradise claimed to be the largest Oil Painting ever attempted it is 84 feet long and 34 feet high. Pronounced by the great Ruskin to be the most precious thing that Venice possesses.

We had visited the gloomy Dungeons and beheld  its Ancient Cruel Instruments of Torture which tells a sad story of bygone days.  We had climbed the tall stairway of the Campanilo 322 feet high finished in 911, restored several times completed in 1511 and had gazed upon the magnificent view stretched out before us. The distant Alps and Adriatic. To the West Mont Eugene near Padua rising above the Lagoon, eats in the clear weather can be seen the Istrian Mountains rising above the Adriatic Sea. A truly magnificent Spectacle approaching Sunset and last but not least the beautiful soft, warm, tender, Italian Skies. And I look back with fond and grateful remembrance of Happy and instructive days I passed in the far, famed and beautiful City of Venice regretting only that I find it impossible by Tongue or Pen to describe its history or its beauty.

We made many friends there. Artists, Writers, Musicians and Many others who all seemed imbued with its Poetic beauty and Hospitality and which was very decidedly manifested in their lives and conversations.

And after bidding them a regretful Farewell we took our departure with a Cherished Consolation “That a person never goes to Venice the first time but once” And as Lord Byron says: –

Those days are gone – but beauty still is here

States fall, Arts fade – but Nature does not die

Nor yet forget how Venice once was dear

The pleasant place of all festivity

The rest of the earth the Mosque of Italy

I loved her from my boyhood. She to me

Was as a fairy City of the hearts

Rising like Water Columns from the Sea

Of Joy the Sojourn and of wealth the Mart

Walter F Lansil – February 1914



On September 11, 1886 Walter purchased the home at 101 Maxwell Street (lots 8 & 10, sect. 3 – 9,880 square feet of land or about 2 ¼ acres) for $3,700, taking out a mortgage from S. Pickney Holbrook of $2,800 so he had returned by that date. The Lansil’s continued to live together Wilbur, Walter and Asa never married.  Edwin married young Jane Catherine Roberts of Llanfairfechan and had 3 girls who lived to adulthood (2 other children died very young).  Edwin purchased the Maxwell Street home from Walter a few years later.

While he never seemed to gain as much fame as Walter, articles about Wilbur began to appear in local papers. A small sampling below:LansiWilburl

Wilbur biowilbur paintings

Walter & Wilbur joined The Lodge of Eleusis – Freemasonry – It was designed to bring together young college trained men in fraternal compact who had a sincere desire to put behind them the horrors of war and the misgivings incident to human conflict, that they might commune again as brothers, citizens, and good neighbors in an era of peace.

Their records say, “Two other Brethren artists were Wor. Walter Lansill (master 1892, 1893) and Wilbur Lansill. Wilbur died in office as senior warden. Walter lived to a ripe old age and was the sodality insructor who saw to it that young officers became proficient in their work. He was in active service up to a few weeks before his decease. His paintings on modern city life won the acclaim of the critics and some of them sold for large amounts”

Walter was a bit of a genealogist himself as he and Wilbur also became members of the Son’s of the American Revolution.

Just a snippet of their lives.

Wilbur passed away 26 Jun 1897 at the age of 42 in Dorchester of Phthisis (abt 3 years). Inez J. E. Dresser is named in his will:

wilbur probate

Wilbur left the remainder of his estate to his brother Walter.  In the event that Walter was not living, everything was to go to his 3 nieces: Florence May Bragg, Frances May Lansil and Edith Bernice Lansil (his niece Doris Lansil was born after his death).  Walter was named as executor, Henry Howard Dresser was the named alternate if Walter does not survive him. There was no mention of Edwin, Asa B. or his Bragg nephews Edwin & Fredrick, all of whom were living.

A frail Walter died 22 Jan 1925 in Milton, Massachusetts of Pneumonia (double) at the age of 78 Years 9 months 23 days, while living with his niece.

Both are buried with their parents at Mount Hope Cemetery in Bangor in an unmarked grave Lot 407CG.

Lansil plot

For more about Walter, see this Google book article written when Walter was age 42 (likely accurate since he was interviewed by the author):

Lansil pictures.png

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