This week I traveled to California to meet my third cousin, once removed, Catherine, and her 92 year old mom, Peggy. Peggy’s husband, Ralph Stevens, was a nephew of my gg-grandfather, William John Haines, through his sister, Mary (Haines) Stevens.
In the 1970’s Peggy and Ralph discovered their love of genealogy. They typed hundreds of letters, read through microfilms, ordered documents, placed ads in magazines seeking cousins and visited libraries, cemeteries and ancestral homes. They never used a computer. Ever.
Through ads, they connected with my Aunt Natalie, our family genealogist, in 1978. The pair became long distance cousin-friends sharing not only genealogy, but children’s accomplishments, life’s challenges, Christmas cards and ultimately of the death of Natalie’s husband Ed in 1984. Ralph passed in 1990 and Peggy found the hobby now lonely, without a partner to share discoveries. She hasn’t revisited their work in 25 years.
Over the years, Ralph, Peggy and Catherine corresponded with loads of cousins. Apparently I was the first to visit! I had a wonderful stay and loved hearing family stories, sharing meals, seeing artifacts and meeting the cats; I believe we will become cousin-friends too.
They shared over 1,800 documents! No that’s not a typo – I scanned 1,800 letters and photos in two days! There was more. I ran out of time. I estimate that it will take me over 500 hours to go through what they have generously shared.
My Aunt Natalie had a few brick walls. One of her biggest? She was unable to identify the parents of Alice Edith Childs, wife of John Hains/Haynes, my 3rd g-grandmother.
I haven’t uncovered a document that names Alice Edith Childs parents, but indirect evidence, when correlated, appears to point to Joseph Childs of England and Jannet Dunn of Dumfriesshire, Scotland – as discussed in a previous blog post – click here to read
Although also indirect evidence, a letter in the Stevens’ files from Jessie (Dunn) Allan written to Ralph’s grandmother Mary (Haines) Stevens definitively points to our Childs/Dunn connection:
56 Williams St.
Feb. 22, 25
Dear Mrs Stevens,
I remember you very well indeed when you used to come to our old home in Harcourt and have often wondered where you were now living.
I have before me a letter from you to my cousin Robert Richardson (who died in June 1922).
His wife gave me the letter some months ago, I said I would write you, as she was not well, and with a great deal of care on her mind since my cousin’s death.
And I am ashamed that so long a time has gone by without my having written, my life is a busy one, but that is not sufficient excuse. I should have taken time for it and am really sorry for my neglect.
In reply to your enquiry as of the purpose of his trip to Scotland, it was not his mother’s family’s money that he inherited.
It was his share of his father’s, the Richardson estate which he came into when he came of age, and that was the business which took him there.
There has never been any of the Dunn estate come to any of the heirs. We have always understood that there was some property held be the crown, but no one of the connection has ever been able to find out anything very definite about it. In these unclaimed estate cases there is always so much expense, and so much red tape in order to prove claims, that it is a weighty undertaking and no one ever had the necessary means to spend on it.
Your uncle, Robert Childs, made an effort, I believe, I remember that he wanted the heirs to contribute to a fund to send someone over, but it never came to anything. However it seems that he made the trip on his own resources some time later (so I was told by Myra Quint McLean, who visited us eight years ago) but he did not get anything by it.
Myra could tell you more than I could, really did not think much more about it never having attached much importance to it as those old country fortunes are usually so hard to materialize. Myra was living in Spokane when I last heard of her in poor health. I do not know her address but I think I might be able to get it for you through some of the Christy connection as John Christy’s widow and son live somewhere near there I think.
Or there is a Mrs McMillan (I think that is the name) living in Vancouver who may know something about Robert Childs trip to Scotland. She is your first cousin, a daughter of Alex Morton.
Well now, that is about all that I know to tell you and it is not of very much encouragement is it.
We have a baby photograph of one of your daughters, Edith, sent us in the days when you lived in Marquette.
My old home was broken up years ago, after my father’s death in 1909.
We passed through much sorrow in a few years. My sister Mariela died in 1907, my father in 1909. Mariela’s only child, a young man, in 1910 and my sister Isabel in 1911. Isabel left a son he is working in the Government Railway Offices here. Isabel’s husband and I were married four years ago. And we with Gilchrist, the son, have been living here for three years. My mother lived to be nearly eighty nine and enjoyed good health up to the last year of her life.
My brother Stephen has four children, all married except for the youngest who teaches in Winnipeg. Last summer she went on the Teachers Exchange and has been teaching in London, England. Since then she will soon be coming home now as the exchange is just for the year. Her Christmas holidays were spent in Italy so she is seeing something of the world.
Now, I must close this lengthy epistle and hope it finds you in good health, I should be please to hear from you at any time and would try to do better in replying than I have this time.
With kind remembrance I am yours affectionately,
Jessie Dunn Allan
People Named in the Letter
Particulars of folks named in the letter, further corroborate this Childs/Dunn presumption:
Jessie [Payne] Dunn Allan, writer of the letter, names her parents as Andrew Dunn and Jane Quint, when she marries George Howe Allan in 1921.
Andrew Dunn’s obituary (dated 1909) lists his parents as Robert Dunn and Janet Armstrong. Robert Dunn (see my earlier referenced blog post) is likely the brother or cousin of Jannet (Dunn) Childs.
Robert, named as Mary’s uncle in the letter, appears in the 1861 censuses with his likely parents Joseph and Janet Childs. Mary Haines, granddaughter, resides with them. They were enumerated in Richibucto, Kent, New Brunswick (http://tinyurl.com/lltgpj9).
The household is as follows:
Joseph Childs 72
Janet Childs 64
Nicholas Childs 25
Robert Childs 16
Mary Haines 7
Mary (Haines) Stevens kept a diary [transcribed and published by her grandson Ralph Stevens and his wife Peggy] recording events of the three year period (1880-1883) she was employed by Mrs. Richard H. Dana of Boston . Mrs Dana was the former Edith Longfellow, daughter of Professor Henry Wadsworth Longfellow of Cambridge. Mary was nurse to Edith’s two sons Dicky and Harry. Mary wrote frequently of her family..
She mentions the following:
- Visiting her Aunt Mrs Morton at Restigonche Bay – she later names Aunt Mary & cousin Janet Morton.
- Doing the old mill walk April 24 1880 with cousin Jenny Morton (same dates she was in Restigonche Bay)
The 1881 census of Restigonche lists the following Morton family (http://tinyurl.com/kns345p):
Alexander Morton 59
Mary Morton 47
Annie Morton 25
Janet Morton 19
Lizzie Morton 11
Edith Morton 6
William Morton 30
Robert Morton 28
David Morton 21
Angus Morton 17
Joseph Morton 14
Mary Morton’s maiden name in a number of online unsourced trees is listed as Childs.
Myra Quint McLean
A Mary Ann Haines of the same age as our “Mary” in 1871 is found living in Chipman, Queens County, New Brunswick with a Quint family. Household members include 2 year old Myra (http://tinyurl.com/nxh98or):
Anson Quint 47
Henry D Quint 36
Euphemia Quint 40
Anson Quint 3
Myra Helen Quint 2
Robert B Quint 6 months
Mary Ann Haynes
Further research reveals that Euphemia Quint’s maiden name was Childs. In 1861, a 30 year Euphemia (indexed as Uphemy) Childs is found living in Harcourt, Kent, New Brunswick with a 60 year old Robert Dunn (http://tinyurl.com/kl847mq).
Robert’s death certificate (dated 1922) reveals that Robert’s middle name is Dunn. His mother was Margaret Dunn, likely a daughter to Robert Dunn, thus as she indicates, a cousin to Jessie Dunn Allan.
So there you have it! Off to add all these folks to my tree and read through more documents!