Archive for the ‘Roberts of Llanfair Fechan’ Category

52 Ancestors Week #29 – Update of “The Insane”

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.”


In week # 24, I wrote of Jane Catherine (Roberts) Lansil, my g-g-grandmother of Lanfairfechan, Wales: Week #24


The previous week #23, I had written of her husband, my g-g-grandfather Edwin Lansil: Week #23

b78d6966-0ac5-4c1b-b14a-fe25bce6d589 (1)

Both spent time and died in the Boston Insane Hospital. I was interested to know more. Asylum records are closed in Massachusetts forever. Yes, forever!  The state will release medical records if you (essentially) sue them or if you are named as the deceased’s estate administrator in probate court (assuming the deceased did not already have an estate that was settled through probate, which they did not). From William Bailey, Director of Privacy & Compliance, Department of Mental Health, 25 Staniford Street, Boston , MA 02114. (617) 626-8163 :

“Unfortunately, due to privacy law constraints imposed upon DMH by federal and state laws and regulations, including but not limited to so-called HIPAA laws, DMH can only release Protected Health Information [PHI] regarding its clients under very limited circumstances. DMH cannot even confirm whether an individual ever received DMH services unless those circumstances are satisfied.

For a deceased client or patient, DMH may only release records pursuant to a valid Court Order or upon written authorization from the client’s Executor or Administrator of the client’s estate. This is true even for very old records. Also, even if there was a Court Order or Probate Court authorization available, it is possible that any records from 1991 and prior (if they even existed in the first place) may have been lawfully destroyed. State regulations permit the destruction of impatient records older than twenty (20) years old.

Accordingly, we are unable to provide the information you requested. Although you may seek court authority, by Court Order or Probate appointment, to request those records, it is possible that such records did not exist or were lawfully destroyed. DMH is not permitted to advise you in advance of a Court Order or Probate appointment whether any records can be located”

The lawyer with whom I consulted, quoted $1,600 ($800 of which is the fee to file in probate court – $400 for each filing). Unless I go through the costly process to be named the estate administrator, it is illegal for the hospital who holds the records to look in their file cabinet (or boxes in the basement) to tell me if records exist!  Thus, a large expense that may reveal nothing.

I was hoping to gain further information through the Freedom of Information Act and had written several (to date, unanswered) letters to my State Representative, Dan Ryan. Bill Bailey did respond:

I respect the concern and frustration that you have articulated in your letter.  However, rest assured that the only legal way that DMH may release these records to you is upon receipt of a valid Court Order, or upon the authorization of a person duly appointed by a Probate Court as Administrator or Administrator.

Massachusetts state law specifically prohibits release of DMH medical records states (except in specific circumstances not present here), “notwithstanding any other provision of law.”   See Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 123, Section 36. 

Under the Freedom of Information Act and the state Public Records Law, DMH records are not “public records” and accordingly these laws do not serve as a basis for release. do not apply to “non-public records” in any event, and cannot be invoked to obtain otherwise protected private records.  Chapter 123, Section 36 specifically notes that DMH inpatient records “are private and not open to public inspection….”

In addition, the statute that you invoke, asking that the hospital treat you as Executor/Administrator, does not actually grant that authority.  Rather, on a very limited basis, it allows the hospital to liquidate estate assets as if the hospital were the Executor/Administrator (without ever becoming appointed by the Probate Court).  DMH does not have any authority to release records under this law, and most certainly does not have the ability to transfer its limited authority under this statute to third parties.  The ability to authorize release of records as the personal representative of a deceased client is limited to an appointment by the Probate Court.

DMH is bound by the current law; it cannot release records by any other means.  This may seem unfair or burdensome, especially for older records.  But the needs of our particular client population to always consult freely and openly with their mental health care providers — without fear that the sensitive nature of their histories and diagnoses might one day be revealed without their permission — has very practical relevance.

I am sorry that I cannot be more helpful in responding to your request.

I did find the Hospital’s asylum intake records on microfilm at the Family History Library (for $7.50, I ordered the films and had them delivered to NEHGS in Boston for viewing).

FHL insane

intake records

Edwin was admitted 20 Nov 1903 and remained there until his death 11 July 1904 of “Exhaustion of Senile Insanity”.

Jane Catherine was first admitted 26 July 1897 and discharged 22 February 1898.

She was again admitted 23 March 1907, no death is noted, as the record book only dates to 1907; her death certificate indicates that she died there, 25 years later on 30 May 1932.

The admittances were through “Prob” (probate).

This confused me.  I had previously searched through the Suffolk County probate indexes and found nothing. I consulted with Rhonda McClure, at NEHGS, who suggested that they may be recorded in a different probate book vs. those referenced in the probate court indices and suggested I contact Elizabeth Bouvier, Head of Archives, MA Supreme Judicial Court,

Elizabeth’s initial response (within an hour of my inquiry), 3 July 2014 : “There are Suffolk County Probate Commitment records ; however, the index to the records was not located  as of 1986 when the records were moved from the Court to an offsite storage center.  The records are organized by case number and year. It may be awhile before you hear back from my office as to whether we can locate any records for your relatives”.

Two weeks later, 17 July 2014, Elizabeth emailed again: “For copies of the two records send $5.00 cash or check (payable: Commonwealth of MA) and a SASEnvelope sufficient to hold ten pieces of paper To: ARCHIVES, 3 Pemberton Sq., 16th Fl.  Boston, MA 02108-1701”

On Friday, 25 July 2014, the documents arrived! Shout out to Elizabeth and her team!  They are amazing!  This is the third time in the past several years that I asked for assistance and the third time that I have gotten almost instantaneous results!

Application for the Commitment for the Insane:
20 November 1903

White male, age 65, born Bangor, ME, occupation: surveyor, married.

He had no previous attacks; the present attack started one year ago, the attack was gradual and he has not previously been in an asylum.  His bodily condition is poor, likely due to an injury related to a fall in 1901.  The patient is “cleanly in dress and personal habits”.  

He is demented, restless, incoherent and destructive.  He had an insane father [wow! so Asa Paine Lansil was also insane at some point!].  His liquor, tobacco and opium habits are “good”.

Nearest relative: Wife, Jane C., 101 Maxwell St., Dorchester

Medical Certificate of Insanity: 
20 November 1903

He said: I began as long ago as got into. He talked very incoherently.

he said

The patient: Ate flour with a knife – kept walking about handling things. He was not properly dressed.

 His appearance and manner was: demented, incoherent, destructive.

Other facts: He has been failing mentally for some time. He is very restless, confused and at times violent and destructive [did he hurt his wife and/or children?].

Jane Catherine
Application for the Commitment for the Insane:
23 March 1907

White female, age 44, born Wales, occupation: housework

She had one previous attack, the present attack began 2 weeks ago.

She was at the Boston Ins. Hospital July 26, 1897 [does not specify if this is an admittance or discharge date].

The present attack was gradual; her bodily condition is fair. It is unknown if she has had previous physical injuries. The patient is “cleanly in dress and personal habits”.  She is depressed, deluded, possibly suicidal. There is no prior known family history of insanity.  Her liquor, tobacco and opium habits are “good”.

Nearest relative: Daughter, Mrs. Edward J. Thompson, Hiawatha Road, Mattapan

Medical Certificate of Insanity: 
23 March 1907
The patient said: “I feel alright. I feel as well as I ever did. I thought people had been stealing from me. To-day is Wednesday.  I don’t play cards – no need of it. I don’t want you to feel my pulse! I ____ there is no need of ____” [couldn’t read a few words].

The patient: Sat in chair; resisted being examined, hesitated in answering questions, and some questions would not answer at all. 

Her appearance and manner was: dull and confused. Untidy in appearance. Appears just as she did when insane before. 

Other facts: She was insane and a patient at Boston Insane Hospital in 1897. Since last August she has imagined people stealing from her. She was depressed and irritable. Has become worse the past few days. Is dull, confused, talks out of the window to people on the street. Sings at times and expresses various incoherent delusions. Obstinate and hard to manage.

So sad for their children.  Fanny was ten and Edith (my g-grandmother) only nine, the first time their mother entered the asylum in 1897.

Their father’s only sister was deceased; the girls resided with their father’s three bachelor brothers – Walter, Wilbur and Asa B.  Two of whom were traveling artists and another who was an alcoholic.  Their mother sisters were in Wales and Chicago. One grandmother was in Wales, the other deceased.

Florence May Bragg (b. 1868), their cousin who was taken in by the Lansil bachelor’s when their sister Francis Ellen “Fanny” (1841-1886) and her husband Carleton Sylvanus Bragg (1838-1880) died, seemingly the only woman in their lives, likely helped raise Fanny and Edith.


Jane Catherine lost two children, 9 month old Florence Paine in 1891 and Edwin Roberts at just 9 days old in 1894. Did it cause her depression/insanity?  Jane and Edwin’s youngest daughter Doris was born in 1899, two years after Jane’s was initially declared insane. Edwin died in 1903 when she was just four; Doris then lost her mother to “insanity” at age eight and was raised by her twenty year old sister Fanny.

Edmund may have had dementia and Jane Catherine schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or another type of mood disorder like clinical depression which today could be controlled by medication, offering her a normal life.

Photocopies of the documents:

2014-07-28 15.13.40 2014-07-28 15.14.10 2014-07-28 15.14.26 2014-07-28 15.14.34 2014-07-28 15.14.45 2014-07-28 15.14.52 2014-07-28 15.15.12 2014-07-28 15.15.25 2014-07-28 15.15.38 2014-07-28 15.15.45 2014-07-28 15.15.55 2014-07-28 15.16.01

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!?!?

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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 #25 – Probate of David Roberts of Llwynysgolog, Llanfairfechan, Wales

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.”


Last week I wrote of my ancestor Jane Catherine Roberts, of Llanfairfechan, Wales ( and mentioned her maternal grandfather, David Roberts born in Gyffyn, Wales (“GYFFIN, a parish in the hundred of Isaf, county Carnarvon, 2 miles from Conway. The parish, which is of considerable extent, containing five townships, is situated near the river Conway”, From The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland, 1868).


His baptism has not been located; he married Anne Roberts on 18 April 1821 in Llanfairfechan.


He died on Whitsun Monday 1834, a legal holiday in Wales (the day after Whitsunday, the Christian festival of Pentacost, the seventh Sunday after Easter, which commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ’s disciples).

David was buried on 22 May 1834 at about the age of 47.

Very little is known of his life.  He was a farmer and resided in a home called Llwynysgolog, a farm of about 80 acres.  He had a will dated 22 April 1834 (about a month prior to his death) which names his four children and assigns their guardians; one being his brother, William Roberts of a home called Llwydfaen in Llanbedr.  The full document can be seen here: probate David Roberts 1835


death d roberts

The inventory list gives us a small glimpse of his life and an idea of what type of farm he may have run.  Value of his assets were  £386 (or about $17,765 in 2014 buying power).

A True and Perfect Inventory of the Personal Estate Viz the Goods Chattels Household Furniture be of David Roberts of Llwynysgolog in the Parish of Llanfair fechan in the County of Caernarvon Farmer lately Deceased.

Viz 6 Milk Cows    31.0.0 31.0.0
1 Bull 4.0.0
2 Oxen 3 years old at 5 a head 10.0.0
7 Runts 2 years old at 4 a head 20.0.0
5 Yearlings at 2 10 a head 12.10.0
4 Calves at 15/ ahead 3.0.0
250 Small sheep at 10/ ahead 125.0.0
2 Team Horses 13.10.0
6 Mountain Ponies 25.0.0
7 Store Pigs at 25/6 8.17.0
1 Cow and Litter 3.6.0
Old Carts, Ploughs, Harrows, Gears and all implements of Husbandry 20.5.0
Wheat in Granary and unthreshed 26.0.0
Barley in Granary and unthreshed 38.0.0
Oats in Granary 4.11.0
Winnow Machine 4.0.0
Household Furniture including his clothes 30.0.0

NB This Inventory Value by David Evans Llwynysgolog [his widow’s second husband, who she married 9 May 1835] and Thomas Griffin Ty’n Llwyfan on this 11 day of June 1834



(1) Runts – small ox or cow, especially one of various Scottish Highland or Welsh breeds.
(2) Yearlings – an animal (usually a horse) that is between one and two years old.
(3) Store Pig – a small pig that has not yet been weened, to be fattened up for market.
(4) Harrow – an agricultural machine used for deeper tillage. Harrowing is often carried out on fields to follow the rough finish left by ploughing operations to break up clods (lumps of soil) and to provide a finer finish.
(5) Unthreshed – not yet threshed.
(6) Threshed – to separate the grain or seed by some mechanical means as by beating with a flail or the action of a machine.
(7) Husbandry – the care, cultivation, and breeding of crops and animals.
(8) Winnow Machine – an agricultural method developed by ancient cultures for separating grain from chaff (the dry, scaly protective casings of the seeds). It is also used to remove weevils or other pests from stored grain.

52 Ancestors, Week #24, Jane Catherine Roberts of Llanfairfechan

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.”


Jane Catherine Roberts is my 2nd g-grandmother.  My paternal grandmother, Nana Hall’s, maternal grandmother.

Photographer Hastings, of the Tremont Street Studio, was succeeded in 1896. The photo was likely taken between Jane’s Boston arrival (between Sept 1883 and Oct 1885) and 1895. Perhaps in 1886 when she married.


house Jane’s story begins in the village of Llanfairfechan, Caernarvonshire, Wales…..  474c3cc4-227e-4b30-91bc-26a73dc95c30

John Bartholomew, Gazetteer of the British Isles (1887) describes Llanfairfechan (Click to hear pronunciation) as a “small town and par[ish] with r[ailwa]y sta., Carnarvonshire, 7¾ miles SW. of Conway, 4255 ac. land and 2266 water, is a pleasant watering-place at the foot of Penmaenmawr Mountain, occupies a wooded and well-sheltered situation, and commands a charming seaward view”.

Rolling hills and mountains are covered in summer with glorious purple heather and the yellow flowers of the gorse bushes.  The Penmaenmawr granite quarry (once a major employer) is towards the east; the Garreg Farwt (Big Rock) stands 1150 feet high, and looks over the village. Although a beautiful place, the roads leading to Llanfair back in the day were riddled with thieves and dangerous for travelers. The winters are long and harsh; other seasons bring frequent rain.  Fall was spent collecting wood and peat for the fire.  There was beer making and Sunday cock fights in the sandpits. Most families owned a few farm animals.

map2   Untitled Jane’s Paternal Grandparents

On 11 Feb 1826 Jane’s paternal grandparents, William Roberts, of a Llanfairfechan home called Caehaidd (meaning barley field or field of barley), and Mary Lloyd  married.


Their son (Jane Catherine’s father) Robert Robert’s was baptized 30 August 1929; daughter Grace was baptized 19 May 1833.

dad Roberts Roberts birth

Grace Roberts birth

In 1841 Jane’s eleven year old father, Robert, was enumerated at Caehaidd with his father (a farmer), mother and eight year old sister Grace.

. 1841 census


On the Llanfairfechan Tithe Apportionment of 1847 a property named Caehaidd was a smallholding of about 17 Acres of arable land (land plowed or tilled regularly, generally under a system of crop rotation) owned by Henry Ellis and occupied by William Roberts and payable to the rector was £4.16 shillings (I think this was per annum) the rector in those days was also a rate and rent collector. By 1851 a 22 year old Robert was still residing  in Caehaidd with his parents, sister Grace’s whereabouts are unknown.

In 2012 the property was sold.  The real estate description reads: “The property occupies an elevated position with fine views of the open countryside, open sea, Ynys Môn, Puffin Island and The Great Orme. An inspection of the site is essential in order to appreciate the location and views. The boundary plan can be found on the rear page and the upland grazing area is set over 9 paddocks with stone boundary walls and a wooded area. A stream runs to the west side of the land. The access lane is worn, eroded and only suitable for four wheel drive vehicles at present”.

Go along the A55 West bound carriageway and exit at the second exit for Llanfairfechan, junction 14. Take the next right hand turn and before passing back over the A55, take a left turn into Gwyllt Road. Follow this road around to the left and continue up the hill to Gwyllt Cottages. Take the next right and come back on yourself.


Rough mountain road up to Cahaidd in ditch on the right (facing) is a small stream where the family carried water from (photo 2013).


Cahaidd ruins with the mountain Garrag Fawr (Large Rock ) behind it (photo 2013).   8a8de035-abd7-4a60-8af3-37e51fa0e82d


A close up of Caehaidd ruins (photos 2015).

Cae haidd

Cae haidd2

William, Mary and son Robert are buried in the church yard cemetery of Santes Mair (Saint Mary) Parish Church (closed now and is privately owned).

William died an accidental death, falling over the rock, at Garth Point, in the darkness.

William Roberts death


In memory of Mary wife of William Roberts Cae Haidd who died January 15th 1854 aged 62. Also the above W. Roberts died January 7th 1855 aged 58. Also their son Robert Roberts who died February 4th 1888 aged 58. 926dca0d-f112-4ae2-a89e-5daa3f316121


Mary Roberts death2


William Roberts death2

Jane’s Maternal Grandparents

On 18 April 1821 Jane’s maternal grandparents, David Roberts (born Gyffyn, North Wales) and Anne Roberts married. They resided in a home called Llwynysgolog in Llanfairfechan. e4fe80cc-5438-45e4-ae03-366620ce0c95

Photos of Llwynysgolog 2013 (area where the old stable stood) fdc1a967-d2a2-4211-9779-ff80866e6091 1b34582d-c575-4614-8779-8ec309e11cd7 fa1c72c7-7cc7-407b-8a2d-862b9db390ba

They had four known children: Mary, Anne, Jane  [Jane’s mother] & William.

Jane’s mom Jane’s baptism 17 June 1832.

mom Jane Roberts birth

David, a farmer, died at age 47 and was buried on 22 May 1834.  He named all four of his young children in his will [subject of a future post].



death d roberts

His widow Anne married second David Evans on 9 May 1835. They had at least two children: Martha b. 1836 and Catherine b. 1841.


The family was enumerated in 1841 and 1851 at Llwynysgolog. Jane’s mother Jane was only included with the family in 1851 (age 18), her whereabouts in 1841 are unknown. Jane’s mother Jane lost her two sisters in 1843.  Seventeen year old Anne was buried in March and nineteen year old Mary in April.

In 1851 there were 809 people living in 182 dwellings in Llaifairfechan (up from 470 residents in 1801).


Jane’s grandmother, Anne, died 4 Jan 1861. Anne death

Jane’s step-grandfather, James Evans moved in with her family at Caehaidd, where he died, at age 75, in May 1867 when Jane was about age 5.

David Evans death2

Jane’s Parents

Llanfairfechan in the mid 1850s was small, poor and insignificant. The early nineteenth century tourist guide books described the mountains of Penmaenmawr and Aber with its water falls and its historical association with the medieval welsh princes at length. People living in Llanfairfechan never dreamt that soon great changes would be taking place in their parish.

Llanfairfechan was to be almost completely transformed.  Between 1851 and 1861, the population in Llanfairfechan grew by almost 400 to 1,199 villagers. The building of the railway in 1845 made the town more accessible, although it didn’t stop at Llanfairfechan at first, but at neighboring Aber. In Aug 1856, one of the biggest Llanfairfechan landlords, the Bulkeleys, sold parts of the Baron Hill Estates, land they had held for over two and a half centuries.  This allowed a number of ordinary locals to buy their own property and build bigger and impressive granite homes and cottages, replacing the whitewashed cottages that had stood for many years.

In 1857, John Platt turned his attention to North Wales and decided upon making Llanfairfechan his country seat. John Platt, a wealthy man, purchased the partially built and derelict mansion of Bryn-y-Neuadd and the 150 acres of land belonging to it. Soon things began to hum. In 1860 Platt demanded the building of a railway station for Llanfairfechan on his land so that he could travel to London conveniently. He then built Station Road on his land, and Richard Luck built Village Road. Until then, the main thoroughfare was a lane between The Village Inn and The Castle public houses. New shops were constructed and the economy prospered, with the tiny village becoming a popular tourist resort.

During this period of growth, Robert Roberts, son of William Roberts of Caehaidd and Mary Lloyd (deceased)  and Jane Roberts, daughter of David Roberts (deceased) and Anne Roberts of Llwynysgolog married on Saturday, 3 June 1854. Robert was a Quarryman. The quarry was run by “The Penmaenmawr & Welsh Granite Co.” The granite was lowered from the quarry by self-acting inclines to the 3 ft (914 mm) gauge tramway which ran to jetties, from where the setts were loaded into ships. The standard gauge Chester to Holyhead railway reached Penmaenmawr in 1848, after which the majority of the quarry output was sent by rail. marriage par The couple lived at Caehaidd and had four known children. Robert became a farmer of 20-30 acres (which he rented). My ancestor, Jane Catherine was the third known child.  Siblings included Maryanne, Grace and Margaret “Maggie”. Jane’s baptism record has not been located but the records of her siblings along with census records places her birth about 1862/3.

births census The newspapers give us a small glimpse of their lives:

In 1865, one of Roberts’ employees was stabbed.


In 1867, a “wild woman” was captured near the family home. caihadd wild woman

wild woman

In 1868, Robert Roberts won 1st place at the Llanfairfechan horticultural show for his “dish of honey in a comb not less than 6 pounds”.


In 1869, his honey took 2nd place.

show 1869

Llanfairfechan 1871


In 1878 a man was charged poaching on the property, note that the property was still owned by Ellis and Jane’s brother-in-law, a gamekeeper from England named Edmund Warrener was involved.

rabbit shooting

By 1881, Jane’s sister Grace had married Edmund Warrener and had a daughter Jane.


In 1881, there is a Jane C. Roberts working as a servant in Lancashire, England on 1 Stockton Range for the family of  George F. Freeman (a Metal Merchant employing 17 men 2 boys).  She was born in Llanfairfechan and is of the right age, it is possible that this is our Jane, as she is not found in Wales [note that Jane Roberts is a common name]. possible Jane

In August 1886, Caehaidd was up for auction. The land was described as 18 acres of fertile arable [fit for cultivation] and grazing land with house and outbuildings.  It is most charming, being well sheltered and commanding magnificent views of the surrounding scenery.


On 8 Feb 1888, Jane’s father Robert, age 58, died. His obituary lists him as a farmer and for many years the director of the Llanfairfechan waterworks. His funeral “was the largest ever seen” in the parish; he was buried with his parents in the church yard cemetery of Santes Mair (Saint Mary) Parish Church [photo above]. robert death   Robert Roberts death

Click to read more of the Llanfairfechan waterworks (column 1 & 2). Sometime between Sept 1883 and Oct 1885 Jane’s sister Grace and her husband Edmund with their children moved to Boston, Massachusetts [based on their children’s birth dates/places, Grace’s obituary and their son Robert’s Naturalization].  Edmund became a Mason and in 1886 they resided at 6 Wilbur Ct., East Boston, Massachusetts [Jane’s future husband Edwin Lansil, left East Boston for Dorchester in 1882; it is unknown how they met]. Our Jane Catherine and her sister Margaret joined them.  Ship records have not been located, it is unknown if they traveled together. One of Edmund/Grace’s sons naturalized but does not know his date of arrival or the vessel name.

A pregnant Jane married Edwin Lansil, 25 years her senior,  in 1886, which kept her in Boston.


Her two sisters moved to the Chicago area before 1889.  There, Margaret married John Williams.  Grace died during childbirth in 1897 and Margaret helped to raise some of her children. More on what is known of Grace’s family: Grace Warrener death

Jane’s single sister, Mary Ann, remained in Llainfairfechan with her mother Jane.  In 1891, the Llanfairfechan census listed Cahaidd as “vacant”.  Jane and Mary Ann had moved to the Village where Jane was a lodging house keeper at Min y Don and Mary Ann a dressmaker.

A blog post detailing Edwin’s life gives additional family details: Click for Edwin Lansil. In summary, Jane went on to have five children – Frances Mae “Fanny”, b. 1887; Edith Bernice, b. 1888; Florence Paine, b. 1890; Edwin Roberts, b. 1894 and Doris, b. 1899.  Only Fanny, Edith and Doris lived to adulthood.









Jane was admitted to the Boston Insane Hospital July 26, 1897 (a few years before the birth of Doris) and discharged 22 February 1898. he length of stay is unknown. She was likely depressed and suicidal.

Jane’s husband, Edwin, died 11 Jul 1904 (after being admitted to the Boston Insane Hospital on 20 Nov 1903,  through probate court, according to the asylum intake records) leaving her with children aged 17, 16 and 5.

Soon after her  placement of Edwin in the insane asylum, advertisements appeared – “rooms for rent”, perhaps run by Jane Catherine who was likely in need of some form of income. The home was described as “a three-apartment frame house, stable and 4,800 square feet of land”  the rental as “4 large, nicely furnished rooms, with or without stable, high land, good location, large yard, with fruit trees, near electric and steam cars, rent reasonable”



lansil house

In May 1905, a widowed Jane Catherine (Roberts) Lansil returned to Wales to accompany her mother, now with defective vision and a corneal ulcer, on the SS Saxonia sailing from Liverpool and arriving in Boston 9 May (her mother claimed to have been in Boston previously in 1894 and 1897 – 1897 was the year her daughter Grace died and also when Jane Catherine was first admitted to the insane asylum). Jane (Roberts) Roberts is listed as a widow and mother of two children – her daughter, Mary Ann’s, death record has not been located, but she is presumed deceased (indexes do list a Mary Ann Roberts of the correct age, who died in Conway, 7¾ miles from Llanfairfechan, in April -June 1905).

. ship


Mary Ann death

On 23 March 1907, a 44 year old Jane Catherine (Roberts) Lansil, was committed to the Boston Insane Hospital, through probate court (according to the asylum intake records), where she presumably resided until her death 30 May 1932. The 1932 Annual Report of the hospital claims only nine patients (5%) who had been in residence for greater than 10 years.

Jane Catherine
Application for the Commitment for the Insane:
23 March 1907

White female, age 44, born Wales, occupation: housework

She had one previous attack, the present attack began 2 weeks ago.

She was at the Boston Ins. Hospital July 26, 1897 [does not specify if this is an admittance or discharge date].

The present attack was gradual; her bodily condition is fair. It is unknown if she has had previous physical injuries. The patient is “cleanly in dress and personal habits”.  She is depressed, deluded, possibly suicidal. There is no prior known family history of insanity.  Her liquor, tobacco and opium habits are “good”.

Nearest relative: Daughter, Mrs. Edward J. Thompson, Hiawatha Road, Mattapan

Medical Certificate of Insanity: 
23 March 1907
The patient said: “I feel alright. I feel as well as I ever did. I thought people had been stealing from me. To-day is Wednesday.  I don’t play cards – no need of it. I don’t want you to feel my pulse! I ____ there is no need of ____” [couldn’t read a few words].

The patient: Sat in chair; resisted being examined, hesitated in answering questions, and some questions would not answer at all. 

Her appearance and manner was: dull and confused. Untidy in appearance. Appears just as she did when insane before. 

Other facts: She was insane and a patient at Boston Insane Hospital in 1897. Since last August she has imagined people stealing from her. She was depressed and irritable. Has become worse the past few days. Is dull, confused, talks out of the window to people on the street. Sings at times and expresses various incoherent delusions. Obstinate and hard to manage.

1907 Map (Austin Farm housed the women), Productive work, exercise, and time spent out-of-doors were important parts of the “moral treatment” of mental illness.


She was enumerated there in 1910, 1920 and 1930. She was however listed in several city directories, so perhaps she was an out-patient of the institution in earlier years (the asylum intake records do not record any evidence of this in the comment field).


Interior of a ward in the Department for Women at the Boston Insane Hospital. Some nurses and patients are visible. Photograph taken in 1900, seven years prior to Jane’s admittance.


By 1907, daughters Edith and Fanny had married.  Fanny took in, and raised, her youngest sister, Doris.

Jane’s son in law, Edith husband, William John Haines, sold the homestead on 101 Maxwell Street in 1907, soon after the birth of his first child, Jane’s granddaughter, Edith Anna Haines. There is no evidence of the home being transferred or sold to him and the 1907 sewer assessment was in Edwin’s name.

sewer assessment

In 1913/14 Jane Lansil is listed as a boarder at 63 Hiawatha Road, Mattapan (Boston) – the same address as her son in law Edward J. Thompson.  In 1915-7 she is listed at 79 Rosewood, Mattapan – the same address as her brother in law Walter Lansil. Her name is not listed after 1917 in the Boston area.

Jane (Roberts) Roberts was sent to Chicago to live with her daughter Margaret about 1907.  Margaret’s daughter writes on 28 Aug 1977 to my Aunt Natalie:

” My grandmother made her home with your [great] grandma Jane Lansil when she came from Wales but after awhile after Jane L passed away (I believe it was Frances) wrote and said they could no longer care for a blind old lady and they were thinking of putting her in the Poor house [editor’s note: Jane Lansil was in an insane asylum, not deceased]. I believe they meant an institution for the elderly but run by the city or state – so my father said “that will never be – we are poor but we will share what we have” so he went to Mass. And brought Grandmother back. I loved her very much and was sympathetic toward her. She passed away in her sleep at Rome and we buried her in our cemetery plot in Hillside, Ill. A suburb of Chicago” [she died 12 Mar 1912].

Little more is known of Jane Catherine (Roberts) Lansil’s final 25 years. Sadly in Massachusetts, insane asylum records are forever sealed.  We may never know how Jane spent her last 25 years [in the event they are opened to future generations, her last form number is 5116 and registered number 8471 – FHL film 2108120 Items 5 – 6 include Register 1, 1855-1907 Register 2, 1907 [Boston, Massachusetts].


In 1910, she was with 777 others:

boston state hospital


Superintendents and staff were proud of the Dorchester facilities and generally welcomed the public. Often, model patients would be allowed to congregate around visiting areas so that visitors would get a positive impression of the facility. The best wards were usually the easiest to get to, for the same reason. What were often called “back wards” were for the more difficult patients, and casual visitors seldom went there. These policies usually worked, and most visitors were favorably impressed.

A sampling of information in the Boston Insane Hospital’s annual reports (copies of which can be found on


insane asylum










Aunt Natalie does not recall ever meeting her grandmother Jane Catherine (Roberts) Lansil, but does recall that her mother Edith Bernice missed  her sister Doris Haines high school graduation in early June 1932 to attend her grandmother’s funeral.

Her death certificate gives a last residence of the long ago sold 101 Maxwell Street home, indicating that she was perhaps admitted around the time of it’s 1907 sale.  She left no known assets.  There was no will or probate filed. Cause of death was lobar pneumonia, her underlying diagnosis was dementia praecox (a “premature dementia” or “precocious madness”) refers to a chronic, deteriorating psychotic disorder characterized by rapid cognitive disintegration, usually beginning in the late teens or early adulthood, a specific disease concept that implied incurable, inexplicable madness. A condition that would eventually be reframed into a substantially different disease concepts and relabeled as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or other types of mood disorders including clinical depression [Wikipedia].



68 year old Jane Catherine Lansil was buried at Cedar Grove, Dorchester, Maple Lot, Section 21, Lot 1483, Row H.  The lot was purchased 21 Feb 1891, there is only one marker, engraved with “Florence P. Lansil, age 9 months”, baby Florence was buried 22 Feb 1891  – the family may not have been able to afford engraving. According to cemetery records, a 10 day old Edwin R Lansil and Jane’s husband Edwin Lansil are also buried in the lot.


——————————————————————————————————————————————————- Sources: Llanfairfechan Baptisms, Marriages, Deaths –

Llanfairfechan Census data –

Photos of Caehadd, Llwynysgolog and graveyard and tithe schedule- Courtesy Margaret Roberts, Llanfairfechen 2013  

Welsh Newspapers Online Beta –

Additional reading – Through Thick and Thin, Family Tales and Village Life, Llanfairfechan & Days Gone By, People Places and Pictures of Llanfairfechan – both by Margaret Roberts.


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