Posts Tagged ‘Bangor’

The City of Bangor vs. Asa P. Lansil – 1863


asa paine


My 3rd g-grandfather, Asa Paine Lansil, the fifth known child of Charles V. Lansil (Lancel/Lanselle) and Ruth Paine, was born 17 Oct 1812 in Bucksport, Hancock, Maine.   He married Betsey Turner Grout, daughter of Amos Grout and Rachael Couillard, 2 November 1834, in Bucksport.  Asa, a Cooper, settled in Bangor, Maine, with his wife and six (or perhaps seven) children, where they remained until about 1871, at which time the family relocated to Boston Massachusetts. 

I have written of Asa in the past but not of his noteworthy case as a defendant at the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine against the City of Bangor (the plantiff) in 1863.

Asa, purchased land on the corner of Maine and Lincoln Streets in Bangor for $500 from Wiggins Hill, a merchant, on 15 Dec 1848 (book 192, page 375).  The land is described as:

Beginning at the corner of Maine and Lincoln Street, hence running Westerly on the line of Lincoln Street 100 feet thence at right angles with Lincoln Street Northerly about 70 feet to the dividing lines between said lot and land owned by Thomas Curtis and others as divided by George W Pickering and others, hence Easterly on said line to Maine Street hence Southerly on Maine Street to the point began at more or less.

Lincoln Street Purchase

On 28 Jan 1851 Asa bought land (book 212/page 140) on Buck Street for $500 from his brother James (formerly known as Lincoln Street, lot #8) which Martha Lansil (his brother’s wife) had previously purchased of Wiggins Hill (book 150/page 554). It measured 70 feet on Buck Street and 107 feet deep, per an 1844 survey by Gilman.   Asa later sold this parcel to Joshua Miller on 2 Feb 1853 (book 231/ page 341).

On 1 May 1852, Asa purchased land adjoining to that purchased in 1848 (known as lot #2) on Lincoln Street from Wiggins Hill (book 248/page 470) for $150.  It was an additional 69 1/2 feet by 500 feet.

Lansil land

On this land there was a swale (a low tract of land, that is moist or marshy).  When Lincoln Street was constructed in 1834, the water flowed in gutters down the street until it got to Asa’s lot where it flowed over his property in larger amounts than it had previously.  Asa add fill to the lot, in 1852, to stop the water.  The Bangor Street Commissioner, without town approval began to dig a drain; Asa finished it himself. Later, the drain fell into disrepair.  Asa choose not to repair it, the City of Bangor (after giving Asa notice), repaired and enlarged the drain, then took Asa to court to recover $43 in expenses.

The appeal went to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court’s role is to decide on questions of law that arise when a case is appealed from a trial court. Opinions are published and become binding on all the (Maine) courts when they adjudicate similar disputes. The Lansil decision is still cited in cases today.

In the Lansil case, the Court issued the following opinion:

“The owner of land has a legal right to fill it up so as to interrupt the flow of surface water over it, whether flowing from a highway, or any adjoining land. Nor does the fact, that the land filled up was a swale (a low tract of land, especially one that is moist or marshy), make any difference in the owner’s rights, provided no natural watercourse is obstructed. If, in filling up his lot, the owner construct a drain for the flow of surface water from the highway, which had been accustomed to flow across his lot, and afterwards allow the drain to become obstructed, and it is repaired by the town, the latter can maintain no action to recover the expense of such repairs. Such a drain is not a “private drain,” within the meaning of § 12 of c. 16 of the Revised Statutes”.

Case, under § 12, c. 16, of E. S., to recover the amount expended by the plaintiffs in the repair of a drain.

The evidence, affecting the questions of law raised, tended to show that the drain in question was from Lincoln street, through the defendant’s lot, and another lot, to a drain made by the city; that the defendant’s lot was formerly a swale, and the surface water flowed across it, but there was no natural watercourse on it; that Lincoln street was constructed in 1834, and, after that, the surface water flowed in gutters down the street, till it came to the defendant’s lot, and then passed off across his lot, in greater quantities than before the construction of the street; that, in 1852, the defendant filled up his lot so as to prevent the water from flowing from the street over it; and, thereupon, the street commissioner, without authority from the city, dug the drain and the defendant finished it, and the water from the street had passed off through it, until recently; that, the defendant failing to repair the drain after proper notice, the plaintiffs had repaired and enlarged it; and this action was brought to recover $43, the expenses incurred.

The presiding Judge instructed the jury, that it appeared by the testimony that there was a low swale on the lot of defendant, over which the water from the land in the vicinity naturally flowed; that, if defendant bought the lot under these circumstances, he had no legal right to fill up the lot and obstruct the natural flow of the water, and thus cause it to flow back into the street, and upon adjoining owners; that, if defendant filled up his lot, he was bound to make a suitable drain to carry away the water, so as, not to injure the highway and adjoining proprietors; that, if defendant made the drain under these circumstances, it was a private drain, which he was bound to keep in repair, and, if he neglected to do so, and in consequence of such neglect, the highway was injured, the plaintiffs, after due notice, could themselves repair such drain and recover the expense of the defendant in this action.

The defendant (inter alia) requested the presiding Judge to instruct the jury, that, if the plaintiffs duly laid out and constructed Lincoln street, and the water flowed down the drains of such street to the defendant’s lot which abutted upon said street, and a drain across the defendant’s lot was needed to drain the water from the street, the defendant was under no legal obligation to construct such*drain, but the law provided another remedy to secure the construction of the drain, and, if defendant, without permit from the proper authorities, and through a misapprehension of his legal rights and obligations, constructed such drain, such construction would not of itself constitute it a private drain.

The presiding Judge refused to give the requested instructions, but did instruct the jury that, if more water was brought by the drains on Lincoln street down to the defendant’s lot than naturally flowed there, the jury would deduct from the expenses of repair in like proportion.

The jury returned a verdict for plaintiffs of twenty-seven dollars, and stated, in answer to an inquiry from the Court, that they reduced the damages, because more water was brought to the defendant’s lot by the construction of the street than formerly flowed there.

asa vs city bangor verdict.png

The defendant excepted [objected].

new case asa.png

W. H. McCrillis, for defendant.

A. Q. Wakefield, for plaintiffs.

The opinion of a majority of the Court was drawn up by

Davis, J.—By our statute of 1821, c. 121, copied from the Massachusetts Act of 1797, a person needing a drain “for his cellar,” or for other purposes, could construct it, upon his own premises, to the street; and then, “by the consent and under the direction of the selectmen,” he, either alone, or with others, might extend it across or along the street, to some suitable place of discharge. If there were several owners, it was a “common sewer.” But, whether owned by one or more, it was a private drain.

Such drains were entirely different and distinct from gutters, made as part of streets, to drain off the surface water. Such gutters had always been made, under the general power and duty to open the streets and keep them in repair.

Unless by some city charters or by-laws, no public sewers, for the accommodation of the inhabitants, were authorized by law, until 1844. All such sewers, though constructed under and along the streets, were private property. And no change has ever been made in the law, making such drains other than private property. Many such may be found in all our cities and large towns.

By c. 94 of the laws of 1844, the municipal authorities were, for the first time, empowered to locate and construct public drains, for the common use of such adjacent proprietors as, for a stipulated price, desired to connect private drains therewith. These public sewers were to be located, either under the streets, or, if necessary, through the lands of any person, who was to be compensated therefor. The proceedings of the location are, in many respects, like the proceedings in locating streets.

As cities and towns were only authorized, and not required, to construct public drains, the sewerage of our cities has been, and still is, to a large extent, by private drains. These have, many of them, been made across or along the streets. As they were liable to get out of repair, there had always been a provision by which any owner could repair a “common” sewer, at the expense of all.

But it was found that, in some cases, none of the owners would repair such drains; and that, by their want of repair, the streets across or along which they were constructed, were thereby made unsafe for the public travel. And therefore, by c. 77, § 9, of the laws of 1854, the street commissioner of the city of Portland was authorized, in any such case, to repair the defective “private drain ;” and the owners were made liable to the city for the expense of such repairs. This special statute was made general, by R. S., c. 16, § 12.

The action before us was brought under this provision of the statute.

Was the drain repaired by the city in this case such a drain as is contemplated by the statute?

It is quite obvious that it was not a public drain, or sewer, within the meaning of the statute. It was neither located, nor constructed, as such. None of the provisions relating to sewerage by public drains, to be made and owned by the city, for the use of the abutters on the streets, are applicable to it.

In discussing the question whether it was a “private drain,” it is contended, in behalf of the city, that the defendant, in 1852, had no right to fill up his house lot, which was at the lowest point of a swale crossed by Lincoln street, so as to prevent the water flowing down the gutters either way, during a storm, from passing off over his lot, as before it was filled up.

His right to fill up his lot, depended on the question whether there had been a natural watercourse across the lot before Lincoln street was made. That street was made in 1834. No right to flow water across it had therefore been acquired, by prescription or otherwise, in 1852, unless there had been a watercourse there before 1834. If there had not been a watercourse there, though it was low, swampy land, and, with the adjacent lots, had been overflowed at certain seasons of the year, he had the right to fill it up.

A natural watercourse “consists of bed, banks, and water; yet the water need not flow continuously; and there are many watercourses that are sometimes dry. There is, however, a distinction to be taken in law, between a regular flowing stream of water, which at certain seasons is dried up, and those occasional bursts of water, which in times of freshet, or melting of ice and snow, descend from the hills, and inundate the country.” Angell on Watercourses, 5th ed., § 1. *

In accordance with this definition, it has been held, that, “when there is no watercourse, or stream of water, one cannot claim a right of drainage, or flow of water, from off his land, upon and through the land of another, merely because his land is higher than that of the other, and slopes towards it, so that the water which falls in rain upon it would naturally run over the surface in that direction.” Luther v. Winnissimet Co., 9 Cush., 171.

Whether there had been a watercourse was a question for the jury. If there had not been, then the defendant had the right to fill up his lot; and he was under no obligation to make any drain, or permit the city to make one.

But, if there had been a watercourse, though the defendant had no right to fill it up, still this action could not be maintained. The statute applies only to a “private drain,” made strictly for private use, which the owners may keep open, or fill up, at their option, leaving the street in good repair. But a watercourse is private property only in a restricted sense. The owner of the land through which it flows has no right to fill it up, to divert the water from the land below, nor to turn it back upon the land above. For so doing, he is liable to indictment, or to an action on the case at commonlaw, for the damage caused by the detention or flowage of the water. Calais v. Dyer, 7 Maine, 155.

But the action given by the statute, for the expense of repairing, cannot be applied to a watercourse, even if it is used for a drain. The language is clearly applicable only to drains and sewers which are strictly private property. The city can have no right to use such drains. The owners cannot be under obligation to keep such drains open for the benefit of the city. If the street gutters were opened into them, they would no longer be private, but public.

It is clear that the drain in this case is not such as the statute refers to, as a “private drain.” If it was a watercourse, and the defendant was bound to keep it open, the remedy must be sought in a different action, not for the expense of repairing, but for the damage caused by obstructing it. The verdict must be set aside, and a new trial granted.

Appleton, C. J., Kent, Walton and Barrows, JJ., concurred.

Cutting, Dickerson and Danforth, JJ., disseuted.

Cutting, J. — There are only two kinds of drains known to the law—one a public and the other a private drain. Public drains arc those constructed by the municipal officers of a town under R. S., c. 16, § 2. All other drains are private drains, and embrace two classes. The first such as connect with a public drain by permission of the municipal officers, and the second without such connection; of which latter class the defendant’s drain was one.

It appears that Lincoln street was established and built in 1834, running through a low swale, extending from above and below the sides of the road down and across the lot subsequently purchased and filled up by the defendant; that a culvert was built across the street above the lot, bellow which culvert a drain extended down and through the defendant’s lot to a public drain below. As to the construction of this drain, thus passing through the defendant’s land, by whom and for what purposes built, there was controversy, but none whatever as to its actual existence. It was not a public drain, for it was not constructed by the municipal officers, and, if the street commissioner assisted in its construction, it was without authority and consequently a gratuitous act. It is true the defendant swears “that it is not a private drain nor any use to his lot, nor of any private advantage to him.” The existence of the drain being admitted, it became a question of law as to its character. He may perhaps, now, in a certain sense truly say, after having filled up his lot, dammed up the road, and caused an overflow of water, that the drain is of no use to him so long as he is high and dry, and suffered so to remain in consequence of this drain. But the more important question now is, whether that drain is of any use to the public. When a road is legally laid out, and constructed, no owner of adjoining lands has lawful right by embankments to create an overflow of water; otherwise highways instead of being a public benefit would be a public nuisance, and such would be the situation of Lincoln street, if the defendant should prevail in this suit. Against such an, act even the common law would afford a remedy, which is also found in § 12 of the Act before cited.

The instructions were in harmony with this construction of the law, except they were too favorable for the defendant, by which the damages were reduced as found by the jury.

Dickerson and Danporth, JJ., concurred.

Patriots Day and Ancestor William Grout

My dad worked as an Engineer, at Honeywell, in Lexington, Massachusetts, and enamored with the area and its history, cherished Patriots Day.  In the 1970’s, whilst much of Boston had plans to attend the Red Sox game or cheer for Boston Marathon runners, we rose Monday morning at 4AM and trekked to Lexington to view the early morning reenactment of the battle on Lexington Green. The Battles of Lexington and Concord were the first military engagements of the Revolutionary War, fought within the towns of  Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Menotomy [Arlington] and Cambridge.  Although dark, typically cold and sometimes rainy, it was always exciting!

The Colonists wished to run their own affairs and sought their independence from England. In an effort to stop this, the Regulars headed for Concord, on the morning of 19 April 1775, with orders to destroy muskets, powder, cannons and provisions stockpiled at Colonel Barrett’s farm. The Red Coats arrived in Lexington at dawn to find the militia gathered on the Green. The British ordered them to lay down their arms and disperse. Then a shot rang out, “the shot heard around the world”, signifying the start of the American Revolution. When the smoke cleared, two were dead and several wounded.  Women and children ran to their fallen loved ones as the march continued to Concord [a YouTube video of the reenactment, filmed in 2010 can be found here].

Later, we attended the parade, toured historical homes and snacked.

Turns out, my 5th g-grandfather, William Grout, was engaged in the Lexington Alarm! [click on any image for a larger view]



Grout pension

William Grout was born 25 June 1754 in East Sudbury [now Wayland], Massachusetts to William Grout and Eunice Moore (widow of Samuel Cutting). William was their only known child, as the elder William, age 29, was likely killed in action, during the French & Indian War while part of Captain Dakin’s company in Lake George.  

On 20 July 1758, the Indians attacked a group of ten who were scouting. Others from the fort went out to assist; the Indians shot and killed fourteen, including William. The dead were scalped by the Indians and later buried in a mass grave.


Dr. Ebenezer Roby, jr. who was part of the Alarm List (persons between the age of 16 and 60 ordinarily exempt from military duty) that were called to join the First Foot company in Sudbury on 25 April 1757 during the 4th French and Indian war, kept a journal of his service which documents the elder William Grout’s death:

Thursday, 27  [July, 1758]

 A warm morning.  A smart thunder shower about 11 o’cock, very warm before.  I see William Rice who told me that Captain Dakin, Jones and Lawrence, Lieutenant Curtis, William Grout, Jonathan Paterson was killed.  A shower in the afternoon. Lodged on straw bed.

Click for full Diary.

William Grout death

The elder William was the grandson of John Grout, the Puritan, born 1616 who immigrated to America in the early 1600’s, and who from 1675 to 1676  saved Sudbury from certain annihilation in King Phillip’s war. Read of him here – “The Original Captain America Save Sudbury”  After his heroics in the King Phillip War, Grout was promoted to captain, equal to knighthood in England.  Grout was not in the employ of the government and was entitled to pay, but he volunteered his service and received no bounty. he died in 1697 age of 81.

According to g-grandsons Walter Franklin & Wilbur Henry Lansil’s SAR applications, the younger William carried forward his family’s patriotic tradition as part of the Minute Company under the command of Captain Nathaniel Cudworth, in Colonel Abijah Pierce’s regiment, at the Lexington Alarm; he was a private in Captain Thadeus Russell’s company in Colonel Jonathon Brewer’s regiment 1775; in Captain Ashiel Wheeler’s company, Colonel Reed’s regiment 1776 at Ticonderoga; in Captain M. Sawyer’s Company, Colonel Dyke’s regiment 1777-1778; in Captain Seth Newton’s Company, at the Battle of Bunker Hill, Colonel Abijah Stern’s regiment and in Captain William Howe’s Company, Colonel John Rand’s Regiment, 1776, thus serving sixteen months in Revolutionary War times.

FullSizeRender (4)

Captain Nathaniel Cudworth’s participation in April 1775 is documented in written accounts:

The news spread quickly that men had been killed on the Lexington Green.  In Revolutionary Times, this was known as “the Day of the Lexington Alarm”.  The alert went out to every Middlesex village and farm, and developed a life of its own, reaching Worcester and Hampshire counties, New Hampshire and Maine.  The roads began to fill with minutemen and militiamen, advancing on Concord from many directions.

Sudbury sent several units, one being Captain Nathaniel Cudworth’s, with 40 men, likely one of whom was our William Grout.  There is a strong town tradition that Captain Cudworth’s Sudbury Company was heavily engaged on Brook’s Hill [Hudson, Sudbury, 380] and it is also possible that the other six units from Sudbury joined the ambush at Hardy’s [Brook’s] Hill, about a mile from Meriam’s corner, on Wednesday, March 22, 1775 – the fourth day of the Battle.

130 PM

map battle

battle road

Red dawn at Lexington

Lex accout #2

battle 3

Brewers 1775.jpg

In 1833, when William applied for a pension he wrote:

“I William Grout of Frankfort in Said County of Waldo [Maine], do hereby on oath further certify that from old age and bodily infirmity I cannot recollect the precise times which I enlisted in the War of the Revolution, but as near as I can recollect my first enlistment was on or about the 19th day of April 1775 with Captain Thadeus Russell and that I served eight months, the term for which I enlisted….”


Grout’s signed pension file tells us:

1. He was born in East Sudbury, Massachusetts in 1754.

2. That he believes his age is recorded at East Sudbury.

3. That he was living at East Sudbury when he enlisted and since the Revolutionary War he lived seven years in Hillsborough [New Hampshire], from thence two years in east Sudbury and from thence he removed to Frankfort [Maine] where he now lives.

4. That he volunteered his services.

5. That he recollects Col. Josiah Fuller, that General Putnam commanded on Cambridge Side, Prospect Hill, so called; that Col Patterson commanded a regiment and have up a ____ on Bunker Hill; that he recollects Col Carlton of Ticonderoga, but does not now recollect any other material fact but what is contained in his declaration.

6. That he never received any discharge for they were not generally asked for or given at that time.

7. The he is well known by the Rev Joshua Hall, Archibald Jones, Benjamin Shaw, Nehemiah Rich, esq., W. William Andrews and Tisdale Dean of said Frankfort, all or any of whom will testify to his character for veracity and their belief that he was a soldier of the Revolution.


On 1 April 1779, William Grout married Hannah Jennison, daughter of Robert Jennison/Jenison and Sibbella/Sybil Brintall at Sudbury and worked as a carpenter.

Although my research is “work in progress”, they are said to have had at least seven children: Joel, Amos, William, Mary “Polly”, Nancy, Hannah and Eunice.  Census data indicates there may have also been a fifth daughter.

None of these births are recorded in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, however William does appear on the tax records there from 1781 to 1785, after which he apparently relocated to Maine, where many records did not survive.   Since William was the only “Grout” to reside in Hancock County, Maine in that period, and as he had no siblings, it is likely that all Grouts recorded there are descendants.  His children William and Nancy are documented as residing with he and Hannah in 1822.  Nancy later married Nathanial Grant and his pension file further confirms her parentage.

According to the Lansil’s unsupported SAR applications and family lore, my family descends from William’s son Amos of Frankfort, who married Rachael Couillard of Bucksport.  At that time, SAR did not require documentation.  Walter and Wilbur’s mother, Betsey Turner Grout, likely told her sons that her grandfather had fought in the Revolution.  She had first hand knowledge, unlike today’s requirements, further proof was not a requirement.

amos rachael married

A land deed, dated 8 October 1810, filed in Hancock County transferring land from Amos Grout of Frankfort, Gentleman to William Richmond Marc and Tisdale Dean offers further evidence of the marriage. Rachael Grout signs by mark and Joshua Couillard and Arch. Jones witness to signing of Rachael Couillard. This probable error further implies that Rachael Grout was formerly Rachael Couillard.Rachael signature

William Grout was sued in 1800 in the Court of Common Pleas by Benjamin Thompson and Jesse Wyman who asked that Grout, a carpenter, be imprisoned in gaol (jail) at Castine, for debt of fifty dollars and fifty one cents plus thirteen dollars and thirty eight cents for the cost of the suit.

They filed a second suit for forty four dollars and twenty six cents plus twenty five cents more for this writ plus your fees.

lawsuit Grout

100 acres of William’s real estate was set off as debt repayment of one hundred and twenty dollars (he still owed seven dollars and seventy six cents).  The land is described in the case file:

land description Grout

In 1802, probable sons Amos and Joel repurchase the same land, William is a witness – Grout deed 17 Aug 1802`


Another land deed dated 1809 seems to further link father William with sons Amos and Joel (note that Amos’ wife Rachael gives up her rights of dower, thus confirming this is likely “our Amos”).

Click here to read – Grout deed 25 Feb 1809

Amos and Rachael’s daughter, my third g-grandmother, was named Betsey Turner Grout [her story here], perhaps after an aunt –  a Hannah Grout, who according to cemetery records, was born in 1791 on Orphan Island, Maine (home of William Grout the 1790 census year), married a Samuel Turner and named a child William Grout Turner.  Amos and this elder Hannah are likely siblings and he choose to give his child the Turner name, perhaps after a child of his sister’s who was deceased.


A granddaughter of Joel Grout, through his son Robert Clark Grout, Elizabeth Sarah “Lizzie” (Grout) Smith (b. 26 Jul 1849 d. abt 1935) left a short family history.  She recalls her grandfather having three siblings.  Aunt Turner, who resided on Isle Au Haut, Maine; Aunt Drake and a brother who had a son Amos.  She further recalls that Aunt Turner’s daughter married Captain Lampher of Searsport.  Copy here: story-grout

A Mary (Turner) Lampher’s death is reported in Everett, Massachusetts in 1910.  She was reported to have been born in Isle Au Haute to  Samuel Turner and Hannah Grout. Hannah’s birth location is said to be Orphan’s Island, Maine (which is where William Grout was enumerated in 1790).

death certificate.jpg

“Aunt Drake” was likely William’s daughter Mary “Polly” Grout who supposedly married Lemuel Drake (unsourced online trees).  The death certificate of Phoebe (Drake) Perkins, recorded in Winterport in 1905 reports parents as Polly Grout or Grant and Samuel Drake. Samuel and Mary are found in the 1850 census in Newburgh, Maine; an ancestry user reports that Samuel was actually Lemuel.  The 1840 census does include a Lemuel Drake in Newburgh.  In 1820 & 1830 a man of that name was residing in Dixmont, Maine.

In 1850 a Friend Drake was enumerated with this family.  His death, recorded in Winterport, Maine in 1899 names parents as Lemuel and Mary Grout or Grant.  It further reports his mother’s birthplace as Massachusetts. This is possible, given that William Grout’s pension file reports: “he lived seven years in Hillsborough [New Hampshire], from thence two years in east Sudbury and from thence he removed to Frankfort [Maine] where he now lives.”

The “brother” of Joel, who Lizzie names in her history  “had one son named Amos”. My guess it that this brother was Amos, my direct ancestor, son of William Grout, husband of Rachael Couillard, who did have a son Amos.

Lizzie writes: “In the fall of 1859, father sold his Jackson property and we all moved to the old home in Monroe.  Grandfather was dead and uncle Amos (Joel’s son) was living on the place. Sure enough, we find that in Joel’s will, written Nov 1856, he leaves Lizzie’s father, Robert Clark Grout, land in Monroe. Joel’s son Amos is appointed as executor. A copy can be found on here.

William Grout in Later Years

1790 – Orphan Island, Maine [which was part of Massachusetts until 15 March 1820]

The William Grout household in 1790 included seven members:

Home in 1790 (City, County, State): Orphan Island, Hancock, Maine
Free White Persons – Males – Under 16: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 16 and over: 2
Free White Persons – Females: 3
Number of Household Members: 7


Description of Orphan Island, once a shipbuilding village:

Desc Orphan

1800 Buckstown [later Bucksport], Maine [which was part of Massachusetts until 15 March 1820]

The 1800 census, having a column “from whence immigrated” further verifies William as the William Grout born in Sudbury. The household included 10 members; the children include three boys and five girls:


Home in 1800 (City, County, State): Buckstown, Hancock, Maine
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 2
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 2
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 2
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over: 1
Number of Household Members Under 16: 4
Number of Household Members Over 25: 2
Number of Household Members: 10

Description of Buckstown [later Bucksport in 1827]

bucksport 1827

1810-1830 (and likely until death) Frankfort, Maine [which was part of Massachusetts until 15 March 1820]

In 1810 and 1820, the household included five members:

Home in 1810 (City, County, State): Frankfort, Hancock, Maine
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over : 1
Number of Household Members Under 16: 1
Number of Household Members Over 25: 2
Number of Household Members: 5
Home in 1820 (City, County, State): Frankfort, Hancock, Maine
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 26 thru 44: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over : 1
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture: 2
Free White Persons – Under 16: 1
Free White Persons – Over 25: 3
Total Free White Persons: 5

And in 1830, just two are listed in the household, likely William and his son William (Hannah likely died between 1824 and 1830 as she does not appear in the 1830 census but is listed on William’s 1822/4 pension application – see below).

Home in 1830 (City, County, State): Frankfort, Oxford, Maine
Free White Persons – Males – 30 thru 39: 1
Free White Persons – Males – 70 thru 79: 1
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 1
Total Free White Persons: 2

History of Frankfort can be read here

On March 18, 1818, Congress enacted legislation which provided lifetime pensions to poverty stricken Continental Line and US Navy veterans who had served at least 9 months or until the end of the war.  The benefits provided for $20 per month for qualifying officers and $8 per month for non officers.  So many applications were filed under this Act that the legislation was amended on May 1, 1820 to require applicants to submit certified schedules of income and assets with their applications and empowering the Secretary of War, in his sole discretion, to remove from the pension rolls such beneficiaries as he may determine were not in need of financial assistance. On March 1, 1823, Congress passed legislation which resulted in the restoration of some of the pensions disallowed by the Secretary.

Mr. Arthur Livermore, State Representative for New Hampshire, requested a pension on William’s behalf on 19 January 1820 at the 16th Congress, session 1 (recorded on Journal Page 147).  He was referred to the Committee on Pensions and Revolutionary Claims.


On 24 January 1820, his claim was referred to the Secretary of War (recorded on Journal Page 165).

Screenshot (6)

On 29 March 1820 the report of the Secretary of War, in regards to his pension. was laid before the house (recorded on Journal Page 350).

Screenshot (5)

Library of Congress, American Memory, A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 – 1875, , Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States

William’s application for a pension under this act [although the database is labeled land grants?] is found in Hancock County, Maine for his Revolutionary Service. Original documents stored at the Maine State Archives here:Revolutionary war application

He was a carpenter, age 68, who is unable to work due to sickness and great debility. He did not own real estate. His possessions included: 1 hog $4.00, tea kettle & other iron ware $3.00, crockery ware $1.00, chairs, tubs and wooden ware $2.00, sundry small articles $6.00 – total $16.00. He resided with his wife Hannah (66) in Frankfort and two children, Nancy (24) and William (27).

Frankfort vitals

On June 7, 1832, Congress enacted pension legislation extending benefits more universally than under any previous legislation.  This act provided for full pay for life for all officers and enlisted men who served at least 2 years in the Continental Line, the state troops or militia, the navy or marines. Men who served less than 2 years but at least 6 months were granted pensions of less than full pay. Benefits were payable effective March 4, 1831, without regard to financial need or disability and widows or children of were entitled to collect any unpaid benefits due from the last payment to a veteran until his death. William finally was approved to collect under this act.

Payments under this act, which were made available in March and September, began in March 1832 but were retroactive to 4 June 1831. The numbers in the ledger below indicate whether the payment was collected by William (or his representative) in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th quarter.  It also tells us that he likely did not move from Maine in this time frame (usually a notation would indicate a transfer to an alternate pension office).

grout pension final U.S. Pensioners, 1818-1872 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Ledgers of Payments, 1818-1872, to U.S. Pensioners Under Acts of 1818 Through 1858 From Records of the Office of the Third Auditor of the Treasury, 1818-1872; (National Archives Microfilm Publication T718, 23 rolls); Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury, Record Group 217; National Archives, Washington, D.C..

William is listed in the 1835 lists of Pensioners.

pensionroll1835i-002067 U.S., The Pension Roll of 1835 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.Original data:United States Senate.The Pension Roll of 1835.4 vols. 1968 Reprint, with index. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1992.

Final payment

william final

william final 2.jpgwilliam final 3.jpg

Based on the date of last pension payment, in the 4th quarter (Oct/Nov/Dec) of 1836, Grout, in his early 80’s likely died late 1836/early 1837.

52 Ancestors Week #31 – Shipmasters and Mariners

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 have written extensively of the Lansil and Haines families, an interesting bunch, many of whom made their livelihood on the sea, a thrilling, albeit grueling and dangerous career choice.  The Lansil patriarch, Charles V. Lansil drowned off the shore of Bar Harbor, Maine. One of the Haines boys, James, was lost at sea 50 miles from Cape Ann while taking in the foresail in a gale of wind. Another, Alex Haines, lost his life, serving our country, when the Ticonderoga was torpedoed in WWI.

The “Captain Lansils” were all associated with Bangor area vessels (one exception below is the Curtis Tilton). The  information in the table was compiled mostly from digitized vessel registers available through Mystic Seaport’s Library page, but also drawn from the articles, indexes and sources provided by the Maine Maritime Museum.  There were variations in spelling of both captains’ names and vessel names.

Captain Vessel Approximate dates of command
Charles V. Lansil Nellie Carr (schooner) 1869-1875
Charles V. Lansil Sch CV Lansil, Havener Jan 1853 damaged on way to Cuba
James P. Lansil Adeline Hamlin (I) (schooner) ?-1846
Adeline Hamlin (II) (schooner) 1846-1864
Ocean Wave (schooner) 1867-1875
Ada W. Gould (schooner) 1875-1876
Edward P. Lansil Chimo (schooner) 1871-1877
Curtis Tilton (schooner) 1881-1884
Joseph M. Hayes (schooner) 1885-1886
Anna E. J. Morse (schooner) 1886-1891
Unknown Lansil West Wind (schooner) 1856, 1857
Unknown Lansil Mary Lymburner (schooner) 1869-1873
Unknown Lansil Abbie E. Willard (schooner) 1870-1875
Unknown Lansil Apphia (Cld Ship) Shipping News, October 19, 1835

James P. “Jim” Lansil, sixth child of Charles V. and Ruth (Paine) Lansil, born in Bangor, Maine, 30 Sept 1918 (my 3rd great grand uncle), was one of the fortunate.

james lansil

James first married, 4 Feb 1838, Martha Colby, daughter of Timothy Colby and Mary Mayhew.  In a pension file, Martha’s sister Ann (who married James’ nephew Charles Lansil), swears that although she did not attend the marriage ceremony, she knows they were married and did run into the couple the next day.  She also claims that she was present when their son Elbridge was born.

marriage colby

They had seven known children: George, John F., Elbridge T., Francis S., Arthur J., Oscar, and Edward P.



Martha died in Oct 1855.

Martha death

James married second 27 Dec 1857, Mrs. Thankful S. Mitchell (likely the surname of her first husband as she is given the title “Mrs”; according to the 1880 census she had a twin sister Eliza B. Nash; her maiden name may have been Rowe), with whom he had no known children. She died in 1887.

James bio


wallet stolen

Pension Application

James applied for a father’s pension under the act of 1890 which he felt was due him from his deceased son Elbridge’s service.  His application was rejected. The pension file is filled with affidavits of friends, neighbors and relatives and provides many details of James’ life.


Lansil_Elbridge_001 Lansil_Elbridge_002 Lansil_Elbridge_003 Lansil_Elbridge_004 Lansil_Elbridge_005 Lansil_Elbridge_006 Lansil_Elbridge_007 Lansil_Elbridge_008  Lansil_Elbridge_010 Lansil_Elbridge_011  Lansil_Elbridge_013  Lansil_Elbridge_015 Lansil_Elbridge_016 Lansil_Elbridge_017 Lansil_Elbridge_018 Lansil_Elbridge_019 Lansil_Elbridge_020 Lansil_Elbridge_021 Lansil_Elbridge_022 Lansil_Elbridge_023 Lansil_Elbridge_024 Lansil_Elbridge_025 Lansil_Elbridge_026 Lansil_Elbridge_027 Lansil_Elbridge_028 Lansil_Elbridge_029 Lansil_Elbridge_030 Lansil_Elbridge_031 Lansil_Elbridge_032 Lansil_Elbridge_033 Lansil_Elbridge_034 Lansil_Elbridge_035 Lansil_Elbridge_036 Lansil_Elbridge_037 Lansil_Elbridge_038 Lansil_Elbridge_039 Lansil_Elbridge_040 Lansil_Elbridge_041 Lansil_Elbridge_042 Lansil_Elbridge_043 Lansil_Elbridge_044 Lansil_Elbridge_045 Lansil_Elbridge_046 Lansil_Elbridge_047 Lansil_Elbridge_048 Lansil_Elbridge_049 Lansil_Elbridge_050 Lansil_Elbridge_051


James died 16 June 1902 at Snug Harbor, an institution to care for “aged, decrepit and worn-out” seamen, a 130-acre plot on Staten Island overlooking the Kill Van Kull, founded through a bequest after the death of Revolutionary War soldier and ship master Captain Robert Richard Randall. At its peak in the late 19th century, about 1,000 retired sailors lived at Snug Harbor, then one of the wealthiest charities in New York (

Our James is listed in the index of the Snug Harbor collection as James Lansie –

James admittance

1) Lansie, James P.
Inmate No.: 3465
Admission App.: Y; Admission Date: 6/29/1901
Death Certificate: Y; Date of Death: 6/16/1902
Medical Record: Y; Social Record: N
Photograph: N; Citizenship Certificate: N
Any Correspondences: none; Readmitted?: No Information
Miscellaneous Documents: none
snug harbor paperwork
Upon being admitted, he reported having had Rheumation and Malaria. He was described as have issues with Senility and Chronic Intestinal Nephritis and was feeble.  He was aged and worn out; a widower with two living sons.His first voyage at sea was from Bangor, Maine to Providence, Rhode Island on the Sch. James laden with lumber in 1830.  His final voyage was on the Ada Gould in 1877.  Total sea service was 45 years – 20 years Foreign Trade/20 years Coastwise. His employers, all of Bangor, were Joseph Oakes, John Cassidy, James Littlefield and Daniel Green.
He retired from the sea at age 60, then for 5 summers he was in charge of the buildings at the Eastern Maine Fair. He then, for several years, sold silver polish to residents in Bangor.  At time of admittance he owned no property and had no means of support. He mentions that he tried to obtain a pension, unsuccessfully, for the death of a son in the Army of Rebellion [Civil War] He had no other source of income.At the time of his death, the following parties were notified:
– Geo. Lansil, 308 Center St., Bangor, Me. [son]
– Mrs Fannie Lansil Eames, 1187 St Marks Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. [James’s deceased son Edward, married Fannie Sarah Carr and had a daughter Edith who married Harrison Eames; in 1900 the three were residing together at this address – this likely refers to Fannie Carr Lansil or Edith Lansil Eames or both].
– Oscar Lansil, Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Returned [son]
– Miss Ada W. Gould, Albany, N.Y. Care Geo. B. Adams [step-granddaughter]
His personal effects included: 1 pckge letters, 2 walking sticks, 2 pen knives, 2 pr scissors, 3 books, 13 photos, 2 razors, 3 tea spoons, 1 shaving brush,  1 blacking brush, 1 purse, 1 razor strip, 1 shaving mug, letters and papers, 2 handkerchiefs, 1 pr spectacles, 1 silver watch, cash 14 cents.
personal effects
Click on the links below to view additional documents:
The New York Tribune, on 6 July, published a tribute on the front page:


Distressing Experience of Sea Captain Who Died Recently at Sailor’s Snug Harbor

Bangor, Me., July 5 (Special) – Captain James P. Lansil, of Bangor, the oldest of all Maine’s retired mariners, died last week at the Sailor’s Snug Harbor. Staten, N.Y., where he had peacefully spent the closing days of a life filled with perils and the hard toll of the sea. Captain Lansil would have been eighty-six years old in September but until his last illness he walked with a firm step and his eye was as bright as when he went on on his first trip to the sea more than sixty years ago. This old sailor was very different from the common run of shipmasters, for, although he had been through many exciting adventures and visited nearly every important port in the world, he was not at all given to spinning yarns, never drank a drop of liquor in his life, never used tobacco in any form and never was heard to utter a profane word.

The story of Captain Lansil’s adventures afloat would make a book, but the only thing that ever appeared in print concerning his voyaging was a little paragraph, published in the newspapers in the fall of 1876, announcing the loss at sea of the schooner Ada W. Gould, of Bangor.  Of his experiences on that occasion, Captain Lansil never gave any extended account until last fall, when, in a drouth, some one remarked what a dry time it was and how Maine was suffering for water. At this, Captain Lansil spoke up, saying;

“What, water? Why, there’s water enough here! How would you like to go nine days without a single drop of water?”

That brought out the story of the loss of the Ada W. Gould, upon which the Captain had always preserved silence, disliking to recall his awful experiences when he lost his vessel. It was the first narrative of the tragedy in midocean, in which two men were drowned, while five others came near to death, being rescued after fourteen days on a wreck, nine days of which they suffered the tortures of thirst, while for the entire period they scarcely had a morsel to eat.

It was on August 16, 1876 that the Ada W. Gould, a centerboard schooner of 150 tons, sailed from New York with a general cargo for Rio Grande do Sul, South America. Her company consisted of Captain James P. Lansil, master; Charles Wyatt, mate; Arthur Lansil, son of the Captain as steward; Oscar Lansil, another son of the captain and two seamen.  She also carried a passenger, John Coler, of Chicago.

On August 25, nine days out, when the vessel was well to the southeast of Bermuda, she took a heavy gale from the south-southeast. Being a new vessel, she stood up under it very well until the afternoon of the 27th, when the seas began to come aboard, thundering upon her decks as though bound upon sinking her. The glass ran down rapidly, and then, becoming alarmed, Captain Lansil ordered the men forward to come aft. The gale developed into a hurricane at sunset, and the schooner was hove to under a double reefed mainsail, while lifelines were strung and the word passed for every man on deck to lash himself fast.

At 9:53 o’clock that night Captain Lansil was below trying to quiet the fears of the passenger, Coler, when a great commotion on deck startled him, and he went up to see what was going on. A water cask had broken from its lashings and was banging across decks at a fearful rate, threatening to knock out the bulwarks. The cask was secured, and Captain Lansil remained on deck, the rest of the watch consisting of Mate Wyatt and one seaman.  Had Captain Lansil remained below with the passenger he would not have lived to tell the story. Five minutes after he came on deck the vessel was on her beam ends, and Coler, the passenger was penned in the captain’s room, where they had been talking.  The room being on the lee side he was drowned.

It was just 10 o’clock when the watch on deck saw a terrible sea coming straight for the vessel. It was a hollow comber, with a streak of yellow foam glittering along its lofty crest. It rushed along with the speed of a cyclone and broke upon the little schooner with a crash that shook her from keel to trunk. Captain Lansil said that this comber beat anything he had ever seen in all his long experience towering at least fifty feet in the air. The shock when this sea struck the Ada W. Gould was frightful. In an instant the foremast was whipped out of her, taking with it the forward house, and tearing a big hole in the deck. The schooner was knock on her beam ends as if she were a toy, and there she remained for an hour, until the men could get an axe and cut away the weather main rigging, which done the mainmast snapped off like a pipestem, and she righted.

The two Lansil boys and the other sailor, who were below, managed to get out of the house through the windows , after stripping off their clothing; but Coler, the passenger, was helpless in his stateroom, under hundreds of tons of water. The gale continued to increase in fury and the men on deck lashed themselves to the house.  Then there was nothing to do but wait and pray for rescue.  Every cask of water had been swept away, and the was no food within reach while the tremendous seas swept the wreck, which now, half full of water, had settled so the decks were awash.

On the second day, Oscar Lansil, with a rope tied around him went down into the cabin to search for whatever morsels of food might be there.  The corpse of the drowned passenger was washing about in  the cabin, the stateroom doors having been stove in by the seas, and young Lansil had to fight off this ghastly battering ram while he looked about for something to eat.  Finally he secured a can of corn and a few small salted and dried fish. This food was quickly devoured by the starving men, and then, their thirst increased by the salt in the fish, the sufferers cried aloud to heaven for water.  There was no water. The sky gave not a drop, and the vessel’s cask had all been stove or washed away.

At 8 o’clock that morning, Wyatt, the mate, was lost.  He disregarded the captain’s orders to keep himself lashed and went poking around in the waist, where a big sea caught and swept him overboard.  His shipmates saw him drown, without being able to move a hand to save him.

For five days the five survivors suffered awful tortures and then on the sixth day after the wreck one of the men found a harpoon iron. With this they split off a piece of the companionway slide,  of which they made a handle for the harpoon. The seas had stove off the hatches and Captain Lansil remembered that directly under the after hatch the stevedores had place a lot of condensed milk in boxes.  Here was hope! The first drive of the harpoon brought up a box of the milk, and on that the men feasted greedily.  It was all heavy and sweet, however, and made them all sick.

On the eighth day they were tantalized by a steamer coming within an eighth of a mile and passing without noticing them.  It was 2 o’clock in the morning and they had no lights to show.  When the steamer had faded away in the night, the crew raved and cursed and Captain Lansil himself, calm and unexcitable  man that he was, declared afterward that he thought he would go mad when the big ship passed him by.

On the ninth day came a blessing from heaven – a heavy shower. The men got a bale of sheeting from the cargo tore it up and soaked the cloth in the rain, then wringing it into a half barrel which they managed to catch from the drifting raffle in the waist. In this way, they got plenty of water. They drank until they were stupid, their stomachs becoming painfully distended.

Rescue came at last on the fourteenth day after the wreck. At 6 o’clock in the morning the pitiful group on the Ada W. Gould’s quarter gave a shout of joy, for there, full abeam, was a stately clipper ship under full sail standing directly for them. She was the Golden State of New-York, Captain Delano from New York for Shanghai.  She took them off, and all except Captain Lansil went along in her to Shanghai he being transferred a few days afterward to the British brig Courser, from Port Elizabeth C. G. H. for Swansea.

Captain Lansil came home to Bangor in December, his sons following in June. None of them have been on salt water since the loss of the Ada W. Gould marking the closing of history at sea of the most famous family of shipmasters that ever sailed from Bangor.  Three of the six Lansil boys were captains, and one of them Charles V. Lansil, now dead, followed the sea for sixty-one years, forty-four years of that time as master.

ada gould story2

The article reporting the loss, reveals that the vessel was built by Messrs Joseph Oakes & Son (Capt. George Oakes, who sailed one or more of the ships built by his father) of Brewer, Maine in 1875 and was owned in part by James Lansil with Joseph Oakes and others.

Newspaper obituary, 1881:

Death of Joseph Oakes. We regret to announce, this morning, the death of Joseph Oakes, Esq., which occurred in Brewer yesterday at the age of about sixty six years. Probably no man on the river had a wider circle of acquaintances, or was more highly esteemed by all who have ever had business intercourse with him, than Mr. Oakes. Engaged for the past forty years in the business of building and repairing vessels, his enterprise and energy have probably made business for more men in his line of business than any other man upon the river. In times of depression, when no one else could be found with sufficient courage to lay the keel of a vessel, he has gone forward and laid keel after keel, giving employment to many men, and support to many families who otherwise knew not where to look during the long winter months either for employment or support. He was a man whose integrity was never questioned, but all who dealt with him gave him the credit of being a thoroughly honest man. He will be much missed and deeply lamented, not only by his fellow townsmen of Brewer, but by a widely extended circle of acquaintance. His funeral will take place from his late residence in Brewer on Sunday at two o’clock in the afternoon. Masters of vessels in port are requested to display their colors at half-mast on the day of the funeral.

This article further claims that the Lansil boys on-board were James’ son and a nephew (the later version of the story names two sons, which I believe to be correct).  Lansil, a sea captain for 30+ years had been a master who owned part of each ship he sailed for twenty years. He was an esteemed citizen of Bangor.

sink ada

It seems that neither boy returned to sea; James’ son Arthur became a painter and died, age 38, after inhaling paint fumes. Oscar lived to age of 85 having become a restaurateur and carpenter.

boy lansil deaths

Several years ago, the g-g-grandaughter of mate Russell Charles Wyatt, messaged me: “Just wanted to let you know that by posting the Boston Daily Globe article from 1876 on the schooner Ada W. Gould, you helped me solve the frustrating mystery of exactly where and how my great-great grandfather, Russell C. Wyatt, was lost at sea. He was also a schooner captain from Bangor, but apparently was a mate on your relative’s (CAPT James Lansil’s) ship, the Ada W. Gould, in late 1876”.

No further information was found on Chicago passenger John Coler/Coller.

Likely, the schooner Ada W. Gould was named for James’ (step) granddaughter of the same name, who at age 12 is found living with him at 32 Lincoln Street, Bangor, in 1880; she would have been about 8 when the tragedy occurred. I do not believe her to be blood related. Ada is likely the daughter of Flora Mitchell (1838-1880) and Peltiah Winter Gould, Flora was James’ second wife Thankful’s daughter from her previous marriage. Ada is mentioned as residing in Albany, New York in James’s Snug Harbor paperwork, her whereabouts after 1902 are unknown.

Ada W gould census

Using Newspapers to Learn of Ancestors Lives and Times

Newspaper articles can reveal amazing details of your ancestors’ lives and personalities. As with all documents, there may be errors; always seek primary sources to confirm details.

Most online newspaper sites use optical character recognition (OCR). OCR is not perfect, For example r n is often read as m,  l is often t and vice versa,  p can be read as a y.  I try to look for letters that look similar to each other or that perhaps look like another letter when close to each other.  For example, Thorn could be interpreted as Thom.  So a search for “John Thorn” may come up null, but by changing the search to “John Thom” you may get some hits. Sometimes the OCR technology doesn’t work , especially if the paper is dark or the letters smeared.

For better results search on something other than a name. Find a street address in the census or street directory, then search for that address, like  “32 Lincoln” AND Bangor or “Lansil of Bangor”.

Look for the weather report on the date they were married or the day they stepped outside at Ellis Island; what were the headlines that day?; how interesting to know what your family was experiencing on those special days.  Browse papers published in their lifetime to learn of current news and events in their hometown, the cost of shoes, apples, horse carriages or homes.

Using date constraints might exclude pertinent results, I have found a number of ancestors in articles published as “XX years ago today”; one offering a detailed description of an ancestor’s home; another reuniting a grown woman with the policeman  and who rescued her as an infant, and recounting the story.

Search on their occupations in the area where they resided, and consider that sometimes other locations may have picked up stories relevant to your ancestors. A search on the keywords “Bangor” and “Sailor” revealed an article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, New York, 7 Sept 1902 which offers some insight into the life of a Maine sailor.


Of all the sailors on the sea, the down east coaster does the hardest work, braves the greatest dangers and gets the poorest rewards. His occupation has aptly been described as “tempting fate at $25 a month”. The coaster is an unsung hero, but he is unconscious of that and would call it square if freights were fairly good from Bangor to Boston and there were not more than ten consecutive days of easterly wind in any one month.

The Maine coaster is a queer mixture of sailor, farmer and business man and frequently he is also an expert deep sea fisherman. Many of the masters of the little schooners have in their younger days sailed round and round the world finally settling down in some seacoast village and buying a small craft of which they can be at once the managing owner and skipper and in which they can make a living by eight months sailing, hauling the vessel up and taking comfort at home from Thanksgiving to Christmas till spring. Some of the masters sail vessels owned by other people, either for a stated salary or “on shares” and occasionally it happens that the vessel is sort of a family affair, being manned and owned by father and sons or by brothers.  In times of disaster, this arrangement is quite unfortunate, for when the vessel goes down, the whole family is likely to go with her, leaving behind a pitiful array of widows and orphans. Such a case occurred in the loss of the schooner Ella Brown, several of the Peabody family of Jonesport having gone down in that vessel in the great November northeaster last year.

 The natives of the Maine coast towns and of the islands that are strewn along shore from Portland to Quoddy Head are among the finest sailors in the world. They are sailors from force of circumstance, hardy from inheritance and “cute” because they are Yankees.  No other men could make a living coasting out of these waters, and how the natives do it is a source of wonder to everyone who ever studied the subject. The coaster begins “going” when he is 12 or 14 years old and quits when he is too old to stand a watch at the wheel, if he manages to stay above water for that long.  Man or boy, he is generally lank and lean, with a skin like leather, a constitution of iron and a capacity to endure hardships without complaint.  His vessel is generally of great age and small size – 50 to 150 tons and 20 to 60 years old, rigged as a two masted schooner.  Generally she is a dull sailor and almost always she leaks like a basket.  Only the fact that she carries lumber accounts for her being so long afloat – hundreds of the old hookers now going would have been on bottom long ago only their cargoes wouldn’t let them sink.

An average size coaster trading between Maine ports and Boston carries a master, mate, one seaman and a “cook and hand”; many of them make trips from Bangor to Boston with but two or three men all told, and last summer, the schooner Angler, 80 tons was navigated from Boston to Calais and half-way back again by her master single handed.  The coaster’s cargo is, nine times in ten, lumber, and she gets $1.50 to $1.75 a thousand feet for carrying it from Bangor to Boston.  Out of this, she has to pay for loading and discharging, for towages, commissions to brokers, crew’s wages and stores.  The stores are salk pork, salt codfish, molasses, potatoes, baking powder and kerosene; there may be a chunk or two of corned beef, and in the fall of the year the skipper will add cabbages, apples, onions, etc., to the menu but at no time is the fare so rich or varied as to worry the cook or invite the gout. A man who wants to “go” must be both strong and willing, not only to reef, band and steer, but to work cargo as well, for it frequently happens that there are no stevedores available or that the skipper is unwilling to pay for loading and discharging. If the man sailing before the mast manages to put in six months in a year at $25, a month, he is doing as well as the average of coasters; the mate and the “cook” and “hand” get a little more and the captain gets whatever circumstances, weather-luck and his business abilities allow. This may be considerable or it may be nothing at all.

Occasionally it happens that a man gets rich at coasting, but this is when he gets a start in the world through superior business ability or seamanship or through friends who put him into one of those maritime marvels – the new style twentieth century coasters, four, five or six masted. The Coombse’s and Pendleton’s of Penobscot Bay and the Crowley’s of Massachusetts are of this cass, and Captain “Linc” Jewett of Portland is also a shining example. 

Several other families have accumulated wealth in the shipping business. The great majority, however, remain poor and take their chances in vessels that have the poorest possible reputations in underwriters’ offices. 

The awful risks taken by the men who go to sea in the old-fashioned coasters are set forth with tragic brevity in the wreck reports.  In the eighteen months ending December 3, 1899, 221 sailing vessels hailing from New England posts, mostly from Maine and Massachusetts, were lost, nearly all on the New England coast, and with them 255 lives.  The majority of these disasters occurred in one gale – that of November 1898 the like of which may not be experienced again in a lifetime and may come any day.

When a winter gale strikes one of the big new schooners she doesn’t mind it so much, being strong and able, and well manned and found. If necessary she can put to sea and run before it, coming on again at leisure.  She will be dry as a ship, and there will be no lack of food or water; she had steam engines to pull and haul, steam pumps to fight a leak, even steam to blow her for horn, and the man at the wheel stands often beside a steam radiator in a wheel house protected by plate glass windows.  But the little, old fashioned coaster, loaded decks with green lumber, worse still with coal, she is overwhelmed by the northeaster; her old sails and rigging are not fit to stand such weather, and when she springs a leak, as inevitably she must, her few tired men, haggard from loss of sleep, with empty stomachs and frostbitten fingers, must rack their weary frames at pumps in a desperate battle with death.  Too often death wins. If the wreck comes ashore there will be some few details of the tragedy; if not, then the people at home only know that the vessel sailed and never returned. This latter fate is the bitterest of all, for it keeps the wives and mothers waiting and hoping for weeks and months after everyone else has given up. 

There seems to be no such thing as breaking a coaster’s nerve.  The same men who have looked death in the face a dozen times, will go again, without thought apparently. 

The article continues, describing of a number of Maine sea captains.  James Lansil and the Ada W. Gould included.  The article reveals that James’ brother, likely Charles V., advised against the journey. It further claims that although the shipwreck did not break James’ spirit it broke his health, thus he never sailed again.

ada gould story

James owned property valued at $1,500 in 1870, a bit on the low end in comparison to many of his neighbors, a few of whom had estates valued over $10,000; but he was a homeowner (probate records indicate that some Lincoln Street property was also in Thankful’s name, additional research is needed but perhaps from her parents or first husband).  In any case, would like to believe that while not wealthy, our Lansil’s were good hardworking men who made a comfortable living for their families.


thankful land

Next, in the Lewiston Evening Journal – Jun 23, 1917, an article recollecting Bangor in days gone by…..,4649213

Reflections on a Deserted Fort

A man who spent his boyhood along the wharves of Bangor when this was one of the greatest lumber ports of the world, went down to get a look at the river the other day and saw, where formerly was a forest of masts, two three-masters, seven two-masters, a couple of tugs and a few coal barges. Except for these. the long lines of wharves were deserted and decaying and the lonesome sight made the old-timer heart sick.

He could remember when he could walk from City Point to the lumber docks just below Bangor bridge upon the decks of vessels moored there in a tier, with lines out astern to the piers and anchors in the stream; when there was another tier of vessels at the old Maine central wharves below Railroad street; when ships and barks were moored to the old toll bridge tiers, while the Brewer shore was lined with vessels moored at the wharves, repairing at the yards, and docks or anchored on the flats; when half a dozen busy sawmills below the city each had a considerable fleet loading and when High Head docks flew the flags of all nations, on all sorts of craft from the squat Italian Brig to the proud Yankee ships fresh from the yards of Bath, Belfast, Camden and Thomaston. 

Also he could remember when the river was so choked with coasters that William Connors, king of the log drivers, had hard work to get his   rafts down to the mills and the “scull-oar” men engaged in vigorous exchange of compliments with the obstructors of the channel, whie Capt. Sam Jordan, with C.B. Sanford, greatest of all the river tugs, or the famous Ralph Ross, noted for her pulling power dragged lumber laden fleets, often 20 sail at a time, down the river, swinging the tows in tiers of four or five as easy as the tugmen of today move one vessel. He remembered too, when, when as a harbormaster’s boy, he was often sent post haste Ross & Howell’s office to get a tug to clear the channel so that Capt. Otis Ingraham could get in and out with the famous and fast steamer Cambridge or Captain Roix could squeeze the old Katahdin through the maze of anchored shipping.   Often the sailing vessels, the steamboats and the log tows would get mixed to a tangle that gave the tugboats and Harbor Master Charles V. Lansil a hard job to clear up, and the volume of energetic elegance expended on those occasions would be enough to keep the politicians going thru a long campaign. 

Where Bangor once had vessels in the hundreds it now has them in twos and threes.  Then vessels waited for berths; now the berths wait for vessels. Boarding houses lined Front, lower Broad and Union streets, whereun deep-water sailors from the four corners of the world ate and drank their merry fill and sang lifting, songs of the sea. Today the boarding houses are inhabited by woodsmen and laborers, a sailorman is a rare being in parts.

Time was when Exchange street was to Bangor what South street is to New York. In the palmy day of Bangor’s port the street was with the offices of ship brokers, lumber manufacturers and ship agents and the stores of ship builders, the towboat office was a busy place, there were several sail ___ nearby and the neighborhood was redolent of the forests and the sea.  All these and more were along exchange street, but few of them are left. Today they are occupied by clothing stores, barber shops, shooting galleries, mobile showrooms and other businesses all very different…It speaks of Vincent Willard’s “little shop” over at the ferryway with its doughnuts jumbles and milk and soft beer, famous sweet apples….

The article continues, naming and describing some of Bangor’s characters… It names the old shipmasters, including the Lansil’s, Charles and James – “all of whom would starve to death now”.

Bangor waterfront

1880 – Penobscot River, Bangor from the Brewer Bridge, looking down river at the rafts of cut long lumber, ready for shipping. Schooners on both sides of the river are waiting on loads (


R2012.8.51, Frank Claes Collection, Bangor, Maine in 1880. Thirty five vessels at the mouth of the Kenduskeaag stream, near site of Union Station. Box cars, train tracks and lumber piles.

Tug Bismark towing lumber schooners

1890 – Tug Bismark off Odom’s Ledge, Fort Point, towing six schooners up the Penobscot River to Bangor (

Newspapers I use most often:

Fulton History (free)- which has 26,800,000 mostly Old New York State Historical Newspaper Pages, all searchable (I have noticed a few Pennsylvania papers).

Library of Congress (free) –, Chronicling America, America’s historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922.

Google News (free) –

Boston Public Library (free with library card) –; most larger libraries will have similar database access for library card holders for use in library or from home

Remember that there are offline searchable newspapers as well. The Malden Public Library in Massachusetts has old copies of the Malden Evening News on microfilm.  While not searchable, I was able to find birth, marriage and death notices by collecting vital records and searching newspapers a week before and after those dates.

Penn Libraries has a nice summary of historic newspapers available by state –

52 Ancestors Week #30 – The Mayflower Connection, Ruth (Paine) Lansil

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.”


Prior to applying for membership to the Society of Mayflower Descendants, for a small fee ($20) you are able to submit a “Proposed Lineage Form” and they will determine if a portion of your line has already been accepted:

I submitted my lineage and found that someone, in 1990, had been accepted for a line through to my g-g-grandfather, Edwin Lansil’s sister, Frances “Fannie” (Lansil) Bragg (

(14) me -> (13) my dad -> (12) my grandmother->(11) Edith Bernice Lansil (m. William John Haines) ->(10) Edwin Lansil (m. Jane Catherine Roberts) -> (9) Asa Paine Lansil (m. Betsey Turner Grout) -> (8) Ruth C. Paine (m. Charles V. Lansil) -> (7) James Paine (m. Elizabeth Cobb) ->(6) Thomas Paine (m. Mary Vickery) -> (5) Major Thomas Paine (m. Thankfull Cobb) -> (4) Captain Thomas Paine (m. Hannah Shaw) ->(3) Mary Snow (m. Thomas Paine)->(2) Constance Hopkins (m. Nicholas Snow) ->(1) Stephen Hopkins

Deborah Moore, State Historian at the New Hampshire Society of Mayflower Descendants (who was a great help in assisting with my application), identified a potential “issue”. Fannie and Edwin’s grandmother, Ruth Paine’s lineage, was recorded as “weak – circumstantial”.  Admittance criteria is stricter today, prior lineage acceptance does not guarantee election for future applicants of that line.

I set out to convincingly argue that it is “probable” not just “possible” that Ruth Lansil who died 1837 in Bangor, ME, wife of Charles V. Lansil (Lansill, Lansel, Lansell, Lanselle, Lancle, Lancil, Lancel to name a few variations) and mother of Asa Paine Lansil is the Ruth born in Truro, Massachusetts to James and Elizabeth (Cobb) Paine on 17 September 1783; and thus a descendant of Stephen Hopkins who arrived on the Mayflower.

mayflower entry

The History of Penobscot County

ruth bio

“The History of Penobscot County, Maine: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches”, published by Williams, Chase & Company, 1882 ( describes the life of the Bangor Lansil’s through the eyes of two living children.  Son James was born about 1816, and would have been about 66 when the biography was written, while Charles Jr., born about 1808, would have been 74 (he died the year after publication). As I have discovered inaccurate details in many published (unsourced) narratives, I regard historical accounts with some skepticism. In this case, both men were alive when the biography was written, making it likely they were consulted and thus more likely that the biography is mostly factual (unless they had reason to lie or exaggerate, which seems unlikely).

Their mother is named as: (a) “Ruth C. Paine born on Cape Cod in the year 1778” and (b) “Charles V. Lancil…settled in Truro, Cape Cod, Massachusetts where he married Ruth Paine”.  She was said to have eight children: (1) Thomas P., (2) Mary P., (3) Betsey, (4) Charles V., (5) Asa P., (6) James P., (7) Ephraim P. and (8) George W.

Ruth’s husband, Charles V. Lansil/Lancil born about 1768 in France was said to have emigrated at age 18, settled at Cape Cod for about 24 years, then moved to Bucksport, Maine [known as Buckstown until 1817], then relocated to Sunkhaze [now Milford, Maine] and finally migrated to Bangor, Maine, where he died.

This would place Ruth’s husband, Charles V., on the Cape from about 1786 to 1810 before their move to Bucksport, Maine [the family was not found in the 1810 census, but their fifth child, Asa, was reportedly born in Bucksport in 1812; Bucksport Vital Records did not survive, his birth was recorded with his death entry in Bangor church records].

The biography further claims that Charles V. Lansil, the fourth child, was born in Chatham, Massachusetts September 16, 1808. If the fourth child was born in Chatham in 1808, it is likely that the first three were also born on the Cape.

To date, one potential birth record was discovered.  The third child, Betsey, was born 10 October 1806 as recorded in Chatham town records February 1808 as: “Betsey Linsel daughter of Charles Linsel and Ruth his wife was born in Chatham October 10th 1806 recorded February 12 1808” by the town clerk.  The record book on appears to be a transcription from the “Second Book of Records”.  It is possible that the surname was not copied correctly. It is unknown why the births of the other children would not have been recorded at the same time, unless they were born elsewhere.

betsey birth

Betsey married three times, first to Aaron McKinney (1826 Bangor), 2nd to William B. Richardson (1838 Bath) and 3rd to Abram Partridge (1854 Bangor using the name Betsey Richardson).

On 10 May 1877, Betsey, listed as Betsey Partridge, entered the Home for Aged Women in Bangor.  She was enumerated there in 1880 and is listed as being born about 1809 in Massachusetts with a France born father and Massachusetts born mother.  She died at the home 9 JUL 1886 and is buried at Mt Hope.

betsey 1880.png



Betsey filed a marriage intention in 1826, to Aaron McKinney, an indication that she had reached “age of consent” which was 18 in Maine at that time [she would have been about 20]. She is later named in a land deed with her other siblings as Betsey McKinney (see below)

marriage laws maine

betsey married

betsy marriage Daily Whig & Courier, Bangor, ME

We do know she was likely the third child and that since the fourth child was born September 16, 1808 in Chatham, her birth must have occurred within a few years of 1808. So she is likely the same Betsey born in Chatham, which would place Charles and Ruth on the Cape in 1806.

Furthermore, if Ruth was born in 1778, she likely would have married after 1794 (age 16). Assuming all of their children were legitimate (and none were twins), and given that third child was born in 1806, she likely married before 1804.

A Land Deed

A land deed from, Bangor, Book 48 pages 129 & 130 dated 17 April 1834,  shows all of Charles V. Lansil’s heirs and children together buying a lot of land near the Penobscot River for the price of $325 from three merchants named William Emerson, Wiggins Hill and James McLaughlin (Dionysia Hill, wife of Wiggins releases her dower).

The names of the Lansil children/heirs listed match the History of Penobscot County (including the initial “P” in many of their names) and include: Mary P. Dudley, Betsy McKinney, Charles, Thomas P., Asa P., James P., Ephraim P. and George W.

Interesting that they purchased as “heirs” and not on their own behalf.  The land office wasn’t even sure why the purchase was written this way.  As of 1821, married women in Maine, were allowed to own and manage property in their own name in case their spouse became incapacitated which explains Mary & Betsey being included in the transaction and not their spouses (

land deed

 The Middle Initial “P” 

Ruth’s son (my 3rd g-grandfather), Asa, signs as “Asa Paine Lansil” in 1842 when was baptized and became the 321st or 322nd member of the Hammond Street Church, Bangor; further evidence that “Paine” was likely a family name:

asa church


church records



asa member

Asa’s death recorded in Boston in 1890, reports his mother as “Ruth born in Truro”:

Asa death

The death, also recorded at Hammond Street Church, again names him as Asa Paine Lansil. The document reports that Asa, the fifth child, was born October 1812 in Bucksport, Maine, which coincides with the timeline given in the History of Penobscot County:

asa death hammond Asa death


His son Wilbur’s SAR application also names him as Asa Paine Lansil.


Ruth’s children Thomas, Mary, James & Ephraim are recorded in a variety of documents with the middle initial “P” .  I have not discovered any that specify the “P” is for Paine, other than Asa’s, but it would seem likely that they were given the same family name.

Ruth’s Death and Probate

When Ruth passed in November 1837, the newspaper and death indexes reported her age as 53, which would put her birth about 1784 (six years later than the reported 1778 in The History of Penobscot County, although it doesn’t seem unreasonable for a child to miscalculated an elder’s birth year).

ruth death


Only daughters Betsey McKinney and Mary Dudley are named in Ruth’s will with Betsey being named as executrix and awarded the majority of the estate.  This does not add to the case, other than further supporting the fact that the marriage intention filed in 1826, between Betsey Lansil and Aaron McKinney was indeed Ruth’s daughter.

Ruth will

The inventory of Ruth’s estate does not offer clues to her parentage, but I include it here in the event that other descendants are reading and interested.



Census Records

1800 Federal Census

  • There are a number of entries for “Paine” in Truro, however Ruth can not be definitively identified. In that census year, only head of household was identified by name; her father James was deceased; her mother Elizabeth might have also died (unsourced online trees). Ruth would have likely have been listed  in the category “Free white females 16 – 26” in 1800, of which there were 124 in Truro.
  • No variation of Lansil (searching on Lan*l* & L*ns* & L*nc*) – John, Charles or any other male first name could be located in New England.  A page by page search of the Truro, Provincetown and Chatham censuses revealed no likely matches. Charles may have been at sea or boarding in a home and thus not named.
  •  Interestingly, the 1800 Buckstown, Maine [ now Bucksport, ME] census includes a column entitled “from whence emigrated”; about 50 of 134 heads of households, residing in Buckstown (more than a third of residents), report to be of Cape Cod.

[1] wild card search; and “like” searches  in FamilySearch & name search in Heritage Quest

[2] Year: 1800; Census Place: Truro, Barnstable, Massachusetts; Roll: 13; Page: 66; Image: 70; Family History Library Film: 205611.

1810 Federal Census

  • There is only 1 variation ofLansil (searching on Lan* & L*ns & L*nc*) – John, Charles or any other male first name.
    • John Lasell, Windham, Connecticut; 7 household members – 3<16; 4 >25 (in 1810, Charles and Ruth would have had four family members under the age of 16, not three; and in 1820, when Ruth and Charles were enumerated in Bangor, a John Lassell, was enumerated in Windham, Connecticut; additionally a  marriage is reported between John Lassell and Elizabeth Dana, 15 Apr 1770, in Ashford, Windham, Connecticut, on Early Connecticut Marriages).
  • Charles V. Lansil and family may have been residing in Truro, Chatham or in Buckstown, that census year – however, he was not found in a page by page review of the census for those towns. They might have been in transit, residing with others or simply missed by the enumerator..

1820 Federal Census

  • Lan* reveals 168 results in there is 1 variation of the surname Lansil (I also browsed L*ns* with no promising results).
  • There is a Charles V.Lancell in Bangor, ME
    • 3 Males <10
    • 1 Male 10-15
    • 1 Males 16-25
    • 1 males >45
    • 1 female <10
    • 1 female 10-15
    • 1 female 16-25
    • 1 female 26-44

1820 Bangor census

In 1820 census records, if Ruth Lansil of Bangor was the eldest female listed as living in the household of Charles V. Lansil, and if the enumerator recorded the information properly, then she was between the age of 26-44 (putting her birth between 1776-1795).

1830 Federal Census

  • There is a Charles V.Lancil in Bangor, ME
    • 1 Males 5-9
    • 2 Males 10-14
    • 1 Male 15-19
    • 1 Male 20-29
    • 1 male 50-59
    • 1 female20-29
    • 1 female 40-49

1830 census

In 1830, the eldest woman, likely Ruth, in Charles V.’s household was between the ages of 40-49 (putting her birth between 1780-1790).

Cape Cod Marriages

So we have established that Ruth’s maiden name was likely Paine and that she was born on the Cape, about 1778 – 1784, likely in Truro where she married Charles V. Lansil, between 1794 (or 1800 if she was born 1784) and 1804.

Only one potential marriage intention and record were located in Cape Cod:

Intention: John Lancle of Provinctown and Ruth pain of Truro Published Octobr 16 — 1800


Marriage: Novembr 13 John Lancelee of Provincetown to Ruth Paine [1800]

truro records marriage

Wikipedia: French people have one, two or more given names. One of them, almost always the first, is used in daily life (but someone can also have a usage name that was not given); the others are solely for official documents, such as birth, death and marriage certificates. Traditionally, most people were given names from the Roman Catholic calendar of saints. Common names of this type are Jacques (James), Jean (John), Michel (Michael), Pierre (Peter), or Jean-Baptiste (John the Baptist) for males. The prevalence of given names follow trends with some names being popular in some years, and some considered definitely out-of-fashion. Others never really went out-of-fashion such as Jean, Pierre, Louis, François.

Charles V.’s birth record has not been located, so it is unknown if this is the case, but it is certainly plausible.

Cape Cod Births

A search revealed four births recorded under the name“Ruth Paine” in Truro, dated 1723, 1736, 1759, 1783. It seems most likely that the one born in 1783, to James and Elizabeth (Cobb) Paine, could be our Ruth.

Ruth birth

James and Elizabeth were married 8 November 1764 in Truro.

james marriage

According to vital records, the Ruth Paine of Truro born to James and Elizabeth (Cobb) Paine in 1783 had the following siblings[1]:

  • John Cobb paine the Son of James and Elisabeth paine was Born in Truro august 17th : 1766
  • Ephraim paine Son of James and Elisabeth paine was born in truro April 18 1779
  • Asa paine Son of James and Elisabeth paine was born in truro march 15 1777
  • Betty paine the daufter of Jams and Elizabeth paine was borne in truro June ye 11 day in the yeare 1768
  • Jams paine the Sone of Jams and Elizabeth paine was Borne in truro June 18 in the yeare 1770
  • thomus Cobb paine the Sone of Jams and Elizabeth paine was borne in truro October ye 19 in the yeare 1772 these thre recorded by me Daniel paine town clerk
  • mary paine the daufter of Jams and Elizabeth paine was borne in truro may the 20 1775 and Recorded by Daniel paine town clerk [died 21 May 1777:]
  • mary paine the Daufter of Jams and elizabeth paine was born in truro april the 20 1780 and Recorded by D p town clerk
  • Ruth pain Daughtr of James & Elisabeth pain was born at Truro ye 17 of Septembr 1783; baptism: 1783 November 23, Ruth daughter of James Paine.

The naming patterns of Ruth and Charles V Lansil’s children were similar to that of the Truro Paine families who descended from the Mayflower. A few of Ruth Paine of Truro’s siblings had their mother’s maiden name Cobb as a middle name – it would make sense that Ruth continued the practice, giving her children the middle name Paine.  The History of Penobscot County gives Ruth’s middle initial, likely provided by her son, as “C” which could possibly stand for Cobb.

As shown earlier, Ruth Lansil of Bangor named her children:

Thomas P., Mary P., Betsey, Charles V., Asa P., Ephraim P., and George W.; James P.

Ruth Paine of Truro had:

  • Two grandfathers named Thomas (Cobb and Paine)
  • Grandmother Mary (Vickery) and a sister Mary
  • Mother Elizabeth (Betsey)
  • Husband Charles V.
  • Brothers Asa and Ephraim; an Uncle Asa Cobb Paine who also named a child Ephraim
  • Father James
  • There were no Truro relatives named George W., however George Washington died in 1799 a few years before George W. of Bangor was born, he was perhaps named after our first president, which was quite common in that time period.

Other Records

There was a Ruth Paine who married Nathaniel Basset in Harwich on 4 Jul 1795, it is not plausible that this is the Ruth born 17 September 1783, as she would have been only eleven. No other Massachusetts marriages were located in the years between Ruth turning 16 in 1799 and 1804 (the latest date that the first child could have been born to Ruth Lansil).

There was no evidence that a Ruth Paine born to James and Elizabeth died unmarried.  Massachusetts records report deaths of:

– Ruth Paine daughter of Seth Paine and Rachel born 29 May 1808 and died 20 Oct 1809 in Harwichport.
– Ruth Paine daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Paine died 5 Oct 1800 in Wellfleet.
– Ruth Paine, age 90, died 23 Dec 1801 in Bridgewater, wife of Samuel (likely her maiden name was not Paine).
– Ruth Paine, age 26, died 15 Mar 1815 in Bellingham, wife of William (likely her maiden name was not Paine).
– Ruth Paine, age 60, died 30 Sep 1843, in Truro, wife of Elkenah, daughter of John and Hannah Avery.
– Ruth Paine, age 82, died 20 Apr 1854, in Blackstone, daughter of Jonathan Paine.
– Ruth S. Paine, age 20, died 27 Jul 1858, in Eastham, daughter of Seth and Rebecca.
– Ruth H Paine, age 80, died 11 May 1878, in Ashburnham, born Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
– Ruth T Paine, age 84, died 13 May 1881, in Weymouth, daughter of Levi.

James Paine, age 60 of Truro, likely Ruth’s father, died 10 Dec 1799 (he was born 14  July 1743, so the age at death is off slightly, but there were no other deaths found that might be our James).  This might explain her marrying at the age of 17, a man fifteen years her senior.  He may have been established and ready for a wife at a time when she was seeking stability.

James death


James grave

Cousin Ed asks: “Why would Ruth’s father James be buried with his sister-in-law?  Cheaper grave?  It’s a family plot in Pine Grove Cemetery.  Mary Paine (Vickery) and Asa (Jame’s brother) are right there also.  Spookiest cemetery I’ve been in”.


Based on historical accounts, death and census records, Ruth Lansil was of the right age to have been born in Truro, Massachusetts to James and Elizabeth (Cobb) Paine on 17 September 1783.  The History of Penobscot County supports a Truro birth, in the same time frame and a maiden name of Paine as reported by two sons, who seemingly had no reason to fabricate.  Additionally, Ruth’s son Asa’s death record reports a mother born in Truro.

An 1800 marriage of a John Lancelee /Lancle to Ruth Paine in Truro further supports this theory. It was typical for the French to have more than one name, usually christian, and Jean (John) was a common choice. No census, birth, death or other records have been uncovered to indicate there was a second couple John and Ruth Lancelee /Lancle residing in the United States after this date.

At least two of Ruth Lansil’s children, Charles V. and Betsey, report a birth in Chatham on Cape Cod, placing the family there in the early 1800’s.  Many Cape Cod families immigrated to Buckstown/Buscksport, Maine (thanks to the census enumerator, we know Cape Codders made up about third of Buckstown/Buscksport population in 18o0) making it plausible that the Lansil’s followed.

At least one son, Asa, was given the middle name Paine, others used the initial “P” (as written in the 1834 land deed, The History of Penobscot County and other census documents not listed here) which might stand for Paine. James and Elizabeth (Cobb) Paine’s sons John and Thomas were given the middle name Cobb; Ruth Lansil used a middle initial of “C”.  If Ruth’s mother passed her maiden name to her offspring, perhaps Ruth followed suit.  The names of Ruth Lansil’s children, although common, were  the same names found in Truro family of James and Elizabeth (Cobb) Paine.

Other vital records consulted reveal no evidence that the Ruth born to James and Elizabeth (Cobb) Paine married someone else or died unmarried.

On the off-chance that Ruth Lansil is not the daughter of James and Elizabeth (Cobb) Paine; given that she was found living on Cape Cod with a surname of Paine, it is still probable that she descends from Stephen Hopkins.  Paine is an old family name, on the Cape dating back to the 1600’s. Most everyone there in that time frame, descends from one or more Mayflower passengers.

“In the year 1644 The Court doth grant unto the church of New Plymouth or those that goe to dwell at Nausett all that tractt of land lying between sea & sea from the purchasers bounds at Namseakett to the hearing brooke att Billingsgate with the saide hearing brooke & all the Medows on both side the saide brooke with the greatt basse pond these & all the Medows & Islands lying within saide tractt. Nathaniel Morton,Secretary of the Court.” This grant came about as the result of the realization on the part of the church of Plymouth that it was situated on “one of the most barren parts of New England.” It was concluded that “the whole body of the church at Plymouth should not remove from Plymouth but liberty was given to those who so desired.” Consequently seven men became the first settlers in April 1644. They were Thomas PRINCE, John DOANE, Nicholas SNOW, Josias COOK, Richard HIGGINS, John SMALLEY and Edward BANGS. In 1651 the Colony Court decreed the town be known henceforth as Eastham. The surnames MAYO, CROSBY,FREEMAN, HARDING, ROGERS, GODFREY, BROWN, ATWOOD, SMITH, COLE, SPARROW, HOPKINS, COBB, CRISP, MYRICK, WALKER, TWINING, AKINS, YOUNG, KNOWLES, NEWCOMB, PAINE, COLLINS, LINNELL,PEPPER, NICKERSON, WITHERELL, DYER, WARD, HERD, HATCH, HORTON were added by the end of the 1600s along with several others”.


Yes, for those wondering, my application was accepted:  State of NH # 1200; General # 82,512

A 4-generation descendancy chart that I created for Ruth can be found here, please contact me with corrections (I do have information through 6/7 generations but have not included those details for privacy reasons, since many are living): Descendants of Ruth Paine 4 generation


Ruth is also a descendant of William Brewster of the Mayflower.  The supplement is in process:

Hello Ms. Hall Little

Thank you for your continuing interest in the Mayflower Society. We have received your Preliminary Review Form and have attempted to determine the best previously approved lineage paper in our files that follows your stated lineage.  GS#76928 (NJ#2315) matches your proposed lineage, from Mayflower passenger William Brewster, through the 7th generation: Elizabeth Cobb m. Jame Paine.  This is an only somewhat well documented paper, which then follows this couple’s son John Paine.  Your Stephen Hopkins paper (GS#82512, NH#1200) provides documentation for the rest of the lineage

To register this lineage as a “supplemental application,” please contact your state historian and she will guide you through the process.

As a standard disclaimer, we must call your attention to the fact that even though a lineage was approved in the past, it may not be approved today without additional source documentation. Even though a paper may list references, some of the sources cited may not be present in the file. Standards today require that such sources be provided. Many older applications have no documents with them at all. Often, many of the documents cited were never actually submitted because there were no copy machines available at the time of the original application. It may be necessary to update even more recently approved lineages, providing documents for events that have occurred since the lineage was originally submitted or to make up for missing or weak documentation.

Thank you again for your inquiry.  Best of luck with your family history project.

Best Regards

Todd Holden

Research Assistant, GSMD

1. Name of your Mayflower Pilgrim Ancestor William Brewster

2. Son/Daughter Patience Brewster
2. Married Thomas Prence

3. Son/Daughter Mercy Prence
3. Married John Freeman

4. Son/Daughter Edmond Freeman
4. Married Sarah Mayo

5. Son/Daughter Mercy Freeman
5. Married Thomas Cobb

6. Son/Daughter Thomas Cobb
6. Married Ruth Collins

7. Son/Daughter Elizabeth Cobb
7. Married James Paine

8. Son/Daughter Ruth Paine
8. Married Charles Lansil

9. Son/Daughter Asa Paine Lansil
9. Married Betsey Turner Grout

10. Son/Daughter Edwin Lansil
10. Married Jane Catherine Roberts

11. Son/Daughter Edith Bernice Lansil
11. Married John Galatis Haines

12. Son/Daughter Edith Anna Haines
12. Married Dr. Charles George Hall



On-line resources used:

Offline resources used:

  • Hammond Street Church record books found at the Hammond Street Church in Bangor and Bangor Public Library
  • Bangor Probate Court
  • Bangor Land Office

52 Ancestors – Week #23, Edwin Lansil the not so famous brother….

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.”


Everyone in the family knows of “our” famous artist Walter Franklin Lansil, “Uncle Waddie”, and most are aware of his accomplished brother Wilbur Henry Lansil, “Bibber”.  Many of us have one or more of their paintings.  We speak of “our” bachelor Lansils at cocktail parties, when other family historians bring up the DAR/SAR, the Mayflower Society or their Indian Princess…. “We have a famous Venetian artist!,  His art sells like hotcakes!… Oh….and he does descend from Mayflower passenger Stephen Hopkins and William Grout who fought in the Revolutionary War!”

2014 magazine article describing a Lansil that sold at auction

But what about their brother Edwin?, our direct descendant? Several of his descendants were named for him….but to be honest, I don’t think many of us know much about him (at least I didn’t). Edwin was my second g-grandfather (my paternal grandmother’s, maternal grandfather).


Edwin resided with his parents and four brothers Enoch, Walter, Asa & Wilbur (and most years his sister Frances) for his entire lifetime.  For that reason I include tidbits of all of these family members in his biography.

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

Edwin Lansil, middle name unknown (possibly Paine), was the second known child born to Asa Paine Lansil and Betsey Turner Grout on 5 June 1839 in Bangor, Maine. On 9 July 1843, when Edwin was four and his sister Frances Ellen two, they were baptized at the Hammond Street Church in Bangor.


Older brother Enoch Howard, born 1 Dec 1835/6 (recorded both years in Bangor records) and baptized 25 Aug 1844 at the same church, died in youth (according to Sunday School admittance records on 22 Feb 1843; unknown if he was baptized after death or if one of the dates is inaccurate).


Enoch’s baptism, Hammond Street Church Records


Enoch’s Sabbath School Records, Hammond Street Church Records

Baptism records were not found for Walter, Asa or Wilbur.  Hammond Street Congregational Church was established in 1833, during an economic boom caused by the lumbering and shipping industries. A congregation of 71 members agreed to establish a brick structure west of the Kenduskeag Stream. Because building costs were running high, the building design was scaled back. In 1853/4 money was raised to renovate the exterior, lengthen and heighten the walls, and add the single spire.


From 1843 to 1848, Edwin’s family was living on 101 Hammond, a brick tenement in the Bangor neighborhood of Barkerville.  Asa’s brother Charles (wife Louisa and baby) lived at the same address.

By age eight, Edwin was attending the Hammond Street Sabbath School.


In 1850, he was listed as Edward P. Lansil (father Asa P. on Main Street) indicating that perhaps Edwin’s middle name was Paine.  No other records exist that mention a middle initial or name.


In 1850, an eleven year old Edwin was living in Bangor with his parents and siblings Francis E. (“Fannie”), Walter Franklin (“Waddie”) and Asa Brainard. Edwin’s father was a Cooper, with real estate valued at $1,000. In 1851 the family moved to Main St. (at the corner of Lincoln); Asa worked on 61 Broad St., perhaps with brothers James & Ephraim.



In 1854, Asa was in favor of electing a mayor who would vigorously enforced the Maine Law of Suppression of Intemperance (the state of Maine, under the efforts of the merchant Neal Dow, passed a prohibitory statute in 1851 outlawing the manufacture and sale of intoxicants).


On 6 June 1858, the day after his 19th birthday, Edwin became the 630th member of the Hammond Street Church.


That same year, he seemed to assist as a Sabbath School teacher (as did his father), then he returned to bible class.


By 1859, a 20 year old Edwin had become a cooper and part of his dad’s business; Asa’s assets had risen to $3,500. Betsey gave birth to another son in 1855, Wilbur Henry (known as “Bibber”). Asa’s sister, Mary (Lansil) Dudley died in 1856; and one of her children, Sarah Elizabeth Dudley, joined the family. Listed in the census as a domestic servant, was Melissa Paul, age 16 (perhaps a boarder or relative as her family lived next door to Asa’s brother Thomas Lansil in 1850).


The family lived on the west side of the Kenduskeag Stream (Main and Hammond Streets).


city dir


In 1860 Edwin was Asa’s only employee and made about $30 monthly. The father and son team produced barrels, buckets, water casks and cisterns. Asa had $200 invested in the business, and annually produced products valued at $1,000. In 1857, they sold to the town a cistern for $25, and horse buckets for $9. In 1861, for $23, they sold a cistern for the city stable . They do not appear in the Maine IRS tax lists from1862-6 (only Asa’s brothers Charles V. & George made the list), indicating that perhaps neither Edwin or Asa profited much in these years.


In 1861, Edwin was part of the town’s (volunteer) fire unit, Eagle Company No.3 (no known photo of Hose 3 exists, below are other Bangor stations in that era).



It was the time of the Civil War, several of Edwin’s relatives fought.  An unknown author writes: “The period of our life in Bangor was marked by the Civil War which although its active scenes were far away, sent its vibrations of anxiety & grief or of joy and triumph to our homes and our assemblies. How did we rejoice when Donelson fell! and when Gettysburg gave the decisive blow to rebellion! How did we mourn when – almost in the moment of victory – our great & good President was assassinated!” 


By 1870, Edwin had most likely relocated to Boston. He was not found in the 1870 census but in 1871 he is listed in the Bangor City Directory as living in East Boston.


The rest of the family was still living on 101 Hammond Street, Bangor in 1870. Asa’s net worth had risen to $5,500. Walter (then a cistern maker – was Asa Paine’s only employee, in a business now netting $1,200 annually) and Asa Brainard (clerk in store) had joined the now paid members of the fire department.



During this period, the lumber business was booming in Bangor.


In 1863 Edwin’s sister Fannie married a wealthy lumberman, Carleton Sylvanus Bragg, Jr., (in 1870 the 31 year old’s net worth was $35,000. Bragg’s dad Carleton, Sr., who died in Boston in 1876, also a lumber dealer was worth $50,000 that same year).  In 1870/1 Edwin, his brother-in-law Bragg (who also moved to Boston with his young family) and Henry Jones started a lumber business later described as “Successors to Jones and Co.”, a Steam Sawmill under the name “Jones, Bragg & Lansil” in East Boston. They purchased property for $2,146.37; four parcels totaling 5,625 feet on Maverick and Lamson (borrowing at 7%). According to advertisements in the local paper they dealt oak and yellow pine, car and ship stock, building material and all kinds spruce and pine lumber, shingles, laths, clapboards and pickets.

Lumber dealers

lansil bragg.jpg

businss in east boston

Their older partner Henry Jones was born 1811 in Maine. The small piece of Border Street waterfront between the north boundary of the Boston East site and Central Square was originally the site of Jones Wharf, apparently built about 1850 by Henry Jones, a lumber merchant in business with E. A. Abbott. He is found living in East Boston from about 1850 until his death in 1879. In 1850 as a timber dealer, 1860 a wealthy lumber dealer (his assets valued at $31,600, image below) and in 1870 as a dealer in ship timber. He seemed quite involved in town affairs.

Carlton’s obituary in the Bangor Daily Whig, 5 November 1880, page-3 summarizes their move:


Index to the City Council Minutes

Massachusetts Land Deeds – 7 Dec 1871, book 1082, pg 206-8 land purchase “Jones, Bragg & Lansil”

land deed

land deed2d9472639-b050-4140-945f-2b7dfdc46947

By January 1872 they had relocated their offices to 18 State Street and had added to their product line – Dimension Timber for Bridges and Wharves, Car and Ship Building.


The Lansil business was most likely established in East Boston to provide lumber to the booming ship building industry.

But, after the Civil War the ship building business collapsed.  Buyers favored steamers over wooden ships. World famous East Boston ship builder, Donald McKay (who lived on White Street near the Braggs) launched his last clipper in 1869 and closed his East Boston shipyards in 1875.

No records are found telling us what became of the Lansil/Bragg business and fortunes (the business is only listed in the 1871/2 directories and local newspaper advertisements are found through March 1872), but it is evident that a lumber business may not have been successful in this era.

In the 1870’s, the wealthy Yankee families, original settlers, when East Boston was a prosperous trading center and alluring vacation  resort left their homes for more fashionable addresses. Their “posh” homes were sold to developers who subdivided. Three family homes were erected in former lumber yards and other empty lots.

Much of the East Boston skilled population moved off the island to the recently opened “streetcar suburbs”. They were replaced by “cheaper” immigrants, mostly Irish, who flooded the community. The Lansil’s remained in East Boston longer than most.

Meanwhile, in 1871, the city assessed a $700 tax on the building that Asa rented, deeming the land more valuable due to street widening.   Perhaps this was a contributing factor in his decision to relocate.


Asa P. soon put the family horse, sleigh & robes and house on the market in preparation of the family’s move to Boston.


Asa P., Betsey, Walter, Asa B. and Wilbur all joined Edwin, Carleton and Frances in East Boston. They initially boarded at 119 Webster, East Boston (Fannie Lansil Bragg is on 39 White, East Boston). Soon Asa P. and Edwin purchased a home together for $5,600 on Trenton, at the corner of Putnam (lot 169, sec 3).


Massachusetts Land Deeds – book 1137, pg 179-180, 9 Dec 1872


Edwin, Asa B. and the Braggs initially lived together. When the rest of the family arrived in 1872, the Braggs relocated to White St., but by 1876 they rejoined the family on Trenton. Edwin is listed in city directories without an occupation from 1872-76.



The move to Boston sent Walter on his way to fame! A small sampling of some of the newspaper accounts of his activities:


159 Trenton Street as it looks in 2013


A full listing of Asa’s clan, including daughter Fannie Bragg’s family in the 1880 census:


Edwin, a lumber surveyor, had been unemployed for 4 months in the preceding year. Sadly, later in 1880, Fannie’s husband Carleton passed away suddenly on 1 Nov 1880 after being sick for just two days. The cause was apoplexy (sudden loss of consciousness, sensation, and voluntary motion).


The following year, on 3 March 1881, Edwin’s mother, Betsey Turner (Grout) Lansil, died of dropsey caused by scirrhus of the liver.  At the time of her death she was still living at 159 Trenton Street and was 67 years and 9 months. They buried Betsey at Mount Hope Cemetery, State Street, Bangor, ME Lot 407CG.

No probate records were found for her in Suffolk County. She does not have a gravestone.


In 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.

At the end of the 19th century, Dorchester was described as follows: Its close proximity to the ocean, with refreshing breezes throughout the summer months, superb views from its elevated points of Boston Bay, and harbor of unrivalled beauty, combining the freedom and delights of the country with the advantages and privileges of the city, pure invigorating air, good drainage, –all these features are steadily drawing the most desirable class of home builders. Most of its territory is occupied by handsome and attractive private residences, with extensive grounds, beautiful lawns, and shade trees around them.


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. Edwin seemed to be unemployed 1881-3 and then worked as a lumber surveyor 1884-6 :


Milton Ave corner Fuller 2013 – Very near to 101 Maxwell Street; the homestead purchased by brother Walter in 1886.


Walter’s popularity continued to grow. 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. In August 1884, the brothers set off for Europe; family lore says Edwin funded their jaunts across the sea to study and paint.  Unlikely, given Edwin’s lack of employment – more likely funding was from Walter auctioning off his artwork to prominent citizens.

Construction Update



Partial letter written by Natalie (Haines) Thomson to her sister Marion:


In February 1886, Edwin and Asa P. (both unmarried) sell their interest in the Trenton/Putnam Street East Boston home to Walter for consideration of $1.  Walter is to assume payment of the mortgage to Betty McIntosh, $3,500 plus interest (Walter resold 4 years later to Albert E. Low a local Grocer who grew up in East Boston, a newlywed and fellow Mason,  for consideration of $1 and assumption of the mortgage – still $3,500, plus interest).


In March 1886, sister Fannie died of consumption (likely Tuberculosis). No probate record was found. It seems that a once wealthy Bragg family was without cash or assets. Fannie’s youngest child Florence May Bragg was 17 and now an orphan – the Lansil brothers continued to provide for her (in 1900 she is listed in the census living with the Lansil’s but without an occupation).

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.


On Thursday, December 23, 1886 a 47 year old Edwin (a lumber surveyor) married a much younger (24 years old and pregnant) Jane Catherine Roberts, the first marriage for both (Edwin was the only son of Asa and Betsey who married).  They were married by Rev. Edward Newman Packard. Jane had been in the U.S. a little over a year – she arrived sometime in 1885. On their wedding day, the temperature was between 30 and 40 degrees and it may have been snowing lightly.

boston weather

Rev. Packard was installed April 8, 1870 as a minister at Second Church, Dorchester (corner of Washington and Centre streets).  The church was Congregational Trinitarian. The church, pictured in 2013, is now a Church of the Nazarene:


Soon the children begin to arrive!

  • Five months later in May 1887  – Frances May “Fannie” Lansil, known to the younger generation as“Aunt Fan” was born.

March 11-14, 1888, the “Great Blizzard of 1888” blankets parts of New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut with up to 50 inches of snow!

  • On 26 Jun 1888 – Edith Bernice Lansil was born.


Five months later the Lansil’s had a house fire which caused about $500 in damage [about $12,200 in 2014 dollars].


  • On 26 May 1890 Florence Paine Lansil arrived.


In 1890, Edwin is a boarder on Maxwell Street and a lumber surveyor at 27 Doane – the address of Walstein R. Chester & Company . Doane Street was the “lumber street” of Boston housing about a dozen lumber wholesale companies who provided the majority of the city’s lumber from this row of old buildings.  Edwin was with them for about 11 years from 1888 to 1899.


On 5 June 1890, Edwin’s father Asa Paine Lansil passed away.  He died of “old age” (77y, 7m, 19 d), at the Maxwell St. residence. They buried him with his wife Betsey at Mount Hope Cemetery.

He was described as Capt. Asa P. Lansil, one of the oldest citizens of Bangor who was well known and highly respected.  The cause of his death was softening of the brain.


asa obit.png

No probate records were found in Suffolk County. He probably died without assets.

Sadly Edwin and Jane’s 8 month old infant, Florence passed away on 20 February 1891 of convulsions and coma related to, tuberic meningitis. She was buried at Cedar Grove Cemetery, Dorchester, Maple Lot, Section 21, Lot 1483.


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


In 1892, Edwin  joined the “secret society” of Masons – in East Boston (unclear why since he was living in Dorchester).


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”


In February 1893, the family dog, a collie owned by Asa B., was killed by intentional poisoning.  The case does not appear to have been solved. Many more Dorchester dogs died over the next several months from poison.


In 1894, two sons were recorded as born to Edwin and Jane.  This is likely an error – the births were 4 months apart. In the 1900 census, Jane reports having given birth to only 5 (not 6) and that 3 survived.

Frederick W Lansil was supposedly born, 29 Mar 1894 however there is no one of this name buried in the family lot.


Edwin Roberts Lansil, died of marasmus (progressive emaciation and general wasting due to enfeebled constitution rather than any specific or ascertainable cause) gastroenteritis, on 8 Aug 1894, age 10 days. Edwin was buried at Cedar Grove cemetery with sister Florence. No birth record was found. Perhaps the birth record was listed as Frederick in error and given a date of 29 Mar 1894 vs. 29 May 1894.


In 1896, Edwin purchased the Maxwell Street home from Walter at the price of $1.  He assumed a first mortgage of $2,800 and a second of $400.




Wilbur “Bibber” (who “kept a herd of cattle” to use as art subjects in the stable on Maxwell St.) died on 26 June 1897 of pulmonary phthisis (a progressive wasting away of the body, typically tuberculosis). He was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, Bangor with his parents.  He left a will written 30 July 1896.


The Dressers are included in folks who attend the funeral – Mrs. Dresser sent flowers.


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 (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.

The inventory list submitted after his death includes sketches, paintings, a camera, art supplies and a cow’s head!




A month later, Jane was admitted to the Boston Insane Hospital on July 26, 1897. She was discharged 22 February 1898.  Her length of stay is unknown. She was likely depressed and suicidal.

In May 1899, Edwin and Walter petitioned the probate court for guardianship of their brother Asa.  The petition says that by excessive drinking and idleness he spends, wastes and lessens his estate as to expose himself to want or suffering thereby exposing the city of Boston to paying his support.

Asa became Edwin’s “Ward” until 17 Nov 1902 when Edwin is discharged (or resigned, the paperwork isn’t clear). He charged Asa $25/month board from 1899-1902. Rental properties in the area (according to advertisements in the Boston Globe) in 1899-1902 were in the $6-$25 range. The higher amounts for a full 8-10 room house! It seems that Asa was over paying, but we don’t know the circumstances (i.e. was board inclusive of food?). Asa took very little in the form of cash (a few dollars here and there) but the city directories indicate that he was still working as a clerk during this period. Edward paid fees from the estate for Asa’s newspapers and laundry (glad to see Jane Catherine wasn’t required to do it for him!). It 1899 Edwin reimbursed himself $38.46 in legal fees 1899 and in 1902 took $42.65 for services as guardian.


On 29 Dec 1899, baby Doris Lansil arrived.



In 1900, Edwin, Jane, their three surviving children (Francis 13, Edith 11, & Doris 5 months), niece Florence Bragg and brothers Asa (no occupation listed) & Walter (artist) are living on 101 Maxwell Street, Dorchester.  A 60 year old Edwin is listed as a lumber surveyor who has not worked in the past 12 months.  He owns the home which is still mortgaged.


By late 1900 Edwin had a job at A.M Stenson & Co., 44 Kilby, as a lumber surveyor.


In 1902, Walter moved to Hotel Pelham (an apartment house) and within the year, Asa B. joined him.


Their move may have been related to Edwin’s diagnosis as “insane” in 1902 (his 1904 death certificate indicates that he was insane for 2 years preceding death). On 17 Nov 1902, Edwin resigned as Asa B.’s guardian. No reason was given.


A year later, Edwin was admitted to the Boston Insane Hospital on 20 Nov 1903.

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 [unable to read] 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?].

Men were housed on Pierce Farm.


Interior of the infirmary ward in the Department for Men at the Boston Insane Hospital. Patients are seated around the room. Photograph taken a few years prior to Edwin’s arrival in 1900




Soon after Asa’s death and placement of Edwin in the insane asylum, advertisements appeared – “rooms for rent”, perhaps run by Jane Catherine who was then alone in the home with her children and likely needed some form of income.


On 11 July 1904, 65 year old Edwin died.  The actual cause of death was erysipelas (a bacterial skin infection).He was buried at Cedar Grove, Dorchester, Maple Lot, Section 21, Lot 1483, Row H. No probate records exist in Suffolk County, indicating that he also died without assets.


The lot was purchased 21 Feb 1891, there is only one marker, engraved with “Florence P. Lansil, age 9 months”, she was buried 22 Feb  – this coupled with lack of probate indicates Edwin may not have had much – the family may not have been able to afford a grave marker. According to cemetery records, a 10 day old Edwin R Lansil and 68 year old Jane Catherine Lansil are also buried in the lot.


Sadly, we know nothing of Edwin’s personality, we have tiny glimpses of what his life may have been like. Was he a charmer? How did he come to marry a woman young enough to be his child? I would guess things weren’t easy – close family members were alcoholics, we don’t know if Edwin drank (his asylum admittance papers state that he did not have an alcohol or drug issue), how he treated his wife and children and dealt with the death of his older brother Enoch, two babies and poisoning of the dog. How did the loss of a business and frequent unemployment affected him? The end of his life came while institutionalized. For what reason? We may never know his hardships and what impact he had on our generation.

Alcoholism in the Family

There is alcoholism and mental illness in every branch of my tree.  Betsey Turner (Grout) Lansil’s death certificate, lists her cause of death, as “Dropsy caused by Scirrhus of Liver”.  Although cirrhosis has a number of causes, I immediately pictured  a mean, old, crotchety, drunk.

Betsey Turner (Grout) Lansil, daughter of Amos Grout and Rachael Couillard is my 3rd g-grandmother.


She was born 3 June 1813 in Frankfort, Maine.


On 2 November 1834 she married Asa Paine Lansil, son of Charles V. Lansil/Lansell and Ruth Paine, in Frankfort or Bucksport, Maine.

They had six known children:
– Enoch Howard Lansil (b. 1836, and died young)
– Edwin Lansil (b. 1839 – my 2nd g-grandfather)
– Frances “Fannie” Ellen Lansil (b. 1841)
– Walter “Waddie” Franklin Lansil (b. 1846, a famous marine artist –
– Asa Brainard Lansil (b. 1849)
– Wilbur “Bibber” Henry Lansil (b. 1855, a famous cattle painter)

Enoch, Edwin and Frances were baptized at the Hammond Street Church in Bangor.

From 1843 to 1848, the Lansil family was living on 101 Hammond, a brick tenement in the Bangor neighborhood of Barkerville.  Asa’s brother Charles (wife Louisa and baby) lived at the same address.



In 1850, Betsey and Asa were enumerated  in Bangor with Edwin, Francis E., Walter and Asa B.  Asa was a Cooper with real estate valued at $1,000 . In 1851 the family was on Main St. (likely 101 Hammond was on the corner of Hammond and Main); Asa worked as a Cooper on 61 Broad St., perhaps with his brothers James & Ephraim.

Asa City

In 1854, Asa was in favor of electing a mayor who would vigorously enforced the Maine Law of Suppression of Intemperance (the state of Maine, under the efforts of the merchant Neal Dow, passed a prohibitory statute in 1851 outlawing the manufacture and sale of intoxicants).


Asa’s sister, Mary (Lansil) Dudley died in 1856; and one of her children, Sarah Elizabeth Dudley, joined the family temporarily. Enumerated with the family in 1860, as a domestic servant, was Melissa Paul, age 16 (perhaps a boarder or relative as her family lived next door to Asa’s brother Thomas Lansil in 1850). Edwin, Fannie, Walter, Asa B. and Wilbur were all living at home.

By 1860, Asa’s assets had risen to $3,500 and Edwin was his dad’s only employee. The father and son team produced barrels, buckets, water casks and cisterns. Asa had $200 invested in the business, and annually produced products valued at $1,000. In 1857, they sold to the town a cistern for $25, and horse buckets for $9. In 1861, for $23, they sold a cistern for use at the city stable . They do not appear in the Maine IRS tax lists from1862-6 (only Asa’s brothers Charles V. & George made the list), indicating (perhaps) that neither Edwin or Asa profited much in these years.

Asa City directories more

Asa City directories &

In 1870 only Betsey, Asa, Walter, Asa B. & Wilbur resided at the 101 Hammond St. home. Asa’s net worth had risen to $5,500. Walter had become his dad’s only employee, in a business now netting $1,200 annually.


By the early 1870’s Betsey’s children Edwin and Frances “Fannie” had relocated to Boston. Edwin was not found in the 1870 census but in 1871 he is listed in the Bangor City Directory as living in East Boston. Their brother, Asa B. soon followed.

In 1863 Fannie had married a wealthy lumberman, Carleton Sylvanus Bragg, Jr.  In 1870 the 31 year old’s net worth was $35,000, [about $625,000 in 2014 buying power]. Bragg’s dad Carleton, Sr., was worth $50,000 that same year [about $893,000 in 2014 buying power]. In 1870/1 Betsy’s son Edwin, son-in-law Bragg and a Henry Jones started a lumber business under the name “Jones, Bragg & Lansil” in East Boston. They purchased property for $2,146.37; four parcels totaling 5,625 feet on Maverick and Lamson.

Carlton’s obituary in the Bangor Daily Whig And Courier, Friday, November 05, 1880 /Page-3 summarizes their move:

bragg obit

In 1871, the town assessed a $700 tax on the Bangor edifice which housed Asa’s business. The road had been widened, thus increasing the value of the property. Perhaps the rent was raised which may have hastened Asa and Betsey’s decision to relocate.

bragg tax

Asa P. soon put the family horse, sleigh & robes and the house on the market in preparation for the family’s move to Boston.

bragg sale

Asa, Betsey, Walter and Wilbur joined Edwin, Asa B. , Frances and Carleton in East Boston about 1872/3. They initially boarded at 119 Webster (Fannie & Carleton then moved to 39 White, East Boston). Soon Asa Sr. and Edwin purchased a home together for $5,600 on Trenton, at the corner of Putnam (lot 169, sec 3)

Lansil home

Massachusetts Land Deeds – book 1137, pg 179-180, 9 Dec 1872


By 1876 the Braggs joined the family on Trenton.


159 Trenton Street as it looks in 2013 (the big brown one on the right corner)


Directly across the street is a nice park, it likely looked different, but it was there when the Lansil’s were there (and yes, that is my very patient husband sitting near the fountain).

photo (5)

Betsey, Asa, her 5 living children, her son-in law Carleton and teenage grandchildren Edwin, Fred and Florence Bragg plus a”domestic”, were enumerated in the 1880 East Boston census still residing on 159 Trenton:

Sadly, later in 1880, Betsey’s son-in-law, Fannie’s husband, Carleton passed away suddenly on 1 Nov 1880 after being sick for just two days. The cause was apoplexy (sudden loss of consciousness, sensation, and voluntary motion) .

About four months later, on 3 March 1881, Betsey, died of “dropsy caused by scirrhus of the liver”.  At the time of her death she was still living at 159 Trenton Street and was 67 years and 9 months. She was buried at Mount Hope Cemetery, State Street, Bangor, Maine; Lot 407CG, which has no grave marker.

betsey death

That’s it….  Nothing more. Impersonal records offering residences, children’s names and husband’s occupation. Not even an obituary found in the local Boston or East Boston papers.

BUT THEN…. I visited Bangor, Maine.  The Hammond Street Church records were preserved.  I let them know in advance I was coming. The folks there and at the Bangor Library (who hold some of the church books in their basement) were wonderful!  I had an amazing visit!

hammond church

They had record of Asa and Betsey joining the church in 1842:

joined church

Betsey’s signature when she joined the church:


Baptism and Sunday School records for her children, evidence that Asa and son Edwin were Sunday School teachers, a notice that her son Enoch had died at the age of 6, her husband’s Asa’s death notice…..

And Betsey’s death record:

Died in East Boston March 3, 1881. Mrs. Betsey (Grout) Lansil, aged 68.

Mrs. L. was born in Frankfort, June 3, 1813 [YAY! Her birthday!!] the daughter of Rachael and Amos (Couillard) Grout [YAY! evidence of her parents names]

Married Asa P. Lansil at Frankfort by Archibald Jones, November 2, 1834  [YAY! a marriage date! – Asa’s death notice gives the same date but specifies that they married in Bucksport, Maine].

She was received to membership of this church in profession of faith, with her husband and seventeen others Sep. 4, 1842. Seven of these have since died. The following letter to the one who should officiate at her funeral in Bangor by Rev. S. P. Fay, her former Pastor, expresses well her character.

It was read by Professor Paine at the funeral.  [? perhaps Levi Leonard Paine]

Betsey's death

And there, in the church books – the letter from Betsey’s former pastor  – A eulogy.  Simple but powerful.  She becomes a real person. My image was all wrong, she was a wonderful wife, mother and friend.

It reads:

Service in Bangor at the house of Edward P Lansil, a brother of Asa P. Sabath ____, March 4 [?], 1881

Pardon me for saying a word to you of the deceased, whose funeral you will be asked to attend. I should have been glad to have gone down and spoken of her whom I knew so well to the dear friends of Hammond St. church who will be at her funeral.  I should have been glad from my quite intimate acquaintance with her for now nearly fifteen years to have borne testimony touching her love to her family, – pure, tender and wise as it was her faithfulness to her husband and her fidelity to her faith in Christ.

Her sickness was long, and very painful, but she never complained in it all. She never felt that God was dealing hardly with her.  Death had lost its sting to her.  Among her last utterances, she  repeated the 23d Psalm and then said, – “I should love to remain with you all, but I am not afraid to go”, and again, – “it is better I should go.”

She was cheerful in sickness, hopeful in adversity and leaned upon the promises of God with childlike affection. Such was her faith in Christ, that she could look death in the face  without fear.

May god give right words of comfort and instruction to speak to the husband and children that  loved her with pure and sincere affection.

I shall remember her as one of the purest and most faithful of the many dear souls I have buried of the Hammond Street Church.

___ in Christ, signed S. P. Fay

Mr. Fay conducted a service at East Boston,  churchs [?] before the removal of the remains to Bangor.

Bearers at the funeral in Bangor. Deacs Dusen [?] & Webster, S. F. Jones and John P. Davis. 


About Rev. S. P. Fay:

It appears that Fay was her former pastor at the Hammond Street Church, he was enumerated in Bangor in 1880, but relocated to a church in Dorchester, Massachusetts later in 1880. This explains how he was able to be at her bedside and hold a funeral service for Betsey in East Boston and why he would write a letter back to his former parish speaking of the many he buried there.

bangor pastor

Fay burial

The Careers of John Galatis Haines (Week #4 – 52 Ancestors)

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 man of many talents, John “Jack” Galatis/Glatis Haines, my Nana’s dad, was the son of William John “John” Haines and Jennie Ferguson both of Ricibucto, New Brunswick, Canada.


My g-grandfather was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, 22 February 1885, second of eight.  His siblings included Edith, Alexander (who tragically died aboard the Ticonderoga –, Ella May, Margaret Elizabeth, Joseph, Minnie and Jennie. He attended school through the 7th grade [1940 census; as reported by his wife].

He married Edith Bernice Lansil, daughter of Edwin Lansil (of Bangor Maine) and Jane Catherine Roberts (of Llanfairfechan, Wales) on 26 June 1906.


They had eight children – Edith Anna (my Nana), John “Jack” Galatis/Glatis Jr., Walter Lansil (who died at 11 months from acute enteritis and colitis), Doris, Marion Jeanette, William Alexander “Billy”, Bernice Frances and Natalie.

edith and Jackedith and Jack2john galatis haines and Edith Lansil honeymoon NYC

1. (top) Jack, Edith and young Edith; (bottom) Jack, Edith, young Edith and Jack Jr.;  2. Bernice & Jack (rear), Doris, Marion & Edith holding cousin David Marshall and cousin Doris Marshall 3. Jack & Edith on their Honeymoon in NYC;

Daughter Natalie (who was 14 when her dad passed) recalls a childhood of dad buying homes, moving them in, fixing them up, selling them for profit and moving again; a pattern repeated a few times.  There were many mouths to feed through the Great Depression (1929-39). The Haines lived in Melrose, Malden and for a short time Saugus, Massachusetts (allegedly departing Saugus when Doris showed interest in a “colored boy”).

Jack first appears in the 1904 city directory at the age of 19 and over the next 38 years claims at least eleven occupations –  a Salesman, Chemist, Brakeman at the railroad, working for a lumberyard, a Road Builder, Steel Riveter at a ship yard, Carpenter, Plasterer, Mason, General Jobber and an employee of a radio manufacturer as a machinist.

1900 – no occupation – living with his parents at 154 Wordsworth, East Boston; [census; at 15 he is not attending school  nor is he listed with an occupation; his dad is a Carpenter and has been listed as such since his US arrival in the early 1880’s; perhaps they are working together]

1904 – Salesman; boards 154 Wordsworth, EB

1905 – works 480 Chelsea St. EB  [Walter S. Hill Chemical, manufacturing –] as does his dad who has become a Chemist; boards 154 Wordsworth.

walter s hill

1906/7 – Chemist; home 154 Wordsworth, EB [marriage record & Edith’s birth]

1906/7- Salesman; boards 154 Wordsworth, EB

1908 – Salesman; home 101 Maxwell, Dorchester [his wife Edith’s family home]

1909 – Salesman; home 154 Wordsworth, EB

1910 – Brakeman/Railroad; home 27 Blaine St., Boston/Allston [census & John Jr. birth]

1910/11 – Salesman; home 27 Blaine St., Boston/Allston [census, rents home]

1912 – Lumberyard [Walter Lansil’s birth]

1912-16 – Salesman; home 167 Forest St., Melrose, MA [& Doris’s birth]

1916/17 – Road Builder [Mason membership card, Mount Vernon Lodge, Malden, MA & Marion’s birth]

1918 – Riveter, Bethlehem Ship Corporation, Quincy; home 30 Plymouth Rd., Malden [draft registration – company built WWI destroyers – – Chapter III] 

1919 – Steel Riveter; home 30 Plymouth Rd., Malden [Billy’s birth]

1918-20 – Road Builder; home 30 Plymouth Rd., Malden

1920 – Carpenter; home 30 Plymouth Rd., Malden [census, rents home]

1922/4 – no job listed; home 45 Naples Rd., Melrose

1926/9 – General Jobbing;  home 45 Naples Rd., Melrose

1930 – Plasterer; home 8 Oxford St., Melrose [census, owns home valued $4,000 and radio set]


1930 map Oxford St. & Naples Rd., Malden, MA, location of two homes Jack bought and sold

1930 – General Jobbing; home 8 Oxford St., Melrose

1932- [not listed in either Malden or Melrose city directories, likely the period they spent in Saugus]

1934/36 – Plasterer; home 28 Ripley, Malden

1937/39 – Plasterer; home 18 Everett, Malden

1940  – Mason, Building Construction; rent home 18 Everett, Malden [census; his wife Edith is the informant]

1942 – National Company, 67 Sherman St., Malden; home 18 Everett, Malden [draft registration & undated SS card; manufacturer of professional, military and amateur radio equipment; National Radio was first incorporated in 1914 as the “National Toy Company”. By 1916 they had broadened their product line to include household goods so they changed their name to the “National Company, Inc.” They got started into radio in the early 20’s. By 1923 the National inventory included trade marked toys, Magnetic Dancers, Roberts Mixers, DMB Covers, Victrolene, and radio components.]


1942 – well known Plasterer; home 18 Everett, Malden [obituary]

1942 – Radio Machinist; home 18 Everett, Malden [death certificate]



* when source not noted, information came from city directories

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