Posts Tagged ‘Boston’

A Letter from John Hains to his daughter Mary

I have encountered many a genealogist who document only their direct line. Many times, in documenting the lives of your collateral relatives (aka siblings of your direct ancestors) you will find that your distant cousins hold documents or photos that offer glimpses into the lives of your direct ancestors or help to break down brick walls.

For hundreds of years, people who wished to stay in touch with others had only one way to do it, they wrote letters, the only means of long-distance communication.  Today I share one such letter written by my 3rd great grandfather John Hains to his daughter Mary in which he names a number of his children, including my 2nd g-grandfather William John  (who was working as a chemist for Cabot in Chelsea, Massachusetts).

john haines.png

john haines2.png

John Hains was likely born 5 Mar 1824 in Fredericton, York, New Brunswick, Canada to Joseph Hains III and Nancy Ann Boone (see post here).  By 1848 he had moved to Richibucto, Kent, New Brunswick where on 17 Mar 1849 according to church records (1848 according to the family bible) he married Alice/Alise Edith Childs, daughter of Joseph Childs and Jannet Dunn.

Family Bible.jpg


The couple had seven children: Joseph, Alexander, George, James, Mary Alice, William John and Elizabeth (aka Lizzie). Alice died in 1859.  John married second Jane Clare, daughter of James Clare and Elizabeth Langen.  They had four daughters, Alice, Annie,  Caroline “Carrie” and Christina.  John later resided in Derby and owned a farm in Miramichi.  He spent some winters in Boston, Massachusetts near (or with) a few of his children, who resided there.  John died 20 April 1901 in Derby, New Brunswick.


1851 – likely Richibucto (Kent County census records have not survived)
1861 – resides in Richibucto, age 37, native NB, G. Laborer, Episcopalian
1871 – resides in Richibucto, age 47, English origin, Laborer, Church of England
1881 – resides in Parish of Derby, age 57, English origin, Carpenter, Church of England
1891 – resides in Parish of Derby, age 66, born NB, parents born England, Mechanic/Bridge Builder, Church of England
1901 – resides in Parish of Derby, age 76, born 5 April 1824, born NB of Dutch origin, Farmer, Church of England/Episcopalian

**The original letter is held by Mary’s g-granddaughter who is one of our DNA matches! She shares 29.0 centimorgans across 3 DNA segments with my uncle, her third cousin, and 45 centimorgans across 4 DNA segments with me, her third cousin once removed.**

letter page 1

letter page 2

Lower Derby

15 Jan 1896

Dear Daughter,

I received your kind and welcome letter which I read with much pleasure I also received your present which I much prised and for which I return many thanks I crave —- your indulgence for delaying so long in my answer one thing is my eyesight is getting so bad that I can only manage to write in clear weather besides I have had poor health since the winter set in but we have a fine winter so far.

As snow is concerned we have very little snow but cold weather. I had a letter from George a few days ago, he was in San Diego, he still has a notion of me going to San Diego, he thinks it would be better for my health, but I think I am too old and feeble to go so far. I also had a letter from John [William John] with my allotment in he has his land paid for he is thinking of leaving Calbot [Cabot] soon as Calbot [Cabot] is not doing with him as he promised. He wrote me that Alex was to see him lately about going into business, he was on his way to Portland to buy another Vessel that he was selling the old one. John says Alex is doing well at the fishing. Annie says she received your letter she has neglected to write but she will write soon. Carrie has another young son making three in all. So no more at present I remain your affectionate father

John Hains

Served in the Merchant Marine – Radio Officer Uncle John “Jack” Galatis [Glatis] Haines, Jr.

Jack jr

My grandmother Edith’s brother, John Galatis [or Glatis] “Jack” Haines Jr., was second of eight, born 11 Sept 1910 to John Galatis “Jack” Haines and Edith Bernice Lansil  in the Allston section of Boston.

Jack jr birth


By Jack’s second birthday, the family had moved to Melrose, Massachusetts.  As the family grew, the Haines’ moved frequently between Melrose, Malden and for a short time to Saugus.

jack and EdithEde and jack

Pictured: Edith (E), Jack (J) and Doris (D) Haines

In 1920, the family was living in Malden, Jack was a 9 year old student.

1920 jACK

There were some hard times in Jack’s young life.  The Depression had disrupted the family with a move to a less expensive house in a less expensive town. The children slept using winter coats in place of blankets; blankets being an unaffordable luxury.  One story tells of Jack’s dad, Jack Haines Sr. coming home after a very late trip through the city on Christmas Eve, carrying a floor to ceiling tree which he and my mother decorated while everyone else slept. Foreverafter they told the story of how he scouted the town for a marked-down tree but the only ones he could find had been abandoned hours earlier. As he picked one up and started for home with his cache, a policeman suddenly appeared and asked what he was doing. The truth of six children sleeping at home with nothing to look forward to except Christmas morning, prompted the policeman to turn his back and walk away as he shouted, “I didn’t see a thing! Merry Christmas!”

Although times were tough, through her poetry, Jack’s sister Natalie recalls a house filled with joy:

You’re Only Young Once

… A rhyming version of Depression days

Natalie Thomson

Depression Days were then at hand
(Financial woes throughout the land.)
A seventh child was added to
A family which grew and grew.

Their worries big, their money small,
Their laughter rang from hall to hall.
Each day brought on a new event
From buying shoes to paying rent.

They picked blueberries in the sun
And sang on rides ’til day was done.
The castles were all made of sand;
The water cool, the sunshine grand.

The root beer was, of course, homemade;
Each holiday, a new parade!
The bonfires bright, who can deny,
Were better than the last July.

The icy tunnels dug in snow;
The car would need a push to go.
The swan-boat rides meant trips “in town”.
The clothes were mostly hand-me-down.

The marks in school were of the best…
Such praise for every “A” in tests!
A photograph in groups, you know,
Would find them always in front row.

The house was clean, there was no clutter,
But, oh, “Go easy on the butter!!”
The Market on those weekend nights,
With pushcarts for their city sights.

Their visiting was done in groups,
But picnics called out all the troops!
A wink from Dad, a smile from Mum,
Would mean a happy time to come

With dishes washed and windows closed,
The bathroom busy, off they’d go!

Jack, a good-looking boy, graduated from Melrose High School in 1928 [A copy of the yearbook has not been located, but according to Melrose Library Staff, he is listed as a sophomore in the 1926 yearbook].


In 1930, 20 year old Jack was living with the family in Melrose working as a bank messenger.

1930 jACK

At age 22 and a resident of Saugus, he became a Mason of the Mount Vernon Lodge, Malden, Massachusetts.

mason card

In 1940, 29-year-old Jack (who spoke directly with the census enumerator) had removed from the family homestead and was boarding at a home in Boston, paying $12/month, working as a bank clerk at First National Bank of Boston, making $1,160 annually, a large salary in comparison to fellow boarders and neighbors. His obituary further tells us he was employed by the Old Colony Bank and Trust, Boston for many years.

1940 jACK

Jack married Allene Day, born 28 June 1909, in Hartford, Michigan, to William and Katie (Rice) Day.  The pair likely met in Boston, where Allene attended Massachusetts General Hospital School of Nursing and attained a Registered Nursing degree in 1941. Their marriage was registered in Malden in 1942, just months before Jack’s father’s death, 10 days prior to Christmas. Did Jack come to the aid of his widowed mother who had lost everything in the Depression?  We don’t know.  Jack and Arlene soon relocated to Michigan where they likely had two sons born 1943 and 1945 [no births were located in the Massachusetts indices].  For reasons unknown, by 1947, Jack and Allene separated and Jack left Michigan and appears to have had no further contact with his children. Jack and Allene’s divorce was finalized on 3 Dec 1951 in Kalamazoo, Michigan and in 1965, Allene married second Porter Dent of Vicksburg, Michigan.

By 1947, Jack was serving in the Merchant Marine. He was a Radio Officer given the nickname “Sparks” (as were most others in his field).  It is worth noting that one serves in the Merchant Marine (never plural) someone who serves in the Merchant Marine is a sailor or a seaman or their rank (Captain, Mate, etc.) they are never referred to as a Merchant Marine.

It took a special personality to work as a Radio Officer, most were loners (some not by choice as  many got hooked by the “Well paid to see the world” publicity).  Jack was alone in the radio shack most of the time. Others crew members had the chance to interact and speak of projects they were working on.  No one understood the radio operator’s duties.  Few visited “the shack”, the noise of Morse code and static drove most away quickly.


The school where Jack received his training in unknown, but we can surmise that all schools in that era had a similar program and philosophy.

The Radio Training Station on Gallups Island in Boston, in 1944, described the requirements for the position:

“As Radio Operators, we will be the voice and hearing of the ship. Upon our ears will fall the first warning signals of danger and upon our shoulders will be placed the responsibility of flashing the first call for help in the event of disaster. In short, the success or failure of a voyage may well depend upon our skill and knowledge.

So important will be our future duties that we are receiving a very practical technical course of training. It includes code, touch typing, operating procedure, radio laws, regulations, international conferences, radio theory, practical laboratory work, operating positions, construction of composite transmitting and receiving equipment, radio-frequency and audio-frequency amplifier systems and related subjects.

Code is, however, one of our more important studies, for once we are assigned to active sea duty we must be able to carryon as efficiently as if we had been constantly engaged in the work for some time and that means taking messages on typewriters as fast as they come over the earphones.

Learning code is a fairly simple task, consuming but a comparatively short time. Building up speed, however, is quite another story, for it takes practice and concentration to acquire the art of copying and sending at rates generally used in commercial work

Before we came here most of us thought of code only in terms of dots and dashes. The letter A, for example, was dot dash, while the letter D was dash dot dot. One of the first things they taught us when we got here, though, was to forget all about dots and dashes and to think of code in terms of dits and dahs.

Now, the letter A is dit-dah, while the letter D is dah-dit-dit. In the beginning code is shot to us at such a low rate of speed, that letters are easily distinguishable. It is more difficult, however, as trans- mission becomes more rapid, to distinguish between letters. Consequently, more than half of our school day is spent in practicing code.

Each man has his own individual equipment which consists of headphones, speed selector panel, a hand sending key and a typewriter. Code is sent by hand and automatically by code sending machines, which can be regulated to any speed by the instructor.

Before graduating we must be able to copy mixed Code Groups at the rate of 18 words per minute. The ability to do this enables most of us to make plain language copy at the rate of 24 or more words per minute. Before we can get to the point of taking messages on the typewriter we must become fairly efficient at typing. We are learning the touch systems in the best “secretarial” manner and before graduation are able to type at the rate of 35 words per minute which is sufficient for practical operating work. 

While code is one of our most important studies here, other subjects of equal or near equal consequence require a great deal of our attention. Take, for instance, radio theory. In order to thoroughly understand how to make necessary repairs we have to know why our equipment functions as it does. Fundamentals of electricity, which many of us studied in high school under the general heading of physics, have to be thoroughly understood. Ohm’s law, and others, have to be more than a series of memorized words.

Today’s radio equipment is much more complicated than it was during the days of the First World War, with the result that a good portion of our time is spent in the service laboratories learning how to repair receivers, transmitters, direction finding apparatus and other paraphernalia that we may be called upon to service in mid-ocean

Most interesting to all of us, perhaps, is the actual watch standing that we do. In this phase of our work, we take live messages from the air and learn through experience the routine of shipboard procedure.

Upon completion of our course here we take the usual Federal Communications Commission examinations which are given at the Custom House in Boston. In the first place, requirements for obtaining the coveted second class license [Jack held a first class license!] are that the applicant must send and receive code at the rate of 16 words per minute mixed code and successfully pass the required elements of the test covering the rules and regulations, basic and advanced radio theory and operating practice.

Strange as it may seem, we complete our work here in somewhat less than half the time required for a like course of study in recognized civilian schools. This is due in great measure to the fact that our curriculum was outlined and prepared by men who are thoroughly familiar with all aspects of radio work. We put in a full six hour day in class, lectures and laboratory work, and facilities are available for an additional three hours at night for those requiring extra study, or wishing to practice.

Then, of course, we have to work hard in order to keep abreast of the schedule that must be maintained. A good deal of outside study is required. Textbooks, especially prepared by members of the faculty, are used in our class work, while standard electrical textbooks and technical magazines are used for reference purposes and may be drawn from the more than 3,000 copies in the school library.

Add to these the fact that all of us who were admitted had to measure up to the educational standards set by the Maritime Service and you begin to see why this intensified course is so successful. Among other things, a high school education that included at least one year of algebra is necessary for admittance to the school. Physics, though not required, is a subject that should have been included in our high school work

At the conclusion of the war we’ll be members of a Merchant Marine that will be the queen of the seas – members who will enjoy the privileges and pay of specialists aboard ship.


A rare look into the duties of a Radio Operator [click on any image to see a large version], examples include:

Keep emergency life boat transmitter battery charged.

Have an understanding with Master, Mate and Armed Guard CO as to procedure in time of distress.

Burn and destroy the ashes of any paper on which there is classified information.

Don’t break radio silence.



Online records provide details of at least 26 voyages where Jack was stationed on the vessel Kyska (all-purpose cargo ship with 5 holds, 6,190 gross tons built in Mobile, Alabama).


A 38-year-old Jack is first found, after having served one year, departing New York on 7 May 1948 arriving in Yokohama, Japan 18 Jul 1948.  He reports to be 5’10”, 165 pounds and of English descent.

jACk manifest 0

In the years that follow Jack travels to Kobe, Moji and Yokohama, Japan; Davao City, Philippines; Campbell River, British Columbia; New York; California; Seattle, Washington; and Portland, Oregon.

By 1953, a 5’11”, 185 pound Jack is reported as a radio officer who had served at sea for six long years. He is one of the few onboard without tattoos or scars.

He lands in Honolulu, Hawaii 10 Dec 1951, them on 24 January 1952 departs New Orleans, Louisiana where he lists his sister [my grandmother] Edith as a contact on a voyage headed to multiple ports.

jACk manifest 5

2 September 1952 he was engaged at San Francisco on a mission to Yokohama, Japan through 17 October 1952 when he landed in Seattle, Washington. Interestingly, he reports his race to be Welsh [he ancestry was approximately 25% Welsh, 68.75% English and 6.25% French].

jACk manifest 2

A day later, 18 October 1952 he again departed to Yokohama, arriving back in Seattle 11 December 1952.

jACk manifest 3

On 1 February 1953 he sailed from Portland to Yokohama, returning to Seattle 30 March 1953.

jACk manifest 4

Jack rarely had time off the ship.  A sampling of voyages in this time period included:

  • departed Los Angeles 6 April 1953 to Yokohama, returning to Seattle 27 May 1953
  • departed San Francisco 2 June 1953 to Yokohama, returning to Seattle 25 Jul 1953
  • departed Seattle 27 July 1953 to Pusan, South Korea via British Columbia, returning to Seattle 21 Sep 1953
  • departed Los Angeles 13 November 1953 to Muroran, Japan, returning to Seattle 2 Jan 1954
  • departed Seattle 24 April 1954 to Yawata, Japan, returning to Seattle 15 Jun 1954
There are a few books available on radio operators that are recommended reading by the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park Research Center:
Sparks at sea: the experiences of a ship’s radio offices
by Chandler, R. W.
From the high seas to low comedy : memoirs of radio man Monroe Upton.
by Upton, Monroe.
Wake of the wirelessman /
by Clemons, B. J.

In later years, Jack relocated to New York and for about 20 years was employed by RCA Global Communications. He retired a few years before his death and resided in North Tonawanda, New York.


Jack was a member of the American Contract Bridge League and won or placed in a number of local tournaments in Tonawanda as early as 1964.


He also belonged to the International Propeller Club of the United States, a business network dedicated to the promotion of the maritime industry, commerce and global trade.  The Propeller Club aggressively promotes the maritime industry through many of its programs and partnering with other similar organizations. Their goal is to educate legislators and the public as to the importance and necessity of all waterborne commerce.


Jack’s youngest sister Natalie, describes this chapter of her eldest brother’s life.  She writes:

“My active involvement in the arrangements and decisions, which, of necessity, I had to make following his unexpected death, caused me in the days and weeks following it to do an enormous amount of reflection and in-depth contemplation about his life — as I knew him, as others knew him, and as he might have known and/or seen himself.  I am far from being the psychologist or the writer who could, at this point in time  accurately tell anyone about Jack.  But to answer the question, “What has he been doing?” over the last 35 years, I’ll address myself to that.

As I know it, he spent many years (I don’t know the exact number) after leaving Michigan, in a Merchant Marine as THE radio operator on ships that touched ports throughout the world, most often in Japan, whose culture he learned, respected and seemed to like very much.  He was extremely proud of holding a master radio operator’s license (no small feat), enjoyed being known by the traditional maritime nickname, “Sparks” while at sea, and felt comfortable with the Petty Officer rank he held aboard ship…a notch above seaman and a notch below officer.  He was capable of easily mingling with both groups.

In later years, when both his energies and the glamorous escape of the sea diminished, he worked on land, still as a communicator, for a company with large shipping interests on the Great Lakes and off the New England Coast [RCA Global Communications, New York].  He retired on Social Security a few years ago.  His pension ended upon his death.

Most of the time, while working in private industry, he lived in upper New York State, alone, as he seemed to prefer. He visited us often here in Malden whenever “the spirit moved him” and one of the ways in which I saw him was a man who wanted to be unencumbered, yet who couldn’t completely relinquish all of his family ties.

He was avidly interested in the keenness of playing bridge and was competitively active in the local club; good enough to often participate in their tournaments. He was equally proud of his membership in the Masons, keeping his dues up to date in the Malden Lodge until the end, although he had not actively participated in it for many years”.

Jack died suddenly 31 May 1979 in North Tonawanda, Niagara, New York and was buried Wyoming Cemetery, Melrose, Massachusetts alongside his parents. 

Jack jr death

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

No Story Too Small has issued a New Year’s Challenge: “Have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”


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

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


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

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

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

map2   Untitled Jane’s Paternal Grandparents

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


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

dad Roberts Roberts birth

Grace Roberts birth

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

. 1841 census


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

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

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


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


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


A close up of Caehaidd ruins (photos 2015).

Cae haidd

Cae haidd2

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

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

William Roberts death


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


Mary Roberts death2


William Roberts death2

Jane’s Maternal Grandparents

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

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

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

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

mom Jane Roberts birth

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



death d roberts

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


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

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


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

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

David Evans death2

Jane’s Parents

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

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

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

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

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

In 1865, one of Roberts’ employees was stabbed.


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

wild woman

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


In 1869, his honey took 2nd place.

show 1869

Llanfairfechan 1871


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

rabbit shooting

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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









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

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

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



lansil house

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

. ship


Mary Ann death

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

sewer assessment

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

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

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

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


In 1910, she was with 777 others:

boston state hospital


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

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


insane asylum










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

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



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


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

Llanfairfechan Census data –

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

Welsh Newspapers Online Beta –

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


52 Ancestors – week #12: Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

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.”  Note: You can “click” on any image to view a larger version.

I grew up near Boston. In my college years and early twenties, my friends and I headed to the Purple Shamrock on St. Patty’s Day, to Studley’s in Somerville every Thursday night, and to the Improper Bostonian on Cape Cod most summer weekends – to sing along with musician Jim Plunkett (not to be confused with the football player) – there were lots of favorites – Sweet Caroline, Brown Eyed Girl, Love that Dirty Water (Boston You’re My Home), Charlie on the MTA….   This short video, filmed when the Improper closed a few years ago, gives you a taste:

During the “sing along”, Plunkett yells – “Let’s hear it from the Italians” – they all scream; Then… “Let’s hear it from the Irish” – they all scream.  Although I grew up in an Irish/Italian neighborhood, I believe I am neither.  Being blond with fair skin, I join in and cheer with the Irish, longing to belong.

Me – 2012 St Patrick’s Day in Boston

Come to find out, all these years later – I AM Irish!!! – my DNA results show between 4-38% – I know the the ethnicity estimates are, as Judy Russell puts it,”not a whole lot more than cocktail party conversation”, but still exciting!

Irish DNA

Turns out my known Irish heritage probably equates to about 6.25% through my 2nd g-grandmother Roxanna Amelia/Aurelia “Anna” (Wilson) Hall who was likely 100% Irish.


How ironic that I spent my life “pretending” to be Irish, while my Irish ancestors spent theirs proclaiming to be Canadian. Roxanna’s parents and eldest two brothers arrived in Boston in 1852/3 during the Irish potato famine.  After residing in New Brunswick for several decades, they likely passed themselves off as Canadians, to avoid discrimination in Boston.

Roxanna, youngest of six, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on 12 Oct 1859 to David M. Wilson, a paper hanger/painter and his wife Elizabeth Long.  Siblings included James Alexander (1850-1886 b. New Brunswick), David M. Jr. (1852-1886 b. New Brunswick), Eleanor/Ellen Jane (1853-1910 birth recorded in Chelsea, Massachusetts and 148 Prince Street, Boston), Annie Elizabeth “Bessie” (1855-1932 b. ? – no birth located, “place of birth” on marriage record is blank, death record riddled with errors lists a Malden birthplace which is unlikely) and Charles L. (1857-1880 b. no birth located, one death record lists a birthplace of Lebanon (?), no state listed; another lists Boston).

family tree

birth record

What I know of Roxanna’s parents can be found in my blog post: I have not located their birthplace in Ireland.  I don’t know if Roxanna had aunts or uncles or whether her  grandparents also settled in Canada.  Names are common, records sparse.  Records that do exist claim a Maine or New Brunswick birthplace. The 1851 New Brunswick census is the only document that mentions their Irish immigration; a record I believe to be accurate. Her dad, son of Thomas Wilson and Jane,  immigrated in 1830, at age 6 or 7, and her mother, daughter of Alexander Long, in 1840, age 17.

Census Saint John County, Dukes and Queens Wards, page 136; FID 24398 –

1851 census

The 1860 census, lists her dad as a paper hanger, born in Maine.

1860 census

In 1870, a few boarders have joined the family (it is unknown if they are relatives).   Her dad is listed as having been born in New Brunswick and he has not become a US citizen.  Her mom can not write and her brother Charles is listed as blind.

1870 census

Roxanna’s birth reflects an address of 6 Portland (likely off Causeway in the North End). Her family moved frequently to various addresses in the North End, besides Portland Street, they resided on Prince Street and South Margin. Although today the North End is primarily Italian, between 1845 and 1853, over 14,000 Irish immigrants settled there; making the neighborhood predominantly Irish (Boston’s overall population went from Yankee/Protestant to a third Irish in just a few years). Between 1865-1880, the North End was almost exclusively Irish/Catholic, an area which was decrepit and impoverished.  Families were crammed into one room dilapidated apartments and beat up boarding houses.  By 1880, more than 70,000 Irish lived in Boston. A decade later, Boston had become the only city in the United States where the Irish represented more than half of the foreign-born population.

old Boston map


In 1871, Roxanne’s eldest brother James, a painter, who had become a US citizen, married Susan “Susie” Jane Perkins, daughter of George and Margaret (Taylor) Perkins.  They resided in Malden and Boston, Massachusetts and had 7 known children – Walter Francis, Ella/Ellen May, Herbert, George Frederick, Thomas Cutting, Grace Adelaide and James Alexander.

Sometime between 1872 and 1880 the remaining Wilsons settled in a rented home at 177 Bennington Street, East Boston. Here Roxanne’s father died, on 31 August 1879, reportedly by suicide (or perhaps trying to relieve a toothache –

By 1880, Roxanna was working in a rubber factory, and was still living on Bennington Street with her mother, brother David, and a boarder (relation unknown). Her blind brother Charles had passed away earlier that year, 31 March 1880 (in Malden), at age 23, from inflammation of the bowels, after a week of sickness. Roxanna’s sister, Annie Elizabeth “Bessie”,  five years earlier, on 25 Oct 1875, had married a Malden boy, George Ira Pratt, son of James Pratt Jr. and Clarissa Corson – in 1880 they were residing there with two young children. Her sister Eleanor’s whereabouts are unknown in 1880 (she married in 1884 – in 1880 there is a Jennie [Jane?] E. Wilson of the right age working as a servant, living on 12 Bennett Street, Boston, who is a likely candidate).

1880 census

Bennington Street at Day Square in 1918

Bennington Street, East Boston, circa. 1915-1930


About a year after her father’s death, on a cool, perhaps rainy, Tuesday evening, 7 Sept 1880, a 20 year old Roxanna married Ephraim Augustus Hall, a 26 year old milk dealer living in Malden, Massachusetts; youngest child of Horatio Hall and Elizabeth Pinder. The marriage was performed by Rev. Dr. Lewis Benton Bates a Methodist of East Boston, affiliated with the Meridan Street Church.



Roxanna’s brother-in-law, (Bessie’s husband) George Ira Pratt was the son of James Pratt Jr. and Clarissa Corson.  The Pratt’s were well known, large landholders, having been in Malden for generations. George and Ephraim were two months apart in age and likely school chums. In 1880, George was also employed by a rubber factory, perhaps the same employer as Roxanne.  Perhaps George made the introduction.

George and Bessie had at least eight children (Ira Wilson, Clara Rebecca, James A., Daisy Bell, Charles Mellen, Walter Edgar, Florence Gertrude and George Harrison) – Ira changed occupations frequently, also working as a metal caster, butcher, boot maker, farmer and carpenter.  The Pratt family resided in Malden;  Melrose;  Townshend and Athens, Vermont; Madbury and Dover, New Hampshire.

birth Ephrain and George

Once married, Roxanna relocated to Malden where she resided in the Hall family’s rented home on Richardson Court with Ephraim’s parents and his siblings Horatio Jr., Lucy and Mary (and Mary’s husband David Patten).  Roxanna and Ephraim’s only child, Charles Milton Hall was born six months later, on 7 March 1881. Roxanna likely named him after her reportedly blind brother, Charles Wilson, who died a year earlier.

By 1883 Ephraim was working as a foreman at the Malden fire department. A few years later he became a carpenter.

In 1886 Roxanne’s two remaining brothers passed away – James (died 14 Sep 1886, consumption) and David (who never married, died 20 Jun 1886 of meningitis, he was also living in Malden).

In 1887  a $1 land sale was recorded.  George Ira Pratt gave to his sister-in-law Roxanne (Wilson) Hall  lots 2, 3 & B on the intersection of Forest/Sylvan & Echo Street in Malden.   However, the couple, continued living on Richardson Court with the Hall family.


In 1891 another sale is recorded of $1 from George Ira Pratt to his sister-in-law Roxanne (Wilson) Hall – lots 8 & 13 on the intersection of Forest/Sylvan & Echo Street in Malden  – subject to a $1,200 mortgage to Lizzie Knapp and payment of 1891 taxes. Roxanne and Ephraim relocated to the property that year.


The home (today numbered 335 Forest Street), was directly across from the Malden Poor farm, pictured below.

UPDATE: From Martha Prince Warren via Facebook – “I think the White House in the background behind the field is actually in Melrose. The wall goes all the way across the boundary of Malden and Melrose. The building on the far right along the wall is the piggery and the larger building is the barn. The house on the corner of Forest and Sylvan was across from the horse pasture. This area was our playground when we were young. The wall is still there from the Forest street side all the way going east at least to the back of the Forestdale school”.


The home as pictured/described today: Bedrooms: 5 beds; Bathrooms: 2 baths; Multi Family: 2,232 sq ft; Lot: 6,534 sq ft; Year Built: 1880; Last Sold: Jul 2012 for $388,650.


In 1894, a third land deed was recorded: $1 from George Ira Pratt to Ephraim Hall on the intersection of Forest/Sylvan & Echo Street in Malden – lot 4 marked A. The 1897 map, below, depicts the land transfer from the Pratts to Roxanna and Ephraim.

map 1897

Roxanne’s mother, who had relocated to Malden, passed away on 25 Feb 1897, from diabetes.

death mom

By 1900, Roxanne, Ephraim (a carpenter) and 19 year old Charles (a last finisher in the shoe industry) are living in same two family home, renumbered to 309 Forest Street.  They are renting to Roxanne’s older sister Eleanor/Ellen and her husband James Mellon Chase, son of George W. and Margaret (Bartlett) Chase (married 17 years, with no children).

1900 census

On 19 June 1904, Roxanne’s only child married Georgianna Hughes/Clough, daughter of John Hughes and Katherine “Kittie” (Perry) Hughes/Clough/Shipman, born in Rome, New York, who was residing in Lynn, employed as an “operative” at shoe manufacturing company (likely where she and Charles, nicknamed “Garrie” met).

Six months later, on 8 December 1904, Georgianna gave birth to Roxanna’s only grandchild who survived to adulthood, Charles George Hall.  They lived less than a mile away, on 17 Dale Street.

Pictured 1905: Buster the dog, Charles G. Hall and Roxanne.



Pictured – 3 generations – Roxanne’s husband Ephraim, son Charles & grandson Charles

In 1910, Roxanna and Ephraim (a carpenter) were living in same home, now mortgage free, renumbered to 315 Forest. They were renting to 31 yr old Clara A (Pratt) Williams, Roxanna’s niece, daughter of George and Bessie (Wilson) Pratt, and her husband Charles.

1910 census

Malden Square – 1910

In Januray 1910, Roxanna’s sister Eleanor/Ellen passed away from ovarian cancer.  Roxanna died that same year, on 1 November 1910 of chronic heart disease, at the age of 51.


Her obituary and funeral notice published in the Malden Evening News reads:

Mrs. Anna A Hall – Mrs. Anna A., wife of E A Hall, passed away last evening at her home, 315 Forest st, after a protracted illness, heart disease being the immediate cause of her death. Mrs Hall was born in Boston and educated in the public schools of that city. She was the daughter of David Wilson and had lived in Malden over a generation. In 1880 she was married in East Boston to Mr. Hall by the late Rev Dr L. B. Bates. Her husband, a son Charles M. and a sister, Mrs. Bessie Pratt of Dover, NH survive her. Mrs. Hall was a member of the Rebekahs and much interested in their work and they will assist at the funeral which will take place on Friday at 2 o’clock.  Mrs. Hall was a devoted wife and mother and was endeared to all who knew her. During her long residence here she became highly esteemed and her passing away means a distinct loss to friends and neighbors.


The funeral of Mrs. Anna A, wife of E A Hall of 315 Forest Street, a well known and esteemed resident, was held at her home yesterday afternoon.  Rev M C Hunt, pastor of the Forestdale Chapel conducted the services. The house was filled with relatives and friends and Mrs Mina Rich Sargent was the soloist rendering “Face to Face” “Passing out of the Shadow” “My Heavenly Home” Resolute Rebekah lodge members attended the service in a body and the usual ritual of the order was conducted by the NG Mrs. D E Kelley; V G Mrs. H R Campbell and Chap, Mrs. F.A. Magee.  There was a most beautiful profusion of floral tributes from friends and relatives. The interment was at Forestdale.


Odd Fellows, recognizing the need for a woman’s touch and her helpfulness in carrying out the principles of Odd Fellowship, brought into being the Rebekah degree, founded upon the principles of faithfulness, hospitality, purity and dedication to the principles of the Order as portrayed by women characters of the Bible. 

I believe in the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of man, and the Sisterhood of woman.
I believe in the watch-words of our Order – Friendship, Love and Truth.
Friendship – is like a golden chain that ties our hearts together. Love – is one of our most precious gifts, the more you give, the more you receive. Truth – is the standard by which we value people. It is the foundation of our society.
I believe that my main concern should be my God, my family and my friends. Then I should reach out to my community and the World, for in God’s eyes we are all brothers and sisters.

Ephraim Augustus was committed to the insane asylum at Danvers State Hospital (Massachusetts) in 1916.  His son filed for guardianship of the $2,807 estate, which included the Forest Street home.  Ephraim’s sister Ellen signed along with Kittie Shipman (his son’s’ mother-in-law). Less than a year later, Ephraim died from septicemia following gangrene of the foot.

Roxanna and Ephraim are buried at Forestdale Cemetery, Malden, Massachusetts, burial plot: section 33, lot 22 with their son Charles M., his wife Georgianna, grandson Charles G. and his wife Edith Anna (Haines).

911167ef-5cdb-4dbc-8165-306c455fdbf2 7b9dcbe2-9a3f-4d9f-a96d-b6654bbeb3ba

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to all – a day to celebrate that I REALLY am Irish!


Thoughts and future research….

(1) Roxanna’s parents David M. Wilson (son of Thomas & Jane) and Elizabeth Long (daughter of Alexander) were wedded Tuesday evening, 20 July 1847, by Rev. Wm. Harrison on who was affiliated with St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Main Street, Saint John, New Brunswick.

Follow up – Church records for the St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Saint John, New Brunswick are microfilmed –  at PANB.  Either I (or a hired researcher) need to look through them for Wilson/Long – baptism, marriage, death and other church records. Perhaps there will be a reference to an area in Ireland or other relatives who if traced could reveal Irish place of origin.

church records

(2) In 1851 & 1861, all of the census records that survive of Anglicans with the surname “Long” place them in Donegal (note that many census returns were destroyed). Could this be Elizabeth’s place of origin?

1851 and 1861 irish census NB

(3) There is one Alexander Long in New Brunswick, b. 1811, he is likely too young to be Elizabeth’s father (she was born 1823), he arrived in 1821 (she claims to have arrived 1840), but lots of similar family names – maybe a relative? There are three Long families who are neighbors in Westfield, Kings County, NB – Westfield was a parish very close to Saint John’s County (the Long/Wilson marriage location).

1851 and 1861 Long families

(4) What does the “M” stand for in David M. Wilson?

– Daughter Roxanna names her child Charles Milton Hall.  I believe Charles is for her recently deceased brother – could the Milton be from her dad’s name? [her husband did have an uncle Milton Hall]

– Daughter Elizabeth names a child Charles Mellen Pratt – could this be the M. in David’s name? [her sister Ellen married Charles Mellen Chase – coincidence?]

– Son David M. Wilson, jr. died in Malden in 1886, age 36, single – his birth/death records do not list anything other than “M”.

(5) It is possible that David Wilson’s parents are also living in Westfield in 1851 – a Thomas, Jane with a son John are listed but with an 1837 arrival date (David in 1851 claimed an 1830 arrival).  Note that they are neighbors with the Elliot’s, Note that a Jane Long married Thomas Elliot on April 12 1851 in the Portland Parish – perhaps a relative of Elizabeth’s?  The 1851 Portland Parish (SD 68) census does not survive.

1851 Wilson

By 1861, John is running the farm, Jane is living with him in Westfield, and a “nephew” John S. Breen has joined them.  Did one of John’s sisters marry a Breen?  Did father Thomas die between 1851 and 1861? In 1861, Jane is listed as Presbyterian, not Anglican.

1861 Wilson

I looked through the PANB records online and found no evidence of the death of Thomas Wilson or the marriage of a Wilson to a Breen.

(6) In the 1851 & 1861 censuses, the Wilson’s (all Presbyterian) living in Westfield claim to come from Derry – – could this be David’s birthplace?

(7) Witnesses to David Wilson & Elizabeth Long’s marriage in Canada were James & Catherine Crawford – who were they?

Crazy Cat Lady?!?!?! Photo Identification and Do you include family pets in your genealogy?

I am the fourth generation to have lived in the Malden, Massachusetts home purchased 83 years ago  by my great-grandparents Charles “Garrie” Milton Hall and Georgianna “Georgie” (Hughes/Clough) Hall.  They purchased it 10 May 1930 from Carrie M. Hawkridge of Marblehead (taking out a $5,000 mortgage).

Middlesex South District Deeds – book 5460, page 321:

book 5460, page 321 Charles Milton Hall pg 1book 5460, page 321 Charles Milton Hall pg2

My childhood attic is chock full of treasures! Lots and lots of photos! 99% with no identification.  Except of course the pet photos, all of which are labelled.  This was exciting for my 12-year-old niece – who tells me that the only family genealogy that interests her is that of the family pets.  Charles Milton and Georgianna raised and raced greyhounds, their son Charles Jr. (my grandfather) took over the greyhound business and became a veterinarian – so we had lots of pets – hence my nickname of “Crazy Cat Lady” and mother to four very spoiled cats – it is genetic!  Here is one I have been unable to identify (hopefully her descendants will find her in this blog someday) 🙂

cat cat2

The Halls lived on Dale Street in 1916.  There were 18 Stearns in Malden in 1910, 5 different families.  The closest is the family on Rockwell St. (.4 miles away) but the residents were 20+ years older than my ancestors.  I have two of Georgianna’s address books and there are no Stearns families in either. And who knows if this is a Malden cat! They could have been visiting relatives in Lowell, Oneida NY or traveling to race the greyhounds! Although my grandfather would have been about 12 and in school.  Since the photo was taken in mid-September (during the school year), perhaps it was in Malden – but, the photo was taken on a Sunday – perhaps on a weekend trip. Or perhaps this was my grandfather’s boyhood cat, the one who climbed the Christmas Tree a dozen times! See this blog post –

I digress. My mother, who still lives in the family homestead, found a family bible published in 1884; inside were seven small photos pasted into the “family portrait” section.  Who were these folks?  I decided to use some of the techniques I had heard of in various conferences, courses and blogs to surmise their identities.

Family Portrait Family Bible Family Bible2

The pages inside listed only 3 names:

Ephraim Augustus Hall, born December 28, 1852

Roxanna Aurelia Wilson, born October 12, 1859

Charles Milton Hall, born March 7, 1881

bible births2 bible births

I don’t recognize the handwriting – it’s not my mother’s, my grandmother Edith (Haines) Hall’s or my g-grandmother Georgianna’s.  I can only guess it probably is that of Roxanna Aurelia Wilson, Charles Milton’s mother.

The first three photos were taken by the same photographer. E. C. Swain of Malden Centre, Mass. Tattered and Lost’s blog tells what little is known of this photographer Edwin Chandler Swain (1835-1911):

back5 three Hall photos

I believe that there is a strong possibility that the man in the photo above is Ephraim Augustus and the boy, Charles Milton.  Since Ephraim had only one known wife, I am guessing that the woman pictured is Roxanna Aurelia Wilson.

The photo below is known to be Charles George Hall, center, Charles Milton Hall, right and Ephraim Augustus Hall, left  – do you agree that these are the same folks?:


Two other photos in the bible were also taken by Malden photographers:  C.O. Hodgman (woman pictured) and Wm. H. Cromack (man pictured).  I located a Charles O. Hodgman in A Directory of Massachusetts Photographers 1839-1900.  Charles was a photographer in Malden from 1878-1883.

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The remaining two bible photographs were taken in Boston: John Hofstrun (woman pictured), who was active in Boston from 1873-1876 per the Massachusetts Historical Society website and Chute, 12 Tremont (man pictured). A Directory of Massachusetts Photographers 1839-1900 lists a Robert J. Chute of 13 Tremont Row, Boston who was in the business 1860-1867.

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While I can’t be 100% certain, it would seem to make sense that these are photos of Charles Milton’s 4 grandparents.

Top photo set:

(1) Horatio Hall – b. 18 Jun 1802 Norton, MA; d. 11 May 1884 Malden, MA

(2) Elizabeth (Pinder) Hall – b. 18 Jun 1810 Ipswich, MA; d. 22 Jul 1886 Malden, MA

Bottom photo set:

(3) David M. Wilson – b. 31 Jul 1824 Ireland; d. 31 Aug 1879 Boston, MA

(4) Elizabeth (Long) Wilson – b. 21 Mar 1823 Ireland; d. 25 Feb 1897 Malden, MA [lived in East Boston until her husband’s death in 1879]

Although I haven’t found anything on photographer Wm. H. Cromack, the other three photographers were active during the lifetime of these folks at the time when they would have been the age they appeared in the photographs (if that makes sense).

Elizabeth (Pinder) Hall – photo by Charles O. Hodgman, a photographer from 1878-1883. Elizabeth would have been age 68-73.

David M. Wilson – photo by Robert J. Chute,  in the business 1860-1867. David arrived in Boston about 1852 and would have been 36-43 in this date range.

Elizabeth (Long) Wilson – photo by John Hofstrun, active from 1873-1876. Elizabeth would have been 50-53 years old.

Horatio Hall – photo by Wm. H. Cromack – process of elimination! I will say that this photo looks very similar to those on page 22 of the book, More Dating Old Photographs 1840-1929 published by Family Chronicle, Moorshead Magazines, Ltd. 2011 which are dated 1864, the year Horatio turned 61. There is a William H. Cromack in the Massachusetts census data – he seems to change careers frequently! Cabinet Maker, Jeweller, Constable, Painter…. I am guessing he’s our guy but have been unable to determine when/if he worked as a photographer!  Perhaps some searching in the Malden City Directories the next time I visit Boston!

Wiiliam censuses

What do you think? Am I right?  This one seems like a no brainer, but I have been mistaken before when I jumped to conclusions too quickly.

And yes, for those who might be wondering, my cats are included in my tree 🙂

Suicide or Toothache?

I don’t know much about my 3rd g-grandparents, David M. Wilson and Elizabeth Long.  Just a few facts:

David M. Wilson, son of Thomas Wilson and Jane [unknown], was born in Ireland.

David Wilson

His family immigrated to New Brunswick, about 1830, when he was six. There he met Elizabeth Long, an Irish immigrant, daughter of Alexander Long, who arrived in New Brunswick about 1840, at the age of seventeen.

Elizabeth Long

They were wedded Tuesday evening, 20 July 1847, by Rev. Wm. Harrison on who was affiliated with St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Main Street, Saint John, New Brunswick.

David and Elizabeth marriage

Two known children James Alexander (b. 27 Feb 1850) and David M. (b. 3 Jan 1852)  were born in Saint John, New Brunswick.

David, Elizabeth and James were enumerated in the 1851 Canadian census.

1851 census

The family immigrated to Boston, Massachusetts, between Jan 1852 and Mar 1853.  David was a painter and paper hanger who for the next 25+ years reported being born in either Maine or New Brunswick, most likely to avoid discrimination, which was rampant in Boston,  because of the Irish Potato Famine,  a period of mass starvation, disease and emigration between 1845 and 1852.[1]

Four known children were born in Boston, Eleanor “Ellen” (b. 21 Mar 1853), Annie Elizabeth “Bessie” (b. 12 Nov 1855), Charles L. (b. abt 1857) and my 2nd g-grandmother, Roxana Aurelia “Anna” (b. 12 Oct 1859).

The family moved frequently, finally settling first at 9 South Margin and then 177 Bennington, both in East Boston for a number of years.


Bennington Street, East Boston, ca. 1915-1930


On 31 August 1879, David died.  His death certificate lists the cause as “Phithisis” [defined as: pulmonary tuberculosis or a similar progressive systemic disease].

End of story, right?  In 1879, obituaries were nonexistent or limited to a one liner listing nothing more than the decedent’s name.

I spent a day at the Boston Public Library last week searching through old copies of the Malden Evening News for about 30 of my ancestors who lived in that town from 1890 – 2013 – including David’s widow Elizabeth (Long) Wilson.  Her obituary didn’t say much:


I was tired, it had been a long day, my eyes were shot from looking at microfilm too long – a blizzard had started outside, the MBTA (my ride back home) was closing early because of the anticipated weather, I wanted to relax and have a beer (that’s what you do during a blizzard, right?).  I asked the librarian if she thought it was worth it to look for David’s death in the Boston papers. Her opinion was that I would likely find nothing, but added as I walked away, “it doesn’t hurt to look”.  I returned to the desk – I knew I wouldn’t have a chance to get back to the BPL for a few months, so expecting to find nothing, I looked.

To my surprise, there were three articles!

The first, from the Herald, stated that David, while on a job site painting, had attempted suicide by drinking laudanum.


The second, a local East Boston publication, stated that he may have taken laudanum to relive the pain of a toothache. But why did he lock himself in another room to drink the potion?


The third, claimed “He Accomplished His Object”, he is dead”


How awful for his wife! Did he really commit suicide or was it a toothache?

According to Wikipedia:

“A drink of laudanum was made of 10% opium and 90% alcohol, and flavoured with cinnamon or saffron. It was first used by the ancient Greeks, and in the 19th century mostly used as painkiller, sleeping pill, or tranquilizer. It was cheaper than poppy oil and could be drank like you’d drink scotch. It took a while for the Victorian to figure out the negative side effect, only in 1919 the production and export of opium was prohibited, and in 1928 a law was passed that prohibited use.

[Wikipedia’s list of laudanum-users is so incredibly long, it makes no sense to copy it. Here’s some notable users: Lord Byron, Kate Chopin, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats, Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe.]

So, it was a pretty popular drug. In fact: innumerable Victorian women were prescribed the drug for relief of menstrual cramps and vague aches and used it to achieve the pallid complexion associated with tuberculosis (frailty and paleness were particularly prized in females at the time). Nurses also spoon-fed laudanum to infants.

My thinking is that David had a toothache, but I struggle with this theory, only because the newspaper stated that he locked himself in another room after taking the drug.  I guess we’ll never know the real truth.  Was he depressed?  There are a few cases of mental illness in my family.  David’s daughter Roxana married Ephraim Augustus (my 2nd g-grandparents) – who was declared insane in 1916 at the age of 62 – my grandfather Charles Hall had breakdown as a young man – was it from genetic causes on both sides of the family or only Ephraim or was it unrelated? One of  David’s  granddaughter’s (Clara Rebecca Pratt, daughter of Bessie) was also committed. In 1930 she was found as a patient at Brattleboro Retreat where she remained until her death in 1970.  The Brattleboro Retreat provides specialized diagnosis and treatment services those suffering from a wide range of psychiatric and addiction challenges since 1834.

Poor Elizabeth, in 1879 she loses her husband, the newspaper publicized his death as a suicide – true or not, publicly humiliating her family.   Her young blind son, Charles, died suddenly, less than a year later, on 31 Mar 1880, with inflammation of the bowels.  Six years later she buried her eldest sons James (d. 14 Sep 1886, consumption) and David (d. 20 Jun 1886, meningitis).  Elizabeth herself passed on 25 Feb 1897.  Anna and Ellen lived only until 1910 leaving poor Bessie as the only surviving child (she died in 1932).

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