Posts Tagged ‘East Boston’

The Haines Chicken Farm, Vallejo, California circa 1920

My 2nd g-grandfather, William John Haines, “John”, born  7 March 1856, Richibucto, Kent, New Brunswick, to John Haines/Hains and Alice/Alise Edith Childs, married Jennie Ferguson, daughter of Elizabeth Ferguson, on 8 Mar 1882 in Massachusetts.

John and Jennie had eight known children: Edith, John Galatis, Alexander, Ella May, Margaret Elizabeth, Joseph (who died as a child), Minnie and Jennie.  Much of their story can be found here

wj haines chart

A letter dated 20 March 1976 from John and Jennie’s’s granddaughter Ruth (Walsh) Frawley (daughter of Ella), to another granddaughter, Marion (daughter of John Galatis) reads:

…My mother did not seem to have much love for her mother; but her father was her pride and joy. John, her father, was a part time minister in the Congregation church at Orient Heights and a Chemist.  He invented disinfectant and had a small lab in the backyard. Jenny sold the formula to Cabot Chemists and that was the last straw. So they separated….[city directories indicate William John Haines was a “chemist”, working from home, 1906-1908]

After separation, John rented a room at 5 Dwight Street, Boston.

John Haines Dwight Street

In a letter to his sister, Mary Haines Stevens, 27 July [likely 1918] from Boston, John implies a breakup:

Dear Sis, have not heard from you in quite a while, did I offend by my strange statement about my son, but i want you to know he is no good [likely John Galatis Haines], he aided his mother to break me up in business and when they got possession of it, they began to rage each other and soon broke up, so you can understand how i feel towards them. i am now living a happy lonely life, hoping to hear from you soon, i remain your brother John.

letter from John to Mary

John and Mary’s siblings, George Haines and Lizzie Haines Heggland died, and the pair corresponded of jointly inherited property in California.

On 12 September [likely 1918] from Boston, John writes:

Dear Sis just rec[eived] your letter today was glad to hear from you, i had a letter and documents from your lawyer but i considered him insulting and did not answer him, but will sign and forward the papers to you, and if i should come you can give me a small corner on a rainy day, if i come i will fix it up for you.

my address is 5 Dwite St Boston care Mis Sulivan

i am rooming and take my meals in a restaurant, i am surprised that there is anything left from George’s estate, do what you think is best.  Edith is working in Lowell, will write a long letter next time, i am sending you back the envelope, you will laugh to see it, i have hid it away from everybody and enjoying good health and a fair share of the world’s goods.

i met the old lady the other day [Jenny ?], she turned her back on me, she has got quite vain, she dies [dyes] her hair brown, so you see what I am missing, believe me she is some babe.

i have a nice room and enjoy the evenings reading. my youngest boy is on a troop ship he has maid [made] a number of trips to France, my oldest boy is working in the fo__ river yard, they are launching a destroyer every four days, he gets 65 dollars a week, Minnie is working at a bank on State St, good by[e] for the present.

another letter 2letter page 2page 3page 4

Next on 30 September from Boston, John writes:

Dear sister Mary, just rec[eived] your two letters tonight , i am mailing you a quit claim on Lizzie’s land so the home will be yours, and make that man put everything back as it was. i think the fairest way to settle George’s land is for you to sell the land and divide it fifty fifty, if i should come out i will fix up your little home for you, if this propishing [? proposing/proposal] meets your approval go ahead and sell George’s land, i remain your brother John

another letter

On 2 October, John writes:

Dear sis i wrote that letter in hast[e] but on careful thought you had better sell the land in napa and reserve the other land, we can divy fifty fifty on the napa land for i may have Christmas din[n]er with you and then we can make plans for the future. your brother John

That was my son Alex’s letter [he encloses a letter he received from Alex who was aboard the Ticonderoga in WWI], he is on a troop ship, he has be[e]n acrost [across] a number of times. i mailed you the quit claim yesterday.

john pg 1 john pg 2

The next letter written was postmarked 17 October 1918, a few weeks after his son Alex was killed [read Alex’s story here: https://ticonderogashiplog.wordpress.com/]:

Dear Sis,

I am moving tomorrow near my work _ a steam heat, elec[tric] lights, write to Boston Consolidated Gas Co Everett, ____, Mass.

Use your own judgement about the property.

My son went down with the transport that was torpedoed, I regret that they didn’t have a fighting chance but were brutally murdered.

Your brother John.

Letter to Mary from John

An undated letter, likely in the same time frame:

Dear Sis – Rec[eived] your letter i read the case of your cousins husband in the Boston paper and wondered who he was.  you can send the deed to me and i will have it filled out and send back. You can send the check to the gas works making it payable on the National Shaumut Bank of Boston.

Jenny is tooling around with Alice Emroe, the Emroes are a bad lot, there is only one good one among them, that is Jim, i have not seen him for years, your brother, John [James Ameraux/Emroe is the son of Patience Haines, John and Mary’s aunt]

john letter to sis

In a letter dated 7 Dec [likely that same year], John further expresses interested in coming to California and asks for a chicken:

Dear Sis rec[eived] your letter, i want you to come to Boston next summer and we will go to our Old home town and go back to Cal[ifornia] together. i have too [a] young couple who are going with me to settle down, he was in the navy and is very happy [?] he wants to buy that lot of land in Vallejo but i stared [steared] him of[f] as of i want him to go out and look the field over and then buy, his wife is an angel. How many foot of land is there in that lot, is it a corner lot or center lot.  Let the Napa land go for what you can get for it.  I am alone in the world, get me a chicken when I come, brother John.

john dec 7 letter pg 1 john dec 7 letter pg 2

In February [likely 1919] John writes again from Boston:

Dear sis just rec your letter tonight and am more prompt in answering, you are mistaking about me not coming, i am leaving boston the first of august, i lent a young couple two hundred dollars on a short loan, they were to raise a loan and pay me back, they could not raise the loan as they had no security to give so I told them they could pay me five dollars a week without interest, if i only get part of it by the first of august i will come, i have some stock in the company, i can turn into cash so i will have a little start when i get there, i shall perhaps come by water and see the canal, there are nothing here for me to stay for, remember me kindly to george and mildred, i remain your brother John.

I am sending you my identification card, it will tell the story.

feb letterpg 2 feb letter

Later in 1920, John made it to California.  Below he is pictured with his sister Mary and nephew (Mary’s grandson, Ralph Stevens)

Mary Steves her brother W John Haines nd grandson Ralph Stevens

In 1978, John’s nephew Ralph wrote to my Aunt Natalie (John’s granddaughter):

william and Ralph.jpg

Note English cap and hanky in pocket – your Grandpa was a dude when he dressed, smoked long clay pipes, had neat pen knives.

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Ralph wrote a short narrative of his “favorite” Uncle John and the Chicken Ranch (which he describes as “Home Acres” between Vallejo and Benicia, opposite Catholic Cemetery):

chick farm map

…When Uncle William John inherited half interested in the house at 235 Wilson from Aunt Lizzie, generous brother that he was, he quit-claimed his interest to his sister [Mary]. He and grandma had an understanding that for his share he would have the privileged of living at the house, if he so chose. He was in Boston with his children at that time but soon decided to move to Vallejo.  Uncle John was my favorite man in those days and I shadowed him at every opportunity.

He told me wonderful stories about his many years at sea in the merchant fleet. He had been all over the world and shipwrecked several times. Also he was an expert whittler and bought me fancy jack-knives, which my mother promptly took away since I was only about five.  However she later gave them to me and I promptly lost them all. I remember my favorite one was shaped at the handle like a ladies leg. I remember when he came home with that one, my mother saying “What a thing to buy for a five year old”.

Despite Uncle John being such a neat guy, for some reason Grandma could not abide the old sailor and we inherited him at our house.  I was overjoyed that my favorite man would be living with us. Not so sure mother shared my anticipation, but good Christian that she always was, she agreed, and Uncle John came with his duffle and sea chest.

This raised a question. What could Uncle John be employed at age sixty plus. Dad’s brother John Robert [Stevens] wanted to move to California but had a really fine position with Deluth Railroad, with steady income, pension benefits and all the goodies that go with a middle executive position in a small but very stable railroad that hauled iron ore to the smelter year after year, from the world’s largest open pit mines in the world at that time.  But he and dad had a really good thought. We will set Uncle John up on a Chicken Ranch and Uncle Robert would move in and take over when it began to produce. But that is another story.

ralphs story

Robert Stevens wrote his mother often, and many times asked about the chickens, one example, 8 May 1922:

….How is everybody and the chickens? I suppose Uncle is having an awful time fighting disease and lice. Do not let him work too hard Mother as I know he would kill himself to make a success out of them.  He sure is a good old scout and we sure miss him. When are they figuring on buying new chicks?…

letter from bob to mom

Ralph when writing of his grandmother Mary adds more of his Uncle John and the ranch:

…They decided on a chicken ranch as a family business. Mary arranged for her retired brother William John Haines to move to Vallejo to start the business. [Mary’s] Son George purchased a small ranch between Vallejo and Benicia and stocked it with 5,000 chickens, and Uncle John, an old sailor man, was not a good manager, as he was well into his sixties.  The ranch did not do well….

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What Ralph neglects to mention is the “Rooster Story” as relayed to me by his daughter Catherine:

As a small boy, about age six, it was Ralph’s “job” to feed the hens. He was terrified of the rooster [a farm typically just had one rooster] who went after him daily.  His father suggested that he carry a stick to protect himself. Ralph, far from dainty, took it a step further.  He brought a two by four! The rooster was beaten to death. Boy was everyone mad!

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Chicken farm

We do not know much more of the Haines/Stevens farm, but historically in the early 1900’s, families who had flocks of this size sold eggs as their primary income source (the average chicken would lay between 80-150 eggs per year). Chicken meat was a delicacy being reserved for special occasions and holidays only (although as an adult Ralph had an aversion to chicken; anytime a chicken died or was injured from becoming stuck in the coop wire, they would have to eat it – apparently he was made to eat plenty in his younger days!).

After his sister Mary’s death in 1924, John returned to Boston where he resided with his son John’s family and a few years later with his daughter Ella’s family, until his death, 21 October 1939.

 

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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.”

DOUBLE CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION.

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

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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.

marriage2

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”.

DIRECTIONS
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.

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

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

Caehaidd

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

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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].

will

 

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.

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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).

1851

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.

stabbing

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”.

honey

In 1869, his honey took 2nd place.

show 1869

Llanfairfechan 1871

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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.

Untitled

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.

caehidd

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.

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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: https://passagetothepast.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/a-movie-star-in-the-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.

Fanny

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Edith

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Doris

doris

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”

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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).

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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.

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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).

census

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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.

insane

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].

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In 1910, she was with 777 others:

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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 http://babel.hathitrust.org/):

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1920

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1932

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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].

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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.

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——————————————————————————————————————————————————- Sources: Llanfairfechan Baptisms, Marriages, Deaths – Findmypast.uk

Llanfairfechan Census data – Ancestry.com

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

Welsh Newspapers Online Beta – http://www.llgc.org.uk/index.php?id=4723

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 #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.”

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION.

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
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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).

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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.

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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.

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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).

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Enoch’s baptism, Hammond Street Church Records

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Enoch’s Sabbath School Records, Hammond Street Church Records
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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

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

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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).

1880

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

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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.

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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).

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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!” 

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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.

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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.

1870

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

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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

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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:

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Index to the City Council Minutes
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Massachusetts Land Deeds – 7 Dec 1871, book 1082, pg 206-8 land purchase “Jones, Bragg & Lansil”

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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.

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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.

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

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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).

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

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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.

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

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159 Trenton Street as it looks in 2013

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

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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 :

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

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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

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

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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

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  • On 26 May 1890 Florence Paine Lansil arrived.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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On 29 Dec 1899, baby Doris Lansil arrived.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

Edwin
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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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She was born 3 June 1813 in Frankfort, Maine.

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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 – http://tinyurl.com/ltlubsw)
– 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.

bangor

hammond

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 directoriesAncestry.com

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).

intemperance-asa

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.

censusAncestry.com

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 more2Ancestry.com & Fold3.com

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.

more asasAncestry.com

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

land

By 1876 the Braggs joined the family on Trenton.

landmas directoriesAncestry.com

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

house

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:

houseAncestry.com

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:

a192695c-429d-4d4a-9b19-5203afbfb54a

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. 

8dedef02-bb95-4164-aff9-81fb4de5d4de

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

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