Posts Tagged ‘Edith Haines’

The “Greatest” Aunt

This week, we lost my “Greatest” Aunt Natalie, Nana Hall’s sister, the youngest of eight, born four days shy of my grandmother’s 21st birthday.  My grandmother, the eldest, married at 22 and had a child about a year later.  I suspect three-year old Natalie got a kick out of having a nephew, perhaps requiring him to address her as “auntie” amongst their classmates, when they reached school age. She was seven when my dad was born, and adored “little Bobby”.

Life wasn’t easy. The Great Depression began when she was a babe. The family struggled; being unable to afford blankets, they used coats to keep warm while they slept. They moved frequently and Natalie’s father, John Galatis Haines, held many different jobs (read about them here).  Natalie lost her dad at fourteen, just before Christmas, and her mom, Edith Bernice (Lansil) Haines, just eight years later.

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July 13, 1935, 228 Main St., Malden, Massachusetts
Joan Newhall, Natalie (Haines) Thomson, Charles G. Hall Jr.

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Aunt Natalie and Nana, Edith Haines Hall 

My grandmother married into a wealthier family and initially had little contact with her kin. Likely her new husband feared that the financial burden of Natalie’s struggling family  (during the era of the Great Depression) would fall into his hands. Despite this inequity and the vast age difference, Ede and Natalie were close.  Aunt Natalie was the only of my grandmother’s siblings who was with us on holidays, birthdays and special occasions. She was our fun, wild, outgoing and crazy (in a good way) great-aunt who we jokingly referred to as our “Greatest” Aunt Natalie – she got a kick out of the pun.  Christmas gifts were delivered with the “wrong” labels –  Linda got David’s, David got Nancy’s and Nancy got Linda’s.  It was the same every year; she would claim exasperatingly, “I can’t believed I mixed things up again!!!”. We unwittingly believed, and laughed at her foolishness (while she likely had a good laugh at our gullibility).

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On Christmas she came armed with handouts for our annual sing-along; poems she crafted from family history, set to familiar Christmas tunes.

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Natalie, an avid genealogist, planned vacations around our heritage.  She tracked the Lansil’s in Bangor, Maine, dragged her husband and children through cemeteries and visited our homelands of Llanfairfechan, Wales and Richibucto, New Brunswick, Canada.  She spoke of Stephen Hopkins, our Mayflower ancestor and William Grout, our Revolutionary War hero – she “hooked” me and I became a genea-adict!  Several years ago, I was overjoyed to become the recipient of the Roots Research Books – Lansil & Haines  full of letters from many long deceased (and living) cousins, photos and other fascinating documents (such as”Mary Haines Diary” and the record of seaman Charles V. Lansil’s drowning off Bar Harbor) rich with details of our heritage, captured in the 1970’s, long before the public Internet.

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This past summer, on a trip to New Brunswick, my husband and I followed her footsteps with hopes to locate the, “Welcome to Richibucto”, signs Natalie had visited in the 1970’s when she was about my age, and to FINALLY locate the “long lost” family of Jennie Ferguson, Natalie’s paternal grandmother and my g-g-grandmother  (her story here). Alas, we succeeded at neither.

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Natalie was ahead of her time and a “blogger” in 1999, long before the term blogger was coined.  She left a wonderful array of posts with touching family stories and experiences: click here for her BLOG and here for a post I wrote of her blog.

Natalie’s self-written bio reads:

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Melrose, Massachusetts welcomed me on September 26, 1928. Of the two boys and five girls, I was the baby of the Haines family. That family moved to the next town, Malden, in 1931. My claim to fame was portraying the princess in the 5th grade operetta at the Glenwood School. I graduated in 1946 from Malden High School’s Commercial Course. Then, at a bank in Boston, learned how to wire the control boards for IBM computers.

Ed Thomson, a returned combat veteran of WWII, and I married in October, 1947, and had two outstanding children, Joanne, born 1953 and Edward, born 1958. Later, they further enriched the family by marrying Don and Patty and parenting five wonderful grandchildren.

For about a decade, I taught Sunday School while my children were growing. Ed served as a Deacon and we both worked on varied committees at church. In addition to our careers, our interests centered around our children’s activities. Starting in 1965, I helped organize the Central Little League Auxiliary in Malden. My husband coached a winning team. For many years I took various courses at local colleges. Ed died of cancer-from-smoking in April 1983.

It took a lot of money and several futile attempts for me to give up smoking. Then, by chance, I learned about a group called Nicotine Anonymous. I faithfully attended meetings, absorbed the message, and now it is eleven years since I’ve smoked a killer-cigarette.

For twenty years I worked for Intercity Homemaker/Home Health Aide Service. I retired as Administrative Assistant after years as a Caseload Manager.

In 1993, I moved back to Melrose. My stride has become comparatively a stroll, but retirement continues to be pleasant, productive and poetically progressive.

Rest in Peace my Greatest Aunt Natalie and thanks for the wonderful legacy….AND if you can hear me, please send a SIGN to help us FINALLY find Jennie Ferguson’s parents John and Elizabeth!!!!

Natalie Haines Thomson – Obituary

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Natalie Haines Thomson, longtime resident of Malden and Melrose, died Friday, March 13, 2015. She is survived by her daughter the Rev. Joanne Thomson (Donald Hausch) of Madison, WI; her son Edward M. Thomson of Malden; by grandchildren Patrick Kelley, Paul Hausch, and Jessie Hausch; by her step-grandson Justin Maggs; and nephew Charles (Ann) Hall. She was preceded in death by her husband Edward Joseph Thomson; by her daughter-in-law Patricia (Carrico) Thomson; by her step-grandson Richard Maggs; by her parents Edith (Lansil) and John Haines; and by seven brothers and sisters (Edith, John, William, Doris, Walter, Marion, and Bernice).

Natalie was for many years a case manager at Intercity Homemaker Service in Malden, and through her work she became acquainted with almost everyone in the area who needed help caring for an elderly or disabled loved one. She thrived on the many relationships she made while matching home health aides and homemakers with her clients. In addition to her work at Intercity, Natalie worked throughout her life at a variety of jobs in Malden and Boston as a bookkeeper or as an administrative assistant.

She brought her considerable organizational talents to volunteer and community work. She belonged to the First Congregational Church in Malden, where she taught Sunday School, served on committees, and produced masterful roast beef dinners. She organized one of the first auxiliaries of the Malden Central Little League, raising funds to support players and teams.

But in her family, Natalie was known as a poet, writer and genealogist. Every family event, each birthday, graduation, or anniversary, was marked by a poem created uniquely for the occasion. Natalie kept journals throughout her life, recording her thoughts and observations. She spent years researching her ancestors long before the Internet, creating meticulous documentation for future generations. After retirement she became part of the Silver Stringers at the Melrose Senior Center, which developed an online newspaper for senior citizens, one of the first of its kind.

Natalie loved nothing better than being with people. She was the most extroverted person ever born, had a legendary sense of humor, and was filled with endless curiosity about people and their stories. She made numerous friends among the shopkeepers in and around Melrose Square while on her daily walks for the past 20 years.

Visitation will be held at Weir MacCuish Family Funeral Home at 144 Salem St, Malden on Friday, March 20th from 4:00 to 8:00 PM. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 21 at 11:00 am at the Melrose Highlands Congregational Church (UCC) at 355 Franklin St., Melrose, with the Rev. Beth Horne officiating. Visitation will precede the service at 10:00 AM at the church.

In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to The Special Olympics.

Natalie Haines Thomson – Eulogy written and read by her daughter Joanne

Many years ago I swore that I would never, ever, speak at a family funeral.  It’s just way too hard.  But I think that my mother appreciates the fact that I want to try to have the last word.

I want to start with a few thank you’s.  Thank you to all of you who have come today.  You probably have some idea how much it means to my brother Eddie and I that you are here.  I also want to thank  the people of Melrose Highlands Congregational Church for offering us a church home today.  And I want to say thank you to my brother.  He has been there for Natalie through thick and very thin.  His commitment to our mother over these last few years of her dementia and illness has been extraordinary.  I have been proud of him for the way he has taken care of our mother, and I know our father would be proud, too.

By this point in our lives, we’ve all listened to a lot of tributes given at funerals.  Sometimes I’m jealous when I listen to these tributes, because more often than not, the eulogy makes it sound like the person who died was a perfect angel living on earth.  Sitting there listening, I’d envy that family, and I’d wish that my family members were as perfect as those people appeared to be.  Because my family members are not.  Perfect.  With all due respect.

But that’s what I want my last word to be.  My mother was not perfect.  And yet she set an extraordinary example for us.  There are things she did that hurt or confused us.  Some things I will never really completely understand.  And yet she was an incredible woman who loved us and who let us know how much she loved us, right up until the moment when she couldn’t communicate anything anymore.

I think about the values that our mother and father instilled in us, for example.  Hard work, honesty, compassion, laughter, love of family, and of the friends who become your family — I’m incredibly grateful to have grown up with parents who were rock solid committed to values like these.  But our parents’ values went much deeper and much farther.  There was something that led them to roll past other people’s expectations and do what they knew was right.  I mean, Natalie married a Catholic.

Here’s an example of the kind of values I’m talking about.  This is an excerpt from one of her journals.   She wrote this on the Sunday after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968.  “I attended church this morning,” she wrote.  “I regretted that (the sermon) bypassed an opportunity to promote brotherhood (and make) inroads (into) some people’s staunch bigotry….   Instead of propounding on God’s law, and reminding us of Jesus’ strength, (it) eloquently and fervently spoke on a theme of ‘America’s strength is in the obedience (she underlined obedience) of her laws.’ (she double underlined this)….Not a word of what Dr. King had accomplished or of what we (double underlined again) should try to accomplish.”   That is a mother to be proud of.  We are indebted to her for values like that.

On a lighter note, let me share that the following page of her journal records that, quote, “Joanne’s essay on ‘How We Can Build A Better Malden’ won at Lincoln Junior High.”  If only this masterpiece had been preserved for future generations, think of the Malden we would have today.

That’s the first last word I have:  a tribute to our mother’s independence of mind and spirit, and the values she passed on to us that go far beyond compassion and fairness and honesty.

The last last word I have is that she was the embodiment of the very deep truth that it is never too late, and that the world and its possibilities are always greater than you think they are.  There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God:  not mistakes; not wounds and scars; not a lack of options; not even our own confusion about how to do our best for the people we love.

Going through my mother’s papers, I found a print out (because she saved every piece of paper; every single piece of paper); of her registration for classes for a human services certificate program at UMass Boston from the early 1990’s.  She should have gone to college.  We all know this.  But at the age of 64 or so, she decided to commute after work on the subway to UMass Boston to take classes for a certificate in human services administration.  So what if she never had the chance to go to college.  She had the chance now.  I think of her finishing her class at UMass probably around nine at night, getting on the Red Line, changing to the Orange, walking back to her car through Malden Square.   It’s never too late.

But what will always be for me the greatest example of her character was that she gave up drinking and gave up smoking.  It would have been great if she’d stopped earlier. But it surely was magnificent that she gave up alcohol in her 50’s and smoking in her 60’s.  I remember when my father was sick, the very first night that he spent in the hospital, at the old New England Memorial.  I was at the hospital with her, and it was finally time to leave.  It was probably about eight o’clock at night, and the sun had gone down since we’d gotten there.  She asked me to follow her in my car from the hospital in Stoneham to her house on Kimball Street because she had never before driven alone after dark.  This is maybe a 10 minute drive.  She was 55 years old.  She had a long, long way to go.  But she brought all of her drive and all of her relentless energy to both of these challenges, and she did it.  I think she was astonishing.  Boy, was she mad at me when I made her smoke outdoors in Wisconsin in January.  And it’s true, she drove us completely crazy with all of the stories from her supposedly “anonymous” groups.  But what she did was pretty incredible.   She changed her life.  She saved her life.  She looked like a completely ordinary person.  She was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination.  But she was extraordinary.  

There is far, far more good that is possible than you might at first believe.  So don’t give up.  She never gave up.

 

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52 Ancestors, Week #19, Was Jennie a Tyrant??

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.”

Jennie/Jenny (Ferguson) Haines was my paternal grandmother’s paternal grandmother.

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Jennie Ferguson Haines

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Marion Haines White (Jennie’s granddaughter, left), Jennie Ferguson Haines (middle), unknown homemaker/friend (right)

Jennie was likely born in Richibucto, Kent, New Brunswick, Canada (according to daughter Jennie’s death certificate, all other records specify a generic birthplace of New Brunswick) about 1858 (although records place her birth between 1856 and 1864**) to John and Elizabeth.  She relocated to Boston in the late 1870’s or early 1880’s where likely she worked as a servant.

Jennie's death

In 1880, a Jennie Ferguson, age 22 of New Brunswick was listed as a servant residing at 96 West Newton Street, Boston (today known as South Boston).  None of the other residents were of New Brunswick. She does not appear in Boston city directories in the 1878-1882 time frame, and may not have held this job long.

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She married in Boston, on 7 March 1882, William John “John” Haines, then a carpenter (he had many occupations), born 7 Mar 1856 in Richibucto to John Hains and Alice Edith Childs. They likely knew each other before arrival in Boston, from Richibucto, as Jennie was very good friends with John’s sister Mary.

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Mary Haines, a nanny for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s grandsons, recorded in her journal a number of entries mentioning Jennie, including a description of the wedding:

1 October 1880 – “My sister is in Boston and also friend Jenny”.

25 December 1880 – “Christmas Day. I went out this afternoon with Jenny. Mrs. and Mr. Dana went to Cambridge with Dicky to lunch with his Grandpapa, Mr. Longfellow, and I had the afternoon to myself. I went in the evening to see the Christmas tree in Mr. Hamilton’s church; then went to the skating rink with Minnie Gordon and Jenny Ferguson two of my dearest friends in Boston. The band played and they all waltzed around on their skates”. 

6 January 1881 – “Jenny Ferguson and I went to see her [Mary’s sister]. She is much better and able to be up”.

2 February 1881 – “My sister and Jenny are going to a party tonight while I am left behind. I have seen the day when I would not be left behind. How sad I felt as I clasped on Jenny’s neck the chain and locket my dear brother has often clasped on my own neck”.

10 August 1881 – “I went to Boston today. It was an awfully hot day. I went out to Jamaica Plain. Saw Jenny”.

8 December 1881 – “Still no letter from Jennie Ferguson. How I wish she would come. Oh dear, how lonely I am”. 

26 January 1882: “John came over from Chelsea this evening. We had a lovely time together. Jenny Ferguson my dear friend came down from Richibucto. She was here tonight.  Just came on the boat today. I am so glad to see her. She is my dearest friend”.

13 February 1882: “I had my two brothers, John and Alexander, and my dear friend Jenny call”.

15 February 1882: “I went to a party in Lynn in company with my brothers, cousin and Jenny”

17 February 1882: “I had dear Jenny and John to see me tonight and also dear Minnie. We will meet tomorrow night to go to church.”

23 February 1882: “I left Boston and am now in Chelsea of a little vacation of two weeks. Jenny, Albert and I went house hunting. We found a house we all liked, we decided to take it and will move in on Monday.” [89 Matthew Street].

2 March 1882 – “I cut today Jenny’s wedding dress and coat”.

3 March 1882 – “We finished Jenny’s wedding dress and coat”.

6 March 1882 – “I went to Boston today with John. He bought his suit of clothing and marriage certificate. And I completed the wedding wardrobe for Jenny and helped to put the house in order”. 

7 March 1882 – “What a busy day we had yesterday. John and my dear Jenny Ferguson were married. She wore cardinal satin trimmed with a darker shade of goods, velvet I mean, neck filled in with lace and tea roses. John was in full dress. They looked so happy. The room was full of people.  They were married by our Pastor Reverand Mr. Good [Hood?].  John and Jenny walked into the room arm in arm. Our cousin Albert and Miss Annie Stickeny stood up with them. John looked so happy. It did my heart good to see him. We had a very happy evening. Some of the party stayed all night”. 

24 March 1882 – “My dear brother John was baptized. How nice it was to see him. He seemed to be in real earnest”.

28 March 1882 – “I went to Chelsea to spend the evening with John and Jenny”.

2 April 1882 – “I went home to my brother’s, and took tea; and spent the evening with him and his wife”

3 April 1882 – “Brother John and Jenny, my new sister, came over to spend the evening with me. This is my last evening in Boston for a long time for tomorrow we are to leave for New York, and from there to Europe” [Mary was traveling with the Dana family soon after Longfellow’s death]

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John and Jennie had eight known children, the first born about nine months after they married: Edith, John Galatis, Alexander, Ella May, Margaret Elizabeth, Joseph (who died as a child), Minnie and Jennie.

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The 1884 through 1890 city directories place the family in Chelsea, Massachusetts.  On 2 November 1892 the family purchased a home, and 5,000 square feet of land, on Wordsworth Street, in East Boston (on the corner of Homer near Bennington – the southwesterly portion of lot #256) – they were enumerated there in 1900 and 1910.

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1900 census

1910 census

Although they never divorced, Jennie and John separated. According to notes from Mary Haines descendants, Ralph and Peggy Stevens, John relocated for a time to live with his sister Mary in Vallejo, Solano, California, where he ran their chicken farm, while Jennie perhaps moved to Billerica, Massachusetts.

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Jennie sold the house 2 July 1913 to her son-in-law Albert Walsh (Ella’s husband).  John gave his daughter Jennie power of attorney.

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Neither Jennie nor John is found in the 1920 or 1930 censuses.

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

… My mother was Ella May Haines. Her father was William John Haines (I think). He was always called John, the William was never used, so I am not positive of the authenticity. However the William John sounds familiar.  He was married to Jennie Ferguson. It is a Scotch name [The name Ferguson is an Anglicization of the Gaelic “Macfhearghus”, son of Fergus, a personal name of old Celtic origin, Dumfries Fergusons claim descent from Fergus, Prince of Galloway]. Apparently her mother was Irish and her father was Scotch, as my mother said she was Scotch Irish. William John, her husband was English decent. 

Jenny Ferguson Haines was reddish blond and Catholic [John and Jennie were married by a United Presbyterian minister], had a violent temper and we were led to believe she was a tyrant and a kook. 

In June of 1936, this theory proved to be true. I did not know my grandmother, I thought of her as someone out of a story book. A character. I had an important date to go to a prom and a strange person came walking down the street and I called my mother to tell her that her mother was coming (I thought I was being funny, as she fit the picture I had in my mind about her). Low and behold she came to our door and it was she, the character lady, and she turned out to be exactly as I was led to believe. 

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 [note: city directories do confirm that William John Haines reported his occupation as “chemist”, working from home, from 1906-1908] . Jenny sold the formula to Cabot Chemists and that was the last straw. So they separated. Never legally divorced, as in those days it would have been a disgrace, my mother felt, despite her tyrannical ways, her husband was very much in love with her.

City directory

My mother was nineteen and Minnie Haines Collins was 15 and Jenny Haines Johnson was 13. When Jenny and John separated and gave up the homestead, my mother took Minnie and Jenny, her two young sisters to live with her.  Approximately 13 years later I can remember Minnie meeting my grandfather John at the train. He was returning from California, from a 4 year visit.  Then he lived with us for many years. When I was 16, which must have been 1934, my grandfather had a shock and John Marshall and Bill Collins [sons-in-law] decided that he should go to a rest home. I was furious and too young to do anything about it. As a youngster, I thought those places were a place to get rid of people. 

Grandma Haines [Jennie] was always on the move; but I think she claimed residency in Billerica. She died first and had a cemetery lot paid for. I know that when grandfather was told of Jenny’s death he died shortly afterwards and was buried in the same plot with his wife….

In a letter dated 2 January 1979, Jennie’s granddaughter Natalie (another daughter of John Galatis Haines) writes:

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An excerpt from Wikipedia indicates that there may have been some truth to the story of Jennie selling her husband’s invention: “Samuel Cabot IV studied chemistry at MIT and Zurich Polytechnic (now ETH Zurich). After visiting factories in Europe, he was inspired to work on coal-tar based products. He set up a laboratory in Chelsea, Massachusetts and his brother Godfrey joined him in 1882. They produced household disinfectant, sheep dip, wood preservatives, and shingle strain using coal tar that was a by-product of the gas works in Boston”.  

Interestingly, a man of the same name, Samuel Cabot, held the Haines mortgage of $662.42 on Wordsworth Street. John & Jennie were to pay him $2.50 weekly plus 6% interest.

Nothing more is known of Jennie’s life.  Her granddaughter Natalie writes: “Jennie who died in her 80’s was living alone in a small house in rural Billerica, supported by two of her sons-in-law and a small Gold Star pension she swindled from her son Alec’s young widow Ina (he died aboard the Ticonderoga in 1918). Jennie was estranged from her daughters”. 

Craig Scott, G.G. (a professional genealogical and historical researcher for more than twenty-eight years, he specializes in the records of the National Archives, especially those that relate to the military),  writes in 2014: “Been thinking about this. What probably happened was a War Risk Insurance payout. There were no pensions, that I know of for WWI for guys who died. Just the insurance policy much like they have today. Those records were destroyed. However, I have seen the beneficiary forms in VA records. So you might try the VA, even though he died”.

Jennie died 19 April 1938.  No obituary was found in the Boston papers or the Lowell Sun. The funeral home no longer has records from that time frame. No probate record was located in Middlesex or Suffolk, Massachusetts Counties. The death notice reads that she was “of Pinehurst Billerica”.  The “Certificate of Death”, gives her residence as 523 Columbus Ave., Boston;  Cause of death: br pneumonia & cardiac decompression. Her daughter Minnie was the informant and did not know the names of Jennie’s parents.  Jennie is buried with John at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Arlington, Massachusetts, ‘Q’ section, plot #566.

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death cert grave

That’s it… I was unable to locate any record of Jennie in New Brunswick – there is no evidence of parents, siblings or cousins, where are they?  Was she unloved as a child? Did it cause her to become a tyrant?  According to one granddaughter, she helped sick friends and neighbors – could she have been all bad?  Her husband John loved her as did his sister Mary.  Did the financial pressures of a large family cause her to break? Or perhaps the effects of losing three children; her young son Joseph [no death record has been located, but the 1900 census states she gave birth to 8 children, 7 are living], her daughter Jennie, at age 22, of influenza followed by lobar pneumonia and her son Alexander, who at age 31, died in WWI, aboard the steamship Ticonderga, which was torpedoed while on her way to France.

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** Jennie’s birth year ?

  • The Boston Globe death notice lists her as age 82 (b. abt 1856);
  • Her death certificate puts her age at 74 (b. 1864);
  • Her gravestone reads 1858-1938;
  • the 1880 census puts her age at 22, b. abt 1858 (assuming it is really her and not someone of the same name – she is working as a domestic);
  • She is listed as age 23 when she married in 1882 (b. abt 1859);
  • the 1900 census lists a birth date of Jun 1866, age 33 and says she was married 18 years. If correct, this would put her age 15 at marriage;
  • the 1910 census gives her age as 51 (b. 1859);
  • 1930 census, there is a woman of the same name as an inmate at a hospital in Boston, age 73, b. 1857 – not sure if this is her as she supposedly owned a house in Billerica;
  • If she is really the Jane Ferguson in the 1861 Canadian census, her age was 4, thus she was b. abt 1857

UPDATE: Another blog post with a theory of Jennie’s birth family here.

Memories of Nana (1 Oct 1907 – 25 July 1999)

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 remember my Nana, Edith Anna (Haines) Hall, known by friends as “Ede”, as a pleasantly plump, happy-go-lucky woman with an infectious laugh, who found the good in everyone and everything.

Nana

Edith’s early life wasn’t easy. Her parents had lots of mouths to feed. There were times when they had to go without; during the depression, they used coats to keep warm in the winter, as blankets and heat weren’t affordable.  Nonetheless, they learned to enjoy life.  The following poem, depicting their childhood, was written by Nana’s younger sister, Natalie:

You’re Only Young Once

… A rhyming version of Depression days

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!

Besides the Great Depression, Nana lived through her young husband’s nervous breakdown which caused them to live temporarily with a mother-in-law who disliked her [she considered her son’s marriage to my grandmother a social step in the wrong direction]. Nana worked tirelessly helping to manage the veterinary business and a household. She battled cancer and lost a breast at a fairly young age. One of her arms swelled and stayed that way (I don’t know if doctors ever discovered the cause – likely something to do with medications related to her surgery). She nearly lost her youngest son, to illness, while he was stationed in Germany. Despite the challenges, she loved life and was never without a smile. She had loads of friends, belonged to many social clubs, volunteered at the local hospital and joined every imaginable church committee.

Nanas knitting club

 

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Among her many talents, Nana was an incredible painter [click to see a larger version].

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painting

An abstract by Nana (above); my favorite as a child. Below, other pieces in my collection.

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After Grampa died in 1976, Nana spent years exploring the world with friends – London, France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Austria, Vienna, Niagara Falls, Alaska, the list goes on….

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Nana (far right) with friends Muriel, Barbara & unknown

She was one of my best friends – loving, kind and sweet.

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Me & Nana circa 1963                                             Me, Nana & Grampa 1967

Throughout the sixties and seventies, my parents dropped us three kids, at my grandparents, across town, every Saturday [four of us, in the early seventies, when my youngest brother was born]. The day would commence, with Nana and I assisting with the spay/neuter operations – she would administer ether while I held the dog/cat’s legs – we laughed and talked.

We spent Saturday afternoons making toll house or oatmeal sundae cookies (licking spoons and bowls), mock-cherry pies and/or cream cheese and maraschino cherry sandwiches (shaped like jelly rolls). We learned to knit and crochet. I still have the pink and white afghan personalized with my name that Nana made to match my bedroom.

We played games, like “The Oregon Trail”, Chinese checkers or chess.  Many weeks we took the bus/train [she didn’t have a driver’s license] to Boston where we sailed on the Swan Boats at the Public Garden, meandered along the Freedom Trail or gaped at the Jordan Marsh Christmas display. Many times we attended her church events (my favorite being “decorate your own cup cake” at the annual Christmas Fair).  Dinner was meat and potatoes on folding “TV trays” while watching Grampa’s favorite show “Let’s Make a Deal”.  My grandparents would drive us home Saturday after dinner.  We would pile into Grampa’s big green truck (or in later years, his green Dodge Dart) and sing old songs like “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do, I’m half crazy over the love of you….” or “I love you, a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck…”

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Nana would call often when I moved to my first apartment in the mid-eighties.  I of course was at work, but had an answering machine.  My roommates and I adored her messages. She would start off with “Dear Linda”….then relay her message….and end with an emphatic “Love, Nana”  in a cheery voice.  It was so cute, I wish I had thought to save them.

Nana often spoke of her days working at John Hancock where one of her tasks was to alphabetize hundreds of index cards.  One day she tripped, dropping the entire pile down a flight of stairs.  Cards flew everywhere. It was a disastrous mess! She recollected this story frequently, each time belly laughing hysterically until tears formed in her eyes.

While in her late 70’s Nana was hit by a car while out for her daily walk.  As she lay in her hospital bed with a bruised body, she recounted how fun it was to go flying up in the air when the car struck her. “I was higher than the car roof!! It was sooooooo exciting,” she giggled.

In the nineties, we bought Nana a new phone for Christmas, after realizing she had been “renting” her rotary phone for years and years – likely paying several thousand dollars over time.  To discontinue the fees, she had to return the phone – so we decided to make a day of it!  As we drove, Nana confessed that it had taken her almost six hours to clean the “gunk” off the cord (so they wouldn’t try to charge her extra for cleaning). We arrived at the “phone store” and indicated to the man behind the counter that we would be returning their rented phone.  He looked at it and immediately hurled it 25 feet behind him to the “junk pile”.  I was mortified!  But in an instant, Nana began laughing uncontrollably, I joined her in hysterics. It took a good ten minutes for either of us to be able to speak and explain to the clerk that she just spent six hours cleaning the “junk pile phone”.  He felt so bad, he looked as though he wanted to crawl under a table, which caused us to laugh harder.

On another occasion, while in her late 80’s she decided to take the bus a few stops away to visit my dad who was hospitalized with cancer.  Several hours later she was nowhere to be found. My entire family was panic stricken.  Finally to our relief she arrived. She was happy as a clam.  Nana had taken the wrong bus and had traveled for hours having to change buses a few times to find her way back home with the help of some friendly bus drivers.  “The best part”, she exclaimed, “was that I got to see the ocean, and the whole trip only cost me a dime!!”

Years before her death, she labelled her collection of precious Hummels, ensuring that each of her loved ones would receive a keepsake (they were acquired in the fifties, while Nana was in Germany, visiting her youngest son, my dad, who was quite ill).

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She was truly an amazing woman, who lived to be 91. While on her deathbed, she told me not to look so sad, she had had a terrific and exciting life.  In her last moments, she worried about her family, as was her character, not thinking of herself.

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Edith Anna Haines was born at 101 Maxwell Street, Dorchester, Massachusetts on 1 October 1907; eldest child of John Glatis/Galatis Haines and Edith Bernice Lansil.  Soon after her birth, the Lansil home was sold and the Haines family relocated.  They moved frequently, residing in Melrose, Malden and for a short time Saugus (until sister Doris showed interest in a “colored boy”).

Siblings included  John “Jack” Galatis/Glatis Jr., Walter Lansil (who died at 11 months from acute enteritis and colitis), Doris, Marion Jeanette, William Alexander “Billy”, Bernice Frances and Natalie.

Nanas young

Edith’s elementary education was completed at the Ripey School in Melrose and she was a 1927 graduate of Melrose High School. Based on her yearbook description it seems that she was good natured, well liked and perhaps a bit sneeky, pretending to be sick when a “fun” activity interfered with her school schedule.

Nanas graduation

Edith met her husband, Charles George Hall, son of Charles Milton Hall and Georgianna Hughes/Clough at a dance at the Congregational “branch church” on Forest St., Malden; she asked the minister to make an introduction.  It later became an independent church, but by that time Edith had married, and enrolled her two sons in the Sunday School of the Congregational Church on Pleasant St., Malden.

Nanas 1927

They were engaged by March 1929, as reported by her employer, John Hancock.

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They married 18 July 1930.

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MISS HAINES BRIDE OF DR. C.G. HALL
Ceremony Performed at Bride’s Home in Melrose by Rev. W.H. White..
Couple will reside in Boston.
Bride prominent in Forest Dale Chapel Activities..
July 18, 1930
A pretty home wedding was celebrated yesterday afternoon when Miss Edith Anna Haines, 8 Oxford St., Melrose, daughter of Mrs. John G. Haines became the bride of Dr. Charles G. Hall of Lawrence St. Linden.

 

The ceremony was performed by Rev. W.H.White, ass’t pastor of the First Congregational church.

 

The bride was attended by her cousin Miss Doris Marshall and Miss Doris Haines her sister.  Dr. Cornelius Thibeault of Reading attended the groom.

 

A reception followed the ceremony and over 50 attended.  A catered supper was served.  the couple left on a honeymoon by auto to parts unknown. They will make their home in Boston.

 

The bride was attired in white chiffon trimmed with lace.  She wore a tulle veil caught up with orange blossoms and carried a shower bouquet of birde’s roses and lilles of the valley.

 

Miss Marshall was gowned in embroidered organdy trimmed with blue and Miss Haines wore embroidered organdy trimmed with pink.  Both carried pink roses.

 

Miss Doris Jenkins of Milton rendered “O Promise Me” and was accompanied by Mrs. E.H.Thompson also of Milton.  John Haines Jr. a brother of the bride, played the wedding march. 

 

The bride is a graduate of Melrose schools and was employed at the office of John Hancock Ins. Co. of Boston.  she was a member of the Queens of Avalon of the Congregational church.

 

The groom is a graduate of Ohio State University and is a member of the veterinary staff of the Angell Memorial Hospital.  He is a member of the Omega Tau Sigma fraternity. He is also a graduate of Malden High and Linden school.
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The business and their residence was located at 228 Main Street, Malden.  Grampa bought her the house next door as a birthday gift – it was occupied by tenants.  After Grampa’s death, her sons sold both homes and moved her to a studio apartment, #411 at The Heritage on Pleasant Street, Malden – keeping the phone number we all had memorized – 324-0278.

 

The “Haines girls” were talented poets.  The following (likely by sister Natalie) gives a glimpse of  Edith’s life:

 

EDITH

… By a Younger Sister

Nineteen-Aught-Seven, in the fall
In birthing room off upstairs hall
Of Family Manse at “One-Oh-One”,
Her fruitful life was first begun.
First child of Edith and of John
The same room where her Mum was born,
Descended from the Grouts and Paines
Came Edith Anna (Lansil) Haines.

 

She stayed so sweet as years went by
(The apple of her family’s eye)
She was so loving, kind and good
(The one who always understood!!)
The next score years that family grew
And six more siblings Edith knew.
She learned there at her mother’s knee
That she was special – we agree!
She set the pace (her standards high);
Ours just to do, not reason why.

 

In Forestdale she really shone.
No wonder Charlie Hall came home
To claim his bride (his life long mate);
They started on their own sweet fate.
She pushed the prams and answered phones;
She cooked the meals, went out alone.
She smiled and mingled socially;
Held dogs and cats professionally.
She fretted for her growing sons
And all the while those four had fun.

 

Artistic talent came to fore
Creating “favors” by the score.
She mastered canvas stretched on a board
(Her “SEAGULLS” won a Grand Award.)
Her sons grew up to be fine men
With lovely wives…she breathed “Amen”!

 

And in the meantime (in between)
She never left our family scene.
So long, so well, she’d helped our Mother.
She tried to guide each Sis and Brother.
She shared in all our joys and tears.
And mellowed with us o’er the years.

 

Each niece and nephew she’s include
Within her ever-growing brood.
Of Grandkids, whom she loved galore
(They filled her heart…she asked no more).
For twenty years each “took a turn”
With “Nana Visits”… How they learned!

 

Today, within four generations,
Mid changing, sticky situations,
An anchor ‘twixt the ages, SHE
Can sympathize and easily
Remember how it is when young,
When every day “Life’s song is sung”.
A Daughter, Sister, Mother, Wife,
A Nana, Friend, a rich full life!
Upon this Earth she’s left her mark,
And earned the title MATRIARCH!

 

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Nana’s 80th Birthday

 

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