I have encountered many a genealogist who document only their direct line. Many times, in documenting the lives of your collateral relatives (aka siblings of your direct ancestors) you will find that your distant cousins hold documents or photos that offer glimpses into the lives of your direct ancestors or help to break down brick walls.
For hundreds of years, people who wished to stay in touch with others had only one way to do it, they wrote letters, the only means of long-distance communication. Today I share one such letter written by my 3rd great grandfather John Hains to his daughter Mary in which he names a number of his children, including my 2nd g-grandfather William John (who was working as a chemist for Cabot in Chelsea, Massachusetts).
John Hains was likely born 5 Mar 1824 in Fredericton, York, New Brunswick, Canada to Joseph Hains III and Nancy Ann Boone (see post here). By 1848 he had moved to Richibucto, Kent, New Brunswick where on 17 Mar 1849 according to church records (1848 according to the family bible) he married Alice/Alise Edith Childs, daughter of Joseph Childs and Jannet Dunn.
The couple had seven children: Joseph, Alexander, George, James, Mary Alice, William John and Elizabeth (aka Lizzie). Alice died in 1859. John married second Jane Clare, daughter of James Clare and Elizabeth Langen. They had four daughters, Alice, Annie, Caroline “Carrie” and Christina. John later resided in Derby and owned a farm in Miramichi. He spent some winters in Boston, Massachusetts near (or with) a few of his children, who resided there. John died 20 April 1901 in Derby, New Brunswick.
1851 – likely Richibucto (Kent County census records have not survived)
1861 – resides in Richibucto, age 37, native NB, G. Laborer, Episcopalian
1871 – resides in Richibucto, age 47, English origin, Laborer, Church of England
1881 – resides in Parish of Derby, age 57, English origin, Carpenter, Church of England
1891 – resides in Parish of Derby, age 66, born NB, parents born England, Mechanic/Bridge Builder, Church of England
1901 – resides in Parish of Derby, age 76, born 5 April 1824, born NB of Dutch origin, Farmer, Church of England/Episcopalian
**The original letter is held by Mary’s g-granddaughter who is one of our DNA matches! She shares 29.0 centimorgans across 3 DNA segments with my uncle, her third cousin, and 45 centimorgans across 4 DNA segments with me, her third cousin once removed.**
15 Jan 1896
I received your kind and welcome letter which I read with much pleasure I also received your present which I much prised and for which I return many thanks I crave —- your indulgence for delaying so long in my answer one thing is my eyesight is getting so bad that I can only manage to write in clear weather besides I have had poor health since the winter set in but we have a fine winter so far.
As snow is concerned we have very little snow but cold weather. I had a letter from George a few days ago, he was in San Diego, he still has a notion of me going to San Diego, he thinks it would be better for my health, but I think I am too old and feeble to go so far. I also had a letter from John [William John] with my allotment in he has his land paid for he is thinking of leaving Calbot [Cabot] soon as Calbot [Cabot] is not doing with him as he promised. He wrote me that Alex was to see him lately about going into business, he was on his way to Portland to buy another Vessel that he was selling the old one. John says Alex is doing well at the fishing. Annie says she received your letter she has neglected to write but she will write soon. Carrie has another young son making three in all. So no more at present I remain your affectionate father