Posts Tagged ‘John Haines’

A Letter from John Hains to his daughter Mary

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

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

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

Family Bible.jpg


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


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

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

letter page 1

letter page 2

Lower Derby

15 Jan 1896

Dear Daughter,

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

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

John Hains


Saving the Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Grandson

On 28 May 1880, the entry in Mary Alice Haines  journal reads:

I came to Mrs. Dana as a nursery maid to dear little Dicky, a lovely little blue-eyed baby of nine months.

may 28 3.jpg

Mrs. Dana, was the former Edith Longfellow, daughter of poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The “golden-haired” Edith immortalized in her father’s poem “The Children’s Hour” was Wadsworth’s middle daughter.

Edith married Richard Henry Dana III, son of author, Richard Henry Dana, a friend of Longfellow.  Their first child, Richard Henry Dana IV “Dicky”, was born in his grandfather’s home, the Craigie House, Cambridge, Massachusetts on 1 September 1879.


Dicky’s nursery maid, Mary Alice Haines (who the Dana’s called “Allie” or “Alice”), was my 3rd great-aunt, born 8 May 1855, in Richibucto, Kent, New Brunswick, Canada, to John Hains and Alice/Alise Edith Childs. Siblings included Joseph, Alexander, George, James, William John (my 2nd g-grandfather) and Lizzie.  After their mother’s death in 1860, their father remarried Jane Clare adding four half sisters, Alice, Annie Elizabeth, Caroline Sophia and Christina.

Marys chart

Mary was enumerated with the Dana family on 4 June 1880 at 39 Mount Vernon Street [likely an error, they lived at number 33 not 39] in Boston, Massachusetts.  She was listed as a servant.

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mt vernon

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Ten days later, on 14 June 1880, Mary writes:

Mrs. and Mr. Dana start for Nahant [Massachusetts] to spend the summer, taking with them their dear little Dicky and myself.

The following day she adds:

I don’t like Nahant. I think it is a perfectly horrid stupid place.

Then on 1 Sepember 1880

We expect to return to Boston soon. I shall be glad, although I have had a very nice time after all.  I went to ride often with Mrs. Dana and took little Dicky; and very often we row in the evenings.

They arrived in Boston 20 September 1880.  On Christmas she writes:

Mrs. and Mr. Dana went to Cambridge with Dicky to lunch with his Grandpapa, Mr. Longfellow, and I had the afternoon to myself.

She writes often of her days with Dicky. Mary’s brother Joseph passed away 24 January 1881 in a hospital in London.  A few weeks later she writes:

Ever since the death of my dear brother I have had lovely flowers sent to me. Little Dicky frequently brings me a pretty rose in his own, sweet, dimpled hand.

Two days after her brother’s death, Mary writes:

Dicky had  little brother born last night. He calls him a little dolly and wants to shake hands with him [Henry “Harry” Wadsworth Longfellow Dana]

Pictured below, Mary with Dicky and Harry:


On her birthday, Mary received an apron from Mrs. Dana and flowers from Dicky. On 28 May 1881 she writes:

One year ago today I came to take care of little Richard H. Dana III, a dear little blue eyed boy of nine months with long golden hair.  I was not at all taken with his appearance for I thought him very dull and not at all interesting.  But today he is a real boy in every degree and running around and saying many words. He is very fond of flowers. I am now with him in Cambridge making a visit to his grandfather, Professor Longfellow, and he enjoys being here. He is a dear little fellow. I am getting so fond of him. I hardly know how I can ever leave him and he is so fond of me. He calls me A-ie; and since he has been here he has learned to hail the horse car; and if it doesn’t stop he will run into the street and scream, car! car!

Beginning on 18 June 1881 she again summered in Nahant with the family. When they returned to Boston on 21 Sept 1881 she reports that Mrs. Dana and Dicky were sick with “slow fever”.  On 15 October 1881 she comes to Cambridge (from Boston)  to Mr. Longfellow as Mrs. Dana is very sick with typhoid fever. On 8 November she writes that she is still in Cambridge, with no hope of returning to Boston for weeks, as Mr. Dana is now very sick. The children are fine.

28 November: We are still in Cambridge. Oh dear I do wish I could go home. I am so tired of Cambridge.

Mrs Dana writes to Mary: Dear Allie, Miss Alice said the children went to bed at half past five. I don’t understand, for Harry always had his supper at six. Have you changed all his hours–and why? I want him to have his supper as late as possible so as not to make such a long night, and I don’t understand why both children don’t go to bed as they always used to. Do write and tell me about it. I miss you all very much and wish you could come home again. I had no idea you would have to stay more than a week or two, but now I suppose we can’t have you back until Mr. Dana gets better.

17 December: This is my last Saturday in Cambridge. I was so glad Mrs. Dana came out to Cambridge and said we could go home Monday. I am so delighted. Mr. Longfellow had a party for the children today. Dicky and my sweet little Harry were there.

On Christmas, Longfellow and Dicky presented Mary with the Longfellow Birthday Book written by Charlotte Bates, with quotes from the works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to go with each day of the year. The quotes appear on the left-hand page, and opposite them, two dates appear. There is room under each date to write the names of people who have that birthday. Longfellow added his signature under his own birth date.

On 24 March 1882 she writes:

This is a sad day in our home. Mrs. Dana’s father, Professor Longfellow died. We were to sail today but owing to Mr. Longfellow’s death we are to remain till 6 April.

Longfellow article.jpg

On April 4th Mary traveled to New York with the Dana family.  It was stormy and rainy. They boarded a ship, which departed for Europe, the following morning.  Mary woke to sailors singing, it reminded her of her five brothers (all of whom were seamen).  The sea was calm for a few days, then “frightful…running mountains high” causing seasickness. Finally, on April 15th they arrived in Liverpool.

Mary writes extensively of her journey, the tug boat that pulled them ashore, a forest of vessels, so many colors, funny looking cabs and ancient buildings.  First stop was the Northern Western Hotel.  She was shocked to learn, in Europe, she and the children were to eat dinner with the other servants in a separate small dining room.

A few days later the group traveled by rail to London, where she noted pretty green fields, so much greener than those at home, trees in bloom and “funny” thatched houses.  They drove four miles via carriage through the lovely Hyde Park to the hotel.  She loved London’s cleanliness, the grand looking granite buildings and pretty Thames River.  She rode from Kensington to Westminster using the underground railroad (which she described as a horrid black hole”), to visit the hospital where her brother Joseph died, to meet his nurses. She describes the view out his window which includes Westminster Bridge, Parliment House and Big Ben  A few days later she visited his grave.

On April 24th they arrived via steam car at Hotel St. Romain in Paris, Mary writes:

I went to ride today with Mrs. and Mr. Dana and the children. We had a lovely ride. How beautiful. I think I never saw anything so lovely. We saw the ruins of the castle of the French Emperor, and also the castle where Napoleon lived, all all the beautiful monuments….little did I think when I used to read about these historical buildings when I went to school, that I would ever see them.

Next stop, via steam car, was Skes La Barre, France [?], then over the Alps into De Touin, Italy, on to Florence then out to the Villa Angelina [possibly in Sorrento ?] where she describes oranges, lemon and olive trees and writes of Dicky tossing bread into a pond with hundreds of kinds of fish who swam to feed. Two girls at the villa taught her some Italian.

Mary is amused to see people washing clothes in the river instead of with a tub and washboard.  They slapped the clothes on stones to beat the dirt out, instead of rubbing them with the hands.

After several days, they returned to Florence where they visited a high cliff overlooking the city and she attended a Scotch-Presbeterian church service (her journal describes the beautiful church, tells of them chanting hymns vs. singing and mentions the sermon was a striking one), then on to Milan for shopping and to see a cathedral and the evening gaslight illumination, then to Lake Como where they sailed in a steamboat and the following day took out a rowboat, “which charmed the children”.  On her second anniversary with Dicky, he presented her a jewel case with a pretty set of ear drops and pin.

On 28 July she notes “there are eight of us” Mr. and Mrs. Dana, Dicky, Harry and myself, Miss Dana, Miss Isabella Dana. They travel to a number of villages – Switzerland is cold.

On July 30th she says she has been Harry’s nurse for one year.  She is homesick much of the time.  Although she enjoys the trip, she longs for letters from home and to be able to see home.

They traveled to Bologna, then Mr. and Mrs. Dana leave for Switzerland leaving Mary and the children behind. Here Mary writes “baby walked all around the yard for the first time”.  A few days later she and the children traveled to Switzerland first by steamboat then via a carriage drawn by four horses.

on 11 August she writes:

Thusis, Hotel Viennala: We left here today but met with a sad accident and had to return to the hotel until Monday.

Mrs Dana writes home of the accident, where our Mary Alice saves baby Harry:

…We meant only to stay here a day or two but an unfortunate accident has upset our plans and shaken our nerves. We engaged a very nice three horse carriage and started in fine style yesterday morning about nine o’clock , Richard and I upfront in the banquette with Dicky between us and Alice [Mary] and Harry inside. About 1 1/2 miles from Thusis the leader shied at a log on the side of the road and bolted right off the other side of the road, which was built seven or eight feet above a grassy meadow, with trees.  There were no posts or railing and the leader going over first dragged the pole horses and carriage after him.

Richard told me to jump out as I was on the up side, but it seemed so preposterous that we could go over and spoil our nice trip and perhaps all be killed in the bargain that I seemed paralyzed and stuck to my seat.  R. could not get out past me and so over we went crash, the carriage turning completely over us but by a happy chance, whether by the struggling of the horses or not I don’t know, it turned half over again on to its side and so set us free.

I had a confused sensation of dust and darkness, breaking wood and brown horses legs flying across my face and then with great effort I made a sidelong plunge to get away from the debris. I saw Dicky lying in a small ditch with Richard on top of him, but both alive.  I was perfectly sure Harry was killed, and dashed back to the carriage turned on its side where in the midst of broken glass, cushions, baskets and boxes I found poor Alice crouching on her knees with Harry in her arms. His face was all bloody and she thought he was very much hurt for the carriage door had stuck him full in the face, but it turned out to be only a bad knock on his forehead and scratches on his face and nothing serious. Alice showed great presence of mind for Harry was sitting on the seat by her and when she found the carriage going over, she seized him in her arms protecting him from the sides and top of the carriage which pressed down upon her, bruising her arm and tearing her dress and apron.

Presently we were all seated on the grass, dusty and bloody, the children wailing dismally, but all absolutely unimpaired! Was it not a miracle? It was such a relief to find we were not all killed or broken to pieces, we could hardly believe it, and I cannot really understand now how we escaped.  Richard was very faint, but fortunately we had brandy in the lunch basket which revived us both and he was well enough to go back to the hotel.  The driver with many “A, Dio!s” had disappeared and the horses were standing quiet as lambs, eating branches of the tree. Meanwhile we were the object of much interest and curiosity for the passers by, who saw with much dismay the broken carriage in the field below and two disheveled women holding two wailing children. All the beggars and children in the neighborhood flocked to the scene of disaster, the diligent stopped to inquire and many carriages. When they heard no one was hurt they went on again, the nervous females probably very unhappy for the rest of their journey.

One very kind Englishman came down to see if he could do anything for us. He seemed very much shocked, and finally presented me with a bottle of coloque [?] which I took to please him although we did not need it. My first thought was to get Dr. Wigglesworth and by dint of running part of the way Richard succeeded in getting back to the hotel just as he and his wife were on the point of taking the diligence over the Splugen [?]. They not only gave up going then but with the greatest kindness and generosity they insisted upon staying over until this morning to make sure that we were alright.  I thought it was very good of them but I wished they would not do it for it was not necessary and it seemed too bad to spoil their plans as well as our own. And worse than all Mrs. Wigglesworth is very nervous about driving and of course this accident will not do much to reassure her. We saw them off in the diligence this morning and I felt very badly to see her so nervous. Dr. W came back in a carriage with R. to the scene of disaster and examined Dicky’s knee under an apple tree. It was very badly bruised and hurt him a good deal. Nothing was broken, however, and Dr. W. has examined it twice since and thinks it will be nothing serious. Poor little Dicky was very much frightened and I am afraid his nerves have received a severe shock. Dr. W. carried him carefully up to the carriage and all the town turned out to see us as we drove slowly through the main street.

Dr W. got us new rooms (ours had been given to others) escorted us to them and made us lie down. We kept Dicky in bed all yesterday but today he is dressed and sitting on a shawl in the garden. Harry did not say a word for full twenty minutes after the accident then when we were sitting on the grass he opened his mouth suddenly and said in the most piteous little voice “Dumpy down!” which made us all laugh….

After a few days of recovery, they end the trip by touring Germany, visiting several spots including Heidelberg Castle and Strasburger Cathedral, they stopped again in Paris to shop and London where Mary again visited her brother’s nurses and grave.  On 17 September they departed Europe, arriving in New York by the 25th on the Servia.

boatship manifest

The journal comes to an end:

29 Sept: One more day and I leave my dear boys. I am give them up to a new nurse Sunday evening.

2 Oct: What a lonely day I spent. My first day away from my dear boys.

22 Oct: John R. Stevens arrived here today from Michigan. We have not met for seven years.

Edith Dana writes from Cambridge, 15 October:

Dear Alice,

It seems a very long time since you went away although it is only two weeks today. It was very hard at first. The first night I slept with Dicky and could not sleep at all. I was so worried and troubled and did not know how we could ever get on without you.  The new nurse did not come until three o’clock Monday afternoon. And I was so tired out by that time, she had to take the children that night and has had them ever since.

Dicky seemed to feel your going more than Harry. He cried a great deal the first night “oh Mary gone!”, “Mary come back! come back!””Mary stay” and he was very suspicious of Margarete at first and would not let her do anything for him. She seems to be a very good girl and is kind and gentle with the children.

I am only afraid she will be too gentle with Dicky and will not be firm enough with him. She is very fond of Harry already and thinks he is the best baby she ever saw. Everything goes on the same as when you were her, only Dicky’s hair that looks a little differently. Margarete curls it, but it looks more meek than when you did it. Dicky has a velocipede now and can ride it in the street.

They have seen “Cuddy Waddy” several times and she is going to be with Grandma in Boston. At least until Christmas time she and her ___ are now going to stay at 33 Mt Vernon St. and perhaps you will see her there.  I hope I shall meet you there someday.  Have you got all your things? Your parasol was in the corner of the big closet.

Miss Annie is very glad you like her presents and says you need not trouble about writing.  I was very sorry to here that John Stevens hurt his eye.  I hope it is nothing serious. Be sure to tell him before you are married about your fainting fits.  He has a right to know and it is your duty to tell him. If you do not he may blame you afterwards.  Have you decided when to be married. I hope Johnie and Jenny are well [my gg-grandparents].

I did not dare to tell the children I was writing to you but they would send a great many kisses if they knew. They are fast asleep now and look so sweetly.  When Dicky plays steam cars he always says “Mary go too”.

Harry has learned a good many new words. He can say “Jumbo” and “corner” and many others.  Mr. Dana and I went to Newport last week for three days and saw Mr. Appleton and the girls who were all interested in hearing about you.  The girls liked the bows we bought for them at the “Bon Marelie”

I hope you will write to me.

Yours very truly

Edith L. Dana

dana letter.jpg

Mary was married in Boston, 26 October 1882, to John Roderick Stevens, an old flame from Canada (he had first married Lucy A Higgens on 10 Jul 1880, she died ten days later).

Alice Longfellow sent a painting as a gift.

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wedding gift

The newlyweds returned to Michigan where they raised a family of six (four who lived to adulthood).

For some time, Mary kept in touch with the family writing to Edith Dana and her sisters Alice and Allegra.  The letters indicate they valued Mary’s confidence, advice and sympathetic ear as well as her more mundane services as nursemaid to the boys and any other family member needing help. Edith updates her with stories of the boys antics and progress and always sends their kisses.

Drawing to Mary [Allie] from Dicky:

A year after their European voyage, Edith writes saying:

Dear Allie, It is just a year ago today that we left this house to to to New York and sail for Europe. How thankful I am we are not starting off now! I wounder how how now we ever had the courage to undertake it with that two small children.  Harry not even able to stand alone. I think we ought to be very grateful all at home again safe and sound. And you really married and out at “Dan Teacy’s house” [?] in Michigan!  How much has happened in one short year!…

It goes one to tell stories of the boys and how excited they were to receive her letters. She congratulates Mary on the baby expected in August and offers to send some of Harry’s baby clothes.  She mentions Mrs. Dana’s fall on Mt. Vernon St. which resulted in a broken hip which is making her quite uncomfortable and depressed.  She expresses how much they miss her and sends kisses from the boys.

year later letter

In 1884, Mary is still sending gifts to the boys.  She writes “Harry Haines” on Harry’s card, perhaps a private joke between them which Mrs Dana mentions in a thank you note sent from 33 Mt Vernon Street.

In another letter, Edith writes to Allie with well wishes for Jennie [Ferguson ?] and says that God can save her, just as he saved them in the carriage upset:


In 1885, Edith Dana writes saying it was very kind of Mary to name her baby Edith after her and hopes that she can meet her someday.

Dana Edith

Dana children 1893:

dana children.jpg

**Special thanks to Mary’s descendants for sharing her journal, photos, artifacts and letters.

UPDATE August 2016:

Today I visited the Massachusetts Historical Society on Beacon Street in Boston.  In their manuscripts collection are the Dana family papers which include the journal of Richard and Edith (Longfellow) Dana III (a few pages below).  Richard notes that Edith did not write in this time period. His writing adds color to Mary’s experiences.  He speaks of Dicky as an infant and Harry’s birth; summers at Nahant; intimate details of having typhoid fever; his father-in-law’s death and the trip to Europe which includes his version of the carriage accident.

To be transcribed at a later date….  Next stop Cambridge to read through the Longfellow family letters!!

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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.

Jenny tree

jennie ferguson haines

Jennie Ferguson Haines


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.


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.


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]

Jenny marriage

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.

Jenny's children


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.


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.


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.

power of atty


house sale

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:

natalie letter

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.

death notice

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.


** 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.

The Year is 1996: Aunt Natalie a blogger?!?!? & PDFMYURL!

The term “blog” was coined in the late 1990s,  My Aunt Natalie (Nana’s sister and our family genealogist) was among the WORLD’S FIRST BLOGGERS,  as  a charter member of The Melrose Silver Stringers of Melrose, Massachusetts formed in 1996!


The 1996 Boston Globe headline reads “Melrose Seniors Tell of Their Lives On-line Via Electronic Paper”

The Silver Stringers was/is a group of some twenty determined senior citizens in their 60s, 70s and 80s who, with the help of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Laboratory, formed an electronic “rag” [aka blog] called The Melrose Mirror.  A section of their mission statement read:

…The members feel that, suddenly, something wonderful has loomed on the horizon — an exciting opportunity to explore the world, to meet interesting people with whom to exchange information and ideas, and a challenge for self-expression. They want to be involved in the world around them and to have the ability to reach out into cyberspace. They are a living patchwork quilt of ideas, opinions, projects, talents. With past experiences to support them, they want to be able to use the current and future technology to stay in touch with the world and to contribute what they have learned and experienced….

globePicAunt Natalie standing

Natalie’s bio and blog posts can still be read here:

I wanted to save copies of these blog posts to attach them to my tree in FamilyTree Maker.  I use a free program (they do accept donations) called:

Just copy/paste the URL and press the fancy yellow P


Within seconds you have a .pdf!


Natalie covered local stories of interest, wrote poetry, shared recipes and BEST of all recorded memories of her life!!  Some of my favorites:

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!

World War II Diary

… Teenage life during a world-wide war

December 7, 1941

At Mother’s suggestion for secrecy, I was wrapping Christmas presents alone in Billy’s bedroom this afternoon. There was some sort of an outburst from Dad, which compelled me to leave my happy chore and go to the living room where both parents were engrossed in the radio announcer’s voice (or President Roosevelt’s?). When I inquired, “What happened?” I was rudely shushed. I went back to my wrapping in tears. Mother joined me in a moment and explained that Dad was very upset. The Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. It would probably mean that this country would go to war and that Bill (my brother, aged 21) would be drafted into the armed services.

January 1942

At Beebe Junior High we practice air raid drills. When the alarm goes off, we all leave our classrooms, carrying one of our books to sit on. We sit on the floor of both sides of the hallways with our backs leaning on the wall. In case of a real attack, we will raise our knees and rest our heads on them.

Summer 1942

Our family saves the gas stamps in their ration book and when we have enough, we travel to Windsor Locks, Connecticut, to visit Bill in the Air Force.

Ed Thomson, later husband of author Natalie Thomson, is at the right with two buddies in Platling, Germany, April, 1945. Ed had forged a birth certificate and joined the army at age 17, but by the time the officials caught with him, he had turned 18. His brother Paul had recently been killed in England.

November 17, 1942

Berneice (my sister age 19) gave birth to Little Jimmy today. I can hardly wait until she brings him home from the hospital. The Haineses will take the place of his father while Big Jimmy is in the army in Africa.

December 14, 1942

After being sick with an embollism since Sunday, Dad died today! Bill was given a few days leave from the Air Force to attend the funeral. We had lots of company and Aunt Margaret slept over. I was sent to Aunt Doris’ for the week, returning with her for the funeral.

Bill Haines (at right, with friends) joined the army in 1940 and survived four years in the European Theater. He was the brother of Natalie Thomson.


I write V-Mail letters to Bill and he RAVES about them which makes me want to write more. Marion and I write to the two young daughters of the family he’s become attached to in Scotland.

Edith (my sister, aged late thirties) and her married friends meet every week and knit for servicemen overseas.  This is a continuation of what they made for Great Britian before the U.S. was included in the war.

Marion (my sister, aged mid-twenties) is attending the U.S.O. dances on Boston Common and they’re going to have a ‘formal.’ She sent me out to rob someone’s garden of a couple of roses for her corsage.

At the left is Ed Thomson, guarding defeated Germans at a POW camp in Belgium, in 1945. He had just turned 18.

Mother says that servicemen aren’t what they used to be. NOW they are “someone’s son or brother.”

In addition to classical pieces, my piano lessons include the songs of the different of the armed forces, i.e., Anchors Aweigh, Off We Go, Semper Paratus, etc.

The news and movies are full of battles and deaths and love stories that must be postponed. I hate the Axis.

A young sailor walked me home from Malden Square today. He was very nice and told me about his family. It was like an Ida Lupino movie. I said goodbye to him outside the house.  I wasn’t sure if Mother would approve.

Young Charlie Hall (teen-aged nephew) is in the Legion Band and they play at the different local army camps.

The Maldonian high school yearbook has several pages of pictures of the boys who would have graduated with their class, but instead are in the different branches of the service.

Some of the popular songs are: The White Cliffs of Dover, I’ll Be Seeing You, and Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree With Anyone Else But Me. Also, from Germany, Lili Marlene.

On the way to high school this a.m. I stopped outside Kennedy’s in Malden Square to say ‘Hi’ to Marion. She was waiting in the ‘butter line.’

Mother let me use Marion’s ration stamp for my new shoes. When Marion needs shoes, she’ll use my stamp.

An Old Key Collection was held in Malden. They melt them down and make bullets.

Mother got a special purchase paper from the local Ration Board that will allow her to buy extra sugar to make a large batch of grape jelly to be used this coming winter.

Autumn 1945

I met Ed Thomson who was given a hero’s welcome back to Malden High School after serving in the Infantry in Europe. His poor parents are jubilant that he came home safely but, at the same time, are desperately mourning Ed’s brother, Paul, who was killed at an air base in England. The people there have sent the Thomsons personal thanks and regrets.  They also sent a booklet that describes the burial place of so many Americans. His name will be included in a large book in the new American Chapel in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

April 1947

Ed has reenlisted in the Air Force and is stationed in Washington, D.C. That’s where we’ll live after our October wedding.


Ed has been appointed to be the Honor Guard for his brother, Paul, whose remains will be brought home from England. There will be a military funeral and burial in Forestdale Cemetery’s World War II lot beside the pond. The Thomsons seem to be more at peace, though they will always be in mourning.

Two out of ten

 … sand, sea and sky

In a calm swimming pool, I can do about 12 strokes with my arms, kicking my feet behind me, then I sink. That’s how it’s been since the first and only time I nearly drowned. It happened in Wilmington’s Silver Lake when I was about 13 years old. I believed my girlfriend who said, “You can do it.” Panic struck a few moments later when I was “over my head” on my way to a diving raft. I awakened in a rescuer’s rowboat as he paddled toward the shore. In the years that followed, I dunked myself in pools and at beaches and loved it, but “over my head” wasverboten.

Many years before the above near-tragedy, a trip to Revere Beach was a regular summertime family affair with two experienced parents, two teenagers, a ten year old and me in my fourth or fifth year on the hot sand. It burned my feet. I whined pitifully. I had to be carried to the hard, damp, low-tide strip of dark grey moist sand.

I always got lost at the beach. Sibling posse parties spent a lot of their time scouting through the crowds on checkerboards of beach blankets ’til they found me. I would either be crying loudly or sometimes silently observing the activities of all the strangers … unaware that I was lost. Over and over my mother knelt beside me, our backs to the water, as she pointed out a landmark across the boulevard from where our blanket was spread. “See that sign with a picture of a hotdog? Just follow it down over the sand to where we’re standing. That’s where our blanket is. Find the hotdog and you’ll find the blanket. Now don’t wander.” In another ten minutes I was lost again in the crowds. I sometimes wonder if, in today’s times, would my family have been accused of child abuse? I was always getting lost … but they always found me.

When lunchtime came, everyone was called out of the water to the blanket. I was constantly shivering and blue-lipped. I was the only one that had to “sit down” to eat. There was usually a little sand covering my hands as I held the crabmeat salad sandwich which had been packed in a “market bag” with no ice but plenty of waxed paper. The sand eventually made its way to my tongue and teeth. Then I would need a drink from one of the bottles of homemade root beer. A paternal “Give her a sip,” was followed by screams of negativity. No one wanted to drink after me. I was lucky. I was given my own bottle. If paper cups had been invented, we didn’t buy them.

Late in the afternoon, when it was time to go home, I was taken to the back seat of the car and clumsily tried to help my mother secure edges of towels in the rolled-up windows. We created a private dressing room and in moments I emerged dry and dressed in play clothes. That night my arms were no stranger to the tingling of a mild sunburn. Applications of saleratus (baking powder) were the cure-all. The strenuous day quickly produced sleep.

I probably dreamed of the unleashed dogs I ran screaming from through the sand. Or the round hopscotches that the older siblings drew on the shore where the dark sand was damp and hard. If you made it to the end on one foot, you could initial a resting block. We also played “statues.” I was no good at holding my pose for a long time. From one sister I learned how to dig a moat at the water’s edge and make a castle. Hers was beautiful. So, I thought, was mine. There were no pails and no shovels, but large cooking spoons which could not get lost, or so went the parental warning.

The dreams continued of prized rock souvenirs with rare patterns on them in varied colors. To me, they were artistic geological treasures. There were some shells, but most of them were flawed by holes. The calling of the wide-winged seagulls as they swooped overhead became part of the lullaby that was punctuated by the whoosh of waves following their collapsing crests. Their progress, now they were transparently shallow, was slower and subdued and finally silent on the shore.

Christmases Past

 … I’m NOT dreaming

Why is it that every year at this time most of us review past Christmases — for better or worse? Among my friends (and even strangers) I hear about their long ago favorite gift, the elaborate tree ornaments and the food, company and revelry now long gone but still bringing pleasure.

My own nostalgia brings on an oxymoron imbalance of past  happenings. Why was I alone in the house on Christmas Eve the first year of my teens, allowing myself to be hypnotized by the multi-colored lights on the tree in the bay window? Surveying the wrapped gifts beneath the branches, my curiosity became uncontrollable and I carefully opened every one that had my name on its tag. Years later, my closest sister told me what a selfish brat I had been as a teenager and cited that long ago Christmas morning when I had opened each of my presents, quickly put the gift aside, ready to open the next one. I was shocked that anyone had noticed my ho-hum reaction and confessed the error of my adolescent yule-ish ways.

An earlier year, the first one I can remember, brought out another emotional experience. I was probably six years old when I announced to my family of about ten holiday-happy adults that there WASN’T any Santa Claus! (This was in response to threats about my behavior.) Well, I did a double-take at the horror my statement created. Everyone gasped at my heresy. I apologized through swelling tears. My conduct was exemplary during the few remaining days ’til stocking-filling time. When I awakened that glorious morning, there was the darling, smiling  Shirley Temple doll in the plaid dress that I had notified Santa I wanted. I wisely stifled my questions when I opened a package of beautiful handmade clothing for the doll. One of my older sisters was a talented seamstress.

I learned from others in the family about another Christmas that happened when I was three or four years old. The Depression had disrupted our family with a move to a less expensive house in a less expensive town. Our Dad had come home after a very late trip through the city on Christmas Eve, carrying a floor to ceiling tree which he and my mother decorated while everyone else slept. Foreverafter they told the story of how Dad scouted the town for a marked-down tree but the only ones he could find had been abandoned hours earlier. As he picked one up and started for home with his cache, a policeman suddenly appeared and asked what he was doing. The truth of six children sleeping at home with nothing to look forward to except Christmas morning, prompted the policeman to turn his back and walk away as he shouted, “I didn’t see a thing! Merry Christmas!”

A decade later, this may have been the memory that my mother harbored as she tried to build a frame and attach it to the trunk of an evergreen lying on its side in our living room.  My father, her husband, had died ten days before the Big Holiday. The family vote was to erect and decorate the traditional tree for the sake of the youngest! That was me. That afternoon I held the tree straight while Mother, lying across the floor, wielded Dad’s hammer and held back her tears. Success on both counts. We had another Christmas… almost as usual.

OUR kind

 …I’m not prejudiced, but…

I was seventeen years old and I knew I was leaving the party later than my mother allowed me to be out. I knew she’d be angry and I didn’t care.  I knew she’d punish me by not allowing me to go out after school for a week, and I didn’t care. At the party I had been coupled up with one of the boys with whom I ate lunch in the drugstore every schoolday. He was handsome. He was a football player. He was a veteran of World War II who had returned to my high school class after winning the war. At the party he asked me to go out the following weekend. I said, “Yes,” enthusiastically, but I knew I would have to face my mother first.

“What’s his name?” went the third degree.

“Thomson,” I answered, never mentioning that his father had changed it from Yeremenko.

“Does he go to our church?” was the next question.

“I haven’t seen him there,” I hedged and then lied, “I think he’s a Methodist.”

By the time she learned that this wonderful boy whom I eventually married had a Roman Catholic mother and a Greek Orthodox father who had come to this country from Russia, she admired him a lot, was pretty sure he’d be good for her youngest daughter and, furthermore, she didn’t know anything about Russians.  Her strong suit of proclaiming inferiority concerned the Irish and Italians and drunks and Catholics.

My older brother had pointed this out to me when I was fourteen, comparing my mother’s prejudice to my own towards the World War II enemies – Nazis and Japs (not even “Japanese”). That reminded me of my first dramatic encounter with bigotry when, in 1939, I met my girlfriend’s show-biz step-brother and his beautiful, talented wife. I was told the dramatic story that, because her new husband was not a Jew, her family held a funeral service and she never saw them again!

I was an old-married lady of nineteen when I enrolled in a book-of-the-month club. That was where I was introduced to “Gentlemen’s Agreement” by Laura Keane Zametkin Hobson. Wow! It professionally told me of the cruelty my friend’s family had suffered and it reinforced my brother’s earlier words on prejudice being “taught.”

My wonderful Aunt Min kept company for twelve years with her devoted Bill. They “had to” wait until his Irish-Catholic father passed on. They had a loving life together, but, unfortunately, only for a short while.  He died during a heart attack when the children were sixteen, fourteen and eight, instead of twenty-eight, twenty-six and twenty, as they might have been.

I was determined that these miseries would never happen to me or my children. My church provided me with some literature on raising a family to be spiritually healthy, thus tolerant, and that, along with Dr. Spock’s paperback, gave me permission to start off on a new path of the Paragon Parents raising Perfect Progeny. I was aghast one day, and let my eight-year-old daughter know it, when I saw the live TV news happening of National Guardsmen escorting a black first-grader into her white-populated southern public school, to protect her from angry white  parents! We discussed it. She could relate.

The same repulsion took over about six years later when one of my daughter’s ninth-grade classsmates’ mother telephoned. She was organizing a trip to Boston for some of her daughter’sgoyische buddies (my adjective) because “those Jews” had planned a Boston-trip and had rejected her daughter’s offer to accompany them. I was amazed. This lady attended my church! Hadn’t she been paying attention?  It was my surprise introduction to bigotry in MY generation….in MY social circle.

To skip ahead over the next thirty-four years, I recently attended an annual holiday get-together of three friends whom I  met twenty-seven years ago…a white female Irish-Catholic, a black female Protestant, a former supervisor and her executive husband who are both white Jews. I don’t feel like a WASP, but that’s what I’m called in print. This year, at my suggestion, they agreed to participate in a discussion of prejudices they had encountered and/or inherited.

Left to right, Nana Goldberg, Natalie Thomson, Lillian Johnston and Betti McCarthy.

Manny, the Jewish husband, offered that his father was so bigoted that he took his son to a South Boston saloon one day. As they sat there, his father pointed out that the entire clientele wasn’t white and Jewish. In response to the question, “Did you adopt your father’s ways?” he answered quickly, “No. I was drafted into the army. I didn’t stay isolated.”

He also told of years later being cast in the role of the “token Jew” when he was made an officer in a staid, old Yankee Boston bank. He consulted his wife and rabbi and made the decision to confront the Chairman of the Board. He was taking a big chance. His job could have been in jeopardy.

Lil, a worldly woman of Irish Catholic descent, reported that her family’s previous generation had been more concerned with “Lace-Curtain Irish” neighbors who hid their family problems behind their lace curtains. Her mother, she reported, had nine children and the church wouldn’t allow her to practice birth control. During a trip to Florida in 1950, her mother was offended that Blacks had to sit in the back of the bus. She was horrified at the signs that proclaimed that blacks and whites had to use separate public restrooms. Relatives told her that there was more subtle prejudice up north and, at least, it’s out in the open down south. Lil said that prejudice is fear of others or, more accurately, of the unknown.

Betti, twenty-five to thirty years younger than the rest of us, said that she wouldn’t have gotten through her black female existence without her sense of humor. She pointed out that our parents’ prejudice meant hating someone without justification. Her father died young and her mother (about the same age as the rest of us) was passive. Her grandmother, however, at 91, strongly dislikes everyone except the Cherokee Indians….her ancestors.

Betti, who attained her Masters Degree while raising four children, told of being “dropped” by a junior high school friend, under orders from the girl’s parents. She thought that it had something to do with puberty and race. She pointed out that talented Wesley Snipes has a white girlfriend. He says black women are too domineering. (Was he doing a “take off” on  prejudice?)  She recommended that we all see Eddie Murphy in “Trading Places.” She said, “It’s very hard to erase prejudice and be openminded; to be accepting of humankind. You NEED a sense of humor to accomplish this.”

Nana (pronounced Nah-nah) reminded us that her parents were more interested in politics than in nationalities or religions. She rose above the small-minded neighborly slights when they involved hers or Manny’s Hebraic religion. She told the story of meeting the Jewish parents of her first son’s first wife and how all was well in this same-religion betrothal. Then she told of the meeting with her other son’s non-Jewish inlaws. There again, all was well. Those parents had two older daughters who had educated them as to young people’s rights to choose their own paths through life. Nana felt Judaism was weakened by mixed marriages. Her feelings were motivated by foreboding, not bigotry.

Betty’s remark that closed our investigation of the subject:- “It’s funny* how none of US are prejudiced, even though we grew up in a time when there was more segregation and intolerance than there is today!”

*Author: “Funny,” in this case, is a synonym for “awesome.”

My driver’s license test

 … and first accident

I was not going to participate in this particular group-writing. I didn’t consider myself qualified to talk about cars until I thought of that infamous week in 1950 when I was twenty-one years old and determined to put the wheels of a black ’37 Chevy under me.

I had heard that my girlfriend in Dorchester was paying to learn to drive and had mastered the multi-laned traffic buzzing around Neponset Circle. If she could do it, so could I, and my young husband was forced into the role of my instructor. He was far from professional and far from polite as he took on what he deemed an impossible chore.

Next, I learned that the Commonwealth had granted my friend the freedom to legally drive anywhere she wanted. I announced that I was ready to make my appointment at the Registry to try for the authorized go-ahead. I threatened and black-mailed my reluctant husband to accompany me. I think he did so, hoping that a state official in uniform would ban me from ever solo-driving a vehicle in Massachusetts.

On the Big Day, I was ultra nervous but determined to take and pass the test. The Registry Rep lacked every human kindness and understanding and reminded me of the grisly Gestapo members I’d seen in the last ten years of war movies. The turn, without touching the curb on a narrow street, the hand signals, the speed … all went well, I felt, in spite of the tight-string  tenseness I was experiencing throughout my mind and body.

At the end, when I pulled up in front of the Registry and heard the Inspector say, “Now what?”  I responded with “Huh?”

In a gruff voice he commanded, challengingly, “You’re supposed to pull up the emergency brake!”

His harsh tone ignited my tension and I burst into tears! My husband, in the back seat, remained silently embarrassed in the presence of authority. Mr. Official Examiner adopted a kinder attitude and with a “Now, now…here you go…” handed me my signed permission to operate a vehicle! My husband said later that if I hadn’t cried, I never would have gotten my license.

Afterwards, our family wage-earner drove to where he worked locally, then I took over and expertly soloed to a friend’s house with a jubilant, “Look who got their license! Let’s go out for lunch.” I drove to the vicintiy of the Strand Spa on Pleasant Street, Malden. Across the street were two empty parking spaces. They were in front of the Strand Diner at the edge of a driveway entrance. I pulled in frontwards and stopped in the first space near the driveway and shut off the motor. Immediately, I voiced my concern that someone turning into the driveway might nick my fender. I started the motor, put the shift into reverse (without looking in the rear view mirror) and pressed my foot down on the gas peddle while gently letting out the clutch. BA-BOOM! Our car stopped suddenly and I realized someone had driven into the no-longer-empty-space behind me … all in a slowly split second.

The driver of this beautiful red convertible was most kind. While instructing  me about what information I would need for my insurance agent, he seemed to want to let me know what a hard-luck person I had run into. “My car is two weeks old,” he said, “and last week a guy threw a lighted cigarette into the back seat. I had to have the whole thing replaced,” he continued. “Now I park behind a lady who got her license an hour ago. It’s a bad luck car.”

The chaotic event of my first time behind the wheel went the rounds of my family and friends and was greeted with guffaws and words like, “I don’t believe it!” and “You’re kidding, aren’t you?”  All except my husband-former-instructor. He believed.


And my first blog post (not really)…  But a”Letter to the Editor” I wrote and they published in 1997/8.

To my Great(est) Aunt Natalie …

… on sisters taking bus rides …

from Linda Hall

From: Adnil1962 <>


I grew up in Malden, moved to Melrose 6 or 7 years ago, until last October
when I relocated to San Fransisco (which is the most beautiful place in the
world – with the exception of Melrose!!!).

I really enjoyed the articles – especially the bus ride story written by my
“great aunt” Natalie (or as she would say my “greatest aunt’). It reminds me
of her sister Edith’s bus ride story….At the time she was in her late 80’s.
She gets on a bus thinking that she is heading to Melrose-Wakefield Hospital
to visit her son (my dad).  Instead, she finds herself lost for more than two
hours, as the bus cruises through Revere and Winthrop. Instead of panicking
(as was the rest of the family, because we couldn’t find her), she says  – “It
was a very beautiful ride, the bus driver was very nice and can you believe it
only cost me 10 cents!!!

Anyway…enough babbling.  San Fran is beautiful and I’ve met lots of new
friends, but it could never replace home. Your page brought me back home for
a little while (for free!!!).  I’ve added it to my “favorite places”. Keep up
the great work, and say hi to my “greatest aunt” for me!!!!

Linda Hall

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

1904 – Salesman; boards 154 Wordsworth, EB

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

walter s hill

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

1906/7- Salesman; boards 154 Wordsworth, EB

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

1909 – Salesman; home 154 Wordsworth, EB

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

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

1912 – Lumberyard [Walter Lansil’s birth]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

1934/36 – Plasterer; home 28 Ripley, Malden

1937/39 – Plasterer; home 18 Everett, Malden

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

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


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

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



* when source not noted, information came from city directories

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