Posts Tagged ‘Lansil’

52 Ancestors Week #31 – Shipmasters and Mariners

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.”


I have written extensively of the Lansil and Haines families, an interesting bunch, many of whom made their livelihood on the sea, a thrilling, albeit grueling and dangerous career choice.  The Lansil patriarch, Charles V. Lansil drowned off the shore of Bar Harbor, Maine. One of the Haines boys, James, was lost at sea 50 miles from Cape Ann while taking in the foresail in a gale of wind. Another, Alex Haines, lost his life, serving our country, when the Ticonderoga was torpedoed in WWI.

The “Captain Lansils” were all associated with Bangor area vessels (one exception below is the Curtis Tilton). The  information in the table was compiled mostly from digitized vessel registers available through Mystic Seaport’s Library page, but also drawn from the articles, indexes and sources provided by the Maine Maritime Museum.  There were variations in spelling of both captains’ names and vessel names.

Captain Vessel Approximate dates of command
Charles V. Lansil Nellie Carr (schooner) 1869-1875
Charles V. Lansil Sch CV Lansil, Havener Jan 1853 damaged on way to Cuba
James P. Lansil Adeline Hamlin (I) (schooner) ?-1846
Adeline Hamlin (II) (schooner) 1846-1864
Ocean Wave (schooner) 1867-1875
Ada W. Gould (schooner) 1875-1876
Edward P. Lansil Chimo (schooner) 1871-1877
Curtis Tilton (schooner) 1881-1884
Joseph M. Hayes (schooner) 1885-1886
Anna E. J. Morse (schooner) 1886-1891
Unknown Lansil West Wind (schooner) 1856, 1857
Unknown Lansil Mary Lymburner (schooner) 1869-1873
Unknown Lansil Abbie E. Willard (schooner) 1870-1875
Unknown Lansil Apphia (Cld Ship) Shipping News, October 19, 1835

James P. “Jim” Lansil, sixth child of Charles V. and Ruth (Paine) Lansil, born in Bangor, Maine, 30 Sept 1918 (my 3rd great grand uncle), was one of the fortunate.

james lansil

James first married, 4 Feb 1838, Martha Colby, daughter of Timothy Colby and Mary Mayhew.  In a pension file, Martha’s sister Ann (who married James’ nephew Charles Lansil), swears that although she did not attend the marriage ceremony, she knows they were married and did run into the couple the next day.  She also claims that she was present when their son Elbridge was born.

marriage colby

They had seven known children: George, John F., Elbridge T., Francis S., Arthur J., Oscar, and Edward P.



Martha died in Oct 1855.

Martha death

James married second 27 Dec 1857, Mrs. Thankful S. Mitchell (likely the surname of her first husband as she is given the title “Mrs”; according to the 1880 census she had a twin sister Eliza B. Nash; her maiden name may have been Rowe), with whom he had no known children. She died in 1887.

James bio


wallet stolen

Pension Application

James applied for a father’s pension under the act of 1890 which he felt was due him from his deceased son Elbridge’s service.  His application was rejected. The pension file is filled with affidavits of friends, neighbors and relatives and provides many details of James’ life.


Lansil_Elbridge_001 Lansil_Elbridge_002 Lansil_Elbridge_003 Lansil_Elbridge_004 Lansil_Elbridge_005 Lansil_Elbridge_006 Lansil_Elbridge_007 Lansil_Elbridge_008  Lansil_Elbridge_010 Lansil_Elbridge_011  Lansil_Elbridge_013  Lansil_Elbridge_015 Lansil_Elbridge_016 Lansil_Elbridge_017 Lansil_Elbridge_018 Lansil_Elbridge_019 Lansil_Elbridge_020 Lansil_Elbridge_021 Lansil_Elbridge_022 Lansil_Elbridge_023 Lansil_Elbridge_024 Lansil_Elbridge_025 Lansil_Elbridge_026 Lansil_Elbridge_027 Lansil_Elbridge_028 Lansil_Elbridge_029 Lansil_Elbridge_030 Lansil_Elbridge_031 Lansil_Elbridge_032 Lansil_Elbridge_033 Lansil_Elbridge_034 Lansil_Elbridge_035 Lansil_Elbridge_036 Lansil_Elbridge_037 Lansil_Elbridge_038 Lansil_Elbridge_039 Lansil_Elbridge_040 Lansil_Elbridge_041 Lansil_Elbridge_042 Lansil_Elbridge_043 Lansil_Elbridge_044 Lansil_Elbridge_045 Lansil_Elbridge_046 Lansil_Elbridge_047 Lansil_Elbridge_048 Lansil_Elbridge_049 Lansil_Elbridge_050 Lansil_Elbridge_051


James died 16 June 1902 at Snug Harbor, an institution to care for “aged, decrepit and worn-out” seamen, a 130-acre plot on Staten Island overlooking the Kill Van Kull, founded through a bequest after the death of Revolutionary War soldier and ship master Captain Robert Richard Randall. At its peak in the late 19th century, about 1,000 retired sailors lived at Snug Harbor, then one of the wealthiest charities in New York (

Our James is listed in the index of the Snug Harbor collection as James Lansie –

James admittance

1) Lansie, James P.
Inmate No.: 3465
Admission App.: Y; Admission Date: 6/29/1901
Death Certificate: Y; Date of Death: 6/16/1902
Medical Record: Y; Social Record: N
Photograph: N; Citizenship Certificate: N
Any Correspondences: none; Readmitted?: No Information
Miscellaneous Documents: none
snug harbor paperwork
Upon being admitted, he reported having had Rheumation and Malaria. He was described as have issues with Senility and Chronic Intestinal Nephritis and was feeble.  He was aged and worn out; a widower with two living sons.His first voyage at sea was from Bangor, Maine to Providence, Rhode Island on the Sch. James laden with lumber in 1830.  His final voyage was on the Ada Gould in 1877.  Total sea service was 45 years – 20 years Foreign Trade/20 years Coastwise. His employers, all of Bangor, were Joseph Oakes, John Cassidy, James Littlefield and Daniel Green.
He retired from the sea at age 60, then for 5 summers he was in charge of the buildings at the Eastern Maine Fair. He then, for several years, sold silver polish to residents in Bangor.  At time of admittance he owned no property and had no means of support. He mentions that he tried to obtain a pension, unsuccessfully, for the death of a son in the Army of Rebellion [Civil War] He had no other source of income.At the time of his death, the following parties were notified:
– Geo. Lansil, 308 Center St., Bangor, Me. [son]
– Mrs Fannie Lansil Eames, 1187 St Marks Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. [James’s deceased son Edward, married Fannie Sarah Carr and had a daughter Edith who married Harrison Eames; in 1900 the three were residing together at this address – this likely refers to Fannie Carr Lansil or Edith Lansil Eames or both].
– Oscar Lansil, Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Returned [son]
– Miss Ada W. Gould, Albany, N.Y. Care Geo. B. Adams [step-granddaughter]
His personal effects included: 1 pckge letters, 2 walking sticks, 2 pen knives, 2 pr scissors, 3 books, 13 photos, 2 razors, 3 tea spoons, 1 shaving brush,  1 blacking brush, 1 purse, 1 razor strip, 1 shaving mug, letters and papers, 2 handkerchiefs, 1 pr spectacles, 1 silver watch, cash 14 cents.
personal effects
Click on the links below to view additional documents:
The New York Tribune, on 6 July, published a tribute on the front page:


Distressing Experience of Sea Captain Who Died Recently at Sailor’s Snug Harbor

Bangor, Me., July 5 (Special) – Captain James P. Lansil, of Bangor, the oldest of all Maine’s retired mariners, died last week at the Sailor’s Snug Harbor. Staten, N.Y., where he had peacefully spent the closing days of a life filled with perils and the hard toll of the sea. Captain Lansil would have been eighty-six years old in September but until his last illness he walked with a firm step and his eye was as bright as when he went on on his first trip to the sea more than sixty years ago. This old sailor was very different from the common run of shipmasters, for, although he had been through many exciting adventures and visited nearly every important port in the world, he was not at all given to spinning yarns, never drank a drop of liquor in his life, never used tobacco in any form and never was heard to utter a profane word.

The story of Captain Lansil’s adventures afloat would make a book, but the only thing that ever appeared in print concerning his voyaging was a little paragraph, published in the newspapers in the fall of 1876, announcing the loss at sea of the schooner Ada W. Gould, of Bangor.  Of his experiences on that occasion, Captain Lansil never gave any extended account until last fall, when, in a drouth, some one remarked what a dry time it was and how Maine was suffering for water. At this, Captain Lansil spoke up, saying;

“What, water? Why, there’s water enough here! How would you like to go nine days without a single drop of water?”

That brought out the story of the loss of the Ada W. Gould, upon which the Captain had always preserved silence, disliking to recall his awful experiences when he lost his vessel. It was the first narrative of the tragedy in midocean, in which two men were drowned, while five others came near to death, being rescued after fourteen days on a wreck, nine days of which they suffered the tortures of thirst, while for the entire period they scarcely had a morsel to eat.

It was on August 16, 1876 that the Ada W. Gould, a centerboard schooner of 150 tons, sailed from New York with a general cargo for Rio Grande do Sul, South America. Her company consisted of Captain James P. Lansil, master; Charles Wyatt, mate; Arthur Lansil, son of the Captain as steward; Oscar Lansil, another son of the captain and two seamen.  She also carried a passenger, John Coler, of Chicago.

On August 25, nine days out, when the vessel was well to the southeast of Bermuda, she took a heavy gale from the south-southeast. Being a new vessel, she stood up under it very well until the afternoon of the 27th, when the seas began to come aboard, thundering upon her decks as though bound upon sinking her. The glass ran down rapidly, and then, becoming alarmed, Captain Lansil ordered the men forward to come aft. The gale developed into a hurricane at sunset, and the schooner was hove to under a double reefed mainsail, while lifelines were strung and the word passed for every man on deck to lash himself fast.

At 9:53 o’clock that night Captain Lansil was below trying to quiet the fears of the passenger, Coler, when a great commotion on deck startled him, and he went up to see what was going on. A water cask had broken from its lashings and was banging across decks at a fearful rate, threatening to knock out the bulwarks. The cask was secured, and Captain Lansil remained on deck, the rest of the watch consisting of Mate Wyatt and one seaman.  Had Captain Lansil remained below with the passenger he would not have lived to tell the story. Five minutes after he came on deck the vessel was on her beam ends, and Coler, the passenger was penned in the captain’s room, where they had been talking.  The room being on the lee side he was drowned.

It was just 10 o’clock when the watch on deck saw a terrible sea coming straight for the vessel. It was a hollow comber, with a streak of yellow foam glittering along its lofty crest. It rushed along with the speed of a cyclone and broke upon the little schooner with a crash that shook her from keel to trunk. Captain Lansil said that this comber beat anything he had ever seen in all his long experience towering at least fifty feet in the air. The shock when this sea struck the Ada W. Gould was frightful. In an instant the foremast was whipped out of her, taking with it the forward house, and tearing a big hole in the deck. The schooner was knock on her beam ends as if she were a toy, and there she remained for an hour, until the men could get an axe and cut away the weather main rigging, which done the mainmast snapped off like a pipestem, and she righted.

The two Lansil boys and the other sailor, who were below, managed to get out of the house through the windows , after stripping off their clothing; but Coler, the passenger, was helpless in his stateroom, under hundreds of tons of water. The gale continued to increase in fury and the men on deck lashed themselves to the house.  Then there was nothing to do but wait and pray for rescue.  Every cask of water had been swept away, and the was no food within reach while the tremendous seas swept the wreck, which now, half full of water, had settled so the decks were awash.

On the second day, Oscar Lansil, with a rope tied around him went down into the cabin to search for whatever morsels of food might be there.  The corpse of the drowned passenger was washing about in  the cabin, the stateroom doors having been stove in by the seas, and young Lansil had to fight off this ghastly battering ram while he looked about for something to eat.  Finally he secured a can of corn and a few small salted and dried fish. This food was quickly devoured by the starving men, and then, their thirst increased by the salt in the fish, the sufferers cried aloud to heaven for water.  There was no water. The sky gave not a drop, and the vessel’s cask had all been stove or washed away.

At 8 o’clock that morning, Wyatt, the mate, was lost.  He disregarded the captain’s orders to keep himself lashed and went poking around in the waist, where a big sea caught and swept him overboard.  His shipmates saw him drown, without being able to move a hand to save him.

For five days the five survivors suffered awful tortures and then on the sixth day after the wreck one of the men found a harpoon iron. With this they split off a piece of the companionway slide,  of which they made a handle for the harpoon. The seas had stove off the hatches and Captain Lansil remembered that directly under the after hatch the stevedores had place a lot of condensed milk in boxes.  Here was hope! The first drive of the harpoon brought up a box of the milk, and on that the men feasted greedily.  It was all heavy and sweet, however, and made them all sick.

On the eighth day they were tantalized by a steamer coming within an eighth of a mile and passing without noticing them.  It was 2 o’clock in the morning and they had no lights to show.  When the steamer had faded away in the night, the crew raved and cursed and Captain Lansil himself, calm and unexcitable  man that he was, declared afterward that he thought he would go mad when the big ship passed him by.

On the ninth day came a blessing from heaven – a heavy shower. The men got a bale of sheeting from the cargo tore it up and soaked the cloth in the rain, then wringing it into a half barrel which they managed to catch from the drifting raffle in the waist. In this way, they got plenty of water. They drank until they were stupid, their stomachs becoming painfully distended.

Rescue came at last on the fourteenth day after the wreck. At 6 o’clock in the morning the pitiful group on the Ada W. Gould’s quarter gave a shout of joy, for there, full abeam, was a stately clipper ship under full sail standing directly for them. She was the Golden State of New-York, Captain Delano from New York for Shanghai.  She took them off, and all except Captain Lansil went along in her to Shanghai he being transferred a few days afterward to the British brig Courser, from Port Elizabeth C. G. H. for Swansea.

Captain Lansil came home to Bangor in December, his sons following in June. None of them have been on salt water since the loss of the Ada W. Gould marking the closing of history at sea of the most famous family of shipmasters that ever sailed from Bangor.  Three of the six Lansil boys were captains, and one of them Charles V. Lansil, now dead, followed the sea for sixty-one years, forty-four years of that time as master.

ada gould story2

The article reporting the loss, reveals that the vessel was built by Messrs Joseph Oakes & Son (Capt. George Oakes, who sailed one or more of the ships built by his father) of Brewer, Maine in 1875 and was owned in part by James Lansil with Joseph Oakes and others.

Newspaper obituary, 1881:

Death of Joseph Oakes. We regret to announce, this morning, the death of Joseph Oakes, Esq., which occurred in Brewer yesterday at the age of about sixty six years. Probably no man on the river had a wider circle of acquaintances, or was more highly esteemed by all who have ever had business intercourse with him, than Mr. Oakes. Engaged for the past forty years in the business of building and repairing vessels, his enterprise and energy have probably made business for more men in his line of business than any other man upon the river. In times of depression, when no one else could be found with sufficient courage to lay the keel of a vessel, he has gone forward and laid keel after keel, giving employment to many men, and support to many families who otherwise knew not where to look during the long winter months either for employment or support. He was a man whose integrity was never questioned, but all who dealt with him gave him the credit of being a thoroughly honest man. He will be much missed and deeply lamented, not only by his fellow townsmen of Brewer, but by a widely extended circle of acquaintance. His funeral will take place from his late residence in Brewer on Sunday at two o’clock in the afternoon. Masters of vessels in port are requested to display their colors at half-mast on the day of the funeral.

This article further claims that the Lansil boys on-board were James’ son and a nephew (the later version of the story names two sons, which I believe to be correct).  Lansil, a sea captain for 30+ years had been a master who owned part of each ship he sailed for twenty years. He was an esteemed citizen of Bangor.

sink ada

It seems that neither boy returned to sea; James’ son Arthur became a painter and died, age 38, after inhaling paint fumes. Oscar lived to age of 85 having become a restaurateur and carpenter.

boy lansil deaths

Several years ago, the g-g-grandaughter of mate Russell Charles Wyatt, messaged me: “Just wanted to let you know that by posting the Boston Daily Globe article from 1876 on the schooner Ada W. Gould, you helped me solve the frustrating mystery of exactly where and how my great-great grandfather, Russell C. Wyatt, was lost at sea. He was also a schooner captain from Bangor, but apparently was a mate on your relative’s (CAPT James Lansil’s) ship, the Ada W. Gould, in late 1876”.

No further information was found on Chicago passenger John Coler/Coller.

Likely, the schooner Ada W. Gould was named for James’ (step) granddaughter of the same name, who at age 12 is found living with him at 32 Lincoln Street, Bangor, in 1880; she would have been about 8 when the tragedy occurred. I do not believe her to be blood related. Ada is likely the daughter of Flora Mitchell (1838-1880) and Peltiah Winter Gould, Flora was James’ second wife Thankful’s daughter from her previous marriage. Ada is mentioned as residing in Albany, New York in James’s Snug Harbor paperwork, her whereabouts after 1902 are unknown.

Ada W gould census

Using Newspapers to Learn of Ancestors Lives and Times

Newspaper articles can reveal amazing details of your ancestors’ lives and personalities. As with all documents, there may be errors; always seek primary sources to confirm details.

Most online newspaper sites use optical character recognition (OCR). OCR is not perfect, For example r n is often read as m,  l is often t and vice versa,  p can be read as a y.  I try to look for letters that look similar to each other or that perhaps look like another letter when close to each other.  For example, Thorn could be interpreted as Thom.  So a search for “John Thorn” may come up null, but by changing the search to “John Thom” you may get some hits. Sometimes the OCR technology doesn’t work , especially if the paper is dark or the letters smeared.

For better results search on something other than a name. Find a street address in the census or street directory, then search for that address, like  “32 Lincoln” AND Bangor or “Lansil of Bangor”.

Look for the weather report on the date they were married or the day they stepped outside at Ellis Island; what were the headlines that day?; how interesting to know what your family was experiencing on those special days.  Browse papers published in their lifetime to learn of current news and events in their hometown, the cost of shoes, apples, horse carriages or homes.

Using date constraints might exclude pertinent results, I have found a number of ancestors in articles published as “XX years ago today”; one offering a detailed description of an ancestor’s home; another reuniting a grown woman with the policeman  and who rescued her as an infant, and recounting the story.

Search on their occupations in the area where they resided, and consider that sometimes other locations may have picked up stories relevant to your ancestors. A search on the keywords “Bangor” and “Sailor” revealed an article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, New York, 7 Sept 1902 which offers some insight into the life of a Maine sailor.


Of all the sailors on the sea, the down east coaster does the hardest work, braves the greatest dangers and gets the poorest rewards. His occupation has aptly been described as “tempting fate at $25 a month”. The coaster is an unsung hero, but he is unconscious of that and would call it square if freights were fairly good from Bangor to Boston and there were not more than ten consecutive days of easterly wind in any one month.

The Maine coaster is a queer mixture of sailor, farmer and business man and frequently he is also an expert deep sea fisherman. Many of the masters of the little schooners have in their younger days sailed round and round the world finally settling down in some seacoast village and buying a small craft of which they can be at once the managing owner and skipper and in which they can make a living by eight months sailing, hauling the vessel up and taking comfort at home from Thanksgiving to Christmas till spring. Some of the masters sail vessels owned by other people, either for a stated salary or “on shares” and occasionally it happens that the vessel is sort of a family affair, being manned and owned by father and sons or by brothers.  In times of disaster, this arrangement is quite unfortunate, for when the vessel goes down, the whole family is likely to go with her, leaving behind a pitiful array of widows and orphans. Such a case occurred in the loss of the schooner Ella Brown, several of the Peabody family of Jonesport having gone down in that vessel in the great November northeaster last year.

 The natives of the Maine coast towns and of the islands that are strewn along shore from Portland to Quoddy Head are among the finest sailors in the world. They are sailors from force of circumstance, hardy from inheritance and “cute” because they are Yankees.  No other men could make a living coasting out of these waters, and how the natives do it is a source of wonder to everyone who ever studied the subject. The coaster begins “going” when he is 12 or 14 years old and quits when he is too old to stand a watch at the wheel, if he manages to stay above water for that long.  Man or boy, he is generally lank and lean, with a skin like leather, a constitution of iron and a capacity to endure hardships without complaint.  His vessel is generally of great age and small size – 50 to 150 tons and 20 to 60 years old, rigged as a two masted schooner.  Generally she is a dull sailor and almost always she leaks like a basket.  Only the fact that she carries lumber accounts for her being so long afloat – hundreds of the old hookers now going would have been on bottom long ago only their cargoes wouldn’t let them sink.

An average size coaster trading between Maine ports and Boston carries a master, mate, one seaman and a “cook and hand”; many of them make trips from Bangor to Boston with but two or three men all told, and last summer, the schooner Angler, 80 tons was navigated from Boston to Calais and half-way back again by her master single handed.  The coaster’s cargo is, nine times in ten, lumber, and she gets $1.50 to $1.75 a thousand feet for carrying it from Bangor to Boston.  Out of this, she has to pay for loading and discharging, for towages, commissions to brokers, crew’s wages and stores.  The stores are salk pork, salt codfish, molasses, potatoes, baking powder and kerosene; there may be a chunk or two of corned beef, and in the fall of the year the skipper will add cabbages, apples, onions, etc., to the menu but at no time is the fare so rich or varied as to worry the cook or invite the gout. A man who wants to “go” must be both strong and willing, not only to reef, band and steer, but to work cargo as well, for it frequently happens that there are no stevedores available or that the skipper is unwilling to pay for loading and discharging. If the man sailing before the mast manages to put in six months in a year at $25, a month, he is doing as well as the average of coasters; the mate and the “cook” and “hand” get a little more and the captain gets whatever circumstances, weather-luck and his business abilities allow. This may be considerable or it may be nothing at all.

Occasionally it happens that a man gets rich at coasting, but this is when he gets a start in the world through superior business ability or seamanship or through friends who put him into one of those maritime marvels – the new style twentieth century coasters, four, five or six masted. The Coombse’s and Pendleton’s of Penobscot Bay and the Crowley’s of Massachusetts are of this cass, and Captain “Linc” Jewett of Portland is also a shining example. 

Several other families have accumulated wealth in the shipping business. The great majority, however, remain poor and take their chances in vessels that have the poorest possible reputations in underwriters’ offices. 

The awful risks taken by the men who go to sea in the old-fashioned coasters are set forth with tragic brevity in the wreck reports.  In the eighteen months ending December 3, 1899, 221 sailing vessels hailing from New England posts, mostly from Maine and Massachusetts, were lost, nearly all on the New England coast, and with them 255 lives.  The majority of these disasters occurred in one gale – that of November 1898 the like of which may not be experienced again in a lifetime and may come any day.

When a winter gale strikes one of the big new schooners she doesn’t mind it so much, being strong and able, and well manned and found. If necessary she can put to sea and run before it, coming on again at leisure.  She will be dry as a ship, and there will be no lack of food or water; she had steam engines to pull and haul, steam pumps to fight a leak, even steam to blow her for horn, and the man at the wheel stands often beside a steam radiator in a wheel house protected by plate glass windows.  But the little, old fashioned coaster, loaded decks with green lumber, worse still with coal, she is overwhelmed by the northeaster; her old sails and rigging are not fit to stand such weather, and when she springs a leak, as inevitably she must, her few tired men, haggard from loss of sleep, with empty stomachs and frostbitten fingers, must rack their weary frames at pumps in a desperate battle with death.  Too often death wins. If the wreck comes ashore there will be some few details of the tragedy; if not, then the people at home only know that the vessel sailed and never returned. This latter fate is the bitterest of all, for it keeps the wives and mothers waiting and hoping for weeks and months after everyone else has given up. 

There seems to be no such thing as breaking a coaster’s nerve.  The same men who have looked death in the face a dozen times, will go again, without thought apparently. 

The article continues, describing of a number of Maine sea captains.  James Lansil and the Ada W. Gould included.  The article reveals that James’ brother, likely Charles V., advised against the journey. It further claims that although the shipwreck did not break James’ spirit it broke his health, thus he never sailed again.

ada gould story

James owned property valued at $1,500 in 1870, a bit on the low end in comparison to many of his neighbors, a few of whom had estates valued over $10,000; but he was a homeowner (probate records indicate that some Lincoln Street property was also in Thankful’s name, additional research is needed but perhaps from her parents or first husband).  In any case, would like to believe that while not wealthy, our Lansil’s were good hardworking men who made a comfortable living for their families.


thankful land

Next, in the Lewiston Evening Journal – Jun 23, 1917, an article recollecting Bangor in days gone by…..,4649213

Reflections on a Deserted Fort

A man who spent his boyhood along the wharves of Bangor when this was one of the greatest lumber ports of the world, went down to get a look at the river the other day and saw, where formerly was a forest of masts, two three-masters, seven two-masters, a couple of tugs and a few coal barges. Except for these. the long lines of wharves were deserted and decaying and the lonesome sight made the old-timer heart sick.

He could remember when he could walk from City Point to the lumber docks just below Bangor bridge upon the decks of vessels moored there in a tier, with lines out astern to the piers and anchors in the stream; when there was another tier of vessels at the old Maine central wharves below Railroad street; when ships and barks were moored to the old toll bridge tiers, while the Brewer shore was lined with vessels moored at the wharves, repairing at the yards, and docks or anchored on the flats; when half a dozen busy sawmills below the city each had a considerable fleet loading and when High Head docks flew the flags of all nations, on all sorts of craft from the squat Italian Brig to the proud Yankee ships fresh from the yards of Bath, Belfast, Camden and Thomaston. 

Also he could remember when the river was so choked with coasters that William Connors, king of the log drivers, had hard work to get his   rafts down to the mills and the “scull-oar” men engaged in vigorous exchange of compliments with the obstructors of the channel, whie Capt. Sam Jordan, with C.B. Sanford, greatest of all the river tugs, or the famous Ralph Ross, noted for her pulling power dragged lumber laden fleets, often 20 sail at a time, down the river, swinging the tows in tiers of four or five as easy as the tugmen of today move one vessel. He remembered too, when, when as a harbormaster’s boy, he was often sent post haste Ross & Howell’s office to get a tug to clear the channel so that Capt. Otis Ingraham could get in and out with the famous and fast steamer Cambridge or Captain Roix could squeeze the old Katahdin through the maze of anchored shipping.   Often the sailing vessels, the steamboats and the log tows would get mixed to a tangle that gave the tugboats and Harbor Master Charles V. Lansil a hard job to clear up, and the volume of energetic elegance expended on those occasions would be enough to keep the politicians going thru a long campaign. 

Where Bangor once had vessels in the hundreds it now has them in twos and threes.  Then vessels waited for berths; now the berths wait for vessels. Boarding houses lined Front, lower Broad and Union streets, whereun deep-water sailors from the four corners of the world ate and drank their merry fill and sang lifting, songs of the sea. Today the boarding houses are inhabited by woodsmen and laborers, a sailorman is a rare being in parts.

Time was when Exchange street was to Bangor what South street is to New York. In the palmy day of Bangor’s port the street was with the offices of ship brokers, lumber manufacturers and ship agents and the stores of ship builders, the towboat office was a busy place, there were several sail ___ nearby and the neighborhood was redolent of the forests and the sea.  All these and more were along exchange street, but few of them are left. Today they are occupied by clothing stores, barber shops, shooting galleries, mobile showrooms and other businesses all very different…It speaks of Vincent Willard’s “little shop” over at the ferryway with its doughnuts jumbles and milk and soft beer, famous sweet apples….

The article continues, naming and describing some of Bangor’s characters… It names the old shipmasters, including the Lansil’s, Charles and James – “all of whom would starve to death now”.

Bangor waterfront

1880 – Penobscot River, Bangor from the Brewer Bridge, looking down river at the rafts of cut long lumber, ready for shipping. Schooners on both sides of the river are waiting on loads (


R2012.8.51, Frank Claes Collection, Bangor, Maine in 1880. Thirty five vessels at the mouth of the Kenduskeaag stream, near site of Union Station. Box cars, train tracks and lumber piles.

Tug Bismark towing lumber schooners

1890 – Tug Bismark off Odom’s Ledge, Fort Point, towing six schooners up the Penobscot River to Bangor (

Newspapers I use most often:

Fulton History (free)- which has 26,800,000 mostly Old New York State Historical Newspaper Pages, all searchable (I have noticed a few Pennsylvania papers).

Library of Congress (free) –, Chronicling America, America’s historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922.

Google News (free) –

Boston Public Library (free with library card) –; most larger libraries will have similar database access for library card holders for use in library or from home

Remember that there are offline searchable newspapers as well. The Malden Public Library in Massachusetts has old copies of the Malden Evening News on microfilm.  While not searchable, I was able to find birth, marriage and death notices by collecting vital records and searching newspapers a week before and after those dates.

Penn Libraries has a nice summary of historic newspapers available by state –

52 Ancestors Week #26 – A Movie Star in the Family!!

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 silent movie film star – our cousin?!?!?

Mary Lloyd Warrener, who  likely became the silent film star Mae Gaston, was a first cousin to my g-grandmother Edith Bernice (Lansil) Haines. Their mothers Jane Catherine (Roberts) Lansil and Grace (Roberts) Warrener were sisters.

Mae Gaston photos


My acquaintance with Mae Gaston (also May/Mame/Mayme) came from an online blog post, “The Wandering Warrener’s” – where a “long lost cousin”, Lol, analyzed a branch of the family.

He says:

“Mary appears in none of the censuses, but she apparently married and became Mary Baker, before adopting the screen name of Mae Gaston and having a very successful film career in silent movies between 1914 and 1920. There is some conflict here with the fact that Mae Gaston is quoted and coming from Boston, Mass. – but this seems unlikely, unless Edmund and Grace originally landed in Boston and spent time there prior to moving to Illinois.”

He shared Edmund’s obituary, which appeared in The Chicago Tribune  on Saturday, July 12, 1930.  It reads as follows:

   WARRENER–Edmund F. Warrener, late of 3431 N. Troy St., dearly beloved husband of Jennie (nee Saunders), fond father of Jane Neddo, Nan Miller, Robert, Mary Baker, Warren and Edmund Jr., at rest in the funeral church, 3834-36 Irving Park Blvd., where services will be held  Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. Interment Elmwood Cemetery.


Our story:

My g-g-grandmother, Jane Catherine Roberts was born in 1862 in Lanfairfechan, Caernarvonshire, Wales to Robert Roberts and Jane Roberts (Roberts married Roberts, no relation), in a mountainside stone home named Cae haidd.  Jane had three sisters – Mary Ann (b. 1855), Margaret (b. 1867) and Grace (b. 1857) – her story here.

Sister, Grace married an Englishman, Edmund F. Warrener (a gamekeeper, born in Barlborough, Derbyshire in 1853, the 2nd son of John Walter Warrener and Jane Cordwell), and had 3 children  in Lanfairfechan – Jane (b. 1879), Ann/Nance (b. 1881) and Robert Cordwell (b. 1882).

Between Sept 1883 and Oct 1885  the Warrener family, Jane Catherine Roberts and Margaret Roberts sailed for Boston, Massachusetts. The Warrener/Roberts family initially settled in East Boston on Wilbur Court.  Edmund worked as a mason. There, on 11 Nov 1885, they had a daughter who was given a birth name of Mary Lloyd Warrener, after Grace’s paternal grandmother –

Mae Gaston birth

On Thursday, December 23, 1886 a 24 year old, pregnant, Jane Catherine Roberts married 47 year old Edwin Lansil (a lumber surveyor).  She settled with Edwin in Dorchester, Massachusetts and raised three daughters there – Frances “Fanny”, Edith Bernice and Doris. Soon afterwards, the Warreners packed up and relocated to Illinois (Margaret Roberts followed; she married John Williams, also a mason and raised 5 children – Jane Catherine, David, Robert, Grace and John).  In Illinois, Grace and Edmund had 3 more children – Warren (b. 1889; he went on to Vaudeville), Margaret (b. 1891) and Edmond (b. 1894).

Sadly, the day after Christmas, December 1897, 39 year old Grace died of complications while giving birth to their eighth known child [her obituary states that only six of her seven children survive – I believe that to be a typo, seven seemed to have survived; Margaret (Warrener) Brayton did predecease her father by about five weeks in 1930, which is why his obituary lists only six children – their deaths were seemingly unrelated, Margaret died from breast cancer and Edmund from a heart attack].



grace death

Two years later, in 1900, only Edmund jr. was at home. The remaining children were split up (some adopted, others taken in by their aunt Margaret). Edmund had remarried to Sarah Jane “Jennie” Saunders of Toronto, Canada.  I was able to track six of the seven living children through marriage and death – all except Mary Lloyd Warrener born in Boston – she was a mystery. Grace’s obituary claims only six of her eight children were living.  Did  Mary Lloyd die?  I hadn’t located a death record, but she is the only child of the seven unaccounted for in the 1900 census.

Then I read my cousin’s blog! Perhaps she became Mae Gaston?!?!?

I searched in vain for information about Mae Gaston’s childhood. I located many photos and newspaper articles chronicling her film life from 1914-1920. First she was under contract with Reliance Majestic and Fine Arts Studios; then she signed a contract with David Horsley Studios in Los Angeles.  Studio directories claim she was born in Boston in 1894, educated there and Lakeview High School, Chicago [there was a Lakeview public school and a private boarding school that existed in Chicago during that time]. She was described as 5’5″, 125 pounds with light brown hair and dark blue eyes. For “recreation”, she rides, swims, plays golf and tennis.

So, the silent film star was in Boston and then Chicago, just like our Mary Warrener!

Mae Gaston stories2


Mae Gaston signing

Mae in marriedMae and Ford

She appears in over 40 titles, many as leading lady with Francis Ford.

Mae Gaston stories

On Sunday, 24 Oct 1920, the Boston Herald describes  a movie town known as “Filmland City” on the Fellsway in Medford, Massachusetts where eight episodes of the popular “Nick Carter” series have been recently filmed. Mae is the leading lady opposite star Tom Carrigan.

Mae in Medford2Mae in Medford3


Nothing after 1920 – she disappears – no marriage, no death or obituary, no more films. Maybe she was a cousin, but there was no evidence; I gave up.

A few years later I discovered a letter dated August 1977 written by my grandmother’s sister Natalie of her visit to Aunt Doris (Lansil) Jenkins, Jane Catherine Lansil’s youngest daughter, on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.   Natalie writes to her sister: “…We did learn that grandmother Jane Catherine had other sisters. One sister Grace had a daughter who became May Gaston, a movie star (never heard of her).  Doris showed us a picture of her autographed to “My dear cousin Frances Lansil”….”

In another letter addressed to Natalie, dated September 1977,  Jane Catherine (Williams) Peterson says:

….My mother’s name was Margaret she had two sisters Jane Lansil and Grace Warrener – her husband was Edmund Warrener who was born in England. There were no boys in the family. My grandparents landed in Boston. My mother stayed there for awhile – she met Dad – he came to Chicago to seek work – he was a stone mason and she came later because Aunt Grace and hubby came here sometime before. Aunt Grace’s daughters were such beautiful girls. Mayme was in the movies years ago and Warren (my cousin) was an actor and was the original sissy in “School Days”….”

So three cousins, who knew nothing of one another, all claim a “film star cousin”, Mae Gaston through Grace Roberts Warrener! My interest piqued.

In the few years that had past, both and have added millions of records to their databases and perhaps my genealogy skills have improved a bit 🙂  I had never tried searching for “Mae Baker” (remember? a daughter, “Mary Baker”, was listed in Edmund F. Warrener’s obituary) – silly me!

death index

On, a Mae L Baker in the California death index – Mother’s maiden name “Roberts”! Birth date of 11 Nov 1885, an exact match to Mary Lloyd Warrener born in Boston!

I sent for her SS-5.   Here is seems she lies about her birth year saying she was born in 1904 vs. 1895.  But it IS our Grace.  Once she reached retirement age she must have submitted a correction to collect benefits, which might explain why the SS index has a correct date. The SS-5 is undated (or I can’t read the date), but probably 1949 since she says she was 44 on her last birthday). She was living at 1341 West 164th Gardena, California (the house was built in 1923:

Mae SS-5

Then on a marriage license:  In 1928, she married a bond broker, 30 year old Harold Hoover Baker, son of Abraham Lincoln Baker and Ida Mae Hoover. Mae again seems to have lied about her age – A 43 year old divorcee claiming to be 32 residing in Beverly Hills (home of the rich and famous?)!!! And it is her second marriage!?!?

a9bfdec2-272d-442a-8147-01c77685e82b 7a7fc3bc-e3eb-4dc2-ae11-4095eed38233


USGENWEB lists ( THE HAROLD HOOVER BAKER FAMILY – Harold Hoover Baker-5, b. Oct 19, 1898, m. Nov 24, 1928 to Mae L. Warner. [1939 Address]: 17104 So. Figuerroa St., R.R. #2, Box 240, Gardena, California.

There is a Mae and Harold Baker living alone in 1940, both age 40 (which is about right assuming Mae was continuing to lie about her age), Mae born in Massachusetts and Harold born in California.  They have been living on 17104 Figueroa in Compton, California, for at least 5 years, a home valued at $2,500 (one of the least expensive in the area). Harold is an Operator on a Poultry Ranch (perhaps a changed career related to the Great Depression of the 1930/40’s?).  In 1930, Harold’s parents Abraham and Ida Baker  were living nearby at 17318 Figueroa.  According to Wikipedia, Figueroa is one of the longer streets in Los Angeles, it runs in a north/south direction for more than 30 miles.

Mae & Harold 1940:

Abraham & Ida 1930:

Still no Mae in any other censuses or city directories. But now I knew that she had a first husband.

I wrote again to cousin Lol to share my findings.  He responded with an old email from another Warrener cousin (Grace’s daughter Jane Catherine Warrener’s granddaughter) which read:

….”One of Grandma Jane’s brothers, “Warry,” was in vaudeville and on the same bill as Eddie Cantor and Al Johlson.  He died in a vaudeville retirement home in Chicago.  In the 1920’s, her sister Mary (Mame) was in silent movies and used the stage name “Mae Gaston.” She had an illegitimate son her husband never knew about.  Her married name was Baker”…..

The plot thickens! An illegitimate son that her husband never knew about? Scandalous!

I located a marriage entry in the Cook County Indexes on  Was this our Mary Warrener? Was Fred Curtis Aldrich (son of Christopher C. Aldrich and Elizabeth Blencoe) her first husband? I couldn’t be sure.  I ordered a copy.  It will take weeks to arrive.  I am not good at waiting 🙂

marriage index

I continued my search.

In the 1920 census, Cook County, there is a Fred C. Aldrich living with wife Estelle and children Edmund (16) and Ardelle (14) – – Edmund?  Named after Mary Warrener/Mae Gaston’s father? Estelle was just 31 – had she given birth at 16 or was she a step-mother?

Another marriage index shows that Fred C. Aldrich and Estelle Hendricks were married 30 Dec 1913, long after the birth of Edmund and Ardelle!   So likely this was our Mary Warrener (I have not located birth records for the children).

Fred Aldrich died in June 1946.  The obituary says his son Edmund is deceased.

Fred Obituary.png

Chicago Tribune June 19, 1946:

ALDRICH- Fred C. Aldrich, husband of Estelle, father of Mrs Ardelle Thibault and the late Edmond, son of Elizabeth Aldrich, brother of Ardelle, Harry and the late Ralph……

Chicago Tribune June 20, 1946:

Fred C. Aldrich

Services for Fred C. Aldrich, 64, teacher and shop superintendent at Schurz High school for 35 years, will be held at 3 p.m. today from the chapel, at 3918 Irving Park rd. Burial will be in Acacia Park. Mr. Aldrich died Tuesday at his home, 4031 Waveland av. He also was in charge of veterans’ counseling at Schurz, and coached its first football team many years ago. He is survived by his widow, Estelle; a daughter, Mrs. Ardella Thibaut; his mother, a sister and a brother.

is Edmund Aldrich is found buried with his grandparents, Christopher and Elizabeth Aldrich, at Oakridge-Glen Oak Cemetery, Hillside, Cook, Illinois. He died in 1923, age 20 (five years before Mae married Baker). The cemetery records show only that the deceased came to them on 7 September 1923 and is buried in sec 19, lot 462.  There is no funeral home reference, or any other information, just the name Elizabeth Aldrich (his grandmother?).



Fred’s  daughter Ardelle held an MBA from DePauw University, became an elementary school teacher, married Richard Carlisle Thibault and moved to 5931 Morningside, Dallas, TX where she passed away from breast cancer on 31 August 1956 at the age of 50.  Her obituary (Dallas Morning News, 1 Sept 1956, section 3, page 15 and Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 03 Sep 1956: c10.) does not mention any children (or her brother Edmund) and names her mother as Mrs. Fred C. Aldrich of Gobles, MI.  

dedc0564-20f9-4f55-a8b5-154e3febfba8ardelle death.png

No mention of Mary Warrener or Mae Gaston (who was still living) in the obituary.  But, she was listed as “mother” on Ardelle’s death certificate found on If Edmund was born in 1903, then Mae was likely pregnant (or just had the baby) when she married Fred Aldrich in March of that year.

Since Fred raised the children and is named as Ardelle’s father on her death certificate, it is likely that the children were his.  However, I am still looking for their births and Edmond’s death and obituary which might give us a definitive answer.


So sad…  What happened to 13 year old Mary Warrener when her mother Grace died? How was her screen name chosen? There must be some document out there with Mae Gaston’s birth date (perhaps she lied about the year, but wouldn’t she be truthful about the day/month – would it match our Mary Warrener?)! Did Mary/Mae abandon her two children for fame and fortune as a silent film star and then deny their existence to marry a much younger, wealthy bond broker?  It certainly seems so.  Did she ever regret her decision or see the children again? Did she have more children with Baker? Why did she leave the movie world? So many questions that may never be answered.

Mae’s obituary found in a Sonoma paper mentions nothing of a former career or screen name of Gaston.

Mae BakerHarry Baker

Someday I hope to find her probate in Sonoma and perhaps track down Edmund Aldrich and his descendants…..I would love to locate Mae in the 1900 -1930 censuses – I have never had an ancestor with the ability to avoid censuses takers for 30 years! She has to be there someplace!  We do know she was filming in Medford, MA in the fall of 1920….but she wasn’t found in any census in the US other than 1940.

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.


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












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



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


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….

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

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

8d6fd439-5e08-4561-b0f0-c14bf6092677nana grampa me
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…”

recipes2014-11-27 18.49.31sundae cookies

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).


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.


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.


They married 18 July 1930.



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.
7e22934a-7f49-4d4a-a656-2cd05e5eb21eEdith 1930's
7071795861_9d3ba87369_oEdith & Charles
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:



… 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!



Nana’s 80th Birthday


Alcoholism in the Family

There is alcoholism and mental illness in every branch of my tree.  Betsey Turner (Grout) Lansil’s death certificate, lists her cause of death, as “Dropsy caused by Scirrhus of Liver”.  Although cirrhosis has a number of causes, I immediately pictured  a mean, old, crotchety, drunk.

Betsey Turner (Grout) Lansil, daughter of Amos Grout and Rachael Couillard is my 3rd g-grandmother.


She was born 3 June 1813 in Frankfort, Maine.


On 2 November 1834 she married Asa Paine Lansil, son of Charles V. Lansil/Lansell and Ruth Paine, in Frankfort or Bucksport, Maine.

They had six known children:
– Enoch Howard Lansil (b. 1836, and died young)
– Edwin Lansil (b. 1839 – my 2nd g-grandfather)
– Frances “Fannie” Ellen Lansil (b. 1841)
– Walter “Waddie” Franklin Lansil (b. 1846, a famous marine artist –
– Asa Brainard Lansil (b. 1849)
– Wilbur “Bibber” Henry Lansil (b. 1855, a famous cattle painter)

Enoch, Edwin and Frances were baptized at the Hammond Street Church in Bangor.

From 1843 to 1848, the Lansil family was living on 101 Hammond, a brick tenement in the Bangor neighborhood of Barkerville.  Asa’s brother Charles (wife Louisa and baby) lived at the same address.



In 1850, Betsey and Asa were enumerated  in Bangor with Edwin, Francis E., Walter and Asa B.  Asa was a Cooper with real estate valued at $1,000 . In 1851 the family was on Main St. (likely 101 Hammond was on the corner of Hammond and Main); Asa worked as a Cooper on 61 Broad St., perhaps with his brothers James & Ephraim.

Asa City

In 1854, Asa was in favor of electing a mayor who would vigorously enforced the Maine Law of Suppression of Intemperance (the state of Maine, under the efforts of the merchant Neal Dow, passed a prohibitory statute in 1851 outlawing the manufacture and sale of intoxicants).


Asa’s sister, Mary (Lansil) Dudley died in 1856; and one of her children, Sarah Elizabeth Dudley, joined the family temporarily. Enumerated with the family in 1860, as a domestic servant, was Melissa Paul, age 16 (perhaps a boarder or relative as her family lived next door to Asa’s brother Thomas Lansil in 1850). Edwin, Fannie, Walter, Asa B. and Wilbur were all living at home.

By 1860, Asa’s assets had risen to $3,500 and Edwin was his dad’s only employee. The father and son team produced barrels, buckets, water casks and cisterns. Asa had $200 invested in the business, and annually produced products valued at $1,000. In 1857, they sold to the town a cistern for $25, and horse buckets for $9. In 1861, for $23, they sold a cistern for use at the city stable . They do not appear in the Maine IRS tax lists from1862-6 (only Asa’s brothers Charles V. & George made the list), indicating (perhaps) that neither Edwin or Asa profited much in these years.

Asa City directories more

Asa City directories &

In 1870 only Betsey, Asa, Walter, Asa B. & Wilbur resided at the 101 Hammond St. home. Asa’s net worth had risen to $5,500. Walter had become his dad’s only employee, in a business now netting $1,200 annually.


By the early 1870’s Betsey’s children Edwin and Frances “Fannie” had relocated to Boston. Edwin was not found in the 1870 census but in 1871 he is listed in the Bangor City Directory as living in East Boston. Their brother, Asa B. soon followed.

In 1863 Fannie had married a wealthy lumberman, Carleton Sylvanus Bragg, Jr.  In 1870 the 31 year old’s net worth was $35,000, [about $625,000 in 2014 buying power]. Bragg’s dad Carleton, Sr., was worth $50,000 that same year [about $893,000 in 2014 buying power]. In 1870/1 Betsy’s son Edwin, son-in-law Bragg and a Henry Jones started a lumber business under the name “Jones, Bragg & Lansil” in East Boston. They purchased property for $2,146.37; four parcels totaling 5,625 feet on Maverick and Lamson.

Carlton’s obituary in the Bangor Daily Whig And Courier, Friday, November 05, 1880 /Page-3 summarizes their move:

bragg obit

In 1871, the town assessed a $700 tax on the Bangor edifice which housed Asa’s business. The road had been widened, thus increasing the value of the property. Perhaps the rent was raised which may have hastened Asa and Betsey’s decision to relocate.

bragg tax

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

bragg sale

Asa, Betsey, Walter and Wilbur joined Edwin, Asa B. , Frances and Carleton in East Boston about 1872/3. They initially boarded at 119 Webster (Fannie & Carleton then moved to 39 White, East Boston). Soon Asa Sr. and Edwin purchased a home together for $5,600 on Trenton, at the corner of Putnam (lot 169, sec 3)

Lansil home

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


By 1876 the Braggs joined the family on Trenton.


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


Directly across the street is a nice park, it likely looked different, but it was there when the Lansil’s were there (and yes, that is my very patient husband sitting near the fountain).

photo (5)

Betsey, Asa, her 5 living children, her son-in law Carleton and teenage grandchildren Edwin, Fred and Florence Bragg plus a”domestic”, were enumerated in the 1880 East Boston census still residing on 159 Trenton:

Sadly, later in 1880, Betsey’s son-in-law, Fannie’s husband, Carleton passed away suddenly on 1 Nov 1880 after being sick for just two days. The cause was apoplexy (sudden loss of consciousness, sensation, and voluntary motion) .

About four months later, on 3 March 1881, Betsey, died of “dropsy caused by scirrhus of the liver”.  At the time of her death she was still living at 159 Trenton Street and was 67 years and 9 months. She was buried at Mount Hope Cemetery, State Street, Bangor, Maine; Lot 407CG, which has no grave marker.

betsey death

That’s it….  Nothing more. Impersonal records offering residences, children’s names and husband’s occupation. Not even an obituary found in the local Boston or East Boston papers.

BUT THEN…. I visited Bangor, Maine.  The Hammond Street Church records were preserved.  I let them know in advance I was coming. The folks there and at the Bangor Library (who hold some of the church books in their basement) were wonderful!  I had an amazing visit!

hammond church

They had record of Asa and Betsey joining the church in 1842:

joined church

Betsey’s signature when she joined the church:


Baptism and Sunday School records for her children, evidence that Asa and son Edwin were Sunday School teachers, a notice that her son Enoch had died at the age of 6, her husband’s Asa’s death notice…..

And Betsey’s death record:

Died in East Boston March 3, 1881. Mrs. Betsey (Grout) Lansil, aged 68.

Mrs. L. was born in Frankfort, June 3, 1813 [YAY! Her birthday!!] the daughter of Rachael and Amos (Couillard) Grout [YAY! evidence of her parents names]

Married Asa P. Lansil at Frankfort by Archibald Jones, November 2, 1834  [YAY! a marriage date! – Asa’s death notice gives the same date but specifies that they married in Bucksport, Maine].

She was received to membership of this church in profession of faith, with her husband and seventeen others Sep. 4, 1842. Seven of these have since died. The following letter to the one who should officiate at her funeral in Bangor by Rev. S. P. Fay, her former Pastor, expresses well her character.

It was read by Professor Paine at the funeral.  [? perhaps Levi Leonard Paine]

Betsey's death

And there, in the church books – the letter from Betsey’s former pastor  – A eulogy.  Simple but powerful.  She becomes a real person. My image was all wrong, she was a wonderful wife, mother and friend.

It reads:

Service in Bangor at the house of Edward P Lansil, a brother of Asa P. Sabath ____, March 4 [?], 1881

Pardon me for saying a word to you of the deceased, whose funeral you will be asked to attend. I should have been glad to have gone down and spoken of her whom I knew so well to the dear friends of Hammond St. church who will be at her funeral.  I should have been glad from my quite intimate acquaintance with her for now nearly fifteen years to have borne testimony touching her love to her family, – pure, tender and wise as it was her faithfulness to her husband and her fidelity to her faith in Christ.

Her sickness was long, and very painful, but she never complained in it all. She never felt that God was dealing hardly with her.  Death had lost its sting to her.  Among her last utterances, she  repeated the 23d Psalm and then said, – “I should love to remain with you all, but I am not afraid to go”, and again, – “it is better I should go.”

She was cheerful in sickness, hopeful in adversity and leaned upon the promises of God with childlike affection. Such was her faith in Christ, that she could look death in the face  without fear.

May god give right words of comfort and instruction to speak to the husband and children that  loved her with pure and sincere affection.

I shall remember her as one of the purest and most faithful of the many dear souls I have buried of the Hammond Street Church.

___ in Christ, signed S. P. Fay

Mr. Fay conducted a service at East Boston,  churchs [?] before the removal of the remains to Bangor.

Bearers at the funeral in Bangor. Deacs Dusen [?] & Webster, S. F. Jones and John P. Davis. 


About Rev. S. P. Fay:

It appears that Fay was her former pastor at the Hammond Street Church, he was enumerated in Bangor in 1880, but relocated to a church in Dorchester, Massachusetts later in 1880. This explains how he was able to be at her bedside and hold a funeral service for Betsey in East Boston and why he would write a letter back to his former parish speaking of the many he buried there.

bangor pastor

Fay burial

Using Maps to locate the Lansil homestead

There exist a variety of reasons for genealogist to consult maps.

An article in the Learning Center summarizes genealogical map uses:

Let’s begin with Charles V. Lansil (Lansill, Lansel, Lansell, Lanselle, Lancle, Lancil, Lancel to name a few variations), a Mariner, my immigrant ancestor who was my paternal grandmother’s mother’s father’s grandfather  or more simply, my 4th g-grandfather.

me -> my dad -> my grandmother->Edith Bernice (Lansil) Haines ->Edwin Lansil -> Asa Paine Lansil -> Charles V. Lansil


“The History of Penobscot County, Maine: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches”, published by Williams, Chase & Company, 1882 ( describes the life of Charles through the eyes of two of his living children.  Son James was born about 1816, he would have been about age 66 when the biography was written, while Charles Jr. born about 1808 would have been age 74 (he died a year after the publication was written).

penobscot county

of striking appearance.png

In summary, Charles, was possibly born about 1768 in Bordeaux or Havre, France. He immigrated around the age of 18 (about 1786) and became a sailor on Cape Cod where he resided for about 24 years.  He married Ruth C. Paine, of Truro (a descendant of Mayflower passenger Stephen Hopkins). Although no records have been located, their fourth child may have been born in Chatham, Massachusetts in 1808 (implying perhaps the first three were born there as well). To date, I have only found a potential record for Betsey (child #3) in the Chatham vitals, born 1806 but recorded February 1808:

betsey Lansil birth

The family then moved around 1810 to Buckstown, Maine (later renamed Bucksport).  They have not been located in the 1810 census. There seem to be a large number of Cape Codders who relocated to Buckstown so it is possible that they were in transit or with another family.

It is likely their fifth child, Asa Paine Lansil (my 3rd g-grandfather) was born there in 1812 (according to his death record at the Hammond Street Church in Bangor, Maine). The family moved to Sunkhaze (later renamed Milford, Maine) where no children were apparently born and then to Bangor by 1816 when James, the sixth child, was born.

in 1820 Charles Lancell is listed in the federal census in Bangor with 10 family members ( This matches closely with what is known of the family.  Son George wasn’t born until 1821 and there seems to be an additional female under 10 who perhaps died (no record of birth/death found) or was a niece or other relative.

1820 Bangor census

Males – Under 10:

3 – Asa Paine b. 1812; James P. b. 1816, Ephraim P. b. 1819

Males – 10 thru 15:

1 – Charles V. b. 1808

Males – 16 thru 25:

1 – Thomas P. born about 1800

Males – 45 and over:

1 – Charles V.

Free White Persons – Females – Under 10:

1 – unknown child

Females – 10 thru 15:

1 – Betsey born about 1805

Females – 16 thru 25:

1 – Mary P. born about 1804

Females – 26 thru 44:

1 – Ruth

Persons – Engaged in Manufactures:


Total All Persons –


The census doesn’t tell us where they resided, however a map in this same book (“The History of Penobscot County pg 590-1), dated 1820, lists C.V. Lansil as living at a location numbered 110.

Lansil map

A current map of the area is found in Google Maps.

google map

By overlaying these two maps in Photoshop (easy since they lived by the river and stream) and reducing the opacity of the 1820 map,  the street as it is called today, can be identified.

Bangor map overlay

This area, now named Front Street, is a beautiful city park with walking paths along the river. I visited just yesterday and snapped these photos:

Bangor photos

Imagine what the Lansil view must have been like during this time period when Bangor  prospered as a lumber port; the era when it was known as “the lumber capital of the world”.  Between 1832 and 1888, Bangor shipped out 8.7 billion board feet of lumber. In downtown Bangor where Kenduskeag Stream joins the Penobscot,  two times a day, the flood tides of Penobscot Bay and the Atlantic Ocean cause the water to rise twelve feet.  Bangor’s lumber (and related industries) created a bustling metropolis and boom town.  Population grew in just 4 years from 2,808 in 1830 to 8,000 people by 1834.  Millions of logs traveled down the Penobscot River to be converted in Bangor’s over 300 mills, and by 1850 Bangor was the world’s leading lumber port.   In 1860, Bangor shipped 250 million board feet of lumber on more than 200 ships a day that sailed downriver; that year, there were 3,376 vessel arrivals in Bangor. In 1872, close to 2300 coastal vessels loaded lumber in Bangor-filled their holds and piled it five or six feet deep on deck-and departed for ports all over the world.

Trees were cut in the late fall and winter, when it was easier to move them on snow to the nearest river. In spring, using rivers swelled by snowmelt and rain, loggers floated logs downstream to places like Bangor and Ellsworth. There sawmills cut logs into long lumber called deals for beams, planks, and boards, or into small lumber for shingles,clapboards, laths, and fence posts.

Once navigation opened, the spring rivers brought winter cut lumber down river, where a fleet of vessels carried it to the expanding cities of the U.S. eastern seaboard, the Caribbean, and South America. Steam tugs, introduced on the river sometime before 1850, could, for a fee, make the passage up and down the river much faster. Many sailing captains, however, chose to save towing charges. The larger schooners of the 1870s helped more lumber reach a bigger market.

774637075Lansil view

Neighbors of the Lansil’s in 1820 included:  T. Dennett (52), T. Trafton (160), L. Smith (148), B. Blodgett (149), B. Emerson (59), P. Junin, murdered (99) and J. Budge (18).

Wait! Murdered?!?! Yes, there is a story: – interesting that this murdered Lansil neighbor was from France, born in La Rochelle – coincidence or could they be cousins? Bangor was not a typical migration path for the French).

Junin’s residence is described as being near the Railroad in the History of Penobscot County (written 1882) pg 535:

Junin home

The article mentions a Jacob Dennett living nearby (he had a son T Dennett, perhaps the Lansil neighbor in 1820):

Dennett  home

Dennett’s residence near the railroad is mentioned in the Maine Historical Magazine, vol 5 written 1890:

Dennett  home location

An 1875 map from, confirms that in that time period, the railroad was located in the area now know as Front Street, thus confirming our assumptions of the location of the Lansil homestead:


Two additional 1820 neighbors are listed on an 1801 map in the same vicinity – Trafton and Emerson on lots 3 & 5 (the Dennett’s are also listed on lots 8 & 9):

Bangor 1801

Since the census enumerator was “efficient” and added all of the Bangor families in alphabetical order instead of order in which they were enumerated, we can’t confirm the remaining “Lansil neighbors” using the 1820 census.  By 1830,  the neighboring names were different.  Were they still at this address?

Charles drowned in 1831 in some type of tragedy near Mount Desert Island, Maine. His probate record of inventory mentions  “rights in the homestead or lot and house in Bangor which deceased occupied at time of his decease”, no entries for Charles were found in the grantor/grantee indexes in Penobscot County from 1816 or later (prior to 1816, Bangor was part of Hancock County) – the pre-1816 deeds are online ( but older ones can only be searched by book/page. I submitted a request to the Family History Library for a copy of the old Lansil grantor/grantee indexes. I live 2 hours away from a center and thus am eligible for this free  (wonderful) service! Requests usually are fulfilled (via email) in a few weeks – – unfortunately they responded that there was no variation of Lansil found.

will homestead

probate CV

A few years later, widow Ruth is listed on Fore Street in the 1834 city directory. There is no Fore Street in Bangor today.  Fore is listed on the 1820 map as area “n”, but “n” does not seem to appear on the 1820 map. The next city directory published was in 1843, after Ruth’s death. The definition of “fore” is “situated or placed in front” so perhaps Fore Street became Front Street?

1834 city directory


A land deed from that same year, Bangor, Book 48 pgs 129 & 130 dated 17 April 1834,  indicates all of Charles V. Lansil’s (deceased “labourer”) heirs and children together buy a lot of land near the Penobscot River for the price of $325 from three merchants named William Emerson, Wiggins Hill and James McLaughlin (Dionysia Hill, wife of Wiggins releases her dower). Lansil children/heirs listed include: Mary P. Dudley, Betsy McKenney, Charles, Thomas P., Asa P., James P., Ephraim P. and George W. – Interesting that they purchased as “heirs” and not on their own behalf.  The land office wasn’t even sure why the purchase was written this way.  As of 1821, married women in Maine, were allowed to own and manage property in their own name in case their spouse became incapacitated which explains Mary & Betsey being included in the transaction and not their spouses (

land deed

This is the same land deeded by Tristam and Sally Warren to Hill & McLaughlin on 13 Aug 1827 (book 16, page 265). –

The deed describes the land (and mentions a beach), but doesn’t assist in finding the location on today’s map:


Book 20, page 255 in Hancock County Deeds further describes the land as in township 5 in the 7th range in the County of Hancock, lot 2 & 3 in the 9th range….


Lots 2 & 3, found on the map of “first settlers” appears to be very close (a bit downstream) to the area found on the 2013 map of Front Street:

first settlers

first settlers map

Lot 2 and 3

Perhaps when Charles suddenly drowned his children all pitched in to buy the property together to allow Ruth to stay in her home (or perhaps move to a new home). More research is needed. The “first settlers” map was not easily overlaid on to a 2013 Google Map however it appears that the second property falls around Main Street not on Front or Fore (several of the Lansil’s lived on Main Street throughout the 1800’s).

Off to trace forward (and backward) all of the Penobscot County Lansil deeds! Stay tuned!

Lot’s of Lansil Penobscot County deeds from 1814 to 1889, this might take awhile!

Grantee (buyer) Grantor (seller) Vol Pg Type deed date
John Barker Thomas P Lansil 38 169 Mort 25 Jul 1833
John Barker Charles V Lansil 38 171 Mort 25 Jul 1833
Alexander Savage Asa P Lansil al 38 306 Mort 25 Jul 1833
Alexander Savage Charles V Lansil al 38 306 Mort 25 Jul 1833
Asa P Lansil al William Emerson al 48 129 Qtc 17 Apr 1834
Charles V Lansil (heirs of) William Emerson al 48 129 Qtc 17 Apr 1834
Charles V Lansil al William Emerson al 48 129 Qtc 17 Apr 1834
Ephraim P Lansil William Emerson al 48 129 Qtc 17 Apr 1834
George W Lansil William Emerson al 48 129 Qtc 17 Apr 1834
James P Lansil William Emerson al 48 129 Qtc 17 Apr 1834
Thomas P Lansil al William Emerson al 48 129 Qtc 17 Apr 1834
Charles V Lansil JH Dudley 49 53 War 3 Aug 1834
Asa P Lansil al Alexander Savage 58 441 War 25 Jul 1833
Charles V Lansil al Alexander Savage 58 441 War 25 Jul 1833
Charles V Lansil John Barker 58 473 War 25 Jul 1833
Thomas P Lansil John Barker 74 501 War 25 Jul 1833
Thomas P Lansil CV Lansil 74 502 War 28 Mar 1836
TP Lansil Charles V Lansil 74 502 War 26 Mar 1836
Charles V Lansil TP Lansil 76 390 War 25 Mar 1836
CV Lansil Thomas P Lansil 76 390 War 25 Mar 1836
GW Tasker Charles V Lansil 108 259 War 8 Aug 1839
GW Tasker Charles V Lansil 108 260 War 8 Aug 1839
AP Lansil Charles Lansil 137 195 Qtc 11 Jan 1841
Charles V Lansil GW Tasker 137 196 Qtc 29 Oct 1842
Charles V Lansil G W Tasker 137 197 Qtc 29 Oct 1842
Amos Grout Asa P Lansil 146 345 Mort 3 Aug 1844
Wiggins Hill Ephraim P Lansil al 150 485 Qtc 16 Sep 1844
Wiggins Hill James P Lansil al 150 485 Qtc 16 Sep 1844
Wiggins Hill Ephraim P Lansil 150 486 Mort 16 Sep 1844
Wiggins Hill Martha Lansil 150 487 Mort 16 Sep 1844
Martha Lansil Wiggins Hill 150 554 Qtc 16 Sep 1844
Moses Patten Charles V Lansil 157 116 Mort 14 Jun 1845
Charles V Lansil Moses Patten 157 117 War 14 Jun 1845
Wiggins Hill James P Lansil 175 128 Mort 15 May 1847
Wiggins Hill George W Lansil 179 97 War 4 Aug 1847
Charles V Lansil EP Lansil 179 535 Mort 15 Sept 1847
CV Lansil Ephraim P Lansil 179 535 Mort 15 Sept 1847
MP Dudley Charles V Lansil 183 192 Qtc 3 Sep 1834
Ephraim P Lansil Wiggins Hill 191 378 Qtc 16 Sep 1844
Wiggins Hill Asa P Lansil 192 304 Mort 15 Dec 1848
Asa P Lansil Wiggins Hill 192 375 War 15 Dec 1848
GG Hathaway Charles V Lansil 192 499 Mort 1 Jan 1849
Susan Patten Charles V Lansil 194 322 War 28 Feb 1849
Ezekiel Andrews Asa P Lansil 201 499 War 24 Dec 1849
Asa P Lansil Ezekiel Andrews 201 500 Mort 24 Dec 1849
Asa P Lansil JP Lansil al 212 140 War 28 Jan 1851
AP Lansil James P Lansil al 212 140 War 28 Jan 1851
AP Lansil Martha Lansil al 212 140 War 28 Jan 1851
Asa P Lansil Ezekiel Andrews 212 215 War 15 Feb 1851
Anna Andrews Asa P Lansil 212 216 War 15 Feb 1851
Robert Long Charles V Lansil 218 63 Mort 23 Sep 1851
Charles V Lansil Heirs of James Carr 218 87 War 18 Aug 1851
LD Andrews Charles V Lansil 222 248 War 20 Feb 1852
GW Savage Charles V Lansil 222 351 Mort 20 Mar 1852
Charles V Lansil GW Savage 222 353 War 20 Mar 1852
Charles V Lansil LD Andrews 222 354 Mort 20 Feb 1852
Ephraim P Lansil Hiram Draper 222 537 Qtc 19 Mar 1852
Wiggins Hill Asa P Lansil 223 551 Mort 1 May 1852
George W Lansil Wiggins Hill 225 417 War 1 Jul 1852
Wiggins Hill George W Lansil 225 418 Mort 1 Jul 1852
Joshua Miller Asa P Lansil 231 341 War 24 Feb 1853
Asa P Lansil Joshua Miller 231 344 Mort 24 Feb 1853
Wiggins Hill Asa P Lansil 232 485 Asst 15 Apr 1853
James P Lansil Wiggins Hill 240 201 War 15 May 1847
MJ Cummings James P Lansil 240 203 War 18 Nov 1853
Asa P Lansil Wiggins Hill 248 470 War 1 May 1852
Luther Dana James P Lansil al 256 387 Mort 6 Oct 1851
Luther Dana Martha Lansil al 256 387 Mort 6 Oct 1851
Martha Lansil Luther Dana 256 389 Qtc 6 Oct 1851
Jesse McKee Ephraim P Lansil 261 536 Qtc 1 Oct 1855
Henry Harrison Thomas P Lansil 270 170 War 5 Aug 1856
Wiggins Hill Charles V Lansil 281 471 Tax 28 Nov 1855
Theodore Thompson Ephraim P Lansil 286 148 Mort 13 May 1858
Emily P Lansil JS Bennoch 288 202 War 22 Jul 1858
Charles V Lansil DC Oakes 289 78 Qtc 21 Sept 1858
RK Stetson Asa P Lansil 297 549 Mort 8 Oct 1859
John Wyman Thomas P Lansil 298 246 Tax 7 Oct 1857
Thankfull S Lansil HN McFarland 302 136 War 15 May 1860
JP Davis 2nd Asa P Lansil 311 58 Mort 2 Apr 1861
Edwin Lansil Asa P Lansil 319 165 Mort 3 Mar 1862
Edwin Lansil AP Lansil 319 165 Mort 3 Mar 1862
Edward P Lansil Market Bank (Bangor) 329 525 Qtc 27 Aug 1863
CV Lansil Edward P Lansil 333 383 Mort 1 Jan 1864
Charles V Lansil EP Lansil 333 383 Mort 1 Jan 1864
EA Upton Edward P Lansil 334 206 Qtc 15 Jan 1864
EP Lansil Charles V Lansil 334 249 War 1 Jan 1864
Edward P Lansil CV Lansil 334 249 War 1 Jan 1864
bangor Savings bank Charles V Lansil 338 471 Mort 5 May 1864
Charles V Lansil HB Williams 338 474 War 30 May 1864
Edwin Lansil Asa P Lansil 342 511 Mort 3 Oct 1864
Edwin Lansil AP Lansil 342 511 Mort 3 Oct 1864
ZT Dillingham Charles V Lansil 357 481 War 28 Apr 1866
Charles Webb Cornelia Lansil al 362 550 Mort 5 Jan 1867
Charles Webb Ephraim P Lansil al 362 550 Mort 5 Jan 1867
CM Newmarch Ephraim P Lansil 365 99 Qtc 2 Feb 1867
GA Stone Asa P Lansil 366 488 War 6 Apr 1867
Asa P Lansil SF Martin al 367 542 War 30 Apr 1867
Wm Lansel al Emily P Lansil 372 330 Cond Qtc 30 Oct 1867
Wm Lansel al Thomas P Lansil (wife of) 372 330 Cond Qtc 30 Oct 1867
William Lansil al EP Lansil 372 330 Cond Qtc 30 Oct 1867
Zilpher Lansil al EP Lansil 372 330 Cond Qtc 30 Oct 1867
JP Davis 2nd Edward P Lansil 373 535 Mort 27 Dec 1867
Charles Davis Edward P Lansil 375 50 Mort 27 Jan 1868
EP Lansil William Lansil al 378 384 Rel 27 Feb 1868
EP Lansil Zilpher Lansil al 378 384 Rel 27 Feb 1868
Emily P Lansil William Lansil al 378 384 Rel 27 Feb 1868
Thomas P Lansil (wife of) William Lansil al 378 384 Rel 27 Feb 1868
bangor Savings bank Edward P Lansil 387 334 Mort 26 Feb 1869
AR Lansel Emily P Lansil 390 82 War 5 May 1869
AR Lansel Thomas P Lansil (wife of) 390 82 War 5 May 1869
Amos R Lansil EP Lansil 390 82 War 5 May 1869
Charles V Lansil ZT Dillingham 395 41 Mort 28 Apr 1866
Edwin Lansil Asa P Lansil 402 511 Mort 1 Sep 1870
Edwin Lansil AP Lansil 402 511 Mort 1 Sep 1870
William Marcho Amos R Lansil 408 321 Qtc 7 Mar 1871
George Lansil James P Lansil 413 150 Qtc 23 Aug 1871
George Lansil JP Lansil al 413 150 Qtc 23 Aug 1871
bangor Savings bank Edward P Lansil 417 189 Mort 27 Dec 1871
AP Lansil Edwin Lansil 423 157 Dis 27 Jul 1872
Asa P Lansil Edwin Lansil 423 157 Dis 27 Jul 1872
John Goodell Jr Asa P Lansil 423 158 War 6 Aug 1872
Asa P Lansil John Goodell Jr 424 232 Mort 6 Aug 1872
bangor Savings bank Asa P Lansil 424 272 Asst 8 Aug 1872
GW Savage Charles V Lansil 442 464 Mort 2 Jun 1874
Charles V Lansil Bangor Savings Bank 443 358 Qtc 1 Jun 1874
FH Duffy Edward P Lansil 443 469 War 22 Jun 1874
Edward P Lansil Edwin Drew 443 473 War 22 Jun 1874
Edwin Drew Edward P Lansil 443 480 Mort 22 Jun 1874
Edward P Lansil George Lansil 464 294 War 1876
Edward P Lansil George Lansil 464 294 War 1876
Eliza B Nash George Lansil 467 38 War 1876
Cornelia Lansil Carrie Newmarch 472 407 Rel 1876
Samuel C Newhall Thankful S Lansil 477 494 Rel 1877
Samuel B Morison Thankful S Lansil 510 387 Rel 1880
AP Lansil Mount Hop Cemetery 521 119 Deed 1881
Warren N Pierce Louisa Lansil (gon) 531 318 Deed 1882
Charles V Lansil Warren Pierce 531 318 Deed 1882
AP Lansil Mount Hop Cemetery 533 215 Deed 1882
Charles V Lansil Mount Hop Cemetery 533 215 Deed 1882
AP Lansil Charles V Lansil 534 6 Deed 1882
Charles V Lansil Asa P Lansil 534 6 Deed 1882
AP Lansil Charles V Lansil 534 7 Deed 1882
Charles V Lansil Asa P Lansil 534 7 Deed 1882
Oscar Patten Ella Lansil 549 240 Mort 1884
Oscar Patten George Lansil 549 240 Mort 1884
Ella Lansil Oscar Patten 549 449 Deed 1884
Mount Hope Cemetery Thankful S Lansil 562 171 Deed 1885
AP Lansil Daniel Fernald 573 457 Deed 1887
Charles Chalmers Ella Lansil 584 409 Deed 1888
Malinda J Ellis James P Lansil 592 201 Deed 1889
Thankful S Lansil (Admr) James P Lansil 593 3 Deed 1889
James P Lansil Thankful S Lansil (Admr) 593 3 Deed 1889
Malinda J Ellis James P Lansil 594 144 Mort 1889
Charles V Lansil Henry Payne 595 229 Deed 1889

A Trip to Venice, by Walter Franklin Lansil (1846-1925)

Walter Franklin Lansil, my 2nd great grand uncle, on my dad’s side was a well known marine artist.  He is my g-grandmother Edith Bernice (Lansil) Haines’s uncle through her father Edwin Lansil.


Walters business card

According to family lore, My grandmother (Nana Hall), a pretty great artist herself, took art lessons from Walter as a teenager.

Nana’s son Charlie adds:  “My version of the painting lesson story has a little different twist. In the lore that I remember, Nana Hall’s mother, Edith (Lansil) Haines, was always described as a Lansil favorite. I can imagine Edith putting pressure on Walter to teach Nana Hall. To keep the story short, the teenage Nana Hall showed up late for the lesson, Lansil refused to teach her and sent her home. When the adult Nana Hall told me the story she still had shock in her voice. I think the experience was really a life lesson learned”.

Walter died when Nana was 17. Sadly, my Nana died at the age of 91 (I was 36),  long before my interest in genealogy, long before I knew the name Walter Franklin Lansil and long before I thought to ask any questions.

The family historian, Aunt Natalie of course knew of him.  She lovingly refers to him as “Uncle Waddie” and his brother Wilbur a cattle artist as “Bibber” .

According to the blog My Old Ohio Home,  there is an unsigned note in the possession of a descendant of Walter’s brother Edwin which says this about Walter Franklin Lansil:  — “Mom said he was a terrific guy. Everyone was his friend — no business head. Never said anything wrong about anyone. If he said anything bad about anyone it was ‘He’s a pill.’ That was his only usage of bad words!”


lansil_walter_franklin-venice_noonday_on_the_river~OM619300~10603_20130201_2635B_435 artwork_images_424116582_477256_walterfranklin-lansil

Walter’s studio is depicted in a painting done by Enrico Meneghelli  in the 1880’s held in the MFA’s collection:

walters studio

Our Walter was born 30 Mar 1846 in Bangor, Maine to  to Asa Paine Lansil (a Mayflower descendant of Stephen Hopkins) and Betsey Turner Grout (a descendant of William Grout who fought  in the Revolutionary War at the Battle of Lexington and the Battle of Bunker Hill and a descendant of Captain John Grout, a Puritan, who came here in 1637).  The Lansil’s were members of Hammond Street Congregational Church.  From 1843 to 1848, they lived on 101 Hammond, a brick tenement in the Bangor in the neighborhood of Barkerville.  Walter’s siblings included Enoch Howard (1836-1843), Edwin (my g-g-grandfather, 1839-1904), Frances Ellen (1841-1886), Asa Brainard (1849-1904) and Wilbur Henry (the well known cattle artist, 1855-1897).  Asa was a self-employed Cooper who was fairly well off having a net worth of $3,500 in 1860 and $5,500 in 1870.

In 1870, Walter, then a cistern maker – was his dad’s only employee, in a business netting $1,200 annually.  He was also a volunteer fire fighter along with brother Asa (double click on the image to see a larger version):

1870 census


Walter’s sister Frances married a Bangor lumber tycoon, Carleton Sylvanus Bragg.  About 1870, the Bragg family and Walter’s brother Edwin moved to East Boston, Massachusetts where they started a lumber operation under the name Jones, Bragg and Lansil.  A year later, Asa P., Betsey, Walter, Wilbur and Asa B. followed, (Enoch died in 1843 at the age of 6).

The family initially boarded at 119 Webster.  Soon Asa Sr. and Edwin purchased a home together for $5,600 on Trenton, at the corner of Putnam (lot 169, sec 3).  The Braggs owned a home on White St., but by 1876 they join the family on Trenton.

A full listing of the Lansil clan, including daughter Fannie Bragg’s family in the 1880 census, Walter’s occupation was recorded as “Artist”:
 Walter was on his way to fame! A small sampling of some of the newspaper accounts of his activities:
Art Notes

Sadly, on 1 Nov 1880, Fannie’s husband Carleton passed away suddenly after being sick for just two days from apoplexy (sudden loss of consciousness, sensation, and voluntary motion). The following year, on 3 March 1881, Walter’s mother, Betsey Turner (Grout) Lansil, died of dropsey caused by scirrhus of the liver.

By 1882 the entire family was still living together but, had relocated to Dorchester (with widowed sister Fannie Bragg and her children), most likely due to changing demographics (incoming immigrants) in East Boston. Dorchester was still a primarily rural town and had a population of 12,000 when it was annexed to Boston in 1870. Railroad and streetcar lines brought rapid growth, increasing the population to 150,000 by 1920.

The 1882 through 1886 city directories indicate that perhaps Asa P. owned the home on Milton Avenue.  No entry was found in Suffolk County land indexes to support this – all of his sons and presumably the Braggs continued to reside in the same household.

Walter’s popularity continued to grow. Meanwhile, Coleman, Lewis & Co., a small wares company where Wilbur was a shipper for years, dissolved in late 1882. Wilbur decided on a career change and joined his brother as an artist.

The brothers applied for and received passports on 5 August 1884.

Walter Wilbur passports.png

Days later, they headed to Europe to study at the Académie Julian in Paris; family lore says Edwin funded their jaunts across the sea to study and paint; but it seems the funding was from Walter auctioning 122 pieces of his artwork, in May 1884 (see newspaper clipping below).


Walter auction

Walter Lansil

They remained great friends.


Lansil, a name with French origins (Lansell, Lansel, Lancle, Lancil, Lancel), is an unusual name during that time period.  So surname Google searches offer great results…unlike my Hall, Jones and Roberts surnames.

A recent Google search revealed that Walter had written a memoir of his journey to Venice:–walter-lansil-7859

The Boston Public Library’s Art department has a copy on microfilm.  There are two copies, handwritten.  In transcribing them, I tried to keep the same spelling, punctuation and capitalization that Walter used.  It seems that he kept notes of his journey, likely arriving in Venice early in 1885, and then wrote about them some 30 years later in 1914.  He was about 40 and brother Wilbur 30 when they began their journey.


A Trip to Venice

I had now been in Paris several months studying and as spring was approaching made arrangements to take a trip to Venice to make studies of the City that I had so long wished to see and had read so much about.

Accompanied by my Brother [Wilbur] we took our departure on a cold February day soon after a snow storm, something very unusual for Paris, buying our tickets to Turin Italy. The train starting at 6o’ck PM. Our companions consisting of two Gentlemen and two Ladies made up the party, as usual luck followed us as it generally had while travelling for one of the Gentlemen spoke English and it made the time pass pleasantly.

Late in the evening three of our party left us at a way Station our English speaking friend remaining.  The nights being intensely cold we were obliged to sit with our overcoats on and it was out of the question to sleep, there being no heat in the cars but we made the best of it. About midnight we stopped at a Small Station and the Conductor added one more to our number a French woman weighing nearly three hundred pounds having a large market basket on her arm.

The conductor had about all he could do to get her into the car. After she was seated a few minutes she took from her basket a large bottle of Wine and a loaf of bread and began to eat which she nearly accomplished before going to sleep and although large I very much doubt if she could have held much more and between her snoring and the cold it was almost more than we could stand but we were obliged to put up with it all through the night.

Our English friend was born on the Island of Malta his father was a Brittish G_____ his mother being a Maltese and a native of the Island.  He was a very interesting Man, had travelled a great deal had been to England on business and was now on his way home. He knew the Country we were travelling through by heart and his explanation of the different places was very interesting and helped to make the night pass more pleasantly.

The morning lights began to break and we now caught sight of the snow capped Alps which was one of the grandest sights I ever saw.  But one thing was striking and seemed to me careless,  that was the closeness the houses were built to the base of the cliffs the people seeming in no fear of their homes being crushed by the heavy Avalanches that roll down from the Mountains, Sometimes crushing whole Villages by the heavy weight of snow.

As we rode on the Alps became more and more plain to our view, the snow packed higher and higher and the Villages appearing on every side. The buildings built of stone and the Mountains seemed to be one solid mass.  As the sun arose it presented the most beautiful sight I ever beheld, at first it touched the snow clad hills presenting to our view a most beautiful effect with its brown dark foreground in shadow was in striking contrast to the scarlet tops.

It touched some very green trees almost at the Summit and added greatly to the beauty of the scene. The sky had shown a purple cast the earlier part of the morning and now was growing brighter every minute as we passed Village after Village. The smoke rising from the chimneys in the cool of the morning had a very curious effect.

We now began to pass through several tunnels taking from one to thirty minutes. At the entrance of one we found an Avalanche had descended a short time before delaying our train, seeming to be impossible for us to proceed but after some hours delay we were enabled to resume our journey. A small village was completely buried beneath the weight of the snow, only the chimneys and now and then broken spire (?) told where the village stood not a sign of life was about and very few people could be seen about the ruins.

We were now approaching the Grape Country of Italy. The Lou Valleys [Loire, Valley?]and far up the Mountainsides were covered with thousands of acres of Grape Vines reaching as far as the eye could see looked like a great net thrown over the country. Old Forts and Castles were passed on every h____, relics of bygone days.

One in particular not far away nesting among the hills showing out amongst the brown dead grass of the passing year was very impressive, but the grandest and most beautiful of all we had seen came as we swung around the mountainside and saw an old Stone Castle standing high above the Valley in the dark grass against the snow covered sides of Majestic Old Mont Blanc in the sunlight was seen, I can assure you, a sight of such surpassing loveliness which once seen could never be forgotten.

We could now see thousands of feet down the Valley in the cool soft morning light Sta___ Farmers plowing in the fields. It begins to grow warm as we are nearing the end of our journey.  We arrived at Turin at about 1:30 PM and remained there about 4 hours which gave us time to go about and see the city and its beautiful buildings.

We took the train for Venice at 5:45PM. Stopped at Milan a short time.

Our English-Maltese friend one of the most genial and interesting travelling companions I ever met, a real jovial good fellow left us here and it was feelings of sadness that we bid him goodbye. We were found here by the Italian from New York who spoke a little English and with whats French I could mutter we managed to carry on a pleasant conversation for a few hours, he left just before we reached Venice which was about 5 o’clock in the morning, cold and very tired. It had rained hard during the night and everything was cold, damp and dreary. Few people were stirring and the city looked gloomy and deserted.

After our baggage was examined we took a Gondola for our destination.

We were now in Venice. Not indeed the charming Venice that we expected to see painted by artists and praised by poets the mention of which sends a thrill through every human soul that loves the beautiful in art and nature, but a dark and dreary dismal city. Fog settled all around the buildings and to say the least we were sadly disappointed by our first impression of the fair bity of Venice for it was anything but pleasant.

After settling a dispute with three Gondoliers each claiming I had employed him. I soon adjusted matters by cutting the number down to one I had hired – The others soon left disgusted and beaten and we went on our way down the Grand Canal passing old and beautiful Palaces on every hand, Towers rising high in the morning mist, Many Picturesque and Ornamental Bridges the stillness only broken by the Boatman’s cry as he turned the corner of some Canal or the splash of the oar as we paddled on.

We finally arrived at our Hotel and after presenting our letters found we could not get accommodations as every room was engaged. We employed a man to carry our Baggage and started for the Grand Canal and found a Gondola ready to cross. There were a few men in it and fearing to have the same trouble I had at the Depot, I told them that one man was enough to carry us over, and refused to start until all but one got out, they had a good laugh after talking it over, one who could speak some English informed us that it was a ferry boat and they were passengers, so I said nothing but got aboard and soon was across the Canal. I had been using a Guide Book and found it was not quite reliable and shut it up.

We crossed St Marks Square to the Piazzetta and before us we beheld the Palace of the Dodges [Doge’s Palace]. The Sun was just arising above a thick bank of mist and throwing a shimmering light across the waters of the Lagoon and through the dark arches of the Ducal Palace [Doge’s Palace in Italian is Palazzo Ducale]. One solitary figure with a heavy cloak thrown around him was pacing backward and forward between the columns of St Mark and St Theodore. Everything seemed to be deserted and reminded me very much of “Turners” Painting of Ancient Italy memories of bye gone days. It was an impressive Scene and I fully realized that I was in Venice and that our Journey was over. 

After a couple of days rest we located in a Cosy [cozy ?] Hotel over a Palace having a larger Studio well suited to our purpose situated at the entrance of the “Grand Canal” and near the “Santa Maria del Saluta” [Santa Maria della Salute] which sits on land once owned by the “Crusaders” in ancient days. It was kept by a man of the old School who Spoke English fluently and had seen better days but now living on past glory who loved to tell of the deeds done by his ancestors. He had no particular admiration for a man that was poor and in referring to such a person would say yes : he is a good fellow but he has no money : – He and his wife who was a German woman did everything they possibly could to make our stay comfortable and pleasant.

The View from the Hotel down the Grand Canal was superb far out on the waters of the “Adriatic”. Ships of many nations lay at Auchan (?) and the beautiful sails of the Fishing Boats reflecting their Colours in the blue waters of the Harbor was a scene of beauty I can never forget.

To anyone visiting Venice his stay would not be complete without sailing up the Grand Canal in one of its very beautiful Gondolas more particularly on a bright moonlight summer night. The scene is most delightful when the Canal is througed (?) with Boats and the Sweetest Music floats far away over the waters of the dark Lagoon to the waters of the Adriatic until long after midnight.

Venice is a most interesting City lying two and a half miles from the Main land in the Lagoon a shallow part of the Adriatic Sea. It is about 25 miles long and 9 miles wide, a short time ago there were Fifteen Thousand Palaces and Houses on the three large and one hundred and fourteen small islands comprising the Ancient City joined by one hundred + fifty canals spanned by three hundred and seventy eight Bridges of stones and over 200 miles in circumference.

The population which at one time was fully 200,000 dwindled down to 96,000 after its dissolution as an independent State in 1797 and 40 to 50 years ago its population had increased to 133,000 of which one fourth were said to be Paupers –

Venice is considered to be one of the greatest Sea Ports of the Adriatic. Ships of England, Greece, Turkey, Holland and other Nations find a Harbor here on their way to and from India and other Ports and the great number of sailing vessels large and small sailing between Italian and other ports help to make up the mass of shipping whose tall masts towering against the beautiful “Santa Maria del Saluta” make a most beautiful picture which one will long remember.

The Fishing Boats long the pride of Venice are now missed from their moorings at the Public Gardens where they used to lay in groups their beautiful colored sails reflecting great masses of color and the Picturesque Costumes of the Fisherman mingled with the deep greenish waters of the Lagoon under a Cerulion [Cerulean] Sky of blue made a picture of beauty. But one by one they have departed until very few remain in Venice.  They have gone to the little Island of Chiogga [Chioggia] an ancient city founded about the same period as Venice.  The Inhabitants have always differed materially in Language and Customs from the Inhabitants of the Lagoon District. This is a great Fishing Port and one of the Most Picturesque Islands in the Adriatic Sea and interesting and Valuable Sketching ground much admired and frequented by Artists.

The Grand Canal the Main Artery of Venice is nearly 2 miles in length varying from 38 to 66 yards in width curving around in shape like the letter S. Many gondolas and other small boats are moving in all directions making a scene of activity and beauty. Lately the Grand Canal is undergoing many changes. Tall Modern buildings are being erected taking the places of Old and Ancient Palaces which were once the Pride of the City.  Motor Boats are also seen mooring about and the real charm of Venice is fast disappearing. Here handsome and Magnificent Palaces rise above the water for this is the Streets (water streets) of the old aristocracy of Venice. Far up the Grand Canal is the Rialto the oldest Bridge connecting the old and new Venice and near it the Fish Market one of the most interesting spots on the Canal. The Rialto built in 1588-1591 by Antonio di Ponte is 158 feet long and 46 feet wide with a single marble arch 74 feet span and 32 feet in height resting on 12,000 piles.

Friday is the great Fish Market day in Venice when the market is abundantly supplied. I was very fortunate in securing for my Gondolier a faithful loyal grand old man who has seen much of the world one who had fought under Garibaldi in his many campaigns, his anecdotes and stories of that great leader which he almost worshipped were very interesting and he used to beg me to allow him to wear his Garibaldi Shirt of Red when on his trips with me. He was very proud of that “Red Shirt”.

I found the people very kind considerate and hospitable ready to do you a favor at all times. They are great home bodys. Very seldom leave homes, I doubt that you can find a Venetian in Boston today. The Italians who come here are from the Bay of Naples, Sicily, Syria and other sections of Italy. Many of them from the lower and most undesirable class.

I will tell you how considerate they are. I was sitting one morning painting a group of boats at the Public Gardens there was hardly a breath of air not enough to make a ripple on the water when I discovered a small steamer approaching towing a number of barges filled with men who were singing and cheering at the top of their lungs. As they came in the direction in which I was at work I saw they were government troops on their way to the fortifications. As they came nearer and first before they had reached me one of the Officers standing on the docks of the Steamer raised his sword and gave an order. Suddenly the Engine stopped, the noise ceased and they floated by me without a Rufyls [? can’t read word]. After passing a short distance the officer again raised his sword gave an order, the engine started up and bedlam was let loose. I saluted them. The steamers returned it with 3 whistles and the men cheered until they were far down the Bay. They were very careful not to disturb me at my work and that is the respect and consideration they show to Visitors especially Artists.

At another time while sketching near the Dorgano or Custom House a large schooner came drifting in near where I was. The Captain entered into conversation with my Gondolier I enquired what the Captain wanted and was told that he wished to know how long before I would be through as he wanted to come in where I was and make fast, I told him to come in as it would not interfere with me, but he would not until I had moved away which I did and then returned and finished my sketch and was shown every attention that they could give me and I found that was characteristic of the people in general wherever I came in contact with them.

At the extremity of Venice are the Public Gardens laid out by Napoleon in 1807 who demolished several monasteries to be able to abtain space to build them using the _____ from the monasteries in their construction. They are almost 900 feet long and 300 feet wide planted with rows of Acacia, Sycamore and other shrubs.

The grounds afford full views of the City and the Lagoon just at sundown when the Venetian Chimes send their inspiring music far out on the waters from this City of the Sea the effect from these Gardens is out of great splendor and great enjoyment.

Below the Gardens and at the lower entrance of the Lagoon is the Lido or bathing place of the City a beautiful sandy beach running far along the shore reaching out into the sea reminding me somewhat of our own Revere Beach with Nahant in the distance.

Thatched huts are scattered every little way apart which are occupied by government soldiers who are daily on the watch for smugglers or anyone who break the laws. They are a fine class of men and are always ready and willing to impart information on any subject you desire. It is a beautiful place to spend the day and the view is perfectly lovely.

But Venice is not always the Same. It has its drawbacks and troubles as well as its joys and beauties as has all places.

I once witnessed a riot at the entrance of the Grand Canal one morning as I started out to work. As we reached the “Santa Marie del Saluta”. We found the Canal crowded with hundreds of boats blocking the entrances men and women had congregated on the Quay and were shouting and cheering at the top of their voices. They were destroying the Gondolas belonging to the Hotels going from one to another until all were destroyed.  The Hotel Proprietors had put on their own Gondolas and cut into the business of the regular Gondoliers.

Hence the riot and the destruction of the Hotel Keepers Gondolas some of which cost as high as 500 dollars each, one having 1500.00 Dollars and took the first prize at Vienna. Now I saw a crowd of gatherers at the Palace of the Dodges and coming from the Piazzetta as it came near I found it was the Mayor and a body of Gendarmes.  He had a wide red sash across his breast and came within a short distance of where we were. He stood and read the “Riot Act” then gave orders to arrest the leaders about a dozen or more. The Officers drew their swords and ordered them to surrender. One of the Gendarmes placed his gun near a leaders head who unbuttoned his shirt placed his bare chest against the nozzle shook his hand in the Gendarmes face and dared him to fire.  It was the most dramatic thing I ever saw. I tried to get out but was so blocked up found it impossible to do so. The leaders soon gave up and under escort went ashore where they were tried and fined 400 dollars each and sent to jail for 15 days they served their sentences but the fines were never paid. The day they were liberated the City was draped in color and a general holiday and procession took place led by a band and escorted by hundreds of boats up and down the “Grand Canal” and the celebration was kept up long after midnight. The Gondoliers Won!

My work from day to day was somewhat varied and nearly every morning as early as 5 o’ck I was on my way to study and sketch the beautiful sunrise effects as the [sun] cast their golden lights across the dark waters of the Lagoon and touched the tops of the many Palaces and Domes that rise above the White City the “Queen of the Adriatic”.

One of the pleasantest sails is up the “Giudecca Canal” the shipping port of Venice.  A very wide and long Canal the largest ships of all descriptions lay at anchor. Leaving we pass out and by the oldest and most ancient Palaces beautiful in their day, but now only memories of the past. They are also occupied by Fisherman and it is known as the fishery section of the Island of  Giudecca. Pass the churches of the Redentore and St Sebastian which contain some of the Master pieces of Italy and beneath the latter reprose the dust of Paul Veroneso + passing out from the Canal a short distance and we get a broad view of Mont Eugenia with its Snow capped peaks 50 to 75 miles away and in clear weather can be seen very plainly.

In retracing our way back in the afternoon as the sun is going down we now see the City in its beautiful golden lights bathed in a warm creamy haze St George’s like a beacon in the Sea with its reddish tower and dome sitting alone in the harbor once belonging to a supposed Benedictine Monastery and now used as an “Artillery Barrack”. Here the morning, noon and evening gun, is fired.  The building was cornered in 1560 and finished about 1575. We now meet the boats from Genoa and Trieste and Fisherman from the Adriatic returning at night with their beautiful Lateen Sails, ornamented prowes and weather beaten Sailors, The Ancient “Palace of the Dodges” with its Campanile rising far over the Piazzetta, its Bridge of Sighs and its prison Gondolas drawn up in line at its base and its colored striped ports all reflects its colors in the Bay and its many Islands stretching far out to sea, the distant Island of Murano where is manufactured the finest Glassware in the world, sold in every land.

The Santo Maria del Saluto with its rich appearance is also a picture one must see to appreciate. A great event took place shortly before I came away, which I would not have missed for anything. A Fete (?) Day when Venice was seen in all its glory in honor of the King.

Preparations had been going on for several days and now all was ready for the great affair.  The Harbor was full of shipping everything draped in the National Colors and every bit of color that could possibly be displayed was thrown from windows. Spires and every available spot which could be used. The people dressed in rich and gaudy dress, scarfs, tablecloths, handkerchiefs were hung from the windows of the Grand Canal. Till the whole City looked like one Massive Bouquet, Gondolas were moving in all directions with their rich colored brilliant suits. Guns were fired to greet the morning Sun as it rose far out over the Lido and threw its light over the Magnificent Scene and and contributing its quota of homage and beauty to the occasion. All is bustle and gaiety. A Fairy Pageant. A Floating Caravan. A City of Poetic fervor and Artistic Splendor. Allowing the fervor of its Patriotism and love of Country to express itself in honor of its King.

It was a reminder of the Ancient Splendor and power of days long past.  They are gone but much of the beauty still remains. All day and far into the night the gaiety was kept up and as the sun sank to rest in all its splendor behind the Domes of the “Santa Marie del Saluto” I could not help feeling the decay of Venice notwithstanding all its beauty and magnificence.

We had been here nearly a year and had seen Venice in its various moods + had seen it in gloom and grandeur. We had seen its Marble Palaces and its Antique Buildings, Trod its Marble Halls and Streets, Sailed over its Canals and Waterays, Visited its Ancient Churches. Studied the works the great Masters, its Titian, Tiutoretta, Ver__ese(?) Georges and many many Painters of Ancient days.

We crossed the Marble Bridge of Sighs and Visited the Palace of the Dodges. That Magnificient Structure on the west side 246 feet in length on the South 234 feet covering over 1 ¼ acres of land.  It was founded in the year 800 and was destroyed Five times and as often rebuilt. It is flau_ed (?) by two Colonades on its West +South 107 columns and 36 below and 71 above and beneath its roof the east room Tintoretto’s Paradise claimed to be the largest Oil Painting ever attempted it is 84 feet long and 34 feet high. Pronounced by the great Ruskin to be the most precious thing that Venice possesses.

We had visited the gloomy Dungeons and beheld  its Ancient Cruel Instruments of Torture which tells a sad story of bygone days.  We had climbed the tall stairway of the Campanilo 322 feet high finished in 911, restored several times completed in 1511 and had gazed upon the magnificent view stretched out before us. The distant Alps and Adriatic. To the West Mont Eugene near Padua rising above the Lagoon, eats in the clear weather can be seen the Istrian Mountains rising above the Adriatic Sea. A truly magnificent Spectacle approaching Sunset and last but not least the beautiful soft, warm, tender, Italian Skies. And I look back with fond and grateful remembrance of Happy and instructive days I passed in the far, famed and beautiful City of Venice regretting only that I find it impossible by Tongue or Pen to describe its history or its beauty.

We made many friends there. Artists, Writers, Musicians and Many others who all seemed imbued with its Poetic beauty and Hospitality and which was very decidedly manifested in their lives and conversations.

And after bidding them a regretful Farewell we took our departure with a Cherished Consolation “That a person never goes to Venice the first time but once” And as Lord Byron says: –

Those days are gone – but beauty still is here

States fall, Arts fade – but Nature does not die

Nor yet forget how Venice once was dear

The pleasant place of all festivity

The rest of the earth the Mosque of Italy

I loved her from my boyhood. She to me

Was as a fairy City of the hearts

Rising like Water Columns from the Sea

Of Joy the Sojourn and of wealth the Mart

Walter F Lansil – February 1914



On September 11, 1886 Walter purchased the home at 101 Maxwell Street (lots 8 & 10, sect. 3 – 9,880 square feet of land or about 2 ¼ acres) for $3,700, taking out a mortgage from S. Pickney Holbrook of $2,800 so he had returned by that date. The Lansil’s continued to live together Wilbur, Walter and Asa never married.  Edwin married young Jane Catherine Roberts of Llanfairfechan and had 3 girls who lived to adulthood (2 other children died very young).  Edwin purchased the Maxwell Street home from Walter a few years later.

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

Wilbur biowilbur paintings

Walter & Wilbur joined The Lodge of Eleusis – Freemasonry – It was designed to bring together young college trained men in fraternal compact who had a sincere desire to put behind them the horrors of war and the misgivings incident to human conflict, that they might commune again as brothers, citizens, and good neighbors in an era of peace.

Their records say, “Two other Brethren artists were Wor. Walter Lansill (master 1892, 1893) and Wilbur Lansill. Wilbur died in office as senior warden. Walter lived to a ripe old age and was the sodality insructor who saw to it that young officers became proficient in their work. He was in active service up to a few weeks before his decease. His paintings on modern city life won the acclaim of the critics and some of them sold for large amounts”

Walter was a bit of a genealogist himself as he and Wilbur also became members of the Son’s of the American Revolution.

Just a snippet of their lives.

Wilbur passed away 26 Jun 1897 at the age of 42 in Dorchester of Phthisis (abt 3 years). Inez J. E. Dresser is named in his will:

wilbur probate

Wilbur left the remainder of his estate to his brother Walter.  In the event that Walter was not living, everything was to go to his 3 nieces: Florence May Bragg, Frances May Lansil and Edith Bernice Lansil (his niece Doris Lansil was born after his death).  Walter was named as executor, Henry Howard Dresser was the named alternate if Walter does not survive him. There was no mention of Edwin, Asa B. or his Bragg nephews Edwin & Fredrick, all of whom were living.

A frail Walter died 22 Jan 1925 in Milton, Massachusetts of Pneumonia (double) at the age of 78 Years 9 months 23 days, while living with his niece.

Both are buried with their parents at Mount Hope Cemetery in Bangor in an unmarked grave Lot 407CG.

Lansil plot

For more about Walter, see this Google book article written when Walter was age 42 (likely accurate since he was interviewed by the author):

Lansil pictures.png

%d bloggers like this: