Posts Tagged ‘“Walter Franklin Lansil”’

52 Ancestors – Week #23, Edwin Lansil the not so famous brother….

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

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO VIEW A LARGER VERSION.

Everyone in the family knows of “our” famous artist Walter Franklin Lansil, “Uncle Waddie”, and most are aware of his accomplished brother Wilbur Henry Lansil, “Bibber”.  Many of us have one or more of their paintings.  We speak of “our” bachelor Lansils at cocktail parties, when other family historians bring up the DAR/SAR, the Mayflower Society or their Indian Princess…. “We have a famous Venetian artist!,  His art sells like hotcakes!… Oh….and he does descend from Mayflower passenger Stephen Hopkins and William Grout who fought in the Revolutionary War!”

2014 magazine article describing a Lansil that sold at auction
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But what about their brother Edwin?, our direct descendant? Several of his descendants were named for him….but to be honest, I don’t think many of us know much about him (at least I didn’t). Edwin was my second g-grandfather (my paternal grandmother’s, maternal grandfather).

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Edwin resided with his parents and four brothers Enoch, Walter, Asa & Wilbur (and most years his sister Frances) for his entire lifetime.  For that reason I include tidbits of all of these family members in his biography.

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Edwin Lansil, middle name unknown (possibly Paine), was the second known child born to Asa Paine Lansil and Betsey Turner Grout on 5 June 1839 in Bangor, Maine. On 9 July 1843, when Edwin was four and his sister Frances Ellen two, they were baptized at the Hammond Street Church in Bangor.

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Older brother Enoch Howard, born 1 Dec 1835/6 (recorded both years in Bangor records) and baptized 25 Aug 1844 at the same church, died in youth (according to Sunday School admittance records on 22 Feb 1843; unknown if he was baptized after death or if one of the dates is inaccurate).

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Enoch’s baptism, Hammond Street Church Records

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Enoch’s Sabbath School Records, Hammond Street Church Records
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Baptism records were not found for Walter, Asa or Wilbur.  Hammond Street Congregational Church was established in 1833, during an economic boom caused by the lumbering and shipping industries. A congregation of 71 members agreed to establish a brick structure west of the Kenduskeag Stream. Because building costs were running high, the building design was scaled back. In 1853/4 money was raised to renovate the exterior, lengthen and heighten the walls, and add the single spire.

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

By age eight, Edwin was attending the Hammond Street Sabbath School.

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In 1850, he was listed as Edward P. Lansil (father Asa P. on Main Street) indicating that perhaps Edwin’s middle name was Paine.  No other records exist that mention a middle initial or name.

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In 1850, an eleven year old Edwin was living in Bangor with his parents and siblings Francis E. (“Fannie”), Walter Franklin (“Waddie”) and Asa Brainard. Edwin’s father was a Cooper, with real estate valued at $1,000. In 1851 the family moved to Main St. (at the corner of Lincoln); Asa worked on 61 Broad St., perhaps with brothers James & Ephraim.

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

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

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

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By 1859, a 20 year old Edwin had become a cooper and part of his dad’s business; Asa’s assets had risen to $3,500. Betsey gave birth to another son in 1855, Wilbur Henry (known as “Bibber”). Asa’s sister, Mary (Lansil) Dudley died in 1856; and one of her children, Sarah Elizabeth Dudley, joined the family. Listed in the census as a domestic servant, was Melissa Paul, age 16 (perhaps a boarder or relative as her family lived next door to Asa’s brother Thomas Lansil in 1850).

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

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In 1860 Edwin was Asa’s only employee and made about $30 monthly. The father and son team produced barrels, buckets, water casks and cisterns. Asa had $200 invested in the business, and annually produced products valued at $1,000. In 1857, they sold to the town a cistern for $25, and horse buckets for $9. In 1861, for $23, they sold a cistern for the city stable . They do not appear in the Maine IRS tax lists from1862-6 (only Asa’s brothers Charles V. & George made the list), indicating that perhaps neither Edwin or Asa profited much in these years.

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In 1861, Edwin was part of the town’s (volunteer) fire unit, Eagle Company No.3 (no known photo of Hose 3 exists, below are other Bangor stations in that era).

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It was the time of the Civil War, several of Edwin’s relatives fought.  An unknown author writes: “The period of our life in Bangor was marked by the Civil War which although its active scenes were far away, sent its vibrations of anxiety & grief or of joy and triumph to our homes and our assemblies. How did we rejoice when Donelson fell! and when Gettysburg gave the decisive blow to rebellion! How did we mourn when – almost in the moment of victory – our great & good President was assassinated!” 

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By 1870, Edwin had most likely relocated to Boston. He was not found in the 1870 census but in 1871 he is listed in the Bangor City Directory as living in East Boston.

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The rest of the family was still living on 101 Hammond Street, Bangor in 1870. Asa’s net worth had risen to $5,500. Walter (then a cistern maker – was Asa Paine’s only employee, in a business now netting $1,200 annually) and Asa Brainard (clerk in store) had joined the now paid members of the fire department.

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

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In 1863 Edwin’s sister Fannie married a wealthy lumberman, Carleton Sylvanus Bragg, Jr., (in 1870 the 31 year old’s net worth was $35,000. Bragg’s dad Carleton, Sr., who died in Boston in 1876, also a lumber dealer was worth $50,000 that same year).  In 1870/1 Edwin, his brother-in-law Bragg (who also moved to Boston with his young family) and Henry Jones started a lumber business later described as “Successors to Jones and Co.”, a Steam Sawmill under the name “Jones, Bragg & Lansil” in East Boston. They purchased property for $2,146.37; four parcels totaling 5,625 feet on Maverick and Lamson (borrowing at 7%). According to advertisements in the local paper they dealt oak and yellow pine, car and ship stock, building material and all kinds spruce and pine lumber, shingles, laths, clapboards and pickets.

Lumber dealers

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Their older partner Henry Jones was born 1811 in Maine. The small piece of Border Street waterfront between the north boundary of the Boston East site and Central Square was originally the site of Jones Wharf, apparently built about 1850 by Henry Jones, a lumber merchant in business with E. A. Abbott. He is found living in East Boston from about 1850 until his death in 1879. In 1850 as a timber dealer, 1860 a wealthy lumber dealer (his assets valued at $31,600, image below) and in 1870 as a dealer in ship timber. He seemed quite involved in town affairs.

Carlton’s obituary in the Bangor Daily Whig, 5 November 1880, page-3 summarizes their move:

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

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By January 1872 they had relocated their offices to 18 State Street and had added to their product line – Dimension Timber for Bridges and Wharves, Car and Ship Building.

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The Lansil business was most likely established in East Boston to provide lumber to the booming ship building industry.

But, after the Civil War the ship building business collapsed.  Buyers favored steamers over wooden ships. World famous East Boston ship builder, Donald McKay (who lived on White Street near the Braggs) launched his last clipper in 1869 and closed his East Boston shipyards in 1875.

No records are found telling us what became of the Lansil/Bragg business and fortunes (the business is only listed in the 1871/2 directories and local newspaper advertisements are found through March 1872), but it is evident that a lumber business may not have been successful in this era.

In the 1870’s, the wealthy Yankee families, original settlers, when East Boston was a prosperous trading center and alluring vacation  resort left their homes for more fashionable addresses. Their “posh” homes were sold to developers who subdivided. Three family homes were erected in former lumber yards and other empty lots.

Much of the East Boston skilled population moved off the island to the recently opened “streetcar suburbs”. They were replaced by “cheaper” immigrants, mostly Irish, who flooded the community. The Lansil’s remained in East Boston longer than most.

Meanwhile, in 1871, the city assessed a $700 tax on the building that Asa rented, deeming the land more valuable due to street widening.   Perhaps this was a contributing factor in his decision to relocate.

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

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Asa P., Betsey, Walter, Asa B. and Wilbur all joined Edwin, Carleton and Frances in East Boston. They initially boarded at 119 Webster, East Boston (Fannie Lansil Bragg is on 39 White, East Boston). Soon Asa P. and Edwin purchased a home together for $5,600 on Trenton, at the corner of Putnam (lot 169, sec 3).

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

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Edwin, Asa B. and the Braggs initially lived together. When the rest of the family arrived in 1872, the Braggs relocated to White St., but by 1876 they rejoined the family on Trenton. Edwin is listed in city directories without an occupation from 1872-76.

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

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159 Trenton Street as it looks in 2013

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

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Edwin, a lumber surveyor, had been unemployed for 4 months in the preceding year. Sadly, later in 1880, Fannie’s husband Carleton passed away suddenly on 1 Nov 1880 after being sick for just two days. The cause was apoplexy (sudden loss of consciousness, sensation, and voluntary motion).

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The following year, on 3 March 1881, Edwin’s mother, Betsey Turner (Grout) Lansil, died of dropsey caused by scirrhus of the liver.  At the time of her death she was still living at 159 Trenton Street and was 67 years and 9 months. They buried Betsey at Mount Hope Cemetery, State Street, Bangor, ME Lot 407CG.

No probate records were found for her in Suffolk County. She does not have a gravestone.

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

At the end of the 19th century, Dorchester was described as follows: Its close proximity to the ocean, with refreshing breezes throughout the summer months, superb views from its elevated points of Boston Bay, and harbor of unrivalled beauty, combining the freedom and delights of the country with the advantages and privileges of the city, pure invigorating air, good drainage, –all these features are steadily drawing the most desirable class of home builders. Most of its territory is occupied by handsome and attractive private residences, with extensive grounds, beautiful lawns, and shade trees around them.

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The 1882 through 1886 city directories indicate that perhaps Asa P. owned the home on Milton Avenue.  No entry was found in Suffolk County land indexes to support this – all of his sons and presumably the Braggs continued to reside in the same household. Edwin seemed to be unemployed 1881-3 and then worked as a lumber surveyor 1884-6 :

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

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Walter’s popularity continued to grow. Coleman, Lewis & Co., a small wares company where Wilbur was a shipper for years, dissolved in late 1882. Wilbur decided on a career change and joined his brother as an artist. In August 1884, the brothers set off for Europe; family lore says Edwin funded their jaunts across the sea to study and paint.  Unlikely, given Edwin’s lack of employment – more likely funding was from Walter auctioning off his artwork to prominent citizens.

Construction Update

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

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In February 1886, Edwin and Asa P. (both unmarried) sell their interest in the Trenton/Putnam Street East Boston home to Walter for consideration of $1.  Walter is to assume payment of the mortgage to Betty McIntosh, $3,500 plus interest (Walter resold 4 years later to Albert E. Low a local Grocer who grew up in East Boston, a newlywed and fellow Mason,  for consideration of $1 and assumption of the mortgage – still $3,500, plus interest).

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In March 1886, sister Fannie died of consumption (likely Tuberculosis). No probate record was found. It seems that a once wealthy Bragg family was without cash or assets. Fannie’s youngest child Florence May Bragg was 17 and now an orphan – the Lansil brothers continued to provide for her (in 1900 she is listed in the census living with the Lansil’s but without an occupation).

On September 11, 1886 Walter purchased the home at 101 Maxwell Street (lots 8 & 10, sect. 3 – 9,880 square feet of land or about 2 ¼ acres) for $3,700, taking out a mortgage from S. Pickney Holbrook of $2,800.

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On Thursday, December 23, 1886 a 47 year old Edwin (a lumber surveyor) married a much younger (24 years old and pregnant) Jane Catherine Roberts, the first marriage for both (Edwin was the only son of Asa and Betsey who married).  They were married by Rev. Edward Newman Packard. Jane had been in the U.S. a little over a year – she arrived sometime in 1885. On their wedding day, the temperature was between 30 and 40 degrees and it may have been snowing lightly.

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Rev. Packard was installed April 8, 1870 as a minister at Second Church, Dorchester (corner of Washington and Centre streets).  The church was Congregational Trinitarian. The church, pictured in 2013, is now a Church of the Nazarene:

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Soon the children begin to arrive!

  • Five months later in May 1887  – Frances May “Fannie” Lansil, known to the younger generation as“Aunt Fan” was born.

March 11-14, 1888, the “Great Blizzard of 1888” blankets parts of New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut with up to 50 inches of snow!

  • On 26 Jun 1888 – Edith Bernice Lansil was born.

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

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  • On 26 May 1890 Florence Paine Lansil arrived.

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In 1890, Edwin is a boarder on Maxwell Street and a lumber surveyor at 27 Doane – the address of Walstein R. Chester & Company . Doane Street was the “lumber street” of Boston housing about a dozen lumber wholesale companies who provided the majority of the city’s lumber from this row of old buildings.  Edwin was with them for about 11 years from 1888 to 1899.

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On 5 June 1890, Edwin’s father Asa Paine Lansil passed away.  He died of “old age” (77y, 7m, 19 d), at the Maxwell St. residence. They buried him with his wife Betsey at Mount Hope Cemetery.

He was described as Capt. Asa P. Lansil, one of the oldest citizens of Bangor who was well known and highly respected.  The cause of his death was softening of the brain.

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No probate records were found in Suffolk County. He probably died without assets.

Sadly Edwin and Jane’s 8 month old infant, Florence passed away on 20 February 1891 of convulsions and coma related to, tuberic meningitis. She was buried at Cedar Grove Cemetery, Dorchester, Maple Lot, Section 21, Lot 1483.

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

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

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

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

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In February 1893, the family dog, a collie owned by Asa B., was killed by intentional poisoning.  The case does not appear to have been solved. Many more Dorchester dogs died over the next several months from poison.

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In 1894, two sons were recorded as born to Edwin and Jane.  This is likely an error – the births were 4 months apart. In the 1900 census, Jane reports having given birth to only 5 (not 6) and that 3 survived.

Frederick W Lansil was supposedly born, 29 Mar 1894 however there is no one of this name buried in the family lot.

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Edwin Roberts Lansil, died of marasmus (progressive emaciation and general wasting due to enfeebled constitution rather than any specific or ascertainable cause) gastroenteritis, on 8 Aug 1894, age 10 days. Edwin was buried at Cedar Grove cemetery with sister Florence. No birth record was found. Perhaps the birth record was listed as Frederick in error and given a date of 29 Mar 1894 vs. 29 May 1894.

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In 1896, Edwin purchased the Maxwell Street home from Walter at the price of $1.  He assumed a first mortgage of $2,800 and a second of $400.

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Wilbur “Bibber” (who “kept a herd of cattle” to use as art subjects in the stable on Maxwell St.) died on 26 June 1897 of pulmonary phthisis (a progressive wasting away of the body, typically tuberculosis). He was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery, Bangor with his parents.  He left a will written 30 July 1896.

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

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

The inventory list submitted after his death includes sketches, paintings, a camera, art supplies and a cow’s head!

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A month later, Jane was admitted to the Boston Insane Hospital on July 26, 1897. She was discharged 22 February 1898.  Her length of stay is unknown. She was likely depressed and suicidal.

In May 1899, Edwin and Walter petitioned the probate court for guardianship of their brother Asa.  The petition says that by excessive drinking and idleness he spends, wastes and lessens his estate as to expose himself to want or suffering thereby exposing the city of Boston to paying his support.

Asa became Edwin’s “Ward” until 17 Nov 1902 when Edwin is discharged (or resigned, the paperwork isn’t clear). He charged Asa $25/month board from 1899-1902. Rental properties in the area (according to advertisements in the Boston Globe) in 1899-1902 were in the $6-$25 range. The higher amounts for a full 8-10 room house! It seems that Asa was over paying, but we don’t know the circumstances (i.e. was board inclusive of food?). Asa took very little in the form of cash (a few dollars here and there) but the city directories indicate that he was still working as a clerk during this period. Edward paid fees from the estate for Asa’s newspapers and laundry (glad to see Jane Catherine wasn’t required to do it for him!). It 1899 Edwin reimbursed himself $38.46 in legal fees 1899 and in 1902 took $42.65 for services as guardian.

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On 29 Dec 1899, baby Doris Lansil arrived.

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In 1900, Edwin, Jane, their three surviving children (Francis 13, Edith 11, & Doris 5 months), niece Florence Bragg and brothers Asa (no occupation listed) & Walter (artist) are living on 101 Maxwell Street, Dorchester.  A 60 year old Edwin is listed as a lumber surveyor who has not worked in the past 12 months.  He owns the home which is still mortgaged.

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

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

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Their move may have been related to Edwin’s diagnosis as “insane” in 1902 (his 1904 death certificate indicates that he was insane for 2 years preceding death). On 17 Nov 1902, Edwin resigned as Asa B.’s guardian. No reason was given.

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

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Application for the Commitment for the Insane:
20 November 1903

White male, age 65, born Bangor, ME, occupation: surveyor, married.

He had no previous attacks; the present attack started one year ago, the attack was gradual and he has not previously been in an asylum.  His bodily condition is poor, likely due to an injury related to a fall in 1901.  The patient is “cleanly in dress and personal habits”.  

He is demented, restless, incoherent and destructive.  He had an insane father [wow! so Asa Paine Lansil was also insane at some point!].  His liquor, tobacco and opium habits are “good”.

Nearest relative: Wife, Jane C., 101 Maxwell St., Dorchester

Medical Certificate of Insanity: 
20 November 1903

He said: I [unable to read] as got into. He talked very incoherently.

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The patient: Ate flour with a knife – kept walking about handling things. He was not properly dressed.

 His appearance and manner was: demented, incoherent, destructive.

Other facts: He has been failing mentally for some time. He is very restless, confused and at times violent and destructive [did he hurt his wife and/or children?].

Men were housed on Pierce Farm.

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Interior of the infirmary ward in the Department for Men at the Boston Insane Hospital. Patients are seated around the room. Photograph taken a few years prior to Edwin’s arrival in 1900

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Soon after Asa’s death and placement of Edwin in the insane asylum, advertisements appeared – “rooms for rent”, perhaps run by Jane Catherine who was then alone in the home with her children and likely needed some form of income.

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On 11 July 1904, 65 year old Edwin died.  The actual cause of death was erysipelas (a bacterial skin infection).He was buried at Cedar Grove, Dorchester, Maple Lot, Section 21, Lot 1483, Row H. No probate records exist in Suffolk County, indicating that he also died without assets.

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The lot was purchased 21 Feb 1891, there is only one marker, engraved with “Florence P. Lansil, age 9 months”, she was buried 22 Feb  – this coupled with lack of probate indicates Edwin may not have had much – the family may not have been able to afford a grave marker. According to cemetery records, a 10 day old Edwin R Lansil and 68 year old Jane Catherine Lansil are also buried in the lot.

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Sadly, we know nothing of Edwin’s personality, we have tiny glimpses of what his life may have been like. Was he a charmer? How did he come to marry a woman young enough to be his child? I would guess things weren’t easy – close family members were alcoholics, we don’t know if Edwin drank (his asylum admittance papers state that he did not have an alcohol or drug issue), how he treated his wife and children and dealt with the death of his older brother Enoch, two babies and poisoning of the dog. How did the loss of a business and frequent unemployment affected him? The end of his life came while institutionalized. For what reason? We may never know his hardships and what impact he had on our generation.

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Alcoholism in the Family

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

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

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She was born 3 June 1813 in Frankfort, Maine.

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

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

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

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

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

Asa City directoriesAncestry.com

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

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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.

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

Asa City directories more

Asa City directories more2Ancestry.com & Fold3.com

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

more asasAncestry.com

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

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

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

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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.

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

bragg sale

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

Lansil home

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

land

By 1876 the Braggs joined the family on Trenton.

landmas directoriesAncestry.com

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

house

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

photo (5)

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

houseAncestry.com

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

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

betsey death

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

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

hammond church

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

joined church

Betsey’s signature when she joined the church:

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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. 

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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

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.

Walter

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!”

ori_903-14456-c317-Superb-20th-C-American-Oil-Painting-of-Venice-Italy-By-Boston-Artist-Walter-Lansil-http-www-equinoxantiques-com-inventory-c317-lgH1042-L06081582

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: http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/walter-lansil-s-studio-35816

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

fire

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”:
census
 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).

Lansil

Walter auction

Walter Lansil

They remained great friends.

of-striking-appearance

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: http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/trip-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

Walter

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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): http://books.google.com/books?id=hqEaAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA121&lpg=PA121&dq=walter+lansil+a+trip+to+venice&source=bl&ots=Lbul41M0VL&sig=6hdIaIC8D5eR86ZmryaOg04ssrw&hl=en&sa=X&ei=JWr6UbOdFazc4APvwoHQCw&ved=0CC4Q6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=walter%20lansil%20a%20trip%20to%20venice&f=false

Lansil pictures.png

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