Elizabeth Ellen Thomas 1895 – 1967

Elizabeth Thomas was born 19 July 1892 in Boston, MA, She was the fifth child of Michael F Thomas and Elizabeth W Denny.  However, the four sons born before her all died before she was born.  The family lived at 117 Rutherford Avenue.  Michael was employed by the electric light company.  Four more siblings were born after her, by 1899. 

The family was listed in Everett, MA in 1900.  The household included Elizabeth’s parents, and younger children Michael, Susan, William, and Mary Eva.  Also with the family were Elizabeth’s uncle Francis (Frank) Thomas and his family.  They all lived at 33 Central Avenue.  Elizabeth’s father was a car inspector, probably for the railroad.  

Elizabeth’s mother died 21 January 1901 of pneumonia.  I have not yet found records for Michael and William Thomas after 1900.  Three years later, on 27 Jan 1904, Elizabeth’s father married Josephine Mahoney.  I have not yet found any subsequent records for her.  

The 6 March 1905 Boston Daily Globe reported the following story about Elizabeth and her sisters:  WENT TO FIND PAPA Three Cambridge Children Brave Cold; and Darkness, Parent Ill Five Weeks and Was Unable to Visit Them    A pathetic story was brought to the attention of the Cambridge police early this morning, when patrolman John P. Neilan of the Central-sq station found three little girls braving the cold and the terrors of darkness to ”go and find papa.”  Patrolman Neilan was standing in front of a drug store in Central sq when he saw the little ones approach from the opposite side. As they sought the warmth of the drug store he asked their names and where they were going. With childlike candor the oldest child said she was Elizabeth Thomas and that the two little ones were her sisters, Susan and Eva. They were aged 12, 8 and 5, respectively. Elizabeth said that they were living at 173 Auburn St.  The patrolman learned that the father was a brakeman on the Boston & Maine system. Their mother was dead, and the little ones, not having seen their father for a “long time,” as Elizabeth put it, determined to go and find him. The plan was born, in the mind of the oldest girl, who has been very devoted to her little sisters.  It was decided to say nothing to anyone in the house about their contemplated visit, and Mrs. Stewart, with whom the children have been boarded by the father for the past three months, was not aware that they were not comfortably tucked away in bed. Shortly after 3 o’clock this morning, Elizabeth, who had lain awake all night thinking of her plan, awoke the other two girls and assisted them to dress. Then they crept out of the house and proceeded to Central sq, where they intended to wait for a car going into Boston. The children were bright little ones and talked with perfect candor to the policeman and to others who had business in the store so early in the morning.  Susan, the eight-year-old girl, insisted on kissing patrolman Neilan, and the clerk in the store furnished them with hot chocolate and crackers. The clothing of the children indicated that they were well cared for. Patrolman Neilan took them to station 2 and started to investigate their story. The father rooms in Boston so as to be near his work. He placed the children in the care of Mrs. Stewart because he could not give them the attention he desired.  Mrs. Stewart has been very kind to the little ones, and was much disturbed when she learned they were gone. It was the habit of the father to call and see the children two or three times a week until five weeks ago, when he became ill. Since then he has been confined to his room, unable to visit his little ones. The latter determined, after waiting impatiently for him to come to them, to go to him. The children have been returned to the care of Mrs. Stewart.

I have not yet found any more records for Elizabeth’s father, so it is possible that this illness was his final illness.  It is possible that Elizabeth’s brothers were deceased by the time this event occurred, or they may have been boarded elsewhere.  The story also doesn’t mention Michael’s new wife Josephine. 

The best guess for Elizabeth in the 1910 census is Elizabeth E, who was age 17, living at the House of the Good Shepherd in Boston.  The birth locations for her parents are listed as Canada French for her father (Michael was born in Quebec) and the mother in Massachusetts (she was born in Cambridge.)  This institution was established in 1867 to provide a refuge for the reformation of fallen women and girls, and it also maintains a “Class of Preservation” made up of wayward and insubordinate girls, whose habits endanger their virtue.  At age 17, Elizabeth was an orphan and probably not able to care for her siblings.  Susie and Eva were boarding with the Riley family in Reading, MA.  They later married and had families of their own.  I do not know if Elizabeth was a “fallen or wayward girl”, or perhaps just had no other place to live.   

I have not found a good match for Elizabeth in the 1920 census.  There is an Elizabeth who was an employee in a dormitory at an art school, but her middle initial, and birth location of her parents do not fit.  I do know that Elizabeth used the alias of Lillian Jones in 1927, but do not know when she took that name.  There was a Lillian Jones who was a lodger in Brockton MA, but again, her parents’ birthplaces do not match.  

In about 1927, a widower with three children, George Henry Laber of Plainfield, NH, advertised in the Boston Globe for a housekeeper.  A woman identified as Lillian E Jones went to Plainfield, or as family lore puts it, “showed up on the doorstep” to take the position.  She had a toddler son named Albert Paul Jones.  George operated a general farm.  The 1930 census lists “Lillian” and Albert with George and his children.  On 20 July 1930 (after the census was taken) she married George, and that was when George learned that her name was really Elizabeth E Thomas.  

This was the beginning of the Depression, and George moved the family around to find work. They occasionally returned to the property in NH, but the house was in poor condition.  His children did not get along with Elizabeth.  One moved in with an aunt and uncle.  Another eventually went into the Navy, and the third married at an early age.  George and Elizabeth adopted a daughter named Maryanne. 

In 1939, the family lived in Framingham, MA where George was a laborer.  The same year they were also listed at #1 Prospect in Haverhill, MA.  In 1941 and 1942, they were at 22 South Chestnut in Bradford, MA.  In spite of these clues about their location, I have not yet found the family in the 1940 census, and that will probably have to wait until the Massachusetts index is available.  

At some point, after a medical examination, Elizabeth’s doctor mentioned to daughter Maryanne that she must be adopted, as he had determined that Elizabeth had never given birth.  Maryanne knew that she was adopted, but until then, Albert didn’t know that Elizabeth was not his birth mother.  Every time he tried to get information from her about his history Elizabeth would break down and cry so he stopped asking her about it. Elizabeth’s sister said she would tell him later, but died with the secret.   

There was speculation that Albert might have been the son of one of Elizabeth’s sisters in Boston, or the son of one of the married sister’s boyfriend and another woman.  Another story was that Elizabeth was a nurse or housekeeper who snatched a child then moved away.  He might have been taken from an orphanage.  Family members remember Elizabeth or “Lillian” as a very secretive person who would not answer the door but only peek through the curtains to see who might be there.  As of the writing of this post, Albert still does not know the identity of his birth parents.  

Elizabeth’s husband George died 4 November 1944 in Lebanon, and was buried with his previous wife Helen, in Lebanon NH. 

In later years Elizabeth’s step-daughters stayed in contact with her, having her as a guest in their homes.  They described her as a “much different person” when she was a guest, rather than being their step-mother.   

Elizabeth died in June, 1967, a month short of her 75th birthday, in Boston.


Bessie Eveline Fuller 1895 – 1970

Bessie Fuller was born 29 January 1895 in Portsmouth, NH.  She was the third child of George Herbert Fuller, laborer, and Adeline L Spinney.  Adeline had another daughter from a previous marriage to Charles Tetherly, so Bessie had an older sister, Estella, and older brother, George Junior (Fuller).  Another sister, Olive Fuller, died at age 2 of croup before Bessie was born.  Another sibling was stillborn, on Christmas Eve in 1896.

The 1900 census shows the Fuller family at 25 Gates Street in Portsmouth.  Their house was rented.  Bessie’s father was a laborer for the railroad.  This record says that Bessie’s mother has had 6 children, with three still living.  If this is accurate, then I am missing either a Tetherly or Fuller baby. 

Bessie had another sister, Violet, who was born 19 December 1900.  She died at age 2 ½ of convulsions.  

The 1910 census lists the Fuller family at 25 Gates Street.  George was a laborer at a stable.  This census says that Bessie’s mother has had seven children, three still living.  This is consistent with the 1900 census and implies that Bessie had another sibling or half sibling who I have not yet found.  George Jr was part of the household, a laborer doing odd jobs.  

In 1920, Bessie (called Lizzie in the census) lived with her parents at 180 Gates.  She did not have an occupation listed.  It looks like her father was a general helper working for the government.  Her brother George and his wife Rose were also in the household.  It looks like George Jr was a messenger for the government.  The family also took in boarders – R and R A Mowatt. 

In 1930, Bessie, recorded as Elizabeth, was living with her parents in a rented house at 180 Gates.  They paid $14 per month.  Bessie’s parents had no occupation listed.  Her brother George, now widowed by his second wife Kathleen, was also in the household, employed as a laborer, doing odd jobs.  Bessie did not have an occupation listed.  

Bessie’s father died in 1934 in Portsmouth, and her brother died in 1936.  In 1940, Bessie and her mother were living at 180 Gates.  Neither had an occupation listed.  180 Gates is in Portsmouth’s South End, an old part of town, with large houses that front right on the street, with no yards in front, just in back.  The house at 180 Gates is (or was recently) for sale, and is now described as an antique colonial, although the year build is not listed.  The realtor’s photos show fireplaces in almost every room.  What the Fullers paid $14 per month for 82 years ago has been beautifully restored and is now selling for almost $800,000.    

Bessie’s mother died in 1954.  In 1957, the Portsmouth city directory listed Bessie living at #1 Jackson, no occupation listed.  This was possibly an apartment or rooming house, as there were other people listed at the same address.  

In 1961, Bessie was living with George A and Harriet Boone.  I do not know if they were relatives.  George had a trucking business on Elwyn road.   

Bessie died 25 June 1970 in Portsmouth.  The Herald published her obituary the next day:   DOVER – Miss Bessie Elizabeth Fuller, 75, of 5 Charles St., a former resident of 180 Gates St., Portsmouth, died yesterday at a local nursing home.  Born in Portsmouth Jan. 29, 1895, she was the daughter of the late George H. and Addie Spinney Fuller.  Miss Fuller was a lifelong member of the North Congregational Church and a member of the Order of Pocahontas.  Survivors include several …. (text missing – probably  nieces and nephews.)  The Rev. John N Feaster, D.D., pastor of the North Congregational Church, officiated.  Included in attendance were members of the church, of which Miss Fuller was a member.  Also in attendance was Mayor Eileen D. Foley.  Burial was in the family lot in Sagamore Cemetery, with committal prayers by Dr. Feasler.  Bearers were George Boone Sr., George Boone Jr., Richard Boone, and Jerry Tuter. 

The “Order of Pocahontas” was a group formed in the early 1900s as an adjunct to the “Improved Order of Redmen”, which was the group of men, also known as the Sons of Liberty, responsible for the Boston Tea Party.  The goal of these groups is to keep America’s founding traditions alive, and to increase understanding of American history.

William Albert Hemmings 1852 – 1926

William Hemmings was born 2 January, 1852, in Swainswick, England. This is a small village 3 miles north of Bath, in Somerset.  William’s death record lists his parents as James Hemmings and Eliza Burton.  There is one family in the village of Swainswick in the 1851 census, where the parents are James and Eliza.  This James was an agricultural laborer, born in St Catherine’s in Somerset and according to that census, was age 35.  Eliza was 40. Their children are a daughter, Elizabeth Clifford, 19, James age 11, Maria 9, Isaac 3, and Elijah age 1.  William is not listed in the household, so he was born after the date of the census, 30 March, 1851.  I did locate an Albert Hemmings born January 1852 in Bath, listed in a birth index, which unfortunately doesn’t list parents.  A tree posted on Ancestry says that Eliza was previously married, and Elizabeth Clifford (or Culliford) is her daughter from that marriage.

The 1861 census lists the James Hemmings family at 17 Rose Hill, in the parish of Walcot, in the Borough of Bath.  James is now listed as 40 years old, and it appears that he has a different wife, Esther, age 31.  Isaac is 12 and Elijah is 9.  The three youngest children are Albert, age 9 (which corresponds with William Albert being born in 1852 instead of 1851), Hannah age 6, and Ann age 19 months.  James is a coal dealer.  Albert is a scholar. 

The 1871 census lists James and wife (called Hester) listed at 6 Rose Hill.  However, William, or Albert, is no longer in the household.  I was not able to locate him in the 1871 Canada census.  The 1910 census indicates that he moved to the US in 1868, and there is a William Hemming born in England in 1852 who was living in Union, New Jersey, working on a farm in 1870.

On 16 October, 1874, William married Josephine Laclair, daughter of Barney Laclair and Sarah Ann Hawkins.  The bride and groom were both residents of Barton VT, and William was a laborer.  Their first child, William Alfred, was born 12 August 1876, in Barton.  Soon after, the Hemmings family moved to Mansonville, Quebec, and two daughters were born – Florence Elizabeth on 10 June 1878, and Rosa May on 19 Sep 1880.

The 1881 Canada census lists the family in Potton, where William was a farmer.  His religion was Church of England, while his wife and children were recorded as Methodist Church of Canada.  More children were born:  Laura Eveline on 18 April 1883, Robert Burton on 8 November 1885, and Minnie Adelaide on 22 June 1888 and Roy Albert on 26 Feb 1891. 

The 1891 census shows the family in Potton.  William was now a carpenter joiner, or someone who worked on interior carpentry, cabinets, furniture.   William’s son Robert died at age 8, after being struck by lightning.  A couple years later, the family moved back to Barton, where his last child, Clara Josephine, was born 23 Feb 1896.

On 23 August, 1897, William bought about two acres of land from Henry Danforth, described as: Being 2 acres more or less in lot number 3 in the 11th range. Beginning on the westerly side of the highway that leads to South Barton at the easterly corner where said land intersects said road and the road that leads to John Gott’s – thence southwesterly on the northerly side of said Gott road to the Railroad – thence northerly on said Railroad to stake and stones fourteen (14) rods and ten (10) feet, then turning and running Easterly to stake and stones twenty two (22) rods and six (6) feet from point of beginning.  Thence southerly on westerly side of said highway to first mentioned point.  Said Hemmings is to build and keep in repair a good and suitable fence on the northerly side of said conveyed land.   

In 1900, the family lived in Barton.  This record indicates that William came to the United States in 1868, and was still an alien resident.  William worked as a carpenter.  The household included his wife, Josephine, and his son William, with his wife Martha and son Vernon, plus the three youngest children, Minnie, Roy, and Clara.

In 1910, William lived with his wife, and two youngest children, in Barton.  William was a carpenter and home builder.  William’s daughters Minnie and Laura both died in 1918.  In 1920, William and Josephine operated a dairy farm in Barton, on Willoughby Road.  William died 15 July 1926 in Barton, cause of death was aortic stenosis.

Minnie Adelaide Hemmings 1888 – 1918

Minnie Hemmings was born 22 June, 1888 in Quebec (probably Mansonville), the sixth of eight children of William Hemmings and Josephine Laclair.  In 1891, the family lived in Potton, Quebec, and Minnie’s father was a carpenter.  About 1894, the family moved back to Barton, VT. 

In 1900, Minnie lived with her parents and younger siblings, Roy and Clara, in Barton. The family also included her married older brother, and his wife and son.  Her father was a carpenter, and Minnie and Roy were students.

On 9 Feb 1910 in Tilton, NH, Minnie married William George Hammond, son of William Hammond and Clara Belmore.  The groom was a weaver, but I cannot make out the occupation of the bride.  This was the first marriage for both.  The 1910 census shows Minnie and William, with William Sr, boarding with Alice Steele on School Street in Tilton.  Minnie was working as a stamper in a hosiery mill, and her husband was a weaver in the woolen mill. 

William registered for the World War 1 draft on June 5, 1917.  The card asks who is dependent upon him for support.  William’s record says that his wife is physically helpless.  The card also says that William had already tried to enlist in the Navy but was rejected on account of physical conditions. 

Minnie died 15 April 1918 at the Franklin (NH) hospital, where she had been a patient for several weeks.  Cause of death was “multiple neuritis” of two years’ duration. Modern definitions describe this disease as peripheral neuropathy, or muscle weakness and sensory loss in the hands and feet.  Older descriptions include toxins, infections or metabolic causes, but Minnie’s death record said “unknown” contributing cause.  She was buried at the Park Street cemetery in Tilton.

William remarried three years later to Lela Ham nee Melcher, and William died in 1973.