Dalmas and his twin sister Gladys were born on November 19, 1904 in Linden, Virginia to Henry Alfred Dalmas and his wife Maude
Walter Dalmas, their sixth and seventh children. Called Haines (or Hainie) by his family he spent his early years on
a farm in Linden. When he was five years old the family moved to Butler street in Manassas, Virginia in Prince William
county where his father was now a salesman for a mining supply firm. While living in Manassas Haines and his brother Parke
collected artifacts from the civil war battle fields. Not long after moving to Manassas, Haines' father was separated from
his mother. Needing a source of income for her large family, Maude moved the family to Front Royal, Virginia where she
operated a boarding house. It was at this boarding house in June 1912 where Maude took in a boarder who was to become her
second husband; Frederic T. Hall a supply priest at the nearby Calvary Episcopal Church.
In 1913 Fred
Hall lived temporarily in Mesa, Arizona for health reasons and Haines wrote to him while he lived there as did a number of
the younger siblings. Obviously Maude was maintaining contact with Fred if not herself at least through her children.
In 1914, Maude divorced Henry Dalmas according to a decree in the Warren County court house, lending further credence to her
developing relationship with Fred Hall.
In April 1916
Maude with her younger children, including Haines, and Fred Hall moved by train to Roanoke, Virginia where they were married
on June 7th. After living a short while at 502 Church Ave, the family moved to 814 S. Jefferson Street. In July of 1916,
the family (Maude, Fred, Gladys, Haines and Phyllis), went on their first vacation to Virginia beach. (Sounds like a Honeymoon
with the kids!) In September Fred Hall and Haines took their bicycles on the train to Natural Bridge station. After
riding from the station to the Bridge they discovered the admission price was more than the money they had with them so they
did not gain entry on this trip. However they did ride their bicycles over the bridge.
In January 1917
Haines and his family moved into a bungalow style house, with a one acre lot, on Lafayette Blvd. in Villa Heights. Haines
and his siblings enjoyed the winter weather at their new home and would regularly sled on a nearby farm using a sled given
to Haines by his older brother Parke. In the spring of 1917 Haines helped his stepfather plant a garden and seed the
yard. It was apparently a learning experience for the both of them, and their efforts were not a rousing success. Haines
and his siblings had to walk a mile to the elementary school, and years later he would comment about how he had to sit at
the double desk with his twin sister Gladys. He was not pleased with the arrangement and no doubt received negative
comments from the other boys!
Because of many
problems that were experienced with the house on Lafayette, mainly a lack of adequate heat, the family next moved to Campbell
Ave in July of 1918. Again Haines' brother Parke provided a gift for Haines, this time a bicycle. A neighbor gave
Haines a dog but unfortunately he was hit by a car and killed. He was buried in the back yard with full honors.
In the September
1919 the family moved into their “permanent” home at 329 Wellington Ave. in South Roanoke. In March 1920, Haines
got his first job working as a temporary clerk for the N&W Railway making the princely sum of $40 per month. (about 25
cents per hour) Later he was able to get a permanent job with the railroad but then gave up that job to study sculpture
In 1925, Haines
was enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia where he studied sculpture. While attending the
academy he lived with his uncle Louis Dalmas in Glenolden, Pa, a suburb of Philadelphia. Haines’ cousin Felix,
who also lived with uncle Louis was dating a Philadelphia girl, Thelma Bailey, who had a girl friend named Ann Diemer. Ann,
also an art student at another Philadelphia art school, was introduced to Haines and they were a regular pair during Haines'
remaining time in Philadelphia. In 1926, Haines lived for a while with his brother Parke while working in Ashland, Kentucky
as a structural steel salesman. He wrote regularly to Ann in Philadelphia. He returned to Roanoke in 1927
and got a job with the N&W RWY as an auditor of freight receipts. He proposed to Ann, and on September 3, 1927 they were
married at the Allegheny Ave. Methodist Church in Philadelphia. Haines and Ann had jointly designed a house, so instead
of having a lavish wedding reception, Ann’s father Dr. L. M. Diemer and wife Bessie gave them a wedding gift adequate
to make the down payment on a house to be built in Roanoke, Va. (Ann Diemer was named “Anna” and was known by
this name in Philadelphia but became “Ann” when she moved to Roanoke.)
In the fall
of 1927 construction started at their new home at 1204 Northumberland Avenue, just outside the city limits of Roanoke in Virginia
Heights Extended. This unique design was like no other home in Roanoke and received many favorable comments from the
various people who happened by.
Ann’s first child, Robert was born on April 2, 1930. The attending physician was John O. Boyd. Soon thereafter
he was baptized at Christ Episcopal Church by The Rev. Harry Meade, the family being members of this church.
depression hit the country hard in the early 1930s but fortunately Haines was able to keep his job working for the N&W
RWY. He would have preferred to have worked in the shops of the railroad but circumstances, and his mother’s encouragement
to keep his desk job, convinced him to stay in his freight department job. Also, a job working his true love, sculpting, was
not in the cards in depression era Roanoke, Va. There is no doubt that many young men in their prime in the early 1930s
were adversely affected for life by the circumstances of the depression. Fortunately Haines and Ann managed to refinance
their home and they survived the depression without further problem.
Haines was unable to work at sculpting as a vocation, he did enjoy sculpting busts and plaques of various family subjects.
He also enjoyed casting items such as bird-baths, benches, sundials, etc in concrete. He was also a good chess
player and was a member of the Roanoke Chess Club for many years. He also had assumed the title of Secretary/Treasurer
of the Chess Club early in his membership. He would play in regional tournaments over the next few years, once winning a bronze.
One of the men with whom he played was Robert Loebl, the son of Austrian/German immigrants who had arrived early in the 1900's.
It was Robert's mother who tutored Haines in German so that he could sing Lieder with wife Ann at the piano.
Haines had a
number of interesting friendships that began in the early 1930s. Among these friends were Leigh Hanes, an attorney and
poet, Nelson Bond, an author and play writer, Madame Henriette Fallwell and her sister Andree Messager, French émigrés, Meade
and Marlene Harris who were in the garden insecticide business, and Curtis Merkle who was a student at Roanoke college and
president of the chess club. Also on the scene in those days was Judson Fickling, the dashing horseman, and his brother
Allison as well as the madcap airman and barnstormer, Walter Rudd who would buzz our house on occasion.
the 1930s Haines and his brother-in-law Miller Bradley bought a 1920s era Stutz automobile (Not a Bearcat). The legend
is that they had to push it home as it did not run. Apparently they could never get the car to provide reliable transportation
so Haines dismantled the car in the back yard. Parts of this car were used in a number of projects over the years.
In May 1934
, John Stuart Hunter, Haines' nephew came to Roanoke to live with Haines and Ann and Bob (also known as Robin in those
days.) Stuart’s mother Anne had died tragically. Stuart (or Stu as he was called) lived with Haines’
family until he was an adult and was considered just another member of the family.
James Edward Dalmas was born on January 14, 1937. Stella Watts was employed on a part time basis to clean and cook.
This relationship lasted for decades. Once, as a toddler, Jim wandered off following Haines’
German shepherd, Jan, through the nearby woods and Stella found him near the railroad. This became a heroic legend
with Stella, the heroine, snatching the oblivious child from the onrushing locomotive.
In the early
1940s, Haines sister Phyllis and her husband Miller built a house next door where they lived until about 1948. Haines
had envisioned a compound at the end of Northumberland where all of his family would settle and he worked toward this end
but alas it was not to be.
In July 1940
Haines and family vacationed at Virginia Beach in a rented cottage. Haines’ stepfather F. T. Hall also joined the family
for a few days.
Haines was eligible
for an annual pass from the N&W that allowed for travel anywhere on the system. There was also a once a year pass
using other railroads so each year Ann would travel via the N&W and Pennsylvania Railroads to her parent’s home
in Philadelphia. Haines would usually stay in Roanoke to hold down the fort.
On June 18,
1941, Haines' and Ann’s last child, a son John Hall Dalmas, was born in Roanoke. "Miss Effie" employed temporarily
to help Stella get things done. Haines took Stu, Bob and Jim on the night train to Philadelphia for a visit later in the week
In the early
1940s Haines purchased a large radio console with short-wave and a record changer that was placed in the living room. Haines
brought home from work the first classical album seen in the house. A co-worker had received this album for Christmas
and did not like it so he gave it to Haines. It was Mozart's Symphony #40 recorded on 78rpm. Haines loved classical
music and the exposure was also a plus for his children. While Bob and John developed a knowledge of classical music,
Jim was more inclined to go for Gene Autry and had a number of his records that he wore out.
In the early
1940 era, Haines built an all concrete garage in the back yard. All the concrete was hand mixed (mostly by Bob and Stuart)
and a slip form technique was used to build the walls about a foot at a time. The flat roof was also constructed of
poured concrete. The original plan was to add a second story with a dormitory but that phase was never carried out.
This building primarily became a shop and for a while son Jim housed his ham radio station there. Son John also had
a chemistry lab in one end of the building.
Because of the
rationing of many food items during WW II Haines decided to lease some nearby farm land from Blutcher Cormell and raise farm
animals. Because of this the family was well fed for the duration of the war. Mother, a city girl, learned to
make butter and cottage cheese and got a large crock to preserve eggs. When we would butcher a cow, the various
cuts were stored in a rented frozen food locker in downtown Roanoke. Haines also had a victory garden on the property
across the street that belonged to his mother Maude. There were also peach and apple trees on the small plot. He
had a walk-behind garden tractor that he used to till the land. During this time Haines rigged up his small garden
tractor to look like a train engine which could pull all the kids' wagons at one time. This creation, and the wagons, was
referred to as The Baby Train. There was a great sled riding hill on the Cormell farm and Haines would take the kids
there whenever the snow was adequate. The family referred to it as Cormell Hill and it was the delight of all the
cousins and the neighborhood kids even though one might tangle with a barbed wire fence when approaching the bottom. (or might
end up in the creek) The family also obtained many a Charlie Brown Christmas tree on the Cormell farm.
the beginning of WW II Haines bought a well worn 1933 Oldsmobile sedan. It was not very reliable and usually would not
start. Many times he had to drift it down a hill to get it to start. Then with gasoline rationing during the war
he decided to convert it to a farm truck so that he could get gasoline and parts under the farm classification. His
1933 Olds stake truck was a sight to behold but he actually used it to haul cows to and from the live-stock-market near Schaeffer’s
In May 1946,
Haines’ mother Maude died. He was very devoted to his mother and had been greatly influenced by her so the loss
was great. Her funeral was held at Calvary Episcopal Church in Front Royal and she was buried at Linden Hill Church
Cemetery in Linden, Va.
In 1947 Haines
step-father gave him his 1934 Cadillac sedan. In July he was rear-ended by another car while turning left from Franklin Road
to Brandon Ave. The Cadillac, built like a tank, was not damaged. Haines sold the car to a a black undertaker and part
time preacher in 1948 as it was not very economical to maintain or operate.
a young man in his 20s, was the reigning chess champion of Virginia in the mid 1940s and he was invited to Roanoke to play
a simultaneous match with all of the members of the chess club at one time. Russ stayed at Haines’ home during his visit.
Son Bob was the only person out of 20 or so who won against him. Nelson Bond drew and everyone else lost including Haines
This match took place at the old Elk's Club on Jefferson Street (across from People's Drug) where the club routinely met.
In the 1950s the club moved to the St. John's Episcopal Church parish hall. Chess remained an important part of Haines' life
until he died. He enjoyed playing the game with his grandchildren in his later years. He was an excellent player.
In 1948 Bob
graduated from Jefferson High School and enrolled at Roanoke College. He graduated with a degree in Biology in 1951
after which he entered the masters program at Virginia Tech.
In April 1949,
Haines left the Freight Department of the N&W (Where the Virginia Museum of Transportation is located today) and became
the factory manager for the J. M. Harris Co. an insecticide manufacturer in Roanoke owned by his friend Meade Harris and Meade’s
Soon after going
to work for Harris, Haines began work on an automated bag closer for the insecticide bags. (These bags are similar to
coffee bean bags that roll down and have sealer tabs that fold in) He would work on this project on the weekends and
many times on Saturday afternoons he would listen to the Metropolitan Opera (sponsored by Texaco) while working on his bag
machine. While he got the machine to work, it never was reliable enough to go into a production environment. Haines
was good at working with his hands and was a good household handyman. He could do almost anything and always had a project
or two underway. He even tried to rewind an electric motor one time but discovered that the techniques for doing
this were beyond the capabilities of the happy home owner. He was probably the foremost expert on the repair and
operation of the Eden washing machine and may have been the last person in Roanoke to even have one. (His friends would needle
him that this machine must have come from the Garden of Eden!)
a small house for his step-father on the lot across the street from 1204 Northumberland (since 1947 now 2606 Westover Ave).
After it was completed in September 1951 Fred Hall moved in and then sold the family home on S. Jefferson Street
In 1951, Haines
bought his first brand new car, a 1951 Pontiac Catalina hard top. This was a very sporty car in its day. He was probably
influenced by son Bob who was scheduled to graduate from Roanoke College in that year. When he upgraded to a 1956 Oldsmobile
hard top he couldn’t part with Ponty so he kept it as his farm hunting car. Haines enjoyed driving the back roads,
especially in Warren County searching for his dream farm. (In 1988-1992 son Jim restored the ‘51 Pontiac to its
Since the original
concrete garage was full of shop equipment and radio equipment, Haines had to build another garage for Ponty. This single
car stucco garage was completed in 1952, Son Jim helped with the construction.
In 1952 Haines
becomes a serious investor in the Stock Market. He studied the Wall Street Journal and Barron’s religiously and
makes his own buy and sell decisions. He does well in this endeavor and sets an example for his sons to be wise investors.
He also instills in his sons an expectation to obtain a college degree and a sense of the necessity for a good
In June 1955
son Jim graduates from Jefferson High school and in September enrolls at Roanoke College in the pre-engineering curriculum.
During his senior year in high school Jim had quit his newspaper route and obtained a job on the technical staff at radio
station WRIS. He purchased a 1951 Chevrolet (with a loan from Fred Hall) to travel to and from work and school. While
in college he got a better job in the technical department at WDBJ AM, FM and TV; Jim transfers to Virginia Tech in 1957 and
obtained a BSEE in 1960.
Son John graduates
from Jefferson High School in 1958 and enrolls at Virginia Tech. He graduates with a degree in Metallurgical Engineering
In the fall
of 1959, Haines' beloved step-father died and was buried alongside Maude in the Linden Hill Church Cemetery. Miller
Bradley served as the executor of his estate and sold his property on Westover Ave (across the street from Haines' home).
Unfortunately the buyer was able to develop the property with apartments which significantly reduced the quality-of-life
for Haines’ and Ann’s property across the street.
In 1961, Haines
and Ann traveled to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to visit with his uncle Felix Dalmas. Since Haines had had little contact
with his father Henry this was an opportunity to learn more about his Dalmas roots. Felix provided a number of family
related items including a portrait of Joseph Charles Dalmas, Haines' great grandfather.
After his retirement
from J. M. Harris Company in 1963, Haines took up photography (encouraged by sister Sophie) as a hobby and renewed his interest
in sculpting and other artistic endeavors. He sculpted a number of busts of children during the 1960s including grandsons
Glenn (b1955) and Randy (b 1966) and granddaughter Robin (b 1960). He also did a bust of daughter in-law Thelma. He also sculpted
plaques of various subjects including brother Parke (who died in 1970) and friend Leigh Hanes. He even sculpted a life
size burro and her baby that he envisioned being part of a display at Mrs. Puckett’s cabin near the Blue Ridge Parkway
in Carroll County, Virginia. Haines' nephew Peter Wreden, a talented artist with a studio in Roanoke, was very interested
in the work that Haines was doing at that time and encouraged him to do commission work for some of his clients. However,
Haines was only interested in his work as a hobby and declined to do paid projects.
1977 the Dalmas Family reunion was held in Roanoke. Planning was done by niece Phyllis Harholdt and a pamphlet on the
family was prepared by nephew Victor Dalmas. The final banquet was also the occasion for the 50th anniversary of the
wedding of Haines and Ann. Haines thoroughly enjoyed the reunion and wrote to many of the participants over the next
year or so.
On August 29,
1979, Haines died of a heart attack at his home on Westover Ave. His well attended funeral was held at Christ Episcopal
Church. He is buried in the Linden Hill Church Cemetery in the plot originally purchased by his grandfather James E.
Walter in 1892. His wife Ann survived for another 16 years and she died on April 9, 1995 at Westminster Canterbury Assisted
Living Facility in Lynchburg, VA. She is buried next to Haines.