Saturday, 12 October 2019

Sillery's Mount Hermon Cemetery: a walk back in time

Recently in Quebec City, my brother and I went for a walk in Mount Hermon Cemetery located in nearby Sillery. The cemetery was created by a group of Protestant businessmen and lawyers in 1848 when the original protestant cemetery attached to St Matthew's Anglican Church in Quebec City had no more room.

At the main entrance, you immediately step back in time, to 1851, precisely, which is the date on a large wooden sign with many carved rules and regulations that fairly shout Victorian times, to set the tone for your visit. The panel today is a replica of the original cedar wood panel erected in 1851.

The cemetery website tells us that it is on 26 acres and holds more than 17,000 bodies. At its southern tip, it overlooks the St Lawrence River.

Walking through the cemetery is a walk back through time. You see many impressive memorials that commemorate leading Anglo Quebec society figures of their time. You see memorials to fallen soldiers and airmen, drowned passengers of ships, and ordinary women and men. Today, it is non-denominational, and the grave markers reflect that: Greek Orthodox, Chinese, Japanese, French Canadians. For any family historian, cemeteries are the gift that keep in giving. Mount Hermon tells the history of Quebec and its inhabitants.

But back to those very sober and strict rules. Have a read...

The never ending story continues ....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2019 All rights reserved

Thursday, 12 September 2019

When maternal and paternal ancestors intersect

After finding no trace of her in Edinburgh for several years following the 1851 Scotland census, this year, I found that Margaret Falconer (abt 1835-aft 1901), eldest child of my maternal 2nd great grand aunt, Ann Smith (abt 1811-abt 1851), married twice, had children and emigrated to Canada. As is happening increasingly, this discovery came about through AncestryDNA's Thrulines feature, on a nephew's AncestryDNA. I wrote about the family of Ann and her husband Angus Falconer (1815-1872) here.

Starting with the ThruLines connection, I was able to build out Margaret Falconer's descendants through the usual statutory and other records. By her first husband, David Leckie (1831-1867), Margaret had three children. Margaret remarried the following year to John Fraser (abt 1835-aft 1901) and they had a family of five children by 1879. After the 1881 census, John Fraser and his stepson, David Leckie (1866-1936), left for Canada. The following year, Margaret and the rest of the family (Isabella and Anne Leckie, Catherine, Margaret, Mary, John and James Fraser) emigrated from Edinburgh to Canada. The family settled in Manitoba.

'Manitoban' passenger list arrivals 5 May 1882, Quebec City

As I built out Margaret's children's trees and descendants (as we genealogists can't help ourselves but to do this), I came across a familiar family name. Margaret's granddaughter, Nellie Dorothy Curtis (1844-1933), who is my 3rd cousin once removed, married a man named Harold Morton Archibald (1877-1960), whose father, Edward Archibald, was born in Nova Scotia.

Anyone who is remotely familiar with Nova Scotia genealogy will know that the Archibalds there are many. Four Archibald brothers -- David, James, Samuel and Thomas -- are counted among Truro and Stewiacke's New England Planters, arriving in Nova Scotia from Ulster via New Hampshire in 1762. Chapter five of Thomas Miller's 1873 book, Historical and Genealogical Record of the First Families of Colchester County is devoted to the Archibald brothers, who each had very large families. The Archibalds warranted 75 pages in Miller's book, far more than any of the other first families.

I have no direct Archibald ancestors, but I've have found dozens of Archibald cousins in my family tree on my father's side. This is a case of where worlds collide.

I traced Harold Morton Archibald's ancestry back to Samuel Archibald (abt 1719-1774). As it happens, Harold and I are 4th cousins 2x removed. Harold's and Nellie's ten children are my 4th cousins.

And Margaret? I haven't found a record of Margaret's death so far, but I'm sure that will emerge eventually.

So far, there is just one connection with a descendant of Margaret Falconer among the Ancestry DNA tests I manage. But that one connection helped me to build out that line. Margaret's Leckie children have been easy to trace. Less so, her five Fraser children. So far.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2019 All rights reserved

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Collecting more Nova Scotia-origin Nelson ancestors and cousins

A couple of months ago, in this post, I mentioned that I had learned about a distant cousin had a self-published book, Descendants of Alexander Nelson, writing, "Perhaps someone reading this will have a copy they may be willing to share or loan me this book." I shared this post in the excellent Nova Scotia Genealogy Facebook group, and very quickly heard from another new-found cousin, who was none other than the daughter of the author of this book.

Even better, Brenton E. Nelson is still living, at age 90. We are 4th cousins, once removed, both being direct descendants of Alexander Nelson and Margaret Robinson. I called Brent to introduce myself. After a lovely chat, Brent said I was very welcome to have one of the few remaining copies of his book. I insisted on paying the postage.

Skimming the book when it arrived, I found that Brent focused on those Nelsons who remained in Nova Scotia. In his preface, Brent writes that "the bulk of [his] family history [research] was prepared prior to 1985" and explains that he focused on the eight sons and their descendants of Alexander Nelson, and asks to be excused for not continuing with the history of Alexander's female descendants. Despite this, Brent's book gives an incredible road map for this 21st century researcher. His focused on the Nelsons who remained in Nova Scotia.

I've referred to Brent's book many times in the short time I've had it, and know that it will continue to be my top go-to resource for Nova Scotia Nelson information.

I've found Alexander Nelson descendants scattered across North America. They are very numerous. Since Alexander and his wife, Margaret Robinson had a family of 14 children, many of whom went on to have their own large families, this is to be expected.

And I keep connecting with Nelson cousins.

Just a few days ago, reading a June 2019 article about a 2017 biography of 20th century American politician, John William McCormack, the biography's author name caught my eye. I saw  that his ancestor had migrated from Nova Scotia to Massachusetts, and that the family name was Nelson. Well, we had to be related.

It was very easy to locate a current email address for the author, and within a matter of hours, we were able to confirm that we are 4th cousins, sharing:
  • 3rd great grandparents, Elias Nelson (1783-1871) and Elizabeth Forbes (abt 1786-1877)
  • 4th great grandparents, Alexander Nelson (abt 1737-1803) and Margaret Robinson (1735-1823) and Robert Forbes (abt 1742-1812) and Lettice McLean (abt 1754-?)
  • 5th great grandparents, Samuel McLean (abt 1729-aft 1791 and Frances Brown (abt 1729-1781)
Brent's book will remain a treasured part of my genealogy home library.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2019 All rights reserved

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Unsolved Mysteries: Doughertys are everywhere...but are we related?

A couple of years ago, a Dougherty 1st cousin once removed asked me for a copy of her family tree -- her son had a school project, as often happens in elementary school. Well, off to work I went, to fill out her tree more completely on her father's side, so that her son would ace his school project.

I soon discovered in my research that not only does she have our Dougherty ancestors through her mother's side, but that through her father (my cousin-in-law), she is also a Dougherty descendant. Imagine that!

Family Crest
My cousin-in-law's 2nd great grandfather, William Dougherty, was born in Ireland about 1830.  He immigrated to Pennsylvania as a young man during the Famine, settling eventually in Luzerne County, where mining was the main industry. Luzerne is in the east central part of Pennsylvania.

William Dougherty married Mary Priest, an Irish-born woman, in 1855 and had at least eight children.

William died in 1910. I can find no death notice or obituary for him, which is a shame, but not unexpected in a time when money was scarce for miners and their families.

Unfortunately, there is no information about where in Ireland William was born, or any surviving ship passenger lists either in Ireland or in America that may have held clues. I've been looking to no avail.

Susan Dougherty Buckley obituary
Wilkes-Barre Leader 14 Nov 1910
William's eldest child, Susan Dougherty (1857-1910), married Edward Buckley (1855-1913) in 1876, and stayed in Luzerne County all her life. Together, Susan and Edward had at least 13 children, including Daniel Thomas Buckley (1897-1980), the grandfather of my cousin-in-law, and great grandfather of his daughter, my 1st cousin once removed.

This lovely obituary, entitled Death of an Esteemed Lady, is a tribute to Susan Dougherty Buckley.

I'd love for my cousin-in-law or his daughter to do an AncestryDNA test, so we can learn once and for all whether my cousin-in-law and I are distant cousins on our Dougherty side. Every DNA test contributes to the story of our family history.

I've included the image of the Dougherty family crest here. In English, Ár nDútcas, the ancient Gaelic motto in the crest, means "our heritage",  O'Dochairtaig is the ancient Gaelic for Dougherty or Doherty and all their many other variations.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2019 All rights reserved

Friday, 23 August 2019

Physically and mentally challenged in the 19th century 2: Alex Matheson (1880-1946)

I first wrote about my great grandfather's efforts to get assistance for his 15 year old son and my great uncle, Alex Matheson here.

I've just found a second story reporting the outcome of those efforts, this time in the 22 Feb 1896 issue of the Northern Scot and Moray & Nairn Express. The facts are the same, but the opening paragraph gives a bit more background about past efforts by my great grandfather to seek relief and where my great grandparents lived and for how long.

I can't say this enough: I know it was the language of the time, but how cruel our forebears were to label anyone an imbecile.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2019 All rights reserved

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Was Donald Matheson estranged from his family?

The 1841 census of my 2nd great grandparents' household at the Bog of Ord in Urray, Ross-shire, lists just four of the nine children born to Donald Matheson (abt 1794-1859) and Margaret McKenzie (abt 1798-1865):

  • Isabella, aged 14
  • Duncan, aged 9
  • Francis aged 7
  • Donald aged 2

My 3rd great grandfather, Donald, reports his occupation in 1841 as overseer.

1841 census, Bog or Ord, Urray, Ross-shire Scotland
Except for this 1841 census, Donald doesn't appear in any other census before he died in 1859. Censuses between 1801 and 1831 were statistical only, and incomplete. In hindsight, I realize that of Donald's three children whom I've found, in a rather obvious deviation from the Scottish naming pattern, none named a son after him, whereas, each named a daughter Margaret, after their mother, Margaret McKenzie. I'm leaning more towards the family estrangement theory than ever. For those who haven't heard about the Scottish naming pattern, here it is:
  • The first son was named after the father’s father.
  • The second son after the mother’s father.
  • The third son after the father.
  • The first daughter after the mother’s mother.
  • The second daughter after the father’s mother.
  • The third daughter after the mother.
Margaret appeared in the 1851 census  with three of her children, and in the 1861 census, which she was living with her son (my great grandfather), Frank, both years in Inverness, and as I reported here, she was living with her son, John, in Moray, when she died in 1865. Like all good sons, they looked after their mother. But what of the rest of Donald's and Margaret's children? I've bolded the names of those whom I've found, but mysteries about the rest remain unresolved.
  • Janet b 9 Jul 1821
  • Alexander b 24 Jan 1824
  • Isabel b 3 Jul 1827
  • John b 30 Oct 1829
  • Duncan b 11 Dec 1331
  • Francis b 19 Dec 1833 (my great grandfather)
  • Elisabeth b 29 Jun 1838 (AKA Margaret)
  • Donald b 29 Jun 1839
  • Ann 12 b Jul 1842
There is no trace of Isabel or Duncan after the 1841 census. What happened to them? I have nothing at all about Janet or Alexander except for their baptism dates. All of these are common names in Scotland, which has made for a frustrating search.

Donald died alone at Erbusaig on 1 May 1859, with a sister-in-law reporting his death. But did his family think he was already dead when his son and namesake died in Inverness two weeks earlier? Or was it just easier to sat that he was deceased?

What happened that the family seem to have turned their backs on Donald?

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2019 All rights reserved

Found! And then there were four: Donald Matheson 1839-1859

Slowly, I continue to find the siblings, my 2nd great aunts and uncles, of my 2nd great grandfather, Frank Gillanders Matheson. I first found Frank's older brother, John Mathieson 1829-1908, followed by their youngest sister, Ann Mathieson Hossack (1842-1873).

As a refresher, I first listed Frank and all of this siblings in this 2016 blog post.

The latest discovery is that of the last born Matheson son, Donald, who was born in 1839. I found him in an indirect way, when I recently found the 1851 census record where he is listed with his mother and two sisters.

1851 Census, 12 Grant's Close, Inverness, Inverness-shire, Scotland

This census shows that in 1851, my 3rd great grandmother, Margaret McKenzie Matheson, was living in Inverness with her three youngest children:
  • Elisabeth (misidentified here as Margaret), aged 14
  • Donald, aged 9
  • Ann, aged 7
Margaret is listed as a pauper. Her 14 year old daughter is a servant, and the only one in the household bringing in income. A visitor was staying with them, but I wonder if he was living with them, and therefore contributing to household expenses as a tile maker.

I went looking for more documentation, and came across a death registration for Donald Matheson at 11 Grant's Close. It had to be this Donald, since the address was on the same street as the 1851 census, and it was, correctly listing his parents as Donald Matheson and Margaret McKenzie.

Donald Matheson 1839-1859 death registration
You'll see here that Francis (Frank) Matheson reported his younger brother's death. I can't imagine being just 19 years old and dying from consumption. Donald had his whole life ahead of him. How sad.

What's intriguing to me is that on Donald the younger's death registration, it is stated that his father, also a Donald, was deceased, when he in fact died two weeks after his son, on 1 May. This suggests to me that Donald senior was estranged from his family. Or perhaps I'm reading too much into this. I wrote about the deaths of my 2nd great grandparents here.

I've come a long way in my research in just three years, but discoveries are still slow to come.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2019 All rights reserved

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Alexander Ross married the girl next door: the 1841 census

I love connecting dots that lead to an exciting discovery, especially when it comes about in an aside made by another researcher who was writing to me about several overlapping genealogy matters.

It turns out that when the 1841 census of Scotland was conducted in Abernethy and Kincardine, my 2nd great grandparents-to-be lived next door to each other, each with their widowed mother. Stuff you can't make up. Really.

The census handwriting isn't 100 per cent clear, but is decipherable. Previously, I had relied on the 1841 census transcriptions available on FreeCen and Ancestry, not stopping to pay attention to the fact that the parish numbers (90A if you're interested) for both families are the same. I happily purchased the image from Scotland's People this morning.

1841 census of Ross household at Ryduack and Smith household at Straaneruie

First up are the Rosses of Ryduack: Alex, his mother Marjory and his sister Mary. Below that are the Smiths of Straanruie: Isabella and her mother Margaret, who share their cottage with four other people. Both households each have a farm servant, who were both Grants. Are the Grants connected to my Smiths and Rosses? Time will tell.

What's notable in the Straanruie household is that Margaret Smith's son-in-law, John Dow, was then visiting. John had married my 2nd great great aunt, Grace Smith in 1838.

Ryduack on ordinance map
Another researcher directed me to the National Library of Scotland's 1867-79 ordinance map of the area in which Ryduack and Straanruie are mentioned, and explained that these places were about five miles apart in the Abernethy Forest, which is in the mid-to-top of the right side of the map. To find these places, look for the river Duack from Ryduack to south of the Duack Dam. Straanruie is almost due south of that. These pull out shots may help you locate, if you're really interested. No?

Ryduack and Straanruie were both the property of the Earl of Seafield in 1841. I suspect the lands and those surrounding are still held by the current Earl of Seafield, the 13th of his name, in Game of Thrones parlance, who still today owns vast swaths of land in the Strathspey area. Both place names are old Scots Gaelic. The original spellings left transcriptions through the years open to the imagination, when the skills of census takers and ordinance map scribes did not include accuracy and spelling.

Straanruie on ordinance map

Tomgown (or Tomghobhain in Gaelic) in the district of Tulloch, birthplace of Isabella, can also be found on the larger map.

My 3rd great grandmother, Margaret Davidson Smith, was a widow by 1841. I don't know when Donald Smith died, but it is safe to say that it was before the census was done. Here's a post about their family.

Marjory McDonald Ross, my other 3rd great grandmother, was also a widow. Her husband, Duncan, died in 1824. I wrote about their family here.

So, Alexander married the girl next door, only next door in this case was about five miles apart. Did the families visit by boat or by foot through the forest?

The ordinance survey name books collected between 1868 and 1876 and now held by ScotlandsPlaces describe both Ryuack and Straanruie.

Ryduack description, ScotlandsPlaces OS1/16/1/68

 Straanruie description, ScotlandsPlaces OS1/17/1/73

The third word in the description of Straanruie, cothouses, means a home for cottars, who usually had small pieces of land which they worked while also doing work for their land-holder, who was likely the local tenant farmer.

You're wondering when my 2nd great grandparents Alexander and Isabella got married, aren't you? So am I. So far, I haven't been able to find a marriage record. Their first child for whom there is a baptismal record was born in 1846.

Special thanks to three other family researchers who are wealths of information about all things Scotland, genealogy related.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2019 All rights reserved