Sunday, 18 November 2018

Margaret Davidson's death notice

Things happen when you least expect them. While on FamilySearch, I found mention of a new source document, a published death notice for my 3rd great grandmother, Margaret Davidson Smith (abt 1778-1863). This appeared in the 5 Mar 1863 Inverness Courier newspaper:

I wrote about the discovery of details about my third great grandmother Margaret here I had learned from censuses that Margaret was a midwife and I knew that she died at her son Peter's home.

The death notice includes a new clue about my 3rd great grandfather, Donald Smith: he lived at Tulloch in Strathspey, which is in the Aviemore area of the Highlands. Was Tulloch an estate? An area? I don't know. I know for certain that he died before 1851. He may also have died before 1841, as I can't find him on that census either. Browsing the Inverness Courier, I see there was a cholera epidemic in the area in the summer of 1832. Could that have claimed Donald's life?

Death notices in Scotland for my ancestors are so rare. This is a wonderous find.

The never ending story continues...

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Dohertys founded Hill Electric Switch Company of Montreal in 1902

As it turns out, the Hill Electric Switch Company that employed my grandfather was founded by Judge Marcus Doherty and his sons Charles Joseph and Michael Joseph, an electrician named Hill, and Charles' son-in-law, Charles Austin Bernard.

A 10 Nov 1902 Montreal Gazette article headlined "From the Capital" and a subhead, "Some Official Notices", notes that among recent published declarations in the Canada Gazette is the following:

I guess since Mr Hill was the only electrician among the founders, that is why the company bore his name, and not, perhaps Doherty, Bernard and Hill or some variation thereof.

So, rather than my grandfather bringing electricity to Montreal, as family legend (okay, tall tale) would have it, it turns out that he worked at the company owned by relatives that brought electricity to Montreal. But at least my grandfather was an electrical engineer.

Sometimes in genealogy research you really can't make this stuff up.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved

Funeral of Judge Marcus Doherty

A new find is a The Gazette story about the funeral of Judge Marcus Doherty on 8 Jul 1903 at St Patrick's Church (now Basilica) in Montreal. Following his death, Judge Marcus Doherty's life and many accomplishments were recounted in several newspapers, but I found nothing about the actual funeral until now.

The Gazette, 9 Jul 1903
The story notes that the "very impressive requiem mass was sung by.....Rev Father Doherty....". That would be Judge Marcus' nephew, the Very Reverend James Dougherty (again, with the spelling) of Manhattan, who himself would die less than 18 months later.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved

Doherty and Dougherty: Electricity pioneers in Montreal

The interesting things that you find while randomly researching often become a-ha moments.

Lovell's Montreal City Directory 1908-1909
I knew from earlier research that in the first few years after he left McGill University, my grandfather established his professional career working as a manager at Hill Electric. He had studied electrical engineering, and a family tale had it that he--single-handedly seemingly--brought electricity to Montreal. But I digress.

The Gazette, 7 Jul 1907
I've now found a 1907 death notice for Michael Joseph Doherty (1867-1907), youngest child of Judge Marcus Doherty, and he too, was a manager at Hill Electric. A-ha! What a coincidence of a find.

My grandfather and Michael were second cousins, as seen here:

Electricity pioneers ran in my family in the early 20th century, it seems.

It's also clear that they knew each other, for my grandfather was listed among the mourners at Michael's funeral. Yes, his last name wasn't spelled the Dougherty way, but there were no other Doherty family members whose given name started with a J.

I'm always struck by the absence of any names of women in notices about who attended funerals back then.

The Gazette, 9 Jul 1907
The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved

Friday, 9 November 2018

Spanish flu epidemic claims Annie Matheson (1888-1918)

On this day in 1918, my great aunt, Annie Matheson, died in the Perth Royal Infirmary in Perth, Scotland, a victim of the Spanish flu. She was just 30 years old. My grandfather's younger sister, Annie was named after her mother.

Very sadly, Annie died 12 days after giving birth to her fourth child,  John Keith Graham. Did she contract Spanish flu before she went into labour? Did this develop after she gave birth? We don't know. I learned only small bits of her story in fragments over many years, first from my mother, and afterwards from my aunt.

Annie was born at Rafford in Moray, where my great grandparents lived for several years. In 1908, when Annie was 19, she gave birth to a son, Andrew, in Nethy Bridge, Abernethy and Kincardine. The father, also an Andrew, was 18, and wanted very much to marry Annie, but for reasons that were never clear, she refused him. Annie raised Andrew in the family home or, perhaps her mother was raising Andrew while Annie worked in service. At some point, Annie met the man whom she married in Glasgow in Jul 1914. Perhaps she was in service in Glasgow. She had an older half sister, Catherine Matheson (1869-1950), living there with her husband, a Glasgow policeman.

Annie's husband, Andrew Arthur Wallace (1871-1930) was a career soldier, having served in India, where he married his first wife. That marriage ended in divorce. With the outbreak of the First World War in August 1915, he soon was fighting in the trenches of France and Belgium.

Annie gave birth to a son in 1916, who was named after her father, Frank. Her son Frank grew up to become a soldier and was a POW of Japan in the Second World War. Frank was followed in 1917 by a sister, who remarkably, has recently celebrated her 101st birthday. And then came the birth on 29 Oct 1918 of John Keith Graham Wallace.

At some point after his birth, Baby John was moved to the Perth Royal Infirmary. Was it so that Annie could continue to nurse him despite being so terribly ill? Who was looking after her two other Wallace children?

When Annie died on 9 Nov 1918, she became a statistic. She was one of 228,000 Spanish flu casualties in Great Britain (that link notes that it is suggested that the epidemic was spread across Britain in part by soldiers returning from France). A quarter of Britain's population was lost. This, on top of the 886,0000 British soldiers lost in the First World War.

Annie was buried at Jeanfields Cemetery in Perth on 12 Nov 1918. After Baby John died on 30 Nov, he was buried with her on 2 Dec 1918. Her widower married a third time in 1919, I expect soon after he was demobilized. He needed someone to care for his children. He went on to have a further five children by his third wife before he died in 1930.

My aunt described Annie as having dark curly hair. This she knew from my grandfather's description of his sister. I would have liked to have known more about Annie.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved

Monday, 22 October 2018

Found! And then there were three: Ann Mathieson 1842-1873

I'm on a roll finding out more about the lives of my great grandfather Frank Gillanders Matheson's eight siblings. It was only a few months ago that I found details of my 2nd great uncle John Mathieson's life. Now, I've found out about their youngest sister, my 2nd great aunt, Ann Mathieson (1842-1873).

This came about after I spent time recently looking closely at some of my AncestryDNA matches with either no trees or private trees, and comparing shared matches. I contacted one of these predicted 4th cousins, who confirmed after looking at my tree that she descends from Ann, and gave me her husband's name along with their marriage date. Ann married Robert Hossack in Edinburgh on 15 Dec 1865. That started my latest search down the genealogy rabbit hole.

Annie Matheson & Robert Hossack marriage record, Scotland's People
Now, Annie's mother, my 2nd great grandmother, Margaret McKenzie had died earlier in 1865 (on 5 Mar), and is listed as such above. But look at that witness name: Margaret Matheson. Who can this be? I've not found any record of yet another long lost sibling. Perhaps this Margaret was a cousin.

Annie used the "ie" spelling in her last name like her older brother John Mathieson (1829-1908).

Robert was a tailor from Alves in Moray, and it was to Moray he and Ann returned by 1870. They had four children between 1866 and 1871, the two eldest born in Edinburgh and the two youngest in Elgin.

  • Margaret Mathieson McKenzie Hossack (1866-1921)
  • Robert Hossack (1868-1929)
  • Christina Hossack (1870-1890)
  • William Hossack (1871-1871)

Here they are in the 1871 census, living in Elgin:

Annie's birthplace reported here is incorrect. She was born in Urray, Ross-shire -- as noted in her baptismal record that I found several years ago on FamilySearch. Thanks to having a common name, I've not been able to find her on the 1851 or 1861 censuses, so far.

Sadly, Annie died aged just 31 from diabetes, a disease that my grandfather John Matheson (1884-1964) also had, so now we know that diabetes definitely ran in the family.

Ann Mathieson Hossack death registration, Scotland's People
My hunt for the six other Matheson 2nd great uncles and aunts continues. I won't be surprised to find at least one who migrated to Canada, Australia or America. Meanwhile, I know I've got yet more Matheson/Mathieson DNA cousins out there.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Images of the township of Erbusaig

I wrote about how it came about that I have this picture of the signpost of Erbusaig, the Highland township where my 2nd great grandfather, Donald Matheson (abt 1794-1859) is buried, here.

Afterwards, my distant cousin sent me a series of photos she took in order, after the sign, driving through Erbusaig, as they came upon the township, driving down the main road, turning down a narrow street off the main road and looped back to the main road. Arlene describes Erbusaig as a small village with just a few house, and a lovely view of the water and the Isle of Skye in the distance. Wikipedia calls it a township, which is smaller than a village, apparently.

Erbusaig lies directly north of Kyle of Lochalsh, just a five minute drive in the 21st century. Beyond Erbusaig is Plockton, a 13 minute drive. I can't find a population number for Erbusaig, but in 2001, Kyle of Lochalsh was home to 739 people and Plockton had 378 people. Erbusaig is smaller than Plockton, where incidentally, the 1990s BBC Scotland Hamish MacBeth TV series was filmed. Only 20 episodes were made, but it remains a favourite of mine to this day.

Seeing these photos, which I treasure, allows me to let my imagination wander, thinking about the lives our ancestors led, how they lived and worked. And oh, the weather must have been fierce.

Wikipedia tells us that the name Erbusaig is Gaelic. Erb was a Viking who landed in the bay on which Erbusaig then sat. So, Erb's Bay or Erbusaig. The bay was in the sea inlet of Loch Alsh. 

The never ending story continues .....

Credit all photos in this post: Sharon Matheson Aitken, July 2018
© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

John Mathieson of Kinloss (1829-1908)

The informant listed on my 3rd great grandmother Margaret McKenzie's death registration that I wrote about here was her son, John Mathieson. Yes, the surname spelling has the "i", but genealogy research is fun that way.

This was yet another exciting find. John was an older brother of my great grandfather, Frank Gillanders Matheson. Apart from birth and baptismal records, I'd never found any other solid information about my great grandfather's eight other siblings.

Off I went back to Scotland's People, now knowing that John had been in Kinloss, a small village then and now, in Moray, in 1865 when his mother died. While the floodgates didn't open, I did make more finds, starting with his own death registration, which confirms his parents' names and gave me new clues: a wife and a son-in-law, the latter who reported the death.

Scotland's People death registration at Lesliefield, Rothes, Moray
In the 1841 and 1851 censuses, John was boarding away from home and was a painter. He was only 12 in 1841 and already working, as was the custom of the era. In subsequent censuses, as the railways were built, he was a railway platelayer, like his brother, Frank.

While my great grandfather could read and write, when John registered is mother's death, an X sufficed as his signature. I wonder how it happened that not all of the family could read and write.

More research revealed that John married Catherine McKenzie in Inverness on 16 Dec 1864, and he was by then living in Kinloss. Sharp eyes will tell you that is not the name of his wife recorded in his death certificate. More to come on that. My great grandfather Frank was a witness to the marriage. Coincidentally, Catherine had also been born in Urray, where my great grandfather and his siblings were all born. I wonder if she was related to my 3rd great grandmother Margaret. Early Highland records being what they are, I doubt I'll ever be able to determine that. But I would say it's likely.

Scotland's People marriage registration, Inverness
John and Catherine had two children, Roderick, born in 1868 and Margaret (or Maggie), born in 1870. By the 1871 census, John's widowed mother-in-law, Margaret Finlayson McKenzie, had joined the household. Sadly, Catherine died in November 1873 from pneumonia, aged just 43.

John remarried in 1879 to Jane Moir (1836-1901) in 1879. It was Jane's first marriage. They had no children. Catherine's mother remained part of the household in Kinloss until she died in 1888.

John's daughter Maggie married (at some point) James Robertson (1867-1937). By the 1911 census, they had four children: two sons and two daughters. From John's death registration, we know that he died at James and Maggie's home in Rothes. Likely after his second wife died in 1901, Maggie took her father in. Maggie lived until 1950. Her sons both served in the First World War, joining up in 1917 and 1918 as soon as they were old enough. Thankfully, both survived. One daughter came to Canada. I'm starting to look for her story.

I've not found any record of John and Catherine's son, Roderick, after the 1901 census, when he was 32, unmarried and working as a hammersmith at a forge. He must have been a very strong man. I'm still looking for Roderick.

Will my discovery of a sibling of my great grandfather lead to finding more of his siblings and learning their stories? I think one emigrated to New Zealand or Australia, but I'm not sure. Yet.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved