Friday 3 July 2020

About the Family of Robert Young and Isabella Knox

I wrote about my great grandfather, Robert Alexander Young, here. Now it's time to write about the family he and my great grandmother, Isabella Knox, had. Robert and Isabella married in Berwick upon Tweed in 1884. They had ten children:

  • Margaret Knox 1885-1950
  • Elizabeth 1888-1890
  • Dorothy 1889-1967
  • Henry (Harry) 1891-1979
  • Robert 1893-1964
  • Isabella (Izzy) 1897-
  • Elizabeth (Lizzie) 1899-1986
  • William John (Willie) 1901-1977
  • Peter 1904-
  • Agnes 1905-

Censuses from 1891 to 1911 document that Robert, Isabella and their lived in different houses throughout their marriage, but most often in houses in the Greenses, as his parents and grandparents did, and where in fact generations of Youngs lived in the 19th and 20th centuries. Perhaps even in the 17th century. I am in awe of knowing that my ancestors lived in one place for centuries.

The Greens - Low Greens and High Greenses - about 1897
I wrote here about the Berwick house where my mother was born in 1919 -- not in the Greenses.

My grandmother, Dorothy, made her life in Canada, along with her sister Lizzie, who married and lived in Montreal. Their sisters Izzy and Aggie would visit Montreal and return to Berwick, more than once through the years. I remember my mother speaking with them on the phone, but never met them. Their brothers and sister all stayed in Berwick or elsewhere in northern England, to the best I've been able to discover. I'm still researching some of them.

Recently, I've connected with the grandchildren of my grandmother's oldest sister, Margaret. One grand daughter shares my mother's smile, which my niece, her grand daughter shares. That's magical.

The never ending story continues ....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2020  All rights reserved

Sunday 21 June 2020

A father's final letter to a son

page 1
I've been sorting through several bins of decades worth of photographs, letters and other mementos collected by my parents and grandparents. It's a massive and very long overdue task, and I admit that it's slow going.

One reason this project is slow going is because of the many discoveries that I'm making. And in many cases, I stop the work and get lost in thought, pondering over photos or letters, like this letter that surfaced this week.

The letter is from my great grandfather to his son, my grandfather, and is written from a hospital, undated, except for the year: 1908. My great grandfather would then have been 74 years old. I don't know what town the hospital was, only that it is where my grandfather's "Aunt Maggie lives."  This was probably my great aunt, Margaret Grace Darling Ross Gillies.

page 2
My great grandfather, Frank Gillanders Matheson, was recovering from an operation that left him a shadow of his former self, he wrote. What was that operation for, I wonder? He could no longer work, and said he had to leave the house where he and Annie, my great grandmother, lived. Their 28 year old blind and mentally challenged son, Alex would certainly have been with them, and possibly their daughter Annie, with her infant son, Andrew. The rest of their surviving children were living elsewhere, in service or apprenticed.

As can be seen here, Frank's faith played a large part in his life. He possessed a three-volume bible, in fact, that I wrote about here and as I noted in my last post, was a deacon at his local church. He was a devout Presbyterian. 

Frank's comments about his loneliness in hospital and about some of the people in his life give a brief insight into 1908 life in the Scottish Highlands. Is it odd that he doesn't mention his wife? I don't know.

page 3
I don't think that in the end, Frank and Annie had to move, as his death registration notes that he died at the Railway Cottages at Delfaber, Duthil. But such a great worry that must have been.

My grandfather, John, emigrated from Scotland to Montreal in June 1907. I know he didn't get to see his father, Frank Gillanders Matheson again, as Frank died in June 1909. That he kept this 1908 letter from his father the rest of his life speaks volumes, doesn't it?

The never ending story continues....

page 4

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2020 All rights reserved

Saturday 20 June 2020

When Letters of Introduction were always a good idea

I wrote here about when my grandfather, John Matheson, left Scotland for Montreal on June 8, 1908. That was still a time when a letter of introduction from your church minister could often open doors when you searched for work or a roof over your head in a strange new place. In what has become an epic task, I've been slowly sorting through memory bins as I call them .... the bins of accumulated family records and documents. The finds are always rewarding. I recall many from years ago, when I did a purge, but now that so much of my life is immersed in all things genealogy, they of course have new meaning.

Here is a June 7, 1908 letter of introduction from A.M. MacLeod, Minister of the United Free Church of Scotland, written from the United Free Church Manse at Rothiemurchus, Avimore, as noted on the embossed letter.

Imagine in the whirl of packing and farewells, before you sailed the very next day to Canada, stopping at the Manse to get this letter of introduction.

I like that Rev MacLeod notes that while my grandfather wasn't a "member of the church, he has regularly attended its services and has been a devout and intelligent listener."


But the kicker is Rev MacLeod's closing sentence on page 2. Surely mentioning that the bearer's father is a church deacon and that he is "one of the most respected men in the district." was enough to ensure whatever doors needed opening for my grandfather in Montreal were opened. 

Perhaps it was my great grandfather Frank who secured this excellent letter of introduction on his son's behalf. 

The never ending story continues ....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2020 All rights reserved

Wednesday 22 January 2020

When Andrew Horne left Scotland to live in Montreal

I first mention Andrew Horne, who was my first cousin once removed on my mum's side when I wrote about his father here. I later wrote about his mother, my great aunt, who died in 1918 in the Spanish Flu epidemic here.

Andrew was just 10 years old when his mum died. He continued living with his step-father, a career soldier, in hard scrabble Gourock, just north west of Glasgow. But Andrew was ill-treated by his step-father. When word of this reached his Matheson aunt and granny he was taken from Gourock and went to live in Nethy Bridge with his granny, my great grandmother, Annie Ross Matheson.

After his granny died just before Christmas in 1922, Andrew was sent to the Quarriers Orphans Home at Bridge of Weir, but only several months. Here it gets a little confusing, but I think I've sorted out what happened. I had known from my mum and aunt that Andrew came to Montreal as a teenager, to live with his uncle Frank and his family. He was closer in age to Frank, who was born in 1892, than to my grandfather, his uncle John, who was born in 1884.

Declaration of Passenger to Canada
Researching Andrew's departure for Canada a few years ago, I found the information card on the right, confirming his departure from Glasgow on 23 Aug 1923 on the Athenia -- note that he was going to Canada to settle with his uncle.

A couple of years ago, another DNA cousin sent me information about Quarriers Homes at Bridge of Weir, saying that Andrew had lived there before coming to Canada.

Out of curiousity, I checked Library and Archives' British Home Child collection. There, I found contradictory information, indicating that Andrew was a passenger on the Cassandra, which arrived in Canada in April 1923. The record notes he was destined for Brockville, Ontario. Quarriers had afacility in Brockville where all newly arrived boys were first sent before being sent on to other places.

Library and Archives Canada
British Home Child Collection

I kept researching. On the British Home Children Advocacy & Research Association website, I found the photograph below of boys, the caption of which went so far as to list Andrew, and said the photo was on t the caption identifying him on a photograph purportedly taken onboard the Cassandra.

from British Home Children Advocacy & Research Association website

But I still couldn't find any record of Andrew leaving Scotland in late March or early April 1923 on the Cassandra, or any other ship.

Next, I contacted Quarriers Home at Bridge of Weir, and they confirmed to me that the August date is the correct date Andrew left Scotland.

What happened? Remember, Andrew's granny died at Christmas 1922. Was he sent immediately to Quarriers? Or early in 1923? I think there were too many children at Bridge of Weir, and I have a theory about what probably happened. His aunt Kitty was already the legal guardian of her handicapped brother, Alex, whom I wrote about here. Kitty was from my great grandfather's first marriage, and in 1923 she was 54 years old. But Kitty wasn't for whatever reason able to take on raising a 15 year old, when she herself was childless and her husband was a Glasgow police detective.

Aside from Kitty and Alex, my grandfather and great uncle were the only family members Andrew had left. I wonder if Quarriers moved that quickly to organize for Andrew to be sent to Canada, that when his interim guardian, his aunt Kitty, found out, she leapt into action and contacted her brothers in Montreal. It seems to me that it was a very lucky break for Andrew that he was pulled off the April 1923 manifest. But not soon enough for a photograph to be taken -- not on the Cassandra or on arrival in Brockville.

Quarriers have a small amount of records about Andrew's time there, but wanted 60 GBP to copy and send these to me. As this is over $100 Canadian for me, I decided against getting his records.

Andrew was embraced by his uncles and their families when he reached Montreal. Until then, he certainly hadn't had a lot of stability, and indeed had experienced trauma as a child. My sense is that he always wanted to belong. Just belong.

Andrew served overseas in the Canadian Army in the Second World War, married afterwards, but was childless. I met him a few times. Andrew was a very kind, gentle, and soft spoken man. He wrote me letters addressed "Dear cousin Margie".

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2020 All rights reserved

Monday 6 January 2020

On this day 201 years ago: Sarah Anne Moore was born

If you have your tree on FamilySearch, you can get email notifications about the birthdays of your ancestors. And so today, I was reminded, is the birthday of my 2nd great grandmother, Sarah Anne Moore.

It is through Sarah that I descend from Hugh Moore, my 4th great grandfather, who with several other family members, came to Nova Scotia from New Hampshire as New England Planters and were among the first grantees in Colchester in 1760. Their origins were Ulster Scots. The Moores were a very large family, and they in turn had their own very large families, and so on, and so forth.

Sarah was one of at least six children, possibly the youngest, born to Robert Moore (1770-1852) and Margaret O'Brien (abt 1775-1862), whose origins were also Ulster Scots.

Sarah married Charles Nelson, a farmer, in 1845. We know of only two children: Elias, my great grandfather, and the infamous Horatio, whom I wrote about here. There are no records to tell us if they had other children who died young. Census records from 1871 and 1881 tell us she was Presbyterian. Charles identified as Free Church.

Sarah died in 1889. We don't know when in 1889, as that fell between 1878 and 1907, a black hole at Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics for which death information is not available. 

She and Charles, who died in 1892, are buried in the Nelson family plot at Watson Cemetery in Truro.

Happy birthday, granny Sarah. Thinking of you.

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2020 All rights reserved

Sunday 24 November 2019

Why Katie Fraser McKeigan went from Canada to Kentucky

My first cousin 3x removed was Edinburgh-born Margaret Falconer, about whom I wrote here. She was the eldest daughter of my 2nd great grand-aunt, Ann Smith. While drilling down into the lines of Margaret's children from time to time this year, I came across records and an obituary for Catherine Elizabeth Fraser (1869-1932), her eldest daughter by her second husband, John Fraser, in Louisville, Kentucky. Catherine, or Katie, was also born in Edinburgh, travelling to Manitoba in 1882 with her family.

Wait! What? Now, here was a mystery. How did Katie end up in Kentucky, living at the same address as one W. H. McKeigan, and who was that? Through statutory and newspaper records, learned her story.

Nanaimo Daily News 9 Apr 1895
Catherine (or Katie) married a Nova Scotia man, Daniel McKeigan, in New Westminster, British Columbia on 29 May 1892, when she was 23. She had gone from Manitoba to British Columbia, apparently on her own, leaving her family. I haven't found Catherine on the 1891 Canada census, but her marriage registration notes that her residence at the time of her marriage was still Brandon, Manitoba, where her family then lived. As we know, people were often overlooked in censuses in those days.

Daniel was born on Cape Breton in Nova Scotia and was a miner. Cape Breton is where many Scots who came to Canada settled in the 19th century. He was a miner, working near Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island. How and where Dan and Katie met is a mystery. New Westminster is on the mainland. Nanaimo, where they made their home, then was reached only by ship or ferry.

Katie and Dan quickly had their first child, John Falconer McKeigan, in 1893, and Katie was pregnant again when disaster struck in April 1895. Dan was killed instantly by falling rock in the mine shaft where he was working. The story at the right goes on at some length describing the incident and recovery efforts.

Katie stayed on in Nanaimo after Dan's death, and gave birth to their second son a few months later.  I didn't find Katie and her sons again until the 1916 Prairies census, when they were living in Winnipeg, where Katie ran a boarding house. Katie's eldest son, John, died in 1920 there in 1920. She and William are still in Winnipeg when the 1921 census was done.

But then I found Katie in the 1930 US census in Louisville, Kentucky, and according to that census she arrived there in 1924. She was by then working as a housekeeper at a boys' home. I then found her listed in a few Louisville city directories through the 1920s, which is how I learned that she had gone there from Winnipeg with her son William in 1924.

I was at loss to understand why Katie and William went to Louisville, until I found Katie's 1932 obituary, above. Besides her son, Katie was survived by a brother, Rev J. F. Fraser, formerly of Louisville and then of New York.

Yes, it was one of those lovely a-ha moments we so love in genealogy. J. F. Fraser was Katie's younger brother, John Falconer Fraser, whom I hadn't yet begun to research.

There will be more to come about the Reverend Fraser.

And what of Katie's son, William? He made his home in Louisville, dying there in 1964. I learned more about his life from his obituary, seen below.

Back to Katie's mum, Margaret Falconer Fraser. I'm getting closer to finding out when Margaret and her husband, John Fraser, died, having found them in the 1906 census of the prairie provinces, living in Nanton, Alberta, a farming community, with their youngest son, James D. Fraser (Aside: Alberta statutory records are really the most awful to research).

Louisville Courier-Journal, 4 Feb 1964

The never ending story continues ....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2019 All rights reserved

Thursday 14 November 2019

From Scotland to Quebec: Alexander Dalziel & Rachel Cook

Alexander Dalziel (pronounced Dee-yall) is the second of three Scots ancestors of my Québécois sister-in-law, nephew and niece, who settled in Quebec. From Alex's 1812 burial record when he was said to have been about 51 years old, we can ballpark his birth as about 1761. Alex was born in Scotland, but we don't know where, and we have no confirmed information about his parents. We don't know what circumstances drew him to Quebec, but he was there by 1790.

On 25 May 1790, Alexander married another Scot, Rachel Cook, at St Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Quebec City. The church still stands today, and is the oldest English-speaking congregation of Scots origin in Canada, according to the church's website.  Church records tell us that he was the gardener of Adam Mabane, a Scots-born physician, judge and councillor who had come to Quebec with British forces in 1760 as a surgeon's mate. Mabane died in 1792, but until his death in 1812, Alex's occupation in the church register was always recorded as gardener.

Rachel may have been born in 1769 in Fife, Scotland, to Thomas Cook and Rachel Kay.

Alex and Rachel had at least seven children between 1791 and 1805, most born in St-Henri, a farming community south of Levis, across the St Lawrence from Quebec City. I wonder how long that horse and buggy took into Quebec City. I've found baptisms for most of the children at St Andrew's.

A daughter died young, and two sons died as young men. Rachel died just two weeks after the birth of her last child. Alex's and Rachel's four surviving children (John, Rachel, Margaret and James) married and had families of their own. Their sons were farmers in St-Henri. Their eldest daughter, also a Rachel, married a man named Gardener at St Andrew's Presbyterian Church. Her siblings married in the Catholic Church at St-Henri, and all of their children were baptized as Catholics.

Quebec Mercury 4 May 1805 - source: BAnQ
Rachel's May 1805 death was reported in the Quebec Mercury newspaper. That notice was also picked up by the Columbian Sentinel, a Massachusetts newspaper. She was about 36 years old. Perhaps she or Alex had family in Massachusetts.

St Andrew's Presbyterian Church register
Alex never remarried. He died in April 1812, almost eight years after Rachel, in St-Henri.

Alex and Rachel are buried in the cemetery at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church. I wonder if their grave markers are still visible. Next time I'm in Quebec, I'll have to check.

My sister-in-law, niece and nephew descend from Alex through their father and grandfather, from Alex's eldest son John Dalziel (1791-1876)'s daughter Reine.

St Andrew's Presbyterian Church register

  The never ending story continues ....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2019 All rights reserved

About the Family of Robert Young and Isabella Knox

I wrote about my great grandfather, Robert Alexander Young , here . Now it's time to write about the family he and my great grandmother...