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

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Erbusaig, Kyle of Lochalsh, home of my Mathesons

A few months ago, a woman in one of the many genealogy Facebook groups asked me for help with her Scotland research. Despite months of research with the help of a group at her local library, she had been unable to make inroads. Always up for a challenge, I said sure, send me what you have and I'll take a look. Well, it turns out that she's also a descendant of Mathesons in the Lochalsh area. I was able to help her smash her brickwalls, and off she and her husband went this month to explore her ancestral roots.

Arlene sent me this photo (R) a few days ago. Erbusaig is where my 2nd great grandfather, Donald Matheson (abt 1794-1859) was most likely born and most definitely died.

Scotland's People, Death registration of Donald Matheson
The photo of the Erbursaig is lovely to have, as apart from holiday rentals, I've found very little information about it online, save for this brief Wikipedia stub.

I wrote about my ancient Mathesons here after I found reference to them made on page 109 in the History of the Mathesons

Donald's father, my 3rd great grandfather, Dugald Beag Matheson, also a mason, like his son, was still living at Erbusaig at the time of the 1851 census, aged 76, with his son William and his family. I haven't been able to find his death record. Yet.

The never ending story continues....



© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

It's my blogiversary



My blog has made it to its second blogiversary.

Thanks so much to all of you who've been with me since the beginning for continuing to read, and a warm welcome and thanks for reading to those who have found my blog over the past two years.

I still have so many stories to research, stories to tell and stories to share, There are many brick walls yet to be broken, many aha moments to revel in, many unsolved mysteries to be discovered and hopefully solved.

The never ending story continues....




© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved

Monday, 2 July 2018

Gathering new found Scots cousin ancestors 3: Peter Smith & Jane Allan and family

My 2nd great great uncle, Peter Smith (1821-1863) was one of two sons born to my 3rd great grandparents, Donald Smith and Margaret Davidson.

According to censuses, Peter was a letter carrier in Edinburgh. We know that he married Jane Allan (abt 1822-1888) in Urquhart, Morayshire on 28 Oct 1846. It was there that their first child had been born on 6 Aug 1846. By the time that child, wee Margaret, died on 5 Dec 1847, they were living in Edinburgh. The children of Peter and Jane were:
  • Margaret (1846-1847)
  • Daniel (1849-1849)
  • Alexander (1850-1890)
  • Peter (1851-1857)
  • Mary (1853-1901)
  • Jane (1855-1925)
  • Grace (1858-1918)
  • Keith Scott (1860-1861)
  • Ann (1861-1870)
Yes, only four of Peter and Jane's children lived to adulthood. From what I've found, of his children who lived to adulthood, only Jane married and had a family. Jane married a man named John Brown in 1880, who was a confectioner. They had three children and lived all their lives in Edinburgh.

Peter's mother Margaret Davidson had spent her final years living with Peter and his family, and had died less than three months before her son. Such sadness there must have been in Peter and Jane's household. Edinburgh was also the home of his sister Anne and her husband Angus Falconer.

Peter was only 41 when he died from liver disease at his home, 42 Buccleuch Street. The cause of death was recorded as liver disease, the symptoms of which developed just six weeks before his death. We have no confirmed record of his father's (my 3rd great grandfather's) death, but I wonder if he had similar health issues.

The never ending story continues....




© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Gathering new found Scots cousin ancestors 2: Anne Smith & Angus Falconer and family

My 2nd great great aunt, Anne Smith (abt 1810-1852) was the eldest daughter of my 3rd great grandparents, Donald Smith and Margaret Davidson. According to censuses, Anne was born in Kingussie in the Highlands, which is where her mother was born and raised.

By about 1834, Anne had married Angus Falconer (1815-1872), also of Kingussie. A record of their marriage in Scotland's Old Parish Records has not survived, but the first of at least seven children was born in about 1835. They were:
  • Margaret abt 1835 - ?
  • Mary abt 1837-1901
  • Alexander 1839-1899
  • Donald aka Daniel 1842-1901
  • Duncan 1845-1881
  • Christian 1847-1900
  • Eliza Ormiston 1850-1930
By 1842, when their son Donald (aka Daniel) was born, Angus and Anne and their family were living in Midlothian -- in Edinburgh and thereabouts. Angus' occupation reported in censuses was sheriff's officer and justice of the peace. Did better employment opportunities drive them from the Highlands? Probably.

I quickly found marriage and other records for Mary, Alex, Donald (who went by Daniel for unknown reasons) and Duncan. Christian never married. Just a few days ago after searching unsuccessfully for a long while, I found Eliza Ormiston's marriage and her family. The life of the eldest, Margaret, remains a mystery. So far. I've got a couple of leads, but need to narrow down the right Margaret Falconer in my searches.

Mary married a man named a grocer and purveyor, in 1863 in Edinburgh, where they made their lifelong home. They had a family of at least ten children, three of whom died as young children. Some stayed in Scotland and a couple went south to the London area. One son emigrated to Australia, marrying and having a family there. One daughter became a nurse and made her home in South Africa, marrying and having a family there.

Alexander became a hairdresser in Glasgow, married, and fathered two sons, who also became hairdressers.

Donald/Daniel married and had at least five children in Edinburgh, but censuses tell us that he and his wife lived apart for several years. There appears to have been no divorce. I've had little success so far researching all of  their children. One daughter's husband was killed in action in 1917 in Belgium during the First World War, leaving her with two small children. I found the marriage of one son, but none for the other three sons.

Duncan was a ship steward who died at just 36, leaving behind a widow and four young children. His only daughter emigrated to Toronto with her husband in 1926, following several of their ten children who had preceded them here. I wonder if I've crossed paths with any Falconer cousins here in Toronto.

Eliza Ormiston married a man who was a commercial traveller, the censuses say, and together they had at least seven children, one of whom died at birth. A travelling salesman if you will. They moved south to London with their four eldest in about 1880. I wonder where the name Ormiston came from....the Falconer side or the Smith side? I've not encountered it elsewhere in my research.

Anne died in her early 40s in 1952 in Banffshire, old parish records on Scotland's People tell me. Angus survived her by 20 years, dying in Leith, outside Edinburgh in 1872. Their children gave her many grandchildren, and me many more cousin ancestors.

Their youngest, Eliza Ormiston, was less than two years old when Anne died. I found her living with Anne's sister Grace Smith Dow and her large family in Moray when the 1861 census was done. I found Anne's widower in Leith in 1861, with their youngest son, Duncan.

I wonder if the siblings remained close in adulthood. They seemed scattered. Did the Falconers know their other cousins, including my great grandmother Annie Ross? Questions never end in genealogy research, do they?

The never ending story continues....







© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved

Friday, 22 June 2018

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

I've been busy mining the British Newspaper Archives on Find My Past as my subscription ticks down to its expiry in a couple of weeks. Like many members of genealogical societies, up until now, I've enjoyed a 50 per cent savings on my FMP subscription. Sadly, FMP announced early this year they were inexplicably nding that. Since FMP bills Canadians in US dollars (they apparently don't feel the Commonwealth love), I am girding myself for their renewal offer, which I don't think I'll be able to afford.

But I digress.

One of my big finds is a story about how my great grandfather tried to get help for my physically and mentally challenged great uncle, Alex. Frank went to his local parish council looking for help for his son.

The following account appeared in the 19 Feb 1896 edition of the Forres Elgin and Nairn Gazette, Northern Review and Advertiser:


This recounts bureaucracy at its 19th century finest. Frank's petition for relief was refused because of geographic reasons, oh, and because he started the action in the name of his son, since Alex "was insane he could not sue". 

In the 1891 census, he
is called an imbecile. He was also blind. Was he born blind, or did an early illness cause blindness? I don't know. I don't know why he was called an imbecile. Perhaps he was most likely what we now call developmentally delayed. Certainly his blindness would have contributed to being developmentally delayed. 

I can't begin to fathom the life poor Alex endured in an age when there were no supports for people with mental and physical challenges.

My great grandfather Frank Gillanders Matheson was a railway plate layer, earning little. In fact, by 1896 my grandfather, Alex's younger brother, was already an apprentice on the railroad and living away from home, as a 12 year old boy.

Like all parents, Frank wanted the best for all of his children and needed help for his son. I wonder if he ever got it. This is the only story I've found about what I'm sure were herculean efforts on his part. 

When his father sought relief in 1896, Alex was 15 years old. My great grandparents then had five living children, including two young ones, who were almost certainly still at home then.

Did Alex live at home in Aviemore/Nethy Bridge with my great grandmother until she died in 1922? When he died at age 65 in 1946, from arteriosclerosis and myocarditis, he was living in Inverness in an institution called The Firs. His death was reported by his older half-sister, Catherine Graham.

How lucky in a way are those with physical and mental challenges in the 21st century. 

The never ending story continues....

© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved

Friday, 15 June 2018

Brick wall: another new Dougherty/Doherty mystery

They say that DNA doesn't lie. Ever. In both crime solving and genealogy, DNA does not lie.

On my list of AncestryDNA matches is a mystery. I have a 4th cousin match with a descendant of a Bridget Doherty, born in Donegal, my new 4th cousin believes, about 1850. Her firstborn child was born about 1869.

According to the match produced by AncestryDNA, Bridget would be a sibling of my 2nd great grandfather, Marcus Dougherty.

But the problem is that Marcus was born in about 1794. And my 3rd great grandparents, James Dougherty and Isabella McLaughlin, were both deceased by the end of 1830.

There are clearly at least two generations missing here, between Bridget and my 3rd great grandparents. My newest (at least) 4th cousin definitely shares DNA with me, courtesy of James, right?


This Bridget remained in Donegal all her life, dying in 1898. Her grandson emigrated from Clonmany, Donegal in about 1930, settling in the Boston area. Today, Clonmany is about a 20 minute drive from the Inishowen Peninsula area, where my 3rd great grandparents were born.

I have no doubt whatsoever that Bridget's descendant and I are related. But we need to figure out the missing generations. I've been unable to find any records of sisters of my 2nd great grandfather, Marcus. And there are probably other brothers that he had, besides those I've found so far.

The never ending story continues....



© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved

Another Dougherty line in the mix

Doughertys are everywhere it seems. No, really. In fact, at one time the name and its many spellings was even one of the top most common surnames in Ireland. More recent surveys in Ireland have the name out of the top 20 most common surnames.

Anyway, I was researching the ancestry of another cousin's husband recently when I discovered that his great grandmother was a Dougherty. Yes, with that spelling. 

Susan Dougherty (1857-1910) was the eldest child born in Danville, Pennsylvania to William Dougherty (abt 1830-1900) and Mary Priest (abt 1828-1928) , Irish immigrants who settled in Luzerne in northern Pennsylvania, where many people worked in the coal mines in the area. They had a family of at least eight children. I haven't found where in Ireland William Dougherty was born, whether it was in the north or the south. It's also not clear whether Mary and William married in Ireland or in Pennsylvania. Old Irish records are so hard to find, especially in some parts of Ireland.

Susan married Edward Buckley (1855-1913), also the child of Irish immigrants, in about 1876.They went on to have at least ten children.

I hoping my cousin-in-law will think hard about doing the AncestryDNA test, so that we can find out if he and his wife share any DNA. Hope springs, genealogy nerd that I am. No detail is too small. After all, who knows where one detail will lead?

My research actually started for my cousin-in-law's daughter and her sons, to flesh out their family tree.

The never ending story continues....




© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved