Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Another brick wall gone: Isabella McKenzie Matheson

I wrote about my great grandfather Frank Matheson's three-volume bible here and the children, including my grandfather, that he had with my great grandmother Annie Ross, who were recorded in that bible here.

Frank was quite meticulous in recording all of the life events of his family members before he died in 1909. But information about the death of one child, my great aunt Isabella McKenzie Matheson (b 1882) wasn't recorded in the bible. I've always wondered why. All I knew from my mother and aunt was that Isabella "died young", that all purpose but very unhelpful category. That said, she does appear in the 1901 census, but because of her common name, and even more, the misspellings of Matheson (Mathieson, Mathewson, etc) and McKenzie (Mackenzie), finding out what happened to Isabella using the usual sources, including Scotland's People, had been an enduring brick wall for me.

As was then common in Scotland, Isabella was the second daughter that Frank named in memory of his first wife, Isabella McKenzie (1840-1871), who died from rheumatic fever in 1871, four days after giving birth to her wee namesake, Isabella McKenzie Matheson, who lived only five brief weeks. My grandfather, (Isabella's brother), for example, was the second son Frank named John, the first having died at only four months old in 1879.

But thanks to The Moray Council's Local Heritage Centre's record set being added to Ancestry, a new hint appeared by Isabella's name not long ago. It was one of those serendipitous genealogical ah ha! moments.

It turns out that Isabella died in Forres on 20 Dec 1903, aged 21. Her death was reported in two local newspapers, the Forres Gazette and the Courant, and that information was noted in the Centre's database.

Forres Gazette, 30 Dec 1903
Isabella's parents lived in Aviemore, about 40 miles from Forres, which is the birthplace of my great grandmother Annie Ross Matheson (1849-1922). Why was Isabella in Forres? Was she visiting family or friends? Did she die in service?

The life events of all of my great aunts and uncles Matheson are now fully accounted for, with Isabella's death details found.

The never ending story continues....


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