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

Monday, 11 June 2018

Cincinnati - Unwrapping a Puzzle 5: Joseph M. Dougherty (1835-1886)

I'm still not near finished in unravelling and telling the stories of my ancestor uncles, aunts and cousins who chose Cincinnati as their home.

My youngest 2nd great uncle was Joseph M., who was just a boy when his older brothers James and Thomas went to Cincinnati in the late 1840s. But by 1855 he had followed them there, when he would have been just 19 years old. He was a young man during the American Civil War, but didn't enlist. I wonder why. Was there an underlying medical reason?

City directories tell us that Joseph (Joe?) lived with siblings his entire time in Cincinnati. There were changing casts of characters through the years, but always with family. He was a store clerk. He last appears in the 1884 Cincinnati city directory.

Thanks to one of those random acts of genealogical kindness, I was pointed to his 1886 burial record in St Joseph New Cemetery in Cincinnati. The name is spelled Daugherty, but his parents' names, Marcus and Mary Ann give me that confirmation, together with the fact that he's buried in the same plot as his siblings Thomas and Catharine.

Next, I went looking for more information about his death. Family Search had the actual complete record, which I didn't download and is now no longer there. He died at the Longview Asylum. The death record lists his occupation as insane, the cause of death is recorded as paralysis of the brain. I do have the death register as well, where his is one of a long list of names of deceased in March 1886.

I've read anecdotally about the broad reasons that people were confined to asylums in the 19th century, but went looking for more. Good old Snopes never disappoints. Their fact check, Reasons for Admission to Insane Asylums in the 19th century is well worth a read. But if you don't read it all, I'll post there closing paragraph here:
"In general, this document might be more accurately described as “a list of some reasons why people were believed to have eventually developed illnesses that led to their being admitted to the West Virginia Hospital for the Insane” and not a list of “symptoms” or “reasons” why people were admitted to that hospital."
I'll always wonder why Joe was committed. Was this a family decision, or was the decision taken out of their hands? He was just 49 years old when he died.

I'm still not sure why Joseph, his sisters Catharine and Louisa, and his then deceased older brother James were included in the 1861 Lower Canada census with their father Marcus. They were all clearly in Cincinnati by then.

The never ending story continues.....



© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved

Friday, 8 June 2018

On this day in 1907: John Matheson left Scotland for Canada

June 8th in 1907 Glasgow was perhaps a day like today.

It was the day that my maternal grandfather, John Matheson (1884-1964), sailed for Canada, three months shy of his 23rd birthday when he left Scotland alone  109 years ago today.

He was a third class passenger on the SS Cassandra, a ship built in Scotland and launched in 1906 as part of the Donaldson Line fleet. It originally had berths for 200 second class passengers and 1,000 third class passengers before it was retrofitted as troop ship after the outbreak of the First World War. My grandfather's name on the manifest prepared in Glasgow is the last one in that section. I know this because the passenger tally for that section of the manifest was added after his name: "376 souls".

SS Cassandra departure manifest, Glasgow, 7 Jun 1907
My grandfather began work on the Scottish Highland Railway as a boy of 14. Perhaps he listed his occupation as mechanic to widen his employment search once he reached Canada. But when he reached Quebec City on 17 Jun, the manifest prepared for arrival reports his occupation as fireman. In this case, a fireman was the man who shoveled coal into the train engine's furnace. Maybe he talked with other ship passengers and got some job tips.

SS Cassandra arrival manifest, Quebec City, 18 Jun 1907
He quickly found work with Grand Trunk Railway in Montreal, beginning his Canadian work life that apart from the interruption of his four years in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, lasted until his retirement in the early 1950s.

The never ending story continues....




© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved

Thursday, 7 June 2018

On this day 100 years ago: the Guelph Novitiate Raid

On this day, 100 years ago, the St Stanislaus Jesuit Novitiate was raided by military police in plain clothes looking for anyone who, in their opinion, was evading military conscription. The event became known as the Guelph Novitiate Raid, and was an event that involved two of my cousins, Hon. Charles J Doherty, Canada's Minister of Justice at the time, and his son, Marcus, who was a seminarian there.

There were countless stories in the Canadian media for several months after the raid. I've read several of those accounts in archived digital copies of the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail, which are available via the Toronto Public Library's website to anyone holding a TPL library card. Aside: library cards are golden, especially for genealogists and, well, anyone who loves to read.

I first wrote about the Guelph Raid here in 2016, but again researched events now, finding an excellent and well-sourced 1978 paper, The Guelph Novitiate Raid: Conscription, Censorship and Bigotry submitted to the Canadian Catholic Historical Association by a Basilian priest/academic, Brian Hogan. It's worth a read.The title says it all: the raid came down to Protestant bigotry directed at Catholics.

new article about the raid was published on May 4, 2018 in the Waterloo Region Record. Waterloo Region is very near Guelph. That article prompted me to write this post. I wonder why their editors didn't wait just a few weeks to publish today, on the the 100th anniversary.

The never ending story continues....



© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Ross: pushing back another generation...also, twins!

FamilySearch.org public domain
A few years ago, I found a baptismal record showing that my great grandmother Annie Ross (1849-1922) had given birth to a baby girl that she brought with her into her 1878 marriage to my great grandfather, Frank Gillanders Matheson. That daughter, Annie Munro Ross, sadly died at the age of 8 in 1882, possibly from peritonitis.

FamilySearch.org public domain
Later, I discovered that Annie had in fact borne twins when her daughter was born on 21 Feb 1874 after another baptismal record discovery led to her son, Henry Ross, who sadly died the same day he and his sister Annie were born. These were the only set of twins I'd ever found in all of my genealogy research. Until now.

Since finding the grave marker of Annie's grandparents (my 3rd great grandparents) Duncan Ross and Marjory McDonald online, I've been looking for their parents. And now, I'm fairly certain I've found Duncan's parents, while at the same time discovering that he was also a twin. Yes, it's one of those aha moments! Take a look:

FamilySearch.org public domain
That's right. Duncan's mother's maiden name was Munro. The Munro name and the fact that he was also a twin is just far too coincidental. I've learned not to ignore genealogical coincidences.  While Annie hadn't named the father in her twins' baptismal records, I had assumed that Munro was a clue to his last name. But no. My newest set of 4th grandparents are George Ross and Margaret Munro.
FamilySearch.org public domain


I have confirmed DNA matches with others pointing to Duncan and Marjory McDonald as common ancestors. I'm looking forward to finding new DNA matches with George and Margaret as common ancestors.

Oh, and in a further coincidence, my new-found 3rd great aunt Katherine Ross married a man named John Davidson, with whom she had at least eight children. I have a Scottish 3rd great grandmother, Margaret Davidson (1778-1863). I have to wonder if Katherine's husband is a close relation to this Margaret.

Aha moments in genealogy research really are the absolute best.

The never ending story continues.....




© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved

Sunday, 3 June 2018

We Remember 4: Private Arthur George Laing (1913-1944)

When you're well and truly bitten by the genealogy bug as I am, you research your extended family's family history. Their parents, aunts, uncles grandparents and back. Arthur George Laing (1913-1944) was the older brother of an aunt by marriage. Artie was a private in the 48th Highlanders of Canada Regiment and was killed in action in the Second World War in Italy.

He had enlisted in Montreal on 22 Mar 1943. Eighteen months later, he died at the age of 31.

Canadian Virtual War Museum
Recently, I was contacted by a volunteer researcher with the 48th Highlanders of Canada Museum, who had found Arthur on my family tree posted on Ancestry. The volunteer is one of a team looking for photographs of all men who served with the Regiment during that war. I had to tell the volunteer that I didn't believe the family had any photograph of Artie.

Canadian Virtual War Museum
But the volunteer went to work, and was able to find a photograph, actually rather quickly. He sent me a link to the Arthur George Laing page on the Canadian Virtual War Museum website where we see a photo of Artie, his headstone and views of the cemetery where he is buried in Italy.

Artie was the middle of three brothers who all served in the Second World War. His two brothers served in the Royal Canadian Navy. His official death date is recorded as 6 Sep 1944, but Artie's mother, May, was only notified by telegram on 12 days later on the 18th that he was missing in action. On 4 Oct, May received formal notification that Artie had been killed in action on 6 Sep 1944. He had been buried the day after the first telegram was sent. In his 24 Oct formal condolence letter to May, Major-General Adjutant General A. E. Walford of the Ministry of National Defence said:
"From official information we have received, your son killed in action against the enemy."
Those war years lacked the immediacy of all the modern communication tools we now take so for granted. Those years must have been a very difficult time for May. In August 1943, Artie's father passed away. At the time, all three of her sons were away from home.

After he died, Artie's mother, May, received a war service gratuity of $176.55. There are no words.

In addition to being commemorated on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial, Arthur George Laing is commemorated in the Second World War Book of Remembrance. The Government of Canada has seven books of remembrance for the more than 118,000 Canadians who have died in service to their country since Canada's Confederation in 1867.

You can download and read Arthur's service file here.

I shared all of this information with my cousins, who shared it with their mother, aunt and other cousins. Arthur's two surviving sisters, now aged 96 and 101, were especially grateful to see the photograph of their brother's headstone, which they had never seen.

The never ending story continues....



© Margaret Dougherty 2016-2018 All rights reserved