On 9 May

Today: my grandfather’s birthday, and a Strachan ancestor who disappeared from the records for 35 years.

9 May 1807
Birth of Thomas Strachan at Riccarton, Ayrshire, son of my gggg uncle Robert Strachan and Jean Kelly. Nothing else can be found for him so the assumption is Thomas died when young.

9 May 1895
Happy birthday Grandad! My grandfather James (Jim) Fraser – who I knew well and remember with great fondness – was born at Aikenshill farm, parish of Foveran, Aberdeenshire, son of William Fraser and Helen Hay. His father William, from Cruden, was working there as a farm servant. In 1901 Jim was with his father, mother and 3 siblings at Mill of Brogan, parish of Slains, where his father was the head cattleman. Very sadly, his mother Helen died in 1903 when Jim was 8 years old, and shortly afterwards the family moved to Hatton village. Jim acquired a stepmother, Helen Ann Morgan, in 1907. I’m not sure what he did before the war – he mentioned caddying at Cruden Bay golf course – but in 1911 he’s not with his family but there is a James Fraser age 15 born Foveran at Turner Hall Farm, Ellon working as a farm servant horseman. His days as a farm servant were limited, though, as in September 1914 he joined the Gordon Highlanders and went to Bedford for training. His battalion landed at Boulogne in May 1915, and in 1916 they were on the frontline at the Battle of the Somme. Jim was shot in the left wrist in November 1916 at Beaumont Hamel and repatriated to an army hospital in Leeds, at Beckett’s Park next to Kirkstall. On his discharge in 1917 he stayed in Leeds and went on a training course, becoming a painter and decorator. He took lodgings in Kirkstall, round the corner from where Clara Green was living with her parents and siblings. Jim and Clara married in 1919, lived in Kirkstall and had 2 daughters, the youngest being my mother Dorothy. Jim never went back to Aberdeenshire to live but took his family for holidays on the Fraser croft while his father was alive, and relatives often came to stay in Leeds. Before his retirement Jim worked for Samuel Smith’s brewery, decorating pubs. He died in 1971 in Leeds.

9 May 1896
My ggg aunt Jean Strachan, widow of Hugh Jamieson, died at Irvine Poorhouse. She was the daughter of John Strachan and Agnes Neilson, born in Riccarton, and married muslin weaver Hugh Jamieson in Kilmarnock in 1837. They don’t appear to have had children, and Hugh Jamieson died in 1861. Jean then disappears as despite a thorough search I can’t find her in any further census. But she died in 1896: her death certificate has her as the widow of Hugh Jamison and daughter of John and Agnes Strachan. She died at Cunningham Combination Poorhouse at Irvine of cardiac disease. I wish I knew where she went to after her husband died.

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