Monthly Archives: June 2013

On 15 June

Cousins who married, a migration to Illinois, and someone who was born, married and died in Kilmarnock.

15 June 1869 (born about 1837 and 1843)
This event involves two people on my tree as it was the marriage of John Muir and Mary Holland, who were cousins. John Muir, born about 1837 at Kilmaurs, was the son of Andrew Muir and Elizabeth Strachan. Mary Holland, born about 1843 at Kilmarnock, was the daughter of Robert Armour Holland and Agnes Strachan. Both Elizabeth and Agnes Strachan were the daughters of my gggg uncle Peter Strachan and Mary Monroe. In 1851 John Muir is with his widowed mother, siblings and stepfather at Kilburnie. His mother died in 1856 2 weeks after giving birth. Mary Holland is with her parents and siblings in 1851 at Portland Row, Hurlford, her father a coal miner. On 15 June 1860 John Muir and Mary Holland were married, and in 1861 are at McGee’s Land, Riccarton in 1861 with a baby daughter. By 1871 they had moved to England and were living at Freeman’s Row, Seaton Deleval, Northumberland where John worked as a coal miner, and they had had 3 more children. By 1881 they had moved again, to Arlecdon, in Cumberland, on the northern edge of the Lake District, where John was an ironstone miner, and they’d had another 4 children. And at that point they disappear, though I haven’t yet spent much time looking for them. Perhaps they migrated as they seemed fond of moving.

15 June 1871 (born about 1843)
Thomas Laught Strachan born at Dreghorn, grandson of my gggg uncle Robert Strachan and Jean Kelly, and son of Andrew Strachan and Elizabeth Howat. Thomas’s mother died in about 1845, when Thomas was about 2 years old, and in 1847 his father Andrew Strachan married again, to Margaret Todd, but she died in about 1850. In 1851 7 year old Thomas is with his father, a coal miner, and his siblings at McReadie’s Land, Dreghorn, and with the family is his aunt Elizabeth Strachan, who gave birth to an illegitimate child by Andrew Strachan the following year. In 1854 Andrew Strachan married yet agai, to Jean Walker. In 1861 the rather large family, of Andrew, his wife, 9 children and a servant, are at Riccarton and Thomas, age 16, is a coal miner. Thomas’s father died in 1864. All in all, Thomas had a very unsettled childhood. In 1871 he is lodging in Dreghorn with his married Howat cousin, and in June that year he married Jane Frew, a domestic servant, in Dreghorn. They migrated to USA, arriving in about 1878, and are in the US census in 1880 in Reed Township, Braidwood, Illinois, and are still there in 1900, Thomas working as a coal miner. He died in Braidwood in 1907 at age 64 and had had 7 children.

15 June 1901
Birth of Agnes Porter Strachan at Sandbed Street, Kilmarnock, daughter of my great uncle Colin Haddow Strachan and Agnes Porter. Agnes’s mother died from puerperal septicaema after giving birth in 1910. In 1911 Agnes is with her father, a coal miner, and a brother at Mill Lane, Crookedholm and her 1 year old sister is living round the corner with her adopted parents. Agnes’ father remarried in 1913. Agnes married Thomas Connor in 1922 at Kilmarnock, and died in Kilmarnock in 1980 at the age of 79.

On 14 June

A very quiet day – nothing happened! Which is probably a good job as I’ve been busy typing up next week’s “on this day” events so I can put them on my blog to be progressively published while I’m away.

On 13 June

A quiet day – only one birth, of someone who then disappears.

13 June 1791
Birth of James Logan, my gggg uncle, at Old Deer, Aberdeenshire, son of James Logan and Catherine Smith. There is no obvious marriage for him, and nothing that looks like him in the census, so he may have died when young, or he may just be very difficult to find in the records.

Book review: The Scots: a genetic journey by Alistair Moffat and James F Wilson

Although it might not help your family history research all that much, this is a fascinating survey of where Scottish people have come from, using DNA, archaeology and recorded history. It’s also very well written, so though full of “science” it’s not too hard to read. It starts with the end of the ice age, more or less, as there weren’t humans that anyone knows about in Scotland before then, and works forward in time, right up to the incomers of more recent times.

Particularly impressive is how genetics is interwoven with an interesting telling of Scotland’s history and an analysis of it languages. But in brief, if you’re Scottish, or descended from Scots, you’ve probably got a largish dose of Irish in you.

On 12 June

A “nothing else found” – which happens all too often when researching your family tree – a family who moved from Aberdeenshire to Banffshire then to Moray, and happy birthday to my young great nephew.

12 June 1728
Birth of Bessie Reid at Kilwinning, daughter of Thomas Reid and Janet Eadie. I suspect she is the sister of my ggggg grandmother Christian Reid. She could also be the Bethia Reid who married James Hart in Kilwinning in 1752, and had children baptised in Kilwinning in 1753 and 1760. Nothing else found, however. It is MUCH harder tracing a family forward than it is going backwards in time!

12 June 1838 (born about 1814)
My gggg aunt Mary Hutcheon, born about 1814 at daughter of Alexander Hutcheon and Agnes Bruce, married Robert Lamb at Old Deer. She is with her agricultural labourer husband a 2 children in 1841 at Newseat, Peterhead in 1841, and in 1851 they are at Cuminstown, Monquhitter – but the head is absent so was probably working elsewhere. By then they had 6 children, born in Longside, Peterhead and Monquhitter. By 1861 they have moved to Blairs House Farm, Rafford, Moray where Robert Lamb is a farm overseer and they have had 4 more children, the last 3 born in Gomery, Banffshire, plus they have a grandchild living with them. Mary died in 1863 at age 48 due to “illegible” reasons, at Forres, Elgin.

12 June 2005
One of the youngest on my family tree, my great nephew, was born. He is my big sister’s grandchild and has a first name that was already on the family tree, though I suspect that was a coincidence!

Off to Scotland very soon

On Sunday I drive up to Scotland, stopping first at Edinburgh to spend a day at the National Archives looking at Kirk Session Minutes. As Edinburgh is not too long a drive away, and hopefully the weather will be okay, I’m doing the scenic route through Northumberland National Park and then through Border Country.

On Tuesday I’ll be off to Aberdeen, and again I’m taking the scenic route via Braemar and Balmoral. Cross fingers it’s not raining or foggy.

In Aberdeenshire I’ll be visiting ancestral homelands, the local studies centre in Aberdeen, and a few places of interest such as the Farming Museum at Pitmedden. Be interesting to see what’s happened to the Fraser family croft since I last saw it: it was uninhabitable then and no doubt still is.

I am SO looking forward to being up there again!

On 11 June

“Today’s events” can be like waiting for a London bus: nothing happens for a while and then they all come at once. After a quiet few days, my ancestors were busy on 11 June: a silk loom weaver who became a butcher, someone who married a salmon fisher, the sad suicide, and an infant death.

11 June 1808
Robert Hunter baptised at Stevenston, Ayrshire son of my gggg uncle Robert Hunter and gggg aunt Margaret Haddow (his parents are both related to me through their siblings as Robert’s sister Margaret Hunter married Margaret’s brother Robert Haddow). Robert Hunter is listed in the 1819 minister’s census of Stevenston at Cow Roading, with his parents and siblings, and is probably one of the 6 children shown without names in 1822. In 1830 he married Agnes Kennedy in Stevenston, and they are in the 1836 minister’s census at Loan, with 5 in the household. In 1841 they are at Schoolwell Street, Stevenston with 5 children and Robert is a silk hand loom weaver. By 1851 he is the same address but has changed occupation and is a flesher (butcher) and 2 more children have been born. He disappears from the records after that, and as there is no statutory death for him it looks as of he died after the 1851 census but before 1855. In the 1861 his wife is a widow, with two son who are both silk weavers.

11 June 1815
Birth of Elizabeth Booth in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, my gggg aunt and daughter of William Booth and Margaret Allan. She;s probably in the records somewhere after that but I haven’t yet trcked her down.

11 June 1838
Birth of Robert Ballantine at Kilmaurs, Ayrshire son of Thomas Ballantine and Susanna Strachan and grandson of my gggg uncle Robert Strachan and Jean Kelly. In 1841 he’s with his parents and siblings at Thirdpart, Kilmarnock, his father a coal miner. Not found in 1851, but in 1861 he’s still with his parents and siblings who have moved to Dreghorn, and is a coal miner along with his father and brother. I’ve not been able to find him after that: on Ancestry there are a number of trees with him marrying Mary Miller in Kilmarnock but I’ve not found a record for such a marriage, and then having him as a farmer and miller in Canada, but I’m not convinced this is the same Robert Ballantine.

11 June 1845
Baptism of Elizabeth Fraser at Cruden, Aberdeenshire daughter of my ggg grandfather William Fraser and Christian Hutcheon. She was born on the family croft near Hatton, and is there with her family in 1851 with an inaccurate age. In 1861, age 15, she’s a domestic servant to her older sister Isabella, who had married farmer George Wallace and lived at South Hay Farm, Cruden. Elizabeth married James McGarrol, a widower, in Aberdeen in 1874, and in 1881 they’re at High Street, Peterhead. James is a salmon fisher from Banff and they have 3 children of their own, plus a visitor. Can’t find them in 1891 but in 1901 they’re at 10 Main Road, Cruden, James age 70 still a salmon fisher, with 2 children still at home, the youngest of whom was born in Pitsligo, Elizabeth McGarrol nee Fraser died in 1910 at Hatton Village age 63 years.

11 June 1864 (born about 1843)
Hugh Strachan, son of John Strachan and Margaret Lambie and grandson of my gggg uncle Robert Strachan and Jean Kelly, was born about 1843 in Dreghorn, Ayrshire. He’s with his parents and siblings in 1851 and 1861, and by the latter date was a coal miner. The Ardrossen & Saltcoats Herald carried an announcement of his marriage on 11 June 1864 to Fanny Robertson at Irvine. Can’t find them in 1871, but his father applied for poor relief in 1879 and his application state son Hugh was married with 5 children. In 1881 Hugh and Fanny, with 6 children the eldest 2 born in Dreghorn and the younger 4 born in Irvine, are at East Back Road, Irvine. Hugh is a coal miner and his brother James, also a coal miner, lodging with them. In 1886 Hugh’s mother Mary, now widowed, applied for poor relief citing Hugh as married with 8 children, 2 of them working. In 1891 the family had moved to Blackridge Village near Torphichen in West Lothian and had 3 more children born in Coylton and Ochiltree, Ayrshire. Hugh Strachan died in the early hours of 30 November 1896 at his house at 76 Rumblingwell, Dunfermline. His death certificate says of suicide, and the corrected entry states death was caused by poisoning by carbolic acid. He left a wife and several children, the youngest being 11.

11 June 1866
Birth of Jeannie Murphy Strachan at Kenneth’s Row, Kilwinning, my great aunt and daughter of my great grandparents Joseph Strachan and Jeannie Haddow. Jeannie died on 19 February 1867 at 8 months old, of gastro enteritis.

Explosive ancestors: Alfred Nobel’s dynamite factory at Stevenston

Alfred Nobel discovered dynamite in 1865. A group of Scottish businessmen realised its potential in mining and formed the British Dynamite Company. Looking for a manufacturing site not too close to houses, they chose the rather desolate beachside location of Ardeer, between Stevenston and Irvine, in Ayrshire. The first batch of nitro-glycerine, produced by Alfred Nobel himself, was made there in 1873, and the factory employed a number of local people, including some of my Hunter ancestors. In 1877 Nobel discovered basting gelatine, and the British Dynamite Company became a major manufacturer. It went on to become the largest explosives factory in the world, and the company eventually became part of ICI.

Mary Hunter, born in Stevenston in 1833, had an illegitimate son Robert Hunter in 1853 and she then married Robert Hamilton and had another 9 children. Mary, her coal miner husband and children lived at Schoolwell Street in the Kirkgate area of Stevenston. Her son Robert Hunter lived with them and initially worked as a coal miner. Mary’s husband died in about 1889, and by 1891 the dynamite factory had become a place of work for several members of the family. Robert Hunter was working there as a labourer and his half sister Marion was a dynamite worker. By 1901, Robert was still there, his half sister Gilberta was an explosive cartridge girl and his half sister Martha was a cordite mixer. The Ardeer factory must have been offering better wages than the traditional, textile based jobs for girls.

On 10 June

A day late but there was one yesterday, a farm servant who has not yet been traced after the age age 16.

10 June 1865
Baptism of William Hutcheon at Cruden, Aberdeenshire, son of gggg uncle Keith Hutcheon and his second wife Ann McPherson. In 1871 he’s in Hatton with his parents and siblings, his father a tailor and letter carrier and his mother a seamstress, and in 1881 he’s a 16 year old farm servant on a farm in Ellon, along with relative James Fraser. After that I’ve not been able to track him down in the records.

On 9 June

Only one person to mention today, who migrated to Vancouver.

9 June 1892
Birth of Margaret Milne at Cruden, Aberdeenshire daughter of Alexander Milne and Elizabeth Thompson and graddaughter of my ggg aunt Jessie Fraser. In 1901 she’s with her parents and siblings at Main Road, Cruden and her father is a blacksmith. Margaret Milne domestic servant migrated to Canada, arriving May 1921 destined for Mrs Thompson in Vancouver, who was probably a relative of her mother. She married Alexander Birnie in Vancouver in 1922 and died there in 1852 age 59.