Revisiting the MacColls/McColls of Kenmore and Ontario

Last week I presented my readers with a confusing question arising from letters between two cousins. The jury is still out on whether Catherine McCorquodale later McColl does indeed belong to my family, being a daughter of Duncan MacQuorquodale.

My investigations have sent me down the rabbit hole of discovery so I thought I’d set out some details on this family, irrespective of whether they turn out to be kin.

Dugald McColl married Mary Cameron in Argyll and had the following children:

John born 18 May 1795

Helen born 12 Oct 1797

Donald born 25 Dec 1799

Allan born 24 Dec 1801

Dugald born 25 Jan 1804

Hugh born 21 Sept 1808 (later known as Evan)

Archibald born 12 Jan 1811

Initially I was chasing the primary records trying to determine where the family members had gone, and especially the fate of Allan McColl who married my hypothetical 3xgreat aunt Catherine McCorquodale in 1829. One thing led to another, as it does when you go down that research rabbit hole, and with a hot tip from my Canadian cousin, I discovered some interesting information on Allan’s emigration to Ontario.

4 Kenmore men, Duncan McArthur, Allan McColl, Robert McGilp and Duncan Campbell, Junior, who emigrated to America in 1850, //”the Duke buying their cattle and crops for £92-4-6d and paying their passage money of £36. //” Did this happen for any other men in the surround area? Why did these 4 men go? Did they sail with anyone else?[i]

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a look through the Duke of Argyll’s archives in Inveraray to see what else could be found about these men and their families?

Perhaps there’s a clue why Allan McColl’s family emigrated. Other references tell us that Allan’s father, and his unmarried children had emigrated to British North America (later Canada) in 1831. It would be thanks to Allan’s brother Evan’s (baptised Hugh), who had an incredible poetic reputation, that so much detail has been preserved[ii].

Once again, I was so busy sleuthing out the primary records that when I turned to Google I was blown away to discover that Evan was well recognised as a Gaelic poet being called the Bàrd Loch Fìne (Poet of Loch Fyne) and later the “Gaelic Poet of Canada”. Evan is absolutely no genetic relation of mine but what a thrill to find out his reputation. A number of sites describe his and Allan’s parents thus:

Dugald MacColl who was possessed of “the richest store of Celtic song of any man living in his part of the country.[iii]” His mother, Mary Cameron, “was noted for her storehouse of traditional tales, legendary and fairy tales.” She was also said to be something of an ‘improvisatrice’ or maker-up of tales.[iv]

Dugald Maccoll was possessed of a manly presence, fine personal appearance and great natural intelligence…nothing delighted him more than to see the patriot flame fanned in the bosom of his young family….”. He was descended from “the Maccolls of Galdruim”…and “possessed superior natural endowments – physical as well as mental – and was reputed to be altogether as fine a specimen of the Highlanders as could be found in the whole county of Argyll in his day”. Dugald continued to wear Highland dress “long after it had ceased to be used by any other of the adult population of his native parish[v]. His wife, Mary Cameron, was the daughter of Domhnull mor a Gharbhchoirre of the Cowal district.

How fortunate were their children to have such a rich cultural heritage. Dugald was so committed to his children’s education that he is said to have provided a private tutor for his children and also to have purchased a bulk lot of books from a traveller looking for a sale. Of their home it was said “As one might expect, their house was one of the favourites for local ceilidhs[vi]. If Evan was the beneficiary of this forward thinking, then it’s without doubt that Allan would have been also, being only three years older. Suddenly it became clearer how it came about that Allan would work as a teacher in Canada, and his own son would become a medical practitioner.

It wasn’t only a life of song and poetry for the six boys in the family as they were required to help on the family tenant farm and during the winter herring season on Loch Fyne. Dugald also had a contract to repair the roads in some of the county and the sons also became road labourers on those projects.

Let’s return to the focus of my search – the family of Allan McColl and Catherine (Kathrine) McCorquodale. The couple had the following children, all born in Inveraray, Argyll before they left Scotland:

Mary (born 1830), Duncan (born 1831), Dugald (born 1833), Nancy (born 1835), Hugh/Evan (born 1838), Julia Mary/JulieAnn (born 1841), Fanny (born 1844) and a child with an indecipherable name, born about 1845.

Duncan#4 McColl’s 1851 letter to his cousin Duncan McCorquodale (son of Hugh) at Inveraray Castle refers to his family as being at Seymour in the Trent River area. This is confirmed by the 1851 census in which they family are shown with Archibald McColl, a farmer, almost certainly Allan’s Uncle Archibald who is also referred to in the letter.  Duncan mentions working with his father (Allan), and that his mother (Catherine) is in “better health than she has been for these ten years past”. He also refers to his uncle’s emigration from Liverpool “Uncle Evan came here the beginning of October he was only 28 days coming from Liverpool to New York and he’s at present up where John is[vii]. Other references refer to Evan’s earlier visit to Upper Canada stating he stayed with his brother at the Trent River[viii].

McCOLL Dugald Inverness Courier 26 Oct 1848 p2

Obituary Dugald MacColl, Inverness Courier 26 October 1848.

In Duncan #4’s letter to his cousin in 1857, there is no mention of whether his parents are still alive. He says that his brothers are at Kingston, which is where his uncle Evan is residing after immigrating. His sister Nancy has apparently relocated to the USA, perhaps no further than across the Great Lakes.

To date I have been unable to locate a death for Duncan’s parents, Allan and Catherine, or of his grandmother Mary. I had been hoping that a death for Catherine might reveal anything about her McCorquodale parents.  However, grandfather Dugald’s obituary travels as far as Scotland, largely due to his son’s poetic eminence. I have to wonder how someone who was such a Scottish patriot chose to emigrate to British America (later Canada) in 1831, taking his unmarried children with him.

It appears this saga will continue over a couple of posts. It seems silly to have done so much sleuthing, attempting to coordinate it in my head, and then leave it undocumented.

McColl map Canada

Some of the places (starred) where the MacColl family lived.

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[i] http://glenaray.wikidot.com/kenmore-village

[ii] http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/maccoll_evan_12E.html

[iii] Alexander Mackenzie, ‘Evan MacColl – the Bard of Loch Fyne’, in The Celtic Magazine, Inverness: A & W Mackenzie, 1881, Volume VI, p.54. This is a three part biography: (1) No. LXII, December 1880, pp,. 54–58; (2) No. LXIII, January 1881, pp. 95–103; (3) No. LXIV, February 1881, pp. 139–145 (an extract from MacColl’s diary for 1838–39 of a tour of the Highlands).

[iv] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evan_MacColl and other sites.

[v] The couple were said to have six sons and two daughters so I have missed one. A, M. (1880). EVAN MACCOLL-THE “BARD OF LOCHFYNE.”. The Celtic Magazine, 6(62), 54-58. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.rp.nla.gov.au/docview/3215323?accountid=12694

[vi] https://dasg.ac.uk/corpus/textmeta.php?text=88&uT=y

[vii] Transcript of letters held by my Canadian cousin, Sheila.

[viii] Alexander Mackenzie, ‘Evan MacColl – the Bard of Loch Fyne’ op cit.

Thinking “out loud” online

Do you ever have the feeling that your more distant branches on the family tree are rather like Swiss cheese, full of holes with tenuous structure? Please bear with me while I think online – I’d be interested in any feedback other genimates can offer.

I’ve been revisiting my McCorkindale (aka McCorquodale and many variants) branches and correspondence with a Canadian cousin. In a lightbulb moment I’ve concluded, tentatively, that I was missing a sibling for my 2xgreat grandfather, James McCorquodale later McCorkindale.

I absolutely love Scottish Records for their broad information especially when one gets to civil registration from 1855. Another virtue is that the woman’s maiden name is retained in the documents (generally). McCorquodale etc is a relatively uncommon name except in their heartlands of Argyll so maiden names can be very helpful. And then there’s the traditional Scottish pattern for the children’s names. However, can you be sure you have the first, or only, marriage for your person?

Let me get down to nuts and bolts, but first let me give you a summary of the cast of this story. Throughout this post the surname McCorquodale can be implied unless otherwise stated.

The cast

I was lucky to have received a copy of my great-grandfather’s (James’s) baptism record from my grandmother. It was also obliging of him to state his birth place, on the census, as Inistrynich near Cladich on Loch Awe. This gave me confidence that Duncan McCorquodale at Cairndow was my correct ancestor.

This enabled me to find his parents Duncan#1 McCorquodale (aka MacQuorquodale etc) and Anne Campbell who married in the parish of Glenorchy and Inishail on 25 April 1791. Son James was born on 14 March 1808 and only today have I deciphered where the register says his parents lived: the Gatehouse near Cladich. Previously I had Drimuirk.

Given we’re in Campbell country my chances of pinpointing the correct parents for Ann are slim to none. Searching the LDS microfilm for the parish of Glenorchy and Inishail, I long ago identified the following children to Duncan #1 and Ann[i].

  Birth Christening Place Parish Married
Hugh 7 Nov 1791 9 Nov 1791 Tervean G&I Ann (Nancy) Bell
Mary 19 Jan 1794 20 Jan 1794 Achnacarron G&I Nicol McIntyre in Glasgow in 1823
Anne* 27 Dec 1798 Illegible G&I Unknown
Sarah** 4 April 1802 4 April 1802 Cladich G&I Unmarried to 1851
Betty 12 Feb 1805 13 Feb 1805 Cladich G&I John McDonald
James 14 Mar 1808 Drimuirk G&I Isabella Morrison

But wait, was Duncan’s marriage to Ann in 1791 his first marriage? And was his father therefore called Hugh?

There is another marriage of a Duncan#1 McCorquodale to Margaret Keith/McKeich and this couple had two children: Dougald b 8 March 1788 christened 20 March 1788 and Sarah b 2 Jan 1790 christened 4 Jan 1790, both in Glenorchy and Inishail.

There are no further children to this couple and for some time I’ve considered the possibility that Margaret died after Sarah’s birth, and that Duncan’s marriage to Ann Campbell was his second. Unfortunately, our research at this time is constrained by the absence of burial registers and I found no indication of mort cloth rentals in the Kirk Session records for Inishail. This ambiguity will probably remain into the future.

I’ve managed to find marriages and/or death records for James’s siblings and there is a track record of longevity in the family.  Duncan#1 is shown as 80 on the 1851 census[ii], making it feasible that the marriage to Margaret could be his. Unfortunately he dies between 1851and the comprehensive certificates of 1855….drat!! However, his children’s death certificates (from Scotland’s People[iii]) all show his occupation as a weaver, even though he listed himself as an ag lab on the census records…possibly seasonal occupations.

Duncan and Ann’s son, James, my ancestor, married Isabella Morrison from Strachur in 1832. The family lived on/near the Ardkinglas estate on Loch Fyne for many years. James and Isabella’s children were:

Name Birth date Christening Place
Catherine 16 Aug 1832 Strachur
Anne 21 April 1834 Strachur
Euphemia 3 July 1836 Kenmuir
Malcolm 15 Sept 1839 Strachur
Duncan #3 31 Oct 1841 Baichyban
Janet (Jessie) 16 Feb 1845 Kilmorich
Isabella 14 Sept 1847 Kilmorich

You’ll notice that Duncan #3 here is the second son, named after his father’s father whereas the first son is named after Isabella’s father, Malcolm Morrison. James’s brother Hugh had also had a son named Duncan #2 who was born on 20 Feb 1832 at Inveraray.

My Canadian cousin sent me two transcribed letters ten years ago. Somehow, at the time I missed the relevance of a key point in the letters. In 1851 Duncan McColl (Duncan #4) writes to his cousin Duncan#2 McCorquodale at Inveraray Castle where the latter worked as a gardener. In his letter Duncan#4 McColl speaks of his own family and their experiences since arriving in Ontario, Canada in 1850. His cousin had asked him about gardens where he lived in Ontario and Duncan#4 McColl refers to Kenmuir (Kenmore) where his family had lived before emigrating. He also tells his cousin that “We all join in sending our kind love to your Father, Mother and Sister not forgetting yourself and our friends at Cladich and Grandfather and all enquiring friends”. The mention of Cladich and grandfather in one sentence rang bells with me and sent me off tracing Duncan McColl’s family. But first…

The cousin written to, Duncan McCorquodale #2, is the son of Hugh (above) and grew up near the McColls and was a similar age to Duncan#4 McColl. Duncan#2 was a gardener. He is found with is another cousin, Malcolm (born Strachur, son of James) working as a gardener with Duncan #2 (born Inveraray) at Kilbride in the parish of Dunoon, Argyll in 1861. Malcolm and Duncan#2 are cousins[iv], which tends to imply that Duncan#4 McColl is also a cousin of Malcolm’s[v], my ancestor James (Malcolm’s brother), and Duncan #3[vi]. The nice thing is that Duncan#2, who received the letters, is the great-grandfather of my Canadian cousin.

1861 Census McCOrquodale Duncan and Malcolm

1861 Census Piece: SCT1861/510 Place: Dunoon & Kilmun -Argyllshire Enumeration District: 3
Civil Parish: Dunoon & Kilmun Ecclesiastical Parish, Village or Island: Dunoon
Folio: 0 Page: 58 Schedule: 318, Address: 12 Kilbride on freecen.org.uk

So, my question became: Is Duncan#4 McColl a cousin through his father or his mother? Allan McColl had married Catherine McCorquodale in 1829 in Inveraray and Glenaray Parish. By the time of the 1841 census, they had four children: Duncan#4 born 1830, Dugald born 1833, Nancy b 1835 and Evan born 1838. Catherine was 35, making her YOB between 1801 and 1806[vii].  The family don’t appear in the 1851 Scottish census and this is clarified by the notation on Canadian census records[viii] which state Duncan#4 McColl arrived in 1850.

1841 freecen McColl

Image from freeCen.org.uk

Allan McColl is the son of Dugald McCall and Mary Cameron so that eliminates the cousinship at paternal first cousin level at least. This in turn adds weight to Catherine McCorquodale being a sister to Hugh and James, and daughter of Duncan#1 and Ann Campbell. The birth years of the other children don’t preclude her being part of this family, but it’s unfortunate that I’ve not found a suitable baptism for her when I trawled the parish registers. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to locate a death for Catherine McCorquodale McColl in Canada…this may be down to my novice experience with Canadian records, or her death may fall in the pre-1869 period when civil registration didn’t apply (experts please feel free to add/correct).

I’ll be writing more about the McColls in another post. However, meanwhile I’d appreciate my genimates’ opinions on the logic behind my argument, thoughts for proving it somehow, and any other feedback. And if you’re confused about all those Duncans and Hughs, you’re not alone…and that’s without getting into the Catherines, Euphemias etc. How I’d love to visit the Duke of Argyll’s archives at Inveraray Castle…one day.

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[i] Parish records of Glenorchy and Innishail, microfilm 1041008, Items 1 – 3

[ii] Piece: SCT1851/512 Place: Glenorchy-Innishail -Argyllshire Enumeration District: 6
Civil Parish: Inishail Ecclesiastical Parish, Village or Island:
Folio: 401 Page: 7 Schedule: 31 Address: Drimuirk on freecen.org.uk

[iii] https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

[iv] Verified by Scottish Marriage certificate 1859 644/7 124 of Duncan (#2) McCorquodale and Jane Ann Shaw in Glasgow.

[v] As an aside, Malcolm and his wife would later migrate and raise his family in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire before emigrating to Sydney, Australia. Throughout Malcolm retains the original surname spelling of McCorquodale. I wondered sometimes if this was too big a leap of faith in the connection, however his death certificate in Sydney records his parents correctly as James and Isabella. Not at all coincidentally he had named his home “Cairndow” after the home of his youth.

[vi] Meanwhile, James’s second son, Duncan#3 (confused yet?) migrated from Argyll to Glasgow, typical of the era. Duncan#3 was my great-grandfather. He died in Glasgow but his widow and all but one of his family emigrated to Australia in 1910.

[vii] This census rounded down the ages of adults to the nearest 5 years.

[viii] 1901 Census, Ontario, District 95 Northumberland, Village of Campbellford.

Trove Discoveries: The Skirl o’ Pipes

Many years ago, I found occasional references to my great-uncle Peter McCorkindale on microfilmed newspapers. It was apparent that he regularly “smashed” the competition at various Highland Games. While I’d written a blog post about the McCorkindale pipers a long time ago, I’ve recently found even more on Trove.

That’s what happens when I putter away on the McCorkindale section of my database and turn to Trove for more details. The best bit is some of the photos I’ve found. Peter Sim McCorkindale (1877-1945) was the second eldest son of Duncan McCorkindale and Annie Sim. Born in Glasgow, Peter emigrated with his older brother, Duncan, in 1900. Both made their marks in the Caledonian societies Down Under.

 

McCORKINDALE Peter photo1939

CALEDONIAN PIPE BAND SUCCESS (1939, April 15). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), p. 9 (SECOND EDITION). Retrieved August 3, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-

 

McCORKINDALE Peter Jan 1937 Sunday Mail

SKIRL O’ PIPES (1937, January 24). Sunday Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1926 – 1954), p. 9. Retrieved August 3, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article97892641

What is both intriguing and puzzling is that Peter’s role as Pipe Major comes and goes over the decades. At present I have no idea how that position was determined. Also intriguing is that his brother Malcolm appears as Pipe Major in some stories. My Dad always said Malcolm was the better piper but he suffered from performance nerves.

McCORKINDALE Pipe Major M

CALEDONIAN PIPE BAND. (1921, June 28). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), p. 10 (SECOND EDITION). Retrieved August 3, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article179199539

In earlier years, Malcolm is shown to be the Pipe Sergeant of the Brisbane Caledonian Society and Burns Club Pipe Band.

McCORKINDALE Malcolm nla.news-page000019296678-nla.news-article177786181

BRISBANE CALEDONIAN SOCIETY AND BURNS CLUB PIPE BAND. (1912, July 13). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), p. 18. Retrieved August 3, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article177786181

Malcolm (and Peter) also won a number of prizes at different Caledonian Events.

 

McCORKINDALE Malcolm Warwick Daily News 1919

WARWICK CALEDONIANS. (1919, December 27). Warwick Daily News (Qld. : 1919 -1954), p. 8. Retrieved August 3, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article175750812

 

McCORKINDALE P and M Warwick 1914

At the Warwick Highland Gathering WARWICK SPORTS. (1914, December 28). Daily Standard (Brisbane, Qld. : 1912 – 1936), p. 5. Retrieved August 3, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article178857520

What I hadn’t appreciated previously is that there could be substantial prizes to be won in individual events. While two pounds may not seem much now, it would have been worthwhile at the time. It may well have been another way to bring in funds for their young families.

Peter McCorkindale also seems to have been a regular performer with Monty Bloom’s concert and vaudeville group which gave hundreds of performances to a wide array of gatherings from prisoners to old people’s home, charities and hospitals. Peter was also scheduled on the radio at different times – how I’d love to hear a recording! I can imagine my grandmother listening in and bursting with pride in her big brother. No wonder Dad also said the family had trouble with accommodation in Glasgow with all those boys practicing on their pipes!

McCORKINDALE Peter radioMcCORKINDALE Peter and Monty Bloom Telegraph

ABOVE LEFT: Broadcasting (1927, January 5). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), p. 3. Retrieved August 3, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article180607762 RIGHT: Monty Bloom’s Party Giving 200th Concert To-night (1937, December 18). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), p. 26 (SECOND EDITION). Retrieved August 3, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article184100998

 

 

 

The Backrow Shooting Case 1872

Backrow farmhouse Sim home 2

Backrow farmhouse, Bothkennar, taken during a visit to Scotland. © Pauleen Cass 2003

Quite some time ago, I found a family story among the British Newspaper Archives on Find My Past. It’s taken me ages to get to it, but I finally transcribed the whole story[i]. It involved the prosecution of my great grandmother’s brother, William Sim aka Sym, for feloniously shooting Hugh Cowan on 12th July 1872. It seems to me that the prosecution did their best to get a conviction. However, the charge was rather more elaborate than that, including inter alia:

 

 

SIM William Glasgow Herald 16 July 1872 p4

Glasgow Herald, 16 July 1872, page 4.

“…. yet true it is and of verity, that you the said William Sim are guilty of the crime first above libelled, aggravated as aforesaid , or the crime second above libelled, actor, or art and part: in so far as on the 12th or 13th day of July 1872, or on one or other of the days of that month, or of June preceding, at or the near the farm house of premises at or near Back-row aforesaid, then and now or lately occupied by the said James Sim, you the said William Sim, did wickedly and feloniously, attack and assault Hugh Cowan, miner, then and nor or lately residing at or near Kinnaird, in the parish of Larbert, and shire aforesaid, and presented at the person of the said Hugh Cowan a gun or other kind of firearm, loaded with powder and shot, or other hard substance to the prosecutor unknown and did wickedly and feloniously shoot at the said Hugh Cowan the contents of one of the barrels of said gun or other fire-arm, whereby the said Hugh Cowan was struck and wounded on or near the right shoulder, or other part of his person to the effusion of his blood and serious injury of his person…”

 

William Sym aka Sim, the 19 year old son of James Sim of Backrow farmhouse in the Parish of Bothkennar was thus charged. The early news reports had stated it more succinctly as we can see in the image from the Glasgow Herald of 16 July 1872.

A Letter to the Editor from a Mr Meikle to the Falkirk Herald, published on 27 July 1872, makes it clear that it wasn’t quite as clear-cut as the earlier news reports suggests.

SIM William Falkirk Herald 27 July 1872 p3

Falkirk Herald, 27 July 1872, page 3

In this context it’s helpful to have a sense of the local geography:

BACKROW Bothkennary Ord SurveyXXIV12.JPG

This is an extract of the Ordnance Survey Map of Stirlingshire XXIV.12 (Bothkennar) Completed in 1859, it was published in 1862, so very relevant to the case in point. Backrow farm steading is in the lower left, Skinflats on the lower right, and the Bothkennar kirk is in the top right. National Library of Scotland.

As we can see from a current Google Maps satellite view, the geographic layout remains very similar. Having read the reports, I believe the miners were on the direct path between Skinflats and the rear of the Backrow property, rather than on a normal road.

Backrow and Skinflats

The case came before the Stirling Autumn Circuit Court on 13 September 1872 when those involved were brought before the court. One of the advantages of court reporting in newspapers is that it should be accurate, or risk all sorts of legal penalties. Each of the people involved in the event was interviewed by the prosecution and the defense:

John Jenkins, a miner from Kinnaird, also part of a band which had played at a miners’ meeting in Skinflatts (sic).

Hugh Cowan, who had been shot in the shoulder.

James Penman, another of those who’d attended the miners’ meeting.

Robert Jenkins, a pit-bottomer, also from the meeting.

James Sim, farmer of Backrow, Bothkennar, my 2xgreat grandfather.

Ann Sim nee Wood, wife of James Sim, farmer (my 2x great grandmother).

James Sim, son of James and Ann, also of Backrow.

Dr Haig from Airth, who treated Cowan, described the Sim family “I known the Sims, and have done so for ten years. I never heard anything against the panel or his family. They are very respectable people altogether. The prisoner, so far as I know, is a quiet, inoffensive lad.”

Mrs Duncan, a local resident who provided water to Jenkins for the injured man.

Constable Campbell of Carronshore, who’d been called out by Annie Sim.

The Rev. Mr Stevenson, minister of Bothkennar, “bore testimony to the excellent character borne by the prisoner. He was a quiet inoffensive lad.”

William Sim’s testimony after his arrest was tabled:

I am 19 years of age. Am son of, and reside with James Sim, farmer, and Back-row in the parish of Bothkennar, and county of Stirling. Last night, about 11 o’clock, I was in bed and asleep at home, when I was awakened by hearing my mother crying out to some men who were making a noise outside our house to let our dog alone. I had previously heard stones rattling against the dog-house. I arose and went down stairs, and followed my father out of the house. On going out I saw nearly a dozen men around the door of the house, and some of them having large sticks or stack props in their hands. I found them still throwing stones at the dog, and threatening to drive the life out of it with their sticks. My father told them to let the dog alone, and they then turned upon him, and he received one blow upon the face from a stick. Three of the men then seized hold of my father and threw him down among some corn, after dragging him across the road. I then went forward to assist my father but before I reached him two men attacked me on each side, each pair of men having a stack prop in their hands, and I was struck upon the elbow by one of these, and prevented from assisting my father. My sister, Ann Sim, then came out, and she was threated in the same way, but she succeeded in getting my father away, and we all three escaped inside the house door. Upon this all the men turned upon eth dog worse than ever. My father then opened the door again, and I called out that I would bring a gun to them if they did not leave the dog alone. They swore and said they would knock both me and the gun to hell. The gun was then brought to me by someone from within. I know that the right barrel was loaded with powder and small shot – I think number two – but there were no caps on. I first held up the gun in order to frighten the men. I then put some loose powder into the left barrl, and put on a cap, and tried to snap it in the air. I then put a cap on the right barrel, and tried to snap it in the air, but it also hung fire. Upon this I was turning into the house when the gun went off as was fetching it down from my shoulder. I declare that I did not aim at anybody, or intend of hit anyone. As soon as the gun was discharged some of the men came still nearer the house, threatening us with sticks, and calling out that the house would be no longer ours. They remained at the door threatening us, and in about ten minutes, while they were still there, a man came up to the door and asked if we knew what we had done. I said we had not done much, and he replied you have shot a man. I replied that it was not intended then, for I fired in the air, and the gun hung fire. Some of them then cried out to draw us out and take our life. Upon this we shut the door, and they again yoked on the dog with their sticks. Shortly afterwards some of the party came back accompanied by a Police Constable and asked for a cart to take away the wounded man. We got him a cart and I accompanied it to the place where they man was lying at a quarter of a mile or less from our house.

My great grandmother, Annie Sim later McCorkindale, gave her experience of the events:

Ann Sim deponed – My mother cried to the men to go away. There was a great noise. There be about a score of men. I was standing at the garden when father was dragged past me. William went out behind my father to help him but I saw nothing done to my brother -only, I believe, some of them kept him back. I went to help my father. They were kicking him in the field. I dragged off two and one fellow had hold of him by the finger with his teeth. There would be five of them in the cornfield and there were others about the premises. My brother brought the dog on the chain and we got my father in. The men then came rushing to the door. I had not gone for the constable then. They threatened to break open the door, and were asking matches from each other to set fire to the town (Note: I assume this to mean the farm-steading including out buldings). I went for the constable after the gun was fired off. I told him they were killing my father. I did not know any of the men. The constable came and I afterwards heard a person had been shot. During the struggle one of the men caught hold of me and said he would knock my brains out.

I am proud of my great-grandmother’s feistiness that she took on the men who were threatening her father and managed to get him inside the house safely, despite personal threats, before going to fetch the constable.

One day I will get to read the actual court documents in the Scottish Records Office for myself, but for now I’m content to have been privy to a rather scary experience of my ancestors in the middle of the night. Shooting Cowan was not a good thing, even if accidental, but they must have been more than a little frightened in the middle of the night, fairly isolated, to have to deal with this threat.

The conclusion to the case?

‘….the jury retired, and after an absence of about 20 minutes returned with a verdict, which was read by the foreman, as follows :_ “On account of great provocation the jury find the prisoner not guilty.” Sim was accordingly discharged. The result seemed to give great satisfaction.’

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[i] Falkirk Herald, 14 September 1872, page 3 through the British Newspaper Archives on FindMyPast.com

 

 

52 weeks of Genealogy Records: Internal Migration

libraryShauna Hicks has initiated a new 52 week series of prompts, Genealogy Records. We’re only into Week 3 but there have already been some interesting topics: Military Medals, Internal Migration and Probate.

Over the past few years I’ve done several 52 week series: Personal Genealogy and History (2011), Abundant Genealogy (2012) and my own Beyond the Internet (2012). I’m currently signed up for Angler’s Rest’s Book of Me 15 month series as well, with which I’m very much behind. Combined with various A to Z April posts and other daily or monthly posts I’m reluctant to get involved in more as it starts to feel like I’ve got a tiger by the tail.

However Shauna’s topic is a great opportunity to personalise my own stories to her theme so I will probably join in from time to time where the topic is relevant to my own history.  I have such a migration mania that I couldn’t possibly not participate in her second topic, Internal Migration. Whenever I get on the topic of migration it turns into a long yarn, so grab a coffee and a comfy chair, and read on for a while.

THE McSHARRY/McSHERRY FAMILIES

With so many railway people in my family tree, it’s inevitable that they’d be a peripatetic lot. Some moved across vast distances, others only relatively short postings when in their early years.

Image from Office online.

Image from Office online.

My greatest internal migrants would be the Sherry family who arrived in Rockhampton, Queensland, from Ireland where they also worked on the railway: the Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford Railway line judging on their progressive movement through those counties. On arrival, the patriarch James Sherry, changed most of the family’s name to McSharry. Oral history suggests this may have been to piggy-back on the fame of James McSharry from the railway construction firm, O’Rourke and McSharry.  Who knows whether this is fact or fiction. I suppose it’s also possible that the two families may have been connected but that’s an exploration I’ve yet to undertake.  Whatever the reality it has certainly caused immense confusion when trying to unravel what happened to my own family over the years, especially the mystery of what happened to my James McSharry.

The McSharry family moved from Rockhampton where they arrived, to Maryborough (why?) for a number of years, then back to Rockhampton where wife/widow, Bridget McSharry, settled and ran a boarding house until her death in 1900.

The adult children of this family moved around Queensland in response to work. Early family events revealed at least some of these through death certificates, police staff files, Post Office Directories, electoral rolls, and marriage records.

The eldest son of the family, Peter Sherry, arrived with his family a year after the rest of the Sherry family. Strangely he changed his name to McSherry rather than McSharry. Within weeks of arriving in Rockhampton he had been recruited to Queensland Government Railways and so began his migration around the state. The family spent a long time in Longreach, then moved on to Hughenden and Townsville before being transferred to Rockhampton where they put down roots.

Tracing this family’s internal migration has been greatly facilitated by Trove as it has revealed stories that would otherwise never have been known. I have a full copy of Peter’s railway staff record which tells the bare bones of his positions and postings over the years: a great base for knowing where they migrated internally.

Obviously the children of this family moved with Peter and Mary McSherry in their childhood, but even in their adulthood, the migrations continued. My grandfather James, worked in Hughenden then later Townsville before moving to Brisbane so his children could obtain jobs, or so the oral history goes. Given the move occurred in 1942, mid-war, in the thick of the Brisbane Line concept, I have to wonder whether it was because he was needed to build the railway carriages further from risk of Japanese invasion.

Once again my sources are: railway staff files, Trove, oral history.

THE KUNKEL FAMILY

George and Mary Kunkel, of whom you’ve all heard often, settled in Ipswich after their marriage there in 1857. While there George worked in a number of occupations: servant (pre-marriage), pork butcher and boarding house keeper. To all extents and purposes he was there all the time, after all there were children being born at regular intervals.

Cobb & Co coach from National Library Australia, out of copyright.

Cobb & Co coach from National Library Australia, out of copyright.

It was a court report, that enlightened me differently. While the family was settled, George was also working on the Tooloom goldfields in northern NSW as a butcher. Further reading on Trove revealed that there were regular coaches between Tooloom and Ipswich so plainly he could get home fairly often, perhaps to restock his supplies.

Recently I posted how he’d had a financial setback and this may have prompted their move westward, reportedly working on the railway, or perhaps again supplying meat. The next precise confirmation of where they lived was at Highfields, via the school admission registers and through church baptisms and birth certificates.

A Queensland railway camp, possibly Fountain's Camp at Murphy's Creek.

A Queensland railway camp, possibly Fountain’s Camp at Murphy’s Creek.

A few years later and the family would move a short distance to the Fifteen Mile between Highfields and Murphys Creek where they would take up farming and settle. George supplemented the farm income by working for the railway as a labourer.

Kunkel descendants, many of them railway workers, also moved around south-east Queensland and west as far as Roma with postings as the railway was constructed. One family branch moved to Mackay in northern Queensland and set down roots cane farming.

Records: court reports, school admission records, baptisms and birth certificates, railway staff files, land selection records.

THE GAVIN FAMILY

The Gavins were short-migration people. Denis came from Kildare in Ireland and his wife, Ellen, from Wicklow. They married in Dublin before they emigrated though it’s not known when they each made that internal move.

Bullock dray loaded with wool, Qld 1898. Image from Qld State Archives, out of copyright.

Bullock dray loaded with wool, Qld 1898. Image from Qld State Archives, out of copyright.

On arrival Denis went to Binbian Downs station (per his obituary) as a carrier, then to Dalby, Toowoomba and Crows Nest. Although the distances are short by Australian standards he would have covered a lot of ground carrying wool on the bullock dray from Binbian Downs which is out near Wallumbilla.

Like the other Gavan/Gavin families with whom they interweave, but are unrelated, they remained on the Darling Downs.

Records: Convict records (the Galway Gavins), birth certificates, employment records, death certificates, re-marriage certificates, obituaries, maps, Trove.

THE KENT, PARTRIDGE AND McCORKINDALE FAMILIES

These families were my stay-at-homes. The Kents and Partridges both went straight to Ipswich on arrival as far as I can tell. There they remained until their deaths, though descendants moved around the state.

Highland Gathering Acton Flats: Duncan McCorkindale was a judge of the dancers. National Archives of Australia: A3560, 2882

Highland Gathering Acton Flats: Duncan McCorkindale was a judge of the dancers. National Archives of Australia: A3560, 2882

The McCorkindale exodus from Glasgow commenced with Peter and Duncan’s arrival in Sydney in 1900. Well actually I eventually discovered it commenced with an uncle’s arrival quite a bit earlier. After the death of their father, their mother (Annie Sim McCorkindale) emigrated with the rest of the family excluding one stay-put son, Thomas Sim McCorkindale who’d moved to London. Close analysis of the shipping lists showed that other family members had arrived as well.

Once settled in Brisbane on arrival, Peter joined them, and the family remained there except for country excursions to decimate the opposite in bagpipe and Highland Dance competitions. Duncan McCorkindale moved between Sydney and Canberra where he was part of the teams that built the nation’s capital, and their Caledonian Society.

Records: Trove, shipping lists, BDM certificates, church registers.

 THE MELVIN FAMILY

Stephen Gillespie Melvin’s family was tied to the sea, with generations of merchant seamen. No surprise then that they were born to be migrants, both internal and international.

After the death of his wife, Janet, soon after arrival SGM settled in Ipswich, Queensland where he promptly established a well-regarded confectionery shop. He must have gadded around a bit though because his land portfolio was scattered around the south east of Queensland. But it was his foray into mining that brought him undone, resulting in insolvency and a little jaunt to jail.

Not long after being released from jail, the family moved to Charters Towers which was then experiencing a gold boom. No doubt escaping his notoriety would have been on his mind as well, though the coverage of the trial was so extensive that it would have been known in Charters Towers as well.

Around the time of his second wife’s Emily’s death, SGM started acquiring businesses and land in Sydney and thus the younger members of his family set down their roots in New South Wales. Meanwhile he continued his migrations on a temporary basis, as he travelled back and forth to the UK for business. One such migration became permanent however when he died in London.

Records: BDM certificates, church registers, shipping records, Trove, court reports, gaol records, insolvency records, wills.

THE O’BRIEN WIDDUP FAMILY

I know from my Irish research that the emigrants were keen to follow their own destiny even at the expense of family connections, but the internal migration of Bridget O’Brien (later Widdup) is one that puzzles me.

Bridget (O'Brien) Widdup's grave in the Urana cemetery.

Bridget (O’Brien) Widdup’s grave in the Urana cemetery.

If Bridget was in Ipswich with her sister Mary after their long emigration journey, why did she decide to move south to the Albury area, and to Urana? This has always mystified me, since I knew from her death certificate that she’d spent one year in Queensland.

The possibilities seem to be:

  • She didn’t like the Queensland environment or climate
  • Friends were moving interstate
  • She had met her future husband, John Widdup, on the ship as the story goes so she moved to be with him.
  • Her employer in Queensland relocated and offered her a position elsewhere.

It’s the Whys of family history research that keep us on our toes.

Records: Death certificates, oral history, Trove

So there you have it…the peripatetic wanderings of my families over the years. It has always seemed to me that having made the long journey to Australia, rather than the comparatively short hop across the Atlantic, they were not daunted by further moves if they satisfied their occupation or life goals.

Sepia Saturday 210: Award-winning relatives

This week’s Sepia Saturday focuses on old books and the treasures (photographic or otherwise) found in them.Sepia Saturday 210

I don’t think I’ve ever found photos tucked away in old books but we did find a group photo behind another picture from my Grandparents’ house and I talked about that in my Moustaches and Mystery post recently.

Instead I thought I’d share a few book inscriptions with you. Over the past year I’ve acquired some of the family’s old books, including my childhood books, thanks to Mum’s move to an independent retirement unit.

Book inscriptions can be interesting I think as they reveal otherwise hidden parts of an ancestor’s or relative’s life. Back in the days when books were expensive and only rarely bought by families who weren’t affluent, they were often gifts or even school prizes.

Two of the books I have included prizes awarded to family members. One was for Mr Cassmob’s grandmother, Katie McKenna, for writing in 1901.

Katie McKenna

Another was for my grandmother’s brother, Duncan McCorkindale, who was awarded the prize for passing second stage physiology and physical geography in his Glasgow school.

Duncan McCorkindale

In fact it was something about Duncan that was one of the few things I found tucked away in a bible: the notice of his rather gruesome death in Sydney. Which makes me realise that I’ve never written about that story, or his role in the building of the nation’s capital, Canberra. I need to put that on my blog post list.Irish book

I’m curious who this book belonged to as there’s no inscription, and no publication date. My best guess is that it belonged to my Irish grandfather or one of his children.

A while ago I wrote about a prize that my grandfather’s young brother had won, but I’ve no idea what his prize was. I wonder if it too was a book.

Have you found prize inscriptions in books you’ve inherited, either from your family or a used-book store?

To read the stories other Sepians have submitted this week you can click here.

Some days are diamonds for Cairndow

Some days are diamonds” as John Denver once sang. This morning I received an email from my 3rd cousin, Sheila, in Canada. We share common ancestors Duncan and Annie McCorquodale (various and many spellings).

I had sent Sheila a link to an amusing parking sign for McCorkindales and she repaid me with a gold mine! Don’t you just love family networks!!

Sheila had unearthed a wonderful web site for the village of Cairndow which lies at the top of Loch Fyne in Argyll/Argyle, Scotland. It’s called “Our Houses, Their Stories” and has been supported by the Lottery Fund UK.

The postcard from my grandmother's collection.

The postcard from my grandmother’s collection.

Now I’ve been researching my McCorkindales/Macquorqodales/McCorquodales for over thirty years and I’ve also fortunate enough to have visited Cairndow several times. And yet, this web site has opened up our family history in a completely different way. Despite my previous background research into various documents, this site has made the actual location of some of the houses now unambiguous.

Cairndu postcard back

Back in 1989 I’d taken a left towards Strachur to check out my Isabella Morrison’s (later McCorkindale) birthplace. It was only on my return back to Oz that I had a lightbulb moment, looking at a postcard I’d inherited from my grandmother saying “does it put you in mind of puir auld Scotland”. You can well imagine I was ever so frustrated for not putting this together earlier – because Isabella is actually buried in the Kilmorich churchyard at Cairndow: pictured in the centre of the postcard.

Not the original Ardkinglas building but it shows the magnificent location.

Not the original Ardkinglas building but it shows the magnificent location.

Needless to say I’ve also done all the census records for the family, emailed and met with the estate manager for Ardkinglas estate and walked the property’s wonderful gardens. I’d visited the East Lodge gate house (thanks to the estate manager) and marvelled that widower James McCorkindale lived in such a tiny place with his adult daughter, Euphemia, before being moved to the Greenock workhouse where they both died.

Isabella Morrison McCorkindale's gravestone is right near the door to the Kilmorich church.

Isabella Morrison McCorkindale’s gravestone is right near the door to the Kilmorich church.

I’d asked where Baichyban was precisely (having acquired a topographical map). And yet, despite all this research, there were still ambiguities in my mind eg which house in Strone did they live in, was that Baichyban house too recent? The website also indicates that James, and another daughter, Isabella, had also lived in the North Lodge which appears to have been one of the houses at Strone. Local knowledge is a wonderful thing!

All of a sudden the magic box opened and so much became clearer. The website includes the location of each house mentioned on a topographical map (Alleluia!) as well as the names of all the residents since the 1841 census. My James McCorkindale (var sp) appears regularly as he lived there from 1841 until shortly before his death. My suspicions are even stronger now that his daughters are among those listed as servants in neighbouring houses and cottages.

A photograph of Duncan McCorkindale kindly given to me by a cousin many years ago.

A photograph of Duncan McCorkindale kindly given to me by a cousin many years ago.

There’s so much here for me to explore further but I couldn’t be more thrilled with this discovery and I’m so grateful to Sheila for bringing it to my attention. I’ll be offering to share my photo of Duncan McCorkindale, who was a young lad in the 1851 census, with the local committee. Duncan undertook the fairly standard migration to Glasgow where he became a cabinet maker. He died relatively young and his second wife and children emigrated to Australia. Waiting patiently for me in Mum’s new unit, is a chess table built by Duncan as part of his apprenticeship, or so the story goes. Other hand-crafted items have been shared with various Aussie family members.

Even if you don’t have relatives from Loch Fyne, do have a look at the website to see just what can be done by a collaboration of family and local history: you can follow the links below. I’m so impressed!

The Place (topographical map with houses numbered and links to the residents)

The Houses (with details of who lived in each house between 1841-2007.

The People (as yet the weakest link, but I have no doubt this will change.

Congratulations to all the people behind this fantastic enterprise and thanks again to Sheila!

Sepia Saturday 187: Prayer books, bibles and missals

Sepia Sat 187What an opportune topic for Sepia Saturday 187! Regular readers will know I’ve only recently returned from interstate where I’ve been helping my mother to move. In the process we’ve unearthed a number of liturgical memorabilia.

The first find, which I hadn’t seen before, was a New Testament given to my grandmother when she left Scotland as a young adult. I don’t know who the donor was, but I’m guessing it may well have been the local minister. It also makes me wonder if her sisters were given similar New Testaments. What I omitted to say when first posting, is that inside this New Testament were some family funeral notices and a brief note. Makes up a little for all the BDM clippings that “went west” when she died. Kate McCorkindale bible

Most recently we also found my own early prayer books, the little white hard-covered one I was given on my First Communion and the missal which was a gift from my parents on my Confirmation. It’s donkey’s ages since I’ve laid eyes on these two prayer books so it was a real treat to revisit them.

The Missal I was given by my parents and the holy picture which accompanied it.

The Missal I was given by my parents and the holy picture which accompanied it.

As well as these I’ve found various certificates of one sort or another of my grandfather’s which I’ve scanned and filed. Do they have any intrinsic value? Not at all, but I’ll be putting all these items away in the memory box in the hope that one day my grandchildren will exclaim in pleasure to see them.

First Communion

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 7 – Grandparents and family history

4 x 7UP collage

Why we pursue our family history is a common question among geneabloggers and other genealogists. I’ve reflected on this over the years and have never had an entirely satisfactory response to that question. Why I continue with it is so much easier: the search continues and the questions remain. I can’t simply say “my family history is done”.

Denis and Kit Kunkel

My paternal grandparents and also my neighbours growing up. I was very close to them.

In my midnight mental rambles the other night, at least one of the reasons came to me. Behind both of my grandfathers lay an abyss of silence. I knew so little about each of them and their families. My grandparents were between 61 and 69 when I was born yet they seemed so old to me. When our first grandchild was born, we were not dissimilar ages, only 57 yet this seems quite a sobering comparison.

My paternal grandfather circa WWI.

My paternal grandfather circa WWI, an old moth or cockroach-eaten photo.

About my paternal grandfather I knew his unusual surname, definitely another of the reasons for starting on this quest: I wanted to know where it came from in Germany and who the first Kunkel was to come to Australia. The sole bits of “knowledge” I had acquired over the years were:

  • my grandfather was brought up Catholic
  • He had walked out of a church in Roma (western Queensland) after being told to stand up for the local squatter (true or fiction I don’t know)
  • there had been a falling-out with all but two of my grandfather’s siblings (he had 10)
  • my ancestor (who???) had “jumped ship”
  • one Kunkel came to Australia but two brothers went to “America”
  • All Kunkels in Australia were related.
  • He had gone to war (I think I knew this from his medals) and perhaps because of the paintings of Egypt on their dining room walls.
  • He had sent back souvenirs from France and Egypt but they had been “pinched” somewhere along the way.

Put like this, I seemed to know a bit but these bare facts camouflage just how much I didn’t know. What is even more surprising is that for 16 years I lived next to my grandfather and was very close to him: as the eldest grandchild of the original immigrants to Australia there would have been so much he could have told me and which I may have know except for the religious disputes in the background. The family stories I uncovered as I researched were a revelation to me, but not necessarily to my father, who had always known his great-grandparents lived at Murphys Creek but hadn’t told me until I discovered it for myself. Have I mentioned my family’s oyster-like tendencies?

My maternal grandfather was an incredibly hard worker.

My maternal grandfather was an incredibly hard worker.

Of my maternal grandfather’s family I knew even less:

  • He was born in Ireland, possibly Cork
  • I had met one of his sisters in Townsville once (he had 14 siblings, some deceased as children)
  • He was a devout Catholic with strong ties to the Hibernian society and a ready volunteer for St Vincent de Paul society and local Catholic church members.

Little did I know that my great-grandfather had only died seven weeks after my own birth.

My grandmothers were slightly more informative and I knew more of their families even though my maternal grandmother had died when I was only three years old.

My paternal grandmother and my neighbour.

My paternal grandmother and my neighbour.

My neighbouring Scottish-born grandmother had inculcated her love of Scotland, bagpipes and music in me. I have no memory of her trying to sway me from my Catholic religion despite her less-than-charitable comments to my mother. All that I experienced from her was the dedication to work hard, succeed in life, and her on-going love and devotion to me. It’s a surprise to me to discover that she was much the same age as I am in relation to my own grandchildren –like all kids she seemed incredibly old to me. I didn’t learn a great deal from her about family other than how close she was to her sisters but I did know:

  • Her brothers were champion pipers
  • She came from Edinburgh (actually she came from Glasgow though her mother came from Stirling. No doubt the capital did sound more refined)
  • Her mother’s maiden name (though I don’t believe I knew she emigrated with her mother and siblings)
  • She had three sisters with whom she was close and I knew of a couple of brothers
  • It was only later that among her newspaper clippings my mother found (and saved) her brother’s death notice in a vehicle accident in Sydney.
  • I knew nothing of her mother’s early illegitimate daughter or her emigration with them.
My grandmother as I knew her when I was a small girl.

My grandmother as I knew her when I was a small girl.

On my maternal grandmother’s side I “knew” only that:

  • Her father had owned a “chocolate factory”
  • That the family had lived in Charters Towers
  • She had not been a Catholic when she married
  • She had two sisters (one of whom you’ll meet in a few days, and another who was deceased) but of her eight brothers I knew nothing

Like my mother I did not know for many years that she had been divorced in 1913, nor did I know of her first child, Jack Tredrea.

I suppose a reasonable question would be “what have you learned from your family history?” The response is wide-spread and subtle. I now know so much about how my immigrant families came to Australia, where they originated, their joys and crosses, the ups and downs of life for people who were the grassroots of our founding society in Australia. I’ve learnt that I’m a Queenslander not just by birth but by virtue of being born in the place before it even became a separate state. I’ve learned that my genetic and cultural heritage comes from many countries and religions, though my surname is embedded in the former German kingdom of Bavaria, or Bayern.

My life is so much richer for these discoveries though occasionally I have to admit my brain is muddled from having to absorb all these facts. Would I do it again? Absolutely, without any hesitation!! After 27 years are there any discoveries still to be made and mysteries resolved? Absolutely!!! Is there any advice for other researchers? Yes, expand your search beyond your direct ancestors to their kith and kin who may well answer your questions, or open new avenues of research.

Were you close to your grandparents and did you learn about your family history from them? Did they play a role in your family history quest?

What genealogical bequest will you leave for your family? Or will they have to start anew on this quest?

Fab Feb image

Family Hx writing challengeThis post is part of the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.

S slips into Sandon and Strachur

I am participating in the A to Z 2012 blog challenge throughout April. My theme is a genealogical travelogue or a travel genealogue (I’m not sure which). My goal is to hand down the stories of the important places in our family history, and some travel memories, to our family.

S is for Sandon (Hertfordshire, England)

Sightseeing in Sandon © P Cass 2010

Sandon, Hertfordshire was the home of my Kent family for a couple of centuries and for at least some of this time they were publicans in Red Hill and Roe Green, nearby hamlets in this parish. Last year I talked about my discoveries in the enclosure records and how they helped knocked down some brick walls in my research.

Sandon remains a rural area, reflecting its agricultural heritage, but it’s also now in the “stockbroker belt”, close enough to commute to London and there’s no shortage of houses with heritage listings and big prices. The village seems to me to lack a “centre”, other than the old church which stands imposingly, solidly. Somehow the lychgate appeals to me as an entry point. The house opposite used to be a pub when we first visited, but no longer. I love the pond across the way with its ducks…very restful.

Roe Green is similarly peaceful, revealing only by its buildings that there’s a long history here. There’s a village green where no doubt cricket is played in summer, horses being walked and a general air of tranquillity; who wouldn’t want to live here.

S is for Strachur (Argyll, Scotland)

Strachur church.

My Morrison family lived in Strachur on Loch Fyne for many years on a farm called Inverglen. Like my Sim ancestors in Bothkennar, they were more established than others family lines, being involved in local business and community as well as farming. Luckily for me one of my 2xgreat-aunts was with the Morrison family on the 1841 census as a small child. I’d have liked it to be the 1851 census with relationships stated, but I’m reasonably sure that she was with her grandparents.

Some years ago we met a very elderly man from the Morrison family in Strachur, but at the time we couldn’t be sure of our relationship. We loved that he offered Mr Cassmob a whisky (at about 10am), which he accepted to be hospitable. As several fingers of single malt were poured Mr Morrison announced he never touched the stuff…needless to say I was the chauffeur that morning. Mr Morrison had a memory of meeting a Fergus McCorkindale, a person who at the time meant nothing to me. It was only later that I established he was a grandson to my great-grandfather through his first marriage and so my grandmother’s nephew.

Outside Creggans Inn is a plaque commemorating the spot where Mary Queen of Scots came ashore.

I’ve posted about Loch Fyne and how it feels like home to me. Sometime I’d love to see it on a clear blue day rather than in its grey winter clothes with scarves of fog and cloud. One visit we stayed at the historic Creggans Inn in Strachur, with its view across the loch to Inveraray. We were amused during our stay when the waitress slipped us some fresh raspberries to accompany our porridge, with the injunction “don’t tell cook”.

S is for Sadds Ridge Road (Charters Towers, Queensland)

World War I discovery in Milne Bay, Papua

Sadds Ridge Rd sign

I wrote previously how my husband found this old street sign on a coconut plantation near Gurney in Milne Bay. This is where Australian troops were stationed around the time of the Battle of Milne Bay. We’ve always assumed it was a souvenir that a soldier too with him, but have never been able to unearth anyone who might know more.

Did you have a relative who went from Charters Towers to Milne Bay?