Monday, December 28, 2009

Oh happy day.

I have been writing a history of "my" McEwans and mislaid my one and only paper copy (long story behind that statement involving two computer crashes). It travelled to and from Britain with me earlier this year then disappeared once we got home. It showed up on Christmas Eve while I was looking for something else. Today I will make another copy and take a few days to type it into my laptop. Mmmm, given the number of pages, weeks might be a better goal :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Winter Wonderland courtesy of Planet Earth

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas filled with joy and celebration.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Writing about family traditions

Don't know what it is about November/December timeframe but it gets me thinking about family traditions.  For many people writing about Christmas traditions is a relatively safe way to get started on family history. There was a long period of time where I was not entirely sure if I actually had any "traditions" but after a bit of thinking and jotting down ideas some common threads started to appear.
My childhood and adult Christmas traditions are very different to each other mainly because of living on two separate continents in two separate cultures. Commonalities are spending time with family, decorating Christmas trees and singing Christmas Carols.
Childhood - the tiny tree was decorated on Christmas Eve by mum. One or other or both of my parents would wrap the presents, put them in pillow cases and lay them out on the sofa. The door to the living room was locked. Sometimes we would go to a Christmas Eve Carol Service. Christmas morning we were expected to get up, have breakfast then line up outside the door whereupon dad would unlock the door with great ceremony and we would troop in. (I think my grandma thought this was a bit silly but she played along.) After opening gifts and playing for a while dad would disappear into the kitchen and make dinner. Dinner was served at two and we would listen to the Queen's Christmas Broadcast then Top of The Pops (quite a contrast). Next day (Boxing Day) we would sometimes visit relatives or they would come to us.
So as you head into this festive season take a moment to write a story down. It does not have to be complicated or long. Just something to get you started.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Clan Map

Scotland is famous for it's clans and often non-natives have a romanticized view of what they are. Learning about clan history in school was not one of my favorite moments because I was not fond of the "blood and guts" aspect of it all. Having said that here's an interesting article

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Images of Scotland

I went blog hopping yesterday and have decided to add a new section to my sidebar. The links will take me/you to blogs that highlight Scotland in images and some of them also give information that would be useful for writing family histories. Some will be there just because I like them :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Using YouTube for family research

I bet YouTube is not a source many people automatically think about but there's a lot of interesting information there. When you write a family history it is always good to set your ancestors in context. This means researching the area they came from. Here's a very interesting example about the history of Edinburgh that would be a great start off for further research. "Birth of a City."
Some of my direct ancestors lived in Edinburgh and even though I grew up in Scotland, loved history in school and lived in Edinburgh myself I still learned a lot from this video.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Armistice Day

Today we remember and reflect, give thanks for the freedoms we have gained through the sacrifices of others and pray we never have to endure what they endured.

We should also show appreciation to and for those who are currently fighting and are away from their loved ones.
The photographs show some of my relatives who fought during WWI and lived through a number of experiences.
Horseback - Patrick Lindsay (my grandfather)
Pyramids - (my great uncle) David McEwan (back row)ANZACS
Standing portrait - John Hall (my grandfather)
Two of my McEwan great uncles died at Gaba Tepe, Gallipoli (1915) and Albert, France (1916).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pitlour House, Strathmiglo, Fife

This is one of the places where my g-g-grandfather William Lindsay worked as a Butler. He was employed by Patrick G. Skene Esq. of Hallyards. The house was located 11/4 miles NW of Strathmiglo.
The Lindsay family occupied East Pitlour Farm during the time William was employed there and appear in the 1841 and 1851 census. I think they moved to Strathmiglo about 1840/41 just after their daughter Margaret was born but for whatever reason the younger siblings were born somewhere other than the local area. They had ties to Edinburgh and Inverkeilor so I'm wondering if Euphemia was visiting family or friends.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A new venture for me

I was working my shift at the Franklin FHC yesterday when who should call but one of the members of the Bellevue Genealogy and Family History group that I belong too. He wanted to make sure I was there before heading on over. We got deep into conversation about one of his ancestors who turned out to have Irish Quaker roots. A new area of research for me and one that is proving fascinating. One of the other patrons got so interested he joined in the discussion too :)

The Quakers, who keep extremely good records, arrived in Ireland about 1660'sh and initially settled in Mountmellick. Now that name bugged me for a while till I realized it's also a form of textile that I had been learning about a few months ago. They expanded out to different communities and then came to America in groups.

I plan on learning more about this interesting group of people.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Monday, September 7, 2009

Who Do You Think You are?

Over here we are an issue behind because this is what I bought today at Barnes and Noble.
A lot of my research is centered round Stirlingshire so I am totally looking forward to looking at the free CD that came with the magazine. The magazine itself has a lot of information in it so I know it will take me a while to read through and digest everything :)
I really like the T.V. series and have been able to see one of them and part of another, on visits to the UK. Lots of interesting information.
I also have the book from series I which made for great reading. I highly recommend getting a copy of that or the other series' issues.
If you have not already visited their website go to
Okay, enough gushiness from me :)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Researching With Sensitivity

One of the areas of research that has to be done very carefully is if you have a relative that fought in any kind of war.
WWI, for many, was the first huge one that had an almost global impact in one way or another.
Many participants tried to forget the traumatic experiences they went through. Some on occasion spoke up, others never did. All would probably wish it had never happened. Never force someone to talk about their experiences. Always be considerate of their deeply buried feelings and the grief and pain that can arise. For many time never heals.
I feel greatly blessed that we have a hand written account of my grandfather's 11 months as a prisoner-of-war in Germany. He wrote it well after the event. It is a thoughtfully written account of life in the coal mines and interactions with the local population. In some ways he felt better off than they were because he at least had boots on his feet.
At some point I plan on transcribing it because the pages are now quite fragile. My mother has it so I will either have to wait till I can make another visit or have my dad send me a photocopy. It's not one of those projects you can sit down with and do in an hour.
The title page reads as follows -
"Eleven Months Behind Barbed Wire"
My experiences as a prisoner of war in Germany 1918
John W. Hall
A.B. "Drake" Batt. R.N.D.
In the following pages I have tried to give an account of my experiences while a prisoner of war in Germany in 1918. Most of this account has been compiled from memory but an experience such as this lives in the memory for a long time.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Researching family items

Have you ever researched any of the family items in your possession?

My mother has inherited a number of family pieces over the years and this is one of her favorites.
It is inscribed Helen Margaret Hall Xmas 1897 on the bottom. Given that Helen was born September 1896 I will have to assume that it was made for her by one of her parents or grandparents. What a lovely gift for a cherished baby.
I only ever knew my great aunt as "Nellie" and she had a wooden leg that she let us play gentle drums on when she visited. She died in 1971. By profession she was a teacher and lived in Campbelltown. My parents minister told them that she taught his mother !!!! (Small world). She enjoyed travelling and visited a number of relatives abroad, some of whom still remember her with much affection.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

BMD records England

Occasionally I have to do research in English records which is a bit more tricky that Scottish records (I am totally spoiled).
On Tuesday I was working at the family history center and was looking at some of the new data bases. I found a site for Lancashire, where one of my cousins was born. It proved very fruitful and I have now pushed my knowledge about his family back about another 3 generations. It's a basic index , which is free to look at, but some of the family names are unusual so that helped quite considerably. Copies of the original documents can be ordered from the same site for a small fee.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Visiting old haunts

Something that many people like to do when researching their family history is try to visit the homes, workplaces etc. of their ancestors.
While we were visiting my parents in Scotland we had the opportunity to meet a cousin from New Zealand for the first time. His father and my grandfather were brothers and this house is where they and their siblings were born and raised.
The Old Schoolhouse, Drymen used to be where John Hall was schoolmaster and taught school from the late 1890's till 1926. It still looks a lot like it would have done in years past but is now used as a B&B.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Old maps

I love old maps and this one is from 1762. It's fun to look at them over a period of time and see what was considered "real" at any given moment. I think that map makers should be considered artists because there are some beautiful renditions out there.

Click on the map to see a larger version of it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A visit across the puddle

We are leaving for Britain on Sunday. Whoopee:) Hopefully we will be able to photograph some historical family sites during our travels. I'm going to try and get copies of family photographs when we visit my parents so that I can use them here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Flemish descent of the Lindsays

There is an oft quoted research about the history and descent of the Lindsays in Scotland that is very much worth reading.

Since I have not been able to get further back than about early 1800's on our main line I cannot "make the leap" so to speak. William's parents MIGHT be James Lindsay and Agnes Loban but that has not been (concretely) confirmed as far as I know.

Another interesting read and a wee bit different information wise can be found at http://www.electricscotland/com/webclans/htol/lindsay2.html

The old Scottish chronicler Andro is oft quoted as saying - "Out of Englande came that Lyndsay; Mair of thame I can nocht say." (and sometimes I feel the same way about my own!!!)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th July to our ancestors descendants

A number of ancestors emigrated to various countries and have descendants scattered all over the globe. Some of us are here in the US of A so happy 4th July.

I live deep in southern Civil War history country with some fabulous historic plantations and battle fields. About 20 minutes south of us is historic Franklin that is a must on any visitors list.

A piece of trivia. During the Civil War one of the major battles was fought by Scots on both sides.

Here's an interesting read about Scots and Scots-Irish influences in historic US of A.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Henry Brock Hospital 1924 - 1978

Full name - The Henry Brock Memorial Hospital, Alexandria.

money bequeathed by Henry Brock of Darleith.
Broomley House converted into hospital.

1924 - Brock hospital opened. 2 general wards, 1 children's ward, 1 ward for private patients, operating theater, x-ray room, outpatients department.
1955 - Integrated into Vale of Leven General Hospital which was built on the same grounds.
1956 - 1977 became Geriatric long stay unit and chronic sickness center.
1978 - demolished

My great aunt, Jane "Jean" Hall, was carrying a full tray down the stairs, fell and broke her neck (hence the work related accident mentioned in her obituary). 13 March 1902-4 June 1944. Died age 42.

Stirling Observer - Thursday - June 15, 1944 - Obituary

A poignant sense of loss was felt throughout the parish and district when the sad news spread last week of the sudden and tragic death of Miss Jean Wilson Hall, of Ormonde, Drymen, for many years Sister at the Brock Hospital, Alexandria. Sister Hall met her death as the result of an accident in the course of her duties on Sunday, 4th June, and the grievous news came as a profound shock to the whole community, where she was held in the highest respect and esteem. The second daughter of the late Mr. John Hall, F.E.I.S., schoolmaster, Drymen, Sister Hall took up nursing as a career at an early age, and gained rapid and well-merited promotion in her profession, being most capable and efficient in her duties. Of a most kind and courteous and obliging disposition, Miss Hall endeared herself not only to the patients under her charge, but to a wide circle of friends, and to all with whom she came in contact, being greatly beloved by all who had the privilege of knowing her. The large and representative concourse of mourners who attended the services at Alexandria and at Drymen Churchyard on Wednesday last was a tribute to her worth, and an indication of the painful sense of loss which all sections of the community felt at the sudden and unexpected passing, in its prime, of a gracious and useful and consecrated life. The deepest sympathy of all is extended to her sorrowing family in their sudden and sore bereavement.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Death of Australian Brothers on Service

Intimation has been received by Mr. Alexander McEwan, Pirnie Hall, Drymen, that his son Private William M.G. McEwan, Australian Imperial forces, died of wounds in France on August 1st. Private McEwan was 21 years of age, and joined the army in February of last year. He was wounded by shrapnel at the Dardanelles, and went to France in March. He joined the army at Sydney, N.S.W.; where he was a steward on one of the coasting vessels. 
His brother, Private George Buchanan McEwan, Australian Imperial Forces, has also been killed in action. He was first posted as missing, but his father has now received information that he has been killed. He was a native of Killearn, and before he enlisted was employed at Broken Hill, Australia. Mr McEwan has other two sons with the forces.

This piece of information plus some research back and forth between myself and a researcher in Australia led to me writing a short family history of some of the McEwans. It's at the "add photographs and documentation" stage. 

5 of my grandmother's siblings settled in Australia. Thus far we have been able to track down information about 4 of them and been in contact with descendants from two of them. 

Something useful from the above obituary is that it takes you into military records. It proved most advantageous for our family that William and George were in Australia when they enlisted because a lot of military records in the UK were destroyed during the London Blitz. We found their WWI records and those of their brother David. Later I found WWII records for a nephew of David's.

My researcher in Australia found newspaper records for the group leaving Broken Hill and George was mentioned in there.

Inscription on headstone

So moving along from the obituary for John Hall this is the information on the family headstone located in Drymen Parish Church.

In loving memory of
John Hall
died 1st. September 1898
aged 71 years
his wife, Jane Wilson
died 7th March 1903
aged 74 years
Petrina McKellar
died 12th March 1930
aged 66 years
wife of John Hall schoolmaster
died 16th May 1943
aged 82 years
Jane Wilson Hall
died 4th June 1944

The headstone is not located in it's original position. It used to be in the lower section but there was a flood so it was moved to higher ground. John and Jane Hall did not die in Drymen and it took a long time to find where they actually lived. Jane Wilson Hall was daughter to John and Petrina. She died suddenly in a work related accident.

So if all you had was this tombstone to go by for family information what could you work out?

You know from the death dates and ages an approximate birth date for everyone except Jane Wilson Hall. You also can "assume" that this is three generations of a family.

To find the death records you would work from Drymen outwards. In this case you would be unsuccessful on the Drymen part for three of them. 
John and Peterina (Petrina) both died in Drymen. 
Jane died in Alexandria, Lanark at her work. (Fell down stairs and broke her neck.) I have a copy of her obituary in one of my files. It makes for interesting reading.
John and Jane Hall both died in Croftamie, Dunbartonshire but we only found that out when we broadened our search to find them in a census record outside of Stirlingshire.
Other records that could be looked for based on the headstone information is  possible birth records for everyone, marriage records for John Hall/Jane Wilson and John Hall/Petrina McKellar. 

If you utilize the information on the tombstone and the obituary I wrote about in the previous post you would know to start in Drymen for birth records for John & Petrina's children but to look outside of Stirlingshire for birth and marriage records.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Obituaries can be a great source of information. The recent death of my cousin Jean yielded a fabulous obituary about her and I have since been in contact with one of her grand daughters. I hope we stay in contact.

One of the few family obituaries I have a copy of belongs to my great grandfather John Hall. It's lengthy so humor me :)

Mr. John Hall, F.E.I.S.

It is remarkable the number of old people who have passed away in our midst in recent months, and now we record with regret the death of an old and very familiar figure for many years in the community in the person of Mr. John Hall, F.E.I.S., who, for a long period of years, was the headmaster of Drymen Public School, and well-known throughout the parish and district.
Mr. Hall spent practically all his teaching career in Drymen, the greater part of it under the old School Board system, before the advent of Education Authorities or the Education Committees of the County Council. He was a first rate teacher, having a high conception of his profession, and giving his long succession of pupils a thorough grounding in the basic subjects of education, and carrying many of them to the rudiments of Higher Grade work. In addition to his teaching duties, he took a clear and active interest in the public affairs of the parish, fulfilling various local offices such as parish registrar, inspector of poor, and heritors" clerk. He was also for some years a member of Drymen Kirk Session, and for long the able and valued correspondent to the "Stirling Observer."
In all his work Mr. Hall brought to each task a sense of thoroughness and careful handling of even the smallest detail so important in any public service. His willing services were continually called upon for the planning or arranging of public events of every nature. A neat and beautiful write, he was usually commandeered as the secretary on local committees such as the Reading Room, Golf Club, etc., the minutes of which he always kept in the most careful fashion. He was a lover of books, and it was a pleasure to hear his criticism or appreciation of his favourite authors.
Although most of his work was of a public nature, Mr. Hall was a lover of his home and his garden, so that both in public and in private he lived a long, busy and useful life, devoted to the highest interests in his home and community. Our deep sympathy is extended to his family in their bereavement.
Sympathetic reference to Mr. Hall's death was made at Stirlingshire Public Assistance Committee meeting on Tuesday by the chairman. Mr. A.K. Davidson, Bannockburn. Mr. Davidson mentioned that Mr. Hall, who had been retired for some time, had been in his life-time a school master as well as a public assistance officer, registrar, and everything that was necessary as a public servant and official in that area. Mr. Hall, he said, was a person who gave great service to the community and to the local authority.

So what can be learned from this piece of information?

1. a remarkable number of old people had died recently
2. Mr. Hall was a well known figure in the community
3. retired headmaster at Drymen
4. taught primary aged children
5. taught under the old School Board system
6. Considered to be an outstanding teacher
7. Taught the basics well
8. Parish registrar
9. Inspector of poor
10. Heritors' Clerk
11. Member of Drymen Kirk Session
12. Correspondent for "Stirling Observer"
13. Very thorough and detail oriented
14. Planned and arranged public events, willingly
15. Neat and beautiful handwriting
16. Secretary on local committees
17. member of Reading Room and Golf Club
18. Loved to read and critique books
19. Loved his home and garden
20. Lived a long, useful and busy life

So where would you look next for information to "round out" the man?

Time lines and such

Most Fridays (recently) you can find me at our local family history group. It meets at the YMCA in the Turner Center (yea verily I am old enough). 1st Friday of each month I help some of the other members with their research. Many of them have been long time residents and have fascinating stories to tell not only about themselves but their ancestors also. Last Friday I learned a goodly amount about the early owners and farmers of what is now Warner Park.

What has this all got to do with time lines you may be asking yourself.

One of the ladies had a considerable amount of information about the ancestor she is researching but had gotten stuck regarding when he had come to the US from Britain. I looked at what she had and asked a number of questions e.g. have you looked in the census records, land records, military records, court records  etc. Some areas she had a considerable amount of information, other areas were sketchy. 

My suggestion was so create a timeline by looking at what she has and pulling out information from each piece of paper she owns.  This would help her see what gaps there are in her research and what documentation she needs to pursue. 

So where are you stuck in your research? Do you know what records to look for. In the above instance she needs to get a death record to hopefully verify parentage. 

Just because you have looked at a piece of information once does not mean you have seen everything of relevance that is written there. Go back and take another look, I know I will be.

"And such". You never know where information can come from. In the previously mentioned researchers story she was standing in line one day and someone happened to overhear her talking. He had some information about her ancestor and gave her a copy. In another instance someone saw a picture she had and asked for a copy. It ended up in a book. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Spotlight on -

FamilySearch is a fabulous resource for any genealogist. Over the past 12 months or so the site has been given a new "look". I have to say that as a long time user I like what is going on.

Under What's New take a stroll through the Family History Lesson series. Very informative and great for beginning genealogists or those who may need to brush up their skills (and who does not need that from time to time.)

Would you like to take part in indexing? Go to help create free public access to U.S. census records. Every member of my family has at some point participated in this project. All my kids loved it. 

If you are a Family History Library "junkie" and can visit the "mecca" of research there is a schedule for monthly classes and upcoming events. One of these years I'll get out there and visit the deepest bowels of the building for the British section :) 

So take some time to stroll through the site. New items will be added from time to time so keep on visiting. The local Family History Centers can order film from Salt Lake if you cannot go there yourself.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

In memorium - Jean Alcock

So I got an e-mail from my father telling me that our cousin Jean Alcock has died. She was a daughter of my grandfather's oldest brother. He emigrated to Canada and all his children were born there.

I met Jean once, maybe twice, when she visited Scotland. She is the cousin who got me interested in genealogy. She asked my dad, in the 70's,  to draw up a calligraphy family tree of the Lindsay's and he gave me a copy of it.

Turns out that family members do not have her sister's new address so I am doing some investigating. 

(It's now a few hours later and I have been able to find Jean's obituary on-line at The Western Star and sign the on-line memorial book on behalf of my parents.) 

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bits and pieces about Scotland and the Scots

It is estimated that 85 million people worldwide claim to have Scottish ancestry.

The name Scotland comes from a tribe of irishmen who landed in Argyll and went on to take over the country. The Romans called them Scotti, which translated means Scots.

Scotland has a motto - Nemo me impune lacessit (Latin). It means - "Noone attacks me and gets away with it."

Passports did not become official in Britain until 1916. There was such a thing as a "letter of safe passage" given to wealthy residents who planned on returning to Britain once they had completed their travels.

People who took advantage of the principle, in Scots Law that marriage was constituted by mutual consent, entered into irregular marriages. The form of contract generally adopted was a simple written declaration of acceptance of each other as husband and wife.

One of the earliest events recorded and still available is the marriage od Mary Queen of Scots to Henry, Lord Darnley. Sunday 29th July 1565. registrar for the Canongate, Edinburgh. Canongate Church by the way has a set of deer antlers on its roof that get replace every five years.

The Bubonic Plague, or Black Death, wiped out about 1/3rd of the population of Scotland during the winter of 1349 and then hit every generation there after until the 1700's.

From a Tennessee perspective (since I currently live here) about 1 in 5 Tennesseans can trace their roots back to the Scots-Irish settlers of the 18th century. They originated in Lowland Scotland and were "encouraged" to move to Ulster throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. The first ship load of immigrants from Ulster came to Boston in 1717.

As a Scot living in the US I spend quite a bit of time explaining to people that Scots-Irish is an American term and did not originate in the home country :) Any time I teach a class I have to include something about the Scots-Irish because someone always asks.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Scottish Naming Patterns

For a while in Scottish history there was such a thing as naming patterns. Having said that it's not written in concrete but if you get stuck researching a family it's a good way to move things along a bit :)

1st daughter after maternal grandmother
2nd. daughter after paternal grandmother
3rd daughter after mother
4th daughter after mother's oldest sister or maternal great grandmother.

1st son after paternal grandfather
2nd son after maternal grandfather
3rd son after father
4th son after father's oldest sister or paternal great grandfather

Often the children would have the mother's maiden name as a middle name or that of the grandmothers. In some cases the middle name would be the surname of the minister who christened the child. 

Some of my ancestors were named after family friends e.g. my grandma Lindsay's brother. I also have some ancestors that I have no idea who they were named after, and don't even try to match up the last two or three generations too closely to the naming pattern because you'll get tied up in a knot :)

You might also come across a baby being named after a deceased older child. In many instances this was to keep the naming pattern intact.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Where did William Lindsay live?

This is Walker Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian. This is where William Lindsay was living and working in at the time of his marriage to Euphemia Robertson on 20 December 1831. She lived across the street (my camera batteries ran out before I could take a photograph.) Both houses are now owned by private companies. Interestingly enough one of the houses on the street was up for sale and I was sorely tempted to talk to the estate agent about having a look inside :)
The street is part of Edinburgh New Town and is not too far from St. Cuthbert's Church where they got married.
1841 - Pitlour, Strathmiglo, Fife
1851 - East Pitlour Farm, Strathmiglo, Fife.
1861 - 3 Anniston Gate, Inverkeillor, Forfar.
1871 - Anniston Gate House, Inverkeillor, Forfar.
1881 - Priestfields, Inverkeillor, Forfar.
I went to Blairgowrie with my brother to try and track down some family information but we could not find the local library let alone any other site I was interested in. This will probably have to be a long distance writing endevour.
Pitlour Farm, Strathmiglo, Fife. I have information about the family that owned Pitlour House i.e. the Skene's. William was the butler to the household.
As for Inverkeillor some kind researchers sent me historical information and I found some maps on-line. Next step - photographs because my understanding is that Anniston Gate and Priestfields still exist.

Census Records

The one area of genealogical research that I really enjoy is looking through census records. Anyone doing Scottish research is fortunate to have a rich resource of information contained within this particular area.

Scottish census records started being taken on a regular basis in 1801 but the most intact and more readily available are from 1841 through 1901. 1911 should be available sometime within the next couple of years. There was no national census taken in 1941 due to WWII.

There are a number of places you can go to look at census records. If you live in Scotland you have the options of Register House in Edinburgh, your local library, your local FHC, and some sheriff's offices. If there is down time some of the local registrars may give you access to their computers for about an hour. If you are looking from home you can access Register House through ScotlandsPeople, use Ancestry, CensusFinder to name but a few.

ScotlandsPeople gives a really good, concise breakdown of what kind of information is available in each census and what "date" each census was taken.

A word or two of warning :) Census records were only as good as the person providing the information and/or the person writing down the information e.g. a persons age or place of birth, how the enumerator heard an accent. They also were a snapshot for one particular night and on occasion people would go missing, show up in two different households or be in an entirely different household than normal.

When I started to do some serious research on my Lindsay ancestry I was in the fortunate position of having a partial family tree already in my possession and wouldn't you know it the main family line we are descended from turned out to be much bigger than indicated :)

My Lindsays are descended from William Lindsay and Euphemia Robertson. Our family tree shows their children Agnes, Jane and William(mine) with most of their descendents up until the 1970's. So I went rooting around and eventually found out that they had 4 more children who were all deceased by the 1851 census. Some of them showed up in the 1841 census BUT and this is a big BUT, it was in an extract someone else had written down and stupid me forgot to write down the on-line source. Aaargh. It did however help me look for, and find them in the OPR's. (More about that in another posting.)

It's so important to write down your sources because you never know when you may need them. Citing your sources makes your information more reliable not only to yourself but to others as well.

If there is ever a dispute amongst people you can say well this is a primary source and I got it from here. The more PRIMARY the source the better e.g. birth, christening, marriage, death, and sometimes census. Some people consider wills, land and military records primary but I put them as primary/secondary. I'll go into that in more detail in another posting.

So I followed William and his family through as many of the census records as I could (they moved around a lot). This helped me pin down time frames for births, deaths and shed some light on a few family mysteries. Every family has a mystery of some kind :) From there I was able to look at birth, marriage and death records within a shorter time span, which saves a considerable amount of time (and money) on many occasions.

The one mystery I have still not gotten pinned down is who are William Lindsay's parents? They are not named in his marriage record or his death record. His son, bless his kind heart, was pretty exact about his age when he died. I know where he was born even though there are some pretty funky spellings on the census records. At one point I travelled along a lengthy and unfortunately false road for him (there went 200 years of ancestors when that one came to a grinding halt) and looked at any number of OPR records in and around the Blairgowrie, Perthshire vicinity. I now have two possibilities, James Lindsay and Agnes Loban/Lobbins or his birth was not registered.

Another area that census records are useful for is researching a particular house, street, town etc. The house I grew up in was built about 1883 and on my last trip to Scotland I did a street/house search at the local library. That was fun. I learned a lot about the street name changes that happened, who the neighbors were etc. I also bought a copy of a very old map that showed who all lived in the houses round the castle and town center. I also ran across some old photographs for the area. I looooove libraries :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

William Gardner (@1884-1931)

This photograph shows the spouse of Harriet Fleming Lindsay. He is the young man in the back row. My cousin Bill, mentioned in my previous posting, is not sure who all are in the photograph. He rightly identified John and Mary (nee Kirkwood) Gardner.
I am a firm believer in searching census records so I looked in my records to see what information I might have. I have John Gardner in census records from 1861 thru 1901 (latest available). He and Mary were married 28 November 1879 in Falkirk, Stirlingshire.
John and Mary had the following children all born in Falkirk.
Agnes @1882
William @1884
Mary @ 1889
George @1892
Jane @1894
Marion @1896
Margaret @ 1898
Beatrice @ 1899
Edith @ 1900
I don't have their birth records yet but they should not be too hard to access. All the children are in the photograph and I'm going to place it about 1905 in a photographers studio in Falkirk, Stirlingshire.
In many older photographs the youngest child is usually placed close to the mother. In this one we can see Beatrice and Edith right there. Margaret is in the middle of the photograph between her parents. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Agnes is standing to the right of William with Mary to her right. That leaves Jane and Marion to the right of their father and George to the left of his mother.
Since the Gardners are technically extended family for me I do not have any further information (yet) about marriages and families for William's siblings.

Harriet Fleming Lindsay (1881-1963)

My cousin Bill sent me some family photographs a few months ago which was a nice surprise. His grandmother Harriet was my grandfather Patrick Lindsay's older sister.

This is one of those family photographs where we know she is in there (far right) but we have very little idea of what the event was, who the other people are, etc. etc. etc. Bill wrote on the back what little he knew including a possible location.

So what do you do to try and place people with an event? First I looked at Harriet a little closer, since she is the relative in the picture that we could positively identify. I've already done a lot of research on our main line and I noticed that she has an engagement ring on her finger. My records tell me that she was married on 5 August 1908 so that places her within a short time frame.

Some other things to look at and ask questions about.
Hairstyles - what would be the typical age for the time period that ladies went from wearing their hair down to always wearing it up. When would ladies have stopped wearing bows in their hair (e.g. before or after marriage)?
What type and style of clothing, is being worn? Jewelry, spectacles?
Any unusual elements (in this case the greenery on their blouses)?
Kind of event - informal, formal ?
Possible ages of participants?
Location? If outdoors, which season?
Who took the photograph (amateur or ptofessional? Is there a name and address for the professional?

What we have in this instance is everyone with hair up in their best clothing at what appears to be an afternoon tea party. Season - probably late spring/early summer in the corner of a garden. The only lady without the greenery is sitting at the table and my guess would be she is the hostess or the party is in her honor.

The lady in the glasses looks like she might be older than the rest of the group. Her hair is set in an older style. Some of the group look like they are wearing the same pendant so that might be an avenue to explore. Harriet has a large bow in her hair.

My cousin suggested a location near Camelon, Stirlingshire but Harriet did not move from Dundee, Forfar till after her marriage so that may widen the search for historical information.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A couple of close-ups from the clan gathering

A closer view of the left hand side of the photograph and an up close of my grandfather Patrick Lindsay (he looks kind of young for a 9 year old but matches some other photos I have of him.)
(If you click once on a photograph you can see a larger view.)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Clan Lindsay Gathering, Kinnaird Castle, 1902

Photographs are a huge source of information for many people researching their families. My father owns the original photograph from the gathering and very kindly took a number of photographs of it for me. It originally belonged to the Paton family (my grandfather's sister)

The little laddie near the front wearing a kilt is my grandfather. His parents, William Robertson Lindsay and Mary Anne Lindsay nee. Arthur, are 3 rows behind him (cap and flowery hat). Some of his siblings might also be in there but there is no list of names to identify everyone. The article in "Publications of the Clan Lindsay Society, Edinburgh, 1904 no. 3" sent to me by Gordon Lindsay in 2006 does not list all who went to the event. A number of people are helping me to try and piece the information together.

So make sure you label your photographs with event, date, place and most importantly who is in the picture.

So where do I start?

Surprisingly most people who ask that have no idea. They think that genealogy is only about some far distant dead relatives.

The answer is "start with yourself."

Put together all the information you have about yourself. Start with birth, christening, marriage records. Given that you are still alive you won't need to look for a death record. Believe me some people have tried to do that :) After that you save whatever information is important to and about you.

Then look at what information you have for your spouse and children (if that is relevant.)

Finally look at what information you have for your parents and siblings. If possible ask family members for help.

Try to keep your information organised as you collect it otherwise it can quickly become overwhelming.

Go to Familysearch (link in the sidebar) and download the free version of PAF , found on thehome page, to give you a place to write in all the basic details. The program walks you through each area. Always make a back-up copy of your research. (Computers can die and you do not want to lose all your information.)

If by some good fortune you have been given a lot of family information already take some time to organise by person and/or generation before delving into any more research. Getting organised right from the start will save you a lot of time, and often money, in the long run.

Finally. Take your time. Do a little bit at a time. You want to enjoy the process of researching your family not be overwhelmed by it all.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Genealogy Links

I'm compiling a list of (general) web links which can be found in the side bar. This will change over time but I hope you will find them useful. I have used most of them at some point in my genealogical research.
The majority of them are specifically related to Scotland. Some are serious, some are just for fun. I will try to keep the sites as up-to-date as possible but if you notice any broken links please let me know.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

St.Cuthberts, Edinburgh

Looking down from Edinburgh Castle. This is where William Lindsay and Euphemia Robertson were married on 20 December 1831 (in one of the earlier versions of the church). The steeple dates from 1789 but the remainder of the current building dates from 1894.

"The Beeches" - part of the back garden

My brother opening up the summer house to all his nephews 2004. Our grandmother used it to entertain any visitors she had when the weather was good. On occasion it was slept in. Now it is used by my nephews to play in when they visit their grandparents.

"The Beeches" - interior details

Front hallway and a section of one of the fireplaces.

"The Beeches" - interior details

The cornice was hand painted by my mother.

"The Beeches" exterior details

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The 4 siblings

We were visiting my parents around the time of my husband's birthday in 2004 . We had a party and this is one of the last photographs taken of my brothers and myself together. It's in the back garden in front of "my" tree and what had been "my" studio when I was at college :) David (pale blue sweater) died in 2006.

"The Beeches"

This is the house my parents live in. They bought it a few months before my 7th birthday. It was built @ 1883 and they are the 4th owners. It still has a lot of the original Victorian details and is in an historical district.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


This blog will give me a place to post pictures and stories about my Scottish ancestors.

Thus far many years of effort have gone into collecting all the information I own (some copyrighted.) Family members, friends and sometimes complete strangers, have assisted me in my research.

I am currently writing documented social histories related to the 4 main branches of my family. McEwan is almost completed. Hall, Lindsay and Colville are in process. I have an historian assisting with proofing which is of immense help.