Showing posts with label Killin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Killin. Show all posts

19 June 2012

June Ancestors (2)

For the sake of brief entries, I am not footnoting the facts in this ongoing memorial. Sources have been noted either in other blog posts or in my family history books.

12 July 1828 Donald McFadyen, retired soldier from the 91st Foot Regiment (later to be known as the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders), his wife Flory McLean, and five children set sail from Tobermory, Isle of Mull, bound for Ship Harbour [Port Hawkesbury], Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

15 July 1978 Victor Carl Freiberg died in Port Arthur, Ontario, at the age of 93. Victor was a tall man, fair-haired and blue-eyed. After his wife Marija died, he lived on his own for over 15 years with the assistance of the Latvian community and his grandson Fraser’s family. Ultimately he developed pancreatic cancer and was hospitalized. Victor was my grandfather.

18 July 1755 Thomas Dougall was baptized, son of John Dougall and Jean Weir, at West Calder, West Lothian, Scotland. His humble farming parents lived on the farm estate called Parkhead on the north side of Linlithgow Loch across the lake from the palace. Parkhead was in the parish of Linlithgow. Later Thomas married Marion Pollons—before 1781, no marriage record found—and he too lived and worked at Parkhead. What I still don’t understand is why both generations ignored the local church to travel several parishes away for children’s baptisms in West Calder, in what was then Edinburghshire. A genealogist would suspect deep family roots or ties there. Thomas became the father of my emigrant ancestor John, so he was my triple great-grandfather.
The Old Smiddy at Killin, all tarted up today; photo BDM July 2010.
18 July 1807 Duncan Fraser married Katharine Robertson at Killin parish church in Perthshire. The couple produced eight children, probably born at Smithy Cottage, Monemore, Killin. Duncan was a master blacksmith and his trade was carried on by two sons and a son-in-law. One of the greatest things about blogging and the internet was my 4th cousin Elizabeth (Lizzie, I love that name) finding me. A gravestone for Duncan and wife is not visible in the unkempt Killin churchyard. Duncan was my triple great-grandfather. 

13 October 2010

Frasers: Part 10 (Perthshire)

A post of agony about the Frasers of Perthshire, to be tolerated with kind empathy. Especially by those searching for equally frustrating families like Smith and Jones. I noticed that I’d been spelling Killin in Scotland as Killean half the time so changes were made for consistency. They sound the same to me. For a long time I lived in an Ontario township where communities were named after places in Perthshire ... Crieff, Badenoch, Aberfoyle, Killean [sic] ... some kind of pre-ordained Scottish omen, I suppose. So I say Killeeeeeeen however it’s spelled.

My post about the town of Killin lamented the surprisingly (to me) scant number of Frasers in South Perthshire burials recorded by the Scottish Genealogy Society (SGS). I said: Why am I getting this sinking feeling that gt-gt-gt-Duncan’s grandfather may have drifted into Killin from Inverness-shire where the Lovat Frasers were concentrated? He would have been the age to be young and healthy at the time of the Battle of Culloden.


 We’ll have to scrap that romantic notion because not one Duncan Fraser appears in No Quarter Given, a work that took years of research by many scholars and may never be definitive.[1] There were plenty of Frasers who fought for Prince Charles Edward, most notably among Lord Lovat’s clansmen of Inverness-shire. Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat, is the one who was executed after Culloden for his support of the controversial Young Pretender. Don’t get me started.

As for the “missing” gravestone of Janet Fraser and husband Alexander MacFarlane in South Perthshire Monumental Inscriptions, which I had viewed in person, cousin Lizzie rightly pointed out that the SGS was concentrating on pre-1855 inscriptions. (Self: I knew that, didn’t I?) Because from 1855 onward, Scotland has official registrations of deaths, along with births and marriages.

A research plan is needed. What do we know about our earliest ancestors?
➢Duncan Fraser was baptized 24 July 1783 at Killin. His marriage to Catherine Robertson took place at Killin on 18 July 1807. Duncan died 15 February 1867. His parents were:
➢John Fraser, baptized 17 June 1751 at Killin. His marriage to Janet Buchanan before 1783 has not been found; they had five children born after Duncan. John’s parents were:
➢Duncan Fraser and Margaret McKeracher. The couple had three other children later than John, but neither baptism nor marriage for Duncan has been found. A burial index at Stirling Archives indicates a Duncan Frazer of Luib (another nearby hamlet) was buried at Killin 7 January 1787. The date would fit this particular Duncan—if there had been a gravestone, it’s no longer visible.



Most of the above is based on parish register searches as indexed at FamilySearch.org. Parish extractions  for all of Scotland have not produced a “likely” Duncan married before 1751. Here is where we lose our thread, stalled at 1751.

It’s not as if the information is there and Duncan has somehow failed us. The available records do not include marriages at Killin which are missing 1699-1708 and 1720-1782. Um, yes, have we not heard this problem before? ... in other parishes and other families. Does anyone tell us why they are missing, or does the answer really matter? The records have disappeared through some kind of neglect or misadventure or might never have been written at all. So we have to suck it up.

Genealogists and family historians call this a brickwall or a roadblock problem. One strategy then, perhaps the only strategy, is the attempt to reconstruct every contemporaneous Fraser family in the area (SIGH). Say from 1700 to 1800 in this case. Tracking the available (Self: SO regretting over-usage of this word!) existing Fraser baptisms, marriages, and gravestones in and around Killin is the main way to do this.
At the same time, adjacent parishes and place names need to be kept in mind while searching databases and records. Additional monumental inscriptions need studying (but can’t expect volunteers to have recorded every burial ground in the country). Contact with local family history societies is essential—they have members’ interests, query pages, or copies of compiled family histories. Someone out there, in Wazoo, Australia, or Bottomley-on-Sprye, England, could have a missing link for me. I haven’t given up on the notion that Killin Kirk Sessions might have references to pertinent Fraser individuals (especially if they were naughty) because they do exist from 1723-1762.

Why did Duncan’s descendant Dr William Fraser (1810-1872), brother of my gt-gt-grandfather John, name his third son William Lovat Fraser? Did the doctor know from oral family lore something we don’t know? Oh no. Am I ultimately facing the complicated parish records of Inverness-shire? Complicated, because in that region the name Fraser is the equivalent of the dreaded Smith everywhere else.

Lizzie, our work is cut out for us. The next batch of monumental inscriptions is on its way to me.

16 August 2010

Hands On Scotland: KIllin

Killin sits in the Scottish Highlands of what used to be Perthshire but after a boundary shift, is now in the Stirling Council region. The beautiful back roads feature almost-hidden quaint B&Bs, evidence of the Trossachs’ popularity as a holiday retreat from the major urban areas. This is Rob Roy McGregor country. The village I was expecting turned out to be more like a 21st century town. Note to self: Stop living in the 18th century. Killin now includes the former surrounding villages of Monemore, Ballechroisk, and others.
  Cousin Lizzie had given very good directions to the old churchyard. Take the path beside and around the back of the hotel which now oddly sits between the church and its burying ground. I already knew that little trace of my Perthshire Frasers awaited. Our mutual gt-gt-gt-grandfather Duncan Fraser lies there (where else would he be?) but no stone is visible. His daughter Janet and her husband seem to be the only sign of several Fraser generations.
This is the parish church of Killin and Ardeonaig, built in 1744, so one solace was that Duncan was baptized here in 1783, and his father John in 1751. The ruins of the mediaeval church that existed by 1317 are in the midst of the burial ground, no longer visible.
A bonus was the memorial erected to the Reverend James Stewart who would have served at the time of the baptisms. His memorial sits in its own enclosure near the front of the church. Note the tribute to his translation of the Bible into Gaelic: this was a major, major contribution to Highland society. 
Back to the burial ground: The older stones are so unkempt and uncared-for, enough to make you cry. Mature trees have grown over many, hiding them. Few of the still-standing stones are decipherable. And naturally there could be plenty lying beneath the sod. The "programme of inspection and repair" and even the "footpaths" are not in evidence.
Members of the Scottish Genealogy Society (SGS) transcribed gravestones here in 1965. Their publication, South Perthshire Monumental Inscriptions, does not include the stone of Janet Fraser and her husband Alexander MacFarlane in the Killin cluster of eight burying grounds. Clearly legible now, the omission is puzzling. Was the stone illegible in 1965? Has someone cleaned it since?
The paucity of Fraser names in the entire SGS publication—flawed as it may be—is startling to me. Here I thought I was at the source of my Perthshire Fraser line. (I have to keep saying “Perthshire Fraser line” because I likely have two Inverness-shire Fraser lines :-) Cousin Lizzie and I don’t know where our Duncan’s probable grandfather, a prior Duncan, came from. The absence of most Highland parish registers before the mid-18th century casts that renowned fine Highland mist over us.
Here is the modern jazzed-up version, with extensions, of the smithy built by Janet Fraser’s husband in the 1880s. Janet herself descended from blacksmiths, father Duncan and grandfather John, but this is not where they worked. Now “The Old Smiddy”is a coffee shop cum teahouse with rooms to let.  
The Breadalbane Folklore Centre is situated in Killin, paying tribute to St. Fillan of Gaelic tales, and to the clans that flourished here—McNab, McGregor, Campbell. A 17th century claymore is among the displays, having been preserved by McGregor descendants. Perhaps a relic once held by Rob Roy himself?

More thinking to do. Why am I getting this sinking feeling that gt-gt-gt-grandad Duncan’s grandfather may have drifted into Killin from Inverness-shire where the Lovat Frasers were concentrated? Lizzie has reached the same hypothesis. He would have been a young and healthy age at the time of the Battle of Culloden. Note to self: Get a grip on your imagination; new Fraser posting needed.

17 June 2010

Hands On Scotland: Dead Ancestors in Edinburgh

This post isn’t so much about the ancestors per se as it’s about frenzied preparations for two days of research at General Register House in Edinburgh. That’s the one at the east end of Princes Street. As opposed to the one at the west end of Princes Street, imaginatively called West Register House. NAS. National Archives of Scotland. My hotel is thankfully nearby, as memorized from a colourful and distracting street map, so I calculate a maximum 10? minute walk after breakfast heading east. No dallying at shop windows along the way.
Historical Search Room, General Register House, Edinburgh; http://www.nas.gov.uk

Anticipation of an adventure, they say, is half the fun. Who said that, anyway? It may be the only fun. Time constraints allow for two days at NAS, within the specified hours of 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Every minute is precious. Who knows how much time is eaten up with registering (passport type photos required), orientation, filling out forms, and waiting for retrievals and printouts. Never mind the important in-between part of computer and microfilm searching.

My primary research goals are at the one facility. I pursue Donald McFadyen relentlessly in the perhaps mistaken hypothesis that he served in a militia unit during the 1790s. A previous search of the Breadalbane Muniments was negative, so I apply myself to the collections of the Earls of Airlie and Maclaine of Lochbuie. There are muster and pay rolls for the Breadalbane Fencibles and the Argyllshire Volunteers among them. Somewhere among the meters-long shelving of estate papers. White gloves time, I believe.

My Frasers will receive some attention at GRH since my little expedition has been ordered to make an ancestor detour to Killin in Perthshire. Cousin Lizzie paved the way for me—metaphorically speaking—into a village that may have looked like this when our mutual Duncan Fraser (1783-1867) was the village blacksmith.  
Monemore Cottages, Killin, Perthshire; postcard.

I go to GRH armed with specific catalogue references. One collection alone took two days of trawling the online finding aid through hundreds of items. This is the fun part? Not that I’m complaining ... thank you, gods of the NAS for the finding aids! The kinks in my neck and shoulder muscles should recover just in time to assist my pilot in keeping the transatlantic Airbus aloft for seven hours (Monty Python helps ... “Always look on the briiight side ...”).  

My confidence is still a little shaky that I will understand the accents and vernacular of the native Scots. More archival time eaten up if I embarrass myself by asking them to repeat what they said several times. Or I could pretend to get it the first time, and proceed as if transmission went well. That usually lands me in some hopeless or hilarious (in hindsight) contre-temps but then again it could be a good diversion from intensive, eye-crossing research.

Edinburgh is really the only place on the itinerary that demands absolute research discipline. But only until 4:45 p.m.! What then? The map is mesmerizing. It promises historical sites of sin, depravity, and ancient murder mysteries. Whisky tasting and tartan weaving. Greyfriars Bobby. Campbell’s Close. Grassmarket. Deacon Brodie’s Tavern?  Malt Shovel Inn? Ahhh ... the Hebridean Bar; surely a place for Celtic music.

Dominic Beddow and Claire Littlejohn, The Illustrated Edinburgh Map (Harper Collins Publishers Ltd., 2007).

Now that I’ve put myself on the published record, we know there must be follow-up. The netbook may or may not decide to obey me but I have Luddite backup. The adventure will unfold, as my granny never said but someone’s did, the good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise. Being translated means Icelandic volcano, hold your temper, eh? I mean aye.