Thursday, March 05, 2015


Drowned Moose
Week 9
"Dinna pour water on a drowned moose"
("Don't take unnecessary action")
Neil Wilson Publishing (May 31, 2011)]

Throughout the past few weeks, I have been working with the vital records and census records of the ancestors that I defined for this project. It is more work than writing. Collateral lines definitely help with the understanding of my direct line ancestors but cluster research is not as useful because of the cost of buying records at Scotland's People. Instead I focused on the street and place names that my ancestors and their families lived on. 

The idea of "unnecessary action" gives me pause. It certainly would have been better if I had done a lot of the work on my Scots ancestors as I was going along. I didn't do that and now I am sorry. That's how I knew this needed a "do-over". 

I do think I got used to looking at other evidence like city directories and gravestones in my non-Scot ancestors which kept my interest level high and gave me reassurance that I was sure I had the right ancestors. I will complain more about this in Week 11. 

With my Scots, I wasn't quite sure. One of my cousins has reexamined her family records and found that her family made errors that I have now proved those notes were wrong. This makes me feel good. But, I'd still like more evidence. (more is better!)

left: birth record of Margaret Harcomb and right: same person's death record.

As you can see by this example, (click here to see in a larger format), I have a conflict with my 3rd great grandmother's maiden name. Margaret's birth record clearly states her mother's maiden name as Templeton but her death record 89 years later states her mother's maiden name as Hammond. Swell.

So, before I got any further, I examined the children of Thomas and Margaret (Harcomb) Broadfoot and I see one son bears a middle name of Templeton and another, a daughter bears BOTH Hammond and and Templeton as middle names.[source: her death record] 

Clearly, I need the marriage record of Hugh Harcombe to resolve this question. In family records I can find no one named HAMMOND. So rather than pour water on a drowned moose, I add finding this marriage record to my priority list.

As I was doing collateral research in past years, I made the effort to find out about all of Thomas and Margaret's children before I moved backwards to work on the Harcombe line. 

Without a research plan, I made the mistake of  not noticing this conflict. I moved to the children before finishing the work on the parents. I can hear the drowned moose bellowing, can't you? 

Since moose make a lot of noise and I got scared,  I returned to Scotlands People and found this marriage record in the index. Bingo!

Saturday, February 28, 2015


Auld Clothes
Week 8
"Comfort comes in auld clothes"
("Familiar friends are the best to comfort you")
Neil Wilson Publishing (May 31, 2011)]
2012 Dalbeattie Cemetery Road, Kendra May Haney, used with Permission

It is comforting to know that I am finally making progress with understanding my paternal Scots ancestors. For this next week, I will be creating list of where everyone lived and when the latter generations not part of this project came to America. 

For me, I had to push myself to keep going back to what I had already found, learn the geography and find the right streets they lived on. I have been getting positive feedback from family who has enjoyed reading narratives about the people. Just shared names and dates wasn't enough.

The collateral research (working with non direct line) brothers, sisters and their children has proved interesting. Esther Wakeman Broadfoot, the only child of John and Jane (Hannah) Broadfoot did not come to America because she got married in a hurry and had a child to raise. I have no idea if she did that alone or if her husband was involved with the child. "Beloved wife of Francis Ferguson"on her gravestone is not enough information.

I have also studied but not documented two other Broadfoot people, Eliza Templeton Hammond Broadfoot, wife of Robert McKinnell and daughter of Thomas and Margaret Broadfoot needs more work. Also William Harcomb Broadfoot, son of Thomas and Margaret Broadfoot, grocer in Dalbeattie is not fully researched.

I finally have a lead on Margaret Harcomb's Harcomb family. They were not Scottish, but English in origin and their name included an "e" on the end.

We still have weeks 9 to 13 to go in the project. I will be glad not to have to write every day as in this challenge.

Thank you for reading my entries for the Family History Challenge and your kind words. Now, I return to working on the Scots Genealogy Do-Over!

Familiar friends can be a great comfort, like auld clothes. I hope to see you again.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Day 27: Until the Day Dawns

Day 27: Until the Day Dawns

Harbour St. Creetown, Scotland from Google Maps

Until the Day Dawns
Thomas and Margaret (Harcomb) Broadfoot's gravestone reads "Until the Day Dawns". This is fitting for my project because, I may have to wait until I get to Heaven to find out more about my earliest Scots. I plan to die trying anyway!

Thomas's father, John, married a woman named Mary. One census says her name is Reynolds and another says Randals. These two names, when spoken aloud, sound very much alike, don't they? Mary is either from Ireland or England. Right now, I think England and if so, her parents may be Thomas Randals and Mary Dawson. 

John Broadfoot was the son of David Broadfoot. On his death record, it states that he is a wood forester and that John Broadfoot, his son was present. 

Working with these two generations together will take more time of study than this do-over allows so I will leave them for another day 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Day 26: Margaret Harcomb, Shirt Maker

Day 26: Margaret Harcomb, Shirt Maker

Crop of photo of Margaret Harcomb Broadfoot,
 courtesy of California Cousins, Used with permission

Margaret Harcomb, wife of Thomas Broadfoot died at the age of 89 on April 9, 1922 of senile decay.  She was born 25 July 1832 in Dalmellington, Ayshire, Scotland to Hugh Harcomb and his wife Elizabeth Templeton. (Her death record gives the wrong maiden name for her mother).

The surname Harcomb or Harcombe is not Scottish but is of English origin. 

In this undated photo, Margaret is wearing a capote bonnet (thanks to Maureen Taylor for the help) and her clothes are those of a widow. When her husband died in 1899, Margaret was 67 years old. (The same age that I am now.)

It could be that when her son John Broadfoot went to have his photo taken with his second wife Helen Tait, he took his mother along to have her photo taken too. I am very grateful for my Broadfoot family to have sent this photo of Margaret.

In 1911, she is living alone as an old age pensioner. In 1901 she is living next door to family but has their daughter taking care of her. Her occupation is shirtmaker. She was 69.

I have found a Harcomb researcher to work with. It will be fun to see if we can learn more about her. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Day 25: Thomas Broadfoot: Ag Laborer

Day 25: Thomas Broadfoot: Ag Laborer

Photo by Ruth Robb, 2012, used with permission

Thomas Broadfoot, my 2nd great grandfather, is the person I consider "top of my Scots chart" (see below) since my father's family told me that they did not know anything back further than his name and his wife's name. Accepting that, at the time, I wrote his name and the dates they gave me along with his wife, Margaret Harcomb.

I should mention that my father was named after these two people. Thomas Harcomb Broadfoot (1917-1998) was called "Harcomb" by friends and family in the years before he went to high school.

I don't think they knew that he was buried in Dalbeattie Cemetery. I am not sure how far away from his son, John Broadfoot's gravestone this grave is located. The tall trees in the background don't match the background of the other stones.

Thomas was born on 6 January 1829 and baptized the next day in Kirkinner, Wigtownshire, Scotland. That document states his parents as John Broadfoot and Mary Reynolds. In 1841, Thomas lives with his parents live in Blackmyre, Kirkmabreck. Thomas is twelve, He has siblings. In March of 1851, the family lives in Hollandbank, Kirkmabreck. 

From his marriage record, we find out that he and Margaret married on 7 November 1851 in that same location. By the way, "Ag Laborer" means agricultural laborer. His occupation is also listed as Cottar.

In Memoriam/Thomas Broadfoot/died 7th February 1899/aged 70 years. Margaret Harcomb/his wife died 9th April 1922 aged 89 years./Mary his daughter died 4th October 1875 aged 4 years & 6 months. Hugh his son died 8th October 1875 aged 19 years & 4 months. 

With the help of David Webster, a well known professional Scottish genealogist, whose online class I took, I know that Thomas had siblings named David (1826), Jane (1832) and John (1837). The last son, John gave the information on Thomas's death record.

Thomas Broadfoot died of pleurisy and pulmonary congestion in Dalbeattie. The story of where they lived and about their children belongs with his wife Margaret.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Day 24: Where There's a Will

Where there is a Will...
Day 24

Clip of the Will of Adam Smith of Merkland

I am still working on the wills in my Scottish family. The handwriting is better than our American counterparts in this time period.

Cousin Cary and I feel that the family did not own Merkland they just were in charge of farming it. Which means that were not willing the farm to anyone in my family.

I hope to transcribe these "personal estate wills" and report again on them later on in my Scots genealogy do-Over.

Notice it says "in Merkland, in the parish of Ruthwell". I have two pages done in this will and then I have another to do.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Day 23: Died at Merkland Buried at Kirkmahoe Cemetery

Photograph of Adam Smith and Helen Bell's Gravestone, 2014 by Cary Schmidt.
Used with permission
Died at Merkland

Buried at Kirkmahoe Cemetery in Dumfries, Scotland, Adam Smith and Helen Bell were my third great grandparents.

In Memory of/ Adam Smith./Farmer in Merkland, in the Parish of Ruthwell/Who Died the 20th September 1849 in his 57th year./

Also Helen Bell, his wife, who died at /Merkland, 6th of November 1860 in her 70th /Year.

And of Helen Smith, who died/ at Merkland on the 13th of March 1823 in her 7th year. And Helen Smith, who died at Merkland 3rd March 1831, in her 19th month. Daughters of the above.

And of James Smith, son of the above who died at Merkland, 26th April in his 46th year.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Day 22: Caerlaverock Churchyard

Caerlaverock Churchyard

Photo by Cary Schmidt, 25 Apr 2014, used with permission
Resting Place of Robert Hannah and Jane Smith

In my wildest dreams, I would not have expected that anyone would have taken a photo of this gravestone! I was lucky that Cary Schmidt noticed Jane Smith's name on the stone and realized it was his ancestor's sister and snapped the photo. He didn't remember he took it until I contacted him again. Meant to be? Absolutely. I can't thank him enough.

When Jane Smith, my second great grandmother, died in 1865, her husband buried her her at Caerlaverock Churchyard.  Even though the stone reads 1864, I have the death record that reads 1865. I have yet to track down what or where Kellwood is located.

In memory of/ Robert Hannah,/
died at Dalbeattie, 10 Dec//r 1883/
aged 73 years.

HANNAH who died at Kellwood
23//d March 1864 aged 46 years.

Since the dates and ages may not be right, This needs more research.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Day 21: Back to Merkland Farm

Photos by Cary Schmidt, 25 April 2015
The Right Merkland Farm

Google Map: Our Merkland Farm

A study of family history geography is harder than getting the names and dates organized especially when your ancestors are from a country you have never visited.

The vital records for my Scotland ancestors often list a place or a village before the parish, county and country. Since the "term" merkland is a unit of land measurement (source), it stands to reason that many places or farms can be called Merkland. 

My Smith cousin, who is from Australia, contacted me some time ago about our mutual "Smith" ancestors. As he was traveling at the time, he sent me a copy of Adam Smith's will and we never reconnected. Since I was still floundering around trying to find out more, I returned to his email and found his tree at In this case, I am glad for other people's tree since I hit the motherlode by asking him again. For nearly a week, we have been conversing about Merkland Farm and the area of our mutual Smith connection. 

Last April, Cary and his wife WENT to Scotland and they located Merkland Cottage and took the above photos. As Google Street View doesn't go "down the road and around the bend", I would NEVER have seen this if he didn't take the above photos. It is still hard to imagine our mutual ancestors living and working in this place.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Week 6: Day 20: MITHER'S WORK

Mithers Work
Week 7
"A' mithers go to work"
("All mothers are working mothers")
Neil Wilson Publishing (May 31, 2011)]

Mother's Work is never done, is it? This Scottish saying is a good reminder of how much work our ancestral mothers had to do.

For my Scots Do-Over, I felt it was important to focus as much on the women in my tree as the men. When I took a course in Scottish genealogy, I was told that women often went by their maiden name for their whole life. I did notice that when I was given the actual photograph of the gravestone in Dalbeattie and when I learned to use genealogy software, I discovered that using the surname of women really took the sting out of being known as wife of "man's surname". 

When given the copies of the photographs of John Broadfoot and his wives Jane Hannah and Helen Tait, I made sure they were always referred as their full and whole name. With so many repeating first names, it is easy to confuse the children's with the first names of the grandparents. 

Women in my ancestral line were traditional "stay at home" mothers after their marriage. With so many children and a vegetable garden to tend, I guess they certainly were working

But, much to my surprise, many of the women worked outside the home or took care of aged family members, BEFORE they married and some were teenagers.

For the do-over this week, Thomas MacEntee has asks us to report on our genealogy software applications. I keep a public tree at and export my data to RootsMagic because I can use that in conjunction with my Mac until there is a stand alone Mac version. I am a dual platform user (both Windows and Mac) at the moment but I will be moving to the Mac platform eventually. I also use Legacy Family Tree. I like their reports.

I own three scanners. One flatbed will sheet feed and the other is a printer-scanner that is terrific. I own a Flip-Pal for portable scanning. It is really amazing. The stitching software pieced together a scan of my Scot grandfather's naturalization papers perfectly. After all, he is the Scot that came to America and gave up his connection to the old country.