Monday, March 30, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday; Elspeth SMITH

Tombstone Tuesday: Elspeth Smith

Photo by Cary Schmidt, 2014, used with permission
Yes, Elspeth is a girl's name and it is the only one in my family tree.

She was the youngest child of John Smith and his wife Helen Wallace and baby sister to my Adam Smith, who was one my third great grandfathers in Scotland.

This stone is a bit unusual because  of the carved spacers that look like equal signs. 

"Sacred/ to the memory of/ Elspeth Smith, spouse to/ David Hunter, who died at Auchen=/=cairn, [Auchencairn, Dumfries, Scotland], the 8th//of March 1825 age 26 years. /

Also John Hunter, their Son, who died/ on the 16th of June 1825 aged 4 months. Agness Hunter, their daughter died 9th Feb/ 1831 aged 8 years."

Kirkmahoe Church Cemetery, Kirkmahoe, Dumfries, Scotland

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sentimental Sunday: Grandpa's Desk

Sentimental Sunday; Grandpa's Desk

Photo by Midge Frazel, 2010
After my maternal grandfather died, my saddest moment was seeing his empty desk and chair at his business. My father, his son-in-law, occupied the desk facing this desk. I was only seven, but I went into the room and sat down in Grandpa’s office chair.

Ever neat and tidy, Grandpa’s desk always looked the same. It showed a life of order and control. Yet, seeing the desk still and silent was the moment I knew Grandpa was gone forever. Dying was something no one could control.

Thinking back to this day, I realize now that my love of desks and the way I work has been influenced by that day. A desk is like your own personal island. It is a place to work and plan. Walking into the room, the way my desk looks sets my mind for the events of that day.

My father had the sad task of emptying Grandpa’s desk. Even though I was not witness to this event, I can see him opening the drawers and putting items in the box he brought home.

The box sat on my father’s workbench for several days before he went through it. Looking back, I don’t know why he brought it to our house and not to Grandpa’s house where Grandma lived. 

I am glad to have this flatiron paperweight, this duck paper holder and his, "I fell asleep here" bookmark that my Dad gave me that day. 

This photo was taken as I packed to move to our new condo. I put these items in a box marked, "Special Items" and moved it in our car with my computer backups, cash, checkbooks, and jewelry. 

I miss you, "Bop".

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Two at Nicht
Week 12
"Ane hour in the morn is worth two at nicht"
("You achieve more when you're fresh and energetic")
Neil Wilson Publishing (May 31, 2011)]

George G. Morgan's 4th ed. How to Do Everything Genealogy, 2015

I am a morning person so this quote has great meaning for me. Since I am cutting back, my time spent on genealogy will be more focused from now on and my writing will be done in the morning. 

George Morgan's book (in print)(in Kindle format) should be on every family historian and genealogist's bookshelf. You can never be too advanced to learn or review what you learned long ago. Things change. 

A couple of weeks ago, I set up a closed Facebook group with Nancy, who is a descendant of my grandfather's brother John. Our goal is to find out who has what records and who has what photos of our shared family. Having both of us be admins, it will be easier for us to handle. I was waiting for just the right way to share our findings and decided that I needed to do it now instead of waiting for the right medium. Of course, the ones who are not on Facebook lose out. You can't please everyone.

Nancy's mom, who is 93, is the oldest living Broadfoot descendant. Recently, Nancy went to visit her mom and took quick photos of photos in an album and texted them to me. Most of them she had already shared some years back but it was a good review of what we already know.

We will enjoy sharing them with our group. I gained the photo captions on the photos so I can identify each person. (That is a big deal for me.) Our California cousins are much more social and have more generations than just myself and my two first cousins and their families on my Coast. Because I am in a different time zone, it doesn't help that I am a "morning person". 

Nancy and her mom, 2015

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday: John Bell and Helen Bell

Photo by Cary Schmidt, 2014, Kirkmahoe Cemetery, used with permission

Bell Gravestone in Kirkmahoe Church Cemetery

Situated against the wall in the Kirkmahoe Church Cemetery, Kirkmahoe, Dumfries, Scotland is the gravestone of my 4th great grandparents, John Bell and Helen Bell.

Sacred/to the memory of/ Helen Bell, spouse of John Bell/ overseer at Carnsalloch who died Decr/15 1832 aged 68 years. Also John Bell, their son late in Heathall/who died the 18th Augst, 1836 Ages 48 years/ Also first named John Bell/who died in Heathall the 18th, Septr/ 1840, aged 79 years

John and Helen were the parents of Helen Bell (1791-1860) who was the wife of Adam Smith (1792-1849) and the grandparents of Jane Smith who was the wife of Robert Hannah.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Nae Service
Week 11
"Nae service, nae siller"
("You don't get something for nothing")
["Scottish Proverbs by Colin Walker (p. 196)]
Birlinn Publishing (2000)]

Crop of timeline post of Facebook

Crop of email and member list of MyFamily course in Genealogy 2003

There isn't too much that's free about doing genealogy research for my Scottish ancestors. The learning tools, like (Gazetteer for Scotland: maps and gazetteers )  and the specific town/city sites are improving. But, getting the real records COST. If you are going to do real research, you'd better "not be a cheap Scot". Plan to pay up

Years ago, after gathering my oral and written interviews, I went the usual route of the past and wrote letters and bought books. I found that there was a genealogy course about Scotland which I paid for and participated in. The instructor named Annie, who lived in Australia, died after two weeks from complications of diabetes. It was a horrible shock.

The course was suspended until well known Scottish genealogist David Webster took over. Then, things got really good. As I was more techno-savvy than most others in the class and quite adept at searching, the instructor let me help others, solve his techno problems and he gave me special help on my surname. I learned a lot about distance learning and time zones which really gave me the courage to pursue my Master's degree online.

I am an early adoptee of social media. I value online social interaction better than face-to-face situations. When put in a face-to-face environment, I TEACH. That can really be annoying to others. My only child nature moves me forward. I am a self directed learner. I am a brat and I like that about myself. I hope you smiled.

One day, on Facebook, I met cousin Thomas MacEntee.  (We share descent from Robert Austin (1638-1687) of Rhode Island) 

In less than a week, I had  nearly 200 friend requests. I sat back and let Thomas send people to me.  It was the perfect learning scenario for my professional genealogy portfolio. 

Social media is the future of genealogy. 

I have worked with all the Webinars that pertain to Scottish research. I got my money's worth. I have learned to get the vital records and census records at Scotlands People. I like being friends with those who are professional Scottish researchers but this could never be my specialty.

Message boards are just endless arguments to me. I am choosy what I read. I use Twitter and Facebook mostly and I do like Pinterest. I don't like Google+ much but I still have it. The things I don't like are ones that many people like and use. 

I expect change and try to manage it. But, you don't get something for nothing. It is a two way street.

Friday, March 13, 2015

:Week 10: KIRK YARD

Kirk Yard
Week 10
"Let the kirk stand i' the kirk yard"
("Let everything be in its proper place")
["Scottish Proverbs by Colin Walker (p. 172)]
Birlinn Publishing (2000)]

Photo by Cary Schmidt, 25 Apr 2014, used with permission

On the right hand side of this photo one can easily see the church. Cary took this photo from Merkland Farm area.

Close up of above photo of church and yard.
Google Maps allowed me to show the viewpoint, Cary took when he took this distance photo. If you will remember, Jane Hannah was baptized in this church as an infant

Here are some great photos of what the church looks like in present day. At the top of the pictures there are four page buttons that take you to the other views.

 Remember, this is where Jane Hannah's parent, Robert Hannah and Jane Smith are buried. The best part is that Cary took this photo because he knew Jane was his ancestor's sister. That's a lucky accident for me.

From Google Maps, 2015

The word "kirk" means church and it can mean more than just the building itself but all things that have to do with church, like church meetings, rules and regulations and governing bodies of that particular sect. 

The graveyard is called the kirk yard. Stones tend to surround the church building even along the walk into the main doors of the church. So, you can see what the Scottish saying for this post means. Everything in order just like the rows of stones may of which have many names carved in them. It must be wonderful to take one photo and get several generations of your genealogy at once.

I am amazed that so many of my ancestors moved to Dalbeattie and are buried there. This means that I only had three graveyards to find all of the gravestones in for this whole Scots Genealogy Do-Over. 

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Sentimental Sunday: Tarantula Man

Photo of Broadfoot family, fall 1914, courtesy of family of John Broadfoot
used with permission

Tarantula Man
My paternal grandfather, Thomas Broadfoot (1884-1937) went to visit his brother John Broadfoot in the fall of 1914. No one told me about this adventure, so far from Rhode Island, so I was surprised to find out he went there! This past week, my cousin located a typed journal of Jane Hannah Broadfoot Thompson (the little 7 year old girl in this photo), which included another photo similar to this one. It was not the photo which took me by surprise but the text that went with it. (Jane, who we called Cousin Jean, was my first cousin, 1x removed born in 1907)

"Uncle Tom Broadfoot from Westerly, Rhode Island came to vist us for a while. (He was Dad's brother.) For a pastime, he caught tarantulas, put them in a can and sold them to the University of California. I used to watch him pour water down their holes and that fascinated me...."

I'd bet my grandfather used the money to pay his room and board. I hope her did not use it to buy alcohol as he did in later life.

I do know that Uncle John and his family moved to California in late 1912 or 1913 after a visit back to Scotland. 

In 1913 my grandparents lived at 7 Vose St. in Westerly. It was a crowded household. In addition to themselves, my grandmother's parents David and Annie Aiken lived with them. David and Annie live in their own place in 1920 according to the census)

Tom and Annie had two children by the fall of 1914, my aunt and godmother Annie (born in 1907) and my aunt Ada (born in 1913). My father was not born as yet.

It is hard to be sentimental about my grandfather as he died before I was born but I do think that this little tidbit about tarantulas is a story worth knowing about. Not everyone's grandfather hunted tarantulas!

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