Sunday, July 11, 2010

around the next corner

I am committed ~ since mid-afternoon a box has been sitting in my kitchen, in that box are about two dozen photograph albums ~ empty. Several lifetimes worth of photographs now reside in my living room waiting to be identified, sorted into logical groups, scanned and recorded onto cds for the family. A few of the albums were the horrible “sticky” kind and a good many of those pages will have to be scanned as a whole, then separated into individual pictures using PS. Once that is done, all the originals will go into proper archival albums. Somewhere in there I have to choose a suitable software for storage & publication.

As a child, I received a Brownie Hawkeye camera for Christmas and began to take many, many pictures. Soon I realized that they were disappearing, being sent “home” by Mum. To counteract that I created albums, labeled the pictures, captioned them , even dedicated the albums – today as I emptied those same books there were many vacant spaces, even in the captioned ones – or there were completely unrelated shots in place bearing my original captions. Later on I began to take slides and continued to do so when I graduated to a 35mm. The consequence of that last move is the need to print all those slides in order to include them in the project. Mum would have been flummoxed by digital cameras, God love her.

There is no target date because I have absolutely no idea how long this will take will let you know how it goes


around the next corner

Sometimes you get desperate.

A family name containing an apostrophe can be a problem,search engines may ignore or reject it and a plain old “google”will dredge up Latin languages posts ad infinitum containing “d’a”. On an evening when it seemed that all leads were exhausted I idly punched our name into the Canadian telephone database, expecting only one result (mine) – there were five.

And the feather arrived to knock me over.

Mine of course, two in the Ottawa area and two out west. Naturally I wrote to all of them (snailmail) and one more time, a phone call did it, this time a gentleman who knew EXACTLY how to pronounce our name –ie family.

Alex lives in Ottawa with his wife Mary, the other listings were their sons Alex, Billy and Graeme and they also have a daughter Mary.Here is more proof of the wrongness of the “we were the only immigrants” theory – Alex himself is an immigrant!

Hierarchically, Alex is second cousin to Dad, his daughter and two of his sons between them have seven children(and counting, hence our generation had gained another gaggle of 3rds, most of whom we met when invited to Alex & Mary’s 50th wedding anniversary party. Alex also has a brother Graeme & sister Betty in Scotland; Betty had done some family research and I stayed with her on a subsequent trip to the UK, first time I had been in Scotland – ever.


In talking family with Alex we untangled the relationship – Alexander (1853) D’All & Mary Jane McDowell had three sons :

George, born in Dundee in 1875 was Mary’s father, shown here with his wife Jessie Gow Robertson:

Samuel, born in 1876 was Alex’ (Ottawa) Grandad, shown with his wife Agnes Dryden Scrimgeour.

Alexander, born 1878 was our great-grandfather, with his wife Isabella Bruce.

Betty knew of a family grave and some history in Dundee and I made tentative plans to visit –my first time in Scotland. We were off!

Now that I think of it, had I been at all interested in extended family right out of high school , an incident on a short-lived job at an insurance company might have been more significant and most definitely would have blown the “only immigrant” theory right out of the water. Filing client cards I happened upon one with our family name; that night I asked Dad and his answer was “must be one of Alex’s boys, I heard one had come over” . He brushed it off as their being distantly related to Grandpop. I let it go – stupid. When I think of all the times our name was remarked upon as not having been seen before and our explaining that we were the only ones over here - grrr.

Unfortunately the mystery of why the three branches of the family failed to connect before this is one that will never be solved, anyone who knew why is no longer with us.

A plethora of Alexanders

Before this goes any further and everyone including me becomes thoroughly confused, we have a lot of Alexanders and a fair number of Georges in Dad’s family, just as we have a lot of Thomas’ and Williams in Mum’s Stockwoods (whole ‘nuther story  or two) .

. the earliest Alexander (so far ) in our direct line is our gg-grandfather born 1853;
. our g-grandfather’s eldest brother George 1839 had a son Alexander 1881;
. our Alexander 1853 had a son Alexander 1878 (g-grandfather and father of our Grandpop)
. that Alexander’s 1878 brother Samuel (one of the triumvirate) had a son Alexander 1900 who also had a son Alexander 1927 (the cousin in Ottawa) who also had, you guessed it, a son Alexander 1956 ………

…….sort of like the begats isn’t it??

The reason for our G-Grandfather being called “old Alex” had become apparent early on. There are probably others, mais trop c’est trop

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