Sunday, July 25, 2010

the uncle we didn’t know (about) and the aunt who never was …

As time went on and finding additional information from afar became more difficult, I hired a researcher in Scotland to locate and transcribe birth, marriage & death records from the ledgers. This involves finding an event in the master index and then looking at the full entry, so you do have to have at least an idea of the year. Transcription by an accredited person is inherently less expensive than ordering actual certificates on top of research fees for people who may or may not be yours, therefore a lot do this, especially for family members who are not in their direct line. One should also record the indexed location for backup. A transcription will sometimes provide more information than the certificate itself.

OOPS – sorry – wandered off there ...

Along with the death record of our g-grandad Alex came a surprise – it was witnessed by his son George – of whom we had never heard one whisper in our entire lives. You may recall that at the start of this endeavour I stated that Grandpop had had three sisters; he had alternated vacation visits to them, Ella and her husband Jack Chivas in Victoria BC one year, Lizzie and her husband Bill Moon as well as Jean in Dundee the other – but no brother.

The researcher looked into it ~ lo & behold she found George’s birth – he was indeed Grandpop’s brother. Total incomprehension on my part.

I distinctly remember calling Dan and asking if he had ever heard that Grandpop had a brother ~ there was a pause and then a noooo that went up at the end with question mark. Called Maggie too – nope. It is always a good thing to check with both brother and sister because there is a considerable difference in our ages and Dan & I recall some things while Maggie remembers others. I resorted to the bits and pieces in the albums and found some photographs from Grandpop’s trips, those in which I did not recognize the folks. Lizzie & her husband Bill were well-known to us as were Ella & Jack, so it was by process of elimination that I chose which pictures to remove from the horrid sticky pages – on the back of one Dad had written “George & Jean”. Amazing.

Revelation though he may have been, poor George ended up on the back burner for a couple of years, until I made a trip to the UK and went to visit Betty, Alex’ (Ottawa) sister. I had been named after Nanny (Helen) and Grandpop’s sister Jean (or so I thought) , who was rarely if ever mentioned ~ we knew more of Ella & Lizzie and our Mum had been of the opinion that Jean was ‘frail’ and in hospital a good bit of the time.

Auntie Lizzie was still with us then, although very elderly and in hospital. We contacted her daughter Irene - she did not think it would be wise to visit her Mum who had become both blind and deaf, so we chatted instead. Irene was the first person I heard refer to Dad as young Harry in general conversation – as a young person her older cousin Harry had spent many a summer in Dundee J.

Yes, according to Irene there was an Uncle George, married with children and visited by Grandpop every second year when he visited her Mum Lizzie. Nope, no sister Jean but George’s wife was Jane so perhaps I was named after her ?? – another thing we will never really know. Irene was not terribly interested in the family history, but she did help as best she could.

Several years later I exchanged phone calls and emails with George’s daughter Evelyn who had run across my (now defunct) web page. She supplied me with information on her brothers George (yup, another one) and Douglas as well as her own life with her husband Joe and their boys Ian and Brian.

Funny how versions of events differ from person to person – when I wondered aloud why Grandpop had never mentioned George, Irene had recounted a story of him (George) as a baby being dropped by Grandpop and ending up with a limp and perhaps Grandpop felt guilty?? Evelyn however was very aware that her Dad had had a congenital disease that caused his limp. She could not think why I might have been named after her Mum ~ frankly, neither could I ~ and not a one of us could fathom why our branch of the family did not know of her parents …….. she said her Dad always looked forward to Grandad’s visits.

Here we were, having had lived our lives until now thinking that Dad, an only child, had just one cousin in Irene, also an only child, when he actually had three more in George’s children … his family had just ‘lost’ Jean but gained a bunch ~ tripled or quadrupled or something like that … math is not my strong suit .

So, to be clear ~ Grandpop (Harry Bruce D’All) married Helen (Nell) King; they, with our Dad Harry King D’All, ended up in Montréal ~ Auntie Lizzie married William (Bill) Moncur Moon, they lived in Dundee and had a daughter Irene ~ Ella married John (Jack) Watson Chivas and emigrated to Victoria, British Columbia; they had no children ~ George married Jane Alexander Fenton Ramsay; they had three children in Scotland, George, Douglas & Evelyn ~ oh, and there was no Jean.

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