Peter McTavish – DNA match may provide missing clue

I have been working over the last three years to try and find my paternal 4x great grandparents in Argyll, Scotland.  I know that my 3x great grandfather Duncan was from a family of 24 children (2 mothers) and that he emigrated to Canada with two brothers.  I have identified the two brothers as Dugald and Archibald.  And, I have narrowed down their origin in Argyll as being within the parish of Kilmartin.  I am making an educated guess on this since the records from that parish are not available between the years of 1792 and 1818.  Duncan was born in 1794, Dugald it seems was born about 1797 and Archibald between 1783 and 1793.  Archibald is found in Glasgow working as a tailor in the early 1820’s and he had two children there.  He returned to Argyll some time around 1827 and married Catherine McNiven (or McEwan) in Kilmartin.  They had two children in Baligown (Archibald in 1828 and Jane in 1830) before departing for Canada.  I have been looking at every possible record for any McTavish (and Thomson) in Scotland and in Ontario to see if I can trace any of these siblings to their parents.  I believe that one of their sisters also emigrated to Ontario around the same time.  Catherine McTavish married John McAlpin in the Glassary parish in 1829.  The couple is found in Nassagaweya Township, Halton County, Ontario in 1842 and there is mention of John McAlpine, his father and brothers in a book about Nassagaweya Township, in the early 1830’s.  As this is the same location as my family, and there is a tie between Dugald McTavish and Andrew McAlpine, I have marked Catherine as their sister.  That makes 4 children of 24.  Lots to go with hopefully one of them leading the identification of their parents.

A few weeks ago, I had been reviewing my matches on the various DNA and Ancestry sites.  It has been an uncommon occurrence to find any matches that share my last name.  But I did come across one and so I sent him an email introduction.  Luckily he responded back and gave me some names of his ancestors.  There was a hit in my tree – he is a descendent of Dugald McTavish – making him my fourth cousin once removed.  Now, I had traced Dugald and with the sources that I did find, I was already very confident that he was a relation.  But, what is new is some further family information for that branch, including some pictures.  One of Dugald’s sons was named Peter McTavish.  Peter was born in Nassagaweya like the rest of his siblings but Peter ended up moving West in Canada, settling in Vancouver after stopping in Calgary for a few years.  I knew that Peter had married Mary McMillan but upon looking at the new files, I realized that they had married in Belmont, Westminster Township, Middlesex County, Ontario.  This is not near Halton County so why was he there or had Margaret come to Halton at some point?

Peter McTavish and Margaret McMillan family

Peter McTavish and Margaret McMillan

The location tweaked a memory – I had located a will for a John McTavish which was probated in 1855 in Belmont, Westminster, Middlesex, Ontario!  This John McTavish was married to Jean McClarty in 1814 in the Glassary parish, Argyll and together they had 8 children, a few who were born in Baligown.  Finding the will allowed me to track the family’s emigration to Ontario.  They emigrated in 1842, they were found in the 1841 census in Craignish, Argyll with a few of their younger children.  In Ontario, the family sometimes went by the anglicized form of their name – Thomson.  Jean/Jane Thomson was found on the 1852 census in Wesmintser, Middlesex, Ontario listed with her children Hugh, Mary and Isabella.  She is listed as a widow and is 58 years old.  She is listed again in the 1861 census living with son Hugh – she is now 65 years old and going by the Thomson name.  Also in 1861, I can find Jean’s son Alexander Thomson living in East Nissouri, Oxford. After this though, I cannot seem to find much about the the family in any online records.  Hugh is my only thread at this point – he was married to Betsy McLarty in 1862 in Elgin County.  He resided in Westminster, Middlesex until after the 1901 census, died in 1907 in Aylmer, Yarmouth, Elgin, Ontario.

1891 Census

Hugh McTavish 1891 census

Peter’s marriage to Margaret McMillan occurred in 1876 in Belmont.  Was it a coincidence that Peter McTavish was in Belmont at that time or was he visiting his cousin Hugh?  This is a new area for me to dig into some further research to see what I can find.  Sometimes these disparate pieces of information come together for a fleeting second and provide us with the one clue the helps us break through the brick wall.  So for now, my theory is that John was a brother to Archibald, Duncan, Dugald and Catherine.  Now, I intend to prove or disprove it!

Thomas George Bearne Lock

On my maternal side – my 2x great grandfather was a man named Thomas George Bearne Lock.  He was born in Shaldon, Devonshire, England on the 12th of May in 1857.  His parents were John Henry Lock (1827-1900) and Susan Bearne (1821-1894).  Thomas George was most often referred to as George and he was the fourth child of six for John Henry and Susan.  His father was a Sawyer in England and the family can be found in 1861 in Highweek, Newton Abbott, Devonshire, England on the 1861 census. TGB Lock 1861 census England

In September of 1869, the family emigrated to Canada, sailing to Quebec and then making  their way to Durham County in Ontario where they settled.  When he arrived in Canada, father John Henry was a Carpenter.

TGB Lock ship list

By 1871, the family had settled in Whitby, Durham County, Ontario.  In 1878, George married Lillie Mallory, daughter of Albin Mallory and Maria Robinson.  George was 21 years old and a resident of a small town called Millbrook, and his occupation was as a Painter.  Lilly Elvy Mallory was 19 years old and a resident of Kendall, Clarke Township, Durham County.  There were two witnesses to the marriage – Charles and Emma Jacques.  Emma was a sister of Lilly’s and each served as a witness to the other’s marriage.

TGB Lock marriage 1878

The family of George and Lilly are listed in Millbrook in the 1881, 1891 and 1901 census’.  He is listed as a Painter and as a Carriage Maker.

TGB Lock 1901 census

In 1911, Lilly is listed but George is not.  A newspaper record in 1911 announced that George had travelled to Saskatoon to visit with his son and daughter in law.  That son was Norman Albert Lock who had gone out West for work for a few years.  George died on the 7th of September 1922 in Millbrook from heart disease – he was 65 years old.  He was buried in the Gardiner Cemetery with his wife and other Lock family members.

TGB Lock headstone

His wife Lilly would outlive him by 20 years.  George and Lilly would have six children together, five girls came first with their youngest being their only son.  Mary Elizabeth (1879-1952) married Joseph Wellington Perrin, Lily Amelia (b. 1881) married William Henry Lang, Susan Elvy (1883-1971) married Jonathan McKnight, Bertha Estella (1886-1957) married Walter Henry Williamson, Olive (1888-896) and Norman Albert (1889-1953) married Lydia May Nelson.  This last couple were my great grandparents.  Norman Albert followed in his father’s footsteps and was also a Painter in his early years.  Later he expanded his focus and became a decorator, residing for many years in Hamilton, Ontario.

Week 4 – 52 Ancestors – John Nelson

John Nelson was my 3x great grandfather.  I was able to find him after some serious digging into all available records and just by chance, found out that when he came to Ontario he settled about five kilometres from where I reside today.

John was born in about 1798 in County Armagh, Ireland.  Given the lack of Irish records available online, I have not been able to determine an exact birthdate nor can I identify his parents.  I know he came from that County in Ireland because he stated it on his petition for land in Ontario dated 12 October 1825.  In his letter, he says that he arrived in Quebec in June of 1820 and then made his way to Upper Canada shortly thereafter.  I have found him listed as a passenger on the Steamboat “Malsham” departing Quebec for Montreal on 25 June 1820.  He then made his way further West, petitioning for land and being granted a Crown Patent for part of lot 5 in concession 11, Esquesing Township, Halton County, Ontario dated 7 July 1831.    Since I have easy access to the land records held in Halton County and armed with the lot and concession information, I can see a bit of his trail, as it relates to the land.

John was a farmer, as most Ontario pioneers were in those early days.  Concession 11 was the farthest concession east in Halton County and butts up against Winston Churchill Boulevard.  On the other side of this street is Peel County and at the intersection of Steeles Avenue sits a small community called Whaley’s Corners.  This was the little area that the Nelson’s called home.  John Nelson had 16 children with two wives.  His first wife, Isabella Warren was also born about 1810 in County Down, Ireland and came to Ontario with her parents around the same time as John, as a young girl.  Her parents were William Warren and Jane Warren and they were found on land about a kilometre away from John’s land.  No record has been found for the marriage of John and Isabella but given the birth years of their 11 children, it appears to have happened around 1826.  Their children were as follows: Jane (1827-1877), William (b. 1830), Joseph (b. 1833), Letitia (1835-1869), Isabella (1836-1918), Mary Elizabeth “Eliza” (1837-1918), Susanna (1841-1925), Samuel (1844-1925), John (1846-1917), Louisa Victoria (b. 1853), Thomas George (1855-1922).  Their last child, Thomas George, is my 2x great grandfather.  Isabella appears to have died in 1855 which coincides with the birth of Thomas George, perhaps her death was due to complications from child birth.  Her grave can be found in the Mount Zion Cemetery/Whaley’s Corner.  She is listed as “Isabella, wife of John Nelson” but was missed by many researchers because the cemetery is in Chinguacousy Township, Peel County.  It is across the road and within two kilometres from John’s land but in a different county!

isabella warren nelson headstone

I have looked into early census’ for this family but the 1842 census for Esquesing Township is not readable and the 1852 census for Halton has been lost.  The earliest census that I can find is from 1861 after Isabella’s death.  In the 1861 census, John is married to an Ann J, born in Ireland age 36 years.  Some of his children are listed including Samuel, Matilda, George, Louisa, James, Christopher and Margaret.  After looking into the records of these children, I found that his second wife was Ann Jane Hickerson (or Nickerson) and she was the widow of a man named Crockett.  She had a daughter with Crockett who was named Margaret.  John and Ann Jane would have five children together including James Edwin (1856-1914), Christopher (b. 1859), Robert Rutherford (b. 1863), Mary (1867-1941) and Ellen Christina (b. 1870).  In the 1871 census, the family is found again in Esquesing, Halton County and now all of the younger children are listed as living with the parents but many of the older ones have left the home.   But, as of 1881, the family is no longer in Halton County.

The land records show that John sold his parcel of land in August of 1873 but it does not indicate a new location for the family.  But, in 1877 when a mortgage was discharged, John Nelson is listed as a resident in Southwold Township, Elgin County, Ontario.  I expanded my search to all of Ontario to find the 1881 census.  The family was found in Plympton Township, Lambton County.  John (85 y) born in Ireland and a farmer, J Ann (44 y), Christopher (20 y), Ann Mary (17 y), Robert (14 y), Ellen (10 y) and Louisa Dougherty (28 y) and a widow.   After this census though, I could find nothing on John Nelson or his second wife, or many of their children.  It was by random chance and a stroke of luck when I searched the probate records for John Nelson that I happened upon his will and subsequent probate records.  In his will, I found a death date for him of 25 September 1882.  Unfortunately, no death record has been found to support the date, nor a headstone or transcription.  But, the documents contained the names and locations of all of his children which then supported my theories and gave me more leads to go on in tracking his children.  It also detailed the court case which sounds like it was a bit cantankerous with the older children fighting with their step-mother about who should be getting the spoils of John Nelson’s life.

From the information that I have been able to gather, it sounds as though John Nelson had a long and productive life.  I can only imagine the hardship of losing his young wife and being left with 11 children in his care.  It would be great to be able to trace his lineage further back but with a common name like John Nelson and with so few records being available from Ireland, it may be a brick wall forever.


Who is Alicia Colden Napier?

I believe that Alicia Colden Napier was my 4th great grandmother.  But Alicia Colden Napier died in Scotland in 1816 or 1818 at the age of about 20 years, so how can that be?  This is the most interesting mystery that I have uncovered in my family tree so I will try my best to explain!

My 3x great grandfather, Duncan McTavish, met and married Elizabeth Husband in Nassagaweya Township, Halton County, Ontario in about 1838.  They were neighbours – Elizabeth’s father, John Husband has the farm kitty corner to Duncan’s brother Dugald.  Elizabeth’s brother George laboured on the farm for Dugald.  The McTavish family did a family history and tree in 1952.  There is mention in the book that there was “some talk about grandmother’s (Elizabeth) aristocratic background” and that her mother “had once lived in a castle but she ran away with the coachman”.   Interesting story indeed.  Elizabeth’s birth is shrouded in mystery – it is unclear what year she was actually born and whether she was the first child, the second or the twin of George.  The Husband family has also written two volumes about the Husband’s and their history in “The Husbands of Halton” by Valerie Husband Brook and its addendum “More Husbands of Halton” by Max Husband.  The first book is a family history is based largely on the diary of Henry Price Husband, Elizabeth’s youngest brother.   The addendum provides more information and attempts to make connection with the Napier family.  My own genealogical research has found John Husband’s military records showing that he was pressed into service by the British Navy in 1812 when they boarded a ship where he was a passenger bound for the USA for work as a weaver.  A native of Ireland, he was released from service and returned home in 1816.  John can be found in Nassagaweya Township, Halton County, Ontario in 1823 when he is granted 100 acres of land (lot 25 in concession 4) for his service in the British Navy.  He and his growing family can be found in the censuses from 1842 and 1861 but unfortunately the 1852 census from the area has been destroyed.  John passed away in 1864 and in his will, several of his children are named.

Interestingly in the 1842 census, although his wife is not named, there is a female between the ages of 30-60 years listed as “insane”.  The family story is that in 1836, Alice (as she was called) was tending to her youngest child Henry, when toddler Charles fell into the fire and was burned to death.  She subsequently, became “soft in the brain” and while the family tried to take care of her at home, by 1855 this proved too difficult and she was committed to the Toronto Asylum for the Insane.  She is not listed with the family in the 1861 census.  Alice Husband can be found as an inmate in Toronto in 1861 and 1871.  After contacting the Asylum in recent years, Bill Taylor (son in law of Max Husband), was told of her un-marked burial in St. John’s cemetery after her death in August of 1873.  The headstone for John Husband at St. Jude’s in Oakville also includes her name as Alecia Napier (1795-1873).  In addition to Henry’s diary – he also kept a family bible which lists keys dates for his marriages and births of his children.  In it, he has a page for “My Parent’s Births”.  He says “Alicia Napier (my mother) daughter of William Napier and…born in the year 1795 in the Town of Clonmel, Ireland”.  In his diary he mentions his mother as “the only daughter of a descendent of Sir Charles Napier” and “Alicia and her brothers were tall and muscular, and as brave as they were strong”.  There is also mention through family tales and the inscription on a headstone that the family was a cousin to Lord Napier and that their ancestors had conquered the Sindh.  He also mentions his parent’s marriage in 1810 when his mother was “15 years old”.  He later talks about the struggle of farming in the early years in Ontario and that “her reason left her” which had a devastating effect on the family, scattering them far and wide.  He also makes mention of his brother Charles who “was burnt to death when he was about two.”  Between Henry’s diary and bible, he did a fantastic job of recording what he knew to be true.

alicia headstone st judes

But, what is true and what is a story?  We know that some of his knowledge was incorrect.  His parents could not have married in 1810 in Ireland – he was en route to America in 1812 when he was pressed into duty during the War of 1812.  He did not return to Ireland until August of 1816.  Henry lists a William Napier as Alicia’s father and also says that they were descendants of Sir Charles Napier.  A search for Sir Charles Napier yielded two results: 1)  Sir Charles James Napier (b 1782) and 2)  Sir Charles John Napier (b 1785).  Sir Charles James Napier was born in 1782 in London, England to parents George Napier (1751-1804) and Lady Sarah Lennox (1745-1825).  He was a noted man in Military history, and along with two of his brothers who also served in the Royal Navy – they were known as Wellington’s Men. Sir Charles James was also known to have battled during the War of 1812 and to have been the Conquerer of the Sindh in India.   The second Sir Charles, was Sir Charles John Napier who was born in 1786 and was also a Royal Navy Officer.  He was the son of Charles Napier (1731-1807) who was not knighted but served in the Royal Navy and Christian Gabriel.  He fought in many conflicts, including the War of 1812 but no mention of India.  He did fight in Portugal with his cousins “Wellington’s Colonels”.  There is no mention of him every being in Ireland.  Both of these men, knighted to be called Sir, were grandsons of the 6th Lord Napier – Francis Napier (1702-1773) and called half blood cousins, since although they shared a grandfather, their grandmothers were different women.

Digging into the life of Sir Charles James Napier – he was the eldest son of George Napier and Lady Sarah Lennox.  George (1751-1804) was born and died in England but spent the years 1785- 1804 in Celbridge, County Kildare, Ireland.  He was the son of Francis Napier (1702-1773), 6th Lord Napier and his second wife Henrietta Maria Johnston.  Lady Sarah Lennox was at one point almost betrothed to the King of England but then he chose another and she served as a bridal attendant at the royal wedding.  After that, she refused a marriage proposal, married another, ran off with still another and had a child, was left behind and then divorced.  All of this was very risque for the time.  She married George Napier in 1781 and on top of her first “illegitimate” daughter (Louisa Bunbury Napier) and Sir Charles James,  she also had the following children with George:  Sir George Thomas (b 1784), Richard (b 1787), Captain Henry Edward (b 1789), Emily Louisa Augusta (b 1785), Caroline (b 1790) and Cecilia (b 1791).  There is no record of an Alicia being born to this couple.  Naturally, it is possible that Alicia could have been the daughter of  one of the older sons – perhaps Sir Charles James but this would mean that he fathered her when he was 13 years old.  Could it have been William as indicated in Henry’s bible – he would have been 10 years old so this is not plausible.  George was made Comptroller of Army Accounts in Ireland from 1799 until his death in 1804. After her husbands death, Lady Sarah established a home on the property for wayward young women, those who were pregnant and alone.  By reading her letters in the Aristocrats, we hear some of the details of her life during that time.

A search for any Alicia Napier (or any name variation) born in the 1790’s anywhere, yielded no results.  I was however able to find an Alicia Colden Napier linked to parents Francis Napier (1770-1818) and Margaret Elizabeth Jane Douglas Hamilton (1770-1838).  They were married in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1796 and had five children:  Alicia Colden Napier (b 1797), Mark (b 1798), Margaret Symson (b 1800), twin Jane Hamilton (b 1800) and then Archibald (b 1803).  The last three children all died in 1806 with details included on their gravestone as well as printed in the Scots Magazine.  Interestingly, Alicia Colden is also listed on the headstone but only a year is etched into the stone, unlike the other deaths.  The year etched in is 1817.  A notice of her death also appeared in the Scots Magazine in January of 1815.  Contact was made with the St. Cuthbert’s Cemetery where a trio of family headstones is located and there was confirmation given that Alicia is not buried in the crypt with the family.  Furthermore, Francis died in 1818 with no mention of Alicia, not surprising if she has in fact died.  But, in a peerage report his children are listed as Mark and Alicia Colden.  The children that died in 1806 are not included but Alicia still is.  So, where did she go and did she die as was reported?

death announcementalicia headstone in edinburgh

Scottish naming patterns are often used as clues to helping to determine parents.  The first born son is often named after the father’s father.  The first daughter after the mother’s mother and so on.  In this case, the first daughter was named Alicia suggesting that her mother’s mother was called Alice.  And, the first son was named Mark, which could be the name of the father’s father.  Francis’ father was named Mark Napier (1738-1809) and he was also a son of Francis Napier, 6th Lord Napier and full blood brother to Charles Napier (1731-1807), and half blood brother to George Napier (1751-1804).  Upon the marriage of Francis, his wife’s father is noted as Archibald Hamilton.  Research into this line points to his wife having been Alice Colden, an American.  After the Revolutionary War, Archibald took a wife but she died at a young age.  So, the naming pattern is intact.  Francis Napier was a Writer to the Signet and lived in a large home in Edinburgh, quite a prominent position in the early 1800’s.  And, being a descendent of the Lord Napier is quite notable.  The family was most definitely “well to do”.

Thinking about the story of grandmother running away with the Coachman…is it possible that Alicia Colden Napier, fell in love or ran off with someone lower than her “station”?  Would the family disown her?  Perhaps to avoid social embarrassment and isolation, they shipped her off to “Aunt Sarah Lennox” in Ireland and her house of refuge for young unwed mothers?  They announced her death to avoid a social scandal?  They added her death to the family headstone upon her father’s death but didn’t get the dates detailed or even consistent.  It is also plausible that when John Husband was released from the Royal Navy in 1816, he passed through Dublin and maybe even knew the Napier’s from his years in the Royal Navy.  Perhaps he met Alicia, either pregnant with Elizabeth or having already had her and they married.  Having been cut off from her family and beginning her own – she must have told her “story” to her children, not giving them the full information to save any future contact or embarrassment.

This is a fantastical story that I have researched at length but have no real proof.  Apparently some of my Husband relatives tried to make contact with the Napier’s many years back, just to see if there was any documentation or proof.  They were turned away and told not to make contact again.  Maybe one day, the communication lines will open and we will get some answers.  Until then, I will claim Alicia Colden Napier as my 4th great grandmother and try to understand and appreciate her life’s story.




Week 2 of 52 – George Everett Scroggie

My great grandfather, George Everett Scroggie is a larger than life figure in my memory vault.  I am not sure what I remember about him or what I have learned about him during my research.  Regardless, he is a fascinating character.

George was born onAugust 30, 1888 in St. Louis, Missouri.  He was the second son and third child for parents George Catto Scroggie and Myra Alice Cunnigham.  George Sr. was a recent Scottish immigrant to the US – recruited to work in the quarry in the Iron Mountains of Missouri by other Scotsmen.  Myra came from a family with quite deep American roots throughout the Southern States.

george catto scroggie and myra alice cunnigham family 1892(4)

When the family was quite young in 1893, Myra tragically passed away at the age of 30 years, leaving father George with four young children to raise.  Exact details of the next few years are sketchy but family lore suggests that George took up with or married another woman after his wife’s passing.  She, nameless, was reputed to be a “school marm” meting out harsh discipline to the children. George moved to Massachusetts for work during this time and it is not known if the family went with him.  The rumour is that his new wife, put the children in an orphanage at some point between 1893 and early 1899.  George passed away himself in January of 1899 in Douglas, Massachusetts.

The family of the young children were frantic to find the kids and bring them back to Scotland.  The four children, led by older sister Alice, sailed back to Scotland in March 1899.  George Everett was taken in by his paternal Aunt and Uncle and raised with their family.  His siblings were scattered to other family members and shortly after their arrival in Scotland, his youngest sister, Bessie died from meningitis.  Sadly, he also lost his Aunt Christina when she passed away in 1902 while George was attending school.  He was captain of the rugby football team and was studying to go into medicine but money was somewhat scarce and went towards his cousin.  George ending up joining a bank in London upon his graduation and emigrated to Canada as a bank Clerk for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.  George has cousins that were already settled in the Toronto area so they were able to make introductions for him and get him settled in his new country..george.capt.footballteam

In about 1915, George ended up managing a CIBC branch in Southwestern Ontario, in the small town of Blenheim in Kent County.  It was there that he met a gentleman named Charles Baldwin Langford, a local doctor, who introduced him to his in-laws Charles and Sarah VonGunten who owned a local jewellery shop.  This family would become his own when he married Clarice Louie VonGunten in early 1920.  Prior to their marriage, both George and Clarice, or “Louie” as she was know, volunteered for the War.  George would see active service in France and Belgium as part of a “Cycling Corps”.  His bravery on one particular mission was commended and he was awarded a Military Cross from the Canadian government upon his return.  He had led his troop, on bicycle, through enemy fire, to deliver vital correspondence to and from the front lines.  Unfortunately, George did not want to keep this medal and tossed it into water in Ottawa upon receipt.  Perhaps the memories from the War were too much to handle and he did not wish to have a reminder.  He lost his one brother William in battle during WWI, along with countless others, marking the 30 years of his life with so much loss.

george everett scroggie wwi

The newly married couple were in Carleton Place in the 1921 census, along with their first child Mary Louise, my grandmother.  Shortly thereafter, the family moved to the Westdale neighourhood in Hamilton, Ontario.  There they would raise their family of four children – Mary, Alice Evelyn, Jean Elizabeth and George Alexander.  Great things were expected of the children.  Each learned to play an instrument and would perform for guests whenever George and Louie had dinner parties.  Each would go to university and would become notable in their field – Mary an Registered Nurse, Evelyn a Medical Doctor, Jean a Journalist and George a math scholar and teacher..4scroggiesibblings(eevlynjeangeorgemary.wwk

George left CIBC and became an Investment Advisor with T.A. Richardson.  He never learned to drive and either walked or hired his driver to take he or the family farther afield, including the cottage on Lake Wah-Wash-Kesh.  His driver was a close family friend.  George’s normal daily attire was a suit, even when he was not working.  His wife pre-deceased him by almost 20 years, she passing away in 1952 and he in 1971 in Beamsville.  George was known to be a prankster, often donning silly hats and affecting different accents.  He enjoyed making jokes and being the life of the party.  Later in his life, he was a resident of Allbright Manor, an old age home.  He told everyone that he was in love with one of the nurses and he even tried to run away with her to get married.  Despite his tragic early years, his later years were marked with pride in his children, love for his family and the desire to ensure everyone was having a good time.


52 Ancestors in 52 weeks

Amy Johnson Crow has put out a challenge to write about one Ancestor each week for the next year.  That means telling the story of 52 ancestors in 52 weeks.  I am up for the challenge!  My goal is to publish a new story every Monday in 2019 that gives as much detail as I can find about one of my Ancestors.

For the first week, I am writing about one of my distant cousins Archibald McTavish (1828 – 1908).  Arch’s father, also Archibald McTavish (Sr.), was the brother of my 3x great grandfather – Duncan McTavish.  Arch Sr., Duncan and another brother Dugald emigrated from Argyll, Scotland together in 1830.  They were the first McTavish’s in my direct line to emigrate to Ontario.  In a stroke of coincidence, they settled very close to Milton, Ontario which is now my home town, even though my ancestors moved farther West in the early 1850’s.

Archibald McTavish Jr. was born in Ballygown, Kilmartin, Argyllshire, Scotland on 29 July 1828. His parents were Archibald McTavish and Catherine McNevin. In 1830, when he was just two years old, his family emigrated from Scotland settling in Nassagaweya, Halton County, Ontario. His father would take up lot 30 in the fourth concession, becoming a farmer. Archibald Jr. would marry Mary McMillan, the daughter of neighbour Neil McMillan, in 1854. In the 1861 census, Archibald is living with his parents, his wife and his two small children. He is farming the land with his father. Also living there are his younger siblings – Mary, John and Malcolm. Archibald Sr. passed away in 1863 and the land is bequeathed to Archie. He can be found living in the same location in the 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901 census’, along with his growing family. He and Mary had 11 children.

  • James Marwell McTavish (1856-1930) m. Nettie McLaren and moved to Tama, Iowa in 1893. Two children. He was a house carpenter/builder.
  • William Sharpe McTavish (1858-1932) m. Margaret Jane McKay. He was a Minister and moved often to different churches in Ontario. Eight children.
  • Neil McTavish (1861-1883). He died of internal injuries suffered from a fall from atop a house he was helping to build.
  • Angus McTavish (1862-1919) m. Annie Gordon, had three children. He worked for Bell Telephone and died after being electrocuted on the job. His children lived in Buffalo, NY. He is buried in Acton.
  • Archibald McTavish (1865-1915) m. Agnes Carr Wren. They had two children who died as infants. He was a tailor in Acton and is buried there.
  • Catherine McTavish (1867-1948) m. John A. McTaggart, a veterinary surgeon. They lived in Brookville for a number of years and then moved to Toronto.
  • Malcolm McTavish (1869 – ?) spent time out West and was living with his sister Catherine in 1921. He was a grain buyer.
  • John “Jack” McTavish (1872 – ?) fought in WWI and was a labourer in Campbellville as listed in the 1935 voting lists.
  • Mary McTavish (1874-1938) m. James McNair. They farmed in Campbellville and are buried in St. Davids Cemetery.
  • Nancy McTavish (1878-1937) m. Charles Augustus Ramshaw.
  • Janet McTavish (1880 – ?) is a loose end at the time of writing.

Archibald died in 1908, only four months after his wife. Their obituaries tell of their marriage and life in Halton County. Highly esteemed neighbours and respected members of the Presbyterian Church. Archibald and Mary are buried in the Nassagaweya Presbyterian Church Cemetery, near Brookville.

arch mctavish baptism 1828arch mctavish 1871 censusarch mctavish obitarchibald mctavish & mary macmillan 1908(1)


Ready to start digging!

I have finally made the transition and it is exciting to start this new chapter in my life.  I am lucky enough to say that I have turned my passionate hobby into my second career.  Over the twenty years I spent working for others in different corporations – I had many conversations about wanting to retire, wanting to be my own boss and wanting to do something meaningful, rewarding and helpful to others.  And now, I have re-invented myself and jumped to a completely different career path.  It feels good.  I can’t wait to see how things transpire and I am truly looking forward to meeting new friends and helping them discover their ancestry and the stories of those that have come before them.