Women of Means

The last of the Smith children were two girls, Marion (Minnie) born in 1896 and Margaret  (Maggie) born in 1898. How different their lives would have been than the two girls, Jessie and Anna, who were the first born, a span of nearly 18 years. Of the 3 other children, (who were boys) at home, Robert who was only 14, was already out at work. I have been told that James, the father, was “a tyrant” and I think you can see that by the speed at which the children went to work.  By the time Maggie and Minnie were born, money would be flowing in and gifts from the older children would probably be a regular occurrence. At this point the family was still at 5 Sykeside in Coatbridge. 10 years later, they had moved to their last residence, 4 School Street. The same children were there, Robert, then 24, Samuel, 21 and John,18, Marion, 15 and Margaret, 13. This is where we see a departure for the boys. The two older were working as iron puddlers but John had somehow become a carpenter.

The two girls like their oldest sister, Jessie, did not seem inclined to early marriage, Margaret did not marry until 1938 when she was 39 and Marion didn’t marry at all. My own grandmother didn’t marry until she was 25.There are two noticeable things on Maggie’s wedding cert. One, she was a clerk in a grocery store. Jessie owned a grocery store. Two, Maggie’s father-in-law, James Miller Sr. was a master builder and John Smith was a carpenter so it is likely that they were all  connected.

My grandmother, Jane, was the first to leave in 1913, the year of her mother’s death. Robert was killed in WWI. Annabella left for New South Wales in 1920. Sam and James left for Albany, New York in 1923. John was still living in Coatbridge at the time of Jessie’s death in 1949 but he only receives £100  where Marion gets the whole of the estate. Marion had gone to live with Jessie at Burnbrae Cottage in Houston, Renfrewshire. Margaret gets £500 and some personal effects.

Sometime in 1977, my own aunt Margaret made inquiries to the Coatbridge police looking for her two aunts (that was my Aunt alright). By that time Maggie was 80 and in pretty bad shape. Marion however, though she was older, was still running the little store that Jessie had left her. As I said, my aunt and uncle went to visit them and I think that Marion didn’t want to upset her sister,Margaret who was in advanced dementia. They also went to Ireland to see the remaining Phillips sibling, Eva, who seems to have been in a similar state when she told my aunt who was quite good looking, how ugly she was! Here’s a pic of my aunt so you can see what I mean.

Marg Fireplace Portrait c1965

When Marion died on December 9, 1979, there was quite a tizzy in my family over her estate. Jessie had owned some real estate and the store, possibly more than one. My Aunt had the estate audited to make sure all was well. I am not sure if Marion actually left a will but her estate was divided up equally among the then surviving siblings and their children. All in all, not a bad ending for girls that started out in a family of “puddlers”!

 

 

The Smith Brothers

I do not know as much about my great uncles as I would like. The only thing that came to me as a child was the devastation my grandmother experienced at the death of her brother Robert, who died in Flanders in WWI. Robert was only a year older than her, born in 1888. His name is inscribed on the memorial at Le Touret Military Cemetery, in France. It is one of those “erected by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to record the names of the officers and men who fell in the Great War and whose graves are not known.”

Robert was a Lance Corporal with the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders). He was killed in action on May 9, 1915. My grandmother had not married yet, she would marry later in November of that year. Here is a picture of the brothers c.1914

Robert, James and Sam Smith

Robert, James and Sam Smith

And Robert as a young man.

Robert Smith

Robert Smith

I have not found any WWI military records for James, the oldest brother (born in 1884) but he did serve in WWII,  after emigrating to the U.S. in 1923 with his wife Charlotte Brown. They lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he was foreman at Homewood Cemetery. There were no children. James died in 1943 at age 58 of pneumonia and was buried at Homewood Cemetery. Somehow, I see him out digging graves in bad weather and getting pnuemonia. By the way, that was a very common occupation for emigrants and veterans in those days. Here is a picture of James (2nd from the right) standing next to his brother, Sam, his wife on the left, c. 1930.

From right: Sam, James and Charlotte Smith

From right: Sam, James and Charlotte Smith

Sam Smith, the second youngest brother was born in Coatbridge in 1889. Here is a Christmas greeting card with him and his sister Marion c. 1897. Again, showing the family had enough money both for the card and the clothes the children were wearing.

 

Sam and Marion Smith

Sam and Marion Smith

In 1912 Sam married Jean McFarlane. Below a picture of the couple with Mary and James, the first two children.

sam,jeannie,mary&jim age 3, 1917

In 1923, Sam was “summoned” to work at the Cohoe Rolling Mills in New York State along with his brother in law James McFarlane. He carried this reference with him.

Letter of Recommendation for Sam 1923

 

He left his wife Jennie behind with their 4 children. It took 4 years for them to join him in New York.  Below a picture of Jennie and the 4 children, Mary, James , Marion and Daniel.

Mary, James, Marion, Daniel (bottom)

 

The family joined Sam in 1927 and the couple had one more child, Jean.  He continued the life of a working man in the mills but at days end , you could find him tending to the garden he was so fond of.  On April 15th, 1953, his heart finally gave out and he collapsed just as he was clocking into work.

The youngest Smith brother, John, was born in 1893. Like his brothers, he served in the Great War. It appears, he did not go into the steel business as his brothers did but was a carpenter (according to the 1911 census ). At the moment, I don’t have enough information to find anything on him but here is a picture of him. Handsome chap!

John Smith

John Smith

Thank you to my second cousins, Mary Beth Garrison and Karen Boarman for the pictures and information.

 

 

The Family of Jane Gartshore Smith

In previous posts, I had talked about my grandfather, Richard Walker Phillips, being sent to Canada by Walter Bates, his uncle. Walter and Sophie, the youngest McDowell girl had taken over the farm at Lisheenamalausa in Tipperary when Alice McDowell died in 1904. It has been difficult to gauge the exact circumstances of the family at that time. William, the patriarch, had died under very unusual circumstances, his throat being cut by a scythe in a cart accident. The resulting hemorrhage did not kill him immediately but rather debilitated him until his death some months later. He left a substantial estate including houses, land and insurances by which all the family benefited including Richard and his siblings. There was enough money for Richard (called Dick of course) to come to Canada via New York on the maiden voyage of the Lusitania in 1907. Neither brother, Richard or George brought a lot of money with them and took labouring jobs when they came to Canada. There is no sign of them actually working together but George is listed as Richards contact in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The main purpose for both was to earn enough to “land a homestead” which they eventually did in the Lawrence municipality.

In the meantime, Jane Gartshore Smith, my grandmother, worked and saved enough to go to New York to meet her intended. As you might guess, her name is a logistical nightmare when looking for genealogy records. Her claim was that she arrived in Canada in 1913. The engagement did not last however, because she did not get along with her fiance’s sister.After that, she took work as a domestic and in that way, met my grandfather who was working on either the same farm or one close by.

Jane (called Jean) came from a large family of iron-worker. The Smith family originated in Muirkirk, Ayrshire, the Gartshores in Dunbartonshire. Like most people of that time, they were originally farmers until the mines came in. Then they traveled to where the work was.

Jane’s paternal grandparents, John and Annabella Smith were married on the 5th of August, 1836 in Muirkirk, Ayrshire.

Marriage of John Smith and Annabella McGhee

Marriage of John Smith and Annabella McGhee

By 1861, they had 8 children, James my great-grandfather being the youngest. In 1863, Annabella died of uterine cancer. John was still alive on the 1881 census at the age of 65.

On April 11th, 1879 James Smith married Marion Reid Gartshore in New Monkland, Lanark.

Marriage of James Smith and Marion Gartshore

Marriage of James Smith and Marion Gartshore

Marion’s parents, John Gartshore and Janet Gray were from Coatbridge. He too was an iron-worker. They married on the 28th of November, 1847.

Marriage of John Gartshore and Janet Gray

Marriage of John Gartshore and Janet Gray

John and Janet had 10 children, my great-grandmother, Marion being the seventh. Janet died in 1875 of gastritis (so easily treatable today) . The story in our family was of how Marion had to help raise the family after her mother died. By following the Scottish censuses you can see John, her father moving around from one child’s place to another, possibly lost after the death of his wife. He lived for a period of time with James and Marion so my grandmother would have known him well. John died in 1901. Here is a chart with my Gartshore family line on it. Thanks to Sondra Gartshore Jernigan.

Family Line for John Gartshore

Family Line for John Gartshore

In the next post I will talk about my grandmother and her siblings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heaven and Hell

As I stated previously, the names my great-grandmother, Marion Reid Gartshore carried were very old and well-known in the Coatbridge area. The earliest relative in the Gartshore line I have currently was John Gartshore, born about 1650 . I assume this was in Kirkintilloch as he married there in 1673 to Elizabeth Wood. Below, a map showing where these places are in Scotland.

Muirkirk and Coatbridge

Muirkirk and Coatbridge

In the Smith line, I have only gotten as far back as John Smith born in Muirkirk, Ayrshire in 1813. He married Annabella McGhee in Muirkirk in 1836. Below, their marriage record :

John and Annabella Smith Marriage Reg muirkirk , ayr

In the 1861 census, they had 9 children.
John Gartshore and Janet Gray, my grandmother’s other grandparents were married in Glasgow in 1847. Below, their marriage record:

John Gartshore and Janet Gray OPR 1847

They too had 9 children.
My great grandparents, James Smith and Marion Reid Gartshore were married in New Monkland in 1879. They had 13 children, but only 9 survived, my grandmother Jane Gartshore Smith being one of them.
Below, a map of Coatbridge in the 19th century.

Coatbridge

                   Coatbridge

The stories of Muirkirk and Coatbridge are similar but perhaps on a different scale. Both were basically pastoral communities, though Muirkirk is described as being quite bleak, having been a forested area in ancient times and cleared just enough to allow grazing and some agriculture. Like Coatbridge, there was temporary prosperity during the time of the iron works which were established there. When they ran out, the place was left with few prospects.

Muirkirk, Ayrshire

              Muirkirk, Ayrshire

From the Undiscovered Scotland website:

“The 1799 Statistical Account for the thinly populated parish containing what became Coatbridge said: “Beside a vast quantity of natural wood, there are more than 1,000 acres planted. This beautifies the country and improves the climate. We have many extensive orchards. A stranger is struck with this view of the Parish. It has the appearance of an immense garden. Here are produced luxuriant crops of every grain, especially wheat. The rivers abound with salmon in the proper season and trout of every species. There is also plenty of pike and perch in the Monklands Canal.”

By the 1840s the view of Coatbridge had changed from the “immense garden” of 1799: “There is no worse place out of hell than that neighbourhood. At night, the groups of blast furnaces on all sides might be imagined to be blazing volcanoes at most of which smelting is continued on Sundays and weekdays, day and night, without intermission. From the town comes a continual row of heavy machinery: this and the pounding of many steam hammers seemed to make even the very ground vibrate under one’s feet. Fire, smoke and soot with the roar and rattle of machinery are its leading characteristics; the flames of its furnaces cast on the midnight sky a glow as if of some vast conflagration. Dense clouds of black smoke roll over it incessantly and impart to all the buildings a peculiarly dingy aspect. A coat of black dust overlies everything.”

Summerlee1

         Summerlee Iron Works

By the time my grandmother was born in 1887, the waste heap for the iron works was a big as the Great Pyramid of Egypt. The Gartshores and Smiths had migrated down to Coatbridge, very likely to find work. All the men in my grandmother’s family worked at the iron works and one of her brothers, Samuel came over to New York to work in the rolling mills there.

The other side of the story would also be about how this employment brought prosperity to the area and to the family. We will talk about that next.