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Scottish Genealogy Research News

Category: Ongoing Articles
Dec 17, 2014

Tale of an Emigrant family

© Scottish Genealogy Research 2015

The emigration of Scots to all parts of the world is well documented but individual stories of their migration have often been lost in the passage of time. A recent project involved consulting the local Southern Reporter newspaper. I was drawn to the heading “Pioneering in Canada” and I could not resist the temptation to read on.

The article in question was an account of a family of the Yarrow making the momentous decision to leave the land of their birth to build a new life in the province of Manitoba, Canada.

We left Yarrow on the 1st June 1882, George Dryden of the County hotel, Selkirk, kindly sending us a waggonette to take us to Selkirk station “Eddie Kerr” driving. We gathered all together at Ann Tully’s, having been sleeping in different neighbours houses as there were so many of us to go to one, Eleven  in all.    Bade goodbye to our neighbours Left Ann Tully’s greeting. Poor body, she was good to us, and it broke her heart taking m- - - from her. We went down the Yarrow, came to some turnip workers, they held up their paidles (hoes) and gave us a cheer. Got to the station, met my brothers, who were going to Glasgow to see us on our journey. Also M------I--- who came to bid us goodbye, and I think I see M J. with her bonne red cheeks and white pinafore , coming running in w’ a bottle o’ milk. This is where I begin to fail- all my friends and father and mother up on the hill, and I going away never to see them again. Well, I’m not going to bother about how I felt: I could have cried if I didn’t. Got to Gala Station. Was met there by Mary Ann and John’s wife, also met Lord Napier who made all the children stand up in a row, and bade us God-speed. Went on to Edinburgh, was met there by Mrs Russell, of Yarrow Manse, with some things to help us on our journey, a smelling bottle for myself, which I cherish very much, and some meal-cakes and biscuits for the children. It was very kind of her. On we sped to Glasgow, where we got lodgings for the night, as the ship Manitoba was not to sail till tomorrow. After my brothers got us safely housed they thought they would go and hunt up a gentleman who was owing us some money, but they got nothing. The gentleman came to the ship’s ide with 2lb of tea instead of £40 with the promise of sending it. Well I suppose that was the end of it (it was); we will need it and we have got the better of it.

Well we got to the time to go to the ship. My brothers had a great job keeping the children together, there are so many small ones. They are bewildered.

What a crowd of passengers taking leave of one another, many of them crying and hugging   one another, a great bustle. About 700 went on at Glasgow.

Well we have taken leave of my brothers, and we are on the ship. I did not feel what a gulf was between us until the gangway was removed, then I thought there was an insurmountable barrier between us. When we got sat down and it began to move, and the first whistle blew the three youngest children gave such a scream you would thought that they would have jumped overboard.

A-------- the youngest one, pointing to the far end of the ship. Is yon Manitoba? Is yon Jockie? Is yon Willie? Greeting (crying) all the time poor child. We went on to Greenock; did not stop there: went on to Gourock, were all arranged on deck and all our names called out. The steward called on the family of eleven. This is about 4pm and we came on at 1pm and we are beginning to want something to eat, but there is nothing for anybody till all the names are cried: we are allowed to go to our berth, and we get a splendid supper.

We land on the 14th and we are ordered to get ready. Then the Captain thinks it is too late to get off, and sends word we were to stay all night. We were very glad we never took our things off and are ready for the morning. Landed at Point Levy and our boxes carried to a shed to be examined. Andrew telegraphed to his cousins the Robertson’s: the train was late and Gideon had been at the station and telegraphed down the line to see how far off we were, and left word with a porter to wait in the waiting room until he came, but just as we were stepping out of the train he made his appearance and welcomed us kindly. This was at 4am and we have to walk about a mile before we get to old Mrs Robertson’s, but it is a very beautiful morning and the streets splendid, trees on the side-walks, and all the shop windows open goods displayed the same as in the daytime. Well we arrive at the house, Gordon rings the bell, and we are ushered into a splendid room. Some of them had been waiting for us, and it was not long before Andrew’s sister appeared and such a meeting. They had not seen each other for thirty years she was the eldest and he the youngest of ten.

Well we stayed three days and two nights. They put up a lot of provisions for the children, and showed us every kindness. Now we have to make another change. We take the train at 10 for Sarnia, an awful job with so many sleepy children. Sarnia is where we sail from to go up the lakes. We landed at 10am and we have not to sail till 10pm. It was a very uncomfortable night wet and cold, and the children seemed wearied and tired, and the place dimly lighted. They all fell asleep clinging around me. Altogether we looked a miserable company. The whistle sounds and we have to wake them up. Andrew the youngest makes an awful row: we could hardly get him into the boat, and I think if we had seen it in the daylight we would not have gone into it, it was such an old wreck. We could see the water down through the floor, and I have often thought how we were taken in paying so much passage money expecting to be comfortable all the way, instead we were worse off than the steerage passengers, they had their ticks and blankets. We had nothing. Ours were all in boxes. It took us five days and we had a splendid voyage. That boat went down on its return journey and all were lost apart from a man and woman! We landed at Duluth about 11pm on the Saturday night.

“Well we are on the train again on our way to Winnipeg. The trains here are different as at home. You can walk all the way through them, no looking in. It was very hot, and we were very glad when we landed and were met by Willie. He had come 160 miles to meet us. Well we got through Brandon. At that time there was only a wood shed for a station: now there are 3000 of a population. We are put on at a side place where we have to walk three miles to a friend of Willie’s, where we have to stay all night. We are glad to get into a place where we will get a bed. It came on an awful thunderstorm, and the rain came down through the roof into the bed, and the mud running down the walls: for in those days there were nothing but log houses plastered with mud, which do well enough in winter when we have no rain, but when the fresh comes in the Spring it’s not good. This is the 1st of July and we have been a month on the road. Took leave of Mrs Rae, got a neighbour to drive us to the river three miles he took 3 dollars. He left us 200 yards from the river. We had to wade through the long grass, father carrying one child, Tina or Andrew, the minister another, a Mr Good another. It is in flood no bridge, but a small boat. I am more afraid to cross this river than the ocean, but it must be crossed. I am pit in first with the youngest with a box, the minister rows us over safe. Jack took me in his arms and carried me and carried me to his waggon, the rest wading through the wet grass. We all got into the waggon at last Jack gee-wo-ing the oxen with the crack of his whip, no reins. Well we go on for about nine miles and we see Maggie, Willie’s wife, coming to meet us with two at her feet, and one in her arms, and gave us a hearty greeting and we are in our adopted home!”

It was unfortunate that the name of this family was not recorded, however Scottish Genealogy Research will now attempt to discover the identity of the family and will report on our findings on a regular basis. Therefore look out for what is discovered, you never know they could be part of your own family history.

© Scottish Genealogy Research 2015