Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Year Was 1893

The year was 1893. Polio had made its debut in the Americas. Influenza and typhoid fever were on the rampage in Scotland. Jenner’s Store had hired architect William Hamilton Beattie to restore their Shoppe on Princes’ Street, in Edinburgh, following a fire on 26 November 1892 that had destroyed the original building. Charles Jenner died in October 1893 and bequeathed £8,000 for the restoration of the exterior of the building, specifically asking for the provision of caryatides (feminine figures built into masonry) on the exterior columns. He felt that this would symbolically show that women were the main support of his business.

Although the Scottish Football League was in it’s fourth season, 1893 marked the first time that there were two divisions in the league. Division One consisted of: Celtic, Heart of Midlothian, St Bernard's, Rangers, Dumbarton, St. Mirren, Third Lanark, Dundee, Leith Athletic and Renton. Division Two consisted of: Hibernian, Cowlairs, Clyde Motherwell, Partick Thistle, Port Glasgow Athletic, Abercorn, Morton and Northern Thistle.

There were 112 mining accidents in Scotland, 60 of them in Lanarkshire. The miners were starting to protest the unsafe conditions in which they worked. 1893 saw the beginning of the miners strikes. The miner’s unrest and dissatisfaction with their working environments, and their call to action, was in fact, the beginning of the miner’s unions. One particular death was in Caldercruix, and made the round of gossipy news. Although mine related, the death was not considered to be a mining accident since the death did not fall under the jurisdiction of the Mines Act. The accident occurred when a local tramp fell down the pit of Caldercruix mine, owned by James Nimmo & Co.

Henry Fowler and his wife Jane (Carrick) were living in Shotts in 1893. Jane’s mother, Jean (Fleming) Carrick was residing with them following the death of her husband and son and following her daughter Rachel’s emigration to America. At that time, Jane & Henry had 10 children. On January 16, 1893, Jane & Henry’s second daughter, Agnes, gave birth to her second son, Henry Fowler Crawford.

Just two weeks later, on January 29, 1893, Jane and Henry’s son, James Cook Fowler, died at their home on Anderson’s Row in Shotts. James died of Pertussis. The informant for his death (the person who informed the Registrar and who gave the deceased’s information to the Registrar) was James’ brother, Joseph Fowler. Young James was just 10 years, nine months old when he died. Young James was the first of Henry & Jane’s children to die. He had managed to live to quite a good age before illness overtook him. Given the lack of antibiotics at that time, it is truly amazing that Agnes’ young sons, Thomas and baby Henry did not also succumb to this disease.

Three weeks after the death of young James, on February 19, 1893, Henry & Jane’s grand-daughter, Jane Carrick Calquhoun was born. Baby Jane was the third grandchild for Henry & Jane and their first granddaughter. Her proud mum and dad were Henry & Jane’s eldest daughter, Jane Carrick Fowler and her husband, William Lorimer Calquhouhn.

In September of 1893, Jane & Henry’s son William contracted TB. He died on 22 December 1893 just as the year was coming to a close. While there is no doubt that these deaths would have dealt a terrible emotional blow to both Jane and Henry as well as to old Jean, there was, in the midst of their grief, cause for celebration with the birth of two grandchildren (great grand-children for old Jean). As emotionally draining as 1893 was for the Fowlers, the issues that they faced were not uncommon for many families at that time. It is from such tragedies that they gained their strength of character and from the births and marriages that they gained their resilience; their fortitude to carry on. We can not help but be touched by their lives. Their ability to carry on in the face of such adversity is a true testament to the strength of the human spirit. In spite of what life dealt them, they did not give in to depression, alcoholism, or other negative coping skills. If they could do it, we too can do it. We owe it to their memories to carry forward with that same fortitude, that same strength of character. For, we too, are Fowlers.

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