Tuesday, 5 June 2012

What I Learned On My Research Vacation

Over the 10 days of my research vacation, I amassed huge stack of certificates, MIs and headstone photographs. I have a better sense of the area where my ancestors lived, having driven out to see the villages listed on the documents. Now that I am back home, it was time to start making sense of it all in a way that was tangible, meaningful and in a way that can be shared with future generations.

One area I chose to focus my research was on my paternal grandmother's family of origin. My paternal grandmother has always fascinated me. Perhaps because I never really knew her, having been only a toddler when she passed away. Although I have taken the Haddow line back to 1680, I have a deep yearning to know more about Maggie and her family.

This photograph has been a source of inspiration. Maggie is in the back row, behind her mother - the woman seated on the right. 

When the 1911 census was released, I learned that the little girl in the front, holding the basket, is in fact my aunt. My dad's eldest sister. But what of the other women? Thanks to being onsite at Scotlands People Centre and being able to view documents not yet available online, here's what I have learned:
Two years after their marriage, my paternal great grandmother, Mary (McCabe) Haddow gave birth to a daughter, Jessie. Following the Scottish Naming Pattern, Jessie was named for her maternal grandmother, Janet (Jessie) Lawrie. Baby Jessie was born on December 21st, 1882 at the home of her parents in Mid Calder. 
After she left school, Jessie worked as a postal runner. She later married James Sneddon on September 11, 1908 in Mid Calder. James was from Pumpherston, a nearby village. At the time of their marriage, James was a Shale Miner and Jessie was a postal clerk. James and Jessie had a son, George who was born December 6th 1908. 
The 1911 census is unique in that it asks the length of the marriage (in this case, two years), the number of children born alive, (the 1911 census for James and Jessie states that there were three children born alive) and how many of the couple’s children are still living. The 1911 census for James and Jessie states that only one is living. This would be young George. This sent me looking at death records for infants. I found that James and Jessie had a set of twins, Walter Haddow Sneddon and Agnes Miller Sneddon, who were born prematurely on March 1, 1910. The young babies died 2 hours and thirty-five minutes after they were born. This must have been devastating for the young family.  

On May 31, 1911, Jessie gave birth to another daughter, Mary McCabe Sneddon.

Jessie died at age 72 on May 22nd, 1955. She died at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh (right behind the hotel I was staying at). The cause of death listed on her death registration is Myocardial Infarct (heart attack) that she had suffered five months earlier as well as a pulmonary infarct (a lack of oxygen to the lung resulting in tissue death).

After 47 years of marriage, they are buried together with their infant twins in Mid Calder Cemetery. (photo courtesy Scottish Genealogy Society). Jessie is not in the above photo. I believe this photo was taken just prior to the marriage of my grandparents, and by then Jessie was married with a young family.

As for the other sisters, Walter and Mary’s second daughter was Maggie. Maggie was born 10 August 1888 in Kirknewton, Mid Calder. Maggie is my granny. Her history has been well documented for future generations.

Walter and Mary’s third daughter, Elizabeth Brown Haddow, was born on 24 August, 1890. Elizabeth is seen on the 1891 census, along with her parents and her sisters Jessie and Maggie. Elizabeth married Thomas Porteous Nathaniel on December 2, 1910. Thomas was an engineer (journeyman—meaning he had completed his apprenticeship) from Pumpherston. Elizabeth and Thomas had three children: Dunlop (born 1912), Henry (born 10 March 1916) and Walter Haddow (born 1920). Elizabeth died January 25, 1963 at Bangour Hospital. She was 72. Elizabeth’s cause of death was bronchopneumonia. Her usual residence is listed as 15 Retham Park Pumpherston. The informant of her death (to the registrar) was her son, Henry.

Walter and Mary’s fourth daughter, Mary McCabe Haddow was born 30 March 1893. Mary is seen in the 1901 census along with her older sisters, Jessie, Maggie and Elizabeth as well as with her younger sister, Jeanie. Mary never married. She was known to have had at least one child, daughter Molly (Mary). There is some speculation that she may have had other children as well. Mary died at the age of 70. She was a retired housekeeper at the time of her death. The informant of her death was her daughter, Molly Haddow. Their usual residence was 23 Main St Mid Calder. Molly continued to reside in the home after her mother's death.

Walter and Mary’s fifth daughter, Jeanie McCabe Haddow was born on 18 January, 1899. Jeanie never married. She worked as a canteen manageress (perhaps at the school where Molly also worked). Jeanie died on December 21st 1960 as a result of breast cancer. The doctor noted that the breast cancer had re-occurred after radiotherapy. Jeanie was 61 years of age. She died at home and the informant (to the registrar) was her niece Mary (Molly) Haddow.

The youngest of Walter and Mary’s daughters was Katie Clark Haddow. Katie was born on April 8th 1901. Katie never married. She worked as a domestic. She died on July 31, 1979 of gastric carcinoma at Bangour Hospital. Her usual residence was 23 Main St Mid Calder - the same home as her sister Mary and Mary's daughter Molly.

Walter died at his home on Bank Street in Mid Calder on 24 February 1927 as a result of tuberculosis. He was 64 years of age. The informant of the death is son in law James Sneddon (husband of Jessie). James and Jessie were by this point living at 3 Robertson Ave in Edinburgh. Mary McCabe Haddow died on 19 March, 1945 at her home on Bank Street in Mid Calder. She was 84 and her cause of death was cardiovascular degeneration. The informant of her death was daughter Jeanie. Walter and Mary are buried with their unmarried daughters: Jean, Mary and Kate in Mid Calder cemetery.

(photo courtesy Scottish Genealogy Society)

As a genealogist, I believe in sharing. Not just with other genealogists, but also with family. In order to share what I learned on my research vacation, I prepared and presented this "newsletter" to my paternal cousins so that they may also have the story and so that their descendants will know from whence they came:


  1. great summary Looking at the 3 unmarried woman it strikes me that they fall into the group who lost their chance of marriage due to the death of so many men in the first world war.

  2. This is a lovely summary, Christine - and the photos and document scans are very helpful for your family members to make sense out of it all. Hope they enjoyed it! It sounds as if you had a wonderful trip in Scotland.

  3. Thanks to Google I stumbled across your blog. The James Sneddon you mention is my great grandfather. He and Jessie had a son, also James who was my grandfather. Your hard work is much appreciated. Brian Sneddon