Saturday 26 February 2011

The History of Listerine

Joseph Lister, Professor of surgery at Glasgow University, was the first to realize that the high post-operative mortality of his patients was due to the onset of blood poisoning (sepsis) caused by bacteria. Back then, the operating theatres were not the sterile places that they are today. In the early 19th century, they were awash with blood, tissue and amputated body parts. In 1865 Lister found that carbolic acid was an effective antiseptic. Dr Lister is likely more commonly known in connection with Listerine—the antiseptic mouthwash. While Dr Lister didn’t invent Listerine, it was named after him because the product is antiseptic and Dr Lister was the pioneer of antiseptic surgery.

The Fowlers of Slamannan

Slamannan is a village in south east Stirlingshire. The village stands near the right bank of the Avon, south and west of Falkirk. The rocks in the area are mainly carboniferous, and include both coal and ironstone. Mining employed a large portion of the population. The population of the village in 1861 was 482. Of those, 28 were Fowlers. There were a number of small mines in the area of Slamannan including Binniehill, Limerigg and Southfield Colliery. The 1861 census shows the following Fowlers living in Slamannan:

At 23 Binniehill Row were John Fowler and his wife Isabella (Grey) along with their children, James, John, Archie, Jean & William. John’s father was Henry Fowler of Lasswade (who was married to Jean Kerr). John’s son Alexander, who died in 1865, is not shown on the census. John, of course is a coalminer.

At 54 Binniehill Square were John’s brother, Alexander, and his family. Alexander was married to Isabella (Grant) and their children were Henry, Thomas, Jean, Alexander, Isabella, and William. Also living with them was Isabella’s nephew, Thomas Grant. Alexander was a coalminer and so were his sons Henry (19), and Thomas (16). These boys were old enough to be working in the mine proper. Isabella’s nephew, Thomas, who was 13 would likely have been working at the pit head, or above the ground.  Alexander died 2 years later on March 22, 1863.

Another brother, Joseph, shows up on the 1861 census for Slamannan village but no street address is given. This is likely a clerical error on the part of the census taker. Joseph was married to Jane McIntosh. This couple were granny Mack’s grandparents. Their son, Henry later married Jeannie Carrick. On the 1861 census, Joseph and Jane are shown with their children, Henry, Agnes, Jane and Margaret. Jane’s mother, Jane Kerr, is also living with the family. Joseph and his son Henry (12) were both working in the mines. Jane’s mother is listed as being a pauper. Daughter Margaret was only a year old at the time of the census.

A nephew of these three brothers, Henry, (son of Henry Fowler and Clementina Anderson) is shown living at 56 Pirneylodge Row. Henry’s father, Henry, was the brother of Joseph, Alexander and John. Young Henry is married to Margaret (Fowler) - his cousin. Margaret’s father is Henry’s uncle, Alexander (married to Isabella Grant). Young Henry and his wife, Margaret, have three children by the time of the 1861 census, son Henry, daughter Isabella and daughter Clementina. Henry is only 26 and Margaret is 22. Henry is working in the mines. Daughter Clementina was only a month old at the time of the census. Mining, for the Fowlers, was very much a family affair.


When Napoleon needed beef to feed his troops, he turned to a butcher in Roslin to assist him in his quest. John Lawson Johnston, born at 29 Main St in Roslin, found that he could not get enough beef, so he developed what was then known as “fluid beef”. This wholesome drink quickly took fire, making Johnston a very wealthy man indeed. He spent some time in Canada and then returned to live in total luxury in London. By 1890, more than 3,000 British pubs were serving up what was, by then, called Bovril. In 1896, Johnston sold his title for the patent for £2,000,000. A phenomenal amount of money in those days. Johnston stayed involved in the company by remaining chairman of the Board. His son also took on the company for a while before he was named Baron Luke. By 1909, Bovril had fast become the favourite warm beverage of football fans.

The next time you are in Roslin, have a look at 29 Main St . You will find a plaque commemorating Johnston above the door. And perhaps wander inside Bovril Johnston’s Coffee Shop and ask for a steaming mug of Bovril.

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.

Thursday 24 February 2011

Preserving your family history

Most genealogy researchers will tell you that they are searching not only to find out about their history but also to keep their family’s history alive for future generations. So, now that we have those research documents, bits of scrap paper, newspaper clippings, photos, e-mails and other assorted bits of “research”, how do we preserve them for future generations? There are a number of options. Here are a few:

1.) Scrapbook - take those precious old photographs and preserve them in an archival, acid free book. Remember to tell the story as you add the photos. While embellishments are aesthetically appealing, they are not necessary in a family history album. The history is what is important.

2.) Family History Book -  This really isn’t as complicated as it sounds. My first family book was a record of my grandfather’s descendants. Harry fathered 21 children. My grandmother and my mother were fantastic story tellers. Once they passed away, I knew in my heart that I needed to get their stories onto paper. I needed a way to let my children know my granny and my mum. And I needed to give them a way to feel like a Crawford. A sense of belonging. To a very large, very open family system. All encompassing and all embracing. Don’t get me wrong, like all families, we have our moments and our members. But in such a large family there is usually always someone you can connect with. Your book can be whatever you want it to be - the story of a single ancestor, the story of one branch of your tree, your own story. Any subject you choose. As we all know, it is important to document, and a family book is a great way to do just that.

3.) Family Newsletter - if your family is large enough, you may want to consider sending out a newsletter. I promise you that you won’t regret it. Especially if your family live apart from each other. The newsletter content can be whatever you want it to be. I started our family newsletter in December 2005—nearly 2 years after I put together our first family book. When I finished the family book, Harry had 394 descendants. I wanted a way to record and to share new babies that were added to our tree, a way to announce marriages, a way of acknowledging and honoring those who have passed away. I have also included facts and trivia about the area where the family grew up, Scottish traditions, recipes, new research that I have uncovered about past generations. The newsletter started out being mailed to 20 of my aunts, uncles and cousins. It is now e-mail and snail-mailed to over 50 people. And everyone who gets a copy passes it along to someone else. The distribution has branched out. It is no longer just for Harry’s descendants, but for the descendants of his three brothers as well. Others now contribute stories, poems, recollections, old photographs and even funeral cards for our ancestors. They share their pride in their children’s accomplishments. The one thing EVERYone looks for in each edition are the physical similarities that run through our family. I have cousins in Timmins who are the double of cousins in Edinburgh. The two have never met and yet anyone seeing the two of them would know they belong to the same family. These realizations provide a remarkable sense of belonging. I even do a section once in a while where I run two photographs together to show the rest of the family how much of a resemblance there is. The family are thrilled with the resemblances. As my uncle once said, “Joey looks more like Alex than Alex does!” We have dedicated some issues to family occupations and are able to show the family that we are not just coal miners anymore, but also firemen, teachers, bus driver, nurses and social workers. The newsletter has been a remarkable journey and one that I am so very glad I undertook. Know your intended audience (mine is always my older aunts and uncles). Be sure to add more than just birthdays and reunion news and you will be amazed at the gratitude you receive.

4.) Blogging - if you use your computer to communicate with other family members, you may want to consider blogging your family research. Again, this is a great way to tell the story, to link to pictures or websites that might be of interest and to share what you have learned in your research. Others can always print the information and save it for future generations.

5.) Family Website - again, this is for the computer savvy researchers. And again, this is a great way to keep the information alive and to share with others. My cousin in Australia is the webmaster for our family website. I visit it often, not only for dates and events, but for pictures, information about family homesteads, old family occupations, stories and so much more. I rarely come away from the website without having learned something new. And again, this is a great way to keep in touch with other family members and to get them to contribute information and pictures as well.

There are a number of ways to preserve your history for future generations. Try tackling one of them. You will be amazed at how easy it really is and you will feel an incredible sense of accomplishment as well.

Monday 21 February 2011

April 6 Recognized as Tartan Day in Canada

    On Oct. 21, 2010, the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, announced that Canada will now officially recognize April 6 as Tartan Day.

    Tartan Day originated in the late 1980s in Nova Scotia, where it was declared an official day by the provincial
    "By officially recognizing this Day, we encourage Canadians all across the country to celebrate the contributions that over four million Canadians of Scottish heritage continue to make to the foundation of our country," said Senator John Wallace, who recently introduced a bill in the Senate in support of nationally declaring Tartan Day. In Canada, Tartan Day is celebrated on April 6, the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, the Scottish declaration of independence. Tartan Day celebrations typically include parades of pipe bands, Highland dancing and sports, and other Scottish-themed events.
government. It then spread across the country, with many provinces joining in. This marks the first time the Day has been recognized by the federal government.
A tartan represents a clan, a family, and a community, and is an enduring symbol of Scotland that is cherished by Canadians of Scottish ancestry," said Minister Moore. "Many Canadian provinces and other countries already celebrate Tartan Day. As well, through Tartan Day, Canadians will have an opportunity to learn more about the various cultures that comprise Canadian society."

Sunday 20 February 2011

We're Gearing Up for Fall

It is still 7 months until the tour, but the anticipation is building. There is so much happening in the area of Scottish Genealogy Research that I, for one, can't wait to get there and get started!

First, there are the changes to the Mitchell Library in Glasgow - it is almost a "one stop shop" for the researcher. The Genealogy Centre at Park Circus, is transferring to the Mitchell Library's Family History Centre on Level 3. This means that within the one building you can access the GROS system in Edinburgh (for a daily fee) for national BMDs, censuses, OPRs etc complete with links to digitised original documents, the Poor Law records for Glasgow and some surrounding counties, access to Ancestry Library Edition for UK and US records, and a host of additional records, some of which you'll be unlikely to find under the one roof anywhere else on earth.

For example, Poor Law Records are computer indexed up to about 1920, so you can narrow the field to individuals likely to be of interest. and get the appropriate references. Thereafter, you're looking at the original inspector's report and getting info that is generally unavailable anywhere else. These records shed light on living conditions, family relationships etc and, while they often tell a harrowing tale, you will learn about the lives of the people you research and often identify family relationships which you hadn't been aware of before. It's a genealogist's treasure trove. The Poor Law records are held in the City Archives on Level 2 of the Mitchell, which connects by internal staircase directly with the Family History Department on Level 3. I believe some of the surrounding counties have taken their Poor Relief Records back into their own care (parts of Dumbartonshire are involved I think), but the Mitchell can certainly clarify this for you. The staff in the Mitchell are very knowledgeable, helpful, friendly and obliging, so I can tell you you'll enjoy your time there.

And, of course, there are the changes to Scotland's People as well. Now, instead of purchasing 30 credits for £6, you will pay £7 BUT you now get a full year to use your credits, rather than being on a 90 day ticker. Credits can be purchased more cheaply in the Scottish Libraries, something we can take advantage of once we are there.

And of course, the National Archives are now being amalgamated into the Scotland's People Centre which means access to more records while only visiting one site.

Lastly, the 1911 Scottish Census will be released on April 5th, so you can get closer to your ancestors who are just beyond your living memory.