Andrew Rae 1838-1873

My 4th great uncle, Andrew Rae was born on 12 March 1838 in Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire. He was the 6th of 10 children of my 4th great grandparents, James Rae and Grace or Grizel Halliday.

From the birth records of his siblings I can see that the family moved around between Dumfriesshire, Lanarkshire and Ayrshire. It was in Old Cumnock, Ayrshire Andrew married Margaret Whitfield Rae (hopefully no relation) on 7 December 1860. Andrew was a coal miner and Margaret was a dairymaid. Between 1862 and 1872 the couple had 7 children

  • James – Born 1862
  • Mary – Born 1863
  • George – Born 1864
  • Hebron – Born 1868
  • Agnes – Born 1870
  • Andrew – Born 1872

In 1873 Andrew was still working down the mines. In May of that year while working in Pit No 1 at Lanemark Coal Company in New Cumnock. During his shift he suffered a fall injuring his leg. The injury was so severe that the leg had to be amputated. I am not an expert in medical procedures of that time so can only imagine it being quite a horrific experience.

News is such an injury must have come as a horrible shock to Margaret. As well as her obvious concern for her husband she must surely have panicked at the thought that Andrew would not be able to continue work down the mines and thus provide for the family.

Worse was to come, however, as Andrew developed septicaemia and nine days after his accident he died. He was 35 years old.

He left behind a widow and children aged between 3 and 13 years old. I still have to discover what happened to them.


A Young Soldier – Archibald Dickson 1898-1918

Archibald Dickson was my first cousin twice removed. His father and my father’s maternal grandfather, Livingston Russell Dickson, were brothers.

Archie, as he was known, was born in the family home at 216 Caledonian Road, Wishaw on 7 August 1898, the third son of coal miner, Robert Russell Dickson and Isabella Paterson.

By 1901 the family had moved to Hamilton and the 1911 census shows Archie, his parents and six siblings living at 98 Beckford Street in the town.

July 1914 saw the start of the First World War. Archie was only 15 years old but by December of that year he had enlisted in the army. On 3 December 1914 he signed the forms to serve with the 6th Battalion Scottish Rifles. At 16 he was underage but as we can read here it was not uncommon for boys who wished to fight for their country to lie about their age. His enlistment form shows he added a year to his real age.

His army records show that until 1916 he served at home. His disciplinary record shows that he was not always the model soldier as on a number of dates he had his pay docked for sleeping on duty, insubordination and, on one occasion, gambling. The report is from Ardeer which was a munitions factory in Ayrshire. Perhaps he was anxious to see real action.

His time was to come and he fought in France and Belgium. It was in France that he was taken to hospital suffering from the effects of shell gas. His parents in Scotland were advised that he was dangerously ill in hospital. The following week they received the telegram from the War Office that they had been dreading.

Private 38069 Archibald Dickson of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) died on 12 June 1918. He was just 19 years old. He is buried at Esquelbecq Military Cemetery in Northern France. The inscription on his headstone, chosen by his family, reads


Archie is also honoured at the Scottish National War Memorial and at the Hamilton War Memorial.

David Russell Dickson 1864-1941

David Russell Dickson was my 2nd great uncle. His brother, Livingston was my paternal grandmother’s father.

I am writing about him today having stumbled over his obituary which gives me way more information about the man than I would find in the usual birth, death and marriage records.

Starting from the beginning though, David was born in Bothwell, Lanarkshire on 28 March 1864. He was the fourth of six sons born to Thomas Adams Dickson and Ann Shaw Russell.

A coal mining family, the Dicksons lived for a number of years in the Old Monkland area where boys started their time in the mines as young as 11. By the time of the 1881 census the family had moved to Wishaw and David was working as a pit labourer.

On 31 October 1885 David married Janet Naismith Reid and the couple went on to have 9 children between 1886 and 1899.

The 1891 census shows the family living at 33 Scotts Row, Berryhill, Wishaw and David is recorded as an Engineman (Stationary).

By 1901 he is an engineer living at Muir House, Moore’s Land. Eldest son Thomas is also bringing in a wage as a crane driver despite being only 15 years old.

Janet died in 1906. David went on to remarry in 1915. His second wife, Wilhelmina Ritchie died in 1934.

That is as much as I could find from the records. There are some war records showing that his sons (or at least some) went to war.

On his death record we can see that he died in Motherwell of a tumour and that his occupation is recorded as electrician.

Finding his obituary tells me about how he lived his life.

He was heavily involved in football and was a respected referee. Refereeing at Hibs and Hearts games would’ve been a pretty big deal.

He was an electrician for the local authority for 26 years and his obituary speaks to his “faithful service “.

I like too that it speaks to his character as a kind and decent man and to his service at the Old Mens Club where he held the office of secretary.

I’m particular interested in his involvement with Freemasonry which is something I know very little about. I wonder if this was a family thing and if my great grandfather might also have been involved. I have passed the Lodge St Mary many times without really having noticed it but I now wonder if it was a significant place in my family history.

James Brawley 1866-1955

Of my great, great grandparents, James Brawley and Sarah McLaughlin’s ten children, James lived the longest. What must that be like to see eight siblings go before you? Only one much younger sibling survived him. Tragically, he also outlived his wife and two of his own children. In his 88 years he must have seen so many things and experienced so much.  If only he had written it all down.

James Brawley was born in Kilwinning, Ayrshire on 30 September 1866.  His other siblings were born in Lanarkshire so I assume his father had had to move to Ayrshire for a short time for work.  James was James and Sarah’s fourth child.  John was born in 1857, Elizabeth in 1861 and my great grandfather, Daniel in 1864.  At the time of young James’ birth, his father was employed in the ironworks as a furnace filler.  The family later moved to Newmains, Lanarkshire where they settled.

More siblings came along. Hugh was born in 1869, Peter in 1871 and then there were the two wee ones, Patrick and Matthew who were born in 1873 and 1875 respectively but who died within days of each other in 1876.  Another two sons followed with another Matthew in 1877 and Patrick in 1884.

Life would’ve been tough for young James.  There were many mouths to feed and they lived in cramped conditions in housing provided by my great, great grandfather’s employers.  The 1881 census shows a fourteen year old James out of school and employed as a dye worker.

It appears then that James and my great grandfather, Daniel hatched a plan to seek their fortunes in America.  They left from Glasgow some time in 1887 bound for Pennsylvania.  The plan it would seem was to find jobs in the mining industry.  I’m assuming they must have responded to some time of recruitment ad but I havent been able to find any details of that. They were joined in Pennsylvania the following year by younger brother, Hugh.

James married Sarah McGlynn on 24 October 1889 in Kingston, Luzerne, Pennsylvania.  The couple went on to have eight children:

  • James (Born 1890)
  • Sarah (Born 1892)
  • Thomas (Born 1894)
  • John (Born 1898)
  • Mary Colleen (Born 1898)
  • Agnes (Born 1900)
  • Hugh (Born 1903)
  • Elizabeth (Born 1907)

They moved from Pennsylvania to Wyoming where they settled in the town of Rock Springs in Sweetwater County.  The family were living in Rock Springs in 1903 when Hugh was born and James remained there until his death.

Over the years James would have received notifications of the deaths of is family.  Brothers John and Hugh both died in tragic circumstances in 1892 and 1895 respectively.  His father died in 1905.  I know that he did return to Scotland on at least one occasion.  He visited in 1910 and I imagine this would have been the last time he ever saw his mother who died in 1916.

It is hard to imagine how hard it must have been to be so far away from family, especially during time of bereavement.  His parents were illiterate so there would have been no letters from them.  I would hope that they may have enlisted help to communicate with their son but those letters would surely have lacked the personal touch.

In 1930, at the age of 64, James was still working as a coal miner.  Moving to America might have given him greater opportunities but it wouldn’t have been an easy life.

His wife died in 1937.  In 1947 he lost two of his children.  Hugh died in an accident in California.  I know from records that Elizabeth also died that year but I have been unable to find details of her death.  I do know that she was married and her name was Salardino and that she was buried in Colorado.

James died in 1955 at the age of 88 which is pretty good going in my family.  The cause of death is given as pneumonia following a heart attack.  He did have to face tragedy but I would like to think he knew joy in his life.  He had his children and many grand children.  Prior to his death he was living with his daughter, Mary Colleen and her husband.  His obituary on the Find A Grave site suggests he was loved by many.


Sarah Brawley 1894-1969 & Ellen Brawley 1894-1899

imageThese two two little cuties are the daughters of my great grand uncle, Hugh Brawley.   Hugh left Scotland in 1888 to work in the mines in Pennsylvania and it was there he met his wife, Alice Shannon.    The twins were born in February 1894.  I am so lucky to have this photograph which was kindly shared by a distant cousin I made contact with through my research. I wonder if a copy of the picture  was sent to my great, great grandmother back in Scotland and how she might have felt knowing she was unlikely to ever meet her little granddaughters.

The family made their home in Starks Park, a mining community in Moosic and I’m sure this picture would have been on display there.  As a young couple with two new babies Hugh and Alive must have been full of plans for the future but tragedy struck in December 1895 when Hugh lost his life in a mining accident. He was hit by falling rocks and died as a result of his injuries.

I don’t know how things worked back in those days but I doubt there was much compensation or help available for Alice and the girls.  How did they cope and who did they turn to?

Little Nellie died in 1899.  At five years old Sadie had lost her father and her twin sister.  It’s heartbreaking but this must have been one of the last photographs of them together.


How often must Sadie have looked at this photo and longed for her sister?

In 1912, at the age of 18, Sadie married Raymond Lorenzo Powell in Millville, New Jersey.  The 1920 census shows them still in New Jersey along with son, Raymond who was born in 1914. In 1925 Sadie gave birth to daughter Elizabeth who was known as Betty.   Raymond Snr. worked as a bus driver and Sadie stayed at home in their rented house in Camden, New Jersey to look after the children.

Sadie was widowed in 1963. She remained in Camden until her death in 1969.

Having written a previous post about her father, Hugh I had wondered what became of Sadie after the early tragedies in her life.  I was thrilled therefore to make contact with someone who knew and remembered her.  Sadie was described to me as a kind and friendly person who enjoyed life.  I’d say she deserved her happiness.


Hebron Rae 1835-1893

I love looking at some of my father’s line because they have such great names – unusual names so it’s difficult to confuse them with others and almost as if they knew that one day I’d come looking for them they would give them surname middle names just so I can be doubly sure I’ve got the right person.

Hebron Hamilton Rae was my 2nd great grandfather, Thomas Rae’s sister.  She was named after her grandmother and my 4th great grandmother, Hebron Hamilton.  Young Hebron was born on 13 June 1835 in Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire in the South of Scotland.  Her parents were James Rae, a coal miner and Grace (or Grizal, another great name) Halliday.


By 1841 the family had moved to Lanarkshire and were living in miners cottages in Carluke.

The 1851 census shows that Hebron had left the family home and was living in Ayrshire where she was employed as a general servant.  The address given would not appear to be her place of work.

Shortly after the census was taken Hebron married Robert Ronney.  Like her father, Robert was a coal miner.  They married in Dalmellington, Ayrshire on 21 November 1851.


They had ten children that I know of –

  • Grace Born 1854
  • James Born 1858
  • Robert Born 1860
  • Mary Born 1862
  • Isabella Born 1865
  • John Born 1867
  • William Born 1870
  • Andrew Born 1874
  • Thomas Born 1876
  • Christina Born 1879

During this time they moved house on at least three occasions.  In 1881 they were back in Lanarkshire but this time in New Monkland.  Daughter Mary had left the house but the other children were there.  Isabella was working as a general servant and Robert and John were employed as coal miners.  John would have been 13 years old at that time.  His younger brother who was 11 was listed as a scholar but I imagine that his school days were coming to an end.

Robert died in 1883.  His death would surely have brought great hardship to the family.  I do know that Hebron married again but I have not yet found the date of this marriage.  In 1891 she and her new husband were living in Stirlingshire along with Hebron’s two youngest children, Thomas and Christina.   Her new husband was also a coal miner.  The census gives his name as James Meddon but her death certificate shows her second husband as James Sneddon.

Hebron died in 1893 aged 58.  The cause of death is given as a burn of forearm and chronic pyaemia.  I hate to imagine the pain she must have suffered and what time of accident led to her injuries.  Her death was reported by son, James.


I would love to know where the name Hebron came from an who was the first Hebron in the family tree.   It’s something I can work on. And that’s another thing I love about family history.  There’s always something new to discover.