Found! Great Granny

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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2005 12:12 am
Location: Barrie, ON, Canada

Found! Great Granny

Post by scotincanada » Tue Dec 09, 2014 2:34 pm

One hundred years after Great Granny stepped onto a ship in Greenock, Scotland and sailed away to Canada, I finally found her. It took me ten years. It took this long because she married several times and I didn't have her last married name. This was complicated by the fact that she was a bit of a family scandal and not many relatives were close to her. I only had vague clues about her.

What was certain was her birth date (1887) and place, the date of her her daughter's birth (1908) and place (no father listed as Great Granny was a single farm girl), the date of her subsequent marriage (1912) to another man in another city, and their immigration to Canada, along with a newborn daughter, in 1913. Family legend told that GG was abandoned by her husband about a year after their arrival. He went away back to Scotland and maybe 20 years later started looking for her in order to obtain a divorce so he could remarry. He got his decree as the marriage reg. has a stamp in it.

Supposedly GG was living in/near Ottawa, Ontario. She worked as a housekeeper as she always had done. When her daughter was in her early 20s, she died in childbirth and GG raised a grandson. GG may have remarried or simply took the surname of a common law spouse. She died at age 90 years in a nursing home. I was doubtful that any of this was accurate but it was pretty close.

As it turns out, GG and family were just outside Ottawa on a farm until her new husband left. GG quickly got a job as housekeeper for a fairly wealthy bachelor 22 years her senior and married him despite not being 'widowed' as her marriage license said. She preferred city life to farm life so she convinced her husband to sell his rural property and move into Ottawa. GG did lose her daughter tragically, at about 23 years of age. The young woman died of pregnancy related issues while expecting a second child. The son GG raised was a 3 year old at that time. GG did live to be over 90 and she did live in a nursing home at the last.

How did I finally crack this case? Look on message boards all over the genealogy website world and you'll find endless messages from entitled 'Great Granny is Missing" or such, under Argyll, Scotland or Carleton County, Ontario categories. One time, I wrote to every person with her first married surname in Ottawa! But after giving up for a while, I took one more kick at the can and placed a message on Rootsweb (I think) and either the right person saw it or new info. was online now, because they found a death notice for the daughter in an archived Ottawa newspaper. This led to a surname for the bereaved mother - GG. When GG died in 1978, her obit listed her grandson, his wife and 2 children. The children, 2 boys, second cousins of mine, would be about my age I guessed. I took all my info. and placed an ad in the free buy and sell website, Kijiji, that is popular in Canada. I put the ad under something like 'long lost friends' on the Ottawa version. Within a couple of weeks, I had a reply from the wife of one of my second cousins. We exchanged lots of emails and then we were all invited to Ottawa for a family reunion.

In July 2013, we travelled to Ottawa and enjoyed a barbecue at a lakeside cottage and caught up with all the news from the last 100 years! We exchanged photos (I had never seen a pic of GG!) and I heard stories about a fascinating but headstrong (and a bit eccentric) woman. For years, I thought GG might have been alone and abanoned. A lot of her relatives had given up on her. I vowed to find her and place a bouquet of flowers on her grave one day to show that I cared about her. It turned out that she had created a nice family for herself in Canada and was loved. The day after the barbecue, her great grandsons took me out to her grave and we took pictures and laid flowers. My biggest, longest and dearest brick wall fell and I consider this my biggest family tree success. =D>

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Re: Found! Great Granny

Post by garibaldired » Tue Dec 09, 2014 4:48 pm

Well done! =D> =D>

What a lovely story and a lesson to us all!

Best wishes,
Main family lines are Harpers from Midlothian, Fife & Kinross-shire, and Dobies/Dobbies from Midlothian. Also Strathearn, Stobie, Layden and Downie.

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Joined: Sat Dec 24, 2005 5:59 pm
Location: Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire

Re: Found! Great Granny

Post by Russell » Tue Dec 09, 2014 5:14 pm

WOW =D> =D> =D>
There's a lesson here for all of us that patience and perseverance might suffice most of the time but sometimes it takes even more to break down the most stubborn brick wall.
Well done :D :D
We love to post stories like this. It gives encouragement to the rest of us.

Working on: Oman, Brock, Miller/Millar, in Caithness.
Roan/Rowan, Hastings, Sharp, Lapraik in Ayr & Kirkcudbrightshire.
Johnston, Reside, Lyle all over the place !
McGilvray(spelt 26 different ways)
Watson, Morton, Anderson, Tawse, in Kilrenny

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Re: Found! Great Granny

Post by SarahND » Tue Dec 09, 2014 7:29 pm

Great story! I, too, have a great granny who was quite a character... married three times, brought up her children, her children's children and the children of an adopted child and finally died at a ripe old age, completely cut off from her son from her first marriage (my grandfather), so nobody on my side knew where she was.

Here's to interesting ancestors! [cheers]


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Re: Found! Great Granny

Post by davieg » Wed Dec 10, 2014 8:06 am

Wonderful story, gives me great encouragement with my own brick walls =D>

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Re: Found! Great Granny

Post by trish1 » Thu Dec 18, 2014 11:20 am

Wonderful story - perfectly told & a delightful ending =D>


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