Among the records of my Scottish family
found for me at the Aberdeen Town Registry was a birth certificate for a
son born to my grandfather and his wife in 1940. His name was William
James Peter --- our late mother’s half brother, and our uncle by blood.
Here was another joy thrown at us from the archives! But this time, it
would be a living joy. At the age of 64, he would very likely still be
alive! Now I had a living Scottish uncle to track down, and this just
made my day!
It did not matter now to me if I didn’t do
any tracking and tracing immediately. The records of discovery showed my
grandfather and his family were from Broughty Ferry, just outside of
Dundee, on the Firth of Tay. That was about fifty miles distant from
Aberdeen. Winifred had died in Dundee, while her brother had died in
Edinburgh. If the family, and their various descendents, were no longer
in one location, it would take time to unweave the different threads,
and find one to follow.
There were no uncertainties in the records
discovered. If Scottish people are well known for other things, keeping
impeccable records of births, marriages, and deaths is one of their
great characteristics. I was a beneficiary of this record keeping in
this great haul of information on my family. On our paternal side, we
know the identity of our ancestors back to five generations. Now, where
only a great mystery and question mark had existed, I had records going
back to my Scottish grandfather’s grandfather, whose name was Stewart
I was given a record of my uncle’s
marriage in 1966. This triggered all sorts of scenarios in my mind: Will
there be first cousins, both male and female? Will we look somewhat like
them, or, will they look somewhat like us? The emotional upheaval I had
roller-coastered through earlier was soothed with the balm of the
possibilities of Scottish cousins. My imagination concocted a possible
headline: “SCOTTISH-ESKIMO COUSINS FLY INTO EACH OTHERS’ ARMS”.
My Dear Good Helper archivist, whose name
was Valerie Anne Plante, presented more information. One of these was
the record of a son of Winifred and Peter Anderson Johnston. His name
was not given, but his address in Dundee was. Hey! There could be whole
clans of kinfolk in Scotland to track down!
Against tremendous odds, the subjects of
many years of searching were “gifted” to me, in one single afternoon!
And, having a living uncle to start searching for made me feel really