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 Sequel to my grandmother's letters

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Caro
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PostSubject: Sequel to my grandmother's letters   Wed 04 Jul 2012, 00:23

This might be stretching ‘individual history’ rather far, or at least too personally, but I had an interesting email the other day. In the years of the first world war my grandmother in Strathaven in Scotland (fairly close to Glasgow) wrote over a ten-year period to her fiance in southern New Zealand. He left around 1909 and they were engaged after that, but the war prevented her coming out till 1919. So I have the letters she wrote (though none back from him – I suppose she left them behind). Around 1975 I typed them all out, keeping them exactly as she wrote them. I am amazed looking at them now to see there are no mistakes from my typing, though I had trouble at times putting in the bits she had crossed out, and similar oddities, and the type-writer had some letters lighter than others, which I would like to be able to get scanned and prettified, but I don’t know if that is possible or if it is, what it would cost.

Anyway I got about 15 of these copied and put into book form and gave them out as Christmas presents one year and sent a couple to people we were still in some contact with in Scotland.

Last week I received an email which began "First of all I am presuming you are the said grand-daughter – though I have little doubt of that." I suppose he just found my name by googling – helps to have an uncommon name sometimes. Then this complete stranger said he had seen the typed letters from some convoluted relationship with someone I sent a copy to, and had copied them himself (there is about 200 pages of them!). I wondered how he could be bothered; my husband wondered if he was allowed to, but I don’t think there’s any copyright on them. Or is that automatic? Anyway I don’t care if people use them how they wish.

He had quite a lot of family connections and addresses and census records, and wants to use the letters as a basis of a history/story of Strathaven families in World War One.

I’ve only had time to do a quick reply, but will check more. No one quite knows why my grandfather and his three brothers and mother came out to New Zealand – it appears to be at her instigation though she returned to Scotland (and then back out to New Zealand and home again alter). I don’t the family were badly off – the boys all seemed to have some farm property of their own, and they lived in a ‘big house’ in the area. My grreat-grandfather had died, but I am not sure why this would have necessitated a great big long sea journey to live in another country. (I’m very grateful they did, of course.) He had a child by the maid (another clue that they weren’t badly off). Do you think the disgrace of that – if known about – would make you leave the country? What other reasons did people leave for apart from to better their circumstances, get away from trouble, reduce pressure on a family to provide, etc?
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: Sequel to my grandmother's letters   Wed 04 Jul 2012, 04:48

I doubt if an illegitimate child by the maid would be the cause of their immigration Caro, if anyone would have been driven out of the community in disgrace it would have been the maid and the child, not the legitimate family. Every community, village and town had their by-blows of the ones in the 'big houses' and had done for centuries, I'm not so sure that they were viewed with quite the disproval as we now assume anyway.

Have you tried looking for your great-grandfather's will and also newspaper reports and announcements for clues? Records in Scotland are excellent and far better than those kept in England or Ireland, (for that reason it is unfortunate I only have one set of Scottish gg grandparents). Plus, there will almost certainly be a will if he was a man of some property.

I'd suggest that your g grandfather died broke and left no or very little money behind to provide for the family, necessitating their immigration. People usually don't walk away from anything of value, what happened to the property after, was it sold or just left abandoned?

PS Caro, be very careful of what that man does with your letters, especially if he intends making a profit on something that rightfully belongs to you.
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Gran
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PostSubject: Re: Sequel to my grandmother's letters   Wed 04 Jul 2012, 06:23

You have to be careful putting your genealogy on the internet, and letting other people know about your family. I have been working on my FH since 1984 I stay away from sites like Ancestry.com I have heard of people taking information and writing a book about it therefore making money from the hard work which you have done. My research goes back in some instances to the 1600s they were just normal people, nothing special it is usually reasonably easy if it is a small village, they all went along to the local church. I they lived in a big city like Glasgow it is a whole new ball game.

This may help, it is the Mormon site and is free. also "Scotlands People" is great.

ttps://familysearch.org/search/collection/show#uri=http://familysearch.org/searchapi/search/collection/1771030
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: Sequel to my grandmother's letters   Wed 04 Jul 2012, 08:22

I'm not specially worried if someone does make money out of this - it's highly unlikely I would ever get round to anything, and certainly not focussing on the history of the people of Strathaven. Good luck to him if he can. I quite like the thought that something I did so long ago should have repercussions now.

My sister bothers a little about whether my grandmother would want her letters public but she never minded us reading them. Anyway she is dead now, and has been for forty years. And so is anyone she mentioned in them.

Also, I do research for people for my historical society and we use other people's research and writing all the time, and charge out for what we give people. Now it is generally given on that understanding, but I am not so sure about some of the books. They are normally out of print and not likely to be reprinted, or else we own the copyright ourselves.

Cheers, Caro.
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PostSubject: Re: Sequel to my grandmother's letters   Wed 04 Jul 2012, 10:01

One has to be really carefull using other people's research, unless it has been verified by yourself or an independent source. People make mistakes, people get lazy and choose the first name that comes along that corresponds with a name that they are looking for without cross-checking, the actual research that some claim to be theirs is often that of an unverified someone else, that they've copied off the net. There are even some who are so desperate for someone famous in their background that they'll claim anyone if the name sounds about right, or invent a fictional family history, Eric Brewester anyone?

I reckon Gran has it right, that more that half of the supposed 'research' that is floating around out there is false or wrong, in one form or another.
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PostSubject: Re: Sequel to my grandmother's letters   Wed 04 Jul 2012, 10:47

Caro, I know Strathaven quite well, we used to go there often to buy the famous toffee although it's been a few years since the last time, but if you ever want someone to do a bit of ferreting about on the ground, graveyards and so forth, let me know and I'd be happy to help.
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PostSubject: Re: Sequel to my grandmother's letters   Wed 04 Jul 2012, 23:12

That's a lovely offer, thanks, ferval. We had a look round graveyards when we were there in 1980, but all our relatives seemed to be John, son of Andrew, son of John, son of Andrew. I am also quite good at recording what I see, but not where I see it, so don't even know which cemetery we were at.

I will get onto this a little today, but haven't really sorted out what I don't know. I don't even know what ship my grandfather and great-uncles came on, and that tends to be hard to find, as general searching of a surname doesn't bring up the ship names, and it's very cumbersome to go through all the ship arrivals. I think I belong to Scotland's People, some Scottish site anyway. But I am very mingy about paying for anything to do with research - might have to overcome that to get further back. My mother's relatives seem to have come from away up north near Aberdeen (perhaps Rayne?)

Cheers, Caro.
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