Visiting the addresses in the Scottish Ogilvy line in my ancestry – Part 2 Elgin

So, day two in Elgin, after a hearty breakfast at our wonderful B&B Moraydale Guest House, back down High Street I travelled.  Guess what I found?

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There it was – 49 High Street Elgin, the house that my Great Great Grandfather, John Ogilvie died prematurely at the age of 32 when my Great Great Grandfather James Ogilvie was 4 and his older brother Alexander was 10 and his two sisters Margaret and Jean were 3 and 1 respectively.  How amazing that another of the houses that they lived was still standing, and even more amazing was that I was standing in front of it.

I realised this was the time to start the process of leaving my Mum’s DNA in meaningful places.

Six months or so before Mum died, her long beautiful “salt and pepper” hair was becoming difficult for her to handle with her failing health.  She put it in to two pony tails and cut it and told me that she wanted to find out how she could donate it to those that made wigs for cancer patients.  Her health then deteriorated quickly and when she died I knew that her hair was too precious to donate, so I kept it.  When this trip to the UK to trace our ancestry became a reality, Bruce suggested that we take some of Mum’s hair with us, for two reasons.  So she is close to us physically as we travel to the places she painstakingly researched, and so we could leave some of her hair in the places that we know meant so much to her.  This way her DNA would be part of the lands from where her genes had originated.  I thought it was a great idea, but as the time to pack came, I took out Mum’s hair and I wasn’t sure I could bring myself to part with it.  I faultered.  Should I see this through, or should I be selfish and keep it all to myself?  I decided to take one of the pony tails with me and to leave one at home, safe.  I could then make my mind up when I was there.  It could always come home with me, and at least I would be able to have her hair with me on the trip.

As I stood outside of number 49 High Street, Elgin, I was completely sure about what I needed to do.  I gently removed the zip lock bag that hat been tucked in the “bum bag” around my waist every moment of every day, and I took out five or six strands of long, beautiful grey hair and with tears on my cheeks, I dropped it on the ground.  Right outside the house where her Great Great Grandfather had died almost 60 years ago, my Mum’s hair and the DNA that it contained were left.  At the end of the row of houses, there was a little garden, and I left more hair in and around the trees.  The memorial in the middle of High Street, more hair left in the garden.  The more strands of hair I left, the more I felt like I was doing the right thing and I knew that Mum must be pleased.  I walked to the end of High Street, returned the remaining precious hair to my bum bag and entered the Births Deaths and Marriages office to see if there was anything further I could uncover about John’s death.  Why did he die so young and where exactly in Elgin Cathedral Cemetary is he buried?

Alas, nothing further was to be uncovered.  I had the register of his death, which the woman gave me a hard copy of (once I told her it was on Scotland’s people and gave her the exact spelling of his surname on the register – Ogilvy) but she could give me nothing further.  She told me to go to the Heritage Centre, who I rang and they found John and told me they had nothing further about his death, but there was applications for poor relief and police complaints that I could view, but only after 10am.  It was unlikely that I would have time – we were going to visit Elgin Cathedral and had a train to catch at 11.40.

What I did know was that he was buried at Elgin Cathedral and the woman at the Cathedral confirmed that his name is not on the index of headstones, which most likely means that there was no headstone – they may not have been able to afford it.  This makes sense to me.  Christina was widowed at the age of 31 with four kids under 10.  How could she possibly have been able to afford a headstone when the bread winner died most likely with no warning and they had already been applying for poor relief before his death?

What I did find out is that Elgin Cathedral is absolutely breathtaking.  Headstone or no headstone, what a place to be buried!

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We climbed the tower and once again I removed the precious hair from it’s safe place.  This time I shared the experience and my 10 year old son Jay and my Husband Bruce both joined me in scattering Mum’s hair to the wind, high above Elgin.  This time there were no tears, just a sense of accomplishment and purpose.  We all felt the importance of what we were doing.

I then walked among the cemetary and scattered Mum’s hair over the ground.  Now Mum’s DNA is where John’s DNA is.  We hurried off to catch our train to Edinburgh and my only regret is that I didn’t have another night in Elgin to take in more of this beautiful place and get to the Heritage Centre.  I guess I’ll just have to come back.

My mind was completely blown.

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Visiting the addresses in the Scottish Ogilvy line in my ancestry – Part 1 Inverness and Elgin

Inverness was beautiful. Such history. I knew that my Great Great Great Grandmother Christine Mackenzie was born in Glenurquhart Invernesshire, but I really didn’t know what that meant. Until now.

Inverness was my introduction to Scotland and I fell in love with this land immediately. A feeling of belonging and mystery and wanting to know more swept over me.

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I discovered Glenurquhart was the village near Urquhart Castle, which is on Loch Ness.  So we caught a bus there, paid the entrance fees to the Castle and enjoyed the experience, although it was very busy with tourists (fancy that?). I discovered that Urquart Castle was destroyed by the English in the late 1700s before my Great Great Great Grandmother, Christine Mackenzie was born.  Perhaps she travelled here to visit the ruins?

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Then it was a bus ride to Elgin.  This was to be the most important part of my visit to Scotland for my ancestry, unfortunately I didn’t plan enough time here.  Another day would have been fantastic.

The bus station was near High Street, and I knew this was where my Great Great Grandfather Jame Ogilvy lived.

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We found our accommodation for the night – Moraydale Guest House – beautiful.

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From Mum’s Ancestry bible I knew that my Great Great Grandfather, Marie Ogilvie’s father lived at 52 High Street.  So after dropping our bags we went off to find number 52 to see if it was still standing.  It was …..

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I could hardly believe it.  Oh Mum, if only you were here to share this moment.  All your hard work and here it was – the house that your Great Grandfather lived in, still standing and this is what it looks like today.  I took photos with tears wetting my cheeks and breathed in the moment.  How amazing was this?  I knew there was another address at High Street – 10 High Street that James lived later once his father had died.  Investigation found that there are new, modern Council offices where 10 High Street must have previously stood.  So, even in a town as historic as Elgin, some houses are sacrificed for the purposes of development.  What a shame.

There was a great little pub “The Drouthy Cobbler” down the laneway next to 52 High Street, where we had a drink and found out about John Shanks aka The Drouthy (likes a drink) Cobbler who, with his bare hands cleared the ruins of Elgin Cathedral and then was appointed the caretaker of the Cathedral “The jewel of the North”.  This pub was a real find and a great story.

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Later that night, a deeper study of Mum’s Bible found that I was wrong.  52 High Street was not where James Ogilvie lived with his parents, this is the first house that where he lived with his mother after his father had died.  He first lived at 49 High Street with his parents, which is where his father John died prematurely, aged 32, when James was only 4 and his younger sisters were only 3 and 1.  What a tragedy to happen to a young family.  I knew that tomorrow, as well as visiting the local Births, Deaths and Marriages office to see if I could find out any more about John’s death, I needed to find 49 High Street and see if that too, was still standing…..

A big Adventure thanks to Mum

Very soon, my little family (my Husband Bruce, my son Jay and I) are taking off on a big adventure. I have chosen to invest my share of Mum’s superannuation fund in my family, a pilgrimage exploring the parts of the UK that our ancestors came from, that Mum worked so hard to track down. We will visit Elgin, where my Great Great Grandfather came from, (the father of the Marie referred to in the name of this blog). We will visit County Clare where Susan Kelleher (the Susan that Mum was “Seeking” per the Blog Name) and I will trek up Crag Rd, Windhill, where my Grandfather lived and my Mum explored in the late 90’s.

We will visit some of the places that I explored with my Mum 21 years ago in Ireland – Corofin, Galway and Dublin being three of the favourites. This is where I will celebrate the fact that I have managed to survive an entire year without my Mum. A very fitting place to do so.

We will catch up with Sean Whelan, an elderly gentleman who Mum and I met in Corofin all those years ago and we believe to be a distant relative, but have never found the proof. We will also meet another distant relative of mine – by marriage – Mandy Burton, who became a very dear friend of my Mum’s and has been somewhat of a mother figure to me since Mum died, checking in from afar to make sure I am ok.

We will also be going to two of the Ashes matches – one in Cardiff and one in London as well as spending six days in London visiting Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and many more London sights, which we have all wanted to do.

There has been a lot of planning and organising over the last six months or so and now it is nearly here.

I am filled with a mixture of excitement and trepidation – just how will I cope with this big adventure so closely tied to my Mum without her here to share the joy of it with?

Only time will tell. Wish me luck!