Since my recent “How to Solve the Next Ten Problems” post, in which I detailed some steps I planned to take in the next few years to break down some brick walls, one of those has been solved.
My great-great-grandmother (my mother’s mother’s mother’s mother), Jessie Ruth MacLeod, was born in Pictou, Nova Scotia, around 1862. She somehow arrived in Providence, Rhode Island around 1881. She married in 1882 and raised three daughters. On her marriage license, she listed her parents as William MacLeod and Rachel. I could never find any real trace of her before her marriage.
But thanks to the blog post about the brick walls, and other mentions of Jessie Ruth in my blog, I was contacted by a MacLeod, a fifth cousin. He owned an obscure family history book published by Jessie’s nephew, back in Pictou, around 1958. I now have a copy.
Jessie is definitely in the book, The Pioneers and Churches: The Pioneers and Families, of Big Brook and West Branch E.R. and Surrounding Sections Including Lorne, Glengarry, Elgin, Centerdale, Hopewell, Marshdale, Foxbrook, by Rev. D. K. Ross, Hopewell, Nova Scotia [privately published, n.d.].
Her entry, on page 158, is garbled, but definitely her [with my notes in red]:
“Jessie Ruth MacLeod, adopted [wait a minute - adopted?] by William MacLeod and Mary MacLean, went to Providence, R.I., and married Louis R. Murdoch [her husband was Louis R. Murdock], machinist at Brown and Sharps [Brown and Sharpe, the tool manufacturers]. Their family: Christy [Mary Christine, known as "Aunt Chris"], Eva [that's my g-grandma], and one other died early in life [that would be Jessie Ellen, known as "Aunt Jay", who died at age 50 in 1939]. Christy married Charles Faulkenberg [Falkenberg] of 229 Lockwood St. in Providence. Eva married Russell Darling, 92 Atlantic Avenue, Lakewood 5, Providence, R.I. [Those spouses are correct. The addresses make sense but I have no documentation on them. Maybe my mom remembers.] Both Chris and Eva have children [actually, only Eva had children].”
I strongly suspect that there is more to this story about the adoption, and that “it’s complicated.” But that’s a problem for another day. In the meantime, here are some details of her family background, at least through adoption. I am taking some liberties using text/images here in the belief that the author, Rev. Daniel Keith Ross, put twelve years into the book and privately published it so that his relatives would know more about their background, and he would want it to be circulated. If any descendants want to object, please come over any time and make your case. And bring pictures.
I am only beginning to research this myself, so please be aware I am taking this information from the book, and have only begun to seek further sources.
— Jessie’s parents (or adopted parents) and sister
(father) William MacLeod, born 1823 at Tea Gate, Kiltarlity, Inverness-shire, Scotland; arrived with his parents at Pictou in 1832. Married Mary MacLean in 1847, and had one daughter, Christy Ann, in 1848. He lived on his wife’s family farm. Died in 1894 in Big Brook (now Lorne), Pictou, Nova Scotia.
from the book, p. 158: William MacLeod, born 1823, married Mary MacLean, born 1823, of Big Brook and settled on the Donald MacLean farm and carried on farming in summer and lumbering in winter. For eleven winters he made his way to Aroostook County, Maine and cut and hewed pine timber to be taken down the St. John River in the Spring. He followed the drives down the river for eleven seasons. River driving was cold and hazardous business. William MacLeod was not only a splendid axeman, he could hew the line with a broad axe and also use the narrow axe to good effect. He had a set of carpenter’s tools and made horse rakes and hand rakes on many occasions and was an all-around handy man, a craftsman in many lines. Farmers in the early days had to do many things which today are done in factories. They had to do these things or do without these conveniences.
(mother) Mary MacLean, born 1823 in Big Brook (now Lorne), Nova Scotia, lived all her life on her father’s farm and died in 1902. She is buried, with her husband, at the Lorne Cemetery right on their property.
The picture is from page 192 of the book, the farm where they lived, in Lorne, Nova Scotia. Note that Lorne Cemetery is on this property, toward the top of the picture.
(sister) Christy Ann MacLeod, was born in 1848 in Big Brook. She married John Ross in 1871 and the couple lived on her family’s farm. They had five children, William Allister Ross, Daniel Keith Ross (the author of the book), Charles Simons Ross, Elizabeth Mary Ross, and Catherine Jessie Ross.
— Jessie’s grandparents
Alexander “Alex” MacLeod was born in Tea Gate, Kiltarlity, Inverness-shire, Scotland, the oldest of seven children born to William MacLeod and Margaret McKay, who never left Scotland. Alexander brought his wife and first four children from Scotland to Pictou in 1832 and settled at Middle River (now Glengarry), where seven additional children were born. Later, they moved to Lorne.
Ann “Annie” Fraser was born in Beauly (or Beuly), near Kiltarlity, and with her husband Alex and children, came to Pictou in 1832. When they moved, later, from Middle River to Lorne, they settled on the property of William Fraser, who had rather illustrious roots in Beauly, connected to the local castle, and had arrived in Pictou in 1800. Her relationship to these Frasers is not clear to me. Annie and Alex may be buried at St. Columba Cemetery, Hopewell, Pictou.
from the book, page 158: Annie Fraser, the Scottish lassie from Beuly was the mother of eleven children and instilled in their minds and hearts the knowledge of God and a love of the church and of family religion in the home.
Donald MacLean was born around 1800 either in Scotland or Pictou. Donald’s parent, Charles MacLean and Marjory McKay, had come from Scotland around 1800. His father, Charles MacLean, was granted 309 acres of land in Big Brook (later Lorne) in 1810, and that property (pictured above) was later split among the three sons. Donald was on the roll of the West Branch Church (now called St. Columba) in 1853. He may have died around 1871.
from the book, concerning Charles MacLean (and quoting from Rev. Alexander MacLean’s 1911 “History of the Kirk in Pictou County”), page 125: “But crowning that real humility there was a dignity that constrained respect from the most thoughtless. When there was no service, not seldom the case, for many years, his neighbors assembled at his home for religious conference and prayer. In the presence of this saintly man of God all felt that God was near. For years his humble dwelling was to the community a little Bethel.”
Elizabeth “Betsy” MacMillan was born in 1798, probably in Irish Mountain, Pictou. Donald and Betsy’s only child, Mary, was born in 1823. She was the daughter of John MacMillan and Mary Grant. She had a brother, Finlay MacMillan, who married her husband’s sister, Isabel MacLean. Donald and Betsy lived for many years on the MacLean family farm which was eventually run by their son in law, William MacLeod.
MacLeods and MacLeans?
Along about now, my family members are getting VERY confused, because my FATHER’S family are all MacLean’s and MacLeod’s going back many generations. But they are from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and so far, I’m not spotting much of a real connection.
Clues I Missed
Any time a hard problem is solved I am painfully aware of what I overlooked:
- Jessie Ruth had three children: (1)Eva Louise, b. 1883 – Eva was an extremely popular name, and I think Louise may have been given in honor of the father, Louis. (2)Mary Christine, b. 1886 – those are the names of Jessie’s adopted mother, Mary, and sister, Christy – I should have realized those names were clues. If I had searched census records for Mary MacLeod or Christine MacLeod in Pictou that might have helped me. (3)Jessie Ellen, b. 1889 – OK, we know where the Jessie comes from, but where does Ellen come from? I suspect “Ellen” is a further clue.
- I keep thinking, how would I ever, ever, have found this book. It’s not even in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City [UPDATE it is in the FHL - it was the first thing I noticed in the Pictou section]. I really need to ponder this more … WorldCat.org shows it in about 10 libraries, mostly Canadian. Had I looked up the history or biography classifications under Pictou, I would have found it along with dozens of other potentially helpful books. It is located in two locations I MIGHT have made it to someday – Allen County Public Library, and the college at Wolfville, Nova Scotia, where I have other family. Note to me – am I using WorldCat enough?
- Continue to seek information based on the many clues provided by the book
- Try to find evidence of the mother Jessie named on her marriage license, “Rachel”
- Find relatives that Jessie may have followed to Providence, R.I. (I have already found some female MacLean cousins, who were nurses and ran some sort of “hospital home” at the bottom of Angell Street, in Providence – Isabel and Annie Jane Grant, however, they didn’t arrive in the U.S. until the 1890’s.)
- Find any connections between Jessie’s family and her future father in law, William Murdock, who was also from Pictou
From the blog OneRhodeIslandFamily.com, the post you are reading is located at: http://wp.me/p1JmJS-UO