Thursday, May 22, 2014


We have been back from our trip over to Scotland for about two weeks.  I think I’ve finally caught up with laundry, snail mail, email, appointments and sleep.  

It was a fantastic trip.  Being in a place that I have read about and heard about for most of my life, was truly amazing.  

We flew into Glasgow, rented a car and drove over to Dundee.  From there we drove up to Aberdeen and then down to Edinburgh.  Getting used to driving on the “other” side of the road from the other side of the car was not easy for my husband.  And being his passenger…..well, it had it’s moments.  He did very well though, even on the very narrow city streets.  The roundabouts are very useful and better than all the stoplights we have in our cities in the U.S.  

I have ancestors from both Dundee and Aberdeen.  Also Perth, Arbroath, Aboyne and several other locations.   

On my paternal side there are LINDSAY, WALLACE, FITZCHARLES & McGOVERN.  

On my maternal side there are MILNE, RITCHIE & LESLIE.

Those are the direct lines. 

I prepared for this trip by doing as much research as I could before we left.  Knowing that no matter how much I did, or how thorough I thought I was being, I would wish I had done more.

I have taken several other trips that were either dedicated to genealogy research or included some research, so I had an idea of how to prepare.

  • Located as much information about the families who lived in Scotland as I could.
  • Found vital records (birth, marriage, death etc.) prior to going on the trip.  I used the website Scotland’s People to gather much of this information. This site has actual images of the records.  You can find transcriptions on, but not the actual images.
 NOTE:  Scotland’s People is a subscription site.  You pay for credits, that are good for one year.  They start at 30 credits for 7 pounds ($11.90 U.S.) and go up to 300 credits for 70 pounds ($119 U.S.).  I have been using this site for many years.  To learn more about how the credits are used, please visit the site.
  • Located census records from Scotland for the periods that they have released, which are 1841-1911.  Again you can find the images on Scotland’s People, but only transcriptions on Ancestry. 
  • Entered all the information including images into my genealogy database.  I use Legacy.
  • Created a list of all people who had any connection to Scotland.  This was easy with the genealogy software we have available these days. 
  • Created a list of names and the addresses where they lived.  This way you can Google the address (or use whatever map program you prefer) before you leave and see if the street or building is still in existence.  Whether or not you found the street on your map program you can still look for it once you arrive.
  • Make sure you have a list of any other locations pertinent to your ancestors such as: Cemeteries, places of business, churches etc.
  • If you plan to visit any libraries, courthouses, archives, historical societies or churches be aware of the days and hours they are open. You'll soon see how important this is.
  • Contact the places you may be visiting to see if they have volunteers who can do any preliminary look ups for you.  There may be a small charge, but as you’ll see later in this post, it can make a big difference.
  • Have some way to access your database while you are on your trip.  Whether you carry your laptop, a tablet or a smartphone, just have something.  You could even have printed group sheets.  I carried my iPad with me which has the Families app containing my current Legacy family file, including images, sources & events.
All in all I was as well prepared as I thought I could be.

When we were planning our trip, we set up our itinerary for each location.  We knew we’d only have a short time in each place.  We made all our reservations at the B & B’s and had everything planned out as to what we would do each day.  

I knew we would be in Aberdeen on Sunday and Monday.  I knew the Aberdeen & North-East Scotland Family History Society would be closed on Sunday.  I’ve been a member of this society for about 5 years and know they have many records available that I wanted to see.  I planned to spend about 4 hrs. there on Monday morning.

NOTE:  I was traveling with my husband.  This was a vacation for us, not a genealogy trip.  He knew I would be wanting to go to cemeteries and historical societies, of course.  But, spending the whole day doing that wasn’t fair to him.  He’s not the genealogist, I am.  Whatever time I can get, I will take.

MY MISTAKE:  Not realizing that Monday, May 5th was a local public holiday.  Therefore, the Aberdeen Family History Society was CLOSED.

Should I have known this?  YES!  Could I have known this? YES!  Was I disappointed? BEYOND YES!  Could I have kicked myself?  A THOUSAND TIMES YES!!!!

How I did I deal with it?  I was thankful that I had sent emails back & forth to one of the volunteers at the society.  She had been able to provide me with birth records and a burial record before my trip.  The cost of those look ups was 10 pounds. Well worth it, wouldn’t you say?

I took a nice picture of the front of the building and spent about 10 minutes being angry with myself.  Life is too short to spend time on things that cannot be changed.  I moved on.    

Here it is.  My picture of the Aberdeen Family History Society office. 

Off we went to Aboyne to see if we could locate the headstones of my 2nd great grandparents, Charles Milne & Margaret Ritchie.

It was a lovely drive, through the countryside, to Aboyne from Aberdeen.    I even got to drive the car for a while.  I wanted to experience driving on the “other” side of the road. 
The weather was typical for Scotland.  A bit drizzly and chilly, but not bad.  Our GPS in the car led us right to where we wanted to go.  

Once we got to Aboyne we stopped and asked where the Aboyne Kirkyard was and were told it was just around the corner.  

We arrived and saw this beautiful old stone church with a cemetery on the church property.  Well maintained and not too terribly big, which should make hunting for headstones much easier.  The parishioners were arriving for church and were very friendly.


You can’t see the whole church yard in that photo.  It goes back quite a ways.

My husband is very sweet and always assists me when we get to cemeteries to begin the hunt.  I give him the surnames and he hollers when he finds one.  We spent about 30 minutes walking every foot of this cemetery and looking at every headstone.  There is a book of transcriptions for this cemetery and it does have my 2nd great grandparents as being buried here.  There is a note on the transcription, however, that says the stone is partially buried.  

TIP:  Having seen that note about the stone being partially buried I was looking for a flat stone.  There weren’t many of those at this cemetery, but there were some.  Never make assumptions, as I did.  This stone was NOT flat.

When we were just about to give up and I had walked this cemetery over and over, I looked down at the bottom of this small cross shaped headstone.  What did I see?
MARGARET RITCHIE!  I went over and took a closer look and there was another name on that headstone – CHARLES MILNE!  I did my genealogy happy dance and yelled out to my husband “I found it!”

There it was, nearly obliterated by years of weather, but I had found them.


What a happy moment.  Those names are written in our family bible.  For a long time it was as far back on this Milne line as I could get.  

I took pictures of other Milne’s & Ritchie’s buried at this cemetery, in case I can later connect them.  I also snapped a few additional headstone photos of other surnames, as I had checked on FindAGrave and noted that there were very few memorials listed for this cemetery.  Now I can add to it.

This post is already too long and I apologize for that.  But, I had a lot to say and hope you enjoyed reading it.

You can find the memorials for Charles & Margaret on FindAGrave #129545950 and #129546301.




Happy Hunting,

Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2014   Diane Gould Hall


  1. cool beans, Diane!

  2. I really enjoyed this story as we are preparing to do exactly the same trip next month - right down to being in Aberdeen on a Sunday and Monday ( and yes, I just checked to see if it was a holiday) ! I know I have come across the names Milne and Ritchie in my family tree more than once. I don't think they are in my direct McPherson or Pirie line but perhaps they married in and / or were witness's to important events. Now I'll have to check my records again. Thanks for the great article!

    1. Thank you for your comment. I hope you have lots of success on your trip. The people of Scotland are so friendly and fun and I could listen to them talk all day. If you have Milne's and Ritchie's in your line I would be very interested in exchanging info with you. I have almost no contacts with those lines. Please send me an email at
      I would love to hear how your trip goes.
      Thank you for stopping by,

  3. I enjoyed reading about your trip. Not too long, say what you need to say. Love seeing the photos too. Glad you enjoyed your trip and hope that you manage to come back again in the future.

    1. Thank you for visiting my blog. And thanks for saying it wasn't too long. I don't want readers to get bored. Trouble is sometimes I'm just excited and I have a lot to say. This was a long time dream of mine, to visit Scotland. I still can't believe I was there.
      I hope you'll stop by again. I enjoy reading comments from readers.

  4. Diane,

    What a fun trip this must have been for you and your husband!

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Awesome! Thanks Jana! I'll mention it on my FB page and on my blog. I appreciate it very much. This trip was real special for me and meant a lot.

  5. Not too long. Just right. What a wonderful trip!

  6. Thanks for a great article Diane. I was led to it through the Aberdeen & NE Scotland FB page. I'm planning a big genealogy trip to Scotland next year so it was very interesting to read about yours. The only surname we have in common is Milne. Here is the link to a blog post I did on John Milne just in case..... Continued happy trails! ---jillian

    1. Jillian - How exciting for you. I will go and read your post about John Milne shortly. I have very few Milne contacts. It's my hope that finding all the Milne's who are buried at the Aboyne Kirkyard and entering them on may lead me to others who are related. I will continue my Milne research and try to connect to some of those I located in the cemetery. Hard to believe the Milnes and Ritchies wouldn't be related somehow. Maybe you and I will find we have a connection. That would be fun. Let me know how your trip goes.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  7. I enjoyed this post! And, imagine my surprise when I saw the Lindsay surname at the top of the post. My Grandfather was a LINDSEY (with an e) and I have recently been spending my time researching the Lindsey's from my 4th great grandfather Edwin G LINDSEY further back. I don't think we are connected, but to be honest I haven't yet had the opportunity this evening to read your other Lindsay posts. It is on my to do list for tomorrow. I've posted the link to my blog, if you're interested in taking a look at my Lindseys. I look forward to reading more.

    1. Tracy - Thanks. I went over to your blog and read several posts. Lots of good information there. Very well written. I didn't see anything that leads me to believe we are connected, except of course, the Lindsay name. Could one member of the family have decided to change the 'a' to an 'e'? I know on every clan map that I see in Scotland, and all the tartans I found everywhere, it is always spelled with the 'A'. But, anything is possible with our ancestors, as I'm sure you know all too well. Will keep your blog on my reading list and we'll see if we ever find a connection. Best of luck with all your research.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  8. I must really have the 'genealogy bug' bad... I got really teary eyed for you both that the history society was CLOSED & then when you found your family's headstones! How exciting!!

    I've only went on one 'genealogy trip' (so far)... that was before my daughter was born, and she's now 13! I'd LOVE to go on another one & appreciate all of your tips. In the past 6 months I've now found the first 3 of my 'overseas' locaitons... 2 in Germany & 1 in England. I'd love to visit all THREE!!!

    And, Scotland is so beautiful! I've only been to Edinburgh, but it was one of my favorite countries I've visited.

    1. Dana - I'm glad you enjoyed my post. It's always good to learn from others mistakes. I hope you get to go on a genealogy trip very soon..
      Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

  9. I tried writing a comment earlier, but it didn't go through. I really enjoyed your post! It actually brought tears to my eyes when you wrote about finding your ancestor's tombstone. I'm hoping to go overseas in a year or so. In the past 7 months I've discovered where 3 of my family's came from - 2 in Germany & 1 in England. I really appreciate all of your tips about an overseas research trip!

    1. Dana - I did get both of your posts. Sometimes that happens. Silly computers. I hope that my blog will provide more tips for you along the way.

  10. Thank you for the excellent post and sharing what you learned from your trip! This is great information that can be applied to any long distance visit for genealogical purposes. Thank you so much for the tips!

    1. My pleasure. Let me know if you take any trips and how they go.

  11. Thanks for the great tips and info. I an heading to Scotland next month and it was a great help.

    1. Lynda,
      I'm excited for you. It was my dream destination for many years. Now I can't wait to go back. Please do let me know how your trip goes.
      Thanks for stopping by.


I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.