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.
HERE IS WHAT I DID CORRECTLY
- 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 Ancestry.com, 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.
HERE IS WHAT I DID WRONG
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.
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Copyright © 2014 Diane Gould Hall
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