Tuesday, January 19, 2010


A Highland Croft by Sherry Massey (Sorry scan is
lopsided. In real life everything is perfectly straight!)

Some months ago, I had seen a drawing done by blogger Sherry Massey of "Of Mice and Men and Cabbages and Kings" of a lovely Irish cottage. I asked her if she would do one of a Scottish croft, or cottage, that is a favorite among my Munro family photos. Dear sweet Sherry did this for me, free of charge. I love it all, especially the detailed work she did, such as on the thatched roof, the stone wall on the right, and the Munro tartan border. And note that she added the name Munro above the doorway! It is a drawing that I will treasure forever!

My maternal grandfather, Duncan Munro,
not long after his arrival in Canada.

Those you who have read my blog regularly know I am fanatic about my family history. After writing posts about my maternal grandmother's roots in Norway, and several posts about my maternal great uncles who were killed in WWI, I was told by readers that I am very lucky indeed to have as much information and as many photos as I do of my ancestors and their relatives.

I now realize that our family is truly blessed to have the knowledge that we do. For it's not just my side of the family. Dan knows his maternal grandmother Sudie Sheppard's family history all the way back to North Carolina and Virginia in the 1700s. (I joke to Dan and Kristen that they are descendants of Johnny Rebs.) Kristen could join the DAR but I can't. My people weren't even in the country at the time!

When I am finished working on it, Kristen's family tree will have many limbs. Only two branches have been truncated: that of my Irish paternal grandmother, Hazel Joanna Cody, and Dan's paternal grandfather, Hans Fredericksen.

Hazel Cody's family has been traced back to John and Bridget Cody, born in Southern Ireland in the 1830s. There, the trail ends, and I'm not the least bit surprised. For how many John and Bridget Codys were born in Southern Ireland, County Unknown, in the 1830s?

As for Hans, he had a shady past as a cattle rustler in North Dakota. Dan's Dad was ashamed of him and cut all ties to him, making it difficult to trace his ancestors.

Yes, we are blessed. But it is not luck. It is through the determination and hard work of our relatives that our genealogical records are so complete. A distant cousin of Dan's researched the Sheppard family. On my mother's side, my cousin Kevin has been searching the Norwegian Wangens and my Scottish second cousin Shirley has done a tremendous job searching the Munros. On my biological father's side, my second Cousin Mark has done the work on the Rockey-Cody families.

Grandpa Duncan in his military uniform

My collection is the most complete on the Munro side. So here I present some photos of my relatives from the Highlands of Scotland (some owned by my mom's family, some provided by Shirl) all the while thanking the powers that be that I have them.

Above, my Grandfather Duncan Munro in his "The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire" uniform, complete with sword and kepi helmet. Far from a romantic posting in India, Duncan was safely ensconced in Canada. This exotic-looking uniform is actually that of the much tamer Canadian Rifles. Duncan immigrated to Canada before the outbreak of WWI. As he put it in a much later newspaper interview, he had joined up and was chafing to go off to war when the conflict ended.

My Scottish Great-Grandmother, Hughina Munro

I have to say, Hughina looks like a sweetie, the quintessential grandmotherly figure. She lived to be 95 years old. After her husband died she was left to raise 10 children alone. She lived until 1951, two years after I was born. I don't know if she knew of the existence of an American great-granddaughter, Duncan having died two years before.

My Great-Grandfather, William Munro, for whom no photo exists, was a shepherd known as Willie Go Slow, because of the asthma which restricted his physical activities and led to an early death.

Christina Isabella ("Teenie") Munro Clinton

I love the fact that I know about my great-grandfather's nickname. I love the fact that I know my Great Uncle Donald Munro ran away from home. Charged with herding sheep, Donald abandoned them and stowed away on a boat bound away from Scotland, leaving the sheep to the two sheepherding dogs. All had to all be rounded up when Donald's absence was noticed. Supposedly he went to Canada, but all trace of him vanishes after that.

I love the fact that I know that Great Aunt "Teenie" (shown above) loved it when the tinkers (itinerant peddlers/tinsmiths) came 'round so that she could practice her Gaelic on them.  Really, it's just a couple of generations removed from the time when my ancestors spoke Gaelic!

Golspie Football (Soccer) Team
William Munro is second from right in rear

As I mentioned before, I have written extensively about my three great uncles who died in or as a result of the Great War. But before the war, they had quite ordinary lives. Above, a photo of my Great Uncle William's football (soccer) team. What a tall, dark and handsome guy he was. Like myself, he was a journalist. Unlike myself, he was a terrific athlete.

John Alexander "Jack" Munro

I have often lauded Jack, a certified, genuine war hero who was posthumously awarded the British Military Cross for his many acts of gallantry. But before he entered the war, he too, was an athletic, handsome young man about to taste all the fruits life had to offer.


Jack's Grace

While I've written lots about Jack, I have neglected to write about Jack's Grace. That's what I call her: "Jack's Grace". This photo was found among Jack's effects. It's signed "Ever Yours, Grace". That sounds like quite the commitment to me. Was this jaunty, sporty, Highland girl with the dog and the braids Jack's sweetheart? Would she and Jack have been married had he survived the war? Among all photos in the Munro collection, this one is the most bittersweet to me.

In fact, I have in general neglected to write about the female side of the Munro family in favor of the male side. I hope to recifty that now. How could I leave out Archie's Grace? Yes, another Grace. Grace Williamson Fowler of Edinburgh, married to my Great Uncle Archie. They had immigrated to Canada and already had several children before Archie went off to war and was gassed and captured as a German POW. After he was repatriated and sent to Switzerland to recover, Grace joined him there.

"Archie's Grace" and children

Archie barely survived. After a recovery period in Switzerland and later in Edinburgh, he and Grace moved to the United States. Sadly, Archie died in Chicago in 1921, the same year the youngest of his six children was born.  Grace had to finish raising the children herself, just as my Great Grandmother Hughina had had to do.

Elsie ("Eppie") Munro Morrison Kidd

How I adore this photo of Great Aunt Eppie. Because I assumed the pedestal beside her was a trunk, I always picture her as the confident, experienced world traveler off to visit the Continent!

Jessie Mackenzie Munro Watters

And Great Aunt Jessie - somehow I feel the most kinship with this female member of the family, perhaps because she is so obviously intent on reading in this photo. She looks very neat and scholarly!

Mary  Munro Mackay

Great Aunt Mary Munro Mackay was another of my grandpa's sisters, and grandmother of my dear Scottish second cousin Shirley Sutherland, who sent me most of these pictures and all the info on the Scottish Munros. Another link I have to this Mary Munro is my late Aunt Mary Munro of Crosby, ND, obviously named after Duncan's beloved sister. 

Elizabeth "Betsy" Angusina Munro
(A cutout of the photo below)

As you can see, Betsy's middle name was Angusina. She and my Great-Grandmother may have been named after an Angus and a Hugh, but I don't know if -ina was pronounced "EYEnuh" or "EEnuh". Since I had an aunt named Ina (pronounced "EYEnuh) I lean toward the former.

My Grandpa Duncan and Grandma Julia had seven children: William Alexander, Donald Cameron, Myrtle Opal (my mom), Robert James, Mary Elaine, Ina Mae and David Allan. Obviously, it was their Scottish father, not their Norwegian mother, who named the children.

Since I grew up in a Norwegian community, I savor these names, such a wonderful (in my mind) contrast with the Oles and Svens, Lars and Ingas I was surrounded by. I also relish the names of my earlier Scottish forbears: MacKay, MacDonald, MacKenzie, Sutherland, Falconer, Campbell, Ross. So different from the Johnsons, Larsons, Olsons and Swensons in our community.

I admit it. I'm just besotted with my Scottish ancestors.

And here it is, full circle, the croft that inspired Sherry Massey's painting. I told Sherry that she could leave the people off and I think that she was very relieved to do so! The people in the photo are Betsy's sons Donald and Alick on the left with dog Minto in front, Betsy, her husband Alex Mackay (called Daddo in the photo) and son William on the right.

(P. S. Everytime I look at this photo I think that the roof is on fire - see top right - but it must not have been, noting the calm demeanor and expressions of everyone in the photo, a lack of concern certainly shared by the photographer!)


Hope F. said...

Maybe the hole in the roof for the smoke to leave the cottage? That's what it looks like to me.

You're very fortunate to have so much family history. My family discouraged me from looking for mine because they were uncomfortable with the stories of some of my relatives (like a gambling great grandfather who eloped with my great grandmother in defiance of her parents).

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

What wonderful family histories and photos. We have so much information on Don's family - we (his aunt and I) have made three books of photos and history of the family - which has been traced back to 790. It is a great thing to have all this information. I've run into dead ends in my own family quite early on, though I still try.

Autumn Leaves said...

I just wish I could have done a better job for you, Julie. The tartan did come out nicely though. Thank you for mentioning me and I truly enjoyed doing it. I love nothing more than giving. I always love hearing about your family history. I found myself wondering if Hughina (and in my head, I pronounce it as 'hew-eena') was named for a Hugh? I love that you have all these old photos! When my paternal grandparents died, I begged my Uncle Ed for some of those old photos. He will not even scan and email them to me. Sigh...Cherished history here for you and I enjoy reading it!!

gma said...

Hi! I too love family history. It is great that you have a lot of pictures and stories about your family. The Munro Highland Croft that Sherry did is a wonderful addition to your family treasures.
My sister is our family keeper of old photos and scrapbooks.One day I'll share my grandmother's WW2 scrapbook. She had all 3 of her sons in that war and they all came home.

Lila Rostenberg said...

I love the old house photo and the one of the "scholarly" aunt. I do see a resmblance to you there!

Shopgirl said...

Thought I would stop by before going to lunch. And what a treat I have found. Your pictures are delightful, and your stories about them is really special. My sister and I have over the year looked for and found our history on both sides of our family. The really good, the bad and the ugly. Stories of killings and hero's, hard working people that carved out the lands that they settled on.
Thank you for sharing, this was really nice. Your, Mary

Sandy said...

Julie, what a wonderful thing to be able to go back that far to know where you come from. Hugs!

Joyce said...

Wow, how did you ever get all that great genealogy done up? It's awesome that you not only know the bloodline...but it's fabulous that you have photos to boot.
Did I tell you I've been working on mine as well? It's fun and a bit obsessive. I've hit a few roadblocks now on my husband's side so I've taken a rest. HA!!

alwayssearching said...

Do you know if your Great Gma Hughina had a daughter Hughina? My Mom's grandmother and great grandmother were both Hughinas.
Their last names were Munro/Steven one or both were illegitimate births. The way that my Mom always pronounces the name (which also happens to be hers) is hugh-I-nah. Granny went by the name Inny. Thanks for any help in my quest to find some answers on the Scottish side.

Julie said...

No, sorry, GGMa Hughina had no daughter named Hughina, only a Granddaughter Ina, born in the United States.

Hope you find your family!