Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I Do Love Scotland

I know, I'm not done with Heart in Hand's "Plum Cottage Sampler" yet, but it being July, I can hear this little flag whispering my name!

Today was our first full day in Glasgow.

This rather grungy pillar postbox is truly Glaswegian.  A bit tattered, but standing tall and proud.

Remember my train woes of yesterday?  They made headlines in today's Scottish newspapers.

Speaking of trains...this is Glasgow Central.

Maybe folks from the east coast of the US are used to BIG train stations, but I'm sure not.  I consider it a mark of honor, much like a girl scout Merit Badge, that I've been able to figure how to navigate close to a dozen of these big, bad boys on this trip:  St. Pancras, Kings Cross, London Bridge, Paddington, Charing Cross, York, Waverley, Glasgow Central.  

Glasgow Central is unusual as the train track go over the street adjacent to the station.

As with most large train stations, there are lots of shops and ways to spend your money prior to boarding.  This was the floral display outside the M&S Simply Food shop. Very pretty and how handy to pick up a hostess gift prior to your trip to a friend's.

I spent most of the day at the Glasgow Archives on the 2nd floor of the Mitchell Library.  Most folks new to genealogy in the last few years are under the mistaken impression that "everything is on the internet".  Well that is simply not so, especially when working on a regional or local level.  

The Mitchell Library for example, has the collection of Glasgow Poor Relief records.  From the 1700s until 1854, when a person needed financial assistance, they applied to the parish of their birth. As Glasgow grew, the parishes could no longer financially handle the requests, and so regional government boards were created.  Inspectors visited the applicants and filled out incredibly detailed forms that included the applicant's name, date and place of birth, all known addresses going back years and years, religion, employment, parents' names, names, addresses and occupation of children, and the reasons for the application - i.e. impoverished, poor health, etc.  This system lasted until until the formation of the pensions and the National Healthcare system in the 1930s.

The material included is some of the most heart-wrenching going - abandonment, dementia, syphilis from a promiscuous husband, desertion, orphans...

In my personal family research I must have found 24 or more of these applications.  Today I used the facts in one such case to try and find more information.  Janet McAdam was a widow with several grown sons when she made an application at the age of 62.  It referenced her 1st application back in 1847 to the parish board of Cambuslang.  I found the Parish Session Minutes for Cambuslang and they wrote of her original case saying that that her husband had died of fever in September of 1847 in the Glasgow Royal Infirmary and that six, yes six of her sons had also been admitted!

So from that I found the fever registers for GRI and found Alexander's (the husband) death from typhus and the release paperwork for two of the boys.  All this additional information brings substance and resonance to Janet McAdam's life.

I must give a HUGE shout out to the reference staff of the Glasgow Archives.  The two young women who aided me in my research efforts were endlessly cheerful, patient, kind, and knowledgeable.     

From the Mitchell we walked past some of Glasgow's many wonderful tenement buildings...
...and we visited The Tenement House. In the 19th and early 20th centuries most Glaswegians lived in tenements. They shared a staircase and landing which then opened to their apartment.  A typical apartment had a lobby (entryway), a bedroom, and a kitchen.  There was often a bed alcove in the kitchen and an additional one in the bedroom for the children.  No bathroom, no running water. Miss Agnes Toward and her mother moved into The Tenement House in 1911 and it was basically unchanged when Agnes moved to a hospital in 1965 and died in 1975. The National Trust of Scotland bought it as it had all of Agnes' original furniture, cookware, clothes, etc.  Agnes actually had a bathroom with running water, making this a very upper middle class home.  As most of 'my people' were tenement dwellers, I found this to be very interesting.  This is how the other 99% lived!     
We are staying at Grand Central, so named because it directly abuts the train station.  It is HUGE - I think a full block long.  This is our hallway. We stayed here 10 years ago and it was an old, tottering Victorian has-been with staff out of Disney's Haunted Mansion. 

In 2011 they completed a £20 million renovation of the place and it is now quite elegant, though it does NOT have air conditioning...
Yes it was another very warm, humid day!


Vickie said...

Ack! No air conditioning there either! Whew! Hopefully it is cool in the evenings?

Anne said...

Great photos of Scotland! Hope you are keeping cool somehow! Maybe jump in a sprinkler!!

Giovanna said...

Fascinating stuff - and so nice to see to see a glimpse of Glasgow.

Barb said...

Hi Beth, the DH is so envious. Now he says he will need to spend more time than he thought on genealogy in Scotland. Most of my family is from Eastern Scotland. We totally agree that many things are not on the internet . We found a lot about my Dad's family when we lived in Kentucky. We went to Frankfort where the records were all kept.

Margaret said...

So much fun! Wow on the headlines for the train snafus. Yes, we are used to big stations hereabouts. Subways too. :D But each system is different after all. Good for you for dealing with all these different stations. I'd love to visit them someday. Such famous names!

Annette-California said...

Amazing to learn of all the great info your finding about your family. So sorry you don't have an air unit in your room. Love all your photos. That long hallway seems to go on forever. What huge stations you've mastered:) love Annette

cucki said...

It is so it very hot there?
Keep well x

Chris said...

Very interesting post. So glad that you found so much information while you were at the archives.

Maggee said...

What great records you were able to research! Making me jealous of yet another thing on your trip! Ha! I have Irish ancestry (no genealogy help there, way back, because of all the troubles)and Cuban ancestry (no help there cause Castro won't preserve the records--they are probably molded so bad...)Sigh... Great post! Hugs!

Melanie said...

Oh no. No, air conditioning? Yikes. :(

That's amazing that you were able to find information on your family. It's so great that they keep archives of everything like that instead of just letting it get moldy somewhere and disappear forever. I just finished reading a book about a similar type thing of that same time period, only with orphans in England. A charitable foundation set up during that time took as many orphans in as they could, educated them and trained them for the work houses once they were teens. The records survive to this day as it was recorded who handed the child over, what they were wearing (along with a snippet of the fabric) and sometimes a trinket from the parent or relative attached. Fascinating glimpse of the past.