On 20th December 2014, Karen Morrison of Queenstown, New Zealand contacted me with a brief message saying, “Hi Paul, my father was from Blantrye and I’m trying to put together a family tree. He came to NZ when he was about 17, both my grandparents were from there. My father’s name is John Morrison, they lived at 121 Main Street, I’m hoping you might be able to help.“
I always like a challenge when it comes to ancestry and helping people track down family, so when the opportunity arises that has direct links to the street I live in, how could I refuse?! Here’s what I found out. Hopefully this is of interest to all Morrison families living in and outwith Blantyre.
John Morrison was born in 1861 in Crossmichael, a small village on the East side of Loch Ken about 4 miles North of Castle Douglas in the Scottish Borders. In 1887, at the age of 26, he wed sweetheart Agnes Creechan, born 1864 at Muirkirk, Ayrshire. Agnes’s family had moved to Blantyre when she was a young age. The 1871 census confirms that when she was 7 years old as the youngest of six children she had been living at 58 Broompark Road,
Larkfield, Blantyre. Given the area, Agnes would have studied at High Blantyre Primary at Hunthill Road. When she married John in 1887, the couple moved to a home at 88 Adams Laun, (land), Hamilton to East Kilbride Road, which later was renamed Main Street. Adams Laun was a tenement building located at Kirkton Cross, High Blantyre and owned by William Adam, a businessman owning a sawmill adjacent. This would have been an area very familiar to Agnes, not too far from her childhood and teenage home.
John was employed as a Stationery Engineman. This was a person who operated a static steam engine that operated the lift machinery in coal mines. The nearby coal mines to this location were Dixons Pits, the scene of the terrible pit explosion which had killed over 200 men and boys, just 10 years earlier.
Family was to come along soon. Indeed John and Agnes were to have six children. The first Donald Morrison came along in 1887, James in 1888, John Jnr in 1890 then Norman in 1893. With four boys by then, the family was extended when Jeanie came along in 1898 and then finally Elizabeth in 1900.
By 1901 and with their family complete, they all moved further down the street perhaps through needing a larger home or more towards the coal mines, living at Sneddon’s Laun, at 121 Main Street. Interestingly Norman enrolled in the army in 1911. Here is his army enlistment. (What a most terrible time to join the British army. He would have had no idea about the horrors about to arrive just 3 years later with WW1.) His address as a adult, having moved out of the family home is 17 School Lane, just behind my own garden wall! There is evidence to suggest that Donald eventually emigrated to the USA with records showing him in NY state in the 1930s.
But it is James Morrison born 1888 whom Karen will be interested in. This is her grandfather and her part of this line. James married Ann McGinley on 16th October 1908 and went on to have John Morrison who was named after his own grandfather at the opening of this story. John Morrison born in 1910 is Karen’s father who emigrated from Blantyre to New Zealand in the late 1920s, as did many people, with more affordable passenger ships becoming available at that time.
The story leaves Karen’s Great Aunts and Uncles still in Blantyre and no doubt with Morrison family still here today.