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Overcoming Obstacles in Family Lore and More
E. Gail Benjafield

Gail Benjafield was born in Calgary but raised in Toronto. She and her husband and family have lived in Boston, New Jersey, Sheffield England, Cardiff and St. Catharines Ontario. She is a recently retired librarian who was the Special Collections Librarian at the St. Catharines Public Library when the Special Collections Room won the OGS Award of Merit in 1993. She has written articles for Families, branch newsletters, British genealogy journals, newspapers and more.

The tips most useful to family historians are those that discuss solutions to “brick walls.” We all know that both 19th century census data and birth, marriage and death records (BMDs) can be deeply flawed, often because transcribers did not spell a name correctly, a person’s age is off by as much as five years, or a place of birth is wonderfully helpful, as in “England.” While Internet genealogical sources make things much easier, we all know incorrect information can get online far too easily. Misinformation easily gets mixed into family history, and can result in the proverbial brick wall.

Years ago, when I wrote to the Office of the Registrar General of Ontario for registrations of family members, I received one birth registration with the area known as “Delmer” in southwestern Ontario spelled as “Edlmer.” A simple typo, indeed, but if I were a beginning genealogist, what would I do with Edlmer? It does not exist! My grandmother’s own birth certificate listed her as “male.” Those are just two of many transcription errors. I asked the Registrar’s Office for my money back, and corrections. To my complete surprise, I received both.

Family Lore

Our family research has dealt with such problems, but the particular brick wall that throws me is the dreaded “family lore,” which I like to put in the category of folktales. In the days of letter writing in the earlier part of the 20th century, families passed on much misinformation. Perhaps that was because they wanted so much for all our ancestors to be “respectable.” In my own family, certain things were not talked about, as they were considered improper. Such topics included religion, sex, and politics. Not all families were as open as families are today. Not all families could accept the idea that a family might include a suicide, a mentally ill person, a 22 Families • Ontario Genealogical Society • May 2011
wayward child, or a gay person. When asked about an elusive family member, parents often said little, and responded to the awkward situation by staring at their shoes. Many people have written about this topic as a theme in memoirs, most notably playwright Alan Bennett in his latest book, A Life Like Other People’s. His attempt to uncover his own family history, complete with folk who were unstable, suicidal, gay, or just plain reticent—yet were otherwise just like the rest of us—is touching.

Family lore can set one on the wrong path entirely. Propriety kept elders in the family from passing on any information about someone who had strayed—had an unwed child perhaps, or had spent some time in jail or in an institution. Death by other than natural causes—suicide, for example— often led to dead ends, genealogically speaking. So when I speak of the dreaded family lore, it can include much—anything that someone wanted to sweep under the rug, as it was downright embarrassing. Better to embellish the story about Uncle George who went missing, rather than
to face facts. How many of us have uncovered unseemly accounts of an ancestor’s behaviour? I would suggest that many have. In my husband’s family, there is a notable big-time scoundrel. We regularly check out a fun Internet site called Blacksheep Ancestors. We also use our library’s interlibrary loan service to follow up on this man’s nefarious activities. While we actually revel in knowing about his infamy now, and collect all the information we can on him, I doubt his immediate family in the late 17th and early 18th centuries would be quite so pleased.


Another problem with a smaller impact for genealogists is that of simple misinformation passed on through the years. In my own family, as I suspect in many others, the women wrote letters back to the relatives in Europe, or kept diaries. If you are lucky enough to have discovered a diary or letters, consider them as the treasures that they are. But beware. While they can be wonderfully informative, they can also be incredibly ill-informed, especially about geography. A case in point in my family is a great-aunt’s address book, written at the end of the 19th century. It has short names and addresses, often with just the name of a person, a town, and a country. I find it amazing that a letter addressed to “A. Waters, Roach, Cardiff, Wales” could be delivered. But apparently, it was!

Old Ordnance Maps

In my great-aunt’s writings, she indicates that the Waters family originally came from Garboldisham near Glamorgan. This information is certainly not helpful because Glamorgan is a large county in the Principality of Wales, which includes many towns, villages, and hamlets, but not one named Garboldisham. In fact, Garboldisham is about as far away from Wales as it can be. It is a village in Norfolk on the east coast of England. So a neophyte genealogist, lacking good maps, would be utterly stuck. Luckily, I did have excellent old ordnance maps and more information on the Waters family of Wales, so I was able to sort it all out years ago. But the time it took! I highly recommend to historians who are pursuing British family history that once they do determine what part of the country they come from, they purchase one of the 19th century reprint ordnance maps of that area. The maps are particularly helpful for town name changes over time. Examining the names on the map may also lead to a Eureka moment. The ordnance maps are incredibly detailed, with neighbouring hamlets and villages named, ones that may have been alluded to in one of the ancestors letters and diaries. Sometimes, even the names of people appear on these older maps, as in so-and so’s farm. In my case, this has led to (sigh!) more research, but revealed some really interesting links to other ancestors. An example of such an ordnance map is found in Figure 1 below.

These reprints of ordnance maps are widely available at most genealogical conferences, and while other publishers may have come onboard, the maps I have used are published by David & Charles. They are invaluable tools. My Welsh family immigrated to Guelph, Ontario, and I often wondered why they chose Guelph. It turned out to be for the most obvious reason—an older kinsman had emigrated and ended up locating there. My family probably received Figure 1: A typical cover of a reprint of a first ordnance map, 1838. May 2011 • Ontario Genealogical Society • Families 23 a letter exhorting them to join him in the new land. They did. While researching their records at the Baptist church in central Guelph, I came up against yet another brick wall. The records correctly recorded my great-grandfather’s name as Abram Waters, but the transcription stated he had come from Glencoury, Wales. By this time, I knew this was impossible. I knew precisely where he was born in West Wales, County Dyfed. He met his wife nearer Cardiff in the eastern county of Glamorgan. More than that, I had studied the Welsh language and knew that Glencoury was an impossible grammatical construction in Welsh. So I turned to the old ordnance maps of Glamorgan, and with the help of a magnifying glass, looked all around Cardiff, Port Talbot, Aberdare (my great-grandparents were married in Aberdare), and there it was—Glyncorrwg, bold as brass—a 19th century mining valley. The transcriber had not understood my great-grandfather’s deep Welsh accent, and had written down only what he heard. He had heard incorrectly.

Glyncorrwg is a beautiful little town in a deep valley in the Rhondda area of County Glamorgan. It was once the home of a well-known mine. See Figure 2 for a current map of the area. One can see how misleading all these incorrect transcriptions and geographic misunderstandings can be. Those ordnance maps can be a most useful tool in unravelling that dreadful family lore.

Anyone who has been researching their family history knows not to trust all the census records as fact, the information on BMD certificates, as well as a lot of the information typed into the Internet by amateur genealogists. I would suggest to anyone that all family lore be taken with a grain of salt, and to be unafraid to find out that an ancestor may have feet of clay, to mix metaphors.

As prominent genealogist, Dave Obee, said so well in the August 2010 issue of Families, most of our ancestors were fleeing a country for a better life in a new land, and we should not expect that they were to the manor born. Wherever our ancestors were from, “they were the immigrants who helped shape Canada, bringing their dreams and ideas … with the hope that Canada would offer more than what they had at home.”1 No wonder, then, that so many hid or wished to forget about any more unseemly aspects of their family life “back home.” A final comment. Parents and grandparents wish for a better life for their descendants, and struggle hard to make that happen. Sometimes, if they fail to remember faults, or they simply do not know enough about the larger world to pass that information on to us, they are doing what they think right, what they think is for the best for us, even if that makes today’s family historian’s research more difficult.

Damifino (What's in a name?)

In April, 1944, Ted and Enid Darroch of Calgary purchased ½ lot 20 and 1/2 lot 21 of the N.E quarter section 22 and the NW quarter section 23, both in Twsp 40, Range 28 west of the fourth Meridian (or so the record states), from the widow of a Colonel Belcher.  On the property was a cottage, then named "Damifino" (pronounced "Damn if I know").  According to a family story, the Colonel suggested the name inadvertently when his wife asked, "What should we name the cottage?"  The response apparently stuck, although neither historical nor family narratives record whether the widow always took her husband so literally. When recently asked about the original name of the cottage, Enid Darroch admitted that as a young mother she had thought the obvious pronunciation offended the sensitive ears of her four children; she took the expedient route of simply changing the pronunciation  - "Damif – in - oh" it seemed to her had a nice ring.  In time, another name was deemed more suitable.  Among the photos of Gull Lake in our mother's album is one revealing a sign on the back of the cottage at the roof line, spelling out the new name in pop bottle tops - "Dunrovin." The current cottage, which we believe is named "Gang's Inn", would be at least the third, possibly the fourth, cottage to occupy the site. 

The original owner, Colonel Belcher, after whom the Colonel Belcher Hospital in Calgary is named, was a noted member of the North West Mounted Police, later, of course, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  Among the items found by the Darroch's when they took ownership of the cottage were eight mess plates, bearing the inscription of the "North West Mounted Police."  They were subsequently donated by Enid Darroch to the RCMP Museum in Regina.  Also among the treasures were the Colonel's Sam Browne belt and his cape.  In the four young Darroch's youthful imaginations these became infinitely malleable props, providing hours of playful pleasure.  Quite probably they were used for purposes that would have brought furrows to the brow of their original, official wearer. 
The Darrochs owned the cottage for five years.  A recent visit by the youngest of the children, Karen, has prompted the following recollections of her two older brothers.

Our sense is that in those years the Lake was quite a distance from the cottages, but not so far that short legs couldn't get there in seconds – or maybe a minute or two.  The path led between small shrubs and grasses, interrupted by a fence of some sort with a rotating gate made of two short, crossed two-by-fours nailed on a post (we now guess it was intended to prevent cattle from reaching the beach, but cannot recall the question arising  ( for children a gate is just where it should be ).  Beyond the gate the path opened to a wide expanse of golden sand that on sunny days was so hot that one had to run at full speed to the cool of the shallow water's edge.  We remember long days on the beach, wading, swimming and building sand castles, broken by the necessity of lunch and the then obligatory rest period after eating.  Lore had it that swimming within two hours of eating was sure to create stomach cramps and the danger of drowning. The lore was, in retrospect, no doubt, a mother's common sense way of having momentary midday peace. 

Then as now, Gull Lake's shore waters were very shallow, making the beach particularly safe for children.  Here as in other cases, our 50 year-old memories seem crisp and clear, but have been reinforced, and in part molded, by a number of pictures in our mother's black-paged albums. Smiling family members and friends beam from them while they loll in the shallows and strike poses on the beach.  There are other fragments of memory  - of the regular treks, pails in hand, to green coloured  water pumps on the other side of the road behind the cottages, and of the roof-high rainwater tank that sat at one side of the cottage.  A seemingly frequent ritual was removing the drowned bats, which collected there.

Between the cottage and the dirt road behind it there was a small grove of Aspens, a secret place where a 10 or 12 year old was in a wondrous world of pure imagining.  There we were, by turns, fighter pilots, racecar drivers, tank captains and other war and civilian heroes. 

All the bedrooms of the cottage had been given names before our arrival, such as Angels' Repose and Lover's Lane.  The bedrooms led off a large main room on one side and across the back.  On the front and part of the other side was a large screened porch.  In the forties, even a large cottage was frame with exposed two-by-four wall studs and roof boards. One story our mother has often recounted has it that a squirrel routinely met her in the morning – on the inside rafters of the structure.  One weekend visit from Calgary, which was his usual summer routine, our father, Ted, plugged the offending small passageway with wood and tar.  On Monday morning mother was greeted as usual – on the inside - by her small, now furious, tar-coated breakfast companion. 

One of the most exciting times etched into memory occurred each week. We think it was on Mondays, when the train whistle could be heard close by, just at dinnertime, often interrupting the meal.   It was the signal to race from the table to the station where we could watch our own local rodeo: the herding of pigs and sows from their holding pens up a ramp into the waiting train cars.  Some older children, probably teenagers, with switches in hand sometimes a large strap, had the unmatched thrill of mixing with the pigs to drive them up the ramps.  There was resistance, wild squealing and confusion in the pen, but, always with the same, inevitable end: the pigs marched to their appointed destiny.  So far as we can recall, their fate as breakfast bacon never occurred to us.  It was just a weekly ritual of the cottage world. 

It was the tradition then to end each summer season with a cottager's evening beach party.  At the centre of the festivities were enormous teepees of logs and driftwood, or so they seemed at our tender age.  Set aflame after dark, they lit the beach again like midday, and then provided coals for a community marshmallow roast of epic proportions.  Also, as we remember it, these were occasions for song, merriment and much laughter, celebrating our Gull Lake world and the end of another summer season.

So ends the precious memories of Malcolm and Gordon Darroch of their too few years summering at Gull Lake.

Essay submitted in a course in History of Education at the Ontario College of Education in 1957

The Training of a Teacher in the Late 1800's

Personal History

This is an account of the education of an individual teacher, my father William F Darroch, in the late nineteenth century in Ontario. It is not exactly typical because, as will be seen, while he began teaching on a third class certificate, he had almost first class qualifications.

My grandfather, John Darroch, and his wife, Agnes Greenlees, came to Canada from Scotland in 1849 on their wedding trip. He was born in 1823 and died in 1910. She was born in 1828 and died in 1927. They settled first in Erin where John Darroch was a blacksmith and where some of the children were born. Later they moved to Minto Township, Wellington County where four brothers, including my grandfather, and two of his sisters, with their husbands bought adjoining farms, four on one side of the road and two on the other. This was near a small hamlet called Cotswold, five miles from the town of Harriston, and two miles from a fork in the main road called Teviotdale (pronounced Tivadale by the local people). Cotswold like many small settlements has disappeared.

At first my grandparents lived in a log house where the rest of the children were born. There were thirteen altogether, my father being the second youngest. Some years after his birth in1974, they built a fine, square white-brick house that was one of the largest in the vicinity and the pride of the family. Since there were thirteen children in the years from 1849 to 1876, the oldest were married and away from home before my father was born. He has a niece and a nephew older than himself. It is quite possible that when the younger children came along times were more prosperous, since they had built the big house, and more education was possible. The older brothers became farmers with the exception of one who became the town clerk of Dauphin, Manitoba. Most of the girls married farmers. In any case my father received more education than any of the others.

Under the above circumstances my father, William F. Darroch, was born on June 1, 1874.
Conditions were considerably improve from earlier pioneer times but still difficult for far, people in Ontario. Hard work was necessary for the whole family. Communications were poor and hard work was universal because most farm machinery had not yet been invented. Growing boys and even girls earned their keep on the farm. Strangely enough some parts of Huron County to the west had more people in 1875 than at present. The land developers had sold had for farm land that should never been cleared. Much of that land has since reverted to pasture but Wellington County is still fertile and relatively prosperous.

He entered school about the first of May, 1879, just prior to his fifth birthday, "as soon as it was possible to go in bare feet". In those days no children wore shoes in summer. The older children had attended a school on the corner of the farm but for some reason that had been closed and the log building purchased by my grandfather for a church. He was a Disciple of Christ lay preacher. The new school was S.S. 13, Minto Township at Teviotdale, a one room frame building heated by a box stove not far from the door with a stove pipe near the ceiling to the chimney at the other end. This school, since replaced by a brick building, was about one and a half miles from home. Some children had to walk two and a half miles from each way so the school section was about five miles across

The school year ran from August 15th to June 30th, with a week's holiday at Christmas and two days at Easter. The usual attendance at this school was about 45, seated in double seats. When the older pupils attended in the winter, the attendance rose as high as 70 with 25 or so sitting around the room on benches. The ages of these likely ran as high as because he says some of them had mustaches. The oldest helped the youngest. In fact a cousin Bob Reed, was paid about 25 a day to help with the teaching.

The lowest grade was called First Book part one, and the next grade was First Book, part two. Apparently it was possible to take this grade in either one or two years according to the ability of the pupil. Many pupils already knew the abc's and how to count when they arrived. They learned at home from other children. Home methods and school methods would differ little in those days.

The remaining grades of the public school were Junior and Senior Second, Junior and Senior Third and junior and Senior Fourth. Promotions took place whenever the teacher thought the pupils ready for the next grade. High School entrance examinations were usually taken at the end of Senior Fourth and could be tried at either June or December.

The teacher for his first two years was Jim Smith who later became a high school teacher. There was also a Marvin French who became a dentist in Brampton and several others, some of whom were supplying for six months to let the regular teacher attend Normal School. The second last was Malcolm Ferguson who left to attend medical school and became a doctor at Ethel.

When Mr. Ferguson left in June 1886, he allowed his junior Fourth pupils to try the entrance examinations. There were four and all failed. In August of that year R.S. Swan arrived. He allowed the same pupils to try again at Christmas and they all passed. My father was 12 1/2 years old at that time and it indicated that his schooling must have been quite regular. His marks on the two sets of examinations are as follows.

North Wellington Entrance Examination to High School
For Harriston...........1886
Marks obtained by..........Wm. F. Darroch
A candidate for admission to the High School at Harriston

Maximum Marks Marks obtained (June) December
Reading 50 33 34
Drawing books 25 20 17
Ezam-Drawing 25 19 13
Writing 20 14 15

Orthography and Orthoepy

55 19 13
Literature 105 40 51
Aritmetic 105 17 61
Grammar 105 77 104
Geography 80 38 47
Composition 105 72 85
History 80 15 48
Total 755 369 524
Minimum for pass 377 Failed Passed

Orthography was spelling and ortoepy was showing how to pronounce properly. The extra five marks on some of these papers was for neatness but they were not a bonus because the pass was exactly 50% of the total. The report showed a poor example of orthography because "examinaition" was spelled incorrectly. In the first report the word Harriston was written in before the year. In the second "Dec 3" was written there.

With the coming of Mr. Swan a Fifth Form or Public School leaving school year was started and after securing his entrance my father continued at the same school in the higher grade. The next three years are rather nebulous. It appears that he took the Fifth Form classes in the winter and worked at home in the summer. He has no recollection and we have no record of his trying the Public School leaving examination. Theses were known as Third Class, Second Class and First Class non-professional standings, respectively. Teacher training and experience made them professional.

In September, 1893, he entered the Mount Forest Model School and secured a Third Class certificate in December. In January, 1894, he started teaching in S.S. 11 Minto Township for $350,00 a year. This school was north of Harriston about two and a half miles. His parents had, by this time, retired from the farm to Harriston and he lived with them, walking the two and a half miles morning and night. The first year there were about 40 pupils up to entrance and the second and third years he also taught three or four in the Fifth Form. For these older pupils he was paid an additional $5 each per year.

In the summer of 1896 he decided to attend the normal school returned to Harriston High School that fall to complete some language requirements. He took French, German, possibly Latin and a little Greek. In January 1897 he went to the Toronto Normal school obtaining a Second Class certificate in June. He was top man; a girl beat him for first place.

Apparently one of the finest rural schools in the province was at Tranquility, about four miles north of Brantford, and being highly recommended he got the job. After two years at Tranquility he became principal of Darling Street School, later named Queen Alexandra School in Brantford. While at Tranquility he completed the examination for a First Class certificate and from 1901 to 1903 while in Brantford took some work extra-murally from Queens University. This was never completed. Instead he took two summers' work for Manual Training Instructor. Possibly the fact that he was married in 1904 was a factor in his decision to take the teacher training rather than the university work.

About this time James L. Hughes was compiling a list of highly recommended young teachers as possibilities for the Toronto Schools. From 1904 to 1908 there were several offers from Hughes and in the latter year my father moved to Toronto as Assistant Master in Withrow Public School. His salary at Brantford had started at $600. A yearly raise of $50 had increased it to $1000 and he started in Toronto at the same salary. After a year at Withrow and another at Ogden School, he was offered a position on the staff of Parkdale Collegiate Institute. He had been principal of a large school in Brantford and he took a dim view of the practice of the Toronto Board starting the new principals in a little two- room school at the stock yards. When he went to Parkdale he was the only teacher on the staff without a university degree. However it seems that some of those who were long on scholarships were short on discipline so they needed someone to break in the first-formers. His First Class Certificate qualified him as a High school teacher and in 1912 when he had been there two years he obtained a permanent High School Assistant's Certificate. During the summer he qualified as a Cadet Instructor and took the Nature Study Course at Guelph, but he never did finish up his degree. He retired from Parkdale Collegiate institute in 1939 after teaching for 44 1/2 years without one day's absence from sickness.

Then followed two pages of discussion of schools and schools methods as reflected in the above history. It is not of great interest here.

Frank Darroch

A Scottish Family in Wellington County
Gail Benjafield, St. Catharines, Ontario

My maiden name is Darroch. I come from a long line of Darrochs who emigrated from Jura and Islay, islands in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland to Canada, well, more specifically, Ontario, in the late 19th century. My Darroch family history in Wellington County is well represented in a well-researched genealogy booklet written by a great uncle, Frank Darroch in the 1970’s. The title of this booklet is titled “A Darroch family in Scotland and in Canada”. Frank Darroch did a terrific job of genealogy well before there were word processors or the internet. His little book, called ‘the red book” [for its colour] by cognoscenti is used by Darrochs both in Scotland, Canada, the United States, and elsewhere. Frank Darroch visited those isles and paid due attention to parish registers and much more. The books have been distributed among archives of Darroch ancestors both in Canada, Islay, North Carolina, and, well, who knows where.

My eldest brother Malcolm, in North Vancouver, has developed a webpage based on Frank Darroch’s book, at www.darroch.org; many international Darrochs have accessed his page and added comments and queries. Some have come from South America. What a surprise that was. Both Mal and his wife Micheline and my husband John and I have travelled to these southern isles to track our Darroch ancestry. Both couples found memorial headstones in a little village called Clachan on the Mull of Kintyre, just a ferry ride away from Islay and Jura. On these separate trips, we both also found village people who recalled one or other of the Darrochs from this area. On Jura, a sparsely inhabited isle with a single track road, one town and one distillery, I asked the postmaster in which of the three marked cemeteries dotted around the village would I find some Darrochs and he just snorted ‘all of them’. Some say the derivation of the name Darroch is a form of pronunciation of Jura. But the question of the derivation of the name is for another story. The Darrochs who came to Canada clustered in Wellington County, particularly near Harriston, Palmerston and other areas of Minto. Many of our ancestors graves are located in the main Harriston cemetery. Their graves line the driving path throughout that cemetery. The family are also noted extensively in another publication “The Way it was … A History of Minto Township” by Clifford Harrison, published in 1978.

Naturally, like so many pioneers in Ontario, marriages were made among locals and families spread out. Like so many Ontarians, many headed west, as did my family. Our Darrochs landed in Calgary and a look at the Canada 411 data base indicates many other provinces have Darroch’s too. But a bulk of them stayed in Ontario. Those of us who covet our copies of Frank Darroch’s ‘red book’ are numerous. Brother Mal Darroch has made it all available to those online. Bless him. The ‘red book’ tells much. As people write in to Mal, he adds entries, so that Darroch descendants can follow through. One, a Garth Darroch, made a bit of a splash by being on the Canadian version of the popular [now cancelled, sad] Ancestors in your Attic television programme.

While I was born in Calgary, I live in the Niagara Peninsula. When I began family research, I found only one local Darroch, but never followed up on that contact. One day, to my great surprise, a Martha Darroch came into the public library where I worked as a reference librarian, and asked for a book on inter-library loan. I said “my goodness, who are you? That is my maiden name”. She said her husband Don Darroch was waiting in the parking lot. She pronounced our shared name much differently than I did. I have found that even within our extended family, pronunciations differ. Don’s family all stayed in Ontario, his father and his Uncle Frank both becoming teachers in Toronto. Don too is a teacher.

Since that day, we have not only become acquainted, but have shared our ancestor’s history. Don is the nephew of Frank Darroch, and we have spent some time in each other’s homes here in St. Catharines, sharing our joint family history. The astonishing thing about finding each other, is the remarkable physical likeness of our family members. Don showed me pictures of his uncle Frank, and Don’s father in Harriston in the 1970’s. I saw a striking likeness in this small photo to my own late father, Ted Darroch. I put it online and sent it to Mal, noting the likeness. Mal’s response was “dare I say I look more like Frank than did our dad.” I looked at little harder, and yes, it was true. The next time I went over to Don and Martha Darroch’s home, I took a large picture of my brother Mal. I showed it to Frank and asked Don held that picture and just stared, a querulous look on his face. ‘How had I found a picture of his Uncle Frank?’ Then he took me to a framed picture of his uncle Frank, and we held the two pictures together. Mal is the doppelganger of Frank Darroch who wrote ‘the red book’ over 40 years ago.

Genealogy is a wonderful hobby. When I do finally get my brother Mal here in Ontario to meet Don, I know they will be as moved as I was to see how ‘brotherly’ they are. Yes, there are variations of the name [Darrach, Darrogh, etc] and varying pronunciations, but the important part of researching family history is that we are all ‘kin’.
Traces & Tracks Vol 10 (4) Winter 2010/11 5
Newsletter of the Wellington County Branch OGS


This material provided by Peter Hayes September 2007

Because the records before the end of the 18thC were lost, we don't know much about the Clachan Darrochs before that time. I have added below an extract from my own family narrative that deals with my own Darroch ancestors from Clachan. We are almost certainly all descended from Mulmorich, and I am hoping that one day someone will do some DNA testing to confirm this.

The Darroch lineage is traced in a genealogy prepared by David Mackay Darroch in 1881 to Mulmorich Darroch (b. 1575), minister of Kilcalmonell and Kilberry Parish, Kintyre, from 1614 until his death in 1638. The parish church was located at Clachan, a small village on the west coast of Kintyre, where Mulmorich Darroch and his wife Finuall Carmichael lived. Mulmorich Darroch’s gravestone lies near the path leading to the entrance to the present church. It reads: ‘Here lies Mulmorich Darroch person [i.e. parson] was in Kilcalmonell who died 10th March 1638 and served the cure,’ along with a note ‘renewed by J. and Archd. Darroch 1864’. A number of Darroch families continued to live around Clachan until the late nineteenth century.
Mulmorich and Finuall Darroch had two sons. John Darroch graduated MA from Glasgow University in 1625 and was minister on Jura (1632–1641) and Southend, Kintyre, until he was deposed in 1646 for ‘being for a long time preacher to the rebels’. The massacre of the Royalist troops at Dunaverty Castle in Southend the following year by the Covenanting force following their capitulation gives some idea of the seriousness of the offence. John Darroch’s name was apparently ‘erased from all the church records’. The second son, Dugald, graduated MA from Glasgow University in 1638 and succeeded his father on his death as minister of Kilcalmonell and Kilberry Parish. He translated to Lochhead (now Campbelltown) in 1649. In 1658 he presented the Church authorities with fifty psalms translated into Gaelic. After they were declared unacceptable in their construction he collaborated with other Gaelic scholars in Campbeltown, Kintyre and ultimately a corrected version, known as the Caogaed (‘Fifty’) was published in Glasgow in 1659. Dugald Darroch continued to minister to his congregation in Campbeltown, conducting his services in both Gaelic and English, until he was ejected in 1662, following the Restoration, along with almost four hundred other non-conforming ministers in Scotland. He married Aylis, eldest daughter of Mathew Campbell, Captain of Skipness, Kintyre (who was fined by the Scottish Assembly in 1662).

David Mackay Darroch’s family tree is unclear as to the identity of the father of Mulmorich’s grandson, Reverend John Darroch. However, it would appear that Reverend Dugald Darroch is most probably the father of John Darroch, because in 1660 he received a grant from the Synod of Argyll of ‘fortie marks’ for John’s education. This John Darroch studied at the University of Glasgow in the fourth class in 1665, passed trials before the Presbytery of Dunoon, was recommended for licence 19th April 1669, and was instituted in 1669 as minister in Kilcalmonell and Kilberry. He was deposed by the Test Act in 1681. David Darroch notes that, ‘About this time there was a split in the family on account of religion so part of the family settled in Ireland.’ Nothing is known of the family in Ireland, but Rev John Darroch was forced to flee to Northern Ireland, where he was minister to a Presbyterian congregation at Glenarm, Co. Antrim, and from whence he returned to Clachan after the Toleration Act in 1687. In that year he was present at the erection of the Synod on 29 September and of the Presbytery on 9 November. He was a member of Assembly in 1690. He was translated to Craignish, Kintyre, in 1692, where he appears to have remained until his death on 6 July 1730. He married, firstly, in April 1701, Elizabeth Campbell. She was the daughter of Sir John Campbell of Glenorchy and Elizabeth Campbell, and the widow of John Campbell of Geylin and Alexander Campbell of Stonefield, minister of Kilmore. He contracted on 11 August 1716 to marry, secondly, Agnes Campbell, the daughter of Archibald Oig Campbell and Barbara MacAllister. Archibald Campbell was the son of Archibald 'MacConachie' Campbell, 5th of Inverawe. The Scots Peerage (ii. 202, ix. 45) lists Darroch’s children as William, minister of Kilchrenan, John, who went to Edinburgh, Archibald, Elizabeth, Margaret, Katherine and Isobel.

David Mackay Darroch records that Rev John Darroch had a son Dougal, who had a son Dougal, who had a son James, who had a son James. The latter James, a tailor, was the father of George Darroch. He and his wife Elizabeth (Lizzy) Murray were booked to marry at Kilcalmonell on 1 February 1794. They lived at Craignavullin, Clachan, Kintyre, until they moved to Glasgow after 1820. They had five children, of whom Nicholas Porteous Darroch’s father George, baptised on 24 April 1796, was the second. James Darroch served as the Session Clerk for the Kilcalmonell Kirk from 1803 to 1820.

Additional information provided by Mike G. Fell OBE who is a member of the Stephenson Locomotive Society, September 2009

George Richard Sutton Darroch

George Richard Sutton Darroch was born in Kensington, London on 22 February 1880. He did not marry and died in Crewe, Cheshire on 3 December 1959. He actually features on your website under Darroch of Gourock. His father was George Edward Darroch who was born on 22 April 1846 and his mother was Adelaide Francis Valpy. His mother and father married on 8 January 1873 and GRS Darroch was their only son. The 1891 census return shows the family living in Folkestone, by 1901 they had moved to Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire. Adelaide had died on 23 April 1900.

The following is an extract from an article about him taken from The Stephenson Locomotive Society (SLS) booklet ‘A Centenary Celebration 1909-2009’

Another steam locomotive came into SLS ownership in 1959, the one-sixth scale model Orion, technically the last Crewe-built Webb compound, and moreover one that is in fine fettle and working order.

The story of its creator, GRS Darroch is as intriguing as the engine itself. Darroch was an old Etonian and, rare for that species, a premium apprentice at Crewe under F W Webb and George Whale. Having completed his training he left railway work for a while, obtained a pilot’s licence (trained by Louis Blériot no less), fought with distinction in the Great War, where he was awarded the Croix de Guerre, and then returned to Crewe. Here he rose to Assistant Works Manager for the London & North Western Railway and, its successor, the London Midland & Scottish Railway until his retirement in 1941.

Darroch was never short of funds – he ran a Buggati and, on occasion, had it serviced in France. His resources and his great affection for steam engineering enabled him to construct Orion in his spare moments during his Crewe training. Much of the erecting work was done at Crewe Mechanics’ Institute, from parts fabricated in the Works with, or without, official knowledge. On leaving Crewe Darroch had Orion completed by the pioneering model railway engineer, Bassett-Lowke of Northampton.

Rails (one-sixth of 85 lb/yd ) were rolled for Darroch at Pearson & Knowles Coal and Iron Co, Warrington. In later years, Orion did its work in Darroch’s Crewe garden, on a 100-yard track, often hauling parties of friends including the Crewe chief H P M Beames and his family.

Darroch bequeathed ORION to the Stephenson Locomotive Society which celebrates its centenary in 2009. The nine and a half inch gauge miniature steam locomotive weighing half a ton has recently been restored to full working order with the aid of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant. It is featuring prominently in the society’s centenary celebrations. The locomotive ran many miles on the miniature railway laid in Darroch’s garden at 4 Wellington Villas, Crewe and is now active once more.

Darroch, always known as Richard, was quite a character. He was an early aviator, gaining his pilot’s certificate by flying a Blériot monoplane at Hendon on 14 February 1911 and was awarded the Croix de Guerre whilst fighting for the French Army in the Balkans during WW1. After this he wrote a book Deeds of a Great Railway, published in 1920, which told of the London & North Western Railway’s wartime achievements. He remained a lifelong bachelor, his main companions being a series of fine bulldogs. His grandfather was Duncan Darroch, 3rd of Gourock, GRS Darroch’s father, George Edward Darroch being the 3rd of Gourock’s third son.

This material provided by Karen Probert September 2009

A Story About My Grandmother Darroch
According to family legend our paternal grandmother, Estella May Darroch, of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, had a system during the Great Depression of the 1930's to assist itinerant travelers. During the 1930's in Canada the Prairie regions were known locally as "The Great Dust Bowl" as there had been drought for many years and the constant wind across flat lands had blown the previously fertile topsoil away to other Provinces and across the continent. Men who were unable to find work, or to continue to farm unproductive land, took to riding the rails - traveling in train boxcars from town to city to town looking for any type of work, and for some food.

During this period Estella had four sons and a daughter living at home in her large house.  Her husband, Arthur Walter, was employed at Union Milk Co./ United Dairies Limited  in Calgary.  To supplement the family income apparently Estella ran a small scale boarding house. The men who rode the rails had developed a system of leaving a sign of some kind on a fence or a tree near a house where the occupants would be willing to help in some way.  The signs differed as to what type of help was available and some even warned the itinerants to stay away from certain homes or areas. These are commonly known as "hobo signs".  We do not know what type of signage was near our grandparents home but our mother told one of us that if a man came to the back door of our grandmother's house he would be offered a job, possibly cutting or stacking wood, cleaning the yard
or some other thing and then Estella would give him a sandwich, possibly home-made soup and a piece of pie (she was famous for her peach pie, we're told) with a cup of coffee or tea.  If no one was using the boarding house rooms she may have let them stay there in cold weather - that's supposition on my part but seems plausible. The real story of how she handled these workers and what she did for them is lost but I would surely love to be able to ask her.

This Material provided By Sue Barker in May 2009

My grand mother was Marjorie Susan Stuart Darroch, she was born in Medstead, Hampshire. She was a wonderful granny to us.

One son, Geoffrey Maeburn, died after a fall down the banisters when he was about 8 years old
My father, Michael Stuart was the second son, he was killed at Arnhem at the end of WW2. In fact he died the day before my brother was born.
The second son, Anthony Hugh did not marry and died in 1994.
The youngest child, a daughter, Pamela is still alive and in good spirits
My mother is now 93 and has little recall sadly but I do ask my aunt questions and she does remember fondly Charles Stuart Parker Darroch her grandfather.

This material provided by Janis Ackroyd April 2009

After the several interesting accounts we have had of pioneer life in Muskoka I wonder what is left for me to tell. What I write will be mostly reminiscences of my husband who came to Muskoka as a boy of twelve with his parents in the winter of 1869 or ’70.

Most of the historians are agreed that John McAlphine who came straight from Scotland was the first settler at Port Sydney. He built a log shanty and also a sawmill. He must have been an explorer as well as a pioneer. Of what brought him to Muskoka, or how he traversed the then pathless solitudes or brought in machinery for his mill little is known.

Through his representations, Robert Brown, Minto, Wellington County, whose wife was a first cousin of Mr. McAlphine, came to Muskoka and took up some free grant and also bought some land on the Utterson road, on which some of the Browns are still living. He put up a block of a house and left McAlphine to finish it giving in payment money for machinery in his mill.

He started going back to Minto, June, 1869, going as far as Falkenburg with Mr. Jenner who had left his wife there. The railroad then was as far as Barrie. In the following January the Brown family, consisting of five boys and four girls, with their parents, moved to Muskoka. They came in two sleighs drawn by horses. One covered sleigh held the smaller children. The two oldest boys led a cow. There was four feet of snow on the ground.

When they arrived they found their house had no roof so they stayed in James Haines’ house, south of Utterson.

In March James of twelve, walked out to Minto and bought a yoke of oxen, secured a jumper and brought up a fanning mill and two bags of seed peas. A heavy fall of snow came and he was storm-bound for three days until roads could be shoveled.

The first work they did with the oxen in the spring was drawing rails for Allen Shay on the McCoy place, north of Utterson. Wages then were $1.50 to $2.00 a day including one meal and team. He then went up to Brunel with Alex Trainer to log on the Hawk place. Charles and Percy Lawrence were two of the rollers. They crossed the river with oxen. There was no bridge, so they drove the oxen in and they swam across below the falls while the men crossed in a canoe.

Log canoes made by Hanes, and birch-bark canoes were in use then. That summer they helped Mr. Ladell cut hay and timothy so he must have been in some time previously. In July he went back to Minto and drove in three heifers.

The house had been finished with a board roof in the spring and the family had moved in. In the fall of 1870 Robert Goodwin came and put on a shingle roof. Except for McAlphine’s shanty, the first building was a store built by Mr. Hoagaboam. It burnt down one night, but he built a larger one.

The first death was Caroline Ladell. She was buried on Hanes’ place.

At a citizens; meeting in 1874, Mr. Fawcett moved that the little village be called Port Sydney.

The first one buried in the Anglican cemetery was Mr. Hall (a clerk in Hoagaboam’s store). John Wingfield was the first settler at Utterson. At the raising of his log barn he was one of the corner-men and the sides were racing which would have their end up first. A log going up caught and jarred the building, and nearly sent the upper rows of logs down. The jar sent Mr. Wingfield astride the top log and when he recovered from the excitement, he said, “it was a good job I was sitting down.”

A Mr. Fraser was the first school teacher at Utterson. Erastus Hanes kept the first post office in his house at Utterson, and Robt. Scarlett kept the first store in the same building in 1870. He had a larger store built by Wm. and J. Clarke at Port Sydney. In 1876 Mary Brown died, and shortly afterwards her father gave the land for a township cemetery. Mrs. Price was the second burial there. Mail came in once a week by stage from Bracebridge.

Tea was from $1.00 to $1.75 a lb, and 50 cents was the wage for a man for an eight hour day at that time.

A Fife and Drum band was organized with Mr. Nichol as bandmaster. They played on the “Northern” in 1877 on its first trip. Members of this band were: Alf Rumball, N. Mainhood, W. Morgan, Frank and Herb Ladell, James, Hugh, Robert and Wm. Brown.

Port Sydney also had a Cricket Club that was hard to beat with Coleridge Roper as captain. The team had as players Wm. Clarke, Tooke, Barker, Salthouse, Bailey, Crampton, Alex Smith as wicket keeper, and four Browns. They played against Huntsville, Stisted and Bracebridge and as Jas. Brown recalls it to-day he says: “I never remember of losing a game. We would leave early in the morning in a lumber wagon when playing away from home.” The Bracebridge Gazette in giving an account of the matched played there, said they had been “done brown,” at least there were four Browns.

David Hoagaboam was the first Reeve of Stephenson. He and his son Charles carried seed potatoes on their shoulders from Washago and crossed the river at Bracebridge on the historic “pine tree.” In the fall of 1878 Wm. Addison and family came to Muskoka from Burlington for Mr. Addison’s health, bought land from Ladell and settled across the road from the Brown home. In 1879 John put up a house and barn for Addison’s also barn for Browns. The barns were the largest of their kind at that time in Muskoka. One stick in the Brown barn, a swing beam, was 29 by 12 inches. Nearly every raising or wood bee was the occasion for a dance. There would be one hundred men at the raising. Grandma Brown as she was known by all, far and near, was the only nurse in Stephenson for many a year, and as good as any doctor. Roads were poor and doctors hard to get, and often she walked ten miles or more to a sick-bed.

All honor to our pioneer forefathers.

This material provided by Lorna Bell August 2009
Photos of Brookfield Cottage in Kilbarchan (Mary Currie's former residence)

This material provided by Jen Saddell June 2008

I appreciated the opportunity to go through your amazing website. What a fine job you have done. Many of my early relatives werefrom Kilcalmonell, and I noticed that you had made reference to the surnames Milloy, Blue, and Glen all of which are related to me. I have a couple of Darroch connections that I am hoping you may be able to help me with. You wrote...

Mary Milloy's father was Hugh Milloy and her mother's name may have been Margaret. They had a large family of six girls and four boys. They lived in Clachan before coming to Canada about 1822, that is all except Mary, who with her husband, followed her children in 1862. The sisters and brothers of Mary Milloy Darroch are as follows:- ( Not in order of age ) Flora married John McLean, Margaret married Archibald McDougall, Catherine married Donald McMillan. Barbara married Edward White, Sarah married Colin McMillan, Donald married Betty Glen, Archibald married Miss Blue, John married, with two sons, name of wife not known, and another boy. Most of them settled on farms near Erin and Hillsburgh, Ontario, and had very large families. The Rev. John D. Stephens, about 1934, contributed to the Erin newspaper a number of columns on pioneer gossip which includes the names of most of the children and grandchildren in the Milloy family. There are no Milloy names in the Erin phone book to-day.

Wondering about this Blue and Betty Glen reference. I have a Betsy Glen born 1 Nov 1832 Kilcalmonell to Dugald Glen and Catherine Paterson.

My 4th great grandparents from Kilcalmonell were Donald Blue and Margaret Brown.

I have a connection to Ann Milloy who md Neil McFatter 1805 Killean and immigrated to Puslinch area, Ontario

Related to McMillans, McLeans so this is interesting to me also.

My Glen/ Darroch connection might interest you...

Peter Glen b 18 Jan 1830 Kilcalmonell md my relative Mary Gilchrist
Parents: James Gilchrist & Kathrin Thomson.

Peter's parents were Dugald Glen born 13 Jan 1800 and Catherine Paterson b
18 Apr 1803 Kilcalmonell

Peter's grandparents were Peter Glen and Helen or Neally Darroch md 25 May
1793 at Kilcalmonell.

I have children for them so far: Mary, Peter, Betsy, Duncan, Dugald, Helen.

This material provided by Wendy Darroch-Doyle September 2009

Hi Mal, I've attached some pictures of a headstone of my great grandfather Andrew Scott Darroch, His 2nd wife Janet Scott and his 1st wife (I believe) Elizabeth. Andrew was born in Scotland in 1848, died Pictou County, Nova Scotia 1898. This is all I know of him and Janet. I do know that he had children by both wives but only know of Mary Darroch who was my grandfather's half sister. My grandfather was Allan Scott Darroch, born 02 Sept. 1884, died 1974 Pictou County, NS. Married Hannah Court March 25, 1904. Hannah Court born 25 Dec 1887, died 04 Jan 1970 in Pictou County, NS.

Children of Hannah and Allan Darroch:

Elizabeth Darroch (Pic of her headstone) Died 1905 at 1yr, 6 mth old.
Henry Darroch - grave not marked
Garfield Darroch - grave not marked
Andrew Scott Darroch - DOB 25 March 1907, died 21 Apr 1971, Spouse Irene Lockhart
Irene MAE Darroch - DOB 10 Mar 1909, died 05 Aug 1984
Sidney Hale Darroch - DOB 12 Apr 1911, died 09 May 1993
Viola Darroch - DOB 28 Oct 1912, died 19 Jul 1996
Allan Scott Darroch Jr. - DOB 14 Feb 1914, died 22 Sept 1990
George Hale Darroch - DOB 11 Apr 1920, died 21 Jan 1981
Ester Darroch - DOB 27 Jan 1925, still lives in Pictou County, NS
Audrey Doreen Darroch - DOB 16 Sept 1927, still lives in Pictou County, NS
John Patterson Darroch - DOB 29 Apr ?, died ?
James Henderson Darroch- DOB 12 Dec 1933, Died 03 Oct 2006 (This is my father)

All Children were born in Westville, Pictou County, NS (all born at home).

I also have all the names of the grandchildren and great grandchildren if you are interested. I am going to try to find out more about my great grandfather and where he came from. I would also like to find out all my grandfathers brothers and sisters. I'll just keep trudging till I find what I need.




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