Monthly Archives: November 2014

Letter from James Ritchie – 10 Jun 1868

This charming letter comes to me from my cousin Catherine Duff.  Although it’s only a partial letter, and as a result the closing is missing, there is enough evidence to conclude it was written by James Ritchie of Perth, Scotland to his first cousin Margaret “Peggy” Duff at Braco, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

Margaret and her sister Isabella had spent three years in Scotland between 1862 and 1865, and had grown very close with their older cousin James.  He wrote in his diary about bringing them to the seaport for their trip back home from Scotland in 1865.  At the time of this letter, Margaret was 15 years old, her sister Annie Duff (my great-great-grandmother) was 21, and their sister Isabella [mentioned in the letter obliquely] was 14.  James was 46.

This letter is so full of love and dry humor, it very much makes me want to locate more correspondence from James.

Pages 1 & 4

Pages 1 & 4

Pages 2 and 3

Pages 2 and 3

[Click on images to enlarge or download.  Transcription follows.]

Perth, 10 June 1868

My dear Peggy –

You don’t mean to say that you haven’t heard from me since the 18th July 1867. That’s a very alarming statement and must surely arise from a great hallucination on your part my good old woman. I’m afraid your memory is failing, poor dear old philosopher. But as Annie also says I am in the black books at Braco, Lunenburg N.S. [Nova Scotia] – and as the venerable flibbertigibbet [Isabella Duff] has a growl at me too, by the mail last arrived, I am getting rather alarmed – and as I wouldn’t, for the life of me, have three very nice, fascinating blue noses – no, I mean – extremely pleasant

[A “blue nose” either means “a priggish or puritanical person” or “a person from Nova Scotia”.]


young ladies, converted into dangerous foes – I beg very humbly to throw up the sponge [throw in the towel] as the sporting men say – and to cry culpa mea, culpa mea, as another sort of people say, that the F.C. minister of Lunenburg will tell you about if you ask him civilly – and now having got over the preface to my epistle, I hope you are better and quite well again. In your last letter to Aunt Mag. [likely Margaret Duff, sister of Rev. William Duff and aunt to James Ritchie] you say that you had been ill and in bed. But I trust you are quite “straight” again, as you Yankee folks say. Now I wouldn’t adopt Yankeeisms if I was a splendiferous,


steady-going, sensible gal like you. I wouldn’t do it “nohow” I wouldn’t. For example, I wouldn’t say “quite” fine weather now. “Quite” a nice young man, or “quite” a horrid little girl. “Quite” a good “time”, or “quite” a bad “time”. Keep out all the “quites” and try another word for “time”. Then don’t say – so and so is “still home” – when you mean still “at” home. Or I’m going down “to” home, when you mean that you’re simply going home. But that’s all the lesson I can propose giving you today. I hope by the way Kate [likely Isabella Catherine Duff, Margaret’s sister] and you haven’t forgotten the Greek alphabet. But one word more – take more care of your spelling and never send away a letter you write without reading it carefully


over again, to see that the spelling is all right, and to make sure that you haven’t put down a “was” instead of a “were” or a “has” instead of a “have” – and also in order to put in stops and commas where they ought to be. And these little precautions tell Kate to attend to as well. I don’t give you any message of this kind to Annie though. She’s so awfully advanced a young lady that I am half afraid of her now. But we’ll perhaps catch her napping some fine morning too. Just wait a little.

We have had a splendid season here so far as this year has gone. A fine open, blowy, winter with little rain, and less frost or snow – and the weather is now beautiful, and the crops all promise to be

Burlington Vermont Foursome

Another photo I bought online because it’s from a town where my family lived:  Burlington, Vermont.  To my surprise, when I opened the package the photo had the names of all four people on the back.

[Click on photo to enlarge or download.]

Freida Andrews, Elmer Dewey, May Crandall, Orville Bosworth c1889

Freda Andrews, Elmer Dewey, May Crandall, & Orville Bosworth c1889

The photo, taken at the Atwood Studio in Burlington, Vermont about 1889, shows four young people, May F Crandall (upper left), Orville Dustin Bosworth (upper right), Freda Edora Belle Andrews (lower left), and Elmer Caroll Dewey (lower right).  From what I can tell, all of them were living in the town of Berlin, Vermont (41 miles from Burlington) about the time this photo was taken, so they may have been schoolmates or friends.  You can see that Freda is wearing a rather elegant dress, and May is posing a bit like she’s on the cover of Vogue.   That’s what caught my eye about this photo.

I’ve been able to put together some information on the four of them, although I haven’t looked into it extensively at all.  There are a couple connections I’ve been able to find besides all living in Berlin, Vermont.  Freda’s sister Grace Lillian Andrews married May Crandall’s brother Charles T. Crandall.  Freda got married in Malden, Massachusetts and May moved to Arlington, Massachusetts about 20 miles away.  Both Elmer and Orville moved to Whittier, California where Elmer was a citrus rancher and Orville was a carpenter.

Here is the information about them I’ve been able to put together so far.

Freda Edora Belle Andrews
b 23 Jun 1868 Berlin, Vermont
f Edmund E Andrews b 1823, Vermont
m Lucy Ann Benjamin b 1830 Vermont
oo James F Madden 24 Oct 1894 Malden, Massachusetts
1870 Census for Berlin, Vermont
1880 Census for Berlin, Vermont
1900 Census for Little Falls, New Jersey
1910 Census for Little Falls, New Jersey
1920 Census for Ridgewood, New Jersey
1930 Census for Ridgewood, New Jersey
1953 City Directory for Andover, Massachusetts

Frieda’s sister Grace Lillian Andrews married Charles T Crandall (brother of May).

Freda Andrews Passport Photo, 1922

Freda Andrews Passport Photo, 1922

Elmer Carroll Dewey
b 24 Sept 1866 Berlin, Vermont
f Charles Freeman Dewey
m Julia Elma Jameson
oo Alice Bertha Covill 13 Aug 1896 Vermont
1870 Census Berlin, Vermont
1880 Census Berlin, Vermont
1900 Census Berlin, Vermont
1920 Census Whittier, California [Listed as a citrus rancher]
1930 Census Whiiter, California
1940 Census Whittier, California
d 27 May 1954 Whittier, Los Angeles, California

Marion Florence “May” Crandall
b 1 Oct 1873 Duxbury, Vermont
f George Henry Crandall, b 1836
m Adeline Almira “Addie” Turner b 1833
oo Bert Seldon Currier 25 Dec 1893 Vermont
1880 Census Berlin, Vermont
1900 Census Boston, Massachusetts
1920 Census Arlington, Massachusetts
1930 Census Arlington, Massachusetts
d 9 Mar 1949 in Florida

Orville Dustin Bosworth
b 9 May 1871 Berlin, Vermont
f Joseph L Bosworth
m Harriet E Dustin
oo Cynthia Ethyl Benedict 16 Jan 1895 Vermont
1880 Census Berlin, Vermont
1900 Census Williamstown, Vermont
1920 Census Whittier, California [House Carpenter]
1930 Census Whittier, California
1940 Census Whittier California
d 5 Nov 1952, Los Angeles County, California


Duff & Forrest Family Photo – c1882

An absolutely priceless photo recovered through some computer wizardry today, courtesy of my cousin Catherine Duff.  The photo was taken at Braco, the Duff Family home in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia about 1882.

[Click to enlarge or download.]

Duff & Forrest Family at Braco, 1882

Duff & Forrest Family at Braco, 1882

Duff & Forrest Family 1882 (detail)

Duff & Forrest Family 1882 (detail)

My 3x great-grandfather Reverend William Duff is in the doorway.  He was 74 years old at the time.

Identified in the front row, left to right, are my great-great-grandfather John Forrest (1842-1920), his wife Annie Prescott Duff (1847-1930), their son George Forrest (1878-1958), his brother Archie Forrest (1875-1946), Rev. Duff’s daughter Maggie Duff (1853-1939), William Forrest (1873-1939) who was also a son of John Forrest and Annie Duff, and two women who are not positively identified.

Annie Fairbanks (1822-1899), who was Rev. Duff’s sister-in-law is identified as being one of the women in the photo.  She moved in with the family when her sister died in 1856 and stayed there until her death.  She would have been 60 in 1882.

I know from two other photos that Maggie Duff and her sister Bella were like two peas in a pod, and I feel like the woman standing next to Rev. Duff looks very much like the woman seated with the hat, so I tend to think that the standing woman is Bella Duff, the younger of the two.

My cousin Catherine and I feel that the older woman is probably Annie Fairbanks, and the woman seated to the left of her might be one of John Forrests sisters, either Helen or Isabella.  Helen would have been 42 and Isabella would have been 50 years old in 1882.  Since the woman doesn’t look much older than my great-great-grandmother Annie Duff (who was 35), I’m guessing it’s more likely Helen.  The photo I have of Helen does bear a strong resemblance to the woman in question.

There is another woman living with the Duff family in the 1881 census (taken almost this same time).  Her name was Emma Gow, a 75 year old widow from Scotland.  There’s some possibility that the older of the two women seated at the right is Emma Gow, but it seems less likely than one of the scenarios above.

Family of Charlotte Nicoll (1766-1846)

Charlotte Nicoll was my 4x great-grandmother and wife of William Duff Sr.  I knew from her gravestone in the Kirkstyle Cemetery in Perthshire, Scotland that she had been born 20 Sept 1766 and had died at Berryhill, the Duff Family Farm, on 15 May 1846.

Gravestone of William Duff, Charlotte Nicoll, & James Duff

Gravestone of William Duff, Charlotte Nicoll, & James Duff

Today, while doing some web searching, I came across a mention of  “Robert Nicoll’s Monument”, which is very near Berryhill (literally just a walk across a field).  The name obviously caught my attention given the nearness to the Duff family property.  You can see the proximity of the monument to Berryhill in this map:

Berryhill & Tullybelton Map

Berryhill & Tullybelton Map

This is a photo of the monument itself:

Robert Nicoll's Monument, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Robert Nicoll’s Monument, Lanarkshire, Scotland

It’s a 50-foot high stone obelisk that’s to honor Robert Nicoll (1814-1837), who was a poet who grew up on the farm called Tulliebelton (also spelled “Tullybelton”), just down the road from Berryhill.  Given his age and name, I thought there was a very good chance that Robert was a nephew or cousin of my grandmother Charlotte Nicoll.  We know Charlotte’s father was named Robert Nicoll and that she had a sister named Margaret who married Robert Duff (her husband’s brother).  This rather lengthy bio of the poet is very good:

There is also an article about the monument itself here.

I decided to do some looking into the Tulliebelton Nicoll family and found some great results.
From what I have found so far, Robert Nicoll and his wife Jean Chalmers at Tulliebelton had the following children at Tulliebelton:

Elizabeth Nicoll (b 20 May 1768)
Helen Nicoll (b 28 Jan 1770)
James Nicoll (b 2 Feb 1772)
Kathrine Nicoll (b 30 Jan 1773)
Jean Nicoll (b 12 Jan 1777)
Margaret Nicoll (b 1782)

and the big discovery was the attached record for my grandmother Charlotte Nicoll, who was born 20 Sept 1766 at Tulliebelton!

Charlotte Nicoll Birth, 1766

Charlotte Nicoll Birth, 1766

It reads:

20 Sept 1766. To Robert Nicol, miln of Tullibelton (sic), a daughter Charlott (sic).

So we now know that the Charlotte Nicoll lived, literally, on the next farm over from Berryhill, and that she was almost certainly related to the poet.  I’m not sure exactly how yet, but it seems likely he was her nephew.  The birth record for Robert is attached (you can see two children for Robert Duff and Margaret Nicoll are listed there also).

Robert Nicoll Birth, 1814

Robert Nicoll Birth, 1814


The poet Robert Nicoll’s parents were Robert Nicoll and Grace Fenwick, also of Tulliebelton.  I’m guessing there was another boy, Robert, born to Robert and Jean above who is the missing link.  The poet’s father seems to have been born about 1774, so he was perhaps born between Katherine and Jean Nicoll listed above.  Robert and Grace had a son named “Charles Duff Nicoll”, so one can see that the two families were close.

This book of Robert’s poetry contains an interesting tidbit of Nicoll family history:

“[The poet] Robert Nicoll was born on the 7th January 1814 in the farm-house of Little Tulliebeltane, in the parish of Auchtergaven, in Perthshire, which lies nearly half-way between Perth and Dunkeld.  His father, Mr. Robert Nicoll, was at that period a farmer in comfortable circumstances for his station and locality; his mother was Grace Fenwick one of the daughters of that venerable Seceder, “Elder John”, of whom Nicoll speaks so frequently and affectionately in his poems.  Robert [the poet] was the seond son in a family of nine children.  His elder brother died in childhood, and Robert thus became the “eldest son.”  Both the families from which [Robert the poet] immediately sprung had been settled for generations in the same neighborhood, and counted a long pedigree of the kind that is still the proudest boast of rural Scotland, decent, honest, God-fearing people.  By the recollection of his mother [Grace], Robert, when nine months old, could speak as infants speak; at eighteen months he knew his letters; and when five years old he could read the New Testament.  His mother had up to this time, had leisure to be the teacher of her intelligent and lively child: but now, woeful reverse was impending over the family.  Mr. Nicoll [the father] had become security to the amount of five or six hudnred pounds, for a connection by marriage, who failed and absconded; and the utter ruin of his own family was the almost immediate consequence.  He gave up his entire property to satisfy the crditors of this individual; he lost even the lease of his farm, and, with his wife and several young children, left the farm-house and became a day laborer on the fields he had lately rented; with nothing to sustain his wife and himself save the consciousness of unblemished and unblamed integrity.  [The poet] Robert Nicoll was thus, from the date of his earliest recollection, the son of a very poor man, the inmate of a lowly home, the eldest of a struggling family.  Field labor was the daily lot of his father, and at certain seasons of the year, of his mother also, as far as was compatible with the care of her young and increasing family; and the children as soon as they were condidered fit for labor, were one by one, set to work.”

Berryhill Estate Document 1815

This interesting document was sent to me by my cousin Noeline who obtained it from Norman Pannell of Christchurch, NZ. in 1988.  It’s some kind of property assessment taken on the Duff Family farm of Berryhill (also spelled “Berriehill”) which was part of the larger estate called “Tullybeagles” in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

In the document “Berry Hill Lodge” is said to comprise 1,456 acres, most of which was pasture land.  The land is described as follows: “The arable land of this farm is in fair good order – The field very poor sheep ?? – much of it is a proper subject for planting.”  The farmhouse is described as “A very good house, slated, two stories high” and the barn is also described as slated.  The stabling builds were “all old huts.”, and the out-offices were described as “Ruinous.  The offices ought to be nearly all renewed using wood from the Hill to the Lodge.  Work could be of great use to the property.”.

The roads at Berry Hill were said to be “Very bad.  The place is hardly accessible.”

The section on proposed alterations recommends: “Add a part of Glachal at south corner of park and the sheep land of Gibeston 66.462 ought to be added and this is proposed because the greater quantity of sheep lands together the better chance there is for the tenant to do well with it.”

[Click on image to enlarge or download.  Transcription follows.]

Berryhill Estate Document 1815

Berryhill Estate Document 1815

Also mentioned on the same document is the land for Charles Duff Sr., which is called “Milton and Roickston”, which seems to have comprised some 165 acres.  This Charles is likely the son of William Sr.  Charles took over BerryHill on his father’s death in 1836.

Berryhill Farm Rent Payments (1732-1777)

Berryhill Farm (also spelled “Berriehill”) was the Duff Family farm in Auchtergaven Parish, Perthshire, Scotland.  The farm was said by James Ritchie to have been in the Duff family since a least 1688, probably earlier.  My cousin Noeline has sent me some related documents which were sent to her by by Norman Pannell of Christchurch, NZ. in 1988.  One of these xeroxed documents is a listing of rent payments made on “Berriehill” by John Duff (my 7x great-grandfather) and his son Charles (my 6x great-grandfather).   The payments go from 1732 through 1741.  Charles’s son James Duff Sr., my 5x-great-grandfather, was the oldest Duff for whom I had documentation until receiving this document.

[Click on image to enlarge or download.  Transcription follows.]

Berryhill Rent Payments 1732-1741

Berryhill Rent Payments 1732-1741

John & Charles Duff’s a Quarter 36:-:- [36 pounds, 0 shillings, 0 pennies]

June 13th 1732
Recved from Charles & John Duff twenty nine pound six sh[illings] 8 penn[ies] with which so merchs to be allowed him at Lambas pays this year’s Crop 29:6:8

Jan 1st 1733
Then received allowance of half a year’s Amt of a Board due to Jo[hn] Duff from his son Charles which Boand is now returned & bill given to Jo. Doddicfer Mat value by Iran Faction against them so I allow him my half year amt 3:6:-8

June 23rd 1733
Then received from Charles Duff, sone of Jo[hn] Duff thirty two pound thirteen shilling & four pennies which with an year amt of the two hundred Merchs not for mony allowed him in my book pasy his rent for 1732 & 1733.  32:13:-4   6:13:-4


Nov 9th 1734
Then receved from Charles Duff in Berriehill this Crop ?? thirty four 36:00:00

Jul 20th 1735
Then recved from Charles Duff by Wil. Stewart who gave recept for it 18:00:00

Jan 16th 1736
Then receved from Charles Duff which with a ?? received from him at Nai?? 22nd of Sep: ?735 compleats his rent for 1738  5:08:06   12:12:00


Aug 14th 1735
Then receved from Charles Duff in Berriehill in part of 1736. 24:0:0

Feb ?? 1736
Then receved an ?? from Ch. Duff in ? pays 1736.  12:0:0

Aug 4th 1837
Then receved from Charles Duff his rent for 1737 36:0:0

Jun 30th 1737
Then receved from Ch Duff which pays last crops for rem due & of this crop.  12:0:0

Aug 6th 1738
Receved from Charles Duff by my wife 12 [pounds].

Mar 30th 1739
Receved from Charles Duff three pound which pays all 28 but nine pound ?? shilling scot

Nov 30th 1739
Then taken up a resept of Wil. Reids for 12 [pounds]: 12 and in cash four pound twelve which pays 1739.

Aug 30th 1740
Then receved from Charles Duff 12 pounds 12 of 1740.

Nov 3rd 1741
Then accounted with Charles Duff who owes of 1741 7 [pounds], 3:4.

This document is a rental document for Berryhill in 1777.  You can see Charles Duff’s son James was the proprietor of the farm at that point.  Also mentioned on the same document is Bellstown farm which would later be run by Robert Duff, and Miln of Tulliebelton, which was the farm where the Nicoll family lived.

Berryhill Farm Rental, 1777

Berryhill Farm Rental, 1777

Ebbe Hanson Family – 1905

This is another antique store photo I rescued recently from an establishment in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  This family is not related to me, but there was enough information on the picture that I could identify the people in it.  So I present to you the family of Ebbe Hanson, taken about 1905.  The back of the photograph says “Hanson Family.  Back Row: Clarence (behind his mother), Amelia, William.  Front row: Agnes or Aggie between parents.”

Ebbe Hanson Family, 1905

Ebbe Hanson Family, 1905

Here’s what I’ve been able to find out about this family:

Ebbe Hanson
b Sept 1859 Denmark
d 15 Jun 1950 Wisconsin
f Hans Hanson
m Mary Hanson
oo 16 Apr 1884 Brandon, Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin
Agathe Marie “Mary” Kristevisen b Apr 1858 Denmark

William Hanson b Aug 1884 Wisconsin
Amelia Hanson b Sept 1886 Wisconsin
Clarence Hanson b Oct 1891 Wisconsin
oo Ruth b 1893 Iowa
Agnes “Aggie” Hanson 1902 Wisconsin

Immigration 1882

Markesan, Green Lake, Wisconsin 1900 Census
Stanton, St. Croix, Wisconsin 1905 Census
Stanton, St. Croix, Wisconsin 1910 Census
Stanton, St. Croix, Wisconsin 1920 Census

Clarence & Ruth in 1930 Census for Stanton, St. Croix, Wisconsin