Monday, February 29, 2016

Finlay McDonald & Eliza Anderson

Photograph shows baby Florence Pelton with her mother Janet McDonald, wife of Lionel James Pelton. 

Florence was born in Ontario, great, great, great granddaughter of Finlay and Elizabeth.  She writes:

Let me tell you about Finlay (Philip) McDonald and his wife, Elizaberth Anderson.  The Old Parish Records for Lairg indicate that Finlay, son of Angus McDonald and Ann Ross, was born 9 November 1774, at Auldersbreach (there are various spellings). He was baptised at Aulderbreck later moving to Breac-Leathaid, (another croft, about 5 miles north of the town of Lairg., about a mile east of Dalchork and about a mile to the south of Loch Beannach (Ordance survey grid ref NC 592102 ) and east of the River Shin.

We have been unable to determine who Elizabeth Anderson was. There was an Elizabeth Anderson b 17 Feb 1771, daughter of James Anderson & Janet Kirkwood of Old Kilpatrick, Dunbarton, Scotland. Was she the wife of Finlay McDonald, we have no way of knowing, but the naming pattern and the dates fit. We believe that Finlay was a shepherd for the Duke of Sutherland and possibly at the large farm at Shinness, part of the Sutherland Estate.

News from kin (in Canada) in letters home must have been good, as by 1830, Eliza and Finlay and 5 children set sail for the wilderrness district of Zorra (Ontario) in Canada. Prior to leaving for their new home, Finlay, Eliza and family were at Achtomlinie (Lairg) where a brother, William McDonald and his wife, Lily and family were then living. Finlay and Eliza left Scotland by sailing ship, possibly embarking from a seaport in northern Sutherland or Caithness, sailing around the top of Scotland and toward their port of entry in the Province of Quebec. What a journey that must have been, having cut off all ties with the life they had known, and setting out for a far-away land. Firstly, the long and dangerous sea voyage, then sighting land and going past Nova Scotia, where their only kin in Canada were living, sailing up the St. Lawrence River for an interminable period of time and landing at Montreal with still almost a thousand miles from their destination. It is believed that they knew where they were going and so transferred themselves and their belongings to open Durham Boats for the trip through the rapids of the St. Lawrence River and on toward Kingston, Ontario. There they would have boarded a sailing vessel that would take them to, perhaps, Burlington, Ontario. From there, they would have walked the planked Governor’s Road to the village of Thamesford, Ontario, thence northward from the Thames River in the township of Nissouri. Or, perhaps. they could have purchased an oxen and cart to help carry their worldly goods, but arrive they did at their chosen land and immediately Finlay wrote a letter to the Provincial Government - said letter is on file at the Provincial Archives in Toronto.

"Nissouri, Zorra
18 January 1831
As I am an Emigrant, newly from Scotland, unacquainted with the Rules and Regulations of this country, I put up a shanty, a few days ago, upon the 12 Lot in the 14 Conception, Ni Zorra, which is Clergy lot. I am willing to comply with all the Rules and Regulations as the Bearer will inform you of.
I am your most obedient servant
Finlay McDonald
To: Mr. Robinson, Clergy Office, York". (Note: his penmanship was quite beautiful)

Their land was a Clergy Reserve of 114 acres. And fine land, it was, too, with the Silver Creek winding it’s way to the Thames River. Although covered with bush, the land was excellent and is still today a prosperous and well maintained property. The huge task of clearing the land began at once, and a log cabin was built replacing the shanty, then a home replaced the log cabin. Finally, a second section was added to the house, which stands today. 

Finlay, had beautiful auburn hair, which he wore long, and each night after the day’s work was done, Eliza would brush his hair and braid it into a pony tail, When James married and brought his wife to the farm to live, Eliza said that she would like a small house for herself, to be built on the west side of their property. The stones of the foundation can be seen today.

It is not known where Finland and Eliza are buried, but it is thought that they are both buried in a favourite spot, by the flowing water at the west side of their farm. There are no makers to indicate a grave. This is strange, as before their deaths, a small cemetery was opened about a mile south of their property, The Town Line Cemetery. Their names are not listed as being buried in the cemetery. Finlay baptised 9 November 1774 died on or about 12 August 1843 in East Nissouri Township in Oxford County, Ontario. Eliza, born circa 1771, died before census taking in 1861.

Finlay and Eliza had 7 children born to them in Scotland at Breaklead and/or Dalnessie.
ANN born 1803, married the boy next door, Archibald McCaul
ROBERT born 1805 - emigrated to Nova Scotia in 1825 where he was enjoying a new and prosperous life
ANGUS born 1806, elected to stay in Scotland and marry his sweetheart, Margaret McColl. Some 20 years later they emigrated to Australia.
JAMES born 1809, died 1885, who married Jennet MacKay from Clunal, Lairg, Sutherland
WILLIAM, born 1811, married Elisabeth McNaughton and lived near Stratford, Ontario
HUGH born 1816, died 1866, married Catherine McDonald and lived nearby
JANET born 1817, died 1876, married Donald McArthur and lived in the Township of East Nissouri in Oxford County.
There were 62 grandchildren.
The descendants of Flnlay and Eliza spread throughout the world: to Australia, to New Zealand, to Maritimes of Canada, as well as to the United States as well as other parts of the world.
They prospered in the main, and added greatly to the population and economy of the New World.
from Florence Pelton Patterson, Ontario.