New York Heritage Digital Collection

Photograph of the Pan Am Exposition of 1901 in Buffalo illuminated at night with latest technology for electrical wiring.
Panoramic View of the Pan-Am Exposition of 1901 in Buffalo. NY. Source Wikimedia  (1)

Several members of the Fleming family moved to cities in New York State in the late 1800s. Researching their movements and lives has led us to the trove of the New York Heritage digital collections (https://nyheritage.org/) created by eight members of the Empire State Library Network.

Two cousins – Jean Agnew, daughter of Jessie (Fleming) Agnew, and Margaret Fleming, daughter of James Fleming –  were among the first to enter new nursing programs being started in New York State in the 1880s.

Jean Agnew arrived in Rochester NY to begin her training at the Rochester City General Hospital around 1887. The Rochester City Hospital School of Nursing, the third nursing school in New York State, opened its doors in 1880. Continue reading

The Kilsyth Subdivision

Main corner in the small village of Kilsyth, Georgian Bluffs, Grey County.
Kilsyth, Grey County, ON – Corner of Grey Road 5 and Concession Rd 7. Photo by Gwen Harris 2016

A new subdivision of 33 lots may be in the future for the sleepy town of Kilsyth west of Owen Sound in the Township of Georgian Bluffs (previously  Derby Township). The proposed subdivision of 33 residential lots on  17.09 hectares takes up most of  Lot 9, Concession 7 and some adjacent town lots at the south west corner where Grey Road 5 intersects Concession 7 (known as Mill Road).   This is just “down the road” from several farms the Fleming families once held.

MAP - Airphoto of the area of the proposed Kilsyth subdivision. Source: Grey County Committee Report 8 Nov 2018 regarding Kilsyth Plan of Subdivision (Barry’s Construction) 42T-2018-11
MAP – Airphoto of the area of the proposed Kilsyth subdivision. Source: Grey County Committee Report 8 Nov 2018 regarding Kilsyth Plan of Subdivision (Barry’s Construction) 42T-2018-11

The Proposed Plan for the Kilsyth Subdivision (2018) has much to tell us about the nature of the land the Flemings farmed, the current archaeological interest, the history of Kilsyth, along with enumerating the many compliance requirements concerning water resources, land use, ecology, habitat, and cultural heritage.  It is available from https://www.grey.ca/planning-development/planning-applications – look for Kilsyth on the page.

The “Fisher Archaeological Report” contains the background study and assessment that is of greatest interest for its examination of the history, soil conditions, and archaeology of the area and includes several maps of the area and photos of farmstead and artifacts that were unearthed. Two of these area maps are shown in this blog posting.

Continue reading

Walking Kirrandrum

In June 2018 I had the great pleasure of visiting the Highlands of Scotland to walk the land of the Fleming home of Kirrandrum, the farm outside Ballinluig in Logeirait Parish.  I was guided by Eddie Thomson of Heartland Tours. We found the remains of Alexander’s house, which he built himself, and some of the other buildings, as well as the dry-stone wall Alexander built and which still stands intact. Most of all,  we saw surrounding hills and the Tay valley almost as they were when Roy Fleming and family members visited in 1903, and even as the Fleming family saw them when they left for Canada in May 1843.

A complete account of the visit with photos and video and reference to Roy Fleming’s description of his visit is provided in Walking Kirrandrum June 2018

The map below from Canmore shows the location of Kirrandrum relative to Ballinlluig and to the adjacent Dalnabo.

Ballinluig area showing Kirrandrum and Dalnabo. Source: Canmore - Ordnance Survey 1843-1882.
Ballinluig area showing Kirrandrum and Dalnabo. Source: Canmore – Ordnance Survey 1843-1882.

Visit to Cragganfearn

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Cragganfearn looking east – rock foundations, wall, and sheep in the background (Photo: G Harris)

Where there had once been a village of four families at “Upper Cragganfearn”, only the crumbling walls of a steading and the foundations to a few cottages and farm buildings remain.

Sheep graze in the fields of this quiet place. It was windy on the sunny June afternoon when Eddie Thomson of Heartland Tours led me to the site. Along the small stream, he pointed out the remnant of what might have been a sawmill. Past the gate, we could see a stone building that still stood high on the hill. We made our way uphill on a path and across the fields, nodding to the nearby sheep, to come to marvellous panoramic views of the hills. Continue reading

Laird of Cragganfearn

Cragganfearn, Logierait Parish, Scotland in 2018. Photo by Eddie Thomson
Cragganfearn, Logierait Parish, Scotland in 2018. Photo by Eddie Thomson (https://www.heartlandtours.co.uk/)

Many families have a story from the past that takes on mythic qualities in the retelling. In genealogy, however, it is important to examine the story critically and evaluate the evidence. (1)

The Fleming family’s story has been about the “laird of Cragganfearn”,  the belief that Alexander Fleming’s grandfather had been “laird of Cragganfearn”, an estate of some 260 acres in the central part of the Atholl region of Perthshire. As the story goes, Alexander Fleming’s father, John, met his future wife Janet Ross at Cragganfearn where she was a servant. John’s father, the laird, banned the marriage and disinherited his son when John disobeyed. Very romantic, but how much is true? To be a laird means owning a substantial estate. Did a Fleming own that estate?

Others have wondered. In 2006 there was a heated thread at Rootschat in which three Fleming descendants sought information about the laird. One respondent (not a descendant) with the handle Tickle pointed out that the entire area had been owned by the Duke of Atholl in the 1700s, and that rental records at the Blair Estate in Blair Atholl (north of Logierait and Cragganfearn) would have the answer.

We examine the sources of this story, the information itself, and the evidence from land records and other accounts. We will see that the “lairdship” story began as wishful thinkin and continued thus. Continue reading

Clan Stewart Camp

Flemings-Camp-CSC-cropped

During the 1900s the Fleming family formed a deep and abiding love for the Fishing Islands at Oliphant, on the Lake Huron side of the Bruce Peninsula.  Attracted by the rugged nature of the islands, the abundant fishing, and the beautiful blue waters, they established camps in the very early 1900s on Main Station, Little Squaw, Sunset, Frog, and others.  Clan Stewart Camp on Little Squaw continues as a family gathering place. Roy Fleming, Ruth Larmour’s grandfather, and Roy’s Aunt Jennie bought this parcel of land in 1909 on Indian Channel and built a Victorian cottage.  They named their cottage Clan Stewart Camp after Jennie’s mother, Jean Stewart Fleming. The cottage has been modified a few times since, but its porch is still a favourite place for lounging in the afternoon.

The story of the early Fleming campers, their descendants, and of Clan Stewart Camp is told in “The Fleming Family – Early Oliphant Campers'” published in the Yearbook Edition 2017 of the Bruce County Historical Society.  Ruth Larmour is the narrator  with tales of early cottage life, the changing connections of family with the islands, and her own deep attachment.

Read the full article at  Fleming-Oliphant-Version3a-2017.pdf (in Dropbox)

 

A River Runs Through It

The Flemings ,on arriving in Canada West from Perthshire in June 1843, settled first in Vaughan Township, about twenty miles north of Toronto.  Alexander arranged to lease land from William Richard Grahame who had bought 1200 Acres  in 1833 from the Canada Company along the east branch of the Humber between Pinegrove and Kleinburg.  Under the agreement, Alexander was  to clear fifty acres in Concession 7 in an area straddling lots 17 and 18, pay Grahame $ 5 an acre, and retain rest of proceeds from their produce. Over the next six years they built a shelter, erected a barn, raised livestock, cleared the acres, and grew crops. Through hard work and determination, they were able to buy their own 200 acres in the newly surveyed Derby Township and move there in 1850.

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Section of Vaughan Township – adapted from 1878 York County  Atlas

The story of their years in Vaughan  is part of family legend.  Roy, Alexander’s grandson, made more than one trip to the area in the 1930s to try to locate the exact area of the farm.  His aunt Jennie recalled some landmarks but finding the farm eluded them.  In October 2016 three descendants and I tried: Ruth Larmour, Roy’s granddaughter, Janet McNally, descendant of James Fleming, and Carol Danard, descendent of Isabella Fleming Finch.

We knew that Lots 17 and 18 would be roughly half way north from Rutherford Road to Major Mackenzie Drive, and that the farm should be east of the East Humber River and just west of Islington Avenue.   The William Granger Greenway passes through this area of the flood plain of the East Humber.

Our clues were: Continue reading