Monday, November 1, 2010

Mappy Monday – Scotland and Madrid, Iowa

I spent Halloween with Thomas Conner. I woke up in the morning and just decided that he was the man I wanted to spend my day with. He’s not my husband or brother. He’s my 3rd great grandfather.

I’d spent a lot of time studying his son William Mason, but not so much on him. In fact, he was a name and dates to me. Meant nothing other than that I was slightly irritated at him for not giving me easy records to find and really irritated at his wife for dying before the census even came out in 1880. Like RIGHT before.

But I decided to start from scratch. The first thing I found from him is the IGI from Family Search. I have written down the info to go and look through them at the Family History Center again. When I looked through them before, I was really poor and couldn’t afford to photocopy them and after looking, decided that I didn’t need them. I should have sold something or just had Ramen for dinner…

ANYWAY, so when I pull up the IGI with his name and the year of his marriage to re-find that, there are two records on the same day for Thomas Conner, 4 Oct 1861. One marries Janet Mason (the woman that I know as my great great grandmother) and one marries V. Jane Fisher. Both on the same day and both in Lanarkshire, Scotland. Coincidence? Maybe, but I’m checking both out this time around. Even if I have to have Ramen for dinner.

Also in the IGI, I found some children born of Thomas and Janet in Scotland:
William born 10 Nov 1861 in Barony (doesn’t show up with the family again and they have another son named William 11 years later)
Thomas born 5 Jan 1865 in Carluke
Jane Humes born 14 Jan 1866 in Carluke
Elizabeth born 13 Feb 1868 in Airth
John born 26 Dec 1869 in Falkirk (note that this one had Jesse Mason as mom’s name and I only found him after looking at the 1880 Federal census and seeing a John listed and specifically looking for him- how many others could there be that didn’t live with them in 1880?)
William Mason born 29 Jan 1872 in Carluke

At this point, Thomas is still just a name and some dates to me. The most noticeable interest thing so far is that of his 6 children, three were born in January.

I also realized the I didn’t know where Barony, Carluke, Airth, or Falkirk were. So I Google Earthed them:

After much Googling I found that Glasgow ate up Barony, but for the most part, I was able to map all. And I see that they stayed in the relatively same area of Scotland. What is this area? Knowing that in America they were coal miners, that jumped out at me on the pages of Googling “History of Lanarkshire.” I have a number of things to look into in that regard in Scotland.

But now I moved to Thomas in America. I don’t know when he came. I know that great, great grandpa said he came when he was 6 months old, so that would put it in 1871 ish. But is that for sure? No. How would great, great grandpa remember? So I don’t know. The census said that he came in 1855. Did he go back to have children? No clue. Will get to that another Halloween.

My first find of him after having children in Scotland in 1872 is in the 1880 Federal Census. It is here that I’ve looked over and over again since the beginging of my genealogical time. My very first look into genealogy and my dad gave me a packet with the 1880 census for them in it. I have it bookmarked and saved in several spots. But I never SAW it. I never FELT it. I missed stuff that could mean a lot. This time, I read BETWEEN the columns.

In 1880, Thomas was in Cass, Iowa (Wapello County). He was a 38 year-old coal miner that couldn’t read or write and has been out of work for 5 months of the year. He was widowed with seven children living with him. The oldest was a 15 year old boy and the youngest a three year old girl. A coal miner, who couldn’t read or write, newly widowed, out of work for 5 months of the year, with lots of children. How must he have felt when that census taker was wrting down that information? I now have a picture of him standing at that door with little three year old Martha nagging at him and five year old Jennett getting into things in the background. He maybe answered the questions with tiredness. “No, I can’t read or write. My wife passed away this year. I work in the coal mines, but haven’t worked much this year.” How did he cope? What difficult times.

I believe I found him in the 1900 census with a new wife and all the children gone. I’m not yet sure that is him, but I have decided that I want it to be and I want that Esther to have loved him and taken good care of him and his children. I found him with his daughter and her coal mining husband in 1920 as a widow. On Google Earth, I found the house in Madrid, Iowa where he lived with Martha and David Rees.

So even though I didn’t get much new information, I now have a different feeling for Thomas than I had before. Before he was a name and a date; now he is my grandpa.


  1. This was such a great post because you added your thoughts about how Thomas might have felt as a widowed, out-of-work coalminer with children to feed. What hard lives some of our ancestors led.

    In your intro at geneabloggers you mentioned having enough ancestors that if you get bored you can switch to a different one. In my case, I sometimes switch because I can't find more on a particular ancestor. Often when I come back later I find something that I couldn't find before.

    Welcome to the world of blogging your family history.
    Nancy from My Ancestors and Me at

  2. The time you spent with Thomas seems to have been very productive :-) Re John's mother's name being noted as Jesse - "Jessie" is a very common nickname for Janet in Scotland, like Jean/Jane and Nelly/Helen.