Alexander Ancestry; the Great Wall of Margaret

Here are the four generations behind Margaret Naysmith Hemmingsen, born Alexander (1891-1979). She was our Granny. We begin with Alexander kin in 1760s Ireland, whose children migrated to Scotland, then intermingled with Scottish, to end up in Canada.

Granny’s generation was not completed until her mother’s last-born came. That was two months in front of Canada Census 1911. As chance would have it, Granny’s first-born made the census cut too, by three months. This chapter captures the death of her mother, in 1931. She was Margaret Donaldson Mitchell (Alexander), born Baxter in Scotland, a marvelous woman who withstood much tragedy and closed out the first generation behind Granny.

Generational passages are seen in these two pictures of first-born children. Photo left: Granny is on the knee of her mother in 1891, with her father standing. Granny’s first is on the knee of her father in 1911, with Granny standing. All females here were named Margaret. These pictures were taken from Dad’s unpublished work of 1999.1 

We will see Irish Alexander weave Scottish Taylor, Naysmith and Baxter into our cloth. We will hear surnames that became middle names, such as Gillies and Donaldson. We will feel the series of disaster known to our great grandmother, Margaret. 


RELEVANT IN THEIR TIME: Political revolution seethed and was executed. Adam Smith published the Wealth of Nations in 1776, as the Industrial Revolution unfolded. Their 1760-1820 neatly fit the reign of the Protestant Hanoverian King George III. The period began fifteen years after the slaughter of Jacobites on Scotland’s Cullodon moor. The Pretender, Catholic James Stewart, died in 1766, and Bonnie Prince Charles, in 1788. Bereaved were still smarting. In the meantime, Captain James Cook was at sea everywhere and, in 1778, he met Chief Maquinna off Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island. It was not yet part of British Columbia.  


Granny was an Alexander. We thought of her as Scottish, first generation Canadian, but the name traced to Donegal, Ireland, in the latter-half of the 18th Century. Two unions that had been blessed long ago in Ireland, were disclosed in Scotland’s death records of their children:

  • Cairns Alexander to Matilda Carnachan 
  • Peter Devine to Margaret McLintock 

Early Scotland’s censuses were also good to us. They usually reported only country of origin for foreign born. However, a corrupt spelling of Taughboyne crept in, to provide us with a starting point.  The “Ireland Tithe Applotment Book for 1826” showed the families resided in Carrickmore and Dromone Townlands of Taughboyne Parish, County Donegal, Province of Ulster, Ireland.2 

The Alexander family was engaged in flax production and was listed among the  Flax Growers of Ireland, 1796 Donegal. 3  Update Dec, 12, 2019: per Ireland Reaching Out blog, the Flax Grower list was part of a government program to encourage the linen trade. For example, listees had access to free spinning looms. 

Alexander was a Protestant name in this area of Donegal, while most Devine were Roman Catholic. Once in Scotland, the family registered their life events as Protestants. 

So, we hail from the southeast area of County Donegal, in the northwest Province of Ulster, Ireland!  A wee bit Irish, we are.  


With Alexander and Devine rather falling into our lap, it occurred to level up her Scottish-ness. Searchable censuses are available in Scotland from 1841 forward. Statutory Birth Marriage and Death Registration (BMD) became mandatory in 1855. It can be tricky to accurately reach back before that time, partly because Old Parish Records were not as detailed or consistent as the later government requirement. Worse, since non-mandatory, many life events went unrecorded or not preserved,

No story here, except to say, these ancestors were of Protestant west central Scotland for as far back as we can see. Like our Irish above, these Scots would likely have been born within the decade or two forward of 1760. Here then, are names, dates and places of our great-great people hobbled together from census and BMD data. The names in yellow are children who would become parents, as seen in the slide for Census 1841, coming up.

greennewCairns Alexander/Matilda Carnachan and Peter Devine/Margaret McLintock. Robert Taylor/Margaret Watson and Alexander McLucky/Margaret Walker. Andrew Baxter/Jean Thomson and Matthew Donaldson/Catherine Main. William Nasmith/Violet Archibald and Alexander Gillies/Elizabeth Brodie.


RELEVANT IN THEIR TIME: A ten-year reign of George IV was followed by that of Queen Victoria, beginning 1837. Napoleon conquered, was defeated and exiled. The long potato famine beginning 1845 staggered Ireland and was felt harshly elsewhere. Irish spilled into Scotland, many into mining, one cause of low wages. The bustling cotton weaving industry of Lanarkshire, especially Glasgow, was decimated mid-1860s as the US Civil War resulted in loss of raw product. Road and rail crossed Scotland, prompting miners to move about in response to done vs new mines. Industry was in trouble, so, Scots were emigrating.


THOMAS ALEXANDER (1798-1864) and ISABELLA DEVINE (1801-1868)

Thomas and Isabella began their journey in Ireland, then emigrated to Scotland between 1834 and 1841.No Scotland-born children were found for them. Five children accompanied them from Ireland, including Samuel, born around 1830. In honor of this Alexander ancestry, the name Samuel lovingly spilled into our latest generation, almost 180 years later. 

The legends of Granny’s girlhood would be of these Irish, as well, her Scottish Great Grandparents. They would be dinner table and front porch rocking-chair talk.

Census 1841

Scotland Census 1841 captured the newly immigrated family of Thomas Alexander. He was now a coal miner in Cathcart Renfrewshire, in the greater Glasgow area of west central Scotland.2 

This census set the table for the development of Granny’s heritage in Scotland. Her story will be told through these decennial events with paternal and maternal data laid side by side.  Parents and their offspring who would later wed to form Granny’s line, are shown in yellow.  Click CENSUS SLIDES  for an ENLARGEABLE uninterrupted display so one can visually appreciate changes, decade by decade. Note: DOB and other data on the slides are true to census output.

LEGEND:  DOB=date of birth. POB=place of birth. RFS=Renfrewshire LKS=Lanarkshire. WLN=West Lothian. STL=Stirlingshire.  ELN=East Lothian. AYR=Ayrshire. MLN=Midlothian. RD=Registration District. ED=Enumeration District. MS=maiden surname


The players were separated by geography in 1841, although their job profiles were similar. Taylor men were coal-pit engine fitters. Like the Alexanders had become, Baxter and Naysmith men were miners.  Surnames Carnachan, Devine, McLintock and McLuckie retired in our line here, but seem to have been memorialized by Alexander and Taylor siblings. We held onto Donaldson and Gillies. 


Family relationships were not given in Census 1841 such that listed children may be other than sons or daughters.  Again, the slides show what the census said. The next objective was to provide data true to a birth record at the National Records of Scotland, which are searchable at ScotlandsPeople (SP). An “E” for estimate indicates a proof record was not found. There may have been additional children who were born and died between censuses.

JOHN TAYLOR (1796-1859E) and MARGARET MCLUCKIE (1795E-1874)

Second sentence updated Dec. 17, 2019; see note 11. John and Margaret were her oldest pair of great grandparents. They wed in the parish of Larbert, in 1815, spending their married life there, and in Govan LKS. They may have had a dozen children.  Births for nine were confirmed at SP:  Isobel 1816, Robert 1818, Jean 1823, Elizabeth 1827, Ann 1830, Catherine 1832, Agnes 1834, born in Larbert STL, and Janet and Mary, in Glasgow. Their census 1841 also enumerated Alexander 1821E, James 1826E, and John 1830E.2

In the time frame of interest, the Taylor family resided in Govan.  So did their neighbors, the Alexanders, once they left Cathcart.  Govan is now part of south west Glasgow, on River Clyde. Thanks to Random Scottish THIS painting by A Donaldson is what it looked like then. [Use: abide by the site’s intellectual property statements]

Margaret McLuckie outlived John Taylor, as well their daughter, who would become Agnes Alexander.2 Margaret continued to live in the area with her married daughter, Ann Maxwell [Cornelius Maxwell], until she died in 1874.2 She was 83.

ROBERT BAXTER (1811-1866) and MARGARET DONALDSON (1815-1857)

Robert and Margaret were the youngest great grandparent pair. They were born in Whitburn and Carriden, WLN, respectively. The towns were about 20 km apart, and not far from Polmont STL where they married, in 1832.2 Their children were Catherine 1832, Andrew 1834, Jean 1836, Matthew 1838E, William 1841, John 1843, Mary 1845E, and Robert 1851E.  They moved often, between STL, WLN and LKS. 

Margaret Donaldson left Robert with eight children when she passed in Slamannan STL, at 42. It cannot be known if Robert’s move to West Lothian was “back to his roots” in response to her death, or prompted by a mining job.  In either case, it put him in Torphichen WLN; a good thing for our line, for the Naysmith family was already there. 

Our miners worked in a terribly unhealthy environment. Robert Baxter died of miner’s lung.2 It was reported to have been of years’ duration, and likely began the day he entered the mine as a boy. Miners did not fare too well in their homes either, which were coal burning, under ventilated, and most in poor condition. Margaret Donaldson died of phthisis; the long waste to death from tuberculosis.2 (See more at “Census & BMD: Rooms with one or more windows”, on this blog).

JAMES NAYSMITH (1801-1875E) and MARRION GILLIES (1809E-1864)

James Naysmith and Marion Gillies married in 1828.2 The event was registered in Shotts LKS and Whitburn WLN.  Marion’s own history was of Whitburn. Shotts reflects back to the green slide, and a 1794 wedding; suggesting that either Gillies or Brodie were of Shotts.  Shotts and Whitburn are about 12 km/ 7 mi. apart. Experience shows much historical movement of miners between these mining communities.

Naismith was expressed by a number of variant spellings; we have left them as they occurred in various documents for researcher sake. That included Nesmith which is how their children’s births were found at SP.  Elizabeth 1830E, Violet 1832, Alexander 1834, James 1835E, William 1835, Marrion 1837, Jean 1840, Isabella 1842, Margaret 1845E, and James 1849E.

Unfortunately, no birth record was found for either principal; Matthew Baxter or Margaret Naysmith.  Luckily both were compensated through other documents.

Marrion Gillies died in 1864 of cancer.2 James Nasmyth then went missing from Scotland’s Censuses, but was found in Worcestershire England, in 1871 with his Police Officer son, Alexander G. Nasmyth.2 He was not found in 1881, and had likely died.

(Thomas Naysmith, b.1859/Thomas Nasmyth b. 1859, noted as grandson to James in Scotland Census 1861, was found in England in 1871, as nephew. He was son of Violet Naysmith b.1832. While not of our direct interest, an illegitimate child whose documents start as grandson in one country’s census, to be nephew in another, especially with variant spelling, is most often lost to research. So, we memorialize him here, for the sake of other researchers’ search box.) 

Census 1851

All great grandparents were still living in 1851. Wonderful for the children, that was atypical in the day. Many children had been added in the decade past, and most children of the great grandparent queue were already born. Greater detail provided by this census allows us to see the many relocation our people had incurred. Two of the four who would become her grandparents – those on the left side – had attained marital age.


Census 1861

The elder Alexanders had passed. The Taylor line (Agnes) married into Alexander (Samuel). The Taylor line is therefore removed from consideration in this slide, and forward. We await the birth of John Alexander.

Robert Baxter lost Margaret Donaldson; their child line-up was competed with Robert, in 1851. We await Matthew Baxter and Margaret Naysmith to mature.


HER GRANDPARENTS (ca 1830-1920)

RELEVANT IN THEIR TIME: Coal had been discovered on Vancouver Island. The Island was granted to the Hudson Bay Company, with mining underway, early 1850’s.  It became part of the Colony of British Columbia in 1866, in turn, a Canadian Province in 1871.6 As the century progressed, many Scottish coal mines were spent; a long decline in mining was recognized. In 1877 an explosion in Blantyre Scotland killed over 200 miners. It is topical even today. The Canadian Pacific Railway was completed around 1885, to deliver east coast passengers to west coast destinations. Scots were emigrating in large numbers  The decline of Scotland mining continued into the 20th Century.


SAMUEL ALEXANDER (1830E-1878) and AGNES TAYLOR (1834-1869)

Samuel and Agnes grew up as neighbors in Govan LKS. They were on Engine Row in the town of Fireworks. It was a colliery town, but as we saw, a picnic on River Clyde would be oh, so beautiful an experience.  The Alexanders had household #81; the Taylors, #84 – otherwise, Scotland Census 1851: RD646 ED12 PG24 and RD646 ED12 PG25 at SP.  We can imagine play dates and squabbles.

They married in 1853, to start a new generation, including John Alexander. He was born in 1862 when the family lived in Govan; his birth is registered there.2 Yet, he would offer Cathcart Renfrewshire at marriage. That suggests someone close to Agnes Taylor, to whom she would turn to at birthing time, lived in Cathcart. Such would be typical of the day. Her most likely assistant would be Margaret McLuckie, or an experienced sister. Oddly, not only was her mother still living, in fact, she was conveniently living with Margaret’s sister, in the Fireworks neighborhood. So, DARN.

Well, Margaret Donaldson Baxter would ultimately, put Wishaw on the same document, and, although that is where her parents lived at the time, she was clearly born in Torphichen WLN.2

Agnes Taylor was born in Larbert STL and Stirlingshire is where the new Alexander couple started out. They mined a couple of Ayrshire towns, then returned to Govan. She died there, in 1869.  

The Alexanders had seven children in Agnes’ short 35 years. Two named Thomas were born and soon died; 1856-1857 (of “hooping” cough) and 1864-1866, in Govan. Margaret in 1855E. STL. Two in AYR; Agnes 1858 Kilmaurs and Isabella 1859 Dreghorn, plus John 1862 and Samuel 1866, in Govan.

Samuel married Agnes Crawford in 1871, and remained in the Glasgow area, at Rutherglen until his death in 1878.2 Son John b 1862 would mature to wait in the wings.

Census 1871

Margaret Naysmith, a full decade younger than Agnes Alexander (Taylor), had finally married Matthew Baxter.  The grandparent generation was poised to yield the next.



MATTHEW BAXTER (1838E-1899) and MARGARET NAYSMITH (1845E-1919)

Matthew and Margaret were by far, the longer living grandparents. They were born in West Lothian. Although the Baxters moved away, both families eventually wound up in Torphichen WLN. By 1861, they were neighbors at Woodend Village.

ASIDE: Mathew Baxter passed in 1899.His death record confirmed Dad’s work, showing a previous marriage, in 1861 to Janet (Jessie) Gibson.1 She died in 1864, along with their newborn son, Robert. We recognize this dear child in our direct line.

Margaret Naysmith was elusive; her birth record was not found nor was she found in that year’s census.  Nonetheless she married Matthew Baxter, in 1865.2 They wed in Bathgate; today, Torphichen is part of Bathgate, with Whitburn a few miles away.

The Baxter children were:  Marion Gillies 1866 and Margaret Donaldson 1867 in Torphichen; Robert 1870 and Violet 1871 Slamannan STL; Jemima Naismith 1874, Catherine 1876, Jane Naismith 1878, Matthew 1882 and Elizabeth 1884, in Wishaw Cambusnethan LKS. The lovely name Violet went way back to the green slide and seems to have stopped here, in our line.

By 1891 the couple had moved to Carluke LKS, with their son, Matt. They remained there, until their deaths. The Baxter grandparents were alive for Granny. Margaret Naismith, for whom she was name, lived well into the 20th Century, albeit in Scotland. That is, our Dad had a living great grandmother.

Census 1881

John Alexander, who lost his mother at seven and was bereft of his father at sixteen, was still living with his step-mother, Agnes Crawford.2 He was old enough to move on. We took it as a sign that he was fond of her. We found it comforting too, that he had enjoyed the benefit of one grandparent until thirteen.

We await Margaret Donaldson Baxter to mature. While we wait, we will catch up on sisters of both.



Isabella Alexander b. 1859 married iron moulder, Alexander Guthrie Howat in 1879.2 Their 1881 Census was for Govan. It included infant, Agnes.  Agnes Crawford Howat, b, 1880, died within a year of birth.2 She confirmed the warm notion that Agnes Crawford had been a comfortable step-mother.

The next child, John Taylor was born in 1882, and died in 1884.2 The name John Taylor Howat would reappear in a later child. Siblings were Samuel Alexander 1885, and Alexander Guthrie 1884. These children were all registered in Hutchesontown, with Jane Humphrey b.1888, in Rutherglen.

Marion Gillies Baxter b. 1866 was with her sister, Jemima, in the 5 APR 1891 census, with both working as servants in Glasgow’s Kelvin area.2 


RELEVANT IN THEIR TIME: Industrial change was fast paced. Railroads were building trans-country travel across industrialized nations. As the new century approached,  Scotland’s mines were in steep decline, while those in British Columbia were thriving. While under its control, the Hudson Bay Company built the Bastion to guard its coal production in Nanaimo. Then and thereafter, growth of BC’s numerous industries opened opportunity to many. Glasgow’s great shipbuilders took their art from sail to steam. Mail delivery from one continent to another brought postcards of wonder, such as the one below, comparable in period, to the painting of Govan. All our Scots had to do, was to imagine steamers at port, to be enticed to take risk, and go.

nanaimo harbour and bastion


Most of our line met as neighbors. The path for John and Margaret was not obvious. John was living in Glasgow’s Rutherglen area in 1881. He had always lived in Glasgow. When his step-mother died, he was a 23-year-old coal miner with his promise to Margaret already made. That was the family story.1 Margaret was five years his junior. She had never lived in Glasgow.  Her family lived in Wishaw, Cambusnethan in 1881, where they would remain for the decade. But, Margaret may have been emancipated by 15, as she was off visiting the Henderson/Baxter household in Edinburgh. (Luckily she used her Donaldson “D”, or, she would have gone undetected.) Inquiring minds would be thwarted. Their interim tracks were not to be viewed in Scotland’s next census; that part of their story is not ours to know.

Somehow the two did meet. Sweet Margaret would prove indomitable; she would have had voice as the two considered next steps. John’s folks were already gone, but would have been sympathetic in any case. Margaret’s parents still had Matt at home, and they were staying. Jemima, too. She married John Jarvie in Carluke LKS in 1898, where her parents spent their older years. Jemima Naismith Jarvie, born Baxter, died in Scotland in 1954, at 79.2


Dad noted that “John Alexander left Scotland around 1886 for the job of Tunnel Construction Foreman in one of Dunsmuir’s coal mines near Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island”.1 While this insider information could not be verified, Margaret Baxter followed in 1890, and they quickly married.1

The remark section reads:

“The parties were married upon the arrival of the Bride in Victoria by the Steamer Islander. I do not know if this – the Bride’s place of residence as Wellington. If it should be Victoria, you can register it as so. One is as true as the other”.

We show the Registratio for the remarks section. This “Steamer Islander” tidbit was the only travel information found of her long journey from Scotland.  Not many are lucky enough to get such a great annotated document!

Census 1891

Canada Census 1891 was not long on information, but John and Margaret Alexander were found as boarders in the household of their Howat in-laws.6 The area was Nanaimo, with the men miners, as expected. Alexander and Isabella Howat had immigrated around 1888 according their input for US Census 1910 in Seattle WA.2 Two of their Scotland-born children were enumerated, but not Alexander Guthrie. That mystery went unresolved.

Herself: Most notably, of course; our Granny, Margaret Naysmith Alexander had arrived. She was cited as niece, aged 2/12 (actual 28 JAN 1891); this census was taken in April.


Now that Taylor, Baxter and Naysmith have merged into Alexander, the right side of the slide presents Norwegian ancestry for Hemmingsen.7 Mathias was the endpoint of a similar set of merges; he would head the Hemmingsen-Alexander generation to come. His grandparents and parents had been captured in Census 1865 of Norway.7

A wonderful exciting life was unwinding in the new world, filled with rosy expectation.

Census 1901

This census was for the Sub-District of Nanaimo South, taken April 1901.6 The right panel of the slide shows the progress of Matt Hemmingson, now in Mason, Bayfield County, Wisconsin. His family had left Norway in the 1880s. Long emancipated, he was listed on this census as “Partner”, in a lumber camp. We await his forward migration to British Columbia.


The left panel hints to a daunting tale. Margaret Donaldson Alexander, born Baxter, was now Margaret Mitchell. She and John Alexander had had two more children: Samuel b. 4 AUG 1892 and Agnes Taylor b. 15 APR 1895. Now we see the addition of children through Dugald Mitchell.

TRAGEDY: Agnes was just one-year-old as June 1896 approached. On June 2, 1896 as the report of the Minister of Mines would write:

John Alexander, a miner, was killed by a fall of rock, while at his work in the No. 5 Wellington Colliery. He was blasting down rock and went below a piece that had been loosened by a shot, when it came down upon him.

See notes 1 and 8

John was thirty-four and had acquired some property in his decade in Canada. 1 His decision to migrate to Canada had been a good one. Still, it would not cover his wife and three children for long, where there was no insurance or company assistance. Hardship was inevitably ahead for his family.

Times would have been terribly sad for Margaret, and for her worried parents in Carluke, LKS. One could wonder on the letter writing that must have ensued between Margaret Naysmith and Margaret Donaldson. Plenty of postcards and pictures, of course.

On the positive side, Marion Gillies Baxter had emigrated and was living in Nanaimo South, too.6 She did not arrive with her sister, Margaret Donaldson; recall, she was found in Scotland’s 1891 Census. She married Daniel Stewart in Nanaimo, December 1892 (as Daniel Steward and Minnie Baxter).4

Margaret Baxter married Dugald Mitchell in 1898.4 The census showed he arrived in 1896. He was a coal miner who had worked but six months in his trade that year.2 Dugald Buchanan Mitchell was born in 1864 in Carnwath, LKS.2 The household included three Alexander step-children, plus two Mitchell: A. E Mary (Anne) and Marrion Gillies Mitchell

Perhaps, an easier life was yet to be had.

Census 1911

JOY: Margaret Naysmith Alexander, first-born of Margaret Donaldson Baxter, married Matt Hemmingsen, in 1910. That is, the beautiful 19-year-old hotel waitress married the dashing 34-year-old lumberman; a logging pioneer, he would be called. 

The census, taken in June, captured the arrival of their first in our parent’s generation; Margaret Henrietta Hemmingsen (pictured prior), The enumerator reckoned her age as 2/12. She was already 3/12.  These things are important!

Note: Canada Census 1911 put Matt’s birth in the US. The 1901 US Census claimed Norway; birth records show that Norway was correct.


JOY: This post, though, is not about Granny, rather, the people who came before her. Margaret Donaldson Baxter who married John Alexander, was last living in our direct line from Scotland.  She did not complete the Mitchell complement of her children until 1911. They are captured on the slide’s right panel. Her last-born, Jemima Baxter Mitchell came in April. The enumerator appropriately gauged her age as 2/12.

1911 will be the last slide presented here. It points to family events that impacted Margaret Mitchell in the decade past, as well as upcoming.

DESPAIR; All that joy clashed with terrible despair, for the widow status of Margaret Mitchell in Census 1911 was fresh. It was as new as in this Saturday, April 15, 1911 obituary of less than one week after Jemima was born.9 One can only imagine the enumerator’s delicate visit to Margaret, who, at 42, had seven children at home.

Agnes Taylor Alexander had left the Mitchell home, but not Samuel. He was 18, and a mule driver in the coal mine. While he could provide necessary assist, it would be no match for the needs of the six Mitchell children. Four had been added to Marion Gillies and Anne Mitchell; Matthew 1903, Beatrice 1905, William 1907 and Jemima. We would know some of these siblings of Granny, and they will make their way into our “Memories” section.

CATASTROPHE: Mining was progressing in the Rocky Mountain area of Crowsnest Pass, which is now in Alberta. Dugald had opportunity there, at Turtle Mountain, in the small mining community of Frank. Matthew Mitchell was born there, just two months before, as Dad succinctly put it, “a 90-million-ton rock slide would destroy most of Frank, killing at least 70 men, women and children – the Mitchell family was unharmed”.1 Unharmed in the physical sense;  in the event known as the Frank Slide, Turtle Mountain collapsed in two minutes of unimaginable shuddering terror that survivors carried with them, forevermore.

The Mitchells soon returned to Vancouver Island, specifically Cumberland, but times were increasingly hard. Sam Alexander had gone into the mine at thirteen.1 As the family returned from Frank, Alexander Howat and Isabella Alexander were living in Victoria, where they had an iron foundry, Margaret Naysmith was sent to live with them. She returned to family in Cumberland, when she was old enough to work. Agnes Taylor, switched with her, and went to live with the Howats. The Howats had established a foundry in Seattle WA. They sold Victoria, and moved to the States, taking Agnes with them. She would become Agnes Drummond [Theodore].1

 CALAMITY: There is unique heartache in a lifetime away from loved ones, when distance is based upon discretionary decision. Margaret’s mother, Margaret Baxter born Naysmith, passed in Scotland, in 1919. We are unaware of any journeys for visits with daughters, Marion Gillies, or Margaret Donaldson, once they left Scotland. We saw in Dugald’s obituary that Margaret Gillies, now Stewart had been acutely available for comfort then, and would be needed anew. Her long-distance mother had passed by Margaret’s last great misery. She buried her son. William Mitchell was 15-years-old and working as a hoist-boy in Comox #4 mine, when it exploded on 2 FEB 1923.10 He was one of thirty-three, to die.


We added our father, John, to the 1911 slide, indicating he came later (1913). He married Mary Margaret Dickson. Her grandfather, Robert McArthur, died in Nanaimo’s horrific cage-fall of 1918; a mining accident on its Protection Island. James Dickson, her father, arrived from Scotland, for the mines of Nanaimo, in 1912. Driven by issues of mine safety from all  this, he became Chief Inspector of Mines for British Columbia. He is subject of “Double Genealogy; the Adoption Witness”.


Marion Gillies Stewart, born Baxter, of that generation behind Granny, was well within our “Memories” purview. She died in Portland OR in 1973, at 107! We reflect on this loved one who was born just after the US Civil War and lived to watch a man walk on the moon.  “Auntie Stewart”


Margaret Donaldson Mitchell (Alexander) born Baxter died in 1931, in Nanaimo. Such a splendid job she did! From her travail came sweet loving children. Never a harsh word. Granny would not tread a spider, rather, cupped to hand, to deliver to safety.


Posts authored by Double Genealogy the Adoption Witness are copyright © 2018-2019. All rights reserved.

Notes and Sources  Please Scroll past these, to question or comment.

1 The Hemmingsen Family Collection including “John O Hemmingsen / Mary Margaret Hemmingsen Family” authored in 1999 by John Oliver Hemmingsen. All materials posthumously published at are copyright © 2018-2019. All rights reserved.
2 Documents accessed at © 2017 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

“Ireland Tithe Applotment Books, 1814-1855,” database with images, FamilySearch ( VX5F-NYS: 11 March 2018), Thomas Alexander, citing Taughboyne, Dromone, Donegal, Ireland; Public Record Office, Dublin; FHL microfilm 256,688.

 “England and Wales Census, 1881,” database with images, FamilySearch ( Q27N-ZRLL: 12 December 2017), Alexander G Nasmyth, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England; from “1881 England, Scotland and Wales Census,” database and images, findmypast( n.d.); citing p. 34, Piece/Folio 3010/20, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey; FHL microfilm 101,774,849.

US Census 1910 for Howat: Seattle WA. from United States Archive and Record Administration (NARA)

Scotland Old Parish Records, Censuses and Statutory Birth, Marriage and Death records from are Crown copyright © National Records of Scotland. General data was taken at Family Search, but much was taken directly at ScotlandsPeople. Such includes, but is not limited to: Statutory Registers Deaths: 1864 Alexander, Thomas 646/10 287; 1868 Alexander, Isabella 644/10 452; 1864 Nasmyth (Gillies), Marion 671/12; 1874 Taylor (McLuckie) Margaret 644/10 196; 1866 Alexander, Thomas 646/1 308; 1857 Alexander Thomas 646/1 194; 1869 Taylor, Agnes 646/1 436; 1899 Baxter, Matthew 629/40; 1919 Baxter Margaret Naismith 629/124; Statutory Registers Marriages: 1879 Howat, Alexander 644/12 485; 1865 Baxter, Matthew 662/27; Statutory Registers Birth: 1862 Alexander John 646/1 266; 1867 Baxter, Margaret Donaldson 671/70; Censuses: 1841 Alexander, Thomas 560/ 4/ 7.

3 From the website at Portions copyright 2000-2018.
4 Royal BC Museum: BC Div. Vital Statistics Marriage Registrations 1888-1892 Volume 093 Steward (Stewart); 1898-1901 Volume 095; Registration 1890-09-093603 MF B11380 Alexander

5 Omitted
6 Accessed at Library and Archives, Canada: Canada Censuses 1891-1911, British Columbia.
7 The National Archives of Norway, the Digital Archives Norway Census 1865 RA/S-2231 of Nordland, Hatfjelldal
8 BC Minister of Mines Annual Reports via an excellent searchable database for Nanaimo environs at
9 The Islander, Cumberland BC Saturday April 15, 1911 “Dugald Mitchell Died Saturday” 1911. “The Islander.” N. Newspapers – Cumberland Islander. Cumberland, B.C.: Islander Publishing Co. April 15. Doi :
10 Friends of the Morden Mine: Fatal Accidents in Vancouver Island Coal Mines 1920-1939. Comox #4 explosion 2 FEB 1923 with 33 killed at

11 Correction – updated December 17, 2019 -marriage year 1815 per data from Janis Brown and document from ScotlandsPeople: Old Parish Records, Marriages, John Taylor 485/10662 10/09/1815 

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