Friday, March 25, 2011

Searching for books and ancestors all at once

Writers bookshelves are supposed to be disorganized, aren't they? I don't think this one in my office is particularly bad, but I have searched through it for almost a week for one small book (small is the operative word here). Yes, there are other bookcases throughout the house, books everywhere if you will, but my gut told me the book I wanted was here. Jim Lee and I are presenting a program on Elmer Kelton in early April, and the book I wanted is about Elmer, written in the 1990s but still relevant in many ways. Most embarrassing: I wrote it. Well, tonight I finally found it and now have everything together for the program, I think. The book was tucked between two large books and had slipped to the back of the shelf. Now, on to other things.
In between searching for my book, I've been searching for my Scottish ancestors. I so want to make the link from the Candian family to those in Scotland. My dad believed that his great-great-grandfather was the grandson of Gillies McBean, a Highland hero who died in the Uprising of '46, fighting for Bonnie Prince Charlie. But I cannot get beyond William McBean, who was born in Scotland and died in Canada, which would fit with what Dad surmised. William insisted on going to war, and after his father bought him out twice, he let him go. William fought for the Crown in the War of 1812 and was rewarded with a land grant in Canada, presumably near Peterborough, the area where he died. That's how my branch of the family came to Canada. (The fact that Canadian geography is foreign to me except in the great big picture is not helping this at all.) Disconcertingly, I cannot determine for sure if William was born in Scotland or Ireland, but surely it was Scotland.
There are hints on for other branches of the family--my grandmother, notably--and I'll pursue them. But I want to solve this MacBain puzzle first. Does seem however that those Scottish MacBains had a tendency to marry women from Ireland, so maybe I should be more passionate about claiming that side of my heritage.
My mother's family tree, as far as I can tell, is a dead end with my grandparents. She was German, and I never heard her express any interest in her ancestry. She loved German food but never served sauerkraut, because she'd been forced to eat it as a child. I was grown before I tasted it, and now I love it. I like German food a lot and am anxious to try real Scottish food in Scotland. Probably I'll pass on haggis, though I hear it's much better over there than what I tasted here once at a St. Andrew's Day dinner. is addictive, like Facebook and Twitter. My book on chili calls--I've finally straightened out some things that puzzled me--and I have a book on my desk to review. I did watch the program, "Who Do You Think You Are?" tonight, but those seekers always have the help of genealogists and historians. I'm just bumbling along.

1 comment:

Leon Hale said...

Personally I love haggis in Scotland, piped in with a wee dram for flavoring. But also scottish grouse, well hung, and fresh salmon.Our folks, Frasers, came from around Inverness. Enjoy!