Tagged: RETTIE

Old Family Photographs

What a great treasure old family photographs are!

Thankfully my Dad is still around to help me identify his Grandparents in the first photograph below, though when you look closely it seems obvious that the young girl on the right in the first one and the silver-haired woman on the right in the third one is one and the same person – my Great Aunt Muriel.

Also noticeable is the ‘RETTIE nose’ shared by my Great Grandfather and his son – and also my Dad and me too!

My Great Grandfather George RETTIE with his wife Elizabeth Findlay SMITH and their youngest child Muriel circa 1932

George RETTIE and his wife Charlotte Leeder IRVING

My Grandfather George RETTIE (seated) and his wife Charlotte Leeder IRVING (also seated), on their Wedding Day in 1929

From left to right: My Grandmother Charlotte Leeder IRVING, her husband George RETTIE, and his youngest sister Muriel RETTIE, at their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 1979

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Drowned in the Tennessee River

Thanks to WorldVitalRecords from MyHeritage, I may have just found a RETTIE who served with the 12th Ohio Cavalry during the American Civil War.

Mustered In

Louis RETTIE was (allegedly) 18 when he enlisted on 1 Sep 1863 in Company E of the 12th Ohio Cavalry.1,4 This company was recruited from the Highland, Mahoning and Summit counties of Ohio.2 The 12th Ohio Cavalry was organized at Camp Taylor in Cleveland, Ohio and mustered in on 24 Nov 1863 for a three year period of service under the command of Colonel Robert W. Ratliff.2,3 The regiment was involved in the Battles of Cynthiana and Saltville I and II.3 (As an aside, there’s an interesting article here on the Saltville Massacre).

Mustered Out

Sadly, having outlived the end of the war, the young Private RETTIE drowned a few months afterwards on 1 Sep 1865 in the Tennessee River at Pen Hook Ferry, Tennessee.1,4 Perhaps the rider and his horse were swept away by the current whilst attempting to ford the river? Or perhaps the ferry itself got into difficulties?

Around the time of this tragic incident, the regiment was attached to Cavalry Brigade, District East Tennessee from Jul 1865 to Nov 1865 and it saw duty in middle Tennessee, eastern Tennessee, and North Carolina.2,3 The 12th Ohio Cavalry mustered out of service on 14 Nov 1865 at Nashville, Tennessee.2,3

Questions

Q. Was his name really Louis RETTIE?1 An alternative source says it is Lewis RETTY!4 Clearly one or both of the transcribers has it wrong.

Q. Was the location of his death really Pen Hook Ferry?1 Again we have a transcription issue, with the alternative source saying Pin-hook Ferry.4

Q. Where exactly is Pen Hook/Pin-hook Ferry? There is a Pen Hook Road near Monterey in Tennessee, but it’s a long way from the river. However, I can find ‘Pin Hook Road’, ‘East Pin Hook Road’ and ‘South Pin Hook Road’ about 14 miles due West of Sparta, TN – the last of which leads down to the Tennessee River…

Q. Where was Louis born and who were his parents? I’m currently looking through the 1850 census rolls for the 3 counties where Company E was recruited from…

Sources

  1. The Roster Commission, Official Roster of the Soldiers of the State of Ohio in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1866, vol. 11 (Akron, Ohio: The Werner Printing & Lithographing Company, 1891), p. 600, http://archive.org/details/officialrosterof11ohio. This source says ‘Louis RETTIE‘ drowned at ‘Pen Hook Ferry’.
  2. Larry Stevens, “12th Ohio Cavalry,” Ohio in the Civil War, January 11, 2012, http://www.ohiocivilwar.com/cwc12.html.
  3. Wikipedia contributors, “12th Ohio Cavalry,” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia (Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., July 17, 2012), http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=12th_Ohio_Cavalry&oldid=493574416.
  4. F.H. Mason, The Twelfth Ohio Cavalry: A Record of Its Organization and Services in the War of the Rebellion, Together with a  Complete Roster of the Regiment. (Cleveland, Ohio: Nevins Steam Printing House, 1871), p. 18, https://sites.google.com/site/lstevens5300/. This source says ‘Lewis RETTY‘ drowned at ‘Pin-hook Ferry’.

How Popular Is YOUR Surname?

Thanks to my new membership of the Guild of One-Name Studies, I just discovered a couple of (legitimate!) web sites which reveal the popularity of a given surname.

The United States Census Bureau has a downloadable zip file containing all surnames with more than 100 entries in the 2000 Census.
RETTIE ranks =111,119 with 147 people.

Surnames of England and Wales – the ONS list is an extract of an Office of National Statistics database, and contains a list of surnames in use in England, Wales and the Isle of Mann in September 2002.
RETTIE ranks =28,353 with 128 people.

Unfortunately, I’ve yet to find a page providing surname statistics from the Scotland Census…not to mention Canada, Australia, etc. Does anyone have these URL’s?


UPDATE: Found a couple more sites, as a result of the course I’m currently doing:

Behind the Name
Though RETTIE was not found, it does return results for more popular surnames for USA, England and Scotland.

World Family Names
This site gives the frequency of a surname per million of a countries population.
RETTIE returns 6.02 for the UK, 1.83 for Canada, and 0.78 for USA.

Surname Variants or Deviants?

As can be seen from the various sources quoted under History of Land Ownership, there appear to be a number of different spellings of RETTIE used in the past.

The permutations consist of either ‘ea’, ‘ai’ or ‘a’ instead of the initial ‘e’ together with either a single or double ‘t’.

Data

I entered these permutations into ScotlandPeople with the following results:

Total Births

Variant Births 1538-1854 Births 1855-2009 Earliest Latest Mode Parish
RAITIE 24 0 1689 1781 New Deer (6)
RAITTIE 26 10 1675 1817 Monquhitter (18)
RATIE 13 0 1689 1817 Gamrie and Macduff (4)
RATTIE 8 0 1689 1892 Monquhitter (2) & Boyndie (2)
REATIE 19 0 1697 1783 Turriff (6)
REATTIE 4 0 1734 1777 New Deer (3)
RETIE 10 0 1610 1793 Monquhitter (5)
RETTIE 216 951 1610 2009

Example Births

Consider also the following examples listing parents, parish, date of birth and name of child:

RAITIE –> RATIE

William RAITIE & Christian ESLEMENT of New Deer
24 Feb 1751 Anne
31 Mar 1753 Alexander
14 May 1755 Isobel
01 Jun 1757 William
16 Sep 1759 James

William RATIE & Chirsten ESSELMENT of New Deer
01 Nov 1761 Adam

REATTIE –> RETTIE –> REATIE –> RAITIE –> RETTIE

Alexander REATTIE & Christen HEPBURN of New Deer
10 Sep 1765 William

ALEXANDER RETTIE & Christian HEBRON of New Deer
07 Mar 1767 Alexander

Alexander REATIE & Christian HEBREN of New Deer
30 Jan 1774 George
16 Jun 1777 Peter

Alexander RAITIE & Christian HEPBURN of King Edward
14 Aug 1781 Jane

Alexander RETTIE & Christian HEPBURN of King Edward
28 Sep 1785 Adam

Note also the variations in the Mothers’ names!

Analysis

  • Barring one entry from Fife, all other entries are from Aberdeenshire and Banffshire in North-East Scotland. This strongly suggests the surnames are just alternative spellings of the same original family name.
  • RETTIE is by far the most popular spelling, both in Old Parish Registers and Statutory Registers.
  • RETTIE is the only spelling which survives into the 20th Century, with all others apart from RAITTIE terminating upon the adoption of Statutory Registers in 1855.

This suggests that RETTIE is the de facto correct spelling.

The Guild of One Name Studies differentiates between a surname variant and a surname deviant.
A variant is:

a name spelling used by officials on a consistent and persistent basis over a period of years.

None of the alternative spellings of RETTIE meet this rule.

A deviant, however, is defined as:

any other spelling recorded, including cases where the spelling occurs in official records, but only randomly and inconsistently.

Given the above examples, it appears that the alternative spellings are indeed used inconsistently.

Conclusion

The surname RETTIE has no variants, only deviants due to transcription errors and mis-spelling.

The KISSINGER-RETTIE Telegram

Sounds like a diplomatic manoeuvre to provoke a war in some far flung corner of the world, no?

Whilst perusing the United States National Archives, I came across an interesting series of telegrams between the State Department in Washington and the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala:

17 Jul 1975

FM AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA TO SECSTATE WASHDC 7414

SUBJECT: DEATH AND ESTATES

PLEASE INFORM NEXT-OF-KIN OF GEORGE WESTON RETTIE, BORN APRIL 4, 1908, AT CHICAGO, ILLINOIS OF DEATH OF SUBJECT
AT AMATITLAN GUATEMALA ON JULY 15, 1975 OF INFART OF
THE MYOCARDIUM. NEXT-OF-KIN ROBERT V. RETTIE, BROTHER,
910 E. PATTERSON ST., TAMPA, FLORIDA. BURIAL HAS ALREADY TAKEN PLACE AT LOCAL CEMETERY IN AMATITLAN, GUATEMALA WITHIN 24 HOURS AFTER DEATH AS REQUIRED BY GUATEMALAN LAW.

MELOY
NARA – AAD, Electronic Telegrams, 1/1/1975 – 12/31/1975, Document Number: 1975GUATEM03715, Markings: Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 06 JUL 2006

18 Jul 1975

FM SECSTATE WASHDC TO AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA IMMEDIATE

SUBJECT: DEATH OF RETTIE

DEPARTMENT PREFERS NOT TO NOTIFY NOK OF DEATH TELEPHONICALLY EXCEPT IN EXTREME EMERGENCIES. DEPARTMENT REQUESTS THAT EMBASSY NOTIFY RETTIE’S BROTHER VIA DIRECT RELAY CABLE.

KISSINGER
NARA – AAD, Electronic Telegrams, 1/1/1975 – 12/31/1975, Document Number: 1975STATE169531, Markings: Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 06 JUL 2006

18 Jul 1975

FM AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA TO SECSTATE WASHDC 7438

FOR: ROBERT V. RETTIE
910 E. PATTERSON ST.,
TAMPA, FLORIDA

SUBJECT: DEATH AND ESTATES

REGRET TO INFORM YOU OF DEATH YOUR BROTHER GEORGE WESTON RETTIE, AT AMATITLAN GUATEMALA ON JULY 15, 1975 OF INFART OF THE MYOCARDIUM. BURIAL HAS ALREADY TAKEN PLACE AT LOCAL CEMETERY IN AMATITLAN, GUATEMALA WITHIN 24 HOURS AFTER DEATH IS REQUIRED BY GUATEALAN LAW. DEATH REPORTED TO EMBASSY BY FRIEND ROBERT HOTCHKISS.

AMERICAN EMBASSY
GUATEMALA, GUATEMALA

MELOY
NARA – AAD, Electronic Telegrams, 1/1/1975 – 12/31/1975, Document Number: 1975GUATEM03751, Markings: Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 06 JUL 2006

So, U.S. citizen George Weston RETTIE dies in Guatemala on 15 Jul 1975 and his death is reported to the Embassy there by Robert HOTCHKISS. The Embassy sends a telegram asking the State Department in Washington to inform his next of kin Robert V. RETTIE. It seems that none other than Henry KISSINGER replies, abruptly telling the Embassy to do it themselves! [KISSINGER was U.S. Secretary of State from 22 Sep 1973 – 20 Jan 1977].

Then there is a further tragic news:

29 Jul 1975

FM AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7166

SUBJECT: DEATH AND ESTATES

1. PLEASE INFORM MRS. KATHERINE HOTCHKISS, 2920 N.W. 18 AVENUE, APT. 11-B, MIAMI, FLORIDA OF DEATH OF SON ROBERT HOTCHKISS, WHO WAS DROWNED AT LAKE AMATITLAN, GUATEMALA JULY 28.

2. AS LOCAL AUTHORITIES REQUIRE PROMPT ARRANGEMENTS, FOLLOWING ESTIMATES ARE PROVIDED FOR INFORMATION AND PLANNING. PUBLIC HOSPITAL WILL BURY AT NO COST. PREPARATION AND AIR SHIPMENT TO U.S. $1250. CREMATION IS NOT AVAILABLE IN GUATEMALA. SHOULD TELEGRAPH FUNDS AND/OR INSTRUCTION TO DIRECTOR, SPECIAL CONSULAR SERVICES, DEPARTMENT OF STATE, WASHINGTON D.C. 20520. INCLUDE IN MESSAGE NAME AND ADDRESS OF FUNERAL HOME IN U.S. IF SHIPMENT DESIRED, MAKE TELEGRAPHIC MONEY ORDER PAYABLE TO DEPARTMENT OF STATE. IF SHIPMENT DESIRED, NOK MAY PREFER TO HAVE LOCAL FUNERAL HOME MAKE ALL ARRANGEMENTS IN CONFORMANCE WITH THIS MESSAGE. UPON RECEIPT OF REQUIRED FUNDS INSTRUCTION WILL BE CARRIED OUT AS PROMPTLY AS CIRCUMSTANCES PERMIT.

3. IN VISIT TO THIS EMBASSY LAST WEEK REGARDING REPORT OF DEATH FOR FRIEND GEORGE RETTIE, SUBJECT PRESENTED COPY HIS OWN WILL INDICATING IN EVENT OF DEATH ABROAD HE DID NOT WISH TO BE RETURNED TO U.S. FOR BURIAL.

4. LATEST INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO EMBASSY IS THAT INTERMENT MUST TAKE PLACE BY 13:00 HOURS LOCAL TIME JULY 29 IF OTHER INSTRUCTIONS NOT RECEIVED PRIOR THAT TIME.

MELOY
NARA – AAD, Electronic Telegrams, 1/1/1975 – 12/31/1975, Document Number: 1975GUATEM03980, Markings: Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 06 JUL 2006

30 Jul 1975

FM SECSTATE WASHDC TO AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA IMMEDIATE

SUBJECT:DEATH OF HOTCHKISS

1. MRS. HOTCHKISS ADVISED DEPARTMENT THAT SON WISHED BE BURIED WITH RETTIE IF CREMATION NOT POSSIBLE AND THAT SHE WILLING PAY COST IF BURIAL HAS NOT ALREADY TAKEN PLACE. ACCORDING MRS. HOTCHKISS, COST OF RETTIE’S BURIAL WAS SIXTY DOLLARS. FYI:MOTHER STATED DECEASED HAD EXPRESSED DESIRE TO DIE WITH RETTIE.

2. MOTHER HAS DECEASED’S WILL OF WHICH SHE IS EXECUTRIX. SHE ESPECIALLY INTERESTED IN DECEASED’S JOURNEY LOGS AND REQUESTS INVENTORY OF EFFECTS BE SENT TO HER ASAP.

INGERSOLL
NARA – AAD, Electronic Telegrams, 1/1/1975 – 12/31/1975, Document Number: 1975STATE179510, Markings: Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 06 JUL 2006

So it seems that Robert HOTCHKISS was so upset at his friend George RETTIE’s death that he took his own life. And it emerges that he had told his mother of his wish to be buried with his friend and that he had no desire to be repatriated to the USA in the event of his death abroad. I wonder why the antipathy towards his homeland? And could the friends have been lovers?

Well, one thing is certain and that is that the friends were inventors!

Patents

Together they lodged a number of patents to the U.S. Patent Office:

  • US 2905762, FIRE AND BURGLAR ALARM SYSTEM, Filed 10 Apr 1957
  • US 2949508, TELEPHONE DIALING DEVICE, Filed 7 Oct 1958
  • US 3173686, COIN OPERATED KIDDIE RIDE, Filed 18 Jul 1962

Interestingly, the patent applications show the friends living at the same address together in North Miami Beach, Florida. We also learn that Robert’s middle initial was D.

Genealogy Data

George Weston RETTIE was born 04 Apr 1908 in Illinois and died 15 Jul 1975 in Guatemala.4 His parents were Robert M RETTIE (born about 1880 in Michigan) and Mary C VEIRS (born about 1882 Canada).1,2,3,4 George had an older brother called Robert (born about 1905) and a younger sister called Doris (born about 1913).1,2,3 His father Robert M RETTIE was born on 08 Apr 1878 in Michigan and died on 05 Feb 1973 in Florida.5

Robert D HOTCHKISS was born 26 Mar 1929 in New York and died 28 Jul 1975 in Guatemala.7 His parents were Frank and Katherine (both born about 1905 in New York).6 Robert had an older sister Betty (born about 1925 in New York).6

Sources

  1. “United States Census, 1910,” index and images,
    FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MKCB-VVF : accessed 4 July 2012),
    George W Rettie in household of Robert M Rettie, Chicago Ward 15, Cook, Illinois.
  2. “United States Census, 1920,” index and images,
    FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MJ3P-B8S : accessed 4 July 2012),
    Weston Rettie in household of Robert Rettie, City Of Chicago Ward 15, Cook, Illinois.
  3. “United States Census, 1930,” index and images,
    FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XSP4-JCL : accessed 4 July 2012),
    George W Rettie in household of Robert M Rettie, Chicago (Districts 1001-1250), Cook, Illinois.
  4. “Illinois, Cook County Birth Certificates, 1878-1922,” index and images,
    FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/NQB4-YCM : accessed 4 July 2012),
    Robert M Rettie in entry for Rettie, 1908.
  5. “Florida, Death Index, 1877-1998,” index,
    FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VV6B-BD3 : accessed 4 July 2012),
    Robert M Rettie, 1973.
  6. “United States Census, 1930,” index and images,
    FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/X4T7-R4P : accessed 4 July 2012),
    Robert D Hotchkiss in household of Frank E Hotchkiss, Mexico, Oswego, New York.
  7. “United States Social Security Death Index,” index,
    FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/JKGW-ZZ9 : accessed 4 July 2012),
    Robert D Hotchkiss, 1975.

Cousins-german and ‘Dressmakers’

No, I haven’t discovered relatives in Germany – though I have been to Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Berlin, Dresden and Munich!

german (1)
“of the same parents or grandparents,” c.1300, from Old French germain “closely related” (12c.), from Latin germanus “full, own (of brothers and sisters); one’s own brother; genuine, real”.
Your cousin-german (also first cousin) is the son or daughter of an uncle or aunt.
Online Etymology Dictionary

I’ve just been researching my Great-Great Aunt Susan RETTIE, sister of Adam, John, James, William (who died in infancy), and George (my Great-Grandfather).

She was born on 13 Jul 1864 in Turriff, Aberdeenshire and she is on the 1881 Census as a jute mill worker living with her parents Adam RETTIE and Harriet MIDDLETON (remember that surname).

I have so far been unable to locate her on the 1891 Census, but she then marries George MITCHELL, coal carter, on 23 Oct 1896.

1896 Marriage of George MITCHELL and Susan RETTIE

1896 Marriage of George MITCHELL and Susan RETTIE, Aberdeen, ScotlandsPeople (SR Marriages 168/02 0346)


But what’s this? Under her name it says:

Fish Curers' Worker
(Spinster)
Cousins-german

I then noticed that a) George was 8 years younger than her, b) they were living together at the same address (83 Rosemount Viaduct, Aberdeen) and c) George’s mother is Susan MITCHELL nee MIDDLETON. So, Susan MITCHELL was Harriet’s sister who is Susan’s Mum which makes George and Susan first cousins!

Hourglass Chart of Susan RETTIE

Hmmm, and now I find the family in the 1901 Census living at 51 Queen Street, Aberdeen with a son called George but also two young single women boarders listed as ‘Dress Makers’. Seems a bit odd to me and I have heard that this was a euphemism used to describe prostitutes.

1901 Census of the Household of George MITCHELL

1901 Census of the Household of George MITCHELL, St Nicholas, Aberdeen, FindMyPast (RG13, Piece 168, Folio 28, Page 17)

By 1911 the couple have had another son, Walter, and they are living in ‘Ironfield’ in the parish of Old Machar, Aberdeen with 2 servants. George is a Dairyman and has a Cart Boy to help him and there is also an elderly Domestic Servant.

1911 Census of the Household of George MITCHELL

1911 Census of the Household of George MITCHELL, Old Machar, Aberdeen, ScotlandsPeople (1911 Census 228/0B 001/00 015)


The next residence on the census form is ‘Findlay Farm’ and if you look at Google Maps you can see a Findlay Farm Cottage just south of Ironfield House. Both of them are to the east of Ellon Road as it trails away to the north of the city.

Susan MITCHELL nee RETTIE died aged 68 on 6 Feb 1933 at 344 King Street, Aberdeen.

Rule #1 – Never Assume Anything

…because it makes an ass out of u and me!

France and Flanders

A decade or so ago, whilst preparing to visit my Great-Grandfather Hugh IRVING’s grave in Belgium, I remember searching for RETTIE on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission‘s excellent web site, and wondering if any of the casualties could be related to me.

Recently I had another look and went through the 16 entries for World War I, examining the Additional Information which can list next of kin and/or address. Knowing that my family hails from the North-East of Scotland, I examined the 6 members of the Gordon Highlanders first as most likely candidates to have a family connection. Nothing jumped out and then I turned to the other regiments. There was a John RETTIE in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers listed on the Arras Memorial:

Son of James and Janet Carruthers, of Carlisle Place, Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire.

I discounted this immediately as a) he was from the South-West of Scotland and b) his parents weren’t even called RETTIE! He couldn’t possibly be related to me.

Well…

Nipper In Stone Yard

In my last couple of blog posts, I recounted the transatlantic adventures of my Great-Great Uncle James RETTIE and the sad death of my Great-Great Uncle Adam RETTIE in the Poor House. Next I decided to find out more about their brother John.

Sons of Adam RETTIE and Harriet MIDDLETON

My starting point was the 1881 Census record of the household of my Great-Great-Grandfather Adam RETTIE and his wife Harriet MIDDLETON. John was listed as:

Nipper In Stone Yard, age 13, born about 1868 in Methlic Aberdeenshire.

10 years later he is listed as a “Stonecutter”, still living with his parents. However, he is nowhere to be found on the 1901 Census. Had he emigrated like his brother James?

Shotgun Wedding?

Then I found a marriage for a John RETTIE in Glasgow for 30 Mar 1896. Hmmm, could it be him? He was around the right age, but what had taken him to Glasgow from Aberdeen?

The marriage certificate confirmed it was him, listing his occupation as “Mason” and giving his parents as “Adam Rettie (deceased)” and “Harriet Rettie M.S. Middleton”. However, what was this in the second last column?

1896 Marriage of John RETTIE and Janet WALLACE

1896 Marriage of John RETTIE and Janet WALLACE, Glasgow, ScotlandsPeople (SR Marriages 644/03 0160)

Warrant of Sheriff Substitute of Lanarkshire dated 30th March 1896

So, it was an Irregular marriage via a Sheriff’s Warrant – what did this mean?

I then checked to see if they had any children and a record came up for a John RETTIE born in Kilsyth on 19 May 1896:

1896 Birth of John RETTIE

1896 Birth of John RETTIE, Kilsyth, Stirlingshire, ScotlandsPeople (SR Births 483/00 0160)


Ah, so Janet was already 7 month’s pregnant at the date of their marriage and would have shown – perhaps why a Church Minister would have nothing to do with them and they had to apply for a Sheriff’s Warrant to get married? (A re-inspection of the marriage cerificate also highlighted that they were living together before the marriage).

Tragedy

Whilst looking for “John RETTIE” in the 1901 Census, I had turned off the age filter and had noticed a record for the parish of Hoddom in Dumfriesshire and it listed a John RETTIE and an Adam RETTIE living with a family named CARRUTHERS. Eh? Had these boys been adopted?

1901 Census of Household of James CARRUTHERS

1901 Census of Household of James CARRUTHERS, Hoddom, Dumfriesshire, ScotlandsPeople (Census 1901 829/00 002/00 021)


Viewing the original image showed them listed as “Step Sons” of the householder James CARRUTHERS. Where was their Dad? Had he and Janet divorced so soon after their marriage?

I found the birth certificate of Adam RETTIE for 2 Nov 1898 – and was dismayed to see to word in brackets after the father’s Occupation:

1898 Birth of Adam Rettie

1898 Birth of Adam Rettie, Buittle, Kirkcudbrightshire, ScotlandsPeople (SR Births 859/00 0021)

I then searched for death records for “John RETTIE” between May 1896 and Nov 1898 and found the following entry for 16 Jul 1898:

1898 Death of John RETTIE

1898 Death of John RETTIE, Edinburgh, Scotlands People (SR Deaths 685/05 0725)

My Great-Great Uncle John had died (from Peritonitis) when his first son John was just 2 years old and, worse, 4 months before his second son was born. How sad. Neither child would grow up remembering their father.

Double Tragedy

Then it struck me: the John RETTIE I had previously seen listed on the CWGC site as having died in France during World War I and my Great-Great Uncle’s son John was one and the same person!

So, poor Janet – she loses her first husband John (aged 30) and then her eldest son John (aged 20).

The next time I’m in France I will endeavour to visit the Arras Memorial to pay my respects to my newly discovered first cousin twice removed.

John RETTIE Descendant Chart

Sally Army Invades Canada!

Whilst tracking the comings and goings of my Great Great Uncle James Rettie across the Atlantic at the start of the last century, I made an interesting discovery about the work of the Salvation Army.

I first found James Rettie leaving Glasgow on 2nd May 1908 on the steam ship Ionian bound for Quebec and Montreal in Canada. He had Contract Ticket Number 260 and is listed as a ‘Labr.’ (Labourer) aged 36. This fits with the date of birth I had of 31st October 1871. His emigration also explains why I could find him on the 1901 Census (working as a General Labourer and living with his widowed mother Harriet in Aberdeen), but not the 1911 Census.

Passenger List of the steam ship Ionian

Passenger List of the steam ship Ionian bound for Quebec and Montreal from Glasgow, 2nd May 1908

After finding these emigration details on FindMyPast, I then checked for the corresponding immigration details at the Library and Archives Canada site.  I searched the Passenger Lists, 1865-1922 for the arrival of the Ionian in May 1908 and found that the voyage took 8 days.

On page 2 of the Passenger List of the steam ship Ionian arrived Montreal from Glasgow, 10th May 1908 I found James listed as age 36, a Labourer and born in Scotland.  However, he also had ‘Salvation Army’ written next to his name – as did the majority of the passengers on the first two pages!  What could this possibly mean?  Were they on a massive recruitment drive and had invaded Canada to spread the Word?

An article entitled ‘Crossing borders: Scottish emigration to Canada‘ by Marjory Harper of the University of Aberdeen explained that:
The Salvation Army, which in the early twentieth century claimed to be the world’s largest emigration agency, was active in Scotland both before and after the war, providing assisted passages and employment advice for single women, unemployed men, and juveniles.

So it seems that James had fallen on hard times after the death of his mother in 1905 and taken up the charitable offer of passage to a new land and a new start in life.

However, it seems that he became rather restless in the New World! Further searches have him crossing the border into the United States (Noyes, Minnesota) in 1912 then back again to Canada (Winnipeg, Manitoba) in 1918. Then, just before Christmas 1924 he arrives back in Glasgow en route to visit his brother George (my Great Grandfather) in Edinburgh. He went back to New York in February 1925 where apparently he worked as a Fireman [TODO: look him up in the FDNY library].

He then crossed the ocean again for Christmas 1926, staying in Scotland a little longer this time and not returning to the USA until September 1927.

To-date I can find no Marriage, Death or Census records for him in any of these three countries!

Died in the Poor House

The death certificate for Adam Rettie (my Great-Great Uncle) states that he died in the Aberdeen East Poor House in 1905.

The 1901 Census shows him living with his family of wife Isabella and their 3 daughters and 2 sons at 3 Causey Place in the parish of St Nicholas in Aberdeen.  Adam himself was born in the landward parish of Monquhitter, whereas the rest of the family were all born within Aberdeen itself.

His death certificate reveals the family had recently moved to 206 Gallowgate.  Judging by the name, this was not the best end of town!  I can only imagine that things got bad for him as a result of the relentless Industrial Revolution, given that his occupation was Cattle Drover.  (The death certificate also gives his age as 42, when in fact he was only 39).

The East (or St Nicholas) Poor House was sold off in 1908 as a Roman Catholic school when the new Old Mill Poor House was built.  Unfortunately the buildings were later demolished, as it would have been a humbling experience to visit the site.

I must admit that I had thought that poorhouses had only existed in Victorian times and did not realise that they existed well into the 20th Century.  It was also interesting to learn that in Scotland they were called poorhouses whereas in the rest of the UK they were called workhouses.

The 1911 Census shows the family still living in Gallowgate and that Adam’s son (also Adam) followed in his father’s footsteps and became a Cattleman.  Let’s hope he had a better end…

Origin of the surname RETTIE

“RETTIE: Of local origin from the old lands Reattie or Raittie in the parish of Innerboyndie, Banffshire.”
Source: “The Surnames of Scotland – Their Origin, Meaning & History” by G.F. Black, New York Public Library 1946.

The excellent Maps of Scotland facility from the National Library of Scotland shows various place names throughout the years such as Little Rettie, Muckle (Big) Rettie, Moor of Rettie, Mill of Rettie, Rettie Cottage and Rettie Farm.  Rettie Cottage, Banff, Aberdeenshire AB45 2AA is still viewable today via Google Maps.

In Britain, hereditary surnames were adopted in the 13th and 14th centuries.  This means the surname Rettie dates from medieval times.  Willmus Rettie is an example of this.

The question is: why was the land named Rettie?

About 10 years ago, we were on holiday driving to Holland from France and we passed the Belgian town of Retie.  This put the idea in my head that maybe some Flemish knight from Retie in the service of William The Bastard was eventually rewarded with land in Scotland (similar to Walter the Steward).

Alternatively, is the name of Gaelic origin?  “Reithe” is “ram” in Gaelic which may (or may not!) be pronounced like Rettie.  However, the farmland of Rettie seems more suited to wheat farming rather than sheep farming.  The “Hairst O’ Rettie” bothy ballad seems to vindicate this (also Mill of Rettie).

So, for the time being, I like to think the Flemish connection is more viable…