This old church has been declared a National Culture Treasure.


my UK trip

4/1/2013: Turns out: probability that I ancestors from Orkney is near zero!! They were from Kilmaurs, an area
just south of Glasgow. That zigZag story will enjoy a future separate post..

10/30/2011: apparently I never posted the following file I found on my harddisk: Will fix format someday..

My Orkney Saga

I left Poughkeepsie, NY on May 18, 2007. After a bit of tedious travel, I arrived at the airport in Aberdeen, Scotland at 12:15 on May 20.

I took a bus into the city and then back out to my first BB.Aberdeen is quite beautiful. Although I didn’t make it out to the Queen’s Balmoral Castle, I did enjoy the sites of downtown Aberdeen.

My Friday evening ferry to Kirkwall, Orkney left around 5pm and arrived at midnight. As it docked further out from midtown than I expected, I was fortunate that a lady offered me a ride to Eastbank House. After surprizing the landlord next morning I introduced myself to the beautiful St. Magnus Cathedral. The afternoon ferry to Sanday brought me to the North Sea island my Greatgrandfather had left about 160 years ago. By happenstance, I stayed at one (of only two) pubs on Sanday which had rooms.. BellesAire. On 4/22 I began exploring the Island with a 14 mile bike ride out to Russness where I thought Mungo was born. A big mistake, 1, he was born in Burness and 2, overweight at age 64 is no time to start biking such a distance anew… The kind landlord, John Sinclair, let me use his car for a ride out to Burness. The Cemetary was close to Ortie where Mungo lived. I took so many photos that day that I ran out of flash memory when I got to the most important site: the New Ortie ruins. I was surprized to find one cottage fixed up and occupied. Ortie is mentioned often on the internet as the ruins of an old fishing village, although my family were all farmers. Ortie is located just yards from the bay of Otters Wick. As Tuesday, is the day that the banker flys over from Mainland (actually the largest Orkney Island), I had to get some Travelers checks cashed as the Inn took no credit cards. The police fly in also when needed for an emergency… for normal police activity they come over on the ferry. That day I called Tommy Garrioch, who came to the pub after dinner with his brother. I had his monuments booklet by then.. he told me right where my GGGrandfather was buried alongside my GGGrandmother. I also visited the other two cemetaries on Sanday; Buckaskail near Kettletoft where I was staying; then Cross cemetary on the Low road. There were Muirs buryed everywhere! I had met an Ian Muir, the owner of the general store at Kettletoft. He introduced me to David Muir, harbor master– very possibly a relative. In general, people don’t know much beyond their grandfather.. As I left Sanday on the 5pm ferry, I took pictures of D. Muir helping with the ropes. As I boarded, he handed me a note for contact. Back in Kirkwall, Mainland, I returned to Eastbank house. The next few mornings were spent in the library which had great geneaological resources. The proprieter then showed me around to various sites in the afternoon. The Stones of Stenness and Ring of Brodgar are earlier than the better known Stonehenge. We went on to the famous Skar Brae, a village occupied before the Pyramids! It turns out that the Orkneys are more famous for thier archeology than for Muir genealogy… One such tour included a friends farm.. complete with Highland cattle; as well as Yesabee. With just GREAT views of the cliffs. and onto a Stromness pub for lunch. On my last day in Orkney, Malcom drove on the Churchill Barriers (built to keep submarines out of the Scape Flow). First stop was the Italian Chapel: Made by Italian POWs during WWII. Looks very real but done with paint using a quonset hut supplied by the British. We also walked around the old fishing village of Margaret’s Hope. The ferry back to Aberdeen left at 2300 for an overnight trip– 7am arrival. I slept quite comfortably on the cinema floor, as did 4 or 5 others. I missed the 7:35 bus to Edinburgh, but took the 8:35 and into another B&B on Gilmore in Toolcross by noon. I spent the P.M. at Edinburgh Castle. What a climb!! A beautiful St. Margaret’s chapel. The Castle entrance was in the midst of the 3 month construction of bleachers for the annual Tatoo. I spent the next day at the Scottish National Art Museum: Rembrandts, Titan, and on and on … and including a huge work by Church of Niagra Fall; and it was from the American Side!! As Western New York is my birthplace, I was doubly pleased. That evening I paid my 1 pound corkage fee at the Backstage Bistro in Toolcross. Nice salmon dinner– a splurge. I took pictures; thus entertaining the owner and 4 dineing women. Almost scratched Glasgow (for Newcastle instead) — but took the train (#10) at the last minute. Finally found inexpensive “Merchants Lodge” off Argyle for 2 nights at 30#/. I took the bus over the river and out to Rutherglen, the last area Mungo Muir resided in 1851 before emigrating to the US in 1854. This very old town predates Glasgow. Although the street survives, the residential address of 1851 is long gone. I had a “Happy Dinner” for #2.95 at the local McDonalds that night. And made reservation for Sat. night in Sheffield; lack of internet made the find difficult; but took it at #70/night. It turned out to be a corporate hotel .. but at least right next to bus station. Then arranged 2 nites at Alara for #25/nite… just a tram ride outside Sheffield.


16 (first&second) cousins: 36 (third+) and counting… Most are in Canada!! Haven’t done the legwork for 3rd cousins yet! I can’t name a one… and EYE think I’m quite into genealogy… Cousin-ship is kinda funny.. It could almost be like a fingerprint. I wonder what the probability of two 1st cousins having the SAME number of cousin… is…?? Probably close to zero…. Have to think some more on that one.



Most recent data is some information on my brother’s naval discharge.. on 7/18/1945… after service on the USS Sarsfield (DD 837)…
and a picture of the 1941 St. Paul’s graduating class. Also, a copy of Bieger Genealogy (my Aunt) going back to the 1600s. Now to
get this info into TMG and then ultimately phpGedview.

Ask and you shall receive!…….on the internet.

This is one of my favorite pictures of my dad. While I may have known then which grandchildren were taken in hand; I sure didn’t know it a year ago when I posted the picture in my gallery. Today I got my answer from my niece…Kathleen Dixon and with date too!

The picture entitled GrdPaWalks was taken in 1986 at Emery Park (a family reunion) and Grandpa is walking Jaimee Reed and Derek Dixon. I only remember it because Stephanie was just born (so it was after Aug 17, maybe Labor Day weekend?)

One Stop on the Journey

So,………… we’re cruising up the Northway just outside Albany. I’m reading the Times while Liz drives…. and talks of stopping in Saratoga. We’ve often stopped at Gallagher’s for lunch on the way to the Adirondacks. I finally figured out she was talking about playing the slots as respite.. “Oh, what will you do though..?” I’m deep in the business section (Circuits on Thursday!) as we start to pass Exit 13 out in the passing lane. Having waited for exact right moment, I threw out: “I don’t know why you don’t stop for an hour or so?”; we’re crossing the travel lane, heading for the exit! Wow, such quick reaction.. and no accident either.

We’ve stopped before, but I never realized the Casino was right next to the track. Trotters were exercising. So after Liz went inside, I pulled over to the south end of the track in the parking lot. What a great view of the action. And the clippity/clop of horse was terrific. Luke even listened for 30 seconds before going back to sleep. I tried to remember whether I’d EVER seen Trotters race; perhaps 30 years ago.

Anyway, it was a great noontime stop in the Journey. And my bride of 43 years came back with a $100 win!! You can’t beat that number 13 Exit!

This has been an exciting Genealogy week for me… The addverts finally hooked me on taking an trial run; and the rest is (my) history! The first discovery was how easy it was find (new and old) family census images. The 1930 US census was recently made available; and I saw the entry for the 4 Murphys on Stillwell Ave. in Kenmore. RJM, Catherine, James and Jean. It’s also easy to find their ancestors in 1851 Scotland; just 3 years before RJM’s grandfather, Mungo Muir, left for the U.S.

Another discovery turned from disaster to wonderful new information.. and I found a relative in Ottawa Canada I never knew I had.. The Ibbotsons I’ve had on the net for a couple years was based on finding a William/Sara Ibbotson that fit the birthdates of WHI. I found a fitting pair a few years ago; albeit there was no sister, Martha who never came over. I thought I’d try and find other Ibbotsons who stayed behind. When I looked at the 1891 census on ancestry; disaster: my William was still there!! And I knew he was in either Buffalo or Colorado. So, I began looking harder.

At one point, I limited the search to the Family Trees that had been uploaded. I stumbled on one mentioning WHI and his 1st wife: Louise Girardin. I only knew the name Gerarden which was spelled wrong. The contributor had their marraige and generations going back to France and Switzerland!! Boy, was I excited. One problem was ferreting out the maker. By looking in the forums for someone talking about other Girardin family members, I chased down Bob Covert. His wife is a Girardin. It is likely to be a few weeks before I get the data all integrated; but here’s a snapshot:

Joseph Girardin b1822 France
+Maria Anna Breton b1832 Switzerland
Louise Girardin b1860 in Cheektowaga

Peter Breton b1804
+ Maria Anna Pretre b1805
Maria Anna Breton b1832 Switzerland

Similarly, I found a Tree put up by Elaine Pikard with a Sara and William that fits much better than the prior information I had. And it even had a sister: Martha. After trading a few emails with Elaine, I concluded, this was a definite match. And the story behind the story kinda fits too. Mom had told me that WHI left Sheffield when his father remarried. It turns out that, his mother Harriet, had her first three children (Martha, William & Sarah) out of wedlock!! She married William Flowers when WHI was 10. The married couple had Ada Flowers in 1880. WHI left for Buffalo c1884.

Check the site of my 2nd Cousin Twice removed (Elaine in Ottawa) to learn about the Sheffield of old.