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.


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.

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.

Links & Leaps

It’s curious how your mind makes links & leaps in exploring a topic. The guest priest at St. Patrick’s in East Hampton, Ct. this Sunday was from the Phillippines. This reminded me of my Uncle Harold, a Jesuit Missionary in the Philippines from 1937 to his his death in 1970. Relooking at this 1945 artical

frhmwar.jpg yesterday, for the first time I realized he must have been in the Army. I’d read the piece a number of times, but never caught the implication of “Chaplain” Murphy. When did he join? How and where did he serve in the Philippines? And most important, where is he buried? So I collected most of the material I had into a webpage. There is always something new in the Genealogy Hobby to explore; and the net makes it much more possible for an amateur

Bleeding Navy Blue by Christopher R. Smith

In general, I don’t like science fiction. My preference is for mystery. One exception is “time travel”. I especially like Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose. There was another nice “travel back to Medieval time; and don’t screwup the timeline” book; but BriefSM; I can remember neither author or Title. And now for another tease that has mystery and TT. I haven’t yet finished this book by Chris Smith; but since it too starts out so great, I thought I’d mention it… Bleeding Navy Blue. Time bangs back from the future with the first time tactical use of an impressive new weapon in the Navy Seal’s arsenal…. Sorry; I’ve got to go finish the book…
And I will finish it before my sister goes back to Buffalo this month: she MUST carry back her Grandson’s FIRST copy of his FIRST novel; as she certainly would not entrust it to the USPS.

further update: I was so busy with Jean, Jerry and then Bill & Robin; that I only got to page 120. Jean took the book back to Buffalo, so now I’ve got to order one to see how the story ends… It is a rather interesting yarn.