Strathcarron and Gledfield

In 1841 my grandmother’s grandfather James Ross was 14 years old. He lived in the village of Gledfield, in Ross-shire with his parents and siblings. He was a child of the Scottish Highlands. His father, who had the same name, was a blacksmith. James got his middle name, Urquhart, from his mother, Catherine. Gledfield lies... Continue Reading →


Old maps

I have to confess to a weakness for old maps. There is something vaguely adventurous and exciting about the yellowed paper, the colours, the text. I found this image recently on a free app for iPad. It brings to mind a Europe that to us today is barely remembered, a Europe without the nation of Germany,... Continue Reading →

Ice on the Elbe

Hamburg is a city on a river, the Elbe. But it is also a large seaport and in the 1850s was becoming, with Bremen, one of Germany's major emigration points. To reach the sea ships had to navigate the wide reaches of this mighty river on a north west route with the Danish Duchy of... Continue Reading →

Nineteenth century Germany

In an attempt to understand where my German ancestors came from, I have tracked down this useful map from Wikipedia. There was no Germany as we know it in the nineteenth century, rather a confederation of German speaking kingdoms and duchies (the German Confederation or Der Deutsche Bund). On the map below it is Holstein... Continue Reading →

Groß Aspe or Großenaspe?

Johan Holtorf, who renamed himself John Holdorf when he migrated to Australia in the middle of the nineteenth century, was born in 1828 in Bimöhlen, Holstein, in northern Germany. At the time of his birth, however, Holstein was under the control of Denmark. His oldest sister Anna, the first born of the family, was born... Continue Reading →

Blog at

Up ↑