Saturday, 22 October 2016

The Coburns from Maybole, Scotland

This post follows the family tree branch of Randy's maternal grandmother, Agnes Coburn Cassell. This post has been in the works for a while but thanks to Aunt Allie, some great pictures spurred me on to finish it!  
The Coburn Family in Maybole about 1904 - from left - William, (22 years old), Mary Cherry (16 yrs), James (19), Isabella (42) and little Agnes in front (about 1 year old).  It was likely taken due to plans of emigration to Canada and not knowing if it would be their last family photo.  I can't imagine that feeling...

William (Bill) Coburn grew up in Maybole, Scotland where he worked in a shoe factory from the age of 12. Maybole is known for its many shoe factories and a description of what William's day might have been like is at this link.   I have found that some of his cousins from Maybole on his mother's side, the Fishers, began to move to Canada in 1904 and they settled in the Kenora, Ontario area.  More about them in a future post!

Hearing glowing reports of Canada, Bill set out in April of 1905 and arrived in Virden, Manitoba with five dollars in his pocket. He earned a living and learned Canadian farming ways by working for farmers in the Lenore, MB area.  His brother James (1884-1963) emigrated as well the next year and then his widowed mother Isabella, 19 year old Mary and 4 year old Agnes made the journey across the Atlantic in June of 1907.

In order to have a home for his family, William rented the former Peter Murray farm just south of Crandall at NW 23-13-25. I think I found the abandoned yardsite on a recent road trip, not far from the CN mainline. I don't believe they ever owned this farm but it's where Agnes would have grown up.  The old house, barn and other outbuildings are still standing but slowly crumbling.  The 1916 Canadian census lists the household as 52 year old Isabella, 34 year old William, 13 year old Agnes along with 2 hired  labourers - 18 year old Frederick Greenland and 66 year old James Murray.  

Bill later bought and farmed the west half of 14-12-25 W1, northwest of Lenore.  My Google Maps App was suggesting I take some rather sketchy "turkey trails" to get to it and this being after a very heavy rainfall, I declined!  I do know that this half section of land was near Ravine School. He and Isabella left the farm and moved into Crandall in 1929, good timing in hindsight with the dirty thirties on the way.  Agnes' story during these years will be for another post. 

Bill's brother James Coburn continued west to Abbey, Saskatchewan in 1907 with a friend from Maybole, Duncan Shaw. They made a start homesteading and with hard work became successful farmers in Saskatchewan but returned to the Arrow River/Crandall area in the winter of 07-08.

The wonderful old photo above was taken on April 11, 1914 when Duncan Shaw (1885-1967) and Mary Coburn (1888-1977) were married. The couple returned to Abbey to begin their new life together. They went on to have 4 boys John, Jim, Matt and Don and a girl named Doris.  The local history book from the Our Roots website tells that Mary was a housekeeper for the Good family from Lenore for the intervening 7 years from her arrival up to her marriage.  A member of that family, Florrie Good is standing behind Mary in their wedding photo and the groomsman was Sid Fleming. The smaller photo is of Mary Shaw at home in Abbey on her 70th birthday in 1958.

The same history book details the history of James (Jim) Coburn. He briefly returned to Scotland to court Sarah Peebles (1887-1949), the widow of a friend from back home, and she came to Canada in 1924 and with her eight year old son Hugh.  They added to the family with 2 girls, Josephine (Jo) and Elizabeth (Betty) , and son William Alastair "Scotty".  Their homestead was the west half of 33-21-20 W3.  The picture below of Jim and Mary with her children was taken from the Bridging the Centuries history book and would have been taken about 1920.  The colour one is Jim in 1960.  

Back in Manitoba in October of 1929, Bill moved into Crandall with his mother Isabella an became a dealer for International Harvester implement and had an Imperial Oil dealership.  A recollection of him in a Crandall history book written in 2000 says he was a big winner at whist games and had his own set of curling rocks that were 5 pounds lighter than everyone else's! Bill was the owner of the garage on the east corner of Main Street.   Chronicles of Crandall says he delivered barrels of gas to the farmers, sold hail insurance and collected Hydro payment until 1958. Bill served as a Councillor for the Miniota Municipal Council ward 5 from 1938-45 and he was also on Crandall town council. He was caretaker of the rink for a time and a leader of the Pope Livestock Shipping Association.  A true jack-of-all-trades and an asset to his chosen community.  


Grannie Isabella Coburn raised a grandson Douglas Cassell in Crandall and apparently never lost her thick Scottish brogue. I have to admire her leaving her home and family in Scotland to start over in the new country until passing away at age 87 on June 16, 1949.   

Bill married Vera Lawrie Johnson on July 5,1950 and they continued to live in Crandall.  Bill died on May 22, 1960 and Vera in 2002.   The photo of the two of them above is courtesy of Ancestry contributor lmmcrafts.  They are buried in Crandall Cemetery next to his mother Isabella.  

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