Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Coburn and Fisher Family Connections

Thanks to Aunt Allie, these two pictures (from around 1880) of the further generation back of the Coburns help tell the story of their lives before the widow and her family came to Canada as detailed in this blog post 

Isabella Fisher on the left married James Coburn on December 19, 1879 at Welltrees Square in Maybole, Scotland.  The photo of James on the right may have been taken in front of his own home, the detail of the stone cottage behind him and his pocket watch is amazing to see.

Isabella was the daughter of Charles Fisher (1820-1895) and Mary Hodgeon (1813-1871).  Charles' professional was described as a Nailer, a blacksmith who made nails as was his father William (1790-1861) before him. On the marriage register below (which she signed with her "X"), Isabella is described as a 20 year old outdoor worker. Online trees on Ancestry say she had at least 9 siblings, some of which I think came to Canada as well. At least one brother visited her at her home in Crandall, Manitoba. The photo below was labelled - Uncle Willy Fisher 1917 and the story goes he died shortly after returning to Scotland from his visit to Canada.  His sister Isabella, in her thick Scottish brogue, was to have said "At least his bones will nae lie on these rocks".  Going home to be buried with their families must have been an impossible dream for many immigrants.

James Coburn was born on August 15, 1857 at Weaver's Vennel, a street now called Ladywell Road, in Maybole.  His parents were William Coburn (1826-1902) and Elizabeth Murray (1827-1902). An amazing online recollection of James' sister's son William Peden here tells that the grandfather William Coburn was big rugged red haired man who had come to Scotland from Ireland. His occupation was a drainer, digging ditches and laying tile and pipes to help create land for farming. 

This same website gives a poignant description of the death of Wee Tom, the son of Isabella "Bella" Coburn (sister to our James) and her husband David Peden in 1902.  Bella (1862-1959), David (1860-1950) and their 9 surviving children left Maybole in 1909 and David found work on the railway at Portage La Prairie.  He had been a shoemaker in Maybole as were the Coburn brothers.  I was so glad to find this website and especially during Remembrance Week with learning about the 5 Peden boys who enlisted in WW1 and of the two of them who were killed.

picture from ancestry contributor hughpeden
Back to our James Coburn in the photo at the top of this post, he was a Journeyman Blacksmith according to their marriage register. James died on the 11th of August in 1894 at the young age of 36, likely shortly after the picture at the top was taken.  Isabella and James' eldest son William (Bill) was 12 years old and the second son James was only 10. The boys would have been compelled to then leave school, and work alongside many of their neighbours in the shoe factories for their family to stay out of the poorhouse.  

This school class photo includes Bill, the tallest one in the back row.  Research on the photographer  Jas Armour finds he was in business in Glasgow from 1880-1894.  Glasgow is about 45 miles northeast of Maybole and I wonder if Bill attended a boys only school there but I would be surprised if the family could afford that. The smaller photo to the right is a group of young men likely taken just before Bill left for Canada in 1904. Bill is in the back row, second from the left. 

It must have been an agonizing decision to leave their homeland and families and I am sure they regretted it at times.  They continued to put one foot in front of the other however and hopefully passed on a bit of that determination and courage to their descendants.

1 comment:

  1. My Great Grandparents were David Peden and Isabella Coburn. I loved reading about Isabella's brother James as I have no knowledge of Isabella's family.