A story about my own family….

As a child, my father loved to spend time with his “Grandpa Sandy”, Alexander Graham, who was a farmer at The Hill, Errol, Perthshire – he loved children and was a lot of fun.  Through piecing together various documents from my family tree research, I knew that Sandy had had a rough time as a child – his mother, Mary Alexander, died in April 1876 within a month of giving birth to him and that left his father, Patrick, to look after him and his older brother John.  Patrick was a tenant farmer at Baldinnies, Dunning and had the farm to run and must have wondered how he would cope, however less than a year later he was found dead in his bed.  He was only 35 and the boys were aged 2 and 9 months.  What was to become of them?

Their mother, Mary, had an older unmarried sister, Margaret, who lived in Perth with her brother, David, who was grain merchant, and the boys went to live with them.  Uncle David got married in June 1881, and Margaret and the children moved to Heughfield House in Dunbarney where they were living at the time of the 1891 Census.  Sadly, John died in 1893 at the age 18 of fever and congestion of the brain.

By the time of the 1901 census, Margaret and Sandy had moved to Ardargie Farm, Forgandenny.  Sandy is noted as aged 25 and Margaret as a housekeeper, aged 59.  Margaret died in 1903 at Ardargie, having dedicated herself to bringing up her nephews.

On one of my regular visits to Perth, we took a run out to Dunbarney to look for the cemetery (I refer to it as “a picnic”) and have a nose around the headstones, and I started off in one corner, walking up and down the rows reading each inscription, camera at the ready.  I thought there was a good chance that I would find some of “my Grahams” here and was thinking about the story of the two orphaned brothers.  There was nothing much to note but as we reached some rather larger and more impressive monuments, I spotted the headstone for John which read

In loving memory of John Thomas Graham born at Cairnbeddie, St Martins 21st November 1874 died at Heughfield, Bridge of Earn 16th August 1893 “with Christ which is far better”

Having made notes and taken some pictures, I looked at the next stone and it was for Margaret Alexander and read

In memory of Margaret Alexander beloved Aunt of John Thomas and Alexander Graham.  Died at Ardargie Mains, Forgandenny, 27th April 1903 aged 61.  “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord”

Margaret Alexander's Headstone

Margaret Alexander's Headstone

I was so surprised that two of these prominent headstones were for members of my family, and very touched that Grandpa Sandy had made sure that Aunt Margaret and John both had a “big place” in the cemetery.  Yes, there were tears before bedtime!  :-)

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