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I reunite identified family photos that I find in antique shops and second hand stores with genealogists and family historians. If you see one of your ancestors here and would like to obtain the original, feel free to contact me. Donations of pre-1920 photographs are also most welcome. I hope you enjoy your visit!
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Names or Places? Untangling Miss Isobel, Elgin, NB, ca. 1900




The photograph reminds me of a grammar example one might use to illustrate the importance of commas:
Let's eat, Grandma!
or
Let's eat Grandma!

Same words, very different meaning.  On the reverse of this photo found in a Vancouver Antique Shop, the following words have been written:

Isobel Duncan
     Marchfield
      Dumbreck.

The photo was taken at the Blizzard Studio in Elgin, N.B.  So my question is this to you.  Does this mean "Isobel Duncan of Marchfield, Dumbreck" or "Isobel Duncan Marchfield of Dumbreck," or "Isobel Duncan Marchfield Dumbreck of Somewhere Else"?

The problem with Dumbreck is that it is both a place and surname.  Same goes for Marchfield.  And just down the road from me is a place called Duncan.  Though, I think we can be fairly certain that at least Duncan is a surname.

My assumption is that, given the way the words are arranged, I'm looking at a photo of Isobel Duncan from Marchfield, Dumbreck.  Dumbreck is located in Lanarkshire, Scotland.  And, according to the 1905 Scottish Postal Directory for Glasgow there is a place within Dumbreck called Marchfield.

I'm going with that theory for the time-being, anyway, but after a few searches I'm really not turning up any Duncans in Dumbreck.  So, I focus on Elgin, N.B.

Did you know there is an Elgin, New Brunswick (Canada)  AND an Elgin, Scotland (or North Britain as it sometimes appeared)?  So we have another issue.  Which Elgin is it?

I tried researching the photographer, Robert Stewart, who had his studio on High Street in Elgin.  I was able to locate a thread on a genealogy board with this very topic.  Where was Robt. Stewart, photographer on High Street, N.B. from: Scotland or Canada?  The discussion concluded with the agreement that Robert Stewart, the bookseller and photographer, was from from Elgin, Moray, Scotland.  He apparently operated there from 1860 to at least 1881, where he is listed in the Scotland Census at 131 High Street, Elgin. The 1891 and 1901 censuses list him as a "retired photographer" living at another address.

The image looks "newer" than 1881 to me.  I would date it to the 1890s or early 1900s.  Perhaps Mr. Stewart continued to take portraits into his retirement, using up his stockpile of cards.
You have any leads on Isobel, I'd love to hear from you!


1 comment:

  1. There is no High Street in Elgin, New Brunswick (in fact there are very few roads at all there!)

    To add "insult to injury" I suspect Isobel might of been Isabella such as this one (but there are a great many to choose from):

    https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KSDC-932

    http://www.dumbreck.co.uk/historical.htm tells of the "privileged" Dumbreck family that had a "holdings" in the Spey Valley (the site of Elgin, Scotland) named Orton.

    I suspect Marshfield was the name of a manor or farm (there is now a housing development in Elgin with a street named Marchfield Place) which tantalizes me. :)

    Given these bits and pieces:

    https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VB75-VPN might be the lady in question (with the name horribly mangled).

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