52 Ancestors: Dorothea Carson (Abt 1847-1916)

Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small genealogy blog suggested a weekly blog theme of ’52 Ancestors’ in her blog post “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.” I decided to take up the challenge of the 52 Ancestors blog theme as a means to prompt me into regularly sharing the stories of my ancestors. So over the course of 2014 I will highlight an ancestor, sharing what I know about the person and perhaps more importantly, what I don’t know.

This week I am turning the spotlight on one of my paternal great-great grandmothers, Dorothea Carson.

At the corner of Patrick and Ardgowan Streets in Greenock, Scotland, there stands a small church. Looking down Patrick Street, you can see the mouth of the River Clyde and the various Greenock shipyards along it’s banks. It was in this church that on 6 April 1869 that Dorothea Carson stood beside her maid of honour Margaret Forrest and married Thomas Commisky. 

The marriage record of the event describes Dorothea as being 22 years of age. Both she and her 21-year old groom Thomas recorded that they lived at 4 Sir Michael Street in Greenock. Thomas listed his occupation as contractor’s carter. He appears to have learned his carting trade from his by then deceased father Terrence who is listed in the marriage record as having been a master carter. Dorothea’s parents are listed as John Carson, a contractor, and his wife, Sarah Ann Jones.

As happy as the wedding day was for Thomas and Dorothea, it wasn’t to last long. Just four months later, on 11 August 1869, Thomas died of smallpox. Dorothea was left a young widow with a baby girl, a daughter that she and Thomas had in January 1869 before they were married. They named their daughter Annie. 

I don’t know what happened to Dorothea following the death of Thomas as neither she nor Annie appears either under the name of Commisky or Carson in the 1871 Census of Scotland. But Dorothea may have been used to tough times. Dorothea was born between 1846 and 1848 in Ireland, at a time when the infamous famine was ravaging that country. Dorothea first appears in the Scottish records in the 1861 census as a young teenager, working alongside two presumed Carson sisters as cotton mill workers. Dorothea and her presumed sisters, Susan and Janet, were boarders in the home of an Irish farmer in Bridge of Weir, Renfrew, Scotland.

It is known, however, that on 30 April 1878 Dorothea married for a second time in Kilbarchan, a small village outside of Bridge of Weir in Renfrew County. Her new husband was James Little. Although the record of this marriage states that James was a 30-year old forester, it is more likely that he was closer to 37-years of age.

Over the years, James and Dorothea settled into life together with James working in the nearby shipyards and Dorothea working working as a confectioner. On 2 April 1911, when the enumerator came to their door conducting the 1911 Census of Scotland, they recorded, I suspect with some pride, that they had been married for 33 years, had seven children (I know the names of six) of whom five were still alive. Just one week later however, James Little died. Dorothea followed James in death on 18 December 1916, a victim of Brights Disease.

One thought on “52 Ancestors: Dorothea Carson (Abt 1847-1916)

  1. Ian, I really enjoyed how you painted the picture of Dorothea's life with what you know about her. She did have a hard life in her early years but it sounds like things were better once she married James.

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