One of the great benefits of visiting my Scottish ancestral homeland was knowing that I had family there I had never met.
When I began researching my family’s history, it struck me that when my ancestors left Scotland, a country they clearly had a strong love for, they left not just their homes but they family behind. Family they would likely never see again.
Eventually as technology developed over the past fifty years, the ability to communicate at long distances became more accessible and contact began to be restored with the family members who had remained in Scotland. This contact first began with my paternal grandmother’s family, the Little’s and Galbraith’s of Greenock, Scotland.
Eventually through genealogy research and the use of social media, I was able to virtually connect with my paternal grandfather’s family in Aberdeen, Scotland. Although we had never met face-to-face, I was able to reach out to these family members who freely and willingly provided assistance to my daughter when she was moving to Aberdeen to study.
The sense of family transcended the mere records that told us we shared a common ancestor. They helped look for accommodation and opened their home to my daughter to share a family Christmas dinner.
Our common ancestors were John Gaull (1860-1942) and his wife Harriet McKenzie (1858-1925), my 2X great-grandparents, who lived in Monymusk, Scotland, to the west of Aberdeen City.
Gaull Family Reunion (from left to right – Renee Thomson, Ian Hadden, Rudy Thomson, Jenna Hadden, John Gaull Thomson and his wife Elizabeth (Anderson) Thomson, Fiona Thomson, Roy Thomson and his wife Romy (Bennink) Thomson) Photo by Ellen Hadden
Roy Thomson and his sister Fiona are my third cousins. Their father John Gaull Thomson is my second cousin, once removed. We enjoyed a fabulous meal together at Roy and Romy’s home near Maryculter, Scotland and a visit that was cut far too short by my concerns about driving back to Aberdeen from a country home in the dark while navigating on what I considered to be the ‘wrong’ side of the road!
My wife and I also had a chance to meet up with my second cousin, once removed Pamela Gaull and share family stories and personal updates over coffee at a downtown Aberdeen hotel. Pamela and I had initially connected online and then met when she visited Toronto, Ontario, Canada. As always, Pamela was welcoming, gracious and engaging.
With cousin Pamela Gaull in Aberdeen, Scotland (Photo by Ellen Hadden)
Fortunately for me, the effort in researching my own family history has provided me with a rich bounty of those I am pleased to call my family!