Remembering Jutland and a Lost ‘Little’ Cousin

I have been away from my genealogy blog for a few months because, well, life happens. Events interfere and life gets unavoidably busy – even for someone like me whose current day job is to live a life of retired leisure.

Today however is special. Today, May 31st, marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland, the largest (I would be very hesitant to use the term greatest to describe it)  of the naval battles during World War I. It is also, subsequently, the 100th anniversary of my first cousin, twice removed James Little Triggs’ date of death, a casualty of that battle.

James’ grandparents were James Little and Dorothea (Dorothy) Carson of Greenock, Scotland. James and Dorothea were my 2X great grandparents.

This story starts somewhat romantically in Greenock, Scotland where a young Janet Little meets and falls in love with a sailor. John William Triggs was no doubt a strapping young man when he met Janet in Greenock, likely at a time when his ship was in the Greenock dockyard. John and Janet married at 64 Finnart Street in Greenock on December 2, 1898.

Well, almost nine months to the day later, on August 28, 1899, John and Janet welcomed twin boys into their family! The babies were Philip Triggs, named after his paternal grandfather, and James  Little Triggs, named after his maternal grandfather.

There was no time to settle for the family however and John Triggs’ work had them move to Devonport in the southwest of England where in the 1901 Census of England, James can be found living with his parents and Philip is found living, not too far away, with his paternal grandparents, the split likely an attempt to ease the burden of rearing the twins.

It wouldn’t take too long before both boys were eager to follow in their father’s footsteps. In due course, both of the twins joined the Royal Navy as Cabin Boys, at the age of sixteen.


H.M.S. Queen Mary (Photo courtesy of

And so it was that on May 31, 1916, Cabin Boy 1 James Little Triggs was performing his duties aboard the H.M.S. Queen Mary, a relatively new ship, built and launched in 1912. His twin brother Philip was performing his duties on the same day aboard the H.M.S. Iron Duke, a similarly new ship. Both brothers were also in the middle of the Battle of Jutland.

H.M.S. Queen Mary took two direct hits which caused her magazine of ammunition to explode. James Little Triggs, 16-year old Cabin Boy was lost in that explosion along with 1,265 of his shipmates. The body of James was never recovered for burial but he is memorialized at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Plymouth Naval Memorial.

Philip Triggs survived the Battle of Jutland and World War I. Philip later emigrated to Australia where he died in 1967.


Sentimental Saturday – John and Agnes Hadden’s 25th Anniversary

I know … I know … this posting is a day late. My only excuse – stuff happens.

Today, I am sharing a glimpse back in time to October 1954 and the 25th Wedding Anniversary of my paternal grandparents.

On October 10, 1929, John Gaull Hadden married Agnes Little in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Both John and Agnes were born in Scotland (John in Woodside, now part of Aberdeen and Agnes in Greenock). John immigrated to Canada with his parental family in 1923 while Agnes immigrated to Canada in 1928 on her own. They met in Toronto.

In October 1954, my parents hosted a 25th wedding anniversary party. I know that my parent’s house was not large so I suspect that it was a fairly small party.

In the photo below, likely taken by my father, my grandparents can be seen cutting the anniversary cake. Standing behind them was the party hostess, my mother Anne (O’Neill) Hadden who at the time was pregnant with her first child and first grandchild for her in-laws. I suppose that in a sense that technically means this is also the first photo of Yours Truly.

Agnes and John Hadden cutting their 25th wedding anniversary cake

Agnes and John Hadden cutting their 25th wedding anniversary cake

Remembering The Events of 9/11 And My Cousin, NYFD Lt. Michael Warchola

The events of that horrific day are indelibly marked in my mind as is the case with most of us. Yet, from the relative safety of my office in Canada, it was too easy to feel somewhat distant and removed. After all, I really didn’t know anyone in New York City at the time.

As I scrambled about the office at work that Tuesday morning, my secretary told me that she heard on the news that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. “That’s awful,” I said to her in passing, assuming that a small private plane had somehow been unable to avoid clipping the building.

I had no idea of the magnitude of  the events that were unfolding.

Much later in the day, when all the meetings were done, when I had a chance to sit in front of a television and watch the news reports, only then did I understand the tragedy and devastation.

And that awful day hit home when I discovered that I lost a cousin that morning.

A second cousin I had never met.

My cousin was Michael Warchola, or ‘Mike,’ as he was known.

Lt. Michael Warchola, NYFD, Ladder Company 5

Lt. Michael Warchola, NYFD, Ladder Company 5

Mike was five years older than me, born February 20, 1950 in Brooklyn, New York.

After Mike graduated from high school in Brooklyn, he shuffled off to Buffalo where he graduated from university in 1976.
Although he had a teaching certificate from university, in 1977 Mike joined the New York Fire Department like his older brother Dennis had done some time earlier.
After 24 years, Mike had risen to the rank of Lieutenant in the Fire Department. Perhaps more importantly, he had just two shifts to complete before retirement. The paperwork was all done and travel awaited. The first trip was going to be to Australia.
On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, Mike was the officer in charge of NYFD Ladder Company 5. Mike and his team of firefighters answered the call. They not only responded to the World Trade Center site, Mike lead his team into the North Tower.
Mike knew that he couldn’t save everyone but he was determined to make a difference and save one life. He made it to the 40th floor where he assisted someone, a “civilian,” experiencing chest pains. He was on his way back down, on the 12th floor, when the evacuation order for all firefighters was given.
On the 12th floor landing of the North Tower ‘B’ stairwell, Mike was continuing to help his ‘civilian,’ a young woman experiencing chest pains. When that call went out to the emergency responders to evacuate the building, Mike was seen by other firefighters still tending to the woman, promising that he would soon also evacuate.
Then the unthinkable. At 10:28 a.m.
Like the South Tower before it, the North Tower collapsed. Somehow, fourteen people in the ‘B’ stairwell survived the collapse. Mike was heard over the NYFD radio following the collapse, “Mayday, mayday, mayday. This is Ladder Company 5, mayday. We’re in the B stairwell, 12th floor. I’m trapped, and I’m hurt bad.” Mike was able to call out two additional maydays but his would-be rescuers were unable to reach him due to impassable debris.
On Friday, September 14th, the body of my cousin, Lt. Michael Warchola was recovered from that debris. He was carried out of the rubble by surviving members of NYFD Ladder Company 5.
The world had lost one of it’s heroes.
Learning that a cousin, one of my cousins, was there, on that infamous day and, that he died saving the lives of others in his role as a ‘first responder’, a role he undoubtedly loved and worked hard at, makes the tragedy of the day hit ‘home’ that much harder.
I never met Michael but wish I had had the chance. I have learned from a number of tributes posted about Michael that he enjoyed history, especially stories of the strange and bizarre, a passion reputed to have developed from reading British tabloid newspapers at his grandmother’s house. Michael was a Golden Gloves boxing champion who went to university in Buffalo around the same time I was in university in Toronto, just a 90-minute drive away. Mike and I both graduated from university in 1976 and we shared a common ancestry leading back to Greenock, Scotland.
Each year, as the 9/11 date rolls around, as I watch the inevitable television documentaries that capture the events of that day, I cannot help but think of my cousin and feel profound sadness for the loss of his life yet also feel profound pride knowing that Michael Warchola is part of my family.

Visiting My Ancestral Homelands (Part 4) – An Ancestral Home in Aberdeen, Scotland

There are various records that provide me with the addresses that some of my ancestors lived at in Aberdeen. Although my recent visit to Aberdeen was not aimed at genealogical pursuits, I did take the opportunity to visit one of those addresses that was conveniently located as it turned out, not far from our hotel.

This rather plain-looking house at 57 Bon Accord Street is where Janet ‘Jessie’ (Jamieson) Hadden lived and died.


James Hadden was my 4X great-grandfather, the son of a crofter named William Hadden and Agnes (or Ann) Robb. James was born around 1807 in Fetteresso, Kincardine, Scotland. On May 25, 1833 (182 years ago yesterday), James married Mary Smart in Inverurie, Aberdeen, Scotland. Sadly, Mary died just seven years later in 1840, leaving James to care for their three young children.

So James married again. His second wife was a widow named Janet Jamieson who was usually referred to by the name Jessie. Jessie had two young children to care for from her first marriage to a man named John McKnight.

James Hadden died in March 1871 of bronchitis and was buried in a family plot he had purchased in St. Peter’s Cemetery on King Street in Aberdeen.

Rather than move in with one of her by then adult children following her husband’s death, it seems Jessie chose to live on her own. Census records tell us that 1891 she lived alone in a flat at 41 Bon Accord Street in Aberdeen, sustained by an annuity.

On March 7, 1896, at the age of 76, Jessie suddenly fainted and passed away. This event occurred according to her death registration at her home located at 57 Bon Accord Street, Aberdeen.

There is a deep, touching joy in the recognition that you are walking in the footsteps of your ancestors. A connection suddenly made tangible. And, so it was for me, as I walked the same street as Jessie and, as I took a moment to physically touch the house that she lived in.

Of course, I think that somber moment was lost on the delivery man who was watching me with my head slightly bowed and hand on Jessie’s house. I suspect he was thinking that it was too early in the day for someone to be inebriated!

Visiting My Ancestral Homelands (Part 3) – The Lang Stane

The Lang Stane (stone in English) is a sight you will miss if you are not told about it.

I found no mention of the stone in any of the tour books or pamphlets I read. There is a lot of information available about distilleries, castles and historic buildings but not a word about the wee piece of Scottish history known as the Lang Stane.

I was lucky enough to have had my cousin Pamela Gaull mention the stone during a visit over coffee one day during my recent trip to Aberdeen, Scotland.

When I told Pamela that we were staying at the Bauhaus Hotel (an absolutely fabulous hotel and highly recommended) on Langstane Place in Aberdeen, Pamela asked if I had seen the Lang Stane. Seen it? I had never heard of it!

With a little bit of surfing on Google, I was able to determine that this ancient stone was located somewhere at a corner of a crossroad with the short street the hotel was on. One morning during a walk in the seemingly ever persistent light rain, I found it. But be assured that if I wasn’t looking for the Lang Stane, I would not have noticed it.

Tucked neatly into a tiny alcove of a building at the north-west corner of Langstane Place and Dee Street rests the Lang Stane.

ABERDEEN Scotland - the Lang Stane on Langstane Place

The Lang Stane. Photo by Ian Hadden, May 4, 2015

There is not much known about the stone other than it is made of granite, appropriate enough given it’s location in the ‘Granite City.’ It appears to have been a boundary marker at some point given it’s pointed or “keel shaped” base and, may have been part of a stone circle which could possibly date it back to about 3000 B.C. Whatever it’s past, the Lang Stane is a part of Aberdeen and Scottish history, sadly an ancient relic ignored by most passersby.

Visiting My Ancestral Homelands (Part 2) – It’s About Family When I Visit Aberdeen

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.

HADDEN Ian with Pamela Gaull May 2015

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!

ScotlandsPeople Releases 1865 Valuation Rolls

The following announcement has been made by the ScotlandsPeople website:

“We’re delighted to announce that the Valuation Rolls for 1865 have just been added to the ScotlandsPeople website.

The new records, which are FREE* to search, comprise 1.3 million indexed names and 76,512 digital images. The Rolls, which are searchable by both name and address, cover every owner, tenant and occupier of property in 1865, offering a fascinating window into the lives of mid-Victorian Scots.”

The FREE search feature is in effect until April 19, 2015 but viewing images until that date will still cost two credits.

ScotlandsPeople is the ‘official home’ of the records held by the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh, Scotland.