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 1)

I have just returned from two weeks away in Scotland and Ireland, my ancestral homelands.

But first, I should point out that this was not a ‘genealogy trip.’ I did not go to Scotland and Ireland with the intent of conducting any research. Rather, the purpose of the trip was to visit family and friends.

The trip to Scotland was primarily a chance to visit with my youngest daughter, Jenna, who is completing her Masters degree at the University of Aberdeen. It just so happens that Aberdeen is that part of Scotland that my Hadden ancestors lived in for many generations before my great-grandfather, Alexander Shand Hadden, moved his family that included my grandfather John Gaull Hadden to Canada.


My wife Ellen is greeted by Jenna Hadden at the Aberdeen International Airport on April 27, 2015

The trip to Ireland, Dublin specifically, was to visit friends, former neighbours, who had moved back to Ireland after many years living in Canada.

Those purposes were met and the expectations of them exceeded. And admittedly, I did sneak in a little bit of genealogy. In fact, I was encouraged to do more genealogy related research activities but resisted.

Genealogy for me is more than records and documents. It includes experience and the senses. It was enough for me to walk where my ancestors walked, to see the views that they saw, to touch what they touched and smell what they smelled. I can feel somewhat more connected to them having that shared experience.

Our trip did not get off to good start with flight delays on top of flight delays, rescheduled connecting flights that were rescheduled once again from unplanned destinations. Eventually, through the layers of security checks and passport checks and customs questions, we did arrive in Aberdeen, Scotland. And the look of joy and excitement on my daughter’s face at the airport made the journey worth while.

Over the next few posts, I will share some of the sights and highlights of journeying back to my ancestral homelands.