Land of Opportunity: Family’s Trek Begins in Scotland
Merchant grandparents and younger generations all immigrate to United States, dreaming of the land of opportunity.
Our family’s trek to the land of opportunity started in Scotland with my grandparents. Grandfather Grant was a merchant in Shieldaig, Ross Shire, Scotland. His business occupied the lower floor of a stone building that still stands and is still occupied by a store. His family, which included five girls and two boys, resided in the upper story of this building.
Grandfather also had a partnership in three merchant boats that plied the coast of Scotland, furnishing merchandise to small communities. His favorite ship was called The Agnes, and it was during a voyage on this ship that Grandfather became ill. Mother was a child at the time but remembered going with the family to meet her father as the boat entered the harbor. It was his custom to be on deck to wave a greeting to the family. When he did not appear her mother said, "Children, your father is ill." Grandfather was carried to his home and lived only a short time.
In her youth, Grandmother had been educated in both culture and homemaking, having attended a school where domestics and etiquette predominated. There is in our family a sampler made by Grandmother Grant at the age of 12, while she was in boarding school. The date on this sampler is as follows: "Sewed by Margaret McKinzie, Stornoway, Feb. 1808." Grandmother's education gave her an outstanding position in her community but did not prepare her for making a living. With the help of her sons, it became her duty to carryon the business as best she could.
The older children had been given the advantage of a good education, but the two youngest girls, Jessie and Jeanne, were deprived of this, acquiring what they could from the village school. The people of northern Scotland spoke Gaelic, but the schools taught English.
The McDonald family lived in the same village, and the two families were close friends. The McDonalds were mechanical men and gardeners.
In this village, most men of Father's time became professional men, and I am convinced that his parents wished to prepare him in the same way. But Father was a restless boy who loved the people of the outdoors best. He was a friendly boy who was often asked to accompany the minister on his trips to the fishing villages where he made calls to christen the children.
At the age of 16, Father was sent to Edinburgh for an education. This would seem to be the opportunity of his life, but again that restless spirit demonstrated itself. The close confinement of the Edinburgh school became too restrictive for one who loved the out-of-doors, and he ran away and went to sea. He spent some years on trading vessels, going into ports of England, Welen, and those as far north as the midnight sun.
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