Generation: A

James McAlister, I

Born: 1807 Died: 1894
Father: John McAlister, III
Mother: Catherine Donald

Mary Thomas

Born: 1815 Died: ? After 1857.


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[Picture] [Picture] James 5Feb1807 - 2Jun1894. Married Mary Thomas of Kippen. James farmed at Wester Auchincarroch, 110 acres (1851 census). They had 9 children including Margaret, my Mother's mother. My mother used to visit James and his wife at Woodburn where they lived with their four unmarried children. Catherine who died in 1880, Susan, William and Jessie. My Mother described her grandfather as a jovial old gentleman and her Grandmother as very strict and correct. These two, James and Mary, died of influenza in 1894 at Woodburn.

James 1838-1923 went to New Zealand to an Uncle who ran a very successful sheep farm in the South Island. He retired to Auckland, but came home to Woodburn, where he died in 1923 of a strangulated hernia, there being no telephone to get a doctor. I remember meeting him and being impressed by his fine upstanding carriage and good looks. Whilst in New Zealand he was a regular correspondent of Aunt Susan.

[Picture] Margaret 1840-1901. My Grandmother, after whom I am named, married Robert Brown in 1860. She had a pony to take her to school from Auchincarroch, her brothers walking with her. She was married when she was twenty to the Schoolmaster, producing 12 children, only six of them reaching maturity. Coming from an aristocratic family of gentleman farmers she had a hard life running the schoolhouse and the school and rearing her offspring. No wonder she died at sixty. I wish I had known her, but she must have seen me as a babe.

After Margaret came William (1842) who died in infancy.

Then Catherine, born 1845, who died at Woodburn in 1880. Nothing is known about her short life.

Mary Ann 1848-1930. She married a Mr. Ferguson. She was a great lady, whom I well remember visiting in her widowhood in Helensborough.

Woodburn. Built by my great grandfather, was a charming place with extensive grounds, a flower garden and an enclosed vegetable and fruit garden, a wood and a burn. All attractive to the many friends and relatives who visited, including myself and family.

Susan, William and Jessie all lived very happily at Woodburn after their parents died in 1894, and made their streams of visitors very welcome. Many a time I stayed with them and was cosseted by them - a fire in my bedroom at night being a great privilege. My aunt Susan used to take me visiting the terrace at Bonhill where she acted a lady bountiful, distributing from her basket of 'goodies' to all. She used to introduce me to her friends when I was a medical student as "This is my grand niece who is trying to be a Doctor". (Trying Hard!).

Aunt Susan had travelled much abroad in her young days, as a companion to her Aunt Susan, Mrs. Turner of York. She was an excellent gardener and enjoyed raising flowers and growing fruit.

Uncle Willie went to Glasgow every day by train from Alexandria, walking to the station from Woodburn (2-3 miles) and coming back at nights to enjoy his gramophone records of which he had a great collection and could put on a wonderful concert.

Aunt Jessie, the youngest of James and Mary Thomas. She too was a very gracious lady and a good correspondent. These three formed a very happy trio, and although living in an isolated place kept in touch with the world by correspondence and their many visitors. It was an unique household for my generation to visit and absorb the tranquil atmosphere of dignified Victorianism. We learned to play solitaire, on a set that is now in my daughter Mary's possession in Tasmania, and many card games. A sword hung in their hall and a cloak, which garment I think must have belonged to the Vice Consul of Ferrara. Was the sword used by the Jacobites? We'll never know, as the answer to our questions on which side were the McAlisters was "On the Right one!". I suspect Bonnie Prince Charles, but we will never know. Bill: "This sword and red tunic and a Grey Beard military issue whisky was presented to the military museum at Stirling or Edinburgh".

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