Generation: C

James Robertson

Katherine Mackay

Born: 1855 Died: 1928
Father: William Mackay
Mother: Janet Murray


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She seems to have been a bit of a 'loner', not the first in our family! Soon after marriage she went to New Jersey, and brought up a family of six children, four of whom were iron moulders, like their father. Mrs. Alice Robertson (born Texas, a grandson's wife) is my valued source of information here. She lives at or rather is found through, Box 31, Ocean Gate, New Jersey 08740. We had a most pleasant visit this summer from Rosemary Giordano and her husband (Gen F or G). I take pleasure from being the agent making possible a meeting between Jessie Petterson and this fine family.

RLM 25/3/71

Catherine Mackay. Later Mrs. James Robertson, of New Jersey.

She was the fourth child in the family. 1855-1928.

Robert K. Robertson, her grandson wrote to me on March 1968: "My grandmother was a tall woman, very sweet, quiet, and not given to idle talk. She always seemed busy, a hardworking woman. She kept a clean, neat and well furnished house. Always a red chequered tablecloth on the table. She put newspapers on the table and set milk and cookies on it for me when I stopped by on my way home from school. Her floor and linoleum were always spotless, and she put newspapers on the floor to wipe your feet on. The coal stove fairly glistened from polishing. She was kind to me, but very quiet. I seem to remember she looked a bit sad.

She was married to James Robertson, a stone-worker, and that should be the final chapter, for I never knew my grandfather, and to my recollection saw him for the first time at his funeral. He lived in an hotel where he died. In those days, when gas lights were still in use, the lights were turned off and on, with no stop on the fixture. The consensus of opinion was that he turned the light off, then on again when he was retiring for bed. He was found dead from gas fumes in the morning. Grandmother was the backbone of the family. She worked very hard to keep the children together. The boys all worked in the foundries where they were all thought well of in the trade. Grandma Kate worked as a house-keeper for a Mr. Levey, and one day apparently had a heart attack and fell down a flight of stairs, and was found dead.

I think Grandma Kate spoiled her boys, as they could have anything from her for the asking. I cannot remember the girls too well, except that they were all very beautiful girls."

Mrs. Robena Robertson, Catherine's daughter-in-law, wrote to me: "Your Aunt Katherine was a very proud woman. She told me about the croft in Sutherlandshire, but she said that as soon as she was old enough to get away from it, she went to Glasgow. There she worked in domestic service until her marriage to James Robertson (1874?) and thereafter travelled to America with her husband and children (1890?). When they arrived in America the roads were not paved with gold and it was a bitter struggle for survival. You may be sure that they had a very rough time. Her husband was a stone-cutter, and eventually the four boys became iron moulders.

About 1902-1904 I was reading a Scots newspaper and noticed a paragraph: 'Whatever became of Katherine Mackay Robertson?'. I brought this to her attention and she said "Oh. I guess someone is thinking of me and wondering where I am!" To my knowledge she never answered that advertisement. Later, in about 1916, she received her share from William Murray's estate. Katherine and her son William talked about Scotland, and the boy said he often rode horses on the croft. Katherine's two daughters, Janet and Katherine were born in America Both are dead."

Jessie Petterson wrote 18/2/67: "Don't forget the Robertson family who came to New Jersey, our Aunt Kate. She influenced my mother, Sarah, to come from Canada to U.S.A. She was never popular with any of the family. She promised the whole world if we come to the States. That was the end. We stayed a week until we both had a job. Then all relationship ended."

Dr. John Buchanan wrote 4/10/67: "We wrote to her for quite a time after the division of the Murray estate in 1917. I remember a very fine photo of her and a daughter arriving at our house. The daughter had a name which one associated with the Baltic Regions!"

It is over 60 years since the two sisters, Katherine and Sarah parted, and 50 years since the Robertsons were last heard of, and over 40 since Katherine died. My hit-and-miss enquiries finally led me to a doctor near New Jersey who chanced to remember a patient of his called Robertson whose maiden name had been Mackay, and then to the above mentioned Daughter-in-law, Robena, and then to two of Kate's grandchildren. Kate had 6 children, 10 grandchildren, 31 great grandchildren, one of whom, Helen Robertson is corresponding with my own grand-daughter, Alison Kille, in Hull. They tell a fascinating story as a family. From this distance, it suggests that they were down-to-earth realists. I got little mention of music, song and dance, of the arts and sports, of hobbies, travel or the theatre. They are all U.S.A. citizens, and there is no mention of any of them ever leaving the States for a holiday visit to Scotland! If you wish to get all their story, write to my good correspondent, Mrs. Alice Robertson, 714, Anglesea Avenue, Ocean Gate, New Jersey. She has the Key!

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