Tag Archives: Menzies

William’s Letter #1

I was writing up a post about William Menzies. When I tried to find the entry where I transcribed his letter, I couldn’t find it! It’s here somewhere, but for some reason it’s disappeared and it’s not tagged with the Menzies surname. Don’t worry, I’m going to fix issues like these when I redo the site (which is still ongoing, code is so consuming but I love learning it). In the meantime, I’m going to devote this entry to William’s letter so it’s easy to find. Then I’m going next door to play with the dogs because I think I need a dose of cute.

click image for full size

Depot St Rosehill  (? Could be wrong)

Derby Jan 15 /63

My Dear Sister Jean,

I now avail myself of the present opportunity of answering your very affectionate and ever welcome letter, and at the same time thanking your for sending me the lock of poor Margrets hair which I intend having put in a broch. I am very sorry to hear such bad news from my Dear Friends in America and feel very much for my poor Mother. I wish I was there to comfort her in all her trouble. I expect to come and see you all some day has I am quite sure I will never stay in England all my life as I am quite tired of it, I want to come and see you, and I will never be satisfied until I do come if it is only for a visit for a few weeks. I am happy to learn that Brother John has been doing so very well has to aquire property and will be most happy to hear of his arrival amoungst you all in New York. I supose he is not married yet, let me know if your next if soon is the case

That’s where the letter ends. There’s possibly another page to the letter. This is just a photocopy given to me by my Aunt Diane. There are several more letters also. Possibly more than I have. I’ll post the second letter tomorrow!

Mystery Monday: The London Strangler

The article you see to your right was given to me by my Aunt Diane. Basically, her box of good stuff and my boxes of good stuff came from the same place! So she had a bunch of stuff that she gave me copies of when I first started researching heavily. In fact I think all of my Menzies documents were in her box.

Basically the article states (you can click it to view it full size), ‘Lady’ Menzies and her daughter were found dead in their home one morning. There’s even a bolded part that says “Airports and seaports got the descriptions of a middle-aged man and a handsome bearded young man with pierced ears”. To be honest this sounds right out of a modern paper!

Mystery #1: When does the article take place?

This was actually my first big challenge in genealogy. Trying to figure out when this way. Until I figured that out I wouldn’t be able to figure out who the article was talking about. After a lot of searching in various Newspaper databases, I found over 20 printings of this event. It took place in February of 1954! All the articles were a little different but they all gave mostly the same information.

Mystery #2: Who is ‘Lady’ Menzies?

The victims from the article are at first listed as ‘Lady’ Menzies and her daughter (Mrs Isobel Victoria Chesney). Over the next few days, papers are printing a little bit more. It turns out Mrs. Mary Menzies was the owner of an “old people’s home”. She was known by the name ‘Lady’ Menzies by everyone. She styled herself as Lady because her husband, the late Thomas C Menzies claimed he was the 10th baronet of the clan Menzies. However, peerage officials made an official announcement that despite Thomas’ claims, the title had become extinct. Mrs Menzies daughter, Isobel led quite an adventurous life. Depending on which article you read, police sorted through 3,000 to 4,000 “love letters” to get clues as to what happened. The letters dated back to 1934.

Mystery #3: Did they ever catch the killer?

Yes they did, and it’s a doozy folks! Once I found out the year and month of their murders, I was able to follow up pretty quickly. It turns out Isobel’s husband, Ronald Chesney was the culprit. Police believe Mr Chesney killed his wife to “get her 10,000 pound ($28,000) legacy and marry a pretty German sweetheart”. Five days after the murders Mr Chesney shot himself dead in Cologne, Germany after his girlfriend refused him. Apparently, she wasn’t impressed by his actions. That’s when the crazy details really started coming out. Ronald J Chesney was actually, John Donald Merrett. He was even tried for the murder of his mother in 1927! The jury gave a verdict of “not proven” in that case. Ronald/John was even the subject of a TIME Magazine article in March of 1954!

So what’s the mystery here?

Really the mystery I have is how this family is related to my Menzies family. I have a great clue in Thomas C Menzies and his claim. At first I was worried that the daughter, Isobel, was the Bell Brodie that was sending letters to Jane T Menzies. I quickly realized it was a completely different person. It should be noted that this Isobel Menzies lived in London and Bell Brodie lived in London, just in the 1860’s. So that could still be part of my connection. Also, do we really have that connection to Castle Menzies or did I inherit Thomas Menzies wishful thinking?


There were many, many news articles on this event. If you really want to have fun, try to NOT find this story in a newspaper of your choice! I’ll list just the ones I have copies of:

  1. 12 Feb 1954. Police Seek Stranglers. The Frederick (Maryland) News.
  2. 12 Feb 1954. Scotland Yard Investigates Double Murday. Ames (Iowa) Daily Tribune.
  3. 12 Feb 1954. British Claimant to Title and Daughter Slain. Bedford (Penn) Gazette.
  4. 12 Feb 1954. Strangler Kills 2 Women in London. Joplin (MO) Globe.
  5. 14 Feb 1954. Love Letters Sifted for Murder Clues. The Daily Independent (Kannapolis, NC).
  6. 15 Feb 1954. 3,000 Letters Received by Slain Woman. Fergus Falls (Minn) Daily Journal.
  7. 17 Feb 1954. Smuggler Added to Bizarre Murder List. News-Tribune (Fort Pierce, FL).
  8. 25 Mar 1954. Two Deaths Said Murders. Fergus Falls (Minn) Daily Journal.
  9. Mar 1954. Not Proven. TIME Magazine. Retrieved online (Nov 2007, Sep 2010): link.

Mystery Monday is an ongoing series I do on the blog, it is also now a GeneaBloggers daily blogging theme option! So let’s hear those mysteries!

Surname Saturday: Menzies

To be quite honest with you, I’ve started this post 8 different times. Each time I used way too many details then I really wanted to use. It’s just once I get started, I can’t stop! So here’s the run down on my Menzies family, without all the not-needed details.

My Menzies officially start with the marriage of John Menzies and Jane Ferris/Farish. Her last name could be either. I’m using Ferris in my database with an AKA of Farish, just to be safe. I recently found the Menzies family in Parish Registers that were indexed on FamilySearch. It shows the marriage of John and Jane on 27 May 1825. It also goes on to show the births and christenings/baptisms of their first 5 children (James, Margaret, Alexander, Helen, John). You can read about the place they are from in my last Google Earth Adventure. Their last 5 children (William, Charlotte, Mary, George, Jane) were born after the family moved to Liverpool, Lancashire, England. I’ve found 2 of the children in Parish Registers there.

In 1853, most of the family packed their bags and moved to America. Alexander was already settled there as a druggist and the family was living with him in 1860. I still have to trace the family that stayed in England. As for the family in America, I’ve found most of them in the New York City area. They seemed to stay close to each other. There are still some gaps to fill in but I hope to fill them in soon. It was from this original family that the Menzies married into the Loves.

Now we’ll get on to the bit of mystery from the naming patterns of yesterday. I did find a family that does match up very well with my Menzies family. If I’m correct, this is one more generation back. Looking at the Parish Registers for Morton by Thornhill, Scotland, I really think I may have discovered John’s parents and siblings (Mary, Alexander, Jean, Helen). Just using the search terms of Menzies in Morton by Thornhill brings up all kinds of matches that would fit into the naming pattern. I can’t just add them though because there isn’t any evidence of this connection. I did find a birth record for a John Menzies born in 1804. It lists his parents as James and Helen. These names match perfectly with the naming pattern if it is true. A lot of the kids also fit in with the siblings names. This isn’t concrete evidence though, so I can’t add them to my tree yet. I have set up a separate file just for these Menzies offshoots. I’m hesitant to add them to my new, improved file for now.

Next on my Menzies To Do List:

  • Locate a death certificate for Jane T Menzies-Love and her parents. I know all 3 died in America, most likely New Jersey.  I have a fear of sending away for New Jersey records, but I’ll just have to overcome it.
  • Find the England branch of the family and expand them if I can.
  • Fill in the missing censuses for the American branch. Most importantly John and Jane Menzies in 1870.

GEA: Thornhill, Scotland

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Google Earth Adventure. They’re fun, I need to make more time for them! I’m still in the process of collecting my data for the Menzies family. Just when I thought I was at a stopping point, I found another lead this morning. Never ending! I just have to say I love the FamilySearch indexes. Sure I can’t confirm until I set eyes on the record myself, but since I knew the maiden name of Jennie Menzies-Love’s mother I’m pretty positive about what I’ve found. So thank heaven for the California Death Index listing the mother’s maiden name! Since most of my Dad’s family stayed in New Jersey, I fretted over ever getting my hands on more records. Little did I know a bunch of New Jersey people headed west to California in the 40’s!

Anyway, back onto the Google Earth part. I found that John Menzies and Jane Ferris’ first five children were born in Scotland before the family went south to Liverpool, England. I plugged some search terms into FamilySearch’s Scotland Birth and Christening Records. Voila! I have a place! Morton by Thornhill, Dumfries, Scotland, UK. All five children born in Scotland have Christening records there and John and Jane have a marriage record there. In fact I think I found John’s birth record there too 😉 The only problem I had was that there was no Morton on any maps I looked at. I’ve run across this in the United States though, so I don’t fret too bad.

I started with Thornhill. That still exists. It just so happens there is a Morton Street that runs through the center of Thornhill. So this is where I tried my luck with a Google Earth Adventure. I figured the worst that could happen is I spend another pleasant morning touring Scotland from the comfort of my home… Too bad I was already dressed, pajamas would have made it better! Best case scenario is I’d find a church along the street.

My first thoughts were, “What a quaint little street!” Then as a long time user of Google Earth, I knew I should probably do a 360 view and see what’s around.

Oh. Well, that’s a little anti-climatic. The sad thing is the church had a For Sale sign on it. I wonder how much an old church in Scotland costs? Probably more than I could afford.

For those keeping track of my previous GEA, the very first one was a tour by Castle Menzies. I’m positive I can link my Menzies there eventually.

I’m certainly closer than I used to be! Thornhill is about 2 and a half hours south of Castle Menzies location. Not exactly a day trip in the 1800’s but it’s a lot closer than New Jersey, which is where I was before today.

Well, since my goal was accomplished I might as well keep looking around more, right?

I really do long to visit quaint little towns like this. I just love the buildings.

Full Disclosure: Starting with this picture I switched to maps.google.com. For some reason my Google Earth is messing up so I have to re-install it and see if that will help. I’d rather not talk about it though, I’d rather look at the Scotland buildings.

There much better! I think what I love about looking around Scotland and other countries is how much older the buildings are. I’ve got a million houseplan books that show me what these old houses look like on the outside and the floor plans on the inside, but there’s nothing like seeing a real version of it.

Back to Morton Street. I love how green Scotland is. I know everywhere else is green too. It’s just that everytime I open a random street view in Scotland, it’s just so green!

I really do wonder how old these buildings are.

Then I came across this. I was curious as to what all the busses were there for. A quick Google Search told me this is Wallace Hall Academy. Well not the bus activity, but the building I couldn’t really get a look at. The original Wallace Hall Academy was established in 1723. In 1972 Wallace Hall Academy merged with Morton Academy at Thornhill (!) and they moved to the building they are in now. The revelation got me to thinking about Morton parish again. It’s got to be here somewhere!

When I looked up Closeburn, the original site of the Wallace Hall Academy, I found a little nugget of information.

The hamlet of Gatelawbridge, 2+12 miles (4 km) east of Thornhill, is on the boundary of Closeburn and Morton parishes near Crichope Linn.1

It’s still not on the map, but looking through the street views between all three places (Closeburn, Gatelawbridge, Thornhill) I found a few more churches. So I don’t know which one my ancestors were christened in. I guess I’ll just have to take a real trip to Scotland some day and check them all. It’s a dirty job but someone’s got to do it!

Disclaimer: Google owns the images I used in the entry. I am making no profit from these images. Please don’t sue me Google, I own nothing of value except for the Mini-Oreos I ate on this trip.

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closeburn,_Dumfries_and_Galloway

Mary Menzies-Winters

I’ve been hard at work tracing down my Menzies ancestors. I thought I didn’t have much on this line of the family. Then I found a few things that helped me over a brick wall. So now I’m trying to go slowly and search out these families. For anyone keeping count, though I don’t know why ^.^, my new family-file is up to 270 people. This is all sourced information without me going bonkers on the “allied families”, so this is a big accomplishment for me. It’s so hard for me not to go crazy collecting relatives.

I thought I’d share one of my interesting finds with Mary Menzies-Winters. Mary is the sister of my 3rd Great Grandmother, Jennie T Menzies-Love. She was born around 1840 in Lancashire, England (most likely Liverpool). According to a listing I found on the Love-Menzies Family Outline, she married a man with the surname Winters. So that was my first step in locating her after she disappears from her family household. I found her in 1870 in New York City living with her husband Jacob Winters and their 6 children. By 1880, Jacob was gone and Mary had remarried a man named Theodore Thomas. When I went to the 1900 census, I’ll be honest, I did I quick search for a Mary Thomas, but nothing came up. So I just set out to find her children. My reasoning was, if her children were centrally located, most likely that’s where I’d find Mary.

Thanks to FamilySearch’s Manhattan Marriage Index, I had some married names to try for Mary’s girls. Girls can be so difficult if you don’t have any clues about their marriages. I found a marriage record for Mary E Winters and John Thomas Brent. So then I searched for the pair and found them in Putnam County, New York. Everything matches up perfectly. Mary living with the family helps to verify the marriage of her daughter. So then I set about finding the rest of Mary’s children in 1900.

I only found a marriage record for the oldest daughter this morning. So I brought up Ancestry and plugged the information into the search. The only difference from the marriage record is that Elizabeth’s husband is referred to as Tom and not William. That doesn’t bother me too bad because he could go by his middle name. (edit: After reviewing the image more closely, he is listed as Wm but there were numbers written over his name making it hard to read.) Then I noticed that Mary is listed as living with the family. Well, alright. I checked the enumeration dates on both households. Both are listed as June 1, 1900. My only guess is that Mary probably lived with both families during the year. Maybe leaving the crowded city in the summers. I can’t tell which house she was actually at on June 1st. I’m just happy I found her son Frank without too much fuss!

Then I plugged Mary Winters into the 1900 Census search. Just to see if maybe she showed up in her daughter Jane’s house too. Hey, it was worth a shot! Of course, I kick myself for not trying her first married name before moving onto her children, but it all worked out in the end.

Menzies Leaps and Bounds

I’ve made some great advances in researching the Menzies line of my family! I’m very excited about what I’ve found. This adventure started when I decided to sign up for a 7 day free trial of World Vital Records. I thought maybe this would be a cheaper way of being able to access the UK records I’ve been holding off on. Well, after a few hours of trying to get some of the image viewers to work, I just went ahead and upgraded my Ancestry.com membership. Even if I only have the World Membership for one year it’ll be worth it to me! I’m still going to check out World Vital Records for the rest of my trial, but I’m just more comfortable with the Ancestry format. I’ll probably do an entry on navigating World Vital Records at the beginning of next week to test it out some more.

Once I upgraded my Ancestry, It was like being let loose! I went right to work. If you’ve been reading for awhile you’ve seen a small amount of progress being made on the Menzies front. You can read that progress by clicking the Menzies tag in the sidebar, or you can just take a quick peek at the more informative entry: Menzies Mysteries. That entry will show you that I’ve found where the Menzies immigrated to America in 1854. They briefly stayed with son (presumably), Alexander, who had already immigrated and set himself up as a ‘Druggist.’

My first find was in the 1851 England Census. With the Menzies immigrating in 1854, this census should be a great start for me to continue “across the pond.”

I found the family (you can click the image for a full size view if you’d like) in Liverpool, England. That is the exact city they sailed from in 1854. From this census, I learned an awful lot. First thing is that John was a Sawyer before leaving England. I don’t know if he picked the profession back up in America, because I haven’t found him beyond the 1860 American Census. What I like about this is that it confirms for me that Alexander is in fact John and Jane’s son. Here he is listed as 21 years of age and an Apprentice Chemist & Druggist. This information lines up perfectly with his 1860 New York information for both age and occupation. This census also confirms the “brother James” mentioned in a letter William wrote to his ‘Dear Sister Jean’. Having such great luck on this level, I decided to test my luck and go for the 1841 census. The family should still be living in Liverpool if the children’s birthplaces here are to be believed.

Once again, I got really lucky! Here are all my usual suspects, except I have a few extras. Margaret was present when the family sailed to America. However she wasn’t listed with the family in 1851. I’ll have to try and figure out if she was married before going to America. If she did that’ll make a possible 3 marriages for her! Helen, aged 10 is a great find for me. In the letter from William he talks quite about about Sister Ellen and her troubles, including her husband Charlie being away when their little son passed away. Charlotte, aged 4, is a mystery to me. This is the first I’ve heard of her. I’ll have to see if she married young, or unfortunately passed away young. Either way something happened to her. She wasn’t mentioned in William’s letter, so I’m assuming she passed away because she didn’t sail with the family to America.

Overall, I think finding these census records makes me fall in love with the letters passed down through the family. Being able to prove these people in the letters actually exist is a great triumph for me. I think I’ll be talking about it for a long time yet!

Another Menzies Letter

I’ve got another Menzies letter here. There was quite a bit of correspondance between the cousins/siblings in America and London. I’m certainly not complaining! I couldn’t quite make out the date of this letter, but if it is 1888 (I think it might be), I imagine Jennie Menzies-Love’s home life is starting to deteriorate. This would lead up to what happens in 1890. I’m going to get my hands on an article of that as soon as possible!

Glencoe May 8, 18??

My Dear Cousin,

Whatever is the matter with you, is any of you sick, or are you tired of your country cousins, please drop me a card and let me know, I wrote you a long letter, and I sent one of my Husband’s photo, but no answer yet. I could not wait another day, I thought perhaps you were sick – I have had a very hard winter with cough and pain, but thank god I am now a great deal better. I walked to our Church yesterday. I was so pleased to be able to walk that distance and Bob was just as proud as if I had went five miles, he said it meaned? good to have me along again, and today I am going out to make a few calls, everyone was so kind to me when I was sick, if I keep gaining? I am going to London next week to have my photos taken. Then I will send you one dear cousin Jennie.

After you left it seemed to me that I had not seen half enough of you, but perhaps we will meet again, I would like you to send me Mr Loves, yours and some of the childrens photos. I just got Maggie’s today it is a splendid one. I had a letter from Bell last week. They are all well. Jessie has moved to? miles away mean Mr Bech shop? – I am going down there in June also over to Charlies at the Lake shore near Sormia? I will write you from there. I wish you could visit there with me, they have a large house right at the Lake. Bob says if I gain ten pounds this summer he will buy me a gold watch and chain. I am going to try but I do not want a watch as my health is so poorly that it would seem foolish. Sister Agnes was here three weeks, I had a letter from Harry Cormack he is in San Francisco, he has gained five pounds lately. Jane is away at London next Saturday. I don’t know when she will be home, Andrew is busy the children are well Jennie Simpson is with me yet is going  to leave in the fall. Bob is kept very busy, is going to take a holiday and visit Charley this summer if he can get a man for a while. Sister Mary Ann was down lately they are all well. Also ??? Armstrong poor old Lache blind but very well, Harry Ferris & Jennie are getting along nicely at river also Mary Clanahan, Mr Allen & all your river friends. I wrote a long letter to Aunt Margret in N? today, she has been poorly lately. Bob joins with love to Mr Love yourself and family, kiss again and pray for me, write soon.

Yours lovingly,

Maria S Cha????? (Maybe Chamberlain/Clanahan, it is smeared too much to tell for sure)

Overall, my Menzies research is really coming together now. I just need to get my hands on some of those New York Marriage Records to be sure. So hopefully next week, I can get some more answers!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...