Previously printed in the Bruce Bulletin, Volume 13, Issue
4, November 2002
One Member's Creative Solution to Cemetery
Mary MacKay has just published her fourth book in a series of
six about the lives of
early settlers in the Paisley / Elderslie / Arran/ Saugeen area.
Each book in the series focuses on an actual family who
emigrated from the tiny island of Colonsay, Scotland to this
area and is now buried in Rusk's Cemetery, on Sideroad 5, just
off Concession 10, Elderslie Township.
In narrative form, combining fact and fiction, the people in
these books come alive as Mary chronicles their experiences. One
does not have to be a descendant to enjoy reading about the
characters because their experiences likely were also the
experiences of your ancestors.
Although this series is not intended to be a genealogy, Mary has
included family charts in each. They can be read in any order,
but major characters in one book appear again as minor
characters in the next.
Book I "We Must All Stay Together" centers on the
Galbraith-McNeill family who settled first in
Mariposa Township, coming to the Paisley area the same time as
Orchard and Rowe. They claimed land at the top of
the 'Hog's Back', just north of town in Saugeen Township. All
eleven of their adult children came with them and claimed land
too. One of the sons went to every gold rush. Many of this
family were stricken in the prime of life by consumption (TB).
Book II "Lauchlan's Legacy" tells the story of the
McNeill family who brought the Baptist faith to these parts.
Lauchlan McNeill and his three sons all were lay
preachers. One son, Donald, was ordained and started the
Baptist Church in Paisley and Williscroft (Con. 12, Elderslie).
Donald drew all the Colonsay people together and
converted them to the Baptist doctrine. Three grandsons also
were Baptist preachers; one rose to become the head of Baptist
Foreign Missions in the world.
Book III "Tatters In My Life" tells the very unusual
story of Kirsty McCalder who left behind her husband and
small daughter in Mariposa Township and came to Concession 1,
Arran Township with her brother Donald Galbraith. The
fact that she was pregnant when she came and that her husband
signed an agreement and sent her money every year until 1894
adds to the puzzle. You must read the book to find the answer.
Book IV "I Think We'll Go Too" is the story of Flora
McNeill, her children and grandchildren and the many lives
she touched as a pioneer in Prince Edward Island and Elderslie
Township. Widowed eight years after settling on Concession 13,
Elderslie Township, her indomitable spirit sustained her through
difficult times for ninety-three years. Of her sixty-one
grandchildren, only six remained in Ontario and only one of them
has descendants living in Elderslie today.
Book V "The Scooptown Diary" is well underway and should
be ready for
printing early next year.
Book VI "Down Petticoat Lane" will recount the
experiences of the early settlers
in what is now Saugeen Bluffs.
The books are available at the Arran-Elderslie Township Office
in Chesley, the Museum in Southampton, and in Paisley at the Tea
Room, the Museum, Flotsam & Jetsam, and Majury's Barber Shop or
from the author.
All proceeds from the sale of these books goes to the
Restoration Fund for Rusk's Cemetery. Last fall a new fence was
erected and this spring new bases were put
under half of the stones. Work is scheduled to be completed this
Bruce County's Townships
(before 1998 amalgamations)
St. Edmunds Township