Tuesday, July 31, 2007

We interrupt our regular programming...

...to bring you a report on the Veness reunion, held in Luseland on July 28 & 29, attended by the descendants of Joseph and Grace Fisher Veness. All eight grandchildren were present, along with many of their descendants. It was a great time, with much reminiscing, laughter, story-telling, and a few tears. We met on Saturday afternoon at the Catholic church basement in Luseland to visit and look at old photo albums and memorabilia. I gave a short talk on my trip to Scotland, with an update on the Fisher cousins in the old country, and Ginny and Pierre prepared and presented a great slide show of old photos of herself and her siblings and cousins. We had a great supper of Chinese food, and then took a tour of the cemetery and the Huck and Hoff farms. Then it was back to the church basement for more entertainment, including songs from the Schraefels and the Hucks, and a wonderful skit by the Venesses.

Here are the eight grandchildren of Joe and Grace. From left to right, Doug, Doreen, and Max Veness (children of Jim and Mary Veness), Shirley, Alan, and Ginny Huck (children of Adam and Lily Huck), and Eugene and Sheila Hoff (children of Ted and Jessie Hoff).

Here they are in order of age, like they did when they were children. I'm not saying at which end they start!

These are all the descendants present at the reunion. What a crew!

The beginning of the skit.

The Hoffs were unable to come up with an entry for the talent portion of the evening, so they temporarily adopted Rob. He's easy.

Some snaps from the cemetery.

A little more posing at the Hoff farm.

The bunnock game.

The kids had a great time....
...but the tour was getting a little long for Jerry, poor guy.

Can't wait for the next one!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The old country (Scotland, part IV)

We stopped at Roslyn chapel (of Da Vinci Code fame) on our way to the southern part of Scotland. Roslyn (Roslin, Rosslyn, etc, etc) is absolutely beautiful in it's own right, but has seen a surge in the number of visitors since the movie debuted. In fact, they are talking of limiting the number of visitors due to the deterioration of the building. It is very small, and was quite packed when we arrived. An attempt was made to restore it in the 1950's, but they actually did more harm than good by painting it with a "cement slurry", which sealed in the moisture that was harming the original stone. They now have a huge "roof" over the whole building in order to dry it out over the next few years.

Noter the carving on the ceiling, too.

This is a angel playing the bagpipes, said to be the only such image in Scotland.

There were little "green men" hidden all over the chapel. You first see "young" green men when you enter. As you go around the chapel, they age, until the last one is a very old man. This guy would be middle-aged.
This is a view of the top, from under the "tent".

We continued on our journey to "Campbell country", in Ayrshire, where our great-great-great-great-great-grandfather farmed in the early 1800's. We found the town of New Cumnock, and three very friendly and helpful gentlemen who led us out to Dalgig farm, where Ivie Campbell and his family lived. This is the house and part of the yard. The current owner, Jamie Young, is probably going to sell out to the coal mining company whose strip mining operations are encroaching on his land.

Other than the unsightly strip mines, the countryside was gorgeous.

We even saw a farm where they were shearing sheep.

Then it was off to Newton Stewart, where we had booked a B&B. Flowerbank was a lovely old home, with a stunning garden on the bank of the River Cree.
They can grow palm trees and other tropical plants, because of the warm Gulf Stream winds that blow off the coast.

We ventured south along the "gold coast", named for it's fertile farm land. We were looking for the cradle of Christianity in Scotland, where St. Ninian settled when he arrived in 497 to convert the Celts and the Picts. We started at Whithorn, home of the remains of the Whithorn priory, built by followers of St. Ninian.

They have a very interesting little museum which houses many archeological finds, such as these intricately carved crosses and stones.

We continued right to the tip of the peninsula, to Isle of Whithorn, where St. Ninian built a chapel. Here you can stand on Scottish soil, and see England on your right, the Isle of Man in front, and Ireland (on a clear day!) to your left. The views were amazing. We decided this was our favorite spot.

This is St. Ninian's chapel, built in about 1300 to replace the original building. It is in the middle of a pasture, surrounded by cattle and those wonderful stone walls. That would be England in the distance!
This is a view from inside the chapel.

This is the chapel on the left, looking out toward the lighthouse.


Stop by again and meet our Fisher cousins!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Edinburgh (Scotland Part III)

After Edinburgh castle, we met Lisa's friend, Emma, for tea. How very British. Emma was teaching in Moscow with Lisa, but was visiting her boyfriend in a small town just outside of Edinburgh. She and Lisa are on a beach in Spain right now! After tea, Emma joined us as we wandered down the Royal Mile. We stopped first at the Writer's Museum, in the former home of Lady Stairs. They had lots of information on Scottish writers, especially Robbie Burns, and of course the obligatory circular staircase in the turret.
We saw St. Giles Church, a magnificent piece of architecture. (That's Emma on the right.)

We saw an authentic Scottish piper in front of an authentic Scottish pub.

We also saw Greyfriar's Bobby, a statue of a little dog who once belonged to a friar, and wouldn't leave his master's grave until the day he died. It was quite a touching story. The Greyfriar's church and cemetery were wonderful, too. The guy Lisa is talking to is from Seattle, Washington, and could have been Evan Bennett's twin.

This is a view down the street from the statue. It was so quaint and colorful.

We finally reached Holyrood palace, the Queen's residence when she is in Edinburgh. It is open to the public - for a fee, of course! - but picture-taking is not allowed inside. The outside views were awesome, anyway.

This is Holyrood abbey, behind the palace. The architecture and contruction are amazing.

This view shows the outside of the abbey, with the Salisbury craigs in the background.

This view shows Arthur's Seat (the flat hill), which you can climb if you want. We didn't want. The tents were being set up for the Queen's garden party the next day.

A year ago or so, an Andrew Fisher of Edinburgh contacted me via the internet regarding the family tree. It turns out we are related - third cousins once removed - and I emailed him about our trip to Scotland and we set up a time to meet. He picked Lisa and me up at our B&B, and gave us the most wonderful driving tour of the city, with lots of insight on the city based on his years of living there. First we stopped to see the Royal Yacht Britannia, from a parking lot at the dock!

This is Edinburgh's "Old Town", and we stopped and had a half-pint at "The Last Drop". Cute name, until you learn it was because there used to be a hanging gallows just outside!

Andrew took us to a great look-out point near the observatory at the university. It was a bit of a climb, but most of it was by car. This is another view of the Salisbury craigs and Arthur's Seat.

Then it was off to the west side of the city, and a spectacular view of the Forth Road bridge over the River Clyde. We had actually gone over this bridge on the bus tour to Loch Ness.
This is Andrew and me in front of the Forth rail bridge. Thanks, Andrew!

Tomorrow, Rosslyn Chapel. Stay tuned!