David Leask's Maddiston Pages

Muiravonside Parish, the way it was.



Back Row Left to Right;

Mary Boyd, Immigrated to Canada and married Jack Haddow.
John Boyd, Immigrated to Canada and married Lizzie Thonton Stirling
Andrew Boyd, married Lizzie McTague
James Boyd, Immigrated to Australia and became the Chief of Melbourne Police
Charles Boyd, married rachel Houston and was killed in a pit near Kincardine
Hugh Boyd, married Anne Turner killed in Niddrie Pit
Anne Boyd, married Jack Haddow (did both Mary and Anne marry a Jack Haddow? [David Leask] ) in Calgary, Canada

Front Row Left to Right

William Boyd, married Jessie Calder from the Bathgate area
T.B. Tam Byde, the best man in the word  - or so he said!
David Boyd, married G Livine(s?) doctor and later specialist in St Thomas' London
Mary McIntyre Boyd
Tom Boyd, bachelor killed in a pit near Plean

The story of Mary Macintyre Boyd.

I was born to Hugh Boyd and Anne Turner on the 24th day of September 1902, in the village of Maddiston, Stirlingshire Scotland At the time of my birth, my father was on a five to ten years mining contract in the United States of America.
My Mother sailed to America with four children; I was three months of age, my two older brothers John and Tom and my sister Margaret.
My earliest memories start at three years of age and that was when 1 first laid eyes sister Anne Eva, she was born on the 9th December 1905. As a child of three I though she was an angel from God, she had very fair hair and blue eyes. In my young imagination, our new baby had to be an angel.
We attended church every Sunday in the United States; there were not very many white families among the congregation. The Baptist Minister was my great uncle William Neil and a brother of my Granny Turner. There was actually four white families attended, Uncle Willy’s, the Sweeney’s and the Cox’s. The church was always well attended, yes, I remember well how those coloured people sang their hearts out, and they knew every hymn. My Mother who had a beautiful voice led the choir, our dear Lizzie who was our coloured nurse, sang along beside her. I will tell you more about her later in my autobiography. Most Sunday’s we went back to Uncle Willy’s for dinner, his family were a bit older than we were, but we enjoyed playing rounders (baseball), peevers (hop skip and jump) hide and seek, leap frog etc. The simple things we did then would be boring to the children of this era.
We were living in the beginning of the century back then and living in pretty wild country, it was a regular sight to see a rattle snake, or any other species crawling along the garden or in the lanes. Our house was built up off the ground for that reason and had mixed blessings. The rattlesnakes and wild boars would get in underneath and it was sheer pandemonium, until they were exterminated or smoked out. It all depended how tired my Father was as he worked long hours. We lived in rather a rugged area some distance from neighbours who lived closer to the mine my father was contracted to. Lizzie lived in that district and had quite a walk down the hill to get to our house. She would sing all the way down such songs as ‘Under the Shade of the Old Apple Tree’ and’ Pure as the Water Lily Bell’. I wonder how many people remember these beautiful old songs today.
My Mother had been sick for some time and Lizzie had taken full charge of meals etc, no breakfast was complete without pancakes. Many years after when I had children of own, the favorite pancakes were much in evidence. Although I did not realise it at time, my mother was expecting another child. Tragedy then struck our family, m brother John Turner Boyd was killed on a railway trestle. According to what I was told, he jumped clear of one engine and was caught by a passenger train traveling in the other direction. John was my Mothers first born and it was a very sad and emotional time for everyone. My brother Hugh Charles was born around the same time but died
a few weeks after. My Father and Mother decided at that time, to return to Scotland when the contract was up. We were sad we would have to leave Lizzie behind, as she had become one of us. She took us everywhere, we would go mulberry gathering, with Tommy climbing the mulberry tree to shake the branches and Lizzie catching them in a big tablecloth spread out underneath the tree. Tommy fell down one day and broke his arm, in spite of my young age (5years), I remember how she carried him on her back and we were all crying including Lizzie.
When I look back on those years, my memory is still vivid on the first day I started school and had to stay there nearly all day. Before that I could wander into the little old one room hut, expecting to get a candy and sent home. But no! I couldn’t understand why I had to stay and waited until the teacher left the room for a few minutes, and then I ran home and hid under the bed. I fell asleep, and everyone was out looking for me.
It was very traumatic leaving for the “Old Country” as my Father and Mother described Scotland, why would we be going to an old place, when we had such a nice home, with plenty of mulberries and gooseberries. We would never see Lizzie again.
According to my Mother I was sick on the way back and couldn’t eat, this period is a little blank in my memory, but I do remember arriving at the “Port of Greenock”. We had to stay in a hotel as it was too late to travel. Shortly after we left the boat the (Caledonia) it caught fire. It seemed to me would never get to my Grandmother Turner’s house. ‘When we arrived at Polmont station, my Grandfather and a neighbour, were waiting for us with a brake as we called the conveyance at that time, it was a carriage with four seats on each side and the driver sat up front. The journey to “Craigend” took another forty five minutes. We lived at Grandfather’s chicken farm for a while until we bought our own house.
1 started school again in Maddiston; it was a vast change from our little school in the States. The other children called us “Yankees”. My teacher’s name was “Miss Dunn”, a heavy set lady who would use the “Strap” for the least little incident she thought needed punishment. The second day I was at school, Miss Dunn called me out, I suppose I had not been paying attention. She said “1 am going to punish you” 1 said “yeh” she pushed me. I put my hands on my hips and faced her up with these words “just you put your hands on me and I will soon fix your clock” (face). I was only six years of age. At the end of the day, I was given a long blue envelope, for my Grandfather, who I may say was much respected in the community, as was my father’s parent’s. The following day my father took me to school, it was not just around the corner, we had to walk at least one and a half miles, along a railway track used by the mining companies, no school buses or any other buses in those days. Somehow I think we were all the better for it, as it made us more alert to what was going on around us. Now to face the Ogre as I thought, but to my surprise, Miss Dunn had got over the shock of my bad behaviour. She patted me on the head, told me to go to my seat as I did not mean it? I replied “yes 1 did my De always told us to stick up for ourselves and you pushed me” However when she returned to the classroom, after seeing my father out, she had a pleasant smile on her face. There was no further trouble. After two months we left that school, as it was too far from the new house we settled into. We were all registered into Wallacestone public school.
My Father had joined the family contracting company again, all the Boyd brother’s were in it. They were known for miles around, in later years when I was a young woman; I was asked “are you connected to the Boyd mining contractors. They opened up mines in many parts of Scotland; five of the brothers Hugh, Charles, Tom, John and Andrew were in this together also my Grandfather. Uncle James and the youngest David went on for further education, David eventually becoming a Doctor in England, as for James I have no idea what he did.
We had only been back from the States over a year when my De was killed during the reopening of a Pit in Midlothian. The Police came to the school that morning, to take us home to be with Mother, who was pregnant with my youngest sister Marion(Minnie) My De was only 32 years of age and my Mother was left with five of a family and one still to be born. He was a handsome man, with black wavy hair and dark moustache; I can still see him lying in our parlour.
The brothers were members of the Masonic Lodge and carried the coffin shoulder high; it was a full Masonic funeral with a band playing “The Dead March in Sol”. I couldn’t sleep at night for a long time because of the slow beat of the drums in my ears. My brother Tommy walked the two miles to Grandsable Cemetery. We three girls, Margaret, Eva, and I stood outside our house, waiting for the cortege to pass. It was the month of
October, but we still wore white dresses with a black sash underneath our coats. In those early days, everyone went into mourning clothes. My Maw wore a long fitted black coat and a large black hat with a crepe veil. The large black hat and thick veil were called “Widow’s Weeds”
Nothing settled down much, until my sister Minnie was born. My sister Barbara was only one year and eight months old, my Granny Turner took care of Minnie who stayed with her, until Granny died. My Maw moved to the village of Brightons and opened up a Dairy, Home-Bakery, and Grocery Store (oh happy days) we lived near the Union Canal. She had moral support from the Masonic Lodge, regarding trade in the store. My brother delivered the milk, along with all kinds of home-bakery goods such as, Soda, Currant, Treacle and Oven Scones, Pancakes, Oatcakes and many other kind of cakes, made by my Maw. She would be up early in the morning and work till late at night, to fill her customer’s orders. She had the cleverest pair of hands that God ever gave to a woman. She made all our clothes and knitted jumpers, also our long black stockings.

We had three different sets of clothes, one for Sunday one for school and a change when you got home from school.
We had always missed our De, as his contracts used to take him away a lot, but he never failed to come home on a week-end, Sundays were family visiting days to both Grandparents, first to my Maw’s parent’s for dinner and of course our supply of eggs, pork if a pig had been killed also a chicken. Some people only had a chicken for Christmas, but Granny kept Geese and that’s what we would have. The Geese were vicious birds at times and used to run after us. I think perhaps we used to annoy them, as everything was so peaceful and quiet, before our mob descended on them. My De and Maw rode bicycles, they would strap a cushion (old gold) on to the front and take the girls in turn, and my brother had his own cycle. We saved our pennies until we had a sixpence, then we hired a bicycle, so that we could learn how to ride it.
My Granny Boyd was the sweetest, kindest dear old lady. I loved her very much and often got myself in to trouble, for coming home late from school. If the truth he known at the time, it was because I had crept up the side of a hedge to visit her, she was so loving. I was christened after her (Mary Mcintyre Boyd).
When we lived in Brightons, we lived near the United Church and it was a must that we attended Sunday Morning service at 11.30, Sunday school at 3pm, and evening service at 6pm. There were the picnics, gala days and crowning the Queen. Our annual trip was always aboard two of the Coal Boats that sailed quietly along the Union Canal. Picture this if you can! All the parent’s of the Sunday school children took their pails and scrubbing brushes down to the boats. They were scrubbed and cleaned for the trip to Linlithgow, about four miles away. In spite of the coal boats, we had to be dressed in white dresses, colored sashes and ribbons to match. On week days our hair was plaited, but on a Sunday our hair was allowed to hang down. When we arrived at our destination, we had to walk quite a distance and it was done in a very orderly fashion. Each Sunday school class had the same colour of sashes and ribbons, so we all had to get sorted out into our little groups, and march down to Linlithgow Palace. Even back then it was crumbling, there was a dungeon, where according to history books Mary Queen of  Scots was transferred from Haining Castle and spent some time in that dungeon in Linlithgow Palace. When we arrived at Linlithgow Loch where the old Palace was built, we were all grouped around in a circle and given a bag with sandwiches, one cake (Maw’s usually) two biscuits four pan drops or caramels. We also had our tinnies (tin cups) attached to our colour of ribbon that hung around our necks and the beverage was milk or Irn Bru a much flavoured drink, but! We were always warned, “You drink that milk and don’t eat too much rubbish or you will be sick going back home”. We could go for a sail on the Loch, for a threepenny bit, that’s if you could afford it. Also at the Palace there was a little shop that sold postcards with a penny stamp on it, they cost two pennies. We sent one to our two Grannies; just t let them know we were on a trip (four miles). After six hours the weary travellers or should I say sailors returned home on our luxury cruiser. The coal boats were pulled by sturdy horses that walked along the canal banks; we always made it our business to find out the name of the horses, so we could hurry it on by chanting to it.
After two wonderful happy years in the Dairy store, my older sister Margaret caught scarlet fever. The Dairy was closed down for fear of infection in the dairy side. This was another fatal blow to my Maw we were not without money at that time, as a compensation claim had gone through because of my De’s accident, but how long could that last.

In those days, a child was kept six weeks in hospital in case they spread the disease. Unfortunately that was not the end of it; my sister then contracted St. Vitus Dance. I do not know what the medical terminology for this affliction is today; it was quite prevalent after Scarlet Fever, when we were young. Now the cure was to bathe in Sea water, morning and night but we were miles away from the Portobella Sea front. A year before this took place my Grandfather and Granny Boyd had moved into retirement at the seaside resort of Portobella, a few miles from Edinburgh. On their advice, my Maw packed it all in and moved there for the cure and in three weeks, there was a great improvement in my sister and she was completely cured in no time. We had now settled into #3 Hope Street, it was a very nice house but it was expensive. Maw had to look for employment, we were all getting older and needed more support and I was ten years old at that time. Our brother Tommy was always on the lookout to make a few coppers, he was now fourteen years and would run errands for stores in the district. When he got a sixpence he would run home to Maw with it but don’t forget back then that small amount would buy 2lbs of sugar and a loaf of bread. Average wages then were twenty four shillings and that was forty eight sixpences. Tommy was a very smart and clever boy and well presented. He came home one night with tears in his eyes, some other boy had got a job in a bar at the corner of Bath street, had he been a few minutes earlier he would have had the job. One week later he came running home from school, the boy had not worked out at the bar and Tommy had the job, so it was no more school. Sometimes he would get some tips and a mince pie for his supper, he wouldn’t eat that pie and although it sounds selfish, we waited till he came home to see what he had for us. The bars closed at 9pm and he had about 15 minutes walk home but he would run the distance in 5 as he couldn’t get home quick enough, to share his goodies with us. Maw had started in a laundry and dry cleaning place; she was in charge of the sorting department after the clothes were cleaned. She worked long hours, but still the knitting needles and sewing machine went, no store bought clothes for her family. In the first place she couldn’t afford them, and secondly she could choose her materials and colours she liked. Before she married my De she was a dressmaker to trade. I think I must have been a vain little minx, as I delighted to show off my pleated skirts and sweaters to match also a tammy with a tassel on it, everything had to be complete. Even although Grandpa and Granny Boyd lived quite near us, Maw did not allow us to trouble them in their retirement, Uncle David was still at home and was a very studious young man, and he was attending Watt College in Edinburgh. As usual I would sneak in to see my dear old Granny, I knew on my way out to look on a little window ledge in the corridor, it was the bathroom window. I would watch her go into the bathroom and when she came out, she would give me a little pat on the head and a loving smile. That was my cue. I had to look for my usual tea biscuits and butter, but before eating them I looked between the biscuits for a little piece of paper. Wrapped in paper was my penny or half-penny, whatever she could give me at the time.
My De’s two sisters Aunt Annie Mrs. Tim Longbotham) Aunt Mary (Mrs. Jack Haddow) had moved to Alberta Canada. Aunt Annie went first, and then when my De was killed Aunt Mary joined her. They used to send a box of wonderful apples to my Grandfather and believe me he ate them too. I can’t remember him ever giving me one, but that didn’t stop Granny.
We didn’t attend church as often after we left Brightons, but I went down to the beach whenever I could, mebe two or three times a week and on a Sunday There was a Band of Hope we attended in winter and in the summer we congregated on the sands at the foot of Bath St. We never collected money, I often wondered why? As we marched down we sang “Onward Christian Soldiers” As we gathered in a circle for the afternoon, we sang one hymn after the other. I couldn’t sing hut I made a noise and I always remembered the words. My favourite hymn was “Throw Out the Lifeline I sang this with great zest, at the same time looking over the “Firth of Forth” to the great North Sea. Inverkeith and the Bass Rock lay in the distance.
When King Edward died, the paper boys were running all over shouting “Read all about it the King is dead” “Long live the King”. With my usual curious mind, I stopped a boy he handed me a paper, 1 said I don’t want that I don’t have a penny to buy that, but tell me how can the King be dead and you are shouting “Long live the King”. I was standing there so innocent; I got his cap across my head for that question. Then came the big day, the Coronation of King George the fifth and Queen Mary, my Maw had to work long hours and the shops all closed at 6 o’clock she was not able to get my “Brown Button Boots” until the night before the Coronation. When she got home that night, I tried them on and they were too small for me and we were to march next day to Edinburgh. Nothing could be done about the Tower St Shoe store, they were closed and they all had an official holiday next day. I
cried myself to sleep that night and something I had never been known to do I had a nightmare. I got out of my bed, took the box with the boots in it opened the door, walked down the garden path and into the street. It was a short street and at the end of it was the Clock Tower. I remember looking at it, six o’clock exactly. Then suddenly I felt someone taking my arm and leading me back into the house. Later my Maw said she had not wanted to scare me as this was a bad thing to do, to someone sleep walking. I did get my boots next morning; Maw went to the store owner’s house a few doors from ours and told him what had happened. He was an elderly man so his son took the boots back for a bigger size. 1 managed to get to my school group just as the long parade started. Me and my “Brown Button Boots”, I just had to be there to get my medal and china mug, with the pictures of our new King and Queen on it.
We then moved to a new house 54 Carronview (
In Maddiston) we had two attic bedrooms, one front bedroom and a sitting room come kitchen. This house had a much more modem Coal Range. This was the pride of our family, how we polished it with Brasso. We had a brass fender with two leather boxes on each side; this was my favourite seat to read anything I could get my hands
on. We were all taught to sew and knit by my Maw, and she always encouraged us to keep sewing and knitting all through our lives. My brother started to work in the mine, he did not want to be a miner, and he was more interested in the Engineering side of it. He was still the head of the family and only 15 years of age, Tommy and I were very close.
One day my Maw was visiting a friend of hers and she had a boarder living at her house called Joseph Colville. His brother who was an army officer was visiting him that same day. A spark must have been lit between the two visitors. He began to then visit more frequently and by that time he came in civilian clothes, as he had served his twenty one years in the army. To be truthful about this, Tommy and I were not too happy about these visits; I guess we must have been jealous, seeing Tommy after my De’s death had been considered head of the family. This visitor looked very much like my De; he had black hair and a moustache. Maw told us many years later that is what attracted her to him. I was twelve years of age; the day Maw married John Colville in St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church in Rumford, much to the ire of my Granny and Grandpa Turner who were strict Presbyterians. My stepfather had a very good army pension, after twenty-one years service. His brother Joseph was under manager at Manuelrigg Pit and he got my stepfather a job at Craigend Pit as store -keeper.
There were rumours of War and Tommy had turned sixteen, this worried me very much in case he would have to go to war. He was very close to his cousin John Turner and his pals John Shackleton, Johnny Meechin. We used to say John, John, John and one Tom when we wanted to tease them. Then came the terrifying news “War has been declared” After all the trouble the Germans had caused in Europe, “Kaiser William” and his son “Little Willie” as he was known, were on the march against Britain. As they usually did the four pals took off for their country strolls that day. There was no sign of them as evening fell, it was then 12.3Oam and Maw was still waiting up, we couldn’t sleep wondering where Tommy was. At last the door creaked open and in crept Tommy. My Mother said “Oh God Tommy where have you been” he had never stayed out that late before as he had to be at work for 6am. He said “John Turner joined the Argyles, John Shackleton, has joined up Johnny Meechin (who was a couple of years older) had also signed up. Maw said “and you Tommy”. They only had two days to report to Stirling. My Step-father tried to get it all stopped, as they were all under age except Meechin. They did not all join up in the same regiment; Tommy was in the Argyles, John Turner in the Black Watch. They all wanted to he in Kilts, they were all drafted overseas at seventeen years of age, like the rest of the cream of the country.
On the 24th of September 1915, my brother John Francis Colville was horn. When I came home from school and before I entered the house. Dr Lawrence came down the stairs with his little black bag. He said “Many happy returns Mary I brought you a present of a little brother” He was a lovely baby, dark brown eyes and a mop of black hair. My Step-father was asked by the Government to take over the Mother’s and Widow’s pensions this was over and above his usual job. We always had someone waiting in our house for Government assistance. Every available man young and old had gone to war; some were not accepted because of the coal situation. Someone had to mind the Pits, to keep the home fires burning.
Early in 1916 the big push had started in France; our usual field postcard did not arrive. How I prayed for that postcard to arrive only to say that Tommy was alive and well. There was another lull in the fighting and a few cards started to come through again. I cannot remember the exact date of the “Evening Times” front page but ft read “Battle of the Bulge Big Success” our troops were pushing the enemy back and “Hill Sixty” was captured. Another card came Tommy was still well, but on top of that came “Your Son Tommy Boyd has been Wounded in Action Next came the news our cousin “John Turner had been killed in Action”. Who was going to be next of the four pals that had enlisted together? Tommy had been sent home to a Military Hospital in Glasgow, he had lost a leg, Johnny Meechin was the next casualty, he also had lost a leg. That was three out of action and just before the capitulation John Shackleton was killed by a snipers bullet. It was a sad homecoming, two young boys with one leg and two never to return. During Tommy’s convalescence period, my Step-father encouraged him to take up his ambition of becoming an Engineer. He attended Technical Engineering College and later joined the “Clyde Valley Power Station”.
After we passed through the Junior Maddiston School, we had to walk two miles to Muiravonside Senior School, hail rain or snow we wouldn’t miss school, we strived for perfect attendance. We then attended Falkirk High and we either walked to Polmont Station where the train would stop at Falkirk High Station then another walk to school. If we were lucky we would get a ride on the Milk Wagon right into Faikirk, that was a rare treat “Youngs Park Hall Farm” delivered milk in that district.
My ambition was Domestic Science; my Maw had a pension from the Marshall Trust for our education after my De was killed. After she remarried that was cut off, they allowed me to continue at Falkirk High until I was fifteen. You could leave school at fourteen in those days.
My friend Meg Grindley and my cousin Margaret Strudwick were my pals. They had ended up in Edinburgh and my Maw let me go through there where 1 attended “Atholl Crescent Domestic College” in the evenings and all day Wednesdays. I never really settled down in Edinburgh our family had now moved to 100 Carrona Terrace. My Step-father had been transferred to Carron Iron and Steel works as head store manager. The house came with the job which was pretty nice, as they were all new houses. We were now closer to Stenhousemuir and not too far from Falkirk. That attracted me more than the village of Maddiston, the thought of a new environment and my sister Margaret had just got married. I high tailed it back to Maw.


















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