My Family History

Trace your ancestors and then immortalise them!

                     THE HUNTERS

My mother was born a Hunter and her brother, Alastair, has continued our branch of the Hunters for eighty six years. The Hunters of the past would be proud of what he and Melody have achieved over the years. The Hunters are very much alive and well in Yorkshire and Canada. Our branch of the Hunters goes back over 250 years to the east coast of Scotland and Aberdeenshire. From Old Machar to Newhills, from Peterculter to Chapel of Garioch, the Hunters have farmed, fished, weaved and cut stone. I’ve chosen to start their story at the beginning, chronologically speaking, with William Hunter and his children. They were born in Newhills which lies four miles north-west of the city of Aberdeen.

WILLIAM HUNTER AND HIS CHILDREN


I have no definite information about William at all, not even the name of his wife, but His children are well documented at FamilySearch with christening dates, and with William given as their father but no mother named. Whether William also grew up in Newhills, as his children did, is not known, nor whom his parents were. A possible candidate for our William is the one born in Fyvie, Aberdeenshire on 23 January 1750. A better one is the William Hunter born on November 29th, 1745 in Old Machar, Aberdeen. Newhills is part of this parish. His father was Andrew Hunter. William's son, Alexander, named his first son Andrew. So far, so good.


However Alexander didn't name any of his nine daughters Anne, which was the name of this William's mother. Experience shows that names play an important part in any family history. William's only daughter, Margaret, named her first daughter Jean, and her second daughter Isobel. Therefore either could have been named after either her mother or her grandmothers. Still no sign of our Old Machar William's mother Anne.

William must have married around 1773 because his first child was born early in 1774. A William Hunter married Jean Gillmore at Ardrossan, Ayr on November 25th, 1772. However the distance from Ayr to Aberdeen is 150 miles. A Margaret Ogilvie was born in Old Meldrum on 17 August, 1752, and William had a daughter named Margaret. However, the name of William's wife must for now remain uncertain. Enough of speculation, it's time to record concrete facts.


William Hunter  1774
William was named after his father and christened on the 16th of January 1774 at Newhills. He could therefore have been born at the end of 1773. Other than that, like his father, no more information is known about him. My great-great-grandfather James remembered his own grandfather when he named his eldest son William.

Margaret Hunter  1776
Margaret was William’s only daughter, born in 1776 and christened on the 10th of November. She married John Henderson in 1802 in Newhills, and they moved to Chapel Of Garioch near Inverurie. This is about twenty miles north-west of Aberdeen. Jean Henderson was born on the 14th of November 1805 with Isobel born on the 29th of August 1807. Their third child, John, was born on the 22nd January 1810. These are birthdates, not christening dates. The latter were also recorded in parish records. A Christian Henderson was born in 1821 in Old Machar but probably to a different Margaret Hunter.

John Hunter 1780
John Hunter was born in 1780 and had a twin brother George. They were christened on the 24th of March. I haven’t been able to find any more information on John.


       George Hunter 1780-1868

George was John’s twin brother and the Scottish Censuses of the 19th Century give us a good insight into his life. He became a farmer of  twenty-four acres and lived well into his eighties. The 18th of June, 1849, was a  very special day in his long life. Now in his 70th year, he became a father. He had married Barbara Stephen, born in 1813, daughter of David and Janet Stephen from Skene, a farming community a few miles west of Aberdeen. She was thirty-three years younger than George. Whether he had previously been married or had children, I don’t know but his brother, Alexander had fathered twelve children by this time, so this was a momentous day for George and of course for Barbara. Their many nephews and neices had a new cousin!


Jessie Hunter had arrived and was duly christened on July 15th. The household included four servants/ farmworkers and two boarders, so congratulations and celebrations were in order. Now that he had a young daughter to help bring up, even a superman like George had to lighten his workload. So he and his family retired to Backhill Cottage, close by, to enjoy their new life. By the time Jesse was eleven, George was still going strong, and in his eighty-first year. He went on to reach eighty-seven before finally meeting his maker on the 23rd of February,1868 at Crombie Cottage, Bishopford, Peterculter. Sadly Jessie died on 10th April 1868, just over a month after George. She was only eighteen. A terrible blow for poor Barbara.


The Scottish Census of 1871, recorded Barbara as still living at Bishops Ford. John Mitchell, a vet and John Marr, a labourer are boarders. Ten years later, Barbara was still at Bishops Ford but was now alone. She died at the age of eighty-three on the 6th July 1896 at Crommie Cairn Cottage Cottage. She had been a widow for twenty-eight years, but how magical the 1850s and 60s must have been for her with George and Jessie. For me, one of the highlights of this family history. George, Barbara, and Jessie are all buried at Kirkton of Skene Churchyard, plot 454. Thank you to Malky for tying up some loose ends in this section
            Alexander Hunter 1782
William Hunter's youngest child was Alexander, born in 1782 and christened on the 8th of October. He was my great-great-great grandfather. He took up stonemasonry which was a prominent industry in an area, famed for its blue granite stone. Aberdeen is known as the Granite City.

Alexander met Christian Milne, also from Aberdeen, and they were married on the 23rd of June, 1810. Christina, the name she was known by, was nineteen years old and the eldest daughter of Andrew and Isabel Milne. A year later, Christian was born and christened on the 20th of March. She was to be the first of thirteen children born between 1811 and 1836.
There seemed to be a preference for girls as only Andrew (1815) James (1819) (Alexander (1821) and Adam (1826) held up the blue banner. They also had a preference for the letter ‘A’ it would appear. The one son, not starting with A was to become my great-great-grandfather, James Hunter. In birth order, the girls were Christian (1811) Jane (1813) Isabel (1817) Margaret (1823) Agnes (1825) Helen (1827) Elizabeth (1830) Mary (1833) and Williamina (1836) It is interesting that Alexander didn't name any of his sons after his father William whereas both Christian's parents are represented.

Alexander and Christina showed a meticulous sense of order and symmetry with births spaced every two years and only in odd years. Adam’s birth in 1826 broke the pattern at last. Many of the daughters went into the cotton industry as cotton reelers, and the family lived at the appropriately named Wyndy Wynd in Aberdeen West. Christian was still living at home in her forties with five of her sisters having moved on by the 1850s. Adam was the last of the sons to leave home, working as a hair cloth weaver.
I don’t know when Alexander died, but it would have been between 1851 and 1861 because he is no longer with Christian for the 1861 census. As a genealogical record, this particular census is quite a revelation and for the first time in this family history, I enclose the details of a census for future reference when we look at Christina's(Christian) daughters individually. The two grandchildren are particularly significant.

125 Gallowgate, St Nicholas Parish, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Christina Hunter......head....70....St Nicholas, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire
Isabella Hunter.........dau.....40....St Nicholas, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire..dressmaker
Agnes Hunter...........dau.....33....St Nicholas, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire..hair cloth weaver
Helen Hunter............dau.....31....St Nicholas, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire..powerloom weaver/linen
Williamina Hunter....dau.....24....St Nicholas, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire..powerloom weaver/linen
Johanna Palmer.....gr-dau....1....St Nicholas, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire
William Duncan.....gr-son...2m...St Nicholas, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire


Christina reached the age of eighty-three before passing away in 1871. Before focusing on James Hunter and his lineage, we will look at what became of some of his brothers and sisters ... my great-great-grand uncles and aunts. After all, it took me so long to find them! 

 THE CHILDREN OF ALEXANDER HUNTER AND CHRISTIAN MILNE 

                                Christian Hunter 1811

She was christened on the 20th March 1811. As previously mentioned, she was still living with her parents in her fortieth year. Only Adam and two of her sisters, Helen and Mary, are with her. No further information is known.

                                       Jane Hunter 1813-1861

When James McCarthy published "Selim Aga: A Slave's Odyssey" in 2006, he didn't know the identity of the woman with whom Selim had a son. Since then, relatives of the boy have come forward, and the mystery lady was Jane Hunter. Jane's story is both intriguing and poignant. She was born in 1813 and christened on May Day. At the age of thirty-four, she gave birth to Alexander Hunter Aga on August 6th 1847 in Aberdeen. The father was Selim Aga born in The Sudan about 1826.

In 1846, Selim had published a unique autobiographical narrative "Incidents connected with the life of Selim Aga" which told of how, as an eight-year-old, he was abducted from the Taqali Valley by slave traders and taken to Egypt. After nine owners, he was eventually bought by Robert Thurburn, British Consul in Alexandria, and in 1836, brought to Peterculter, Aberdeen where he was raised by Robert's brother John and his wife Elizabeth in opulent surroundings at Murtle House. In 1843, the English novelist, Sarah Harriet Burney, wrote that he sang Scottish ballads like a nightingale. He dedicated his narrative to Mrs Thurburn in a heartfelt tribute:


"I return my grateful and sincere thanks to you for the great interest you have taken in my education, by which means I have been brought from African darkness to a knowledge of the comforts of a civilized and social life. Hitherto, for these ten years, I have experienced your benevolent care and tuition, and have been elevated far above many of my poor countrymen, whose minds are lying with the dust. To whom should I ascribe this work, if not to the patroness of my education? To whom should I dedicate these incidents, if not to the guardian of my younger years? Yes, Madam; to you, and to you alone, I now acknowledge my gratitude for the many benefits which I enjoy. Although far distant from kindred and relations--although far from the care of an overlooking mother--I have found in you, Madam." He also wrote a poetic "Ode to Britain" : 

"Britain, thou land of peace and joy, How strong thy bulwarks are; Thou standest far above the world, And that without a par. All nations do thy seamen fear, Thy ships they see with awe; Allegiance, too, and homage pay, As e'er fair Albion saw ...


I don't the extent of Selim's relationship with Jane or whether he knew of his son. By all accounts he was a young man of outstanding character and a devout christian with a clear vocation in life. He spent the next few years in London, lecturing on the Panarama of the Nile at the the Great Exhibition of 1851, and was given an audience at the Foreign Office regarding his ideas concerning Africa. He joined the expedition of William Baikie on his second, ill-fated 1857 expedition up the Niger, and accompanied the famous African explorer Richard Burton on many expeditions to the west coast, particularly to the Cameroon Mountains and to the cataracts of the Congo, remaining with him till 1865. Selim spent the next nine years in Liberia where, serving as an assistant surgeon, he was captured during the Grebo War in 1875, and his head decapitated. He was allowed to read from his bible before his gruesome death. Like Jane Hunter, he died before he was fifty, but his life had been a full and remarkable one.

Jane brought her son up in the St Nicholas area of Aberdeen. She was living with Alexander at 17, Young Street at the time of the 1861 Census. Shortly afterwards, on June 17th, she was found dead at home as a result of heart problems. Her brother James registered her death.

                                   Alexander Hunter Aga

Fourteen-year-old Alexander had lost his mother, and his father was far away in Africa. He became a boot closer by trade and on the 28 September 1872, he married Mary Thomson Smith at St Nicholas, Aberdeen. Mary was born on October 9th, 1851 in Old Machar, Aberdeen, the daughter of William Smith, a tobacco pressman and Mary Barclay. Their one son, William, born in 1874, died a year later. Had he lived, he would have enjoyed the company of seven sisters!


Mary Jane, born in 1873, lived to be eighty, and married Thomas Hill. Their daughter, Lily was born in 1908 and reached her seventy-ninth year. Alexander and Mary's second daughter, Janet McGregor Aga, was born in 1875. She emigrated to Illinois, USA, marrying James Fleming Crevie on July 9th, 1903. They had a daughter Jennette Mary, born on August 16th, 1908.

Georgina was the third daughter of Alexander and Mary, born in 1877. She married John Skinner in 1904 and had two sons, John and William, and a daughter, Jessie. Georgina died in 1933. Her sister, Annie Bell Aga, was born in 1879, but died in 1882.


Alexander and Mary's fifth daughter, Margaret Rae Aga, was born in 1881 and became a fancy box maker. She gave birth to William Rae Aga in 1899 in Glasgow. No details of the father are known, but in 1902, she married Duncan McPherson, also in Glasgow with Joan Palmer Aga McPherson born the same year. Margaret married William Heaney in 1935. She died in 1948.


Johnann Palmer Aga was born in 1883. Her middle name Palmer was the married name of Agnes Hunter, her father's aunt, and her christian name is similar to the name of Agnes' daughter, Johanna. Alexander Aga was present at Agnes' death in 1890 and one presumes he felt close to Agnes, though he doesn't name any of his six daughters Agnes. Perhaps she had helped him following the death of his mother Jane. Johnann married Duncan McPherson's brother, Hugh, in 1905. Their daughter, Mary Palmer, was born the same year.

Lily Reid Aga was Alexander and Mary's youngest daughter, born in 1884. She was forty-seven when she married Duncan Campbell in 1931. Alexander and Mary Aga were no longer living together by the the time of the 1891 Census. Mary was still in Aberdeen, but Alexander was in Glasgow. By 1901, Mary has moved to Glasgow with Margaret, Johnann and Lilly, but Alexander is lodging elsewhere in the city. She has reverted to her maiden name of Smith. Given the marriage break-up therefore, why would Mary move to Glasgow where Alexander has been living for several years? A mystery.

     Continuing now with the children of Alexander Hunter and Christian Milne

Andrew Hunter 1815

Andrew was the eldest son of Alexander and Christian, named after his maternal grandfather (or the saint!) He was baptised on April 3rd 1815 at Saint Nicholas, Aberdeen. As yet, I have no further definite information about him. The 1841 English Census records two Andrew Hunters from Scotland of the right age. One living in london, and one in Manchester.

Isabel Hunter 1817-1874  

She was christened on the 10th February in Aberdeen and was known as Isabella. She was named after her maternal grandmother. She became a dressmaker, and would appear to have remained single. The 1851 Census records her living at 150, Kingsland Place with her sister Williamina. By the 1861 Census, she is living with her mother again. Her father had passed away a few years earlier. Isabel died in 1874, three years after her mother.

Alexander Hunter 1821

He was christened on the 28th November 1821. His parents had named one son after Saint Andrew, the next after King James, and now their third after the father. An Alexander Hunter married Catherine Ann Sim on September 1st 1848 at Saint Nicholas, Aberdeen. Otherwise, nothing more definite for Alexander. The 1841 English Census records an Alexander Hunter of Scotland, aged twenty, living in Liverpool. 

Margaret Hunter 1823  

She was christened on September 14th, and possibly named after her father's only sister. Her family lived in the Saint Nicholas area of Aberdeen, and there are two marriages recorded there for a Margaret Hunter. One married George Cameron on September 19th 1851. Another married William Bothwell on March 29th, 1850.

Agnes Hunter 1825-1890

She was christened on December 28th 1890 in Aberdeen. She became a hair cloth weaver, and moved from the family home before the 1851 Census. Her only child, Johanna Agnes was born in 1859, and christened at Saint Nicholas, Aberdeen on the 5th October. The father's identity is not known for certain, nor whether he married Agnes. What is known is that although Johanna was christened 'Hunter', she is recorded as Johanna Palmer in both the 1861 and 1871 Censuses. In the former, she is with Agnes in Christian Hunter's household as a grand-daughter. In the latter, she is recorded as the niece of Helen Gray, the married sister of Agnes.


So what became of Johanna's father, the mysterious Mr Palmer? Johanna's marriage certificate of 1897 sheds more light on the matter. She gave her father's profession as hairdresser and that he was deceased. Agnes had passed away on June 26th 1890 at 8, Rennys Wynd, Aberdeen. She had died of bronchitus and heart disease. Her nephew Alexander Hunter Aga was present at her death. One wonders if his presence meant that he temporarily lived with her following the break-up of his marriage and before he moved to Glasgow.


So Johanna's marriage to Gordon Wilson Mitchell on December 27th 1897 took place without the presence of either her mother or father. Gordon was an iron worker, born in 1855, the son of James Mitchell and Jane Davidson. It was a short-lived marriage because both Johanna and Gordon died three years later. I don't know the full details but Johanna died at 75, Green, Aberdeen on April 14, 1901, and Gordon died on December 28th 1901 at the Royal Lunatic Asylum, Aberdeen. Johanna was only forty-one and Gordon just forty-six. They had waited longer than most before they had got married, and then fate had struck them the cruellest of blows.


Adam Hunter 1826-1853

Unlike his siblings, there is no christening date or similar record of his birth. We only know of his existence by way of the 1851 Census where his age is given as twenty-five and his occupation as a hair cloth weaver like his sister Agnes. The only other record of an Adam Hunter is for a burial in Old Machar Churchyard on January 5th 1853. This most likely is our Adam Hunter.


Helen Hunter 1827

Helen was christened on November 8th 1827 at Saint Nicholas, Aberdeen. She became a cotton reeler and is at home for both the 1851 and 1861 census. In the latter, she is described as a cloth loom weaver. She married James Gray of Perthshire on October 19th, 1861 in Old Machar, Aberdeen. They moved to Perth where James Hunter Gray was born early in 1863. William Steel Gray followed early in 1865 in Blairgowrie, which is twenty miles from Perth. When her husband died in 1867, Helen moved back to Aberdeen, and Agnes and Johanna lived with her for a time. Her two sons emigrated to the USA during the 1880s.


Elizabeth Hunter 1830  

She was christened on February 5th, 1830 at Saint Nicholas, Aberdeen. I have nothing concrete for her after that but the Elizabeth Hunter who married Alexander McDonald on July 16th 1858 at Saint Nicholas looks to be our Elizabeth. There are no alternatives within a twenty year range ... assuming that Elizabeth both lived to adulthood and indeed married! The known children of this marriage are: John born in 1859; Elizabeth born in 1862; and Alexander born in 1869.

Mary Hunter 1833-1903 and her Family

Mary was christened on September 27th 1833 at Saint Nicholas. The 1851 Census showed her to be a cotton reeler like several of her sisters. She married John Hillyard, son of Richard Hillyard and Mary Hancock, on June 15th 1861 at Old Machar. John was born in 1825 in Miserdon in Gloucestershire, a beautiful Cotswold village. North-East Scotland was a very different landscape. He was a private in the 78th Regiment of Foot, which was a Highland regiment. He was also a groom and a granite polisher. Mary and John had seven children who were all born and christened in the Saint Nicholas area of Aberdeen, but only four lived to adulthood. 

Christina was born in 1861, named after Mary's mother, but she died five years later. 

James Henderson Hillyard was born in 1863, and emigrated to the USA in 1887 aboard the Umbria, settling in Barre,Vermont. In 1906, he married a fifty-year-old widow. He died just before World War Two, and with no children of his own, left his estate to his younger brother William. Solicitors advertised in Aberdeen newspapers for William. However as war broke out, he was unable to go to America and claim his inheritance. It subsequently went to James' landlady.

Margaret Jane was born in 1865. She was a cotton weaver, and  married fellow Aberdonian Peter Mitchell, two years her senior, on April 11th, 1889 at Gallowgate, Glasgow. However, they lived in Aberdeen where their seven children were all born. Thomas, Jemima, Mary, William, Helen and the gloriously named Hind John Foxcroft Mitchell. There was, of course, a Williamina Mitchell, born about 1896. Margaret died on April 29th 1911, just forty-six years old.

In 1868, Mary and John Hillyard again named a daughter Christina, but she died the same year. In 1869, John William was born, but he died the following year.

Williamina was their sixth child, born in 1871, named after her mother's younger sister, although Williamina was a popular name in Scotland at that time. In 1891, she married Adam Emslie in Dundee. Adam was also from Saint Nicholas, Aberdeen, born on the 16th of April 1870. He was the son of John Emslie and Isabella Rust who had married on New Years Eve, 1869. His younger brother John had the rather quaint middle name of Florence. Adam and Williamina's only child, Adam, was born in 1895. By 1901, Adam is boarding elsewhere in Aberdeen, and Williamina has met Henry Street of Devonport, born in 1868, and moved to Manchester. Henrietta, Williamina, Walter, James, Louisa, and Albert were all born there between 1900 and 1912. Henry Street died in 1825, and Williamina, like her aunt before her, decided to cross the seas in 1927. In her case it was not the USA but Australia where her children married and started new lives.

William was Mary and John's seventh child, born in 1873. He was a builder and stone cutter by trade. He married Barbara Gordon on October 9th, 1895. She was born in 1877 in Aberdeen, the daughter of Archibald Gordon and Barbara Williamson. William and Barbara's first child, William, was born in 1899. He married Grace Glenn circa 1923. Charles Sutherland Hillyard was born in 1901. He became a builder, and married Margaret Walker on May 5th, 1823.

William and Barbara's first daughter, Lillie Gordon Hillyard, was born in 1904 in Manchester where William had moved following his mother's death. Perhaps his sister, Williamina, had recommended Manchester. Lillie went on to marry Norman Cecil Anderson, a saw miller, in 1925. They had four children, Norma Cecilia, Alexander, Dorothy, and William. She died in Aberdeen in 1960.

William and Barbara returned to Aberdeen where Maggie Reid Hillyard was born in 1906. Barbara died on Nov 5th 1954 in Aberdeen, and William died the following year. I discovered Lillie's details through contact from her grand-daughter who now lives in Australia. Her family register notes have greatly helped fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge of the family, and the above photographs were sent by her.

On January 4th, 1892, John Hillyard died in Aberdeen, aged sixty-seven. The 1901 Census shows Mary, now sixty-eight, living at 85, Wales Street, Aberdeen with William and Barbara. She also has the company of her one-year-old grandson William and newly-born Charles. Barbara's younger sister, Helen, is also there. A very special time for Mary. She died on December 20th, 1903, months before her grand-daughter Lillie's birth in Manchester.

Williamina Hunter 1836-1909

She was Alexander and Christina's youngest daughter, born in the summer of 1836, twenty-five years after their first child. On her death certificate, her father's name is given as William rather than Alexander. Given her christian name, one wonders if she was an adopted child of Alexander and Christina. The latter was in her forty-fifth year now. Williamina does go on to name her first son William, giving further credence to the adoption possibility. Alexander's father was William, so it could just be a case of a grand-daughter remembering her grandfather, and the death certificate entry an error. Either way, Williamina was christened on July 6th 1836 at Saint Nicholas and was to lead a very interesting life. She certainly lived up to the ' Will ' part of her name.


She was not at home for the 1851 census but living at 150, Kingsland Place with her unmarried sister Isabella. Williamina gave birth to Isabella Sinclair Hunter on October 10th 1858. Her maternal grandmother was called Isabel, but I think it was the closeness she felt to her sister that made her choose Isabella. The father is unknown but his name was probably Sinclair given this name didn't previously appear in the family. It was common practice in Scotland, to use surnames as middle names. Often the mother's maiden name. Isabella almost certainly died at an early age because she is absent from Williamina's life thereafter.


She gave birth to a son on January 16th 1861 at West North Street, Aberdeen, and registered him as William Hunter on February 5th. However, he became known as William Duncan thereafter, following court proceedings. He was at his grandmother Christina's home for the 1861 census with Williamina, now a powerloom weaver. Nothing is known of William's father other than his surname. Similarly with Williamina's third child, Alexander Aga Hunter, born on October 22nd, 1864, at Farquhars Court 17, Upper Kirkgate, Aberdeen, and registered on November 11th.

His father is also unknown but Williamina's choice of middle name is interesting, re-inforcing that she was a young lady of very strong character, befitting one born in the year of the Fire Monkey. Self-assurance, determination, and willpower are just a few of the many positive qualities she would certainly have had. Williamina was the most independant of women who gave each of her children her own surname of Hunter, disregarding their fathers' surnames. She would have admired her sister Jane's courage in bringing up her son Alexander Hunter Aga, and clearly saw her as a role model. Jane had died a few months after the birth of Williamina's first son, and with the birth of her second son, here was a chance for her to honour Jane's memory. At the same time, of course, she was showing her support for her nephew.


The 1871 Census finds Williamina living at 109 Springburn Rd, Maryhill, Glasgow with her husband William Couper, aged fifty-three, a retired shoemaker from Peterhead. She's enjoying a slight change of christian name too ... Wilhelmina Couper. No-one has been able to trace a marriage between them ... probably because there wasn't one. William Hunter/Duncan is now William Couper, and his younger brother Alexander Aga Hunter is now Alexander Couper. Both are recorded as sons of William Couper. I suspect that Alexander is now with his natural father because when he later marries, he gives William Couper as his father, deceased. He could, of course, have meant step-father. He also named his first son William.

William, presumably, died sometime in the 1870s because in 1879, there is finally a marriage record for Williamina! At the age of forty-two, she broke the habit of a lifetime and married forty-five year old Alexander Crockert in Glasgow. He was also from Aberdeen and an iron moulder by trade. The 1881 Census, finds them living at 97, Parliamentary Rd, Baronry, Glasgow with Alexander, now sixteen, and an engine fitter apprentice. Alexander's own sons, James, eleven, and Robert, eight, are also members of the household. William is lodging elsewhere in the city. Wilhelmina is now a dressmaker, following in the footsteps of her now deceased sister, Isabella. Sadly, her marriage was to be a short one, with Alexander dying in his late forties. Wilhelmina, now living at 48 Cowlairs Road, was just not destined for marriagehood.


However, on July 17th, 1885, there was a very special moment in Wilhelmina's colourful life. Alexander decided that twenty-one-year-old Janet Marshall of 16, Gilmour Street, Glasgow was the girl of his dreams. She was the daughter of John Marshall, a grocer, and Agnes Smith who were both deceased. This left Wilhelmina, as we must now call her, the only parent at the wedding ceremony. Her son William was one of the two witnesses, the other being Elizabeth Cameron.

The following year, William went one step further ... he became the groom himself. A second joyous occasion for Williamina who was now a staunch supporter of the marital state. He married Mary Armstrong from Ireland, born five months after himself in June, 1861. It had been over twenty-five years since Wilhelmina had lost her only daughter Isabella. Now, at the age of fifty, Williamina suddenly had two daughters in the space of twelve months. The same year, 1886, Alexander presented her with her first grandchild, William, born in Glasgow. Not to be outdone, William presented her with her second grandchild, William, in November 1887. She was surrounded by Williams! Needless to say, she would eventually meet two little Wilhelminas too ... but only one of them in Scotland.


1888 was to be a watershed in her life, as if she hadn't experienced a few already. William and Mary had a surprise in store for her. Or, knowing Wilhelmina's resourcefulness, perhaps it was she who had come up with the notion ... to cross the Atlantic Ocean. With her nephew James Henderson Hillyard having emigrated to Vermont the previous year, maybe Williamina decided the USA needed more of the Hunter blood. They duly set sail for the United States of America, and settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Wilhelmina went with them, and on January 18th, 1889, the Carthaginian arrived from Glasgow with Alex Cooper (engine fitter), Mrs Cooper (housewife) and Wm Cooper on board. Wilhelmina's family all together in Philadelphia, PA. Perthe son of Williamina's sister Mary, 

With the birth of her first grand-daughter, Agnes, soon after, Wilhelmina's ship had certainly come home. Agnes was their first American citizen with several more following before and after the turn of the century. On April 13th 1897, Wilhelmina, William, Mary, and their four sons, William, Maxwell, Alexander, and Samuel arrived in Glasgow on board The State of California. Their stay was long enough for Wilhelmina Couper to be born in June 1898. The fresh Scottish air had given William and Mary their first daughter! Now each of Wilhelmina's sons had blessed her with a mini Wilhelmina ... the first one having been born in Milwaukie in 1893.


When they returned to the States, it wasn't to Philadelphia but to Milwaukie, Wisconsin. The 1900 US Census recorded them living at 17th Avenue, South Milwaukee City with one addition to their five children, little Isabel, born in January 1900. William was now a boilermaker by trade. Interesting to note that his three American sons were all born in November. Wilhelmina was not living with them, nor had she stayed in Scotland. She had returned to 402 Allegheny Ave, Philadelphia to be with Alexander and Janett. The 1910 Census records that Alexander is now a machibist at a mill, and his eldest son William is a hosiery designer. William goes on to serve in World War One. Agnes is a hosiery knitter, and fifteen year old James is a plumber. John, 14, Elizabeth 12, Alexander, 10, Mary 5, and Charlie, 5 months complete the family. Their surname is recorded as Cooper not Couper. There are two notable ommisions. Wilhelmina, who might be staying elsewhere on the night of the census, and her grandmother Wilhelmina. The latter was missing from the census with good reason.

On April 25th 1909, at the age of seventy-two, Wilhelmina Couper had passed away in Philadelphia. She was buried four days later. Her death certificate listed her occupation as housekeeper. I found a second entry for her under Tennessie Deaths and burials where she is called Minnie Couper, and her birth year corrected from 'about 1837' to 1836. This is an update of the Pennsylvania records which ceased in 1915.


From Aberdeen to Philadelphia; it had been a long and fascinating journey for Williamina Hunter. In all the pages of this family history, I have spent longer researching her life and times than I have any other relative. And that is bearing in mind that Ann Hunter's initial work and discoveries, and Charlene Dunbar's research at GenForum made my task much easier! Without them, Williamina's story would not have been possible. Thank you Ann and Charlene. Most of all, thank you Williamina, and bless you. Wilhelmina, Minnie, and Mrs Wilhel Couper are nice enough names, but you will always be Williamina Hunter in my eyes ... after all, my father was William and my mother was Ina. Now there's a co-incidence ...

   James Hunter 1819-1910  and Margaret Boddie 1818-1899 

       My Great Great Grandfather

      My Great Great Grandmother