Thursday, June 9, 2011

EmigranThursday – Isaac B. Cameron and his mother Ann McDonald Cameron

The Cameron Family in 1860.

Here is the first installment of EmigranThursday. These first several biographies are from notes I took while doing my dissertation research. Since they were notes, I often abbreviated words and probably left things out that didn't seem relevant at the time. In order to find out more about the emigrants highlighted in this series, I will search the databases at and

So, without further ado, here is the first emigrant, Isaac B. Cameron of Unity Township, Columbiana County, Ohio as recorded on page 300 in Brant & Fuller's History of the Upper Ohio Valley with Historical Account of Columbiana County, Ohio, published in 1891. 

I.B. Cameron, "a popular business man of Salineville, proprietor of the 'The Busy Bargain' store, the leading mercantile establishment of the town" was born in 1851 in Nairnshire, son of Hugh Cameron and Ann MacDonald, both from Nairnshire. Hugh died in 1852. The rest of the family, Ann and six children, came to US the following year, and located near Salineville on a farm, then moved to town in 1855. The subject of this sketch attended the common schools until about the age 16, when he accepted a position in a mercantile house in Salineville, in which capacity he continued about three years for different firms. To better prepare himself in merchandising, he subsequently took a full course in a commercial college at Pittsburgh, after which he returned to Salineville, and became bookkeeper of his former employers, Messrs. Brown & Dysart, with whom he remained until 1874. In that year Mr. Cameron and Mr. Dysart formed the mercantile firm of Dysart & Cameron and did business in Canton, Oh until 1875 when they came to Salineville where the partnership was dissolved in 1880 when Mr. Dysart retired. Mr. Cameron continued the business at the old stand until 1885, when he purchased the mercantile stock of Honorable S.T. Cope and since then has conducted the largest and most successful dry goods house in the town as the "Busy Bargain." In his business relations Mr. Cameron has been uniformly courteous and honorable. In his social life he is public-spirited, full of energy, always willing to aid public enterprise by his personal efforts as well as by his purse. He occupies a prominent place in the estimation of the people." He is a republican. He was a candidate for county treasurer and got 1993 votes in the primary. He was active in local affairs as member of the county central committee and chairman of the township and town committee. He was also town treasurer, and had been a delegate to a number of republican conventions, both state and congressional. He and his wife are Presbyterians. He married Miss Laura A. Irwin, daughter of John B. Irwin of Cleveland, but formerly of Columbiana County. The Camerons have one son, Roy MacDonald Cameron, born 1883.

Isaac came to the United States as a toddler and became a very successful business man. As a child, he obviously had no say in his voyage across the Atlantic. Hidden within the description of his success in America is the story of the emigrant who made this decision for him – his mother, Ann McDonald.

I could not find anything out about Hugh Cameron and Ann McDonald at; in fact, there were no results returned for any Hugh Camerons for the entirety of Nairnshire for the entire span of time that it covers. This seems odd to me, but what can you do? It seems that Ann must have had connections in Ohio and she and her husband might have been planning to leave even before his death. It seems highly unlikely that a young widow with six children would just pick up and travel across the world on a whim. However, she might make a strategic decision to move to a place where her six fatherless children would be better able to find employment and opportunity. Given the long standing connections between Scotch Settlement and this part of Scotland (near and around Inverness), it is probable that she had connections in American already.

Salineville, the Cameron's ultimate destination is in Washington Township, Columbiana County and is the furthest west of the townships that comprise Scotch Settlement. I was despondent when I couldn't find this family in America either. The situation began to look up when I realized that in the American records I ought to be looking for Ann Cameron, not Ann McDonald! Once I was looking for family under the right surname, I found them quickly in the 1860 census. In this year we find Ann Cameron in Salineville with five sons; one child had either died or left home.

In the 1870 Census, Isaac was enumerated in Ward 3 of Allegheny living in a boarding house where he's listed a student. In this same year Ann is still in Washington with Hugh 29, Alexander (written Elexandria) 27, and Charles 25 – all three are miners. By 1900, about a decade after the biography was composed, Isaac was living in Columbus Ward 18, Franklin County. He was still there in 1920.
The Cameron family is representative of the strong connections that could develop between regions which sent and received migrants. Individuals from the parishes surrounding the city of Inverness began emigrating to America as early as the 1730s (to read more on this early migration to Darien, GA read Scottish Highlanders in Colonial Georgia by Anthony Parker) and probably earlier. Then about 1800, several families from this region began to settle in eastern Ohio, a movement which was still going 50 years later. I do not know the Cameron-McDonald family's exact connection to those already in Columbiana County, but I'd bet dollars to donuts that they exist. These connections might be weak or distant – perhaps through uncles or third cousins or maybe the village grocer's step-sister's son – no matter, someone was around to make a migration offer if not to Hugh and Ann Cameron, than to Ann herself after her husband's death. Ann McDonald Cameron seemingly felt confident enough in the opportunities that existed in America and the community that she would find in Columbiana County that she and her children crossed the ocean because of them.

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