Thursday, July 26, 2012

EmigranThursday: Angus McBean of Baltimore

Welcome to a one-off return of EmigranThursday which features Angus McBean of Baltimore, Maryland. I have recently learned that FamilySearch has made digital copies for some of their microfilm holdings available online. To see what is available for the country you are interested in go to FamilySearch; towards the bottom of the page will be a list of regions. Clicking on any of the links (US, UK, Asia, etc.) will take you to a list of what is available. Look for collections with a little camera icon as they will have links to the actual images. Marriage and death records tend to be indexed; probate records are not. You may have to sign in to see some of the images, but signing up is free (or at least it was when I did it).

While perusing the early will books of Baltimore, MD, the port of entry for many European immigrants, I tripped across the will of Angus McBean recorded in December 1815 on page 86 of Will Book volume 10. Wills have (and continue to be) a crucial component of recreating Scotch Settlement. The formative years of this community were in the early 19th century when there was little documentation. Wills are sometimes the only records of which adult children go with which parents. However, I wish that some of the wills could have been more like Angus McBean's, short, but informative last testament:

The very ill nature of my health induces me to make some arrangements while I have time, being far from my relations and those, especially who have a right to every thing belonging to me after I am dead therefore I do authorize Mr. John Smith to administer on my estate to sell everything to settle accounts and then whatever the amount may be its my will that it be sent home to my two sisters. Margaret and Jane being in Ceipick near Fort William Jane is married to one Ewen Cameron an Margaret is a widow and whereas it became my intention as soon as I heard of the death of her husband to send some assistance to her therefore I order that out of the money sent home she shall have one hundred and twenty dollars first and then the remainder shall be equally divided between them and in case that one of my sisters should die before that time her share shall go to her children.

Angus McBean

Baltimore August 12th 1815

Witnesses: Peter Robertson, Alexander Smith, Alexander McDonald

One of the biggest problems in researching immigrants (either for genealogy or academic projects) is figuring out  precisely where they came from. Angus really helps researchers out because he says where he came from and who his family was. Furthermore, his will suggests that he was the only member of his family to come to Baltimore, but was able to connect with the Scottish community in the city. He also felt a responsibility to his family near Fort William and remitted his estate home. I wonder what other details about the Scottish Diaspora are lurking in in US probate records?

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