From all I can gather, William Lindsay was the straightest of arrows, a saint. In an attempt to keep his experiences accessible, I'm dedicating a few years of research into William Lindsay and putting it on this blog. Please sign the guestbook. I'd love for this to be a gathering place for discussion on the man and his family.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Early life: Schooling

Childhood and a chance for education was brief for children among the many mine fields in Scotland during the Industrial Revolution were the drive for coal was insatiable. Yet were it not for the Mines Act of 1842, there likely would have been no schooling.

The following accounts tell of the Lindsay boy's schooling experiences. There seems to be agreement between the boys accounts in terms of a certain punishing instructor. Yet the location doesn't align since William liked the instructor in Neephill while James did not. This brief schooling which taught basic literacy, was a benefit for us as well as William, for without this education, much of this history would be non-existent.
There was a schoolhouse here & I went to it with my brother Robert a few times. We then lived at Craighall near the river Ayr. Soon after this we moved to Gatehead about two & a half miles from Kilmarnock & while living here I went a very short time to a school but the teacher was very cruel & whipped the children unmercifully so I learned scarcely anything from him. Then we moved to Thornton row & Robert & I attended school a few months at Neephill John Smith teacher & he was a good teacher & at his school I learned very fast & got practically all the
schooling I ever did get which I think was less than a year.
Source: William Lindsay Autobiography, pg 270
I was nine years old, and was going to the Neep Hill school, which was two or three miles away. The schoolmaster was a very large man, but he was a cripple. This handicap didn't seem to bother him when it came to being stern with his students. When you were unprepared he could dress you down with his cane to sort of brighten your memory. The next time you were prepared. Now I am not an advocate of harsh treatment, but at the same time I am sure there is something wrong today when children go to school until grown and in many cases are not much farther along in eduction than many of us at the ages of ten and twelve.
Source: James Lindsay's Autobiography, pg 1

Apparently those precious months of schooling paid off, one time quite literally.
I will relate an incident that happened about this time. Mr. Finnie the mine owner came down to look over the new mine & Mr. Landels the government inspector accompanied him. It was against the law for any boy under ten years of age to work in a mine unless it could be shown that he could read spell & write. As soon as the inspector saw us he called Mr. Finnie's attention here are two boys under age & you are liable for allowing them in your mine. Mr. Finnie then questioned me I being the youngest. What is your age? I answered nine. Can your read? I said yes. Read from this book. Which I did. Spell Carmel bank. Which I did. I then read some writing in a book he carried with him & he of course was much pleased at my being able to answer correctly as that released him from any trouble.

He looked in his purse but said he had nothing less than half a crown but said I will give you a shilling some day as you are a clever little fellow. But the inspector said Mr. Finnie I have a shilling, I'll give it to the boy & you can pay me later. So I got the shilling the first time I ever had so much money & I think I felt richer than I have ever done since. I took the shilling & gave it to my father who was also very much pleased.

Of course after passing that examination I was free from any more trouble & other boys came to work in the mine usually with their fathers till in time there were forty to fifty boys nearly all of the same age.

Source: William Lindsay Autobiography, pg 270-271

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Inspiration: Robert Burns

Robert Burn's was influential to all Scots, including the Lindsay family in Wasatch County. I like the fact that they held a poet so esteemed. As a child, William visited important sites from Burn's life in Scotland. From William's Autobiography Pg 271-272...
"I only remember 2 occasions that we got off from work to visit for a day or so away from home. One time the whole family went on the train to Dumfries where Burns died and was buried. I sat in his chair and visited his grave."
Burn's home where he died.

"Every evening or especially Sunday evening they read a chapter from the Bible sang a hymn and had prayers Similar to the description given by Burn's in the Cotter's Saturday night. A very fine custom in my opinion and worthy to be emulated."
At Davie Pryde's Hall in Center Creek and later in larger gathering places in Heber, on Burn's birthday, January 25th, Scottish immigrants continued the tradition of celebrating Burns and his poetry. I'm not sure how closely it follows the traditional Burn's supper with haggis and all, but the event was a large production that in time had its own finance committee. One article described it as being "simply immense" with dancing and recitations going until 3 am. The 1891 celebration where William Lindsay recited Burn's "Cotter's Saturday night," as well as his mentioning of the poem in his journal, are evidence of William's fondness for the poem (see full text of the Cotter's Saturday Night here).

Source: Wasatch Wave: 2/3/1891
Note: To those descending from James and Agnes Watson Lindsay or Margaret Eleanor Thomas Lindsay,
the James Watson listed in the article is also a Scottish ancestor that cherished Burn's

From the 1908 celebration at James A. Dawson's home "William Lindsay gave an interesting address on the life of Bobbie Burn's and finished with the advice to "Keep our lug flaps off." Can anyone tell me what a lug flap is? Is it a watch part and is the advice to keep our watches off?

The 1909 celebration was held at the amusement hall (still standing behind the tabernacle in Heber). Apparently the Lindsay brothers were instrumental in keeping these Robert Burns parties alive. William Lindsay wanted everyone to know they were invited, "the more the merrier."

Source: Wasatch Wave. 1/22/1909

It is unclear how long these Burns celebrations went for in Heber. The Wasatch Wave has been digitized through 1922 and the last recorded celebration therein was in 1916. Each time these celebration ended with everybody singing "Auld Lang Syne."

Finally, more evidence of the love for the Cottar's Satruday night and Robert Burns is portrayed in the following passage...
"In September 1915 there was a parade & display of the different nations gotten up & a reward of $20.00 or rather a prize for the best Float representative of that nation. So the Scots decided to compete for the prize & we got up quite a nice float I was selected to ride in it representing Robert Burns's Poem The Cottar's Saturday night with a wife & four children around me. We sent to Salt Lake & got a Bagpipe player & a good Scotch Singer to come & ride in our Float & he to play the Bagpipes as the procession moved along Our float was thatched with straw. But with it all we were outdone by the Swiss people from Midway who had a real Swiss cottage & the woman with her cow & calf. However we got the second prize of $15.00 which we paid to the Piper & the Scotch singer that came from Salt Lake to help us." -William Lindsay Autobiography, pg. 335
This parade (at the Wasatch County Fair more in the Wasatch Wave here) in September sounds like an event that was likely photographed and one that would be great to have a picture of.