We have kindly been sent this information from Bernard Mc Nab. Bernard has sent us the following photos and information of his family.
I am Bernard Mc Nab. I live in Saint Charles, Minnesota USA, and I am age 77. My great-great grandfather was Finlay Mc Nab, who was a crofter at Glenrisdel in Kintyre Scotland, near the villages of Claonaig and Whitehouse. In 1848, he and his wife Mary and their five children, Duncan, Hugh, Patrick, Catherine and Margaret emigrated from Scotland, and planned to go to Canada. Aboard ship during their journey, Mary, Hugh, Patrick, Catherine and Margaret all died of small pox, and were buried at sea. Finlay and his eleven year old son Duncan arrived in Canada, and settled near London, Ontario Canada.
As a young man Duncan moved from Canada to Upper Michigan USA to work in a lumber camp. At age 25 he volunteered for the Union Army of the North during the Civil War in the United States. When the war ended in 1865, he returned to Canada, and married Catherine Montgomery in 1868, and then moved to the state of Minnesota USA. Duncan’s family and Catherine’s family knew each other in Scotland, and lived, near each other.
My Grandfather, John Mc Nab was born in 1871, when Duncan and Catherine settled on the prairies of Southwestern Minnesota. They were the first settlers in the area. The closest town or settlement was the village of Jackson, about thirty miles to the east. The land they settled was Native American (American Indian) land until Duncan acquired title from the U.S. Government. As more settlers soon moved into the area, the railroad built a line through the region, and the territory was organized into townships and villages. Since Duncan and Catherine were the first settlers, Duncan was allowed to name the township in which his land was located. He chose the name Alba, an ancient name for Scotland, and that is the name of the township in Jackson County Minnesota to this day. The nearby village has the name of Brewster, Minnesota.
The flat prairie land was only tall grass with roaming Native Americans and wild game when Duncan and Catherine arrived. The closest tree to the place they chose to locate was fourteen miles away on the shores of Heron Lake. Because of the lack of trees, the family lived in their turned over wagon until Duncan could finish building a “sod” house made from the prairie turf. The “sod” house was home until a wood house could be constructed of material brought from Jackson, thirty miles away by team of horses and wagon. The family lived on wild game until the prairie turf was plowed, planted to wheat and garden vegetables and harvested in 1872. Duncan added to his land holdings by planting trees, because the government Homestead Act of the 1860’s allowed ownership of land if trees were planted on the prairie and the land “improved” by plowing, planting and harvesting. Today that is some of the best and richest soil and farm land in the U.S. I am very happy to own some of the farm land acquired by Duncan and Catherine by their “tree claim”.
Duncan and Catherine parented eleven boys and two girls to adulthood, of which my grandfather John was the oldest. I am a fourth generation of the family living in the U.S., and today there are nearly 500 direct blood descendants of Duncan and Catherine living in many parts of the U.S. There are many of the descendants living in the Brewster and Worthington area of Minnesota.
In 1996, my wife Sandy and I traveled to Scotland where we spent twelve days touring. We visited many parts of Scotland including Glenrisdel in Kintyre, Killen, Kinnell House and the Innis Bhuidhe burial grounds. The house where Duncan was born and the church where he was baptized are still existing. A family with the sir name of Wilson now lives in the house, and the church building has been converted to living quarters for a family. It was a most enjoyable visit, and I wish my wife and I could return again for the Killen games in August, but age and health prevent a return for us.
Bernard Mc Nab
Thank you Bernard for this wonderful insight into your family history.