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Topics - McGroger

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Free Photo Restoration & Date Old Photographs / NIK SOFTWARE UPDATE
« on: Wednesday 17 January 18 22:58 GMT (UK)  »

Posting this here to catch the  eyes of as many as possible.

If you are even vaguely interested in this software please read my update to Gadget’s post in the Tips sub-board, here:;topicseen#new

The guts of it is that this once very expensive software, free for the last year or so, may not be free for much longer.


A few things I’ve noticed since starting to contribute to the photo board early last year:
*Very few people post the backs or even the whole of photos for dating;
*Very few people new to the board post high resolution images for restoring;
*When asked by the daters/restorers to do either of the above two things, it usually doesn’t happen for various reasons: the poster doesn’t come back; restorers date or restore without the better detail and posters accept the answers/restores as is; posters don’t have access to the originals; posters have trouble with posting.
*Very few people read the help tutorials before posting. (Who reads instruction books anyway? ;))
*A lot of new posters don’t clearly state what they want.

I think some of the outcomes of this are:
Posters (particularly new posters) can became frustrated and/or not come back;
Restorers can become frustrated, having to give the same message to almost every new poster;
Both posters and restorers can achieve either nil or less than best outcomes.

I’d like to suggest that the wording at the top of the board be changed/expanded in an effort to cure most of the problems mentioned above.

From this:
“Get your Photographs restored or dated completely for free by the generous people on RootsChat. Please Include Family Names and Country in Titles of Photographs if known, or how the image relates to your family history. Posts without any details will not be allowed to be posted.”

To this:
“Get your old photographs dated or restored completely FREE by the generous people on Rootschat.
“For Best Outcomes:
“For DATING, scan & post the photo in full (front & back, showing the edges), and prefix the post, “DATE PLEASE for …” Also include family names and country (where known) and how the photo relates to your research.
“For RESTORING, scan your photo at the highest resolution (usu. 300 or 600dpi) that creates a file that just fits under our limit of 500kb, and prefix the post, “RESTORE PLEASE for…”
“For both a date and a restore, prefix the post, “DATE AND RESTORE PLEASE for…”
“(Note that posts without any details will not be allowed.)
“If you have any trouble posting your photo, after trying the TUTORIALS below, please ask our friendly restorers for help.”

Perhaps other daters/restorers would like to comment on/shoot down my suggestions and say whether they (or something like them) are worth recommending to the board administrators.

(Now I’ll duck and run for cover. ;D)


The badge below is about 1.3 inches in diameter and features a picture of my uncle, Richard John Beattie (1920-1980). Uncle Jack never married, his life somewhat destroyed (mentally/emotionally) by his WW2 experience. I find it hard to tell his age in the photo, doubting that he could have looked so fresh-faced and bright-eyed after the war. When I knew him - late 1950s until his death - he always looked old (but I was very young).

Jack lived in Newcastle (Australia) most of his life, with a brief period in Sydney after the war, before returning to Newcastle in the 1950s.

Any ideas as to his age in the photo?  Or of where and when or for what purpose such badges were produced? (And, as always, if you wish to have a play with it, please do.)

Cheers, Peter.

The original of the photo below (from my parents' wedding) is only small (about 2 and a half by 3 and a quarter inches) but it has plenty of detail and could be enlarged to make a good sized print. Except for one thing. The card-stock is raised, dimpled all over, so that attempts at scanning it produce what I call a “fish scale” effect over all the features. I first scanned it at home, then my son improved on it with his better-quality scanner, but light still manages to seep in, as you can see from the image.

I’ve posted a second image, a close-up showing where I’ve used the smudge tool painstakingly on Dad’s face and part of his coat. But, to strain the “fish scale” metaphor, it is a bit like trying to remove the scales without disturbing the underlying inner layer of skin, let alone the flesh. The parts I’ve worked on aren’t too bad, but they tend to make his skin look a little too smooth, a bit lumpy in parts (bruised the flesh!), or they distort some detail where I’ve not been careful enough.

My question: Is there a better way of removing the “fish scales” but without sacrificing detail?

Please have a play with the photo. Anyone wanting to colour it, Dad’s eyes were hazel, hair dark brown/black , Mum’s eyes blue, hair brown. I don’t know the colour of Dad’s clothes, but I can guess the colour of Mum’s!

Cheers, Peter. 


Something for a wet day… or for bored restorers.

On February 11 this year I found out that a photo I had long had amongst my mother’s effects was of my great grandfather and his five daughters. It needed restoring. I then discovered that my laptop, now three years old, had a dodgy copy of Photoshop Elements (version 6). So I scanned the photo and started learning the program, beginning my first restore on February 12.

Of course now I’m addicted. I have to have a daily fix.

The original photo and one of my many attempts at a restore are posted below.

While working on the photo I looked for clues to the date, the occasion and the place. 

James died in August 1910. The girl seated on the extreme right of the photo was called Zillah - because her older siblings were named alphabetically and the mother died giving birth to Zillah (May 21, 1899). (Oh, and Zillah was the thirteenth child - key Twilight Zone theme!)

Despite looking like a sultry teenager, Zillah must have been much younger. James died when Zillah was only 11 years old.  And you can see from her size, and her bow and pigtails - as opposed to her sisters’ pompadours - that Zillah was only a kid. I’d estimate - from her size and from comparing her looks to photos of one of my own granddaughters at a similar age - that Zillah was only about 7 or 8 in the photo, thus dating it to around 1906/7.

Are there any other clues to in the photo? What was the occasion? I have details of births, deaths and marriages of her family members and none occurred during the likely time of the photo. But they had many cousins where they lived (Patrick’s Plain - now Singleton - in New South Wales) all from large families, so it could have been a cousin’s baptism, marriage or funeral.

And what about the things James and Zillah are holding? Is it a church sheet of some sort in James’s hand? A title deed? No, too small for that. I can make out “8 8” I think on what looks like the back of the card (?). And in Zillah’s hand, is it a school writing book - but didn’t they use slates in those days? To my eyes it also looks like an old autograph book - but that doesn’t really make much sense - or does it? What would be the occasion for those items, for everyone being all dressed up and the photo being about the father and the girls? After all, James also had 7 surviving sons in the 1900s.

I was going to pose the allocation of a date as a question for Rootschatters, but a few days ago, after dismissing family events (BDMs) for a likely date, I started googling around with the idea that perhaps they were having their picture taken before heading off to some show or other - an opera or a play perhaps.

I thought, was it possible to find out what shows were put on in Singleton in the late 1900s. Were shows put on in Singleton? Indeed, was it possible to find out when and where and what shows would have been on in Australia in the late 1900s?

Amongst other things, I came up with a play called “The Squatter’s Daughter”, which had debuted in Melbourne in February 1907 before going to Sydney, then touring Australia over the next three years.

How appropriate, I thought. Could “The Squatter’s Daughter” give the answer to a photo of a farmer and his daughters? Could that play have been performed in Singleton? Hardly likely… although Singleton perhaps loomed a little larger back then than it does these days. Or maybe the family had travelled to Newcastle - not that far away - to see a show.

I took to Trove (the Australian newspaper archive) and had a “You-bloody-little-beauty!” moment when I found an article in the Singleton Argus for Saturday 16 November 1907. This is how it starts:

“ ‘The Squatters’ Daughter.’
“To-night, at the hall of the Mechanics’ Institute, a realistic drama, with the above title, will be produced by William Anderson’s famous dramatic organisation…”

In 1907 “The Squatter’s Daughter” was the most successful Australian play to date. Co-written by Bert Bailey under a pseudonym, it was later made into two movies. (Of course Bert Bailey himself went on to even bigger things, being best known as Dad Rudd, star of the many “On Our Selection”/“Dad and Dave” plays and movies.)

So it is quite possible the photo was taken in Singleton on 16 November 1907 before the Beattie family went on to the Mechanics’ Institute to see this renowned play. The items in James’s and Zillah’s hands, perhaps a program/playbill and an autograph book, may have been theirs or they may have been the photographer’s props, but they certainly provided clues.

An Invitation to Play:
Below is the original photo and below that one of my many restore attempts.

There is nothing on the back and the only thing I can make out on the front is an “A” and a possible “T” or “F” in the bottom right corner. But, thanks again to Trove, I found there was a photographer named A F Saunders of John St, Singleton, who operated there from July 1900 and into the 1920s. Saunders advertised almost daily in the local news section of the Singleton Argus, often right under stories or advertisements for shows being presented at the Mechanics’ Institute.

Ain’t it wonderful how they come alive again when you find out more about them!

Please feel free to have a play with either image if you wish. James was brown haired and blue eyed. I don’t know the girls’ colouring.

Cheers, Peter.

Scotland / Scottish Land Transactions: What exactly is happening here?
« on: Monday 31 October 16 03:43 GMT (UK)  »

Could someone please see whether my interpretation of this series of transactions is anywhere near what is going on.

From “History of the Clan Gregor” Vol 1 by A G M MacGregor:

“April 6th. Mary McGregor, lawful daughter of Alexander McGregor Wester Callichra, by, as would seem, Margt, daughter of Patrick McGregor of Carnlea & who after his death married Donald McGregor  in Craignaferar in Glenalmont, had a Precept of Clare Constat as Heir to her Father in the 20/- land of Wester Callachra from James Marquis of Montrose now the Superior with consent of James Graham of Orchill his Tutor. On this Precept she was infeft 15th May 1693. Recorded 19th May 1693.” - Particular Register of Sasines, Stirlingshire.

 “May 5th. The abovementioned Mary McGregor married Alexander McGregor with whose consent she Disponed these said lands to Dougal McGregor of Ballimore by Disposition dated 5th May 1693, to which John McGregor late Schoolmaster at Buchanan is a witness. Dougal entered into a contract of Wadsett with his Cousin german, and brother of Alexander the first possessor, viz.

“May 5th. Dougal McGregor of Easter Callichra son of Ewne McGregor in Wester Frenich, and Hugh and Gregor sons of the latter, entered into the foresaid contract of Wadsett whereby they acquired the foresaid 20 shilling land of Wester Callichra under reversion of 600 merks, which was increased to 850 merks by a Bond and eik granted by Dougal of Ballimore dated 5th December 1693. Dougal McGregor of Easter Callichra and his sons were infeft in the lands of Wester Callichra 15 May 1693. Sasine recorded 19th May 1693.” - Particular Register of Sasines, Stirlingshire.

My interpretation:
Mary McGregor’s father dies, leaving her the heritable tenancy of the farm, Wester Callichra. The laird or tenant-in-chief, an underage Marquis of Montrose, has consented to the transfer under the guidance of his ‘tutor’. The transfer is recorded 19 May 1693.

With her husband’s consent she relinquishes the property to Dougal McGregor of Ballimore to whom it is already mortgaged for 600 merks. Her uncle and cousin of the first Dougal, Dougal of Easter Callichra, and his sons, purchase the property by taking over the mortgage, plus another 250 merks a little later that is presumably paid to Mary.

Or is some of that back-to-front and up-side-down?

Hope you can help.


Australia / So, when did the McGregors go to New Zealand?
« on: Tuesday 18 October 16 04:40 BST (UK)  »

First, the family lore:

John and Mary McGregor’s daughter Ellen was said to be the last of the family born in Scotland. When the family emigrated, they first went to NZ to visit (Mary’s brothers) relatives before going to Australia. They finally went to Australia where James was the first of the family to be born there.

Now, the facts:

John McGregor (1852), a train driver, and Mary Brickley (1853) had the following family in Scotland: Alexander Brickley (1874), William (1877-1881), Mary Bruce (1879), John (1880), William Brickley (1882).

John and his family travelled from Glasgow to Plymouth, England where they left for Australia on 6 June 1883 on the Steamship, ‘Chyebassa’. Their passage was paid for by a new development company, headed by George (Russell) Drysdale (grandfather of painter [George] Russell Drysdale). They arrived at Cooktown, Queensland, Australia on 30 July 1883 and disembarked the next day at Cleveland Bay (Townsville) before travelling by bullock train to the Pioneer Sugar Plantation (now the Brandon area near Ayr, Queensland) on the Burdekin River. While John helped in setting up the steam driven sugar cane mill and teaching the locals, Ellen/Nell was born on 25 February 1885.

John started work in Sydney on 1 April 1885 for NSW Railways.

They then added to the family in Sydney:
James (1887), Peter Brown (1889), Robert (1890-91), Robert (1892) and Donald (1894).

Perhaps this is what happened: They visited New Zealand after John started work in Sydney and before James was born. And, recalling what happened, someone probably said something like this: “James was the first born here after they went to New Zealand.” Which fits the facts but also could be misinterpreted as the family lore sequence of events described above.

Or could they have gone while John was still working at the plantation? Or is it feasible they went between Ellen’s birth (25/2/1885) and John starting work in Sydney (1/4/1885)?

I can find records for ships and passengers for voyages from England to either Australia or to New Zealand but not between Australia and New Zealand.

Does anyone know if such records exist and are accessible?

Any assistance greatly appreciated.


Stirlingshire / Where did grandfather Dugal McGregor alias Grame live in 1712?
« on: Thursday 06 October 16 04:48 BST (UK)  »
I’m calling on people who’ve looked at a lot of 18th century baptism images.

Here are two baptisms for my ancestors’ family:

‘Octobr 11. 1708
‘John Grame alias McGregor in Ruskanach and Janet Mcf
-arlan spouse had a lawful son baptized called Dugald wit
-nesses Malcom Graham alias Mcgregor in Ruskanach and John Mcfarlan Kirk officer’

‘March. 7. 1712
‘Gregor Mcgregor alias  Jo: [John] Grame in Ruskanach & Janet McFarl
 -an spouse had a lawful son baptised called John  Witnesses
Dugal Grame and John Mcfarlan in Corgrinan’

Taking the second one first and relying on the naming pattern, I’m assuming the two witnesses in 1712 are the two grandfathers. Corgrinan, home of the maternal grandfather, is modern day Corriegrennan, a mile or so south-west of Loch Ard. The name Ruskanach morphed into Rowchnoc, which is part of modern day Ardess, just above Rowardennan on the shore of Loch Lomond at the foot of Ben Lomond.

In the first baptism (1708) the witnesses are different. I’m thinking that this may have been at the start of winter snowfalls and the grandparents - living some distance away - were unable to get there, so a close friend or relative who lived on the same Ruskanach farm (Malcom) and a church cleric were the witnesses (I think his having the same name as the Corriegrennan John McFarlan is just a coincidence).

My question is: does the wording imply that both Dugal Grame and John Mcfarlan were from Corriegrennan? Or could he have been from Ruskenach? (But in the 1708 baptism Malcom’s domicile was recorded - not assumed - and if Dugal lived with Gregor at Ruskenach why did he not witness the baptism of his first grandson?) Or could it be that Dugal Grame was a prominent parishioner whose home didn’t need recording? Or might there simply be no significance in the omission?

Any thoughts on this most appreciated. Thanks.

Cheers, Peter

Australia / Was he really dead or legally on that date?
« on: Thursday 22 September 16 10:52 BST (UK)  »

My dad’s uncle, Donald M[a]cGregor (1894 Sydney) had a rough life. The youngest of the family, his mother died when he was 6. His father remarried 2 years later to a much younger woman. He was put into reform school just before his 15th birthday for being “uncontrollable”. He went to war overseas and returned in bad health, physically and mentally. He married in Scotland in 1918 while on leave. He was discharged medically unfit in early 1919 but not returned to Australia til 1920.

He appears in the NSW Police Gazette for 16 July 1930, with a warrant being issued for his arrest for Wife Desertion. A follow up note in the Police Gazette for 31 Dec 1930 says that he had been arrested and charged by Wauchope police. (He was a builder in Sydney.)

I can find no record of his death other than this handwritten note on his Service record:

“Died 18th April 1937. Historian 4/5/38”

One story handed down was:

“Aunty Nell [his sister] said he died by suicide in the early 1930s at somewhere in the Riverina; she was notified, as the only identity he had was his army pay book, in which she had been entered as his next of kin. ‘It was during the depression and he had separated from his wife, I think she may have gone back to Scotland.’”

I think the story may be typical verbal history - a mixture of fact and supposition, a bit misunderstood or lost here, a bit added there. (Would he still be carrying his army pay book around 17 years after being discharged? And it was not the early 1930s - although that was when he first deserted his wife.)

Do you think it possible that, after being charged, he immediately disappeared again, remained missing and (on application from his wife) was eventually declared legally dead (the 7 year term possibly backdated to when he first shot through, or granted in anticipation of 7 years elapsing shortly thereafter?  Would they use the wording they did in the army record if that was the case? (Possible, if the historian simply worked from a list of deceased ex-servicemen?) Or would it mean that he really died on that day?

Would love to here from people with any experience in such things.


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