Oh, Chrysler!


A couple of years ago, I posted the above picture of my grandmother’s family enjoying a roadside picnic in front of a ‘mystery mobile’. (The original post can be seen here).

When my ‘car-brained’ brother came to visit a little while ago, I recruited him to help me find out more about the car in the picture.  After much google searching, we believe the car to be a 1927/28 Chrysler Imperial 52 coupe.  For comparison, here are some other pics of this model:


source: ‘Antique Automobile Club of America’ forums


source: Hemmings Motor News (Reader’s Rides)

I also found this vintage (American) advertisement on the ‘Imperial Club’ website:


source: Imperial Club


(zoom of the ’52’):

New Chrysler “52”
I’m pretty sure this is the right one but I welcome any corrections or other information.


Adopting a New Approach

The 1881 census first told me that my second great grandfather, Alexander Gibson REID (also featured in my post, Dating Photographs) was adopted. I found it very interesting but soon realised that this created a problem for my research.

Alexander Gibson REID on a family outing circa 1928
see Dating Photographs post for more information

Finding Alex on the 1871 census confirmed the adoption and cemented the final stone in a very solid brick wall.  Unfortunately, it will probably take a minor miracle to break this one as there were no adoption records in the 1860s.  In fact, there were no scottish adoption records at all until 1930. This problem is not unique to Scotland either as many family historians have no doubt discovered.

REID family on the 1871 census

Both censuses state Alex was born in Dunoon, Argyllshire about 1863.  I have tried searching for birth records under that name but have got no results.  This indicates to me that Alexander may have been renamed by his adoptive family; which also indicates that he was probably adopted very young.  Possibly from a family member, possibly from the victim of a colliery accident, possibly this, possibly that… There could be so many other explanations – too many for me to list all the possibilities here.

In the hopes a miracle will be bestowed on me, I want to gather as many clues as I can by studying the adoptive family.  The key (or sledgehammer) may just lie in the family names or newspaper reports from the places they lived.

REID family on the 1861 census

Gibson REID had been a coal miner since he was at least 15 (source – 1841 & 1851 censuses) but by 1861, he was a colliery clerk in New Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire.  He lived with his wife, Agnes (nee GIBB) in Knightswood (now part of Glasgow but then still a rural area with small scale mining source).

Gibson was 35 years old, born in Crichton, Midlothian; Agnes was 36, born in Bothwell, Lanarkshire.  They were living in Knightswood Cottage with their children; Mary, Alexander, Janet, Robert & Isabella, who were aged between 1 & 13 years of age.  All the children were born in Bothwell, Lanarkshire except the youngest, Isabella, who was born in New Kilpatrick the previous year.

Death certificate of Gibson REID – 27 Jan 1872, New Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire

A brief timeline of Gibson REID:
About 1826 – born in Crichton, Edinburgshire.
1841 – living in the HOGG household (William and Euphemia) with Robert, John & William REID (siblings?) & 50 year old, Agnes REID (mother Agnes listed on death certificate)

Sometime after 1841 – moved to Bothwell, married Agnes and had their first child, Mary in 1848.
Between 1851 and 1860 – became a colliery clerk and moved to New Kilpatrick.
Between 1863 and 1871 – adopted Alexander Gibson.
1871 still living at Knightswood Cottage.
1872 died of chronic bronchitis.Next Steps:
Search for male births (first name Alexander, blank surname) for familiar or possible mother names
Check Argyllshire newspapers for local tragedies
Check 1841 census for Agnes Gibb and her family found 4 possible matches – 1 most likely in Bothwell (sisters Catherine & Jean?)

Dating Photographs

A REID roadside picnic – 1928/9

A lot of magazine articles dedicated to the subject of dating photographs, would use clues such as fashion and the model of the car to date this photograph.  Fortunately, my grandmother wrote on the back of almost every photo so I can use my family tree to make the job a bit easier:

“Grandad Reid; Grandma Reid; Aunt Mona; & probably Ron; & Eric; Uncle Walter’s car”

‘Grandad and Grandma Reid’ are Alexander Gibson REID and Janet HUNTER who married in Glasgow 1886 and emigrated to New Zealand soon after.  It’s quite exciting to have photographs of people who for a long time were only names on the 1871 and 1881 censuses.

‘Aunt Mona’ was mentioned in my previous post so it is also quite exciting to have a picture of her.  ‘Uncle Walter’ must have been taking the photo.  They married in 1925 – my grandmother and her older sister were flowergirls for their wedding – so the photo is obviously post 1925. 

Eric BRUNDELL, the baby being held by ‘Grandma Reid’, was born in October 1928 which means this photograph was taken late 1928 or early 1929.

‘Grandad Reid’ died in late 1929 which to me makes this photo as poignant as the one of Ngaire (see here).

I’d love to know the make and model of ‘Uncle Walter’s car’.  Any vintage car enthusiasts care to hasten a guess?

The Buchan Trio

The Buchan Trio – 1925
Alex, Gwen & Ngaire BUCHAN
The photograph above is of my grandmother, Gwenyth Jean BUCHAN (centre) and her siblings – younger brother Alexander Lewis BUCHAN and older sister Ngaire Margaret BUCHAN (their youngest sister Margaret was to appear 6 years later).
Tragically, Ngaire died of peritonitis (a ruptured appendix) when she was only ten years old (December 1927). Grandma recalls that her family received Ngaire’s school first prize after her death.  I’m not familiar with school ‘prizes’ but I assume this means she was a very clever little girl.  I can only imagine the tears that flowed when the mail was delivered that day.

I have two copies of this photograph.

On the back of one in an unknown hand is written ‘With the Compliments of the Season. from the Buchan Trio – To Auntie & Uncle from Ngaire, Gwenyth & Alex’. I’m excited to think the handwriting is that of one of my great grandparents (Charles BUCHAN or Margaret Hunter REID).
On the back of the other, in my grandmother’s handwriting is ‘Ngaire (died at age of 10); Gwen; Alex; We were flower girls for Aunt Mona’s wedding to Walter Brundell’.

A quick check of the family tree shows that Aunt Mona married Walter on the 1st June 1925.  This means that my grandmother was 2 weeks shy of her 5th birthday, Alex was under 2 and a half years old and Ngaire 9 and a half.  She was to pass away six months later.

House Call

Whilst reading my copy of ‘Your Family Tree’ magazine, I came across a great resource for people with London ancestors. The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection includes an 1843 London map which you can transpose over google’s current satellite map. This would have saved me a lot of time a couple of years ago.
I don’t have many links to London in my tree. The only significant person in my tree to reside in London was George Wright PALMER and part of his family.
George was born in Portsea and his job in the Royal Navy caused him to move around a bit. For some reason, George was in London at the time of the 1871 census. He was living at 33 Marshall St with his first wife, Mary Ann and youngest son, Edward.
Palmer family in 1871 census
When I went on the hunt for this address a couple of years ago, I had to switch between windows and use educated guesses to pinpoint the locations. With Rumsey’s site, I was able to search and quickly locate Marshall St in Westminster.

Here is a photograph I took of what I believe to be 33 Marshall St (I found it the hard way but using this map overlay it was so quick and simple):

Here is a picture I found of 33 – 36 Marshall St, taken in the 1960s (annoyingly from the opposite direction to my picture):

It’s hard to say how long George and his reduced family lived at this address. Mary Ann died the next year and he married his second wife, Emily Jane FELLA in 1873. Tragically, she died just two years later.
I’m not often able to find detailed information on the houses in which my ancestors lived, which makes the details I found at British History Online even more special.

Most of these buildings […] were erected in the 1820’s by or under the supervision of Thomas Finden after the closure of Carnaby Market […]. This redevelopment was uniformly planned, small in area and scale, but forming to-day an unusually pleasant oasis for pedestrians, and offering facilities for shopping away from the through streets. There is accommodation for shop-keepers over the shops, as well as for chamber trades such as tailoring. The least altered parts are the block bounded on the west by Newburgh Street and on the south by Ganton Street, and the two pedestrian courts west of Newburgh Street—Lowndes Court and Marlborough Court.
The prevailing form was the four-storey terrace house fronted in stock brick, two windows wide with plain window-openings, and a continuous plain parapet with stone coping. The windows, most of which have their original narrow glazing-bars, have stone sills. The ground floors were built as shops from the beginning, for this was the period of the planned shopping street…
The ground floors of Nos. 33–36 Marshall Street have thin pilaster-strips and a continuous entablature; space appears to have been provided for shop-windows but, except at No. 35, these spaces have only one domestic-size window each. The ground floors of Nos. 20–22 Peter Street are similar.

(From: ‘Marshall Street Area’, Survey of London: volumes 31 and 32: St James Westminster, Part 2 (1963), pp. 196-208. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=41471 Date accessed: 10 January 2010).
(The bold font was added by myself for ease of reference).

Read 2nd part here.