Can I tell you that I am doing cartwheels of glee? A task that I have kept on my “Family History To Do List” for the past four years since our 2010 trip to Scotland has finally been accomplished! I have completely transcribed my great-grandfather Lachlan McLennan’s autobiography that he wrote, resulting in 97 pages and close to 65,000 words. Carol McLennan, the lovely wife of my Dad’s first cousin Harold, transcribed Lachlan’s journal back in 1983 from its original state to a typewritten one. It hit me several years ago that having it transcribed again into a digital format would be best for this era in which we live, for as each time the typewritten copy is photocopied it lost a bit of its typewritten clarity. What is even more remarkable is that the original autobiography that Great-Grandfather penned, survived the house fire in which Lachlan tragically perished, some of its pages singed by the fire when it was recovered. What a heartbreaking ending for Great-Grandfather in 1935, just over two weeks after his final journal entry.
After Lachlan immigrated to the United States from Scotland he began writing his autobiography. Initially, there is some retrospection on his part, but it seems that he likely began this life-long writing venture in the early 1870s. What awaits me now is to put it through an editing process plus create at least two additional sections, one of photos and the other a resource section. Then the ultimate goal will be to publish it for other readers to enjoy. Hopefully this will lead me to register for an ISBN number so that the book will make its way to the Library of Congress at some point.
On May 29, 2014, it will have been 145 years since Lachlan, his mother, Catherine MacKay McLennan, two sisters, Kate and Mary, a brother, Evan, and a brother-in-law, Hugh, left Corntown on the lush green Black Isle in the Scottish Highlands on May 29, 1869. They arrived in Kewanee, Illinois on June 26, 1869 where they stayed with dear friends. Six months later, Lachlan boarded the train at the Kewanee Depot and headed west to Brooklyn, Iowa. He writes, “As I walked out from Brooklyn Christmas Day to the home of my sister [Isabella immigrated at a prior time] about nine miles north, I thought the country bleak and uninviting and my prospect did not make a very favorable impression on me. I was so blue that I regretted coming out to Iowa but I never, after this feeling wore away, regretted it since.”
Researching Poweshiek and Benton County records and perusing old maps of those counties will be part of my next endeavor for the resource section of the autobiography. If you have tidbits pertaining to records or old maps, I would love to be in touch with you. Please check in with me from time to time to see where I am on this journey to honor my Great-Grandfather Lachlan!