Historylinks Archive

Mrs Adam Cumming, Catherine and Kate Ann Mackay and Jessie Fraser

Mrs Adam Cumming, Catherine and Kate Ann Mackay and Jessie Fraser

Date Added: 24 April 2008 Year Range: 1925 - 1960 Institution Name: dnhhl Cat No: | 2007_181_02 | Picture No: 3306

B/w laser photocopy of photo of three ladies and a small girl standing beside a wooden building (Embo Station). Two ladies on left are elderly and traditionally dressed, one has a creel on her back. The little girl is partly behind one of these. The younger woman on the right is her mother. Caption at top "My first picture in Scotland" and at bottom "Twa Auld Grannies At Embo Station". On reverse: " Left: Mrs Jessie Fraser, Gate Street. Centre: Mrs Adam Cumming (Granny of song). Right: Her daughter Mrs Catherine Mackay and daughter Kate Ann". Quality of copy is poor. On same sheet as 2007.181.03.

Dimensions: A5

Groups: Hidden Gems


This photo must have been taken in about 1925 and not 1940. Mrs Adam Cumming (nee Annie Mackay born 1855 died 6/8/1943)was my father's aunt and the Mrs Catherine Mackay (nee Catherine Cumming) his cousin who we knew in Embo as Kate aigh Adam - she was the daughter of Mrs Adam Cumming and the wife of "Bielsie" William Mackay. The little girl is Kate aigh Adam's daughter Kate Ann Mackay who later became Kate Ann Grant. She and her husband in about 1950 went to live in Boston USA with Adam Cumming's many sons and daughters there - one sister Maggie Cumming was the wife of the famous American singer/comedian Sandy MacFarlane who wrote "Grannies Heilan Hame". Comment left on 25 March 2009 at 15:25 by Kenneth Mackay now Empangeni born Embo 1939
Bielsie is the nickname of my father's family who still reside in the area. Comment left on 06 January 2012 at 09:25 by Mackay
Just a bit more background on this photo and the Embo railway station.
It has been agreed that this photo was taken in about 1925. The hand writing on the photograph is identical in its language style, usage and physical make up to that of Sandy MacFarlane and which has also been found on other photos in the museum’s albums. In the mid and late 1920s Sandy MacFarlane visited Embo from Boston, Mass, USA with his wife Maggie and daughters several times. It seems probable that this photo was taken by Sandy when he arrived at the Embo station on one of these visits and was met by his Embo in laws.
I also remember that in about 1950 the Kate Ann Mackay as seen in this photo told me that when my oldest brother Donald James Mackay (Donnie James) was a baby in 1930 she and other Embo girls of her age took over the duty of taking him for hurls in his pram. I think that if she was then younger than ten years she would not have been entrusted with this important duty!
After the end of World War Two news was received in Embo that servicemen from Embo and who had been Prisoners of War in Germany were due to arrive home at the Embo rail station. They duly arrived and the whole village population was there to welcome them. I was then a six-year-old but I clearly remember all the singing, laughter, shouting and crying as the train slowly climbed the small incline from Coull Farm to the station. The servicemen themselves were now back in their service uniforms and they were hanging out of all the carriage windows on the station side of the train.
The village children joined in the merriment by running alongside the train as it steamed towards the station platform. When the train stopped the servicemen stood in the carriage doors and greeted all of the people, and then much to the delight of the children threw many handfuls of silver coins among them. I myself was able to gather up several half crowns and florins and those children that were older and more physically stronger than I filled their pockets with coins.
I can now only identify two of the servicemen who came home that day. They were Thomas Fraser (Toma Peter) who was the brother of my uncle Kenneth Fraser (Kenny aig Peter Loudie) who then lived at 6 Front Street. Toma Peter lived in the back part of the village. The other person I remember well was the man who became the husband of the Kate Ann Mackay in this photo. I cannot now remember his first name but his surname was Grant. He was particularly generous in throwing high value silver coins to the children. The rumour was that this generosity was made possible by these servicemen being given all their back pay for the years that they spent as POWs. In addition to this Mr. Grant had pre-war been an artisan at the aluminium smelter in Fort William and this company also paid their POW staff company back pay for the full time that they spent in captivity.
Finally, all the village people left the railway station and went to the various homes of the servicemen to continue celebrations there. I and my younger brother George and my older sister Anna Jess and my cousins James (Jamsie) and Benjamin (Ben) Cumming ended up at the water tap on the wall of the Embo Headmaster Alastair Calder’s garden wall. There we all counted our coins and we were shocked by the amounts involved. Some of us had managed to gather amounts totalling £5.00 which was a fortune at that time. For example, my father was a builder then and worked 6 full days a week for a take home pay of just £6.00.
However, the devil soon came among us and we starting gambling heads or tails with the coins as a way of increasing…or decreasing our new found wealth. I was so absorbed in this game that I did not see my uncle Tom Reid approach and take hold of me and a some of the other children. He was aghast at having found us gambling and demanded that we hand over all our money. I handed over mine as did my brother George and my sister Anna Jess, but Jamsie and Ben being Edinburgh raised and more street wise and older than us escaped. We three were then frog marched to our grandmother’s house at 9 Front Street where Tom Reid, his wife Isabella (Belle) and her sisters Christine, Alexina and Jessie were staying while home on holiday in Embo from the USA.
There was then much lecturing and warnings about the evils of gambling as all of these American relatives were very strict Christians as members of the Plymouth Brethren church. I think that we were sent to bed without supper for our sins and there we were later joined in the common bedroom by Jamsie and Ben Cumming. However, no sooner had the adults left us to sleep Jamsie Cumming was out through the window to enjoy the last of a warm Embo summer day.
Tom Reid was born in Taunton, Mass., USA in 1884 to Glasgow born parents. He died in 1966. All I can clearly remember that none of us “captured” children ever saw our hard won money again!
Comment left on 04 April 2016 at 17:52 by Kenneth Mackay
Kenneth...I loved reading all the news you shared about the arrival of the soldiers at the station in Embo... It was such an incredible and moving picture for me ...as you see, Kate Ann Mackay Grant was my mother ( who died in 1993) and the generous soldier who threw the high value silver was my father, David Grant, from Portmahomock...he was always generous! They married after the war & shortly thereafter immigrated to Boston as I was born here in 1949. My brother, Bruce was born in 1951. My granny, Catherine Ann Mackay (Cumming) joined us in America after my grandfather died. My father died in 1968. Prior to that, however, we were in touch with Anna Jess. She and her family would visit us and we would go to Connecticut to visit them. My brother would spend time with them in Lake George. He passed away in 2001. My mother stayed in touch with Anna Jess until we lost her but I have since lost touch. One summer your father and mother, Willie Em & Marion came to stay with us...what I remember most was the amazing stone work he did. He built a walkway to my mothers home in Weymouth, Massachusetts , that still bears his name. In my twenties, I visited Embo many different summers, and on one occasion, met George ( at Grannies). As a final note, I always would hear stories of Kenneth in Rhodesia .... And remember my mother talking to Anna Jess with a great warmth towards you. Thanks again for the wonderful notes on that generous soldier...it just made my day. Comment left on 27 August 2016 at 02:59 by Karen ( Grant) Dempsey
Form Goes Here