Search for Buchanan relatives was in vain

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Rosemount-29.08.11-wA DESCENDANT of a Buchanan family which left Helensburgh for the United States in the 1920s searched for any relatives living locally, but found none. 

Tom Smith lives in the famous Californian town of San Jose with his wife, and his four grown-up daughters all live nearby.

Tom says that the Scottish tradition is important in his family, and his daughters were all Highland dancers in their youth and graduated to the Prince Charles Pipe Band, two as pipers and two as drummers.

“I am nearing retirement now, and want to put a bit of our family history in writing for my children and grandchildren,” he said, “and would like to find out more about the Helensburgh connection.”

His mother, Agnes Maud Freeland Robertson Buchanan, was born at 34 Colquhoun Street on July 4 1898.

She was the daughter of Adam Buchanan, at that time a coachman, and his wife Mary, nee McDougall, who were married in Helensburgh on April 26 1887. She had 12 sisters and brothers. By 1921 the family had moved to 4 Lorne Street, and Adam was now a chauffeur.

The following year the girl who was born on America’s Independence Day emigrated to the States with a friend, Jessie Martin, and Tom believes that the rest of the family also emigrated.

He said: “She met my father Thomas Smith — who immigrated from Cupar in Fife at about the same time — in Detroit, Michigan, and they were married in 1929.

“I was born in 1944, the second of their two children, and it was rather late in their lives as they were both born in 1898. My father was in the Black Watch and was wounded in France in the First World War.”

Tom's sister, Mrs Marjorie Apel, who visited Helensburgh in the mid-1990s to see where the family lived and went to school, said: "My mother told me that the whole family emigrated to the States, and there are none of the family left in the town.

"My grandfather was quite a character. He used to spend every summer with us, my grandmother having died before I was born."

Adam Buchanan was coachman and then chauffeur to Dr William Robert Sewell, MD, CM, VD, JP, who delivered all the Buchanan children for no fee.

The son of a teacher, Dr Sewell lived in the attractive 19th century villa, Rosemount, 10 West Argyle Street — a stone’s throw away from both Buchanan homes — and which has a coach house.

A man of means, he employed noted architects William Leiper and then Robert Wemyss on extensions to the mansion in 1895, 1898 and 1907.