Scotland, Chapter 1: Coming to America

Coming to America is a 10-part series following two women as they traveled to Scotland to re-create the journey to America made by early homesteaders known as The Scotch Colony. These pioneers were pivotal in the establishment of Hamilton County, Nebraska: John and Isabelle Stroyan Laurie, James Waddell and Mary Brown Waddell.

I met Robin Johanson about a year and a half ago, when she and her husband Frank - who journeyed to Nebraska from Florida to see the sandhill crane migration - decided to take a stroll through the Plainsman Museum. Little did she know she was about to meet her great-great-grandparents here. This accidental meeting - described on our blog - struck an adventurous chord in both of us, leading to a trip to Scotland together to see what inspired her ancestors to leave the rolling green hills of southern Scotland and travel to the lush and fertile soil of Nebraska. This story actually begins in 1851 in Liverpool, England, when John Laurie, his wife Isabelle Stroyan, and their children Alexander (3) and Jennie (1) missed the boat. Literally.

With dreams of making a new life in Australia, the family packed up headed to the port. Imagine them on the pier in Liverpool, England, 3-year-old Alex standing on a trunk, baby Jennie in her mother’s arms, John and Isabelle with their worldly possessions at their feet, watching their ship sail away. Yet, these pioneering spirits persisted. On April 5, 1851, they boarded a ship named Liberty at Port Greenock (Glasgow, Scotland) headed for America. By missing the boat to Australia, they ultimately made a home in Farmer’s Valley, as part of the Scotch Colony that began the building of Hamilton County, Nebraska. James Waddell (spelled Waddle on his gravestone, Waddell on census records), born in 1816, came to the U.S. from Carluke, Scotland, in 1848. His wife, Mary Brown, was born in 1827 in Inverkeithing, Scotland, but the two were married in Michigan in 1849. Little is known about their lives before they came to the United States. What we do know is that their presence in the Scotch Colony that formed in Farmer’s Valley precinct, Hamilton County, Nebraska was pivotal to the growth of the county - and the eventual appearance of my friend and travel companion, Robin.

November 29, 1883
 Robert Waddell

(son of James & Mary) wed Belle Laurie

(daughter of John & Isabelle)

August 15, 1917

Norma Waddell

(daughter of Robert & Belle) wed Horace “Chub” Cardinell Pictured here with their children Barbara and Bob.

September 20, 1953

Bob Cardinell

(son of Norma and Horace)

wed Francoise Mermod of Switzerland Pictured here with their children Laurie and Robin.

Scotland Series links:

Scotland, Ch 1: Coming to America

Scotland, Ch 2: Scottish Naming Conventions

Scotland, Ch 3: In Search of Newton Stewart

Scotland, Ch 4: Finding Newton Stewart

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