I was born and grew up in the rural midwest of the United States. My father, a world war II RAF vet, immigrated from Scotland to the United States in the 1950’s in search of better jobs and better opportunity. When he was growing up in Glasgow, he vaguely knew that his grand father, the late Reverend Adam Henderson of the Free Church, had come from Ramscraigs, Caithness and that the majority of the family was still there.
As history would have it a tragic accident when I was 3 robbed my brothers and I of the full benefit of his history and stories. We knew growing up that we were Scottish but with just the most vague outline ofthe Henderson history. My father left Scotland under tense circumstances with his family, and we had almost no contact with any of them as we were growing up, though we all had a keen desire to re-connect with our Scottish roots.
Fortunately, business took me to the UK in 2006, and I decided it was time to contact my relatives still living in East Kilbride and rebuild the family ties. During the first visit between the families in over 40 years, my cousin handed me a rough outline of the family tree. This document, even though some what sketchy, was more information than I had had to date on the subject, and mentioned a place I knew very little of prior: Caithness.
In the years since I have made it my mission to recover or rebuild as much of the lost family history as I can before time, decay and old age place it forever beyond our understanding. This is more than just a genealogy effort of who begat whom, it is an effort to understand the places and ways that the ancestors lived and the role they played, large and small, in history. Since our start a small but growing group have been “collecting cousins”. When we find people in the modern day that connect with the family, we share all of the history and data we have to date, and invite them to participate. Some of them would rather be left alone, and we respect that. Most however are thrilled to re-connect, and through their sharing of history, photos and stories, we are slowly building up a better idea of the events, places and people.
This project is very much an effort of the modern age. With cousins and participants on 3 continents and multiple countries, we share most of our information over the internet. We are also using DNA testing to help define and refine our history, as what we can trace through records ends in the mid 1700s. Our goal is to contact as many descendants of our common “progenitor” as we can, and offer them our shared history, in hopes it will never be lost or forgotten again.