Jackie Cichon finds her ancestral roots in the Scottish Borders

Jackie Cichon contacted Borders Journeys back in March requesting us to organise an ancestral tour of the Scottish Borders for her. Jackie’s Anderson ancestors had been Blacksmith’s in Cockburnpath, Edington and Crossgatehall before emigrating to America in the 19th century. Prior to her visit we corresponded regularly by email; Jackie provided us with locations where her family had lived along with burial details that she’s obtained from her cousin Doreen in New Zealand. From Jackie’s information, Ian did some further research in local archives and created an itinerary that included visits to villages and towns associated with her ancestors, their homes plus kirkyards to visit ancestral headstones.

We collected Jackie and her husband Frank in Edinburgh. It was a beautiful sunny morning for our journey along the East Lothian coast towards the Scottish Borders. Our first stop was the lovely fishing village of Cove. We reached the small harbour by walking walk down the coastal path then through a tunnel which has been cut through the rock. Picturesque and peaceful best describes Cove Harbour. Cove was a popular subject for ‘The Glasgow Boys’ who based themselves in the area during the 19th century.

Jackie meets Ian from Borders Journeys

Frank & Jackie at Cove

Our next stop was the historic village of Cockburnspath. In the kirkyard, Jackie was delighted to find her ancestors headstone. Just behind the kirkyard is the old Backsmith’s Smiddy; this is where Jackie’s ancestors were Blacksmiths. We were fortunate to meet the current owner who invited us to have a look around. A very poignant moment for Jackie was when the owner showed her a copy of a photograph of Jackie’s ancestors pictured in front of the smiddy. Nearly 170 years later Jackie and Frank posed for photographs in the same place where her ancestors had been photographed; that was indeed a very special experience for them both.

Jackie with her ancestors headstone at Cockburnspath Kirkyard

Frank & Jackie at Cockburnspath Smiddy

We next visited St. Abbs where we had tea and delicious homemade scones at Ebbcarrs Café. A short drive down the coast we arrived at Coldingham, firstly we had a walk along the beach at Coldingham Bay. No visit to the area is complete without visiting the magnificent Coldingham Priory. Just behind the priory Jackie was delighted to locate a small lane called The Bow; this is where her ancestors lived before they left for America. The Luckenbooth Café at the entrance to the priory has a computer where visitors can research local family history plus look at through the collection of local historical photographs.

Coldingham Priory

We had a lovely lunch at the Red Lion Inn in Chirnside. Unfortunately we were unable to locate a family headstone in Chirnside Kirkyard; however Jackie’s cousin Doreen had recorded the headstone details when she visited the kirkyard in the early 1990s.

Our next stop was Crossgatehall Smiddy; it was here that Jackie’s four times great grandfather was born. Bunkle Kirkyard proved thrilling for Jackie; it was here that she found the headstone for her five times great grandparents, Thomas Fair and Mary Davidson.

Jackie with her ancestors headstone at Bunkle Kirkyard

Jackie and Frank requested that we visited Melrose before heading back to Edinburgh. Our first stop was at Scott’s View where they could admire the view of the Eildon Hills and surrounding countryside. Melrose was our next stop, Jackie and Frank were amazed how pretty the town was and how much pride there was in producing the floral displays. Following obligatory photographs of the abbey, we began our journey back to Edinburgh. There were photograph stops overlooking Lauder and at the top of Soutra.

We dropped Jackie and Frank back at their apartment in Edinburgh. It was a pleasure for us to organise Jackie’s ancestral tour and to share her delight in finding her ancestral roots in the Scottish Borders. We hope that Jackie and Frank enjoy the rest of their holiday in Edinburgh, Inverness and Stirling and look forward to them sharing their holiday photographs with us on Facebook.

More photographs can be found on Borders Journeys’ Facebook

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