Sunday, February 26, 2017

My 64 ~ Researching My Fourth Great Grandparents : Hans Hamilton and Jane Cottam

My fourth great grandfather, Hans (also spelled Hants) Hamilton, was born on January 1, 1780, in Truro, in Colchester County, Nova Scotia, the sixth son and youngest of nine children born to Robert Hamilton and Agnes "Nancy" Ferguson.

In the summer of 1771, his parents Robert and "Nancy" and his five oldest siblings, had immigrated from County Armagh, Northern Ireland, aboard the schooner "Hopewell" to Halifax, Nova Scotia. From there, they had moved to Truro.

Later, his father Robert was among a group of men who received a grant of land at "Wilmot River," which later became known as the Stewiacke River. He was settled there with his family by 1792.

On November 14, 1811, Hans married Jane Cottam, the daughter of James Cottam, Sr. and Mary Wilson. Hans was 31; Jane was 18.

My fourth great grandmother, Jane Cottam, was born on February 22, 1793, the oldest of seven children. Many of her family members, including my 5th great grandparents, are buried in the Cottam Settlement Cemetary, near Debert.

James Cottam and Mary Wilson
Cottam Settlement Cemetery
near Debert, Nova Scotia

Alan Ross made a short video of his visit there, about a year and a half ago:


Together, Hans and Jane had 13 children, from 1813 to 1840 (27 years):

Agnes, b. 1813
Mary, b. 1815
Robert, b. 1817
Agnes, b. 1818
James, b. 1921
Hants, b. 1823
John, b. 1825
Jane, b. 1927
Susan, b. 1830
Margaret, b. 1832
William Alexander, b. 1834
Rebecca, b. 1837
Robert Samuel, b. 1840

A farmer all his life, Hans passed away on February 4, 1858, at the age of 78.  Jane died a little over a year later, at age 66. Both died in Upper Stewiacke. Hans is buried in Riverside Cemetery, in Upper Stewiacke. Jane is probably buried there as well.

Hans Hamilton's Grave
Riverside Cemetery
Upper Stewiacke
Nova Scotia


1838 Census, Colchester Historeum (

"Cottam Settlement Cemetery" video recorded by Alan Ross, published Oct. 8, 2015. ( Used with permission.

Find A Grave, database and images (  : accessed 23 Feb 2017), memorial page for Hans Hamilton (1780-1858), Find A Grave Memorial no. 153020671, citing Riverside Cemetery, Upper Stewiacke, Colchester County, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Four Nova Scotia Families: Hennigar, Elliott, Harvey, Chipman [webpage](

Miller, Thomas, Historical and genealogical record of the first settlers of Colchester County:  down to the present time compiled from the most authentic sources  (1873; facsimile edition, Belleville, Ontario:  Mika Studios, 1972).

Wile, Jane Currie, comp. Robert & Hants Hamilton: Two Brothers in Nova Scotia; eBook content from Jane Currie-Wile's Colchester County Families Database. February 2017. PDF download. (

Sunday, January 8, 2017

My 64 ~ Researching My Fourth Great Grandparents : John McCain and Jane Allison

My fourth great grandfather, John McCain, was born in Drumboe, Stranorlar Parish, County Donegal, Ireland, in about 1760. He is known to have had three brothers and a sister, although hardly anything is known about his parents.

My fourth great grandmother, Jane Allison, was born in about 1775, also in County Donegal.

John and Jane married in about 1798, in County Donegal. Five known children were born to the couple:

John, b. abt. 1800
William, b. 1802
James, b. abt. 1806
Andrew, b. 1807*
Jane, b. 1816

*my 3rd great grandfather

According to Hutchison:

"John and his family were farmers at Meenhoney, a hilly, bog-filled region about one mile northwest of Castlefin, Co. Donegal, bordering on Northern Ireland. It was one of the few Protestant counties in Ireland and also one of the poorest, as was typical if the northwestern region of Ireland."

Meenahoney Townland, County Donegal, Ireland
Old Building at Meenhoney

It wasn't until sons William, James, and Andrew emigrated to New Brunswick, Canada, in the 1820s and 1830s, that the foundation of the McCain Family business enterprise was established. Brothers Andrew and James first arrived in Carleton County, New Brunswick, by the spring of 1823. All of the McCains obtained 100-acre land grants in the Florenceville area, where the "rolling hills, lush green valley, and meandering river" must have reminded them of their homeland in Meenahoney.

The industrious McCains began trading farm produce, and cultivated, in later generations, a huge Irish tradition ~ potato farming. The advent of large-scale potato farming, beginning in the 1920s, positioned the McCain families of Florenceville, New Brunswick, for the prosperous industry for which it is known to this day. 

Brothers Harrison, Wallace, Andrew, and Robert McCain, founders of McCain Foods Limited, are all second cousins, twice removed.

In the meantime, my fourth great grandparents, John and Jane McCain, both died around 1816 in County Donegal, Ireland, and their graves are unmarked and unknown.

Photo Credit:

Kenneth Allen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Kenneth Allen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Hutchison, Brian W. Descendants of John McCain from Stranorlar Parish, Co. Donegal, Ireland: Migrations to British North America and throughout Ireland, (c. 1760-2004). Nanaimo, BC: GEN-FIND Research Associates, 2005.