Thurso in 1905. It arrived yesterday. Friends sent it after I mentioned that early Ordnance survey maps were mentioned on "The History Girls" and were available for some areas. They are in Scotland at present and found an early Edinburgh map for themselves - and the Thurso one for me.
Thurso? Yes, my ancestors come from that area. The idea of having a map of an area they would have known was interesting but I had not expected that there would be any.
I think I have mentioned before that I like maps. There is something fascinating about the way places come together on a map. Who lives there? Why do they live there? What do they do? What do they believe and why do they believe it? Why did someone settle there in the first place? Why was the place given that name?
The questions are endless. They are rarely answered but it is still fascinating to look and guess. It is still fascinating to use my imagination.
Some of the early Ordnance Survey maps have another feature though. Those put out by Godfreys have other information on the back. This was also mentioned in the blog post I read on "The History Girls". The publishers have used directories written at the time and indicated who was living or working at a specific address.
I opened the map out. I looked at a town which was larger than I had expected it to be. We have always been given the impression that Thurso was not much more than a small village at the time my great-grandparents left Scotland.
If that is so then the village had grown a lot in about thirty years. The map shows a fair sized place. I can guess where the oldest section of the town is. It will be close to the harbour. What would then have been the newer section of the town is laid out in a neat grid pattern. Someone has obviously planned it rather than merely allowed it to grow. Who did that? Why?
Then I turned the map over. I do not know much about my great-grandfather's extended family but there is his surname - my surname. It appears on the list of businesses several times. In an area that size all those people would be distant relatives. Some of my ancestors were bakers, butchers, milliners and tailors. I know others were lawyers, engineers, sailors and "dominies" (teachers). They often combined these occupations with crofting to make ends meet.
I wonder what these people were like. What were their interests? When they had a little leisure time how did they fill it?
I want to find the real places one day. I hope I can.