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Community | 23rd June 2021

Book tells of ages past


A BOOK about Westerkirk in the year 2020/21 is ready and is now on the library website for everyone to see.

Bits and pieces will be added in the future but, if anyone wants to contribute to the book, contact one of the trustees.

While preparing the book, it was discovered that Loganhead cottage was omitted from the book published in 2000 but is, in fact, in the parish and should have been included.

Although, in the past, children from Loganhead walked over the hills to catch the school bus to Westerkirk school, it is now probably more accessible from Wauchope because of all the forestry on the eastern side of the hill.

You can find it if you walk up the forestry road from Arresgill.

The cottage is a ruin now but there is still a nice little meadow in front of it.

It was also interesting to hear from Wattie Rutherford about some of his family members, known as the Lodgegill Rutherfords.

This family spent 50 years at Upper Stennieswater in Westerkirk parish so, perhaps, should have been known as the Stenniewater Rutherfords.

George Rutherford of Lodgegill, which is at the top end of the Tarras valley, was born in 1840 and married Jane Irving of Canonbie, who was born in 1839.

The story goes that when they moved to Upper Stennieswater, Jane refused to unpack for a year, suggesting she was not very happy with the location of her new home.

The couple had eight children who all went to school at Glendinning and all the family remained in farming, except Helen, who studied French, spent some time in France and then emigrated.

Initially, she went to Quebec and on to Brooklyn in New York. She had a successful career as a secretary to a Canadian businessman.

The family at Upper Stennieswater kept cows, pigs and hens and made their own butter.

They bought a barrel of salt herring to keep them over the winter as well as braxy hog (salted hogget).

They varied the diet with a bit of poaching.

They caught pheasant by threading corn, which the bird was lured to swallow, whereupon it choked on the thread.

The family went out in the morning and picked up the dead birds.

Father George also poached salmon and in 1871 was charged for having 20 unclean salmon in his house. These were salmon which had just spawned.

He was fined £10, a huge amount of money, with 30 shillings costs and spent a couple of days in jail.

There were lots of stories about the family, including one of a plane crash in 1918 when a training plane, made with canvas wings, came down near Holm Farm.

The crash was seen by Wattie Rutherford’s father. Wattie lives at Winterhope.

The plane crashed into a hedge and it remained upside down with the pilot hanging on by his safety straps. He walked away unhurt.

In 2013 Wattie gave the family bible to Westerkirk Library, along with a set of notes about the family.

Mairi Telford Jammeh, who chairs the trust and put the book together, said: “It’s fascinating to hear about life in some of the outlying cottages, many of which are now derelict, and imagine how life was for the families who lived in them.”

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