Gazette reunites cousins 11,000 miles from home

Family...John Wilson and wife
Family...John Wilson and wife

A LONG lost family will be reunited in the next few months over 11,000 miles away in New Zealand – thanks to the Gazette!

In September we told the story of 83-year-old June Holman, who now lives in Auckland.

June wanted to find out more about – and speak to long lost relatives of – her father John Wilson, who was born in Carluke in 1898.

She had no recollection of her father and had no photographs of him, although research had shown that John had moved to New Zealand and married Hannah Oldham, June’s mum, in 1930.

June was born a year later but her dad died in Lanark in 1951.

But now the mystery has been solved – thanks to 80-year-old Gazette reader, and June’s cousin, Tom Wilson, who also lives in New Zealand.

Tom, who was born in Carluke, said: “Although I came out to New Zealand in the 1960s, I still have relatives in Clydesdale and my niece sends me over articles which she thinks might be of interest to me.

“My father Robert Wilson and John were brothers and when John was back in Clydesdale after his many travels he stayed with relatives in Lanark for four years before he died so I remembered him well.

“He used to come down to our house every Sunday.

“When I read the article I had a look and found a couple of old photographs which I have sent on to June; she was really pleased.

“She is currently in Australia for a couple of months but after Christmas I will be going up to see her.

“I thought it was quite funny that she only lives about 200 kilometres away from me!”

Tom explained that John and Robert’s younger brother Andrew, affectionately known as Carnegie, after the Scots-American steel tycoon, had also emigrated to New Zealand, along with Tom’s uncle Jim Reid, to work as a miner in the early 1910’s.

It had been expected that all of the Wilson clan would make the big move from Carluke to the southern hemisphere.

However, that plan was drastically changed with the outbreak of World War One in 1914.

Former policeman Tom added: “When John left New Zealand in the 1930s I believe he worked in Australia and Canada before coming back to Scotland.

“He was quite a character; there’s no doubt about that.

“He was known as “Jigger” which was a little glass which you put your whisky in.

“It would be something like a shot glass today.”

Research from June’s side of the family had shown that according to the 1901 census, the Wilson family were living in the Whorleyburn area on the outskirts of Carluke near the mine which was owned by Wilsons & Clyde Coal Co. Ltd.

John’s father William (46) was listed as a miner as were three of his sons – Robert (21), Alexander (20) and 14-year-old William.

Other family members listed at the address were William’s wife Marion (46); 17-year-old Marion, Jeannie (15), Martha (12), Andrew (10), eight-year-old James, Lizzie (7) and then baby John.

The family’s research had also uncovered John Wilson’s untimely death in 1951.

He collapsed in Lanark’s Kildare Road walking home from work and died shortly afterwards.

The cause of death was given as Coronary Thrombosis.

John is buried in Carluke’s Wilton Cemetery.