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Question

My ancestors Agnes & Robert McFarlane came to Buffalo, NY, from Scotland in 1866-1871. The inscription on the back of the photo says it is a picture of their home in Scotland. A death certificate of one of their daughters, Elizabeth, says she was born in Glasgow in 1866. I am presuming that this is somewhere in Glasgow but there is also a connection with Johnstone.
William Lineham

Answer

Many thanks to all who e-mailed to suggest that this photo was not Johnstone but Jamestown near Balloch.

Close examination of the photo reveals that there are windows on the steeple but the main building was a church hall which is now demolished. You can find the foundations and its original iron gate along the periphery of the church wall which remains unchanged. A new church roof is the reason for the small belfry's disappearance but the two metal lights on the brick gate posts are still there. Across the road stands the Rowntree Public House - unchanged in external appearance since the time of the photo. One of the white posts just in front of the pub is still visible as are the houses beyond the pub. The wall on left of the photo is now the entrance to a small housing complex.

I had a brief chat with the lady who owns the house which now occupies the site opposite where the little girl in the white pinafore stands in the photo. She was very interested and directed me to Dumbarton Library where I spoke with the local historian.

He produced the Ordnance Survey map of the area around the time of the photo. We can date the photo fairly precisely because the tall chimney in the left middle of the photo has the date 1879 engraved in its base. The OS map dated 1896 shows the location of the white building on the right of the photo. This house was demolished and replaced by a larger building bearing the date 1899.

The OS map also shows the existence of a railway line which would have crossed the road behind where the photographer stood. (There is no railway today) So taking all this into account the photo has to have been taken between 1879 (the date of construction of the tall chimney) and 1899 the date of construction of the new house to the right of the photo.

The church hall and the house on the right of the photo were Arthurston Hall and Arthurston House. An old journal records the following about the white house in the foreground on the right of the photo:

One of only two houses which in 1810 stood between the school at Jamestown and the start of Bonhill (another village still in existence). It stood near where the Forth & Clyde Railway Station at Jamestown was built. and was occupied by people employed at Levenbank Printworks. It was of two stories and attached was another small house in which a Mrs Brodie lived. It had a 10-12 foot high chimney brick from the middle of the outer wall and though leaning it never fell in any storm

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