— Dear Bertha,

To continue quoting my cousin, Eileen, who had taught school in Scotland for a year, her mother, my aunt Jennie, had spent part of that year with Eileen, and together they had enjoyed "re-discovering" scenes from Jennie's girlhood.

"At the time Peace and Plenty Cottages were built, stoves were not in common usage. The commoner (cotter) relied entirely on the fireplace for both cooking and heating; and, to an extent, for lighting although oil lamps and tallow candles were in very general use for lighting." I'm sure the fireplaces in the Peace and Plenty Cottages were of the very best design of the day.

"That evening when mother and I visited Peace and Plenty Cottages, one of the residents invited us into their cottage, which was not neat and clean. These "cotters" still relied on the fireplace for cooking and heating (burning either coal or peat). The cottages, however, had been "modernized" by installing both plumbing and electrical wiring. Since the walls are solid rather than the hollow "stud wall" wooden type we are accustomed to, the water pipes and electric wires are all exposed.

"We visited only very briefly with old John Ross and his wife that evening, though they invited us to come back the next day when we would have more time to visit.

"Old John and his wife lived in the 'Gate House' which commanded entrance to the Cunningham Estate. The Manor House or palace was about a quarter mile from the Gate House inside the estate, with beautifully kept grounds between the Gate House and the manor. Old John was a groundskeeper for the estate as well as being the gate keeper. The Gate House was of the same general design as Peace and Plenty Cottages and was no doubt constructed at the same time. However, the Gate House was not attached to the cottages but was separated by the space of a few feet.

"The next day we returned to the Cunningham Estate to resume our visit with the Rosses. We were greeted by John and Mrs. Ross as well as their daughter Jean and Jean's husband, Bob Milligan. We learned that the Rosses had raised two daughters, Jean and Nan."

Jean's husband, Bob, was employed by the Saxone Shoe Manufacturing Company in Kilmarnock (the world's largest, so Bob told us).

Jean and Bob had a large family. John and Mrs. Ross were quite reserved, Mrs. Ross in particular. Jean was even more reserved than her mother, but her husband was as outgoing as his wife was reserved. Bob immediately adopted us and began arranging activities for our entertainment.

"Old John invited us (Bob Milligan, Mother and myself) to accompany him to where he was doing some grounds work about midway between the Gate House and the Manor House. Jean stayed at the Gate House to visit with her mother and John visited us as he worked reminiscing on how he remembered Jennie and little Anna as little girls when he lived in America and how before Will had arranged for the rest of the family to immigrate to America, Agnes had been seriously injured when she fell from the stone wall in front of the cottages. The Colonel Cunningham came by and was introduced to Mother and myself, we didn't rate an audience with the Cunninghams in their palace. The Colonel handed Bob Milligan a fist full of pound notes, and said 'Bob, put this on our horse in tomorrow's stakes.'"

Well, Bertha, I'll have to continue with Eileen's story in my next letter.




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