Unlike his parents and siblings, John emigrated to Scotland, whether in order to find work or for some other reason is not known. I can't find him on the 1901 Irish or Scottish census, so have not been able to tie the date down, but it was sometime before his marriage to 17 year old Annie Walker Sandeman in December 1903 in Muthill, Perthshire. Their marriage certificate claimed he was only 27 but he was in fact 35 !
The first of their eight children, my grandmother, was born in 1905 at the lovely sounding "Craggish Cottage" in Comrie, Perthshire. I have just looked on Google and I think the building still exists; I will have to go for a look in the summer when we are up there again.
John was employed as a ploughman on a farm, working with horses, ploughing the fields. A tough life. Not only did he work with horses but he competed with them as well and could well have given his descendants their competitive gene. He took part in a number of local ploughing contests over the course of his life, and was pretty successful as well by the sound of it !
Ploughing - 11th John Spence, Craggish.
Best groomed horses - 3rd
Man with youngest child - 1st
1922 : Ploughing match at Crieff (above left) :
Special harness on field - 1st
1925 Monzievaird Ploughing contest (above right) : "The day was fine, and the soil in good condition, and the 18 ploughs that took the field did some excellent work."
Ploughing seniors - 4th John Spence, Mains of Callender (is this his employer ?)
Most soil turned up - 1st
Best harness - 1st
Best turnout on field, horse & harness - 1st
Oldest ploughman - 1st
Man longest in present employment - 1st
Man with largest family - 2nd
Best finish - 1st
He was a very handsome man as you can see from the photographs.
One of his granddaughters remembers that he had a spitoon between his horsehair armchair and the fireside ! Also, that his boots always shone and he had a gammy leg. He always walked with a stick.
He died of a heart attack in 1947 aged 79. His occupation was, surprisingly given as "car park attendant". Perhaps he had retired from ploughing the fields but still had to work to feed his family, the youngest of whom was born in 1925 ?
At some point in the next few weeks or months I will tell you about his parents and siblings, some of whom stayed in Ireland, while the others went to America.