My Great Grandfather's Heirlooms

My paternal great-grandfather, Thomas Cleland, came to the U.S. from Scotland in 1885. It’s assumed he and his family left from Glasgow and arrived in Ellis Island, but we don’t know for certain.  We do know that the origination of the name Cleland came from Lanarkshire, Scotland and that it’s likely the family were peasant farmers.  Thomas was one of 11 children of a widower who married a widow who had 9 children of her own.  The family was “dirt poor” by any standard and eventually ended up in Iowa.  Most of the siblings lost contact with each other over the years, probably because of distance and the lack of affordable communication.

            According to my grandfather (whom I never met), my great-grandfather was never without his pocket watch and pocket ruler.  We’re not certain why he carried a pocket ruler.  The best guess is that it was an item that any man might carry, like a pocketknife a generation ago.  These items reside in a small display case at Aunt’s house north of Phoenix. These are the only physical items of my great-grandfather’s that we still possess in our family, and that is why they are important to us. Not much is known about my father’s side of the family, and this is one of the few links we have to the family’s heritage.






Work Completed by: Stephanie Cleland

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