This article was written by Sheila Anderson for the 1998 Score magazine when Mrs Millar was in her 89th year.
Mrs Millar was one of five children born to John and Mary McVinnie. The family home was Kiln Cottage but in her grandmothers day it had no upstairs. Despite this, from that time on, there proved to be room enough to use part of the house as a grocer’s shop and post office – known as Milton Post Office. Mrs Millar’s great uncle was the postman and delivered letters at first on a penny farthing. It was appreciated if letters were handed up to him so that he didn’t have to alight from his bicycle.
For her first few years Mrs Millar lived with her parents at Shawford Bridge, but when her mother took over the post office they returned to Milton. As a result her education was initiated at Speddoch School but after the move she transferred to Glenesslin School where the redoubtable Miss Gallacher ruled the roost for over 40 years. She remained there until she was 14 and from then onwards helped her mother in the shop. Her brothers, however, were sent to Dunscore School as her mother believed they would be better disciplined under a schoolmaster! There was of course no school transport so it was quite a walk either way.
Mrs Millar remembers that there was a water pump across the road but they carried most of their water from Milton Mill. The last meal miller was a Mr Gardiner, after which the Mill became a creamery (probably around 1920). The first carpet bowling club in the area was started upstairs in the Mill and she remembers spending many enjoyable evenings there. However a hut was bought at Gretna, her father supervised the erection of it, and Mrs Millar was at the “scrubbing out” prior to the much awaited first dance held in what was to become known as the (Glen) Bowling Hut – now sadly a ruin. From then on, the hut was the nucleus of social activity in the area: dances, whist drives, weddings were all held there….Mrs Millar, like many other, Glenfolk, can remember many happy nights spent within its 4 walls. Her sister Alison and the late Jim Laurie of Skelston were married there.
Mrs Millar can remember her mother speaking of people who lived in the Distillery at Milton (behind Rosebank). The stone was eventually used by Mr Lammie of Gordieston to construct an outbuilding. The original entry to the Distillery was at Milton corner where the right-of-way still exists.
Mr McVinnie, her father, was a stonemason. He was employed at one time by General Tweedie and warked at Lettrick but was continually having to alter his handiwork as the General was forever changing his plans (see article on General Tweedie).
When Milton Mill became a creamery a Mr Logan was the Manager and his brother-in-law collected the milk from the surrounding farms. Mrs Millar can remember when a Mr McCleary who worked at Stroquhan lived in Milton Cottage (now Esslinbank). Her granny was next door above the joiner’s shop (now Milton House). At that time Andrew and David McQuaker lived with their mother at Garrieston but when Mr Cranston of Kenmure died his widow (who was a Jardine of Laggan) remarried Andrew McQuaker and went to llive at Garrieston.
Mrs Millar attended Sunday School frst at Speddoch, supervised by Mrs Gilchrist-Clark and later at Dunscore. The latter proved somewhat arduous as the Sunday School was held immediately after the service which had to be ‘sat through’ first!! Prior to this, there was also a Sunday School at Glenesslin School run by Miss MacDonald who was Miss Gallachers predecessor.
In her youth, Mrs Millar attended dance both ‘Up the Glen’ and in Dunscore (!) the entertainment was provided usually by a fiddler – James Maxwell from Whitedyke or Bob McGie from Gillmerston, though at Dunscore the music was enhanced by Mary Pagan vamping on the piano! Sometimes when dancing at the other end of Dunscore Hall, the music couldn’t be heard……but it didn’t seem to bother anyone!
Mrs Millar only went to Dunscore about once a week for butcher meat. When she was small she can remember a ‘carrier’ coming from Goosedubs every Wednesday and Saturday to take an order for messages in Dumfries. She also recalls that goods were bought for retail in their shop from Tommy Brash who was a wholesaler in Dumfries, and also from a traveller from McCarra’s in Moniaive. She has happy memories of playing with her brothers and sisters ‘up the burn’, collecting stankie eggs, making a wee fire and boiling them in a pan! Holidays were usually spent at Kipford where relatives lived. She would get the train to Dumfries, then to Dalbeattie and finally a Wagonette to Kipford. Sanny Gibson from Shangan started a bus-run to take locals to town. On one occasion he took them to the Rood Fair but unfortunately Sanny got totallly inebriated and transport back was with Bill Galloway in the creamery lorry!! Transport to Dumfries was not so easy when her mother was young. She and her sister walked from Milton to Auldgirth to get the train and on the return journey their father would meet them with the pony and trap.
Mrs Millar is an Hon. Member of the Dunscore WRI as she was at its inauguration. Miss Clark of Speddoch would hire a motor car and take the older ladies to Dunscore for the Rural, while the younger ones had to walk.
In 1925 Mrs Millar was married in the Manse (now Craigeller) by Mr Masterton and went to live at Morrington Cottages where her husband, Will, worked at the quarry. This was their home for 5 years and it was here that 3 of her 6 children were born. They then moved to Dunscore and lived “at the foot of the hall close” in a house known as “the lodging house”. From there they moved to Kiln House at Milton (not to be convused with Kiln Cottage) but when Gordieston changed hands from the Ramsays (parents of the late Dr Ramsay) to the Lammies, their cottage was needed for a farm worker and so another flit ensued….this time to the little cottage in the field behind Gordieston where they lived for about 5 years and which their children loved….even though their was only a very primitive road to it, which made deliveries of coal etc. difficult and water had to be drawn from a well. With 6 of a family, it took about 3 days to do the washing! From Gordieston cottage, the Millar family moved to the house next to the Police Station, and then returned to Kiln Cottage so that Mrs Millar could nurse her father prior to his death. Sadly her husband died ther too. She came to live at the the then prefabs (Dalgoner Road) in 1968.