Rev. A Maxwell’s revisit to his native church,
the Craig, Dunscore.
Mr John Farish, Session Clerk of the Craig U.F. Church Dunscore, sometime in the month of May 1929 wrote to Mr Maxwell asking him to conduct the anniversary services at the Craig on the first Sabbath of July following. Mr Maxwell replied, by saying he had occasion to be in Dunscore in the immediate future, and as he had to pass Broombush, the home of Mr Farish, on the way to the station he could call as he passed and arrange; at the same time indicating, that if Mr Logan the new minister wished to get a summer holiday, he would have no objection to enter on a mutual agreement with that end in view.
In due course Mr Maxwell met Mr Farish as already indicated. When the meeting took place Mr Logan was present, and Mr Farish left all arrangements anent the proposed Anniversary services, and the holiday in the hands of Messrs Maxwell and Logan.
Mr Logan wrote out a form of arrangement as follows:- “Mr Maxwell to arrive at the Craig manse on Saturday 6th July; preach forenoon and evening at the Craig on the 7th, and that Misses Yendall and Allan should join Mr Maxwell on Tuesday 9th July at the Manse, and that all would occupy the Manse till Friday 26th July while Mr and Mrs Logan were on holiday. Mr Maxwell taking one service in the church on Sabbaths 14th and 21st July”. Mr Maxwell agreed to this proposal. In the interval, preliminary arrangements were made for carrying out the arrangement. Mr Maxwell asked Morrin, Coal agent at Dunscore station to lay in 5 cwt coal at the Manse. Without any arrangement, Mr Logan had asked Mr Johnstone, Craig farm, to do the same. Mr Logan agreed to allow Mr Maxwell to pay for the “Scotsman” paper, and “British Weekly”, for the three weeks. Mrs Logan gave Miss Yendall some directions as to provision vans calling at the Manse etc.
In accordance with these arrangements, Mr Maxwell left Dunfion, Airdrie,on Saturday 6th July, accompanied by Miss Yendall and Miss Allan, going by tram car to St Enoch station to catch the 2 o,’clock train for Auldgirth. ( A cabin trunk was forwarded to Auldgirth as carted luggage the day before).
After saying goodby at the station the ladies returned to Dunfion, and Mr Maxwell proceeded on his railway journey till he reached Audgirth station at 4.18, where Mr Rankine of the Throughgate was in waiting with his motor car. After getting the luggage and the cabin trunk transferred to the motor, the last stage was now begun. A telegram was dispatched from Auldgirth P.O. home, to tell of Mr M’s safe arrival. So far is that place behind in postal facilities, that a P.C. posted at 4pm on Saturday would not be delivered in Airdrie till the following Tuesday morning following.
From the P.O. we drove to Lower Lochanlee, where I saw my brother Robert. Found him wonderful at his advanced age of 90 years. Saw Mrs Haining and her little daughter. After spending about half an hour there, we continued our journey and arrived at the Craig Manse about 5.30. Mr Logan was ready to receive Mr Maxwell. Mrs Logan had been on a visit to Dumfries and arrived home at 6 o’clock. Tea was served shortly after and both Mr and Mrs Logan were very kind.
On Sabbath 7th July Mr Maxwell preached in the forenoon at 12 o’clock. His text was in Hebrews 12 and 1. Subject – “The Great Cloud of Witnesses”. At the close of the discourse, Mr Maxwell gave a resume of the history of the Congregation. He said, ” It was 81 years that day since that church was opened for public worship. His own father (Thomas Maxwell), and Mr Robert Barbour, two leading men in the Congregation, gathered between them all the money necessary for building the Church, in 2 days. They only got one refusal. Of course farmers and others helped by carting materials or otherwise gave gratuitous services. For nearly 20 years before the opening of the Church, Services under the auspices of the R.P. Church, had been conducted at Dalgoner Linn, near the site of the Church, in open air, and at intervals the Communion was dispersed, – at times in somewhat comical circumstances, as when a litter of pigs from a farm in the neighbourhood, upset the gravity of the worshippers around the table, as they persisted in pressing through the crowd to the officiating Minister, grunting and sqealing all the time.
For a number of years after the opening of the Church, there was only an occasional pulpit supply. By and by, with the consent of the Dumfries & Penpont RP congregations, the friends who attended the Craig Meeting House, as it was called, formed themselves into a Mission. Later on they became a Mission Station and were allowed to receive members and secure the services of a probationer.
The first probationer was a Mr Cosh, who did a splendid work at the Craig. He went as a Missionary to the New Hebrides, and ultimately became a DD and the first N……. tor of the Church of New South Wales. He was followed by the Rev James Glendinning, who went over to the Free Church. Next came the Rev James Hunter, a most scholarly man, taking all his examinations for his BD degree at one sitting. He became Assistant to Dr Symington in Glasgow, and was ordained at Laurieston in 1870, where he carried on a faithful Ministry until he died in 1927. For many years he was Clerk of the RP Synod, and of the Falkirk UF Prebytery, and Convenor of the Temperance Committee of the UF Church. He was succeeded by the Rev A McDougall, MA at the Craig – a most eccentric man. He was apprehended by the policeman when almost naked. He was found jumping up to catch branches of trees as an exercise. When in custody, his landlady came to the rescue, by assuring the policeman that his prisoner was really the Minister of the Craig Church.
After Mr McDougall, the Rev George Laurie became the Probationer in Charge. He was a man of charming personality and most popular among the people. He was ordained at Castle Douglas in June 1872 where for more than 40 years he carried on a most successful Ministry, and was popular as a Temperance Reformer, Chairman of the School Board and as a JP. He died on his knees conducting family worship.
The first regular Minister at the Craig was the Rev James Bowie, a man greatly beloved. He died in 1886. He was succeeded by the Rev A Gray, who died in 1897. Then Rev Wm Barrowman, Minister to the C ongregation for neearly 30 years. He was an ideal parish minister. He died in January 1928.
The Congregation has now been reduced to a Ministry for a limited term of years and the ordained Missionary in Charge at present is the Rev Frank L Logan.
Mr Maxwell referred to all that had been done by the Congregation to help other Congregations in cities etc, by way of giving them office bearers, teachers and members. He mentioned the fact that the Congregation had given two of its sons to the Ministry, who between them had been instrumental in giving 5 Professors, 16 Ministers and 8 Missionaries to the Foreign Field of the Church at large.
There was a crowded Congregation at the midday service. Some of the latecomers failed to get inside the Church. At the evening service the Church was completely filled. The text was Romans 5 and 1 … “Justification of Faith”.
Many of the preachers, relations, old friends and school fellows, travelled long distances in order to be present at that memorable occasion. The collection taken at the forenoon and evening services combined was the finest and the largest recorded collection during the whole history of the Congregation. The service was impressive and the spirit which prevailed both at the forenoon and evening service was very beautiful.
Monday 8th July 1929…
Mr Maxwell spent the forenoon in visiting the Village. He renewed some old friendships and met some new friends. He had a long chat with an English ex-serviceman, who spoke very gushingly about the Services the day before. A new feature of the arrangements was the fact that the Congregation had arranged to hold a social gathering that evening, in commemoration of the great event. It was unique to have such a meeting in the midst of summer. The success of the venture was more than justified by the very large turn out. The Church was packed with a most intelligent and enthusiastic audience. Some 24 ladies served the tea. Each lady provided cakes etc, the tea was made in the Manse and the tickets were sold at 1/- each. The novelty made the service both attractive and profitable. A party from Dumfries entertained the meeting with solos, duets, readings and instrumental music. The children rendered a fine sketch. Addresses were delivered by Mr Logan, Mr Clark, Mr Wilson and Mr Maxwell who spoke on the Union question by request. He told how his father had protested against the Union in 1876, but after recording his dissent, he entered the Free Church and became one of its most loyal office bearers. It is believed that the address was helpful in the interests of Union. At a Congregational Meeting some time before, 5 voted for Union and 27 against it, but when a plebicite of the Congregation was taken some weeks after, 89 voted for Union and 7 against it. The social meeting was of a very high order indeed and reflected great credit on all concerned. It was certainly a Red Letter Day in the history of the Congregation. The ladies excelled themselves, in courtesy, kindness and goodwill.
Tuesday 9th July 1929 …..
Rose early, and got ready for going to Auldgirth Station to meet Miss Yendall and Miss Allan. Started from The Manse with Mr Rankine’s motor about 11.45am. Arrived at Auldgirth just in time to meet the train at 12.12pm. In the hurry of getting out of the motor at the station, Mr Maxwell had a nasty fall. Although no bones were broken, his chest bone was pretty severely bruised and the thumb on his right hand rather severely staved. The train was up to time. The two ladies had a very slow and wearisome journey, and as neither of them were very strong they were rather fatigued on landing.
All seemed to go well in getting Gary (wee dog) and cases conveyed to the motor. On the way to Dunscore, on meeting a motor car, it was discovered that an infant had fallen out of it on to the hard road. It was soon picked up by the mother. Our company offered help and were willing to get a Dr but the friends of the child seemed to think it was better for them and the welfare of the child, to speed on towards Dumfries, where they would get good attention and the best of skill.
The only call made on the way, was at the Old Manse, where an agreement was made with Miss Agnes McKnight, to go to the Craig betimes to give a little assistance during the sojourn there.
On arriving at the Craig Manse, Mr and Mrs Logan received Miss Yendall and Miss Allan very graciously.
In the afternoon Miss Yendall was initiated in the ways of the house by Mrs Logan, and between them, things were arranged for the occupancy of the Manse for the next fortnight. Owing to the fact that Mr Logan was looking for delivery of a motor car, he did not get away for his holiday so soon as he had anticipated, and consequently he made up his mind to stay a day or two longer.
Wednesday 10th July 1929…..
This turned out to be a very wet and stormy day and all parties were confined to the house for the whole day.
Thursday 11th July 1929….
Another wet day. Mr Logan got information that his motor would not be ready for some time, and consequently he and Mrs Logan arranged to set out on their holiday and left, and got to Galashiels. Now having time to look after odds and ends, it became more apparent that the Manse and surrounding would be congenial. The Manse is a very substantial, well-designed and comodious house, about 40 years old. The only drawback about it, was the fact that all the water had to be pumped, which was a heavy job. The outlook from the Manse was magnificent. One could see into three counties, and some 9 parishes, while the scenery was charming and the whole district full of history interest. Near at hand was Collieston, the birthplace of the famous John Welsh of Ayrl; Craigenputtock, Carlisle’s house; Sundaywell visited by Richard Cameron; Ellisland, Burns’ farm; Lagg Castle, the residence of Lagg the Persecutor; Renwick’s monument; The Communion Stones of Irongray; Jeannie Deans’ tomb; Johnnie Turner’s monument, and the Martyrs’ Graves at Ha’hill.
It was in the village of Dunscore that Burns’ installed the first Lending Library.
From a knoll behind the Manse can be seen either houses or lands attached to all the houses in which Mr Maxwell and his parents dwelt:- it was Broombush*- Mr Maxwell’s birthplace, Corsefield, Skinford*, Milliganton*, Birkbush*, Cornlee*, Whiteyett*, Craigenputtock*, Dunesslin*, Milton and Kilnhouse. Those with a star were the homes Mr Maxwell lived in with his parents. He got all his schooling while living at Birkbush and Cornlee. He went to College from Cornlee.
Friday 12th July 1929…
Weather now takes up. Miss Yendall and Miss Allan went to the Old Manse and had an interview with the McKnight family. They got their first impressions of Dunscore village and its surroundings. On the whole they were rather favourably impressed with all they saw. The evening of the day was spent quietly in and around the Manse, and a short walk.
Saturday 13th July 1929….
A fine day. Mrs Haining and her little daughter, Agnes, called. They waited for tea. Arranged to go to Lower Lochanlea for tea the following Thursday. Spent the evening with some friends who called. All are beginning to like the change, and make some friends.
Monday 15th July 1929…
The day was fine. We all enjoyed ourselves, with domestic affairs, during the affair. We had to go to the Mill for the newspapers every morning. We listened in to the set with a loudspeaker, almost every forenoon. In the afternoon, we took a motor and visited Dunesslin, the house where father and mother died. May took a photo of the house. We passed Stroquhan, where mother lived as a young woman; saw the ruins of the old distillery where Uncle Jamie used to live; Rosebush Cottage, with its memories of youthful folly and happy treats. Called at Milliganton farm. Saw Mrs Maxwell and her daughters. We then proceeded to Speddoch and saw Mary Stott, who nursed father in his last illness. Found her weak, gave her a gratuity.
We then passed the Speddoch School (our first school), and the farm of Birkbush where my parents lived when I went first to school. We proceeded to Newtonairds, and round passed Holmhead of Morrington where A. Yendall lived when he had charge of the Joiner Department on the new Cairnvalley Railway. Martha and May inspected the old house. The man who lives in it knew Mr Yendall. We called at Killileoch, saw Mrs Edgar, now over 80 years of age. Got home after a fine outing.
Tuesday 16th July 1929…..
Fine day. Visited at Lanehead and Little Moss-side. Also at Broombush; Springvale Cottage, and neighbouring houses. Miss Maxwell of Milliganton called with a nice fowl. Spent a pleasant day.
Wednesday 17th July 1929…
Forenoon spent as usual. Ordered oil. Afternoon, went by train to Moniaive. Saw Maxwelltown Braes. The town was under a drainage scheme. The streets were in an uproar. Saw Renwick’s Monument, and other places of interest. Bought views of Moniaive, Maxwelltown and Craigenputtoch. Returned home after a nice outing.
Thursday 18th July 1929…
Spent the forenoon as usual. A fine day. Met with some of the friends. Went to Lower Lochanlea in the afternoon. Called at the Churchyard, saw the tombstones of dear departed ones. Met Miss Hardie of Linburn at Robert’s. Found Robert and the rest well. Had a nice tea. We called on Mr Watson on the way. He went with us to Lochanlea. Mrs Haining supplied us with a few vegetables. On the way back we called at Dalgonar House. Saw Mrs Walker. What a fine house! Got home to Craig Manse by 10 o’clock. We enjoyed meeting with Robert, and had a pleasant outing.
Friday 19th July 1929…
Spent the forenoon as usual. Enjoyed the outlook from the Manse. In early morning lots of rabbits were creeping about. The blackbirds were busy stealing blackcurrants. In the afternoon, Robert and we three started about 2 o’clock for a motor run. We went to Newtonairds, the Routin Bridge and Waterside. Called at Midrig, saw Miss Gibson. Called at Barnsoul cottages. Saw Mrs Malcolmson, (nee Ann Gibson) an old school-fellow. Called at Rosebank Cottages. Saw Mr and Mrs Brown, old friends of Robert’s. Arrived at Shawhead. Saw school in which I was educated and which I left, to go to College 60 years ago. May took a photo of the school with me standing against the wall.
Called on Miss Susan Gibson, an old school-fellow. Called on Mr Sharp, postmaster, whose wife died about a month before. We now reversed the course and went towards Cornlea. We passed Killylour, Midtown, Scarr, Skeoch, Threepneuk, and saw the Communion Stones, Scarr Jail, and John Turner’s Monument. At length, at Glenkiln, we got the first glimpse of dear old Cornlea. We found on landing there that the family were away at Edinburgh for the day. However, as we had the sanction of Miss Clark of Speddoch, the proprietor of the place, to take full liberty at Cornlea, we had a nice picnic, and enjoyed our tea. We saw through the old steading, and May took several photos – one of the company, one of the house, and one of the hillside with a little cliff in it. Renewing our journey homeward, we passed Margreig, Shalloch, Speddoch Hill, Speddoch etc. and landed at the Craig about 6 o’clock, where we met Mr Stobo of Kilroy. The day was fine and theouting all that could be desired. Many old memories were revived and emotions stirred. Everything went well. All were delighted with what we saw.
Saturday 20th July 1929…
We started at 2 o’clock to go to Castle Douglas. We left Dunscore Station at 2. Went to Dumfries, changed carriages there for Castle Douglas, where we landed at 4. Called on sister, Agnes, at 5 Church Street. Had group taken in garden. Saw Mrs George Clark who was very low. Saw Agnes Ballantine who was rather poorly. We returned to the Craig, getting back before 10 o’clock. Mary Agnes was rather poorly too. She is now getting on well.
Sabbath 21st July 1929….
Martha and May had the church nicely adorned with flowers. Spoke to the Sabbath School children on the ABC of the Christian Religion.
A. All we like sheep have gone astray.
B. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
C. Cease to do evil, learn to do well.
There was a crowded congregation, made up of all classes, and all ages, from 3 to 90 years of age. Many of the worshippers had travelled long distances in order to be present.
Testimony by many to blessing received, during the past three Sabbaths, as they shook hands with the preacher on leaving the church was encouraging.
The text was Isaiah 32 and 2. A retiring collection for the Sabbath School picnic amounted to
£4 16/7. At the close, the Elders waited on Mr Maxwell and thanked him sincerely for all his Valuable Services. In the evening, Mr Irving of Boreland, motored Mr Maxwell, Miss Yendall and May to Wallaceton where Mr Maxwell addressed a very large Congregation on the subject, “Jesus in the midst”. Again many old friends had travelled long distances to be present. Mr Irving motored us home after the service.
Monday 22nd July 1929…
Spent a quiet day strolling about. Miss Reid, a retired Headmistress, who was spending her holiday in the district, called and had tea with us. She was under the old Monkland School Board when Mr Maxwell was a member of it. News came of Mrs Clark’s death. Several friends called. Tradesmen began to make a Garage.
Tuesday 23rd July 1929….
Spent the day quietly. May took some photos. Mr Logan’s motor arrived from Glasgow. A second hand one, which originally belonged to a Mr Thom in Airdrie. Sent letter to Galashiels, to Mr Logan. Ladies visited the village. Mr Watson called to see about going to Mrs Clark’s funeral. He went to Shillingland, and called back to say that no-one was going from Shillingland. We arranged to go by motor.
Wednesday 24th July 1929…
Mrs Haining and Agnes, Mr Watson and I, left the Craig in Mr Rankine’s motor at 11am for Castle Douglas. We arrived there about 12.45 in time for the funeral at 1 o’clock. It was a large and representative funeral. Mrs Clark was well-liked by everybody. It was a great trial for her husband. Saw a number of friends at it. After returning to the Craig, we called on Mr & Mrs Johnstone at the Craig Farm, from whom we got milk, butter and eggs.
Thursday 25th July 1929…
Got notice that Mr and Mrs Logan were expected home that day. We packed up, and made ready for returning home. Paid farewell visit to Lochanlea, Old Manse, Milliganton, and some friends at Dalgonar Bridge. Mr & Mrs Logan arrived home at 6 o’clock.
Friday 26th July 1929…
Got up early. Made ready for returning home. Said goodbye to Mr & Mrs Logan, left with luggage, at 11.45am for Auldgirth Station. Arrived there in good time to catch the 12.27 train for Glasgow. Settled Mr Rankine’s account and thanked him for all his kindness, and for the pleasant drives we had in his nice motor car. After arranging for our trunk being sent on as carted luggage and securing a day’s tickets we settled in the train, and had a very pleasant journey to St Enoch’s station, where a motor was waiting to take us to Dunfion, where we arrived safe about 3.30pm. The trunk was delivered shortly after.
In this way ended a brief, busy and bright holiday. The people in Dunscore were kind to us all. The weather was good, and nothing arose to mar the pleasure of the visit. It was a great joy to meet with the people, and find how ready they were to speak about spiritual things, and express their appreciation of all the Services. The eighteen days we spent at Dunscore were made memorable, by the good weather, the kindness of the people, and the beauty of the place.
Adieu! Adieu! Sweet Cairn Valley; Adieu!