THIS week's Eye On Millig, from regular contributor Leslie Maxwell, features two appeals for information; on a Kilcreggan family who emigrated to Australia in the late 19th century, and on the Ottman family who were schooled in Helensburgh in the early 1900s...




DURING its 200 years as a town, Helensburgh has had a number or private schools - particularly for nursery age children.

I went briefly to Argyll Lodge when it was a nursery school, and the redoubtable Miss Saunders set me on the right path for my future education.

This came to mind because of an inquiry Helensburgh Heritage Trust received recently from Robert Whitton, in Edinburgh, who has been researching another such school, Miss Ottman’s, and has unearthed much of the family tree.

Robert tells me: “I wonder if any Trust members have any information about this school. It appears that some people who went to Larchfield School went there pre-school.”

He has discovered that Miss Ottman - Phyllis Elizabeth Ottmann - was the second youngest of five children born to Hugo Ottmann who was born in Germany in 1846 and died in 1906.

An iron ore and esparto grass merchant, on February 3, 1880 in Clapham, London, he married Mary Greer Macdonald, who was born in Glasgow on December 22,1857 and died in 1922 at 144 West King Street, Helensburgh.

The daughter of timber merchant Alexander Macdonald and his wife, Amelia Jane Greer, Mary had three sisters and one brother.

The spelling of the family name varied but they may have dropped the second ‘n’ because of the German connection.

Their eldest child was Amelia Greer Ottmann, born on March 19, 1881 in Cathcart.

She was the secretary of the Woman’s United Service Club at 12 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh, and died on February 26, 1935.

Next in line was Leah Greer Ottmann, who was born on August 27, 1884 at 11 Lillybank Gardens, Hillhead.

A governess, she travelled to Hong Kong, New York, San Francisco, and France in the late 1920’s. She had an address in 1935 at 18 Queens Gardens, St Andrews, and in 1949 she was at 30 Holland Park, London. She died on June 20, 1956 at Clyde View Eventide Home in Helensburgh.

The proprietor of the school, Phyllis Elizabeth Ottmann, was born in Glasgow on March 23, 1896 and died in the burgh in 1975.

The family seems to have had a home in Glasgow in 1901 at 5 Windsor Quadrant in Govan and at Annachmore, Rosneath, from 1891, and at Arisaig, Craigendoran, in 1911 after her father died in 1906.

In 1912 Miss Ottmann was at Hermitage School where she gained her School Leaving Certificate, then in 1929 she was at the Royal Victoria Patriotic School, Wandsworth Common, London, where presumably she was a teacher.

There was also a son, Richard Henry Ottmann who was born in Glasgow in 1902 and who died on November 22, 1963 in Willow Cottage, Carrbridge, Inverness. He went to Larchfield in about 1915.

He was a railway worker and in due course was divorced from his wife, Catherine Grace Rose Macdonald whom he married in 1933 at Duthill, near Carrbridge.

So that is the family - what about Miss Ottman’s School?

All I can find is in the Helensburgh Directory for 1939, which lists Miss Ottman’s School as in the Victoria Hall in Sinclair Street, with her home at 38 West Princes Street.

Any more information, and indeed memories, would be welcome.


AN ELDERLY Australian is trying to find out more about his family who lived in the Kilcreggan area until they emigrated Down Under in 1877.

Don Anderson, who is in his 80s, has already done a lot of research, and he is very keen to find the last few pieces of the family jigsaw and whether there are still any family members living locally.

There is not much I can do to help other than publicising his appeal, and I will be happy to pass on any information which might be useful to him.

His first research into ancestors on his father’s side uncovered John Orr, born in 1734 and died in 1842.

He tells me: “I have not been able to verify this information. It was created by a late uncle.

“I cannot trace his first wife, or when and where she died.

“Their children were William Orr who married Mary Campbell. They had children Christina and Robert, and Christina married Captain Robert Warden in 1859, and they had five children, Robert Campbell, William Orr, John Sinclair Rangoon, Mary Jessie, and James.

“Christina died on July 16, 1873 at Aiden Cottage, Kilcreggan. John Orr then married Christina Aitken and they had six children, Elizabeth, Ann, Mary, Christina, Abigail and Marion.”

He has a copy of the Names and Descriptions of cabin passengers for the sailing vessel “Loch Vennachar” on a voyage to Melbourne, leaving on April 4, 1877 and arriving on June 22.

This list shows Captain Robert Warden with his wife and children John age 12, Mary 10, James eight, and and an infant Andrew, eight months old.

Don said: “As to why Robert and William did not emigrate is a mystery, and without any information such as birth dates it is very difficult to find out more.”

The latest information from Ancestry using Don’s DNA found that he was 51 per cent Scotland and Ireland (Munster), 46 per cent England, Wales and north-western Europe, and 3 per cent Norway.

He has also established that between 1775 and 1800 some ancestors emigrated to Ireland (Munster), from 1800 to 1825 there was emigration to the USA, and in 1825 and 1950 there was emigration to Australia.

“Since then there has been a constant flow from Scotland to Australia, New Zealand and the USA,” he added.

The “Loch Vennachar” was built in Glasgow in 1875. The three-masted iron sailing clipper disappeared in 1905 near Kangaroo Island off the mainland of South Australia, near Adelaide.

She operated between Great Britain and Australia between the late 19th century and 1905. The name was drawn from Loch Venachar, a lake which lies to the south-west of the burgh of Callander, in the Stirling district. The name means “most beautiful lady” in Gaelic.

In September 1905, she sank without trace and with all hands, leaving a spray of wreckage scattered along the south coast of Kangaroo Island.

In 1976, her extensively damaged remains were discovered in an average depth of 40 feet of water near West Bay, Kangaroo Island, by the Society for Underwater Historical Research.

Hopefully this information might ring a few bells in the Kilcreggan, Rosneath and Clynder area. Email me and I will pass it on.