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Makepeace, Bernice: DNA Discovers Grandpa John McCubbin's Other Descendants

by Bernice Makepeace


John McCubbin was born in Girvan, Ayrshire, Scotland. He was the only son of James McCubbin and his wife Janet McEwen. When John was fairly young he went to work for his Mother’s uncle David McEwen in Colmonell, Scotland. Needless to say Scotland is known for its rugged hills and sheep can be seen everywhere. According to the Scottish Census of 1871, John’s uncle also had two other employees - Joseph Bell (19) and Elizabeth McKelvie (18). The census where I found the above information also stated that David and his wife had a young son Hugh who was only a year old. Another article I was given mentions John McCubbin won numerous awards for sheep that were shown in local areas,

About three years later David decided to sell his farm and come to Canada. John McCubbin also left Scotland at this time. He sailed on the ship WALENSIAN from Glasgow and arrived in Quebec, August 11, 1874.

David McEwen and his family settled around Morganston and John stayed with his uncle for a couple of years according to the letters John’s mother sent him. (Envelope records show this.) David and his family did not remain in Canada but I am not sure when he returned to Scotland.

By 1877, John met his wife-to-be and he and Mary Ann Campbell were married September 20, 1877. For the next few years, John was living on various farms. Records show he lived on farms in Haldimand, Percy and Cramahe townships. His sons George and James were born in Percy Township. William was born in Haldimand Township but died when 10 months old. John was born in Percy Township. Agnes Janet, his first daughter was born in Bowmanton, Haldimand Township. Sarah Jane (always called Jean) was born in Percy Township and the last two children - Mary and Thomas were born in Red Cloud, which is in Cramahe Township.

About 1897 the family moved to Warkworth where Grandpa eventually owned about 200 acres (according to his will). Here I know he raised sheep and as well he was breeding Ayrshire cattle and Clydesdale horses. He was a very successful farmer. (His farm house recently sold for $600,000, I am told.)

It wasn’t long before John McCubbin became interested in politics. He served as Road Superintendent for numerous years. (One bridge near his farm was called McCubbin Bridge for many years.) He was also Reeve of Percy Township at different times and served as Warden of Durham and Northumberland Counties in 1921 and again in 1926.

My grandfather’s wife, Mary Ann, died in 1916. Grandpa married a Mrs. Ada Leonard, who was born in Brighton, ON. This marriage didn’t last long from what I learned through a letter that Grandpa had kept. (These letters were mainly from John’s mother to him and from them I was able to see the various envelopes with the different names and Grandpa’s addresses.)

My grandfather came to live with us (his youngest daughter Mary and her family) after my father’s death. Grandpa’s health was failing and eventually he went to Toronto General Hospital where he died in 1938.

About a year and a half ago, my second cousin, (descendent of John’s daughter, Agnes and Charles Duff in Saskatchewan) sent me an email about having her DNA checked. Her father Donald had also had his checked. It wasn’t long before they heard from a member of a McKelvie family. This gentleman stated that his DNA had showed a McCubbin match. He was surprised as there was no McCubbin in his family as far as he knew. After looking at the 1871 Scottish Census, this gentleman determined that John McCubbin must have been the father of Elizabeth’s baby John who was born in 1872, in Ayrshire. (Does the DNA result prove that my grandfather was the father of Elizabeth McKelvie son John? Some may doubt it but personally having seen pictures of John McKelvie and John McCubbin, I believe that John McKelvie was Grandpa McCubbin’s first born child.)

This information recently discovered would mean that John McCubbin’s first child born here in Canada was not his first child. I just wish my Mother was alive to hear this news.