Tag Archives: Agnes Irvine MacMillan

Chile … Tierra de los Cielos Nocturnos (Land of the Night Skies)….A Chilean Lassie…Coquimbo, Chile

17 May
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Moon through the telescope at an Observatory in the Elqui Valley, Chile

In 2017, I was blessed with an opportunity to visit my Maternal Ancestral Homeland…..CHILE. My friend Sandra and I had planned a big trip to Peru and the Galapagos Islands. In due course, we learned that the Galapagos Cruise Tour did not fill up and they could not offer us alternate dates that would jive with the rest of the tour….. so we would end up with only our two week Peru Tour. I said “why don’t we go to Chile and see where my Mom lived and my Grandfather was buried”. She was game and so we did.

We landed in Santiago after a 2 hour flight from Lima. The Immigration and Custom’s line was long and it took us over an hour to snake our way through. We were stamped and given an Entry Document which we were required to carry in our passport. We located a taxi and at last we were on our way into Santiago and our hotel which was located in the Los Condos district. Once the taxi finally located the address for the hotel we had booked…our nightmare Check-in began. About 2 hours later after Sandra cried and I yelled…we finally had the manager escort us to our new hotel…The Rugendas..a lovely hotel, where she basically told the staff to treat us nicely for our entire stay. We will be forever grateful to this young woman, who had actually studied in Thunder Bay, Canada…maybe this was a Pay-it-Forward situation.

On Saturday morning, after a good nights sleep, we were picked up by a shuttle and taken to a central location where we joined our Day Tour to Valpariso and Vina del Mar. It was from this harbor that my Grandfather had sailed on his trips up and down the coast of Chile in the 1890’s and 1900’s while working for the Pacific Steamship Navigation Company.

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Looking towards Valpariso Port

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Valpariso…. the locals waiting for the bus after a day of Saturday Shopping

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Looking northwest to Vina del Mar

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Valpariso with its steep streets and quirky art

 

 

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Heading down to the port

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Transatlantic shipping now goes via the Panama Canal

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Buildings in Old Port

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Fishing Boats

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Container Shipping

 

 

 

 

 

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Built in 2015 and sailing under the Flag of Panama

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Chilean Navy training ships

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Salt

Monday morning we were off to La Serena and Coquimbo. I can’t tell you how excited I was as we stepped off the plane onto the tarmack at the tiny La Serena Airport…I was really here!

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La Serena, Chile Airport

We took a taxi to our Boutique Hostel….Terra Diaguita in central La Serena. What an amazing place… we were awed to say the least. The rooms were like cottages around a garden and there was art and artifacts everywhere.

 

 

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Terra Diaguita

The origin of the Diaguita culture is traced back to an archaeological culture known as El Molle Complex which existed from 300 to 700 CE. Later this culture was replaced in Chile by Las Animas Complex that developed between 800 and 1000 CE. It is from this last culture that the Archaeological Diaguita culture emerged around 1000 CE. The classical Diaguita period was characterized by advanced irrigation systems and by pottery painted in red/black and white. The Chilean Diaguitas were conquered by Spaniards coming from Peru.

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My room..which Murchie really enjoyed

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More decorations

We settled in and went looking for a place to eat…turned out to be a great place just across the street. Then I set out to explore the city. It was late in the afternoon and people and students were everywhere.

 

I walked a couple of blocks through the shopping streets, found the Cathedral, and one of the major pedestrian areas.

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Central La Serena

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Beautiful time of year – April in La Serena

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Sun sets  early at this latitude

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Kunza (extinct languages of Chile) He was my Spirit Cat and waited for me outside my room

 

 

 

 

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Our Lady of Mercy Cathedral on the Plaza De Armas

 

Tomorrow was the day I had really been looking forward to…I would be taking an all day private tour of the entire area and ending in up Coquimbo, the place where my mom had been born in 1908.  That Special Day deserves it own story in another Blog…..

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 Chilean Lassie…..The Early Years!…Coquimbo, Chile

10 Mar
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One determined young lady…Agnes Irvine MacMillan kiv I’m I by

She was playing in the garden and her mother told her not to stick her fingers in the parrot’s cage…which, of course, is precisely what she did…..and, of course, she was bitten. This is one of the few stories I can recall my Mom telling me when I asked her about her life in Coquimbo. I had no idea where this place was, but I knew it was a long ways away.

Like many others before me, I now regret not asking her more questions….but realistically, how many of us do this in a timely fashion. When we finally take an interest in our ancestors, it is too late. Those who had the answers are gone and we are left to piece the individual’s story together from whatever bits and pieces we can cobble together.

Knowing that my Mom had been born in Coquimbo, Chile ….I was fascinated with her EXOTIC ORIGIN. Her Father, Thomas MacMillan, was a Scot who had left Glasgow and somehow ended up in South America. Her Mother, I thought her name was Juana Rojas,  was supposedly a Spanish Lady. I never saw a picture of her as most of the family pictures were destroyed in a fire at some point in time, or so the story goes.

Thomas MacMillan..his portrait hangs in my living room

I knew that Thomas MacMillan had died in Coquimbo and the family ended up in Kent, England where my mom went to school in Maidstone/Chatham. Her brother David had gone there to fight in WW1 and was now responsible for the  family. Sometime later she came to Canada  with her sister and Canadian brother-in-law and wound up in Prince George, BC.  Several years later she came to Edmonton and went to school at Westmount. She also worked as a Nannie for the Tommy Dykes Family. In 1928, as a 20 year old young woman, she enrolled in the Nursing School at the Misericordia Hospital. It was here in 1938 that she met my Dad and the rest is history.

These are the simple facts that  tell how my mom made her journey from Chile to to England to Canada, met my Dad and had her children. Seemed to me there was more of a story to be told to fill in all the aspects of the life of this amazing woman…Agnes Irvine MacMillan Perkins. And so…I began to dig in the old steamer truck and unearthed the pictures.

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Postcard from The Inastroza Sisters to my Aunt Daisy 1929

I found a photo of 2 ladies and a post card sent to Daisy, my Mom’s sister. I remembered her talking about the Inastroza Family and the 2 daughters. I checked Family Search and found a number of Baptisms at the Cathedral in LaSerena for a number of Inastroza babies in the 1890’s….obviously a local family. The postcard dated 1929 was sent when Daisy would have been living in Prince George. The picture was of the Plaza de Armas in Coquimbo.

Then there was a baby picture of my mom…she would only be a few months old. (1908) Because she was an afterthought….her siblings were 18 (Daisy) and 23 (David)….they were just more adults in the household. What was it like growing up in that adult world? This also raises a question….could she have beeen the illegitimate daughter of her sister Daisy? My grandmother would have been around 53 when my mom was born and not impossible…. but…… I will never know.

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Agnes as a baby….4 months (1908)

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Coquimbo as it looked when my Mom was born…was her house up there on the hill…somewhere?

I would imagine that around age 6, Mom went off to school. Was this a British School? I do remember that she said she spoke Spanish, but as an adult she had lost most of it.

FROM WIKIPEDIA….

“After the Port of Valparaíso opened to free trade in 1811, the English began to congregate in Valparaíso. The first to arrive brought with them tools, articles of china, wool and cotton, with instructions to return with copper and hemp. This was the first exchange of what would become a deep-rooted commercial relationship between Great Britain and Chile. In Valparaíso the English established their largest and most important settlement, creating neighborhoods characterized by British schools, social and sports clubs, business organizations, and periodicals. Even today British influence is apparent in such institutions as banks and the national navy, as well as in certain social activities, such as football (soccer), horse racing, and the widespread consumption of tea.

This was a skipping song she taught me...
"Arroz con leche quiero
casarme con esta niña mi casa yo" and meant
 "Rice with milk I want to get married
 with this little girl...my house and me" 
Funny what sticks from all those years ago.


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Coquimbo….Location of Pampilla today

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Chile’s Independence Day in September….Pampilla

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Mom is the middle of the three girls bottom left

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Agnes…..age 10….before leaving for England

Thomas MacMillan had died, and when WW1 was over, the family joined her brother David who had gone to England to fight in the war.

They sailed aboard the Oriana (Pacific Steam Navigation Co.) from Valpariso, through the Panama Canal and arrived in Liverpool, England 27 May 1919.

Found the Passenger lists on Ancestry…

Notice Juana, my Grandmother , is now Jane.

Bedford Place at Rocky Hill, Maidstone as it is today.

I know very little of her time in Maidstone and Chatham. I visited there in 1979 on my first trip to England. Didn’t have much time and there was little to see on a day trip from London. Upon arrival they gave Bedford Place, Rocky Hill, Maidstone as their address. I would assume that was where her brother David was living with his wife Miriam.

Marriage Certificate for David and Miriam..Their father’s Thomas MacMillan and George Thomas Evernden were deceased. Witnesses..GT Evernden and William C Cormwell…?  Daivid was living at The Barrack’s Maidstone..Miriam at 1 Bedford Place.

I discovered pictures of her brother David and sister Daisy, her father Thomas..but none of her mother.

David Taylor MacMillan

David married Miriam Emily Everden at St. Peter’s Church in Maidstone on September 14, 1918.

St. Peter’s Maidstone, Kent

David Taylor MacMillan circa 1917…Maidstone Kent, England

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1 Bedford Place Maidstone Kent

My grandmother, Juana/Jean MacMillan died in 1920 age 65 making her birthdate c. 1855. She died in Chatham at 37 Church Street, age 65, of Heart failure. Her daughter Daisy MacMillan was in attendance. Listed as widow of Thomas MacMillan, Marine Engineer.

Daisy MacMillan married Frederick Charles Bates on April 17, 1921 at St. John the Divine in Chatham. Georgina Bates was a witness….mother of Fred and a widow.

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Cooking Class in Maidstone School

White door is #27 Rochester Street Chatham, Kent, UK

This early chapter in my mother’s life ended on June 8, 1921 when she sailed from Liverpool aboard the Empress of France to her new life in Canada. Her Father had died in Chile in 1917, her mother had died in England in 1920 and so, she was accompanying her sister Daisy and Daisy’s new husband, Fred Bates to Canada.
 

 

 

What was she thinking as she stood on the deck watching the coastline of Liverpool, England fade away. This was the second time in only 2 years that she had watched the Place she called Home disappear on the horizon. She was only 12 years of age! an ocean away….another county, another place to call HOME!

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Stay tuned for Chapter 2….Life on the Canadian Frontier!

I Always Wanted an Inca Ancestor…..and now I may have one! Chapter One….The Beginning…My Grandmother Juana Rojas  from Coquimbo, Chile

24 Sep
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My Indigenous Ancestors lived up here in these Hills…. Machu Picchu in Peruvian Andes….joking of course!

 

At last, I have the results of my DNA testing done by Ancestry and now I know I have  DNA from the Indigenous People of the Americas. It may be a small amount….but it is there!

I had Autosomal DNA tested…. the following is a definition….

“Autosomal DNA is a term used in genetic genealogy to describe DNA which is inherited from the autosomal chromosomes. An autosome is any of the numbered chromosomes, as opposed to the sex chromosomes. Humans have 22 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes (the X chromosome and the Y chromosome). Autosomes are numbered roughly in relation to their sizes. That is, Chromosome 1 has approximately 2,800 genes, while chromosome 22 has approximately 750 genes. 

FROM: (http://www.isogg.org/wiki/Autosomal)

Native American 8%

“Primarily located in: North America, Central America, South America..this info came with my DNA Results from Ancestry…..Your genetic ethnicity estimate indicates that you have ancestry from the region that is home to the indigenous people of the Americas. This vast region stretches over two continents to include the rugged territory of Alaska and Canada, mountains and plains of the United States, dry valleys of Mexico, tropical jungles of Central America and South America, and the Patagonian steppes of southern Argentina and Chile.

Migrations into this region

“North and South America were settled by at least three waves of migrants from Asia, who occupied the Americas from Canada to the southern tip of Chile. North America was initially occupied by people who came from Siberia and coastal North Asia, when probably fewer than 1,000 individuals crossed the Bering land bridge; they were likely tracking animal herds and discovered an expansive new territory. Native Americans appear to derive from this initial wave of migration. Mounting evidence suggests they dispersed rapidly along the western coast of the Americas, perhaps by sea, within a period of only about a thousand years. Not long after humans first appeared in today’s Alaska and the western United States, they had already settled as far south as the tip of modern-day Chile.”

MY DNA would suggest that in addition to my Native American DND, I have some Celtic DND from Europe and Great Britain…pretty good combination, I would say. 

Europe 92%

  • Ireland 33%

  • Europe West 33%

  • Iberian Peninsula 9%

  • Italy/Greece 8%  

    Prehistoric Ireland & Scotland

    “After the Ice Age glaciers retreated from Northern Europe more than 9,000 years ago, hunter- gatherers spread north into what is now Great Britain and Ireland, during the Middle Stone Age. Some 3,000 years later, during the New Stone Age, the first farming communities appeared in Ireland. The Bronze Age began 4,500 years ago and brought with it new skills linked to metalworking and pottery. During the late Bronze Age, Iron was discovered in mainland Europe and a new cultural phenomenon began to evolve.

    Around 500 B.C., the Bronze Age gave way to an early Iron Age culture that spread across all of Western Europe, including the British Isles. These new people originated in central Europe, near what is Austria today. They were divided into many different tribes, but were collectively known as the Celts.

    The Celts

    From around 400 B.C. to 275 B.C., various tribes expanded to the Iberian Peninsula, France, England, Scotland and Ireland—even as far east as Turkey. Today we refer to these tribes as ‘Celtic’ though that is a modern term which only came into use in the 18th century. As the Roman Empire expanded beyond the Italian peninsula, it began to come into increasing contact with the Celts of France, whom the Romans called “Gauls.”

    Ireland  33%

    Primarily located in:Ireland, Wales, Scotland  Also found in:France, England

    A variety of internal and external influences have shaped Ireland as we know it today. Ireland’s modern cultural remains deeply rooted in the Celtic culture that spread across much of Central Europe and into the British Isles. Along with Wales, Scotland, and a handful of other isolated communities within the British Isles, Ireland remains one of the last holdouts of the ancient Celtic languages that were once spoken throughout much of Western Europe. And though closely tied to Great Britain, both geographically and historically, the Irish have fiercely maintained their unique character through the centuries.

    Europe West  33%

    Celtic and Germanic tribes

    Although “Celtic” is often associated with the people of Ireland and Scotland, the Celts emerged as a unique culture in central Europe more than 2,500 years ago. From an epicenter in what is now Austria, they spread and settled in the areas of today’s western Germany and eastern France, generally near the Rhine and Danube Rivers. By 450 B.C., their influence and Celtic languages had spread across most of western Europe, including the areas that are now France, the Iberian Peninsula and the British Isles. The Celts either conquered or assimilated the previous inhabitants of the area, and almost all languages and cultural and religious customs were replaced. The only exception, most scholars believe, is the Basque language, which managed to persist in the Pyrenees of southern France and northern Spain.

    In the early 4th century B.C., Celtic tribes in northern Italy invaded and sacked Rome, setting the stage for centuries of conflict.

    In the 5th century B.C., Germanic peoples began moving south, from Sweden, Denmark and northern Germany, displacing the Celts as they went. It is unclear what prompted their movement, but it may have been climate related, as they sought warmer weather and more fertile farmland. The Germanic tribes’ expansion was checked by the generals, Gaius Marius and Julius Caesar, as they approached the Roman provinces around 100 B.C.”

    And just to round things out..I have

    European Jewish  4%…. go figure! Primarily located in:Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Hungary, Israel

    Coquimbo, Chile                                              

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    Coquimbo Plaza de Armas today

                                                 

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    Just like her Ancestors…….My Mom lived somewhere up in the hills above the Port of Coquimbo, Chile …..not quit so posh as the Incas! though!   

Agnes, my Mom and Daisy, my Aunt

Chalk and Chilean Cheese…circa 1939. Agnes and her sister Daisy

Knowing that my Mom had been born in Coquimbo, Chile in 1908…..I was fascinated with her EXOTIC ORIGIN. Though her father was a Scot that had left Glasgow some time around the 1880’s for South America, her Mother was supposedly a Spanish Lady. I never saw a picture of her as most of the family pictures were destroyed in a fire at some point in time. I also never asked those important questions such as, “what did your mother look like” and “what was her name”? I remember being told that it was Juana Rojas, but when I located Passenger Records for their trip to England in 1919, she was listed a Jane McMillan, likely Anglicized.  Regardless, my Mom’s appearance hinted at DNA from somewhere other than Scotland. 

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Once you start looking on the internet it is amazing what you are able to discover. I was looking at old images of Coquimbo and I came across this photo which looked amazingly familiar. It seemed to be a gathering of some kind. Down to the basement and into the old trunk. There they were…2 pictures I had looked at previously trying to see if I could locate my grandparents. Apparently in September every year a big Fiesta is held. “With the advent of the twentieth century, the Pampillera Party and festive connotation of day 20, were growing year by year. The variety and incorporation of local popular entertainment led to a large influx of public, interested in enjoying a day of leisure and the spectacle of racing.

 

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Found this photo on line and it looked like a familiar setting…it was the Pampilla in Coquimbo.

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Somewhere in this group is likely Thomas and Juana MacMillan enjoying the Pampilla.

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In this picture I can locate my Mother..middle of 3 girls in the center of the picture.

I have never told my Mother’s Story as I really didn’t know much about her early life. I knew she was born in Coquimbo Chile on October 23, 1908.

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Thomas MacMillan, My Grandfather

Her father was Thomas MacMillan, a Scot from Glasgow, who had somehow made his way to South America likely sometime in the late 1870’s or early 1880’s. He worked on the Steamships that went up and down the coast of South America. Had he originally started out sailing across the Atlantic when The Pacific Steamship Company introduced sailings from Liverpool through the Straights of Magellan to

Valpariso in 1869 and then to Callao in 1870 and…… when he met Juana Rojas he switched over to work the Coastal Steamers…..but did he work the Coastal Steamers exclusively…found the on Ancestry..Crew Lists from Liverpool…one Thomas MacMillan from Coquimbo age 43 in 1895..could this be my Grandfather??

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Crew List for the Arica…previous ship the Boliva…Thomas MacMillan 1895  Found on Ancestry.co.uk

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Thomas MacMillan..front row Right as you look

Jean Taylor or Juana Rojas is much more an unknown. I have never seen a picture of this lady but I believe my mom took after her in looks and stature. Given the birth dates for her children, it is likely she married Thomas in the early 1880’s, possibly is Callao Peru, but equally likely Coquimbo, if that was his home base.   They had 3 children, David, Daisy and Agnes. I believe they may have had other children…Robert, Margaret and Thomas who may have died as infants.                                                                                                                                  

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David Taylor MacMillan Born Callao, Peru c. 1885

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Agnes Irvine MacMillan Perkins Born Oct 23, 1908 Coquimbo, Chile

 

 

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Daisy Wallace MacMillan Bates Born c. 1890 Callao Peru

Family Story is that David went to England in 1917 to fight in WW1. Thomas, the father died sometime thereafter, and when the war was over the remaining family moved to England in 1919. David was listed as Clerical on the Ship’s manifest, age 33 which would make his birth 1884. Travelling with him from Valpariso, Chile was William James Trevissick and his family.

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David Taylor MacMillan Chile to Liverpool March 1917 aboard the Orissa.

Orrissa Pacific Steam Navigation Company

“The Pacific Steam Navigation Company (PSNCo) was formed by an American, William Wheelwright, to operate steamship services along the Pacific coast of South America. Having failed to raise money in the USA, he succeeded in London and was granted a Royal Charter of Incorporation in 1839. Services started in 1840 with two wooden paddle steamers, Chile and Peru. The company built up a large fleet of coastal steamers, and 1867 it was decided to introduce a through service from Liverpool via the Straits of Magellan. Five screw steamers were ordered to operate this service. Rather than wait for delivery of these, PSNCo inaugurated the new venture in 1868, using their paddler Pacific, built for coastal services in 1865. The ships ordered in 1867 began arriving in 1869, operating between Liverpool and Valparaiso. In 1870, the PSNCo decided to extend services to Callao, and a further four steamers were ordered. In 1872, a mail subsidy of £10000 per annum was granted and the PSNCo began operating a weekly service from Liverpool. The calls at this time included Bordeaux (later Pauillac), Lisbon, Sao Vincente (Cape Verde Islands), Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo and Punta Arenas.

The three sisters were built for the Valparaiso service. They were inferior to the ships built for the Australian route which preceded them. They were 5300 gross tons, 421 feet long, and had single funnels. Oravia was wrecked in Port Stanley in 1912. Oropesa became an armed merchant cruiser in 1914, and was passed to the French Navy in 1915. She was sunk by a submarine in 1917. Orissa was lost to a submarine in 1918, having remained in commercial PSNCo service.

David sailed to England aboard the Orissa in 1917.

The PSNCo was the largest steamship company in the world in 1873, but their success was short-lived. Due to a combination of circumstances, including political unrest, and competition from other shipping lines (White Star amongst them), PSNCo found themselves in financial difficulties and many ships were laid, service speeds were reduced, and departures became fortnightly again. Two ships were sold to Royal Mail Lines, and four others were chartered (and later sold) to the Orient Line for a new steamship service from London to Australia via the Suez Canal. Conditions in the PSNCo original trade area continued to deteriorate, and Chile went to war with Peru and Bolivia in 1879.

Information found on Find a Grave

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Thomas MacMillan had died in 1917 and was buried in the English Cemetery at Guayacan Coquimbo. We also share a birthdate…January 18th.

Name: Thomas MacMillan
Birth Date: 18 Jan 1855
Birth Place: Glasgow City, Scotland
Death Date: 1917
Death Place: Chile
Cemetery: English Cemetery
Burial or Cremation Place: Coquimbo, Coquimbo, Chile
Has Bio?: N
URL: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-..

Copy of the register of the British cemetery at Guayacán, Coquimbo, Chile    images-1

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Guayacan Cemetery

Format: Family History Library Salt Lake, Utah

Books/Monographs/Book with Film

Language:

English

Publication:

1967

Physical:

[20] h. : tabla geneal.

Subject Class:

983 A1

  History of Guayacan

“In 1846 the village of Guayacán was established as a maritime and mining establishment thanks to the management of Robert Edward Allison.  In 1856, José Tomás Urmeneta installs its copper smelter and a rail line was built in 1862  to pique Tamaya and pier on the coast.  The establishment of Guayacán cast was one of the largest in the country in the nineteenth century , growing to about 35 hearth furnaces in its heyday.

In 1874 it is created the English Cemetery, home to the first Scottish and Welsh families who settled in Coquimbo. In 1880 the Church of Guayacan is constructed, made of pieces by engineer Gustave Eiffel in Paris.”

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Coquimbo in the early 1920’s

Mom had few memories of her childhood, not that I really questioned her. She remembers the garden at the rear of their house. There was a parrot kept in a cage and she had been instructed not to put her fingers into the cage. Well ….you guessed it..she did and she was bitten! 

Coquimbo today…

From the website welcomechile.com    “Thus the English Neighborhood (Coquimbo, Chile) revived…. it became more representative of the history of the city as buildings and facades were restored..

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Port of Coquimbo Chile

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English District today

“The cobbled streets made us walk through a gallery of stores. Each facade witnessed who inhabited the place two centuries ago…. behind them there are shops offering everything from fine wines, chocolates and snuff to art objects and handicrafts made by local artists. Today in Coquimbo, thanks to the joint efforts of its inhabitants and restoration policies, it is possible to navigate a real postcard of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Notably, the neighborhood was called “English” by the language of those who lived and quickly excelled in Coquimbo. Fine old homes  were raised with balconies looking for a glimpse of the sea. The community of immigrants was entering its style and design in this port architecture that helped to consolidate this parallel to the social and commercial life of the city expansion.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Through the center of town..

 

 

 

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1919 the family left Coquimbo via Valpariso for England. Perhaps this was the train they took to Valpariso 430 km to the south where they would board the Oriana. My mother was only 11 years old when she made this voyage through the Panama Canal and on to Liverpool. Her life would take many turns in the next 3 years…To Be Continued!                                    

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