One of my best discovers has been finding out an occupation that my 2nd great grandfather, Johnston Paterson, had later in life. I found a book through google books while searching for "Johnston Paterson" and Airdrie, Scotland. One of the first results was a little snippet of a book by James Knox called "The Triumph of Thrift: The Story of the Savings Bank of Airdrie". It gave just enough information, that I was sure this was my 2nd great grandfather. I found the book on Abe Books at a reasonable price, and ordered it. What an exciting find. There was actually a chapter about him, Chapter XIII, pages 83 to 85, called Treasurer Johnston Paterson, 1878-1884. If I had not found this book, I may have not discovered that he was a treasurer. On the 1881 census he is listed as a house factor.
It seems that the author of the book, James Knox, knew my 2nd great grandfather and work with him. Johnston Paterson task of treasurer was to look after the cash. I learned that he was of great moral principles, quite religious and very old school business. Interesting enough the author mentions that Johnston didn't trust the safes in the bank and carried the cash home each night to put in his own burglar-proof safe. Now he must have been a tough character, as he would walk home in the dark of night with a heavily loaded stick as his protection. Johnston worked as treasurer from the age of 64-70. But it looks like he consented to have that safe brought to the bank after about three years. What a great look into a small part of my 2nd great grandfather's life.
The author of the book, James Knox, is listed on the title page as the Manager of Airdrie Savings Bank; Hon. Sheriff-Substitute of Lanarkshire; Ex-Provost of Airdrie; Author of "Airdrie -A Historical Sketch". It is interesting to read the history of the bank, and about the people who worked for the bank. There are a few photos, but too bad not one of Johnston Paterson.
The Airdrie Savings Bank was established in 1835 and is still in business today. It's the only independent Savings Bank in the United Kingdom.
My best discovery in 2011 would have to be finding Aunt Betty. In March of 2011, I posted the tragic circumstance of Vera Ellen Marsh Seaman dying shortly after giving birth to a baby girl. Her daughter, Elizabeth Mary Seaman, was born November 3, 1920. I began my search by ordering records from Ontario, to discover the death date of the grandparents that may lead to an obituary. In the meantime I thought I'd look into Vera's brothers. Causally looking through records online, I come across a border crossing record from Canada to the U.S. for her brother, Kenneth. This is an amazing source, full of information. It has dates of births, wife's name and maiden name, when and where married, names of who is the travel party, why they are traveling, address of residence, name of his business and so much more. But most important his daughter's name and birth date. Mary Elizabeth born November 3, 1920. This has to be her. Looking through more records, I discover that Kenneth ended up in Victoria, British Columbia and Mary Elizabeth Seaman marries Arthur Turner. So I order death records and obituaries for Kenneth Seaman and John Turner. After going over and over the information, I'm convinced that this is Aunt Betty. But to really know, I'll need to talk to someone who knew her. I decide to make some cold calls. Since there seems to be too many Turners in the area, I settle on calling the eight Seamans. Prepared with a written prompt of what to say and encouragement from my husband, I begin to call. The first Seaman is a very nice gentleman, who tells me a Seaman website. On to the next. After going through my prompt, I hear an elderly lady inform me that she knew Betty. What excitement, someone who knew Betty. She is Betty's sister-in-law. She is kind enough to tell me all about Betty. Not only that, her husband (Betty's brother) calls me later to talk about Betty. Now the bittersweet part, that had us in tears. Betty had just recently past away, while I was building up the courage to make the phone calls. She was 90 years old.