Descendants of James Douglas, 1755 - 1860


Family History of the North American Douglases

Contributed by Father Jack Douglas of Jamaica, New York


Our North American Family can trace its origin to James Douglass.


James Douglass was christened on May 5, 1755 in Coldingham , Scotland .  He married Mary Wallace on May 30, 1777.  Mary was christened on June 8, 1755, in the town of Hutton .  Scottish records indicate that James was a black smith in the town of Renton .  Eight children were born to this union, among them James Douglas, who made the crossing to the New World .  The children of James Douglas and Mary Wallace were:


    1)     John Douglass..……….....(Christened)         April 6, 1780

    2)     George Douglass...............(Christened)        May 5, 1782    -Witness: James Atchison

                        -Married: Mary Crow...(Born)            August 5, 1805

                                                                         (Christened)    December 10, 1805

                                    -Witness: Thomas Landells & Robert Thompson

    3)     Mary Douglass.............…(Christened)         April 4, 1785

                                    -Witness: David Atchison and James Fulton

     4)    Robert Douglass.............…(Christened)        October 8, 1787

                                    -Witness: William Anderson and David Bairnsfather

     5)    James Douglass (Our Ancestor) (C)              December 21, 1789

                                    -Witness: John Bishop and Robert Craig

     6)    Anne Douglass..........…….(Born)                  August 14, 1792

                                                                    (Christened)         Nov 27, 1792

                                     -Witness: Robert Paterson and David Atchison

     7)    Joseph Douglass..................(Born)                August 25, 1794

                                                                     (Christened)        October 6, 1794

                                     -Witness: Rev. M. Bethune at Chapel of Renton


     8)    William Douglass................(Born)                 June 8, 1797

                                                                     (Christened)        June 25, 1797

                                     -Witness: George and Richard Pringle


James Douglas       [December 21, 1789 - 1860]


The Scottish progenitor of the North American Douglasses, James Douglas continued his father's occupation and was a black smith by trade.  He apparently moved around during the early part of his marriage, owing to the birth places of his first three children.  By the birth of his 4th child, Marion, the family had settled in the small village of Westruther , located in the county of Berwickshire in Eastern Scotland, not far from the city of Lauder .  The village was founded in 1657 and in the 1990 census, had a population of 829.  It is nestled amid the rolling hills of Scotland and its principal industry has not changed in hundreds of years, sheep herding.  It stands in the shadow of the great Red Douglas stronghold of Tantalon Castle .




James Douglass married Alison Laing.  She was born in 1795.  Scottish records do not indicate the location.  Ten children were born to this union.


       Children:                 Born In Various Locations:


       1)     James          (M)      Christened: April 16, 1815

                                                            Place: Duns, Scotland

                                                                        Died: In early childhood

       2)     Agnes          (F)       Born: October 23, 1816

                                                            Place: Innerwick , Scotland

       3)     Thomas        (M)      Born: September 1 1818

                                                            Place: Longformacus , Scotland


       Children:              Born in Westruther:


       4)     Marion         (F)       Born: March 10,   1820

       5)     John             (M)      Born: December 2, 1821

       6)     Robert         (M)      Born: December 2, 1824

       7)     Ives              (F)       Born: October 26, 1826

       8)     Alison          (F)       Born: August 3, 1828

       9)     Laing           (M)      Born: January     1830

                                                            Died in childbirth    (Last Ancestor born in Scotland )


         Children:            Born in Canada :


       10)  Alexander     (M)      Born: 1844


For some unknown reason, one that will never be known to us, they decided to leave their native Scotland forever and make the difficult journey across the sea to the New World.


They had nine children by the time they decided to migrate.  Two sons accompanied them to Canada .  The others either had died or decided to remain in Scotland , as their names do not appear in either Canadian or Minnesota records.  John, their third son and Robert their fourth son (our direct ancestor) accompanied their parents to Canada .


If the other children in fact did travel to the New World, they either died in route or died shortly after their arrival as their names are not mentioned in any New World records.


Canada was their destination.  They boarded a sailing ship and made the perilous crossing over the North Atlantic .  They made this epic journey in the year 1831.  Alexander was born in Canada in 1844.


They came down the St. Lawrence River as far as Montreal and then moved inland settling in an area south of the city known as the Eastern Townships.  This area had already been settled by English speaking peoples from England , Scotland and Ireland .  Among them, colonists from America , loyal to the Crown, had also settled.  These colonists made a hasty retreat into British controlled territory when the rebel Americans were successful in overthrowing English rule.


They settled in a beautiful little village known as Russeltown in Quebec .  It was located very close to the American border, north of the state of New York .  This region was primarily settled by Irish Protestants.  The low rolling hills reminded them of county Monaghan .  Lovell's Gazetteer of the Dominion of Canada describes it as, "A small village in Chateauguay county, located on the Keithburn river.  It has one Presbyterian church, a general store, a blacksmith shop, shoe maker's shop and a butter factory.  The recorded population in 1840 was 112."  Here amid people of his own faith James Douglass settled and resumed his trade as a Blacksmith.


The "History of the County of Huntingdon ,” researched in Montreal , mentions James Douglass by name.  “There lived a Scotch Black Smith by the name of James Douglass.”


While the Family lived in Canada , Alison's third son Alexander was born in 1844.


Canadian Census records indicate at the two older brothers, John and Robert married in Canada .  John married a Canadian wife.  Due to the close proximity to the United States , Robert married an American woman from Vermont . 


    John Douglass      Married:  Mary   Born: 1843   ( Canada )

    Robert Douglass  Married:  Eliza  Born: 1830   ( Vermont , USA )


For another unknown reason, with the death of James Douglass in 1860 the Family made the decision to move again to another land.  They migrated to the United States of America and settled in the State of Minnesota .  Their most likely route would be by boat, through the Great Lakes to Duluth and then overland to Canton Township in Fillmore County , Minnesota .


Minnesota records indicate that Robert Douglass and his Vermont born wife Eliza had eleven (11) natural children and one (1) adopted child:


1860 Records:  Fillmore County , Canton Township , Minnesota


1)         Alison                          Born:    1847    Canada

2)         Janetta                        Born:    1848    Canada

3)         Catherine                    Born:    1850    Canada   (Mentioned in News Clip in Family Bible)

4)         Eliza Emma                 Born:    1852    Canada   (Mentioned in News Clip)

5)         Margaret                    Born:    1852    Canada   (Mentioned in News Clip)

6)         Robert Wallace          Born:    1856    Montreal , Canada          (Our Direct Ancestor)

7)         William                       Born:    1858    Canada   (Father of Willard Douglass)

                        - William is the progenitor of the Douglas-Nott Branch


1870 Records:  Martin County , Nashville Township , Minnesota


 8)        James                                    Born:    1864    Minnesota

 9)        Amanda                     Born:    1865    Minnesota

 10)      Mary                          Born:    1868    Minnesota

 11)      John                           Born:    1869    Minnesota         (Died: Scarlet Fever)


1880 Records:  Martin County , Nashville Township , Minnesota


  12)     John W                       Born:    1869    Wisconsin          (Adopted: Parents NY)


The Minnesota Census of 1870, indicate that Alexander Douglass and John Douglass were living on another farm in Nashville Township , Martin Co.,  Minn.  They had brought their mother Alison there.  John married Mary.


  John Douglass          Born:    Scotland            1821    (Age: 49)

  Mary                         Born:    Canada                         1843    (Age: 27)


     Children Born to John Douglas and Mary:


1)         Fay Elizabeth                Born:    Minn.    1865

            2)         Anna                            Born:    Minn.    1867

            3)         Agnes                           Born:    Minn.    1870  (July)


   Alexander Douglass  (Brother of John)

            Single                                       Born:    Canada      1844 (Age: 26)


The farm was valued at $800.00 for the land and $500.00 for the buildings.


These Census records also indicate that one of Robert Douglass's sons was living on John's Nashville farm at this time.  “Robert Wallace (Age: 15) lived with his uncles, went to school and worked on the neighboring Welpington Farm.”  


By the 1900 Minnesota Census, all the Douglasses had moved from the Nashville Farm.


Robert Wallace Douglas ‑ Born: Feb. 13, 1856 in Montreal , Canada

            ‑ Died: Jan. 8,  1935 in Rochester , Minn. of Bronchial, Pneumonia

                       ‑ Lived:  2915 32nd Ave. S. , Minneapolis and 1036 4th Ave S. , Minneapolis                                        ‑ Buried:  Gaylord , Minnesota

                       ‑ Immigrated to U.S.A.  in 1860

                                    ‑ Sibling Known Facts: (Newspaper found in Family Bible)

                                    - Brother:  William H. Douglass - Died in 1933

            - Sisters Attended His Funeral: 

                                                - Margaret (Clow) ‑ Truman , Minn.

                                                - Katherine (Sager)

                                                - (Eliza) Emma (Hancom)  Osakis , Minn.



Robert Wallace Douglas married: Tillie Finlay


                       ‑ Born: Feb 15, 1864 in McKeesport , Pa

                       ‑ Died: Oct 7, 1945  in Keewatin , Minn

                       ‑ Buried:  Gaylord , Minnesota

                       ‑ Of the Presbyterian Faith


            The Finlay Family moved to Minnesota in April of 1869 and settled on a farm in the Town of Cresco , in Blue Earth County .  Tillie was 5 years old.  Tillie's Father was Robert Finlay from Iniocelen , Ireland , he was a River Boat Captain on the Ohio River in Pennsylvania .  Her mother was Mary Jane McCaughan from Philadelphia , Pa.   Mary Jane's Parents were Alexander McCaughan and Elizabeth Ritter.



FEDERAL CENSUS 1880:  Township of Cresco, Blue Earth Co:


Name:             Age:                Occ:               Born:               Fath:               Moth:              Read:   

Robert Finlay  59  (M)           Farmer             Ireland               Ireland               Ireland               No

Mary J.             41  (F)           Wife                 Pennsylvania      Ireland               Pennsylvania  


Children of Robert and Mary Finlay:


Elizabeth M   23  (F)                        School Teacher

Robert A. E   19  (M)          

Tillie P.             16  (F)            In School

Will                   14  (M)          In School

George G       12   (M)          In School

Rosa                   9   (F)           Died of Spanish Influenza

Rubie                 3   (F)                      

Ida                          (F)                        Married

Bute                         (F)                       Married



Tillie Finlay married Robert Wallace Douglas:

            ‑ Feb. 15, 1882 in Cresco , Minnesota    ( Blue Earth County )

- Married in the Residence of Robert Finlay who

               witnessed the wedding with Mary Elizabeth Finlay.

               The Rev. George Cooling of Hampton , officiating.


             ‑ After Robert's Death: She moved to Keewatin , Minn

               to live with her daughter Lorna. (4/5/1936)




‑ The Land Grant:


         1.    Homestead Certificate Number: 6902

         2.    Application Number: 11571

         3.    Recorded at: Registry Office, Worthington , Minn.

         4.    Recorded in Vol. 16, Page 12

         5.    Signed: Sept 3, 1890

         6.    Location:  Martin County Township of Rolling Green, Minnesota


      ‑ Robert and Tillie moved to this Homestead

-         April 2, 1882


Apparently Robert Wallace did not want to live as a farmer as the family sold the farm and moved to Beatrice, Gage County , Nebraska and opened a Boarding House.  It was there in 1886 that Arthur Finlay Douglas was born.  The family returned to Minnesota in 1888 and lived in North Minneapolis for a few years and then settled in the Village of Gaylord in Sibley County , Minnesota .  There they opened the Douglas & Company Restaurant and Boarding House.


1900 Gaylord Village Census Records:


  Rosa Jones...(Boarder) 25 yrs                        Single   (Born:  Iowa )     (Dress Maker)


‑ Robert sold Watkins Products (Home Medical Remedies) from a horse and carriage to supplement    his income. He sold such things as medicine, horse liniment, sheep dip, candy and condiments.


‑ Robert then sold the carriage, bought a Model T Automobile, expanded his route and moved to          Stillwater , Washington County, Minnesota .


        ‑ Nov. 1, 1905:    They moved to Minneapolis , Minn.


     ‑ Children born to this union:


            1)          Loraine Robert Douglass     Born: 12/18/1882

                                                                        Died: 2/14/1902

                             - Died from complications of a gun shot wound, in a hunting accident.

                                    - Buried: Family Plot to the South of the town of Gaylord .


            2)          Arthur Finlay Douglass        [Douglas-Woolever-Curran Progenitor]


            3)          Dowaine Irvin  Douglass      Born: 10/26/1889

                                                                        Died:  5/25/1956

                                                                        Buried: in San Francisco , Calif.

                             - Married: Grace Viola Harbell  10/26/1910

                                                [Progenitor of Douglas-Harbel Branch]


            4)         Royden Orel Douglass          Born:  4/22/1982

                                                                        Died:  1959

                             - Married: Alice Veronica Miles    6/19/16   


            5)         Lorna Mabel Douglass                      Born:  4/1/1902

                                                                        Died:       /1952

                                                                        Buried: Forest Lawn, Calif.

                             - Secretary: Singer Sewing Machine Co.

                             - Married: Joseph A. Brinkman  6/15/1934  (A Border)


Arthur Finlay Douglas


-         Born: Oct. 31, 1886 in Beatrice , Nebraska

-         Died: Feb. 16, 1955 in Seattle , Wash.

                 Buried:  Evergreen Cemetery , Seattle   (In the Masonic Section)

-         Of the Episcopalian Faith

                 Married:  Florence Woolever

                      ‑ Born: 12/09/1886, Owatonna , Minn.

                      ‑ Died: 10/14/1918, Minneapolis

                             - Fairview Hospital from pneumonia caused by the Spanish Influenza.

                      ‑ Buried:  Hillside Cemetery , Minneapolis

             ‑ She married Arthur Finlay Douglas   ‑ April 29, 1908              


Children born of this union:


        Robert Loraine                        ‑ Born: 12/11/1908, Minneapolis

                                                            ‑ Died:  2/20/1970

                                                ‑ Buried:  Rose Hills Cemetery , Whittier , California

                                                            ‑ Married: Tillie Lang  6/22/1929

                                                            - Children: Rosella Lorna 11/24/1933


        Kenneth Arthur           ‑ Born:  7/18/1914, Minneapolis

                                                - Died:

                                                ‑ Married: Helen Teresa Schwarz  10/5/1935

                                                ‑ Children: Robert Kendall

                                                                        - Born:  2/4/1940, Minneapolis

                                                            ‑ Divorced: Helen Schwarz (1958)


                                                Robert Kendall Douglas

                                                            ‑ Married: Jacquelyn Gayle Lyle, Feb. 1973

                                                             ‑ Children:        Allison Marie, 2/4/1977

                                                                                     Michelyn Cheriel, 11/16/1975


                                                ‑ Kenneth later married: Muriel Paulson on 1/2/1959

                                                            ‑ Of the Roman Catholic Faith


‑ Robert Kendall Douglas, having no male heirs ends the           DOUGLAS‑WOOLEVER Branch of the Family.


The CURRAN‑DOUGLAS Branch of the Family:


          Arthur then married: Rosella Curran

                        ‑ Born: March 9, 1896, Waseka , Minn

                        ‑ Died: Nov 5, 1963, Los Angeles , Calif.

                                   ‑ Of the Roman Catholic Faith

             ‑ She married Arthur Finlay Douglas

                 ‑ Jan 16, 1922, in Minneapolis , Minnesota


                       - Arthur Douglas worked for Jenny Sample Hill of  Minneapolis, a Hardware Distributor.  He then built the Nacomas Hardware Store at 3441 Cedar Ave.   Arthur operated the Hardware store on the first floor, a Sheet Metal Business, manufacturing furnace ducts and drain spouts in the basement while the family lived on the second floor.  During the Great Depression he auctioned off the stock in the Hardware store and rented the store to a grocer named Mr. Sorensen for $40.00 per month and groceries for the family.  He retained the Sheet Metal Business in the basement.


                      In February of 1940, Arthur, Kenneth and William moved to Seattle , Washington .  They stayed with a cousin of Rosella named Helen Rooney. Located at 314 W. Howe Street , Seattle . Arthur found work at the Bremerton Navy Yards and later with Benny Benson Sheet Metal Co.  He purchased the home on Queen Ann Hill for $2,300.00.  William drove to Minneapolis in 1941 to bring his mother Rosella and brother John to Seattle .


-         Arthur was a member of the Northern Light Masonic Lodge  # 279 and the Sheet Metal         Workers Union.


- William Arthur Douglas ‑ Born: March 28, 1924 in Minneapolis


          Married Catherine Veronica Beazley

                       ‑ Born: Jan 12, 1920 in Dartmouth , Nova Scotia , Canada

                       ‑ Of the Roman Catholic Faith

                                    ‑ She married William Arthur Douglas

                                     ‑ Dec. 7, 1946 in Seattle , Washington


            Children born to this union:


             John Paul Douglas    ‑ Born: Jan 2, 1948, Seattle , Washington

                        - Ordained a Roman Catholic Priest on May 14, 1981

                                    - Immaculate Conception Monastery , Jamaica , New York

                        - This ends the DOUGLAS‑BEAZLEY Branch of the Family.


            Rosanne Catherine    ‑ Born: Jan 30, 1949, Seattle , Wash.

                        ‑ Married: Frederick East Sherrod

                                                ‑ Born: Jan 20, 1939, Birmingham , Alabama

                                    ‑ Died: May 1, 1985, Orlando , Florida

                                    ‑ Married: July 31, 1971, Orlando , Fla.

                                                ‑ Children: Tiffany Catherine Shinkle

                                                ‑ Adopted by Charles Stephens Shinkle

                        ‑ Rosanne later married: Charles Stephens Shinkle

                                                ‑ Born: May 14, 1950, Huntsville , Alabama

                                    ‑ Married: Dec. 22, 1978, Riverside , Ca

                                                ‑ Children: Charles Douglas Shinkle

                                                                        ‑ Born: Sept 24, 1979, Minot AFB, ND

                                                                  Veronica Lee Shinkle

                                                                        ‑ Born: June 17, 1982, Minot AFB, ND


              Marie Evelyn         ‑ Born March 30, 1954, Travis AFB, California

                        ‑ Married: Philip McLaughlin

                                                ‑ Born: May 27, 1947,   Ft. Worth , Texas

                                                ‑ Married:  Orlando , Fla.  Nov. 1, 1975

                                    ‑ Of the Roman Catholic Faith

                                    ‑ Children: William Robert McLaughlin

                                                 ‑ Born: August 8, 1978

                                                            - Newport News , Virginia


The DOUGLAS-CURRAN Family continues in the DOUGLAS‑GRIFFITH Line:


John E. Douglas ‑ Born: August 22, 1925 in Minneapolis , Minnesota


                        ‑ John married: Carol Jeannine Griffith

                                     ‑ Born: Nov 27, 1929 in Seattle , Washington

                                     ‑ Married: July 16, 1949 in Seattle , Washington

                                     ‑ Of the Episcopalian Faith


Children born to this union:

       William Stephen: ‑ Born: 4/23/1953, Seattle , Washington

                          Married: Elizabeth Paula Taylor

                                    ‑ Born: Oct 28, 1955 in Nevada City , California

                                    ‑ Married: March 7, 1982 in Berkley , California

                                    ‑ Children: Spencer James Douglas:

                                                             ‑ Born: August 7, 1983 in Oakland , California

                                                     Alexander William Douglas:

                                                             ‑ Born: ________ in Oakland , California


       Kimberly Ann   ‑ Born: 3/27/1955, Seattle , Washington

                        ‑ Married John Charles Rixey

                                    ‑ Born: May 17, 1951 in Youngstown , Ohio


                                                 ‑ John married: Kathy Jean Charles in 1969

                                                            ‑ Children:    Sheri       May   3, 1969

                                 Erik       Nov. 23, 1972                                                                                                                      Tammy   Jan.  1, 1975


                         ‑ John divorced: Kathy Jean Charles in 1976


                         ‑ Kimberly married John Charles Rixey

                                                 - December 2, 1978  Santa Monica , Calif.


                                     ‑ Children:       John Edward:

                                                                        ‑ Born: June 20, 1979 (Lancaster, Ca.)

                                                             Ben Ryan:

                                                                        ‑ Born: April 22, 1984 ( San Jose , Ca)


       Michael Griffith:     ‑ Born: 2/8/1961  Pacific Palisades , California


Our particular line, in North America, there are only 3 individuals who currently carry the Douglas name.  They are:  Michael Griffith Douglas, Spencer James Douglas and Alexander William Douglas. Our Douglas blood flows through many, many good people of different names, but the continuance of our name, rests on but three.


Father Jack had the following to add (24 Feb 2006):

We have about 368 descendants from James and Allison Douglass, who arrived in Canada in 1831.  I went to the Eastern Townships in Quebec last year to photograph my great-great-great-great grandfather's grave.  I felt I would find it in the Presbyterian grave yard behind the old church.
I found out that he was not there.  I asked some of the people from the Church about this.  They said that if he was Episcopalian he would be buried in a separate cemetery.  The French Canadian Catholics, after the English, Irish and Scottish Protestants left the area, plowed the graves under and used the stones to build stone walls.  Being a priest, I was not happy to hear that.
I found two descendants of James's brother John, the brother who accompanied him to Canada.  They were unknown to us, prior to this visit to Quebec.  You will notice by the (above) History that James left 7 children in Scotland.  I learned that his brother John, left his wife and 8 children in Scotland.  In speaking to this descendant of my great-great-great-great Uncle I learned that a third brother was arrested in Scotland and sent to the Australian penal colony of Botany Bay.  His father spoke of letters his grandfather would receive from Australia.  I asked, "Did he save these letters?"  He said, "No he burned them without answering them."
I leave for Australia March 5th and will try to find records of him and determine if I have any living relatives there.  I now am thinking that all three were in on the crime, one was caught and the two others had to make a hasty departure for Canada.

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This page was last updated on 30 September 2021

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