Tolsta District News 1918 as reported in the Stornoway Gazette
At the Free Church Manse, Jordanhill, Glasgow, on 17th December, Alexander Murray, R.N.C.V.R., 29 North Tolsta, was married to Miss Gormelia Graham, 39 North Tolsta. Miss Catherine MacIver, teacher, Tolsta Public School, was bridesmaid and Mr. Donald MacLean, Ness, was best man. The officiating clergyman was Rev. Mr. Ross, Free Church, Partick. A reception was held afterwards at 80 Greenfield Street.
A blizzard of unusual severity has swept over the Lewis for two weeks and this district, which is so much exposed to the north wind, has got the brunt of the storm, which started suddenly about 7pm, on Sunday, 6th January. Most of the worshippers remained in the churches till 10pm, but those who had to go experienced much difficulty in reaching their homes and several lost their way altogether.
At the beginning of last week several houses in the south end of the township were practically buried in snow and many families could not get out until they were released by outsiders - what the wags of the village call "The Dug Outs." Mr. Colin Smith, a resident, 89 years of age, says this has been the most severe snowstorm he has ever experienced. A large number of sheep were buried in the drifts and it is feared many of them are still there. At the time of writing, (Monday) this district is very short of provisions. The mails have been delivered here only once last week. The usual mail gig has not been able to come during the past fortnight. It is feared that much of the potato stock lying in barns has been ruined by the blizzard. It is reported that rabbits have been caught in the doors of the houses in the middle of the village. Although thaw has now set in, it is not likely that the roads to town will be passable for at least a week.
The School Board at a Meeting on Tuesday of last week, approved of the appointment of Miss Jessie Fraser, Achiltibuie Public School, Ullapool, to the staff of Tolsta School.
AFTER THE SNOWSTORM
Towards the end of last week the local merchants managed to get their carts through to town and now the township is pretty well supplied with provisions. During the thaw, the walls of a number of barns and outhouses collapsed, but there has been no injury to either man or beast. The fishermen are very eager to get to sea, but at the time of writing, (Monday), they have not so far been able owing to the inclemacy of the weather.
TOLSTA PUBLIC SCHOOL
The school was reopened on Tuesday of last week, after a two months' closure. There was a splendid attendance throughout the week, but it is feared that the village is not yet cleared of scarlet fever.
Two of the local boats have been fishing for herring during the past two weeks. Whenever the weather has permitted them to do so. They are not meeting with much success, but one of them had a shot of three crans on Wednesday night. All this fish was sold locally.
We are pleased to hear that Allan Cameron, R.N.R., North Tolsta, whose ship was torpedoed last week, is amongst the survivors. This is the second time that Allan has had a narrow escape. He was in the Chatham Barracks last September during an air raid, when so many of his comrades were either killed or wounded.
The two local boats fishing for herring have met with splendid success last week. They were able to go to sea only three nights and between them they had during these nights about sixty crans. All the shots were disposed of locally at eight or nine shillings per basket. Practically every household in the district has procured some of these herring.
A meeting of the plotholders was held in the school last Friday. Mr. D. Cameron, merchant, presided. A committee office members was elected to carry out arrangements for the coming year. This committee will meet soon and it is to be hoped that those who wish to have plots this year on the North Tolsta Farm will send in their names as soon as possible, to allow the necessary preparations to be carried out in time.
Murdo MacIver, A.B.,(25), Roderick MacKay, R.N.R.,(64) and Angus Campbell, Park, (13), the three local men on H.M.S. "Calgarian", were all rescued when that ship was sunk after being torpedoed last week. They have arrived home on a three weeks' leave. Both MacIver and MacKay had been on that vessel since the war began and we understand they had several narrow escapes before now, for, to all appearances the Huns for some time back were eager to get a torpedo into the "Calgaran."
TOLSTA PUBLIC SCHOOL
Mr. D. J. MacLeod, H.M.I.S., visited this school on Thursday of last week. Although scarlet fever has been prevalent in the district, there has been a satisfactory attendance since the school was reopened at the beginning of February.
Corpl. John MacKenzie, Seaforths, 73 North Tolsta, preached in the Free Presbyterian Church last Sabbath, both morning and evening. Corpl. MacKenzie had been a Divinity student before enlisting and is very popular amongst the people of the district.
At 2 North Tolsta, on 21st March, Murdo MacIver, A.B., 25 North Tolsta, was married to Miss Margaret MacKay, daughter of Mr. Donald MacKay; and at 34 Kenneth Street, on the same date, Mr. Donald MacDonald, Uig, Skye, was married to Miss Annie MacLeod, daughter of the late John MacLeod, 75 North Tolsta. Rev. Neil MacIntyre, Stornoway, officiated at both marriages.
The half-yearly Communion services were held in the Free and Free Presbyterian Churches last week. In the F. P. Church, Rev. Neil MacIntyre, Stornoway, was assisted by Rev. Mr. MacRae, Portree. There were many strangers, particularly from the Ness district. On Thursday, Rev. Mr. MacLeod, Urray, Moderator of the Free Church, preached in the local F.C. Mission House.
Sergt. Murdo MacDonald, Seaforths, youngest son of Mr. Donald MacDonald, 48 North Tolsta, has been wounded. Recently the Commanding Officer wrote to Sergt. MacDonald's father, saying his son was one of the bravest men he ever met.
WAR SAVINGS MEETING
Ex-Provost Anderson, accompanied by Councillor N. Stewart and Councillor C. J. MacIver, addressed a meeting in Tolsta Public School, on Wednesday of last week. Councillor Stewart presided. Several canvassers were appointed to visit the various sections of the district.
KILLED IN ACTION
Pte. Donald MacLeod, Seaforths, son of Mr. Norman MacLeod, 53 North Tolsta, has been killed in action. The deceased who was 19 years of age, was in the 3rd Seaforths when war broke out. Although he was then barely 16 years of age and could if he desired, have got his discharge on account of his youth, he wrote home to his father telling him not, on any account, to attempt to get him out of the Army. He was sent to France in March, 1915, before he was 17 years old. He was wounded on several occasions. Donald was a very plucky young soldier, greatly beloved by his comrades. Indeed, he was one of nature's gentlemen and will be sorely missed by the people of the district, by whom he was much liked and highly respected.
One of the local crews fishing with the large lines met with gratifying results last week. For two hauls of ling, cod and skate, they got up to £60. The smaller boats fishing for haddocks got several good hauls last week also. Most of the latter was disposed of in the district. 10/5/18 WOUNDED News has been received that Pte. Donald MacDonald, Royal Scots, North Tolsta Farm, Pte. Kenneth Urquhart, Seaforths, 17 North Tolsta and Pte. Murdo Smith, Seaforths, 56 North Tolsta, have been wounded in action. Pte. Urquhart, has been at the Front for more than three years and was in the famous 51st Division. The other two had gone to France only a few months ago.
Tolsta Public School has been closed for over a month on account of an outbreak of measles in the district. The six local men at home on leave from Holland were called away last Sunday. The Spring work is well advanced and many of the people have their peats cut.
A BRAVE SOLDIER
Mr. Norman MacLeod, 53 North Tolsta, whose son, Donald, was killed in action on 29 March has received the following letter from his son's Platoon Officer - "It is with the very greatest regret that I write to tell you of your son's death. From having come to know him well personally, I realise what a very severe blow his loss must have been to you, Though we were not together many months, I had already learned to value him higher almost than any man in my Platoon. He was full of many of the finest qualities a man can have and certainly had no bad ones. I cannot say how deeply we all miss him and I only wish I were capable of finding words of sympathy for you which would be at all adequate. No tribute too high can be paid to him."
The village of North Tolsta has suffered much during the past days. The other morning, two children died of measles - Christina, aged seven years, the younger daughter of Mr. Norman MacIver, shepherd, 11 North Tolsta and Christina, aged 11 months, the youngest child of Pte. William MacDonald, 48 North Tolsta. Also there passed away on Monday morning, after a lingering illness, Mrs. Jessie MacDonald, R.N.D., 1 North Tolsta. What makes this case even more pathetic, is that the deceased's husband, who was at home on leave from Holland, had to leave by the mailboat on Sunday night, just a few hours before his wife passed away. His must have been a case of heart-rending experience. It should be mentioned that Mr. MacDonald was allowed to return home, when he arrived in London.
At the Schoolhouse, North Tolsta, on 1st June, the wife of Duncan MacDonald, of a son.
This year there was more demand for allotments on the North Tolsta Farm, with the result that the area there under cultivation has been doubled. Last week, the people were busy fencing in this tract of land, including the field cultivated by the tenant, Mr. MacDonald. There seems to be a good deal of healthy rivalry amongst some of the holders - and indeed some of them are worthy of much praise for their work. We know of one man who carried a dozen creels of a special kind of seaweed from "Amhuinn na Claich", a distance of over three miles. Surely such a man is worthy of getting a good crop.
ANOTHER NAVAL CASUALTY
Angus Campbell, Leading Seaman, 54 North Tolsta, died on the 29th of last month on board s.s. ________. The deceased was 32 years old and was mobilised with his six brothers at the beginning of the war. He is the second of the seven to make the supreme sacrifice. Angus had been at the Defence of Antwerp, but escaped. Since then he had other narrow escapes. Several weeks ago he left this country as a gunner on a large ship, but it was not on that ship that he died. The cause of death has not yet been notified. He was much liked and greatly respected in the district. 21/6/18 THE STORM A westerly gale of unusual severity swept over this district on Thursday, of last week. Fishermen assert it was the heaviest summer gale experienced here for the past 29 years. The storm started at 7pm and continued for several hours. One of the small fishing boats had been out, but fortunately she had managed to reach the land shortly before the storm came on. Some of the women out on the moor with their cattle had to leave their shielings and come home. The following day there were showers of hailstones.
At Stornoway, on 5th June, Mr. John Murray, Seaman, R.N.R., 40 North Tolsta, was married to Miss Christina MacDonald, daughter of Mr. Murdo MacDonald, Lionel, Ness. Rev. Mr. Cameron, Stornoway, was the officiating clergyman. Sonus, soirbheachadh agus saoghal fada dhaoibh.
ANOTHER TOLSTA SOLDIER KILLED
Corpl. John MacKenzie, 73 North Tolsta, was killed in action on 9th June. The deceased who was about 36 years of age, was a Divinity student, before enlisting in 1916. Being an expert instructor in bomb-throwing, he was kept in this country until the German offensive started last March. He was much loved and highly respected, both as a man and as a Christian. The Commanding Officer of a Battalion has written and one could see how highly he esteemed John MacKenzie, a keen and capable soldier and a man who had such a good influence on his fellow soldiers.
Mr. Duff, Organising Secretary of the Glasgow and West Coast Mission, paid his annual visit to this district this week. It was through Mr. Duff that the district of North Tolsta got it's first nurse. The school was reopened on Wednesday of last week. This is one of the few schools in the Highlands where the number of pupils on the role is on the increase. Miss Henrietta MacLeod, the additional teacher appointed, has now entered upon her duties.
ANOTHER TOLSTA SOLDIER GETS THE MILITARY MEDAL
Sergt. Murdo MacDonald, Seaforths, 48 North Tolsta, has been awarded the Military Medal for his bravery on the battlefield during the German Offensive last March. Murdo, who is about 22 years of age, went to France early in 1915, he has been at the Front practically without a break since then.
EGGS FOR THE WOUNDED
Last week there were 48 dozen eggs collected by the staff and pupils of Tolsta Public School. Forty-one dozen were sent to Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow, per Provost MacLean and the remainder were sent to the Lewis Hospital.
On Wednesday of last week, Sir Hall Caine, with other distinguished guests from Lewis Castle, visited this district. They stayed in the village for an hour chatting with the people and visiting a few houses. Today, (Monday), Lord Leverhulme visited the township and after conversing with some of the people, he went to see the pier that was built at Portnambothag some years ago. If this pier were extended, it would greatly facilitate matters for the fishermen of the district.
LOCAL NURSING ASSOCIATION
A Meeting of the Association was held last week, when the local Committee for the ensuing year was elected. There was a good attendance and Mr. Donald Cameron, Merchant, presided. The newly-elected Committee met this week for the purpose of electing office-bearers and for making up the estimates of income and expenditure for the current year. Mrs. Cameron, was made Convenor and Mr. Duncan MacDonald, Secretary and Treasurer. The other members of the Committee are - Mrs. Kenneth MacIver, 38 North Tolsta; Miss Isabella MacDonald, 61 North Tolsta; Mr. Angus MacLennan, 35 North Tolsta and Mr. Angus Graham, Shoemaker. Councillor Alexander MacIver, represents the Parish Council. The income for the past year was £87 9s 3d. Nurse Stewart last year paid 1,955 nursing visits. At the Meeting the people expressed their gratitude to the West Coast Mission and to those who helped bring a nurse to the district nearly six years ago.
The amount of local subscriptions towards the Funds of the Nursing Association of this district was last year £4 15s.
There has been practically no fishing done here for the past month. The crops have suffered much from the effects of the recent heavy rains. It is feared this year the potato crop will be much poorer than last year.
Lord Leverhulme paid another visit to the district recently. He was accompanied by Mr. Ranald MacDonald, Carloway and after being joined by some of the local people, the party visited the old landing place at the mouth of the River Garry.
The old people assert that the weather during August this year was worse than that of any corresponding month during the past forty years. The heavy rains of the past fortnight have seriously damaged the roads and culverts between here and Back and in many cases sections of crofts, have been badly damaged also. Reaping will begin in a few days, but harvest operations will not be in full swing for a fortnight yet. As this district is so much depleted of men, it is hoped the Naval and Military authorities will release as many men as possible for harvest work.
ANOTHER TOLSTA MAN GETS THE MILITARY MEDAL
Corpl. John MacLeod, Machine Gun Section, 20 North Tolsta, has been awarded the Military Medal for bravery on the battlefield. He worked a machine gun for several hours after the remainder of the gun company had become casualties. Corpl. MacLeod went to France in 1914 and he was wounded several times. This is the third Tolsta soldier who has been awarded the Military Medal during 1918.
On 11th October, at 10 North Tolsta, Mr. Murdo MacDonald, R.N.R., was married to Miss Annie MacIver, 10 North Tolsta. On the same date, at 2 Hill Street, North Tolsta. Mr. John MacIver, R.N.R., 33 North Tolsta, was married to Miss Dolina MacLeod, 2 Hill Street, North Tolsta. Rev. R. MacKenzie, Back, officiated at both marriages.
When Alexander Gunn, son of Pte. William Gunn, 70 North Tolsta, was on Monday, of last week leading a horse and cart down one of the crofts, he was thrown out of the cart and fell under the horse, with the result that he was injured about the head and chest. People who were working in the vicinity noticed the accident and rushed to the rescue. He was sent to the Lewis Hospital where he is recovering well.
A TOLSTA SOLDIER GETS HIS COMMISSION
Mr. Roderick MacIver, 25 North Tolsta, has received his Commission as Second Lieutenant. He was in Australia when war broke out and returned to the country in 1915 and enlisted in the R.F.A. He saw a great deal of active warfare in France and had some very narrow escapes.
Influenza has been prevalent in this district for the past three weeks, but it is now spreading at an alarming rate. Today (Tuesday) only about 20 per cent of the pupils and only one of the teachers appeared at the school. The school has been closed till Monday, 11th November. In a large number of cases whole famillies are laid up, but medical attendance is difficult to obtain.
Mr. Murdo MacIver, R.N.R., 18 North Tolsta, survived after his ship was torpedoed. He was rescued after being in a small boat for 35 hours. Another Lewisman on board the ship is among the missing.
TOLSTA PUBLIC SCHOOL
On account of the prevalence of influenza in the district, this school is to be kept closed till 18th November, by order of the Medical Officer of Health.
INFLUENZA - FOUR DEATHS
There were no fewer than five deaths in this district since last Thursday and four of those are attributed to influenza. On Thursday night, Catherine MacLeod, wife of Murdo Murray, R.N.R., 45 North Tolsta, died of pneumonia after an attack of influenza. The deceased, who was 34, was a great favourite in the district. She left a family of four young children. On the same night, Mary MacIver, 18 North Tolsta died, she had been in indifferent health for some time. She was 71. On Friday morning, one of the twin children of Kenneth MacKay, R.N.R., 30 North Tolsta, died of pneumonia and the other one died on Saturday night. These children were five months old. Tonight (Monday), Donald MacIver, 5 years of age, youngest son of Donald MacIver, R.N.R., School Street, has died of croup. There is such a deep gloom cast over the district by these deaths, that the people feel they cannot rejoice as they should over the glad tidings of peace. One feels like the gaelic Bard after the Battle of Waterloo, when he said - "Bha Breatuinn deanamh gairdeachais. Bha iadson deanamh caoidh."
Murdo MacLeod, 34 North Tolsta, who has been acting Skipper now for nearly two years, has been promoted to the rank of Skipper with priority from 18th October. PRESENTATION Miss Jessie Fraser, assistant teacher, was on the occasion of her marriage, presented by the staff and pupils of the school with a silver pot and a cake basket. Miss Fraser, was a great favourite among the people.
TOLSTA PUBLIC SCHOOL
The school is to continue closed till the first Monday in December, on account of the prevalence of influenza in the district. There have been two recent deaths, due to the influenza epidemic. Christina Isabella MacDonald, daughter of widow John MacDonald, 12 North Tolsta. The deceased was 14 years old and had been delicate from childhood. On Monday, Donald MacDonald, eldest son of widow Murdo MacDonald, 32 North Tolsta, died of pneumonia, following influenza. She was 21 years of age.
John MacIver, R.N.R., 43 North Tolsta, was a gunner on a sailing ship, when it was wrecked during a storm three weeks ago, on the south-west coast of England. The crew threw themselves into the sea. Although he was crashed several times among rocks, John managed to escape with severe bruising about the legs.
ANOTHER DEATH FROM INFLUENZA
Jessie MacLeod, youngest daughter of Mr. Norman MacLeod, 6 North Tolsta, died of pneumonia, following influenza. She was 23 years of age and had always been strong and healthy.