Tolsta District News 1923 as reported in the Stornoway Gazette
Miss M. R. Munro, of the Northern College of Agriculture, gave the last of her series of Lectures on Poultry in the Tolsta School, on 13th December. There was a large attendance, Mr. D. MacDonald, presiding. Miss Munro's Lectures were all well attended and a note-worthy feature of these Meetings was the large number of women folk who turned out. Miss Munro also gave two Lectures to the Senior pupils of the School and she visited several homes in the district, where she had homely talks with the people on poultry rearing, feeding and housing.
On Thursday, 28th December, at 32 North Tolsta, Mr. Murdo Campbell, 54 North Tolsta, was married to Miss Margaret MacIver, daughter of Norman MacIver, 32 North Tolsta. Rev. Roderick MacKenzie, Back, officiated. On the same date, at 9 North Tolsta, Mr. Duncan MacGregor, Kishorn, was married to Miss Annie Nicolson, 9 North Tolsta. Rev. Neil MacIntyre, Stornoway, officiated.
The Tolsta Bay from Tolsta Head to Cellar Head presents a very pleasing view these dark nights. The whole distance, five miles in extent, forms a crescent of brilliant lights. Two of the local boats ventured out last week, although the weather was stormy. One of the boats lost her nets. On the following day, the nets were recovered by the drifter B.F. "Tyric". The local Fishermen desire to express, through the medium of the "Gazette", their gratitude to the Skipper and crew of that drifter for saving their nets and for coming to the Tolsta pier to deliver them.
We regret to announce that Katie Ann, youngest child of Mr. Donald MacKay, 16 North Tolsta, died on Saturday, 1st February. The deceased, who was 18 months old, contracted whooping cough some weeks ago and latterly pneumonia set in. The heartfelt sympathy of the Community is extended to the bereaved parents, who had lost two other children in the past seven years.
UNEMPLOYED MEETING AT NORTH TOLSTA
A large Meeting of the unemployed people of North Tolsta, was held in the local School, on Monday, 26th February. The Meeting was called by Mr. John MacLennan, Parish Councillor, who, at the outset, explained the reason for his having done so. They were all aware he said, of the conditions prevailing in the district. He took advantage of bringing the matter up at the last Meeting of the Parish Council. He had made enquiries with regard to the prospect of any relief work for the district and from the statement made by Mr. Hector Smith, the Parish Council's representative on the District Committee, he found no arrangement had been made for providing work for the local people in the vicinity of Tolsta.
A number of the men having spoken on the necessity of providing immediate work for the people, it was resolved that a deputation be sent to Stornoway to interview Mr. Armstrong, the Board of Agriculture's representative in Lewis.
The following deputation was appointed:- Messrs. John Campbell, 54 North Tolsta; William Finlayson,(1); Hector MacKay,(42) and Alexander Murray,(27).
On the return of this deputation from Stornoway, another Meeting was held on Thursday last, to receive their report. Mr. Angus MacLennan, was moved to the Chair. The deputation's report stated, that it was a matter of much regret that they had not seen Mr. Armstrong, who happened to be away from the island. They had, however, interviewed Mr. Miller, District Clerk, who received them sympathetically, but who informed them, as far as he knew, no work had been arranged for the people of Tolsta.
The Chairman asked Mr. Donald Cameron, Parish Councillor, who was present, if he had anything to say.
Mr. Cameron, at the outset, said they were all very much indebted to the deputation for what they had done on their behalf and he called upon the Meeting to accord them a hearty vote of thanks. (Applause) Continuing, Mr. Cameron said, that he regretted the position of matters and the delay in providing relief works, that an immediate application as perfectly justifiable in their needy circumstances, should be made to the Inspector of the Poor, who cannot divest himself of the responsibility inposed upon him by statutory obligations. He also hoped, that no one in need would refrain from applying to the Parish Council. He knew they would prefer work to charity, but in view of their circumstances and on account of the service they had rendered to their country during the War, they must be provided with either work or other relief.
A vote of thanks to the Chairman brought the Meeting to a close.
The weather for some time back has been unusually favourable. At the time of writing, many of the village children are running about bare-footed and the people who obtained holdings on the new settlement in North Tolsta, are busy building houses and ploughing the land. Although much poverty is prevalent in the district, the local people were not given any of the Grant provided by the Board of Agriculture for the relief of distress in the Island. This has caused much dissatisfaction.
HOUSE ON FIRE
On 20th April, the house of Mr. Donald Graham, 39 North Tolsta, was almost completely destroyed by fire. While the family were engaged down on the croft, a young boy, who had been left at home, went upstairs with a naked light, to search for something and it seems some corn on the loft got ignited. Several people working on their crofts noticed smoke belching from the two chimneys and from the skylights. Within a few minutes, scores of men were on the spot. The damage to the building and furniture was extensive. Most of the things upstairs were destroyed. It is to be hoped that friends will give some assistance to Mr. Graham to repair his house and to get some of the articles destroyed by fire replaced. Mr. Graham is very much indebted to the large number of men who worked so strenuously to extinguish the flames.
Some of the local men have now returned from the East Coast Fishing and the majority of them came home practically peniless. It appears that the potato crop is to be a complete failure this year in this district. Present indications predict this year's yield to be the poorest for the last twenty years. Thus the outlook for the coming Winter is extremely gloomy. It is ardently hoped, that the authorities will be able to set some relief works on foot to help the people.
A NARROW ESCAPE
Last Saturday, a child belonging to Mr. Donald Graham, 39 North Tolsta, had a narrow escape from being killed by a horse. It appears that the child, a boy of three years of age, was playing in front of his house and that a horse which happened to be grazing there at the time, resented the child's presence and tried to kick him. The boy was severely cut on the side of his head. The little fellow was badly stunned, but after he had been attended by the nurse he was able to move about. Indeed it is a marvel, how few of such accidents occur in the districts, where horses are allowed to roam about at will.
The weather continues to be very severe for harvest work. Most of the Crofters have got the barley reaped and some of them are well on with the cutting of the oats, but owing to the soaking condition of the corn and the continued dampness of the weather, it will be some time yet before any of it can be gathered into the barn-yards. A large number of the fisher-girls left last week for the English fishing. A few of the men have also been able to secure berths on boats proceeding to either Lowestoft or Yarmouth.
TOLSTA PUBLIC SCHOOL - ANNUAL DISTRIBUTION OF PRIZES
On Tuesday of last week, the annual distribution of prizes took place in the Tolsta Public School. Mr.D. MacDonald, Headmaster, who presided, said they were all glad to have present with them again ex-Provost, Roderick Smith, Stornoway, representing the Lewis School Management Committee and Rev. Alexander Ross, Stornoway, who had come to examine the Senior pupils in Gaelic reading. Continuing, he said the year just completed, had been a period of satisfactory progress in the School - the health of the children had been good, there had been none of the usual closures on account of epidemics and the School had been well staffed. He paid high compliments to the efficiency of all members of the Staff, who had worked strenuously to bring the School, which had in recent years suffered so much from epidemic closures, up to the desired standard of efficiency. They were glad to see that local pupils attending the Nicolson Institute, were doing so well, one of whom was next to the Dux, while another got the first Prize in his own Class. He found, he said, that there was now a much greater desire than in previous years, on the part of more pupils to proceed to a Higher Grade School and when such was the case, it was a great pity that the Education Authority had to curtail its expenditure as far as the granting of Bursaries was concerned.
Ex-Provost Smith, before handing out the Prizes, said that he was glad to be with them once again. He knew that Rev. Mr. Cameron, the Chairman of the Lewis School Management Committee, would have been with them also if he could. He was glad to hear from their Teachers, that of the two hundred children who had been present when he handed out the Prizes last year, every one was spared and in good health. He was glad to see the children looking so healthy and he hoped they would have a year of much progress in their School, where they were being prepared to become useful citizens. He commented favourably on the careful selection made by the Teachers, when ordering their Prize-books and this led him to speak of the value of good literature brought into their life and character. Rev. Alex Ross, after the prizes had been handed out, addressed the children in Gaelic. He told them he was very fond of Gaelic, that he was pleased to see so many of them were able to read it and that he hoped to see the day, when every School in the North will be giving instruction in that lovely language. He trusted that those of them, who obtained Prizes that day, would be urged on to greater diligence and that those who did not manage to gain one this year, would try to get one next year, but the best award of all, was to live noble lives, whose influence would tell for good amongst their fellows.
The Meeting was opened and closed with Prayer.
THE PRIZE LIST SUPPLEMENTARY CLASS - UPPER SECTION 1. DUX PRIZE - Annie M. MacLennan 2. Annie MacIver 3.
HISTORY AND GARDENING - Alex MacIver
SUPPLEMENTARY CLASS - LOWER SECTION 1. (Equal) Angus MacIver and Donald Morrison
3. Mary MacIver (a)
4. Murdina Murray
5. Mary MacLeod
RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE AND ATTENDANCE - Barbara Murray SENIOR l 1 (Equal) Matilda C. MacDonald and Mary MacIver (b) 3. Donald MacIver 4. Mary MacIver (c) 5. Catherine MacRitchie 6. Angus MacIver (b)
RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE - Catherine Murray
ATTENDANCE - Johanna MacDonald and Margaret MacKay SENIOR ll 1. Annie Murray 2. John Smith 3. Mary Murray 4. Marion MacDonald 5. Murdo Murray
RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE - Allan MacIver
ATTENDANCE- Murdo MacKenzie, Murdo Smith, John MacLeod, Murdo MacIver and Jane Murray
SEWING - Christina MacLeod SENIOR lll 1. Chrissie M. MacDonald
2. Mary MacIver
3. Donald MacDonald
4. Katie M. MacLeod
5. Murdo MacKay
6. Donald Campbell
RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE - Chrissie Campbell
ATTENDANCE - Catherine Ann MacDonald, Allan MacKenzie and Isabella MacKenzie JUNIOR l 1. (Equal) Donald Murray and Margaret Smith 3. Margaret Murray 4. Murdo MacLeod 5. (Equal) Jessie MacIver and Angus Murray
WRITING - John Campbell (b)
ATTENDANCE - John MacKenzie, Gormelia Murray, Donald MacIver, Margaret M. MacKenzie and Murdo MacDonald JUNIOR ll 1. (Equal) Murdo Graham and Catherine Smith 3. Jessie MacIver 4. Jessie Smith 5. Donald Campbell
RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE - John MacIver
ATTENDANCE - Donald W. MacDonald, John Murray and Annie Campbell JUNIOR lll 1. Catriona Murray 2. (Equal) Lily MacKay and John Morrison 4. Angus Campbell 5. Christina MacDonald
RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE - Annabella MacKenzie
ATTENDANCE - John MacDonald, John Murray, Angus MacLeod and John Murray (b) INFANTS (HIGHER) 1. Margaret Murray
2. Mary Campbell
3. Maggie Mary Murray
4. Donald MacRitchie
5. Colin Campbell
6. Annie MacMillan
RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE - Annie B. Murray
ATTENDANCE - Murdo Murray, Angus MacIver and Annie MacMillan INFANTS (LOWER) 1. Gormelia MacKay
2. Christina MacLeod
3. Roderick MacKay
4. John A. MacKenzie
5. Angus MacLeod
ATTENDANCE - Norman C. MacDonald and Murdo Murray
There were also 14 Merit Certificates handed out to present and former pupils.
A storm of great severity, for this time of year, swept over this district on Tuesday, 9th October. Indeed, many of the old people assert that this storm exceeded in intensity even that of 1882 - the year which is still spoken of in Lewis as, "Am bhliadhna a agapadh an t arbhar."
Early in the morning there were vivid flashes of lightning, accompanied by showers and strong gusts of wind. Many of the crofters were astir long before daybreak and the most of these were able to get their corn, which had yet been lying in small stooks on the crofts, well secured before the storm reached its height. The usual method adopted here under similar circumstances is to make small heaps of the corn, which is then covered with spadefuls of the soil.
In many cases however, the corn of some of the Crofters was carried by the wind to neighbouring crofts and thus one finds corn belonging to several people indiscriminately mixed. As the wind was blowing from the west, some of the corn in very exposed places near the sea was swept into the Tolsta Bay.
The storm continued to increase in force till 10am. and it was about 2pm. before there was any noticeable improvement. The roofs of some of the thatched houses began to give way, but the men were always on the alert to render assistance. There was however, one wooden shed blown away, but otherwise, the damage to property was insignificant.
Mr. D. MacDonald, Headmaster of Tolsta P. S., begs to acknowledge receipt of a Donation of 20s. sent by Mr. Angus MacIver, 44 Offord Street, Burnsbury, London, towards the above Fund. Mr. MacIver, who is a native of this district, has been in business in London for many years. With the amount of money already in hand, the children from Glen Tolsta hamlet, as well as those from New Tolsta and outlying portions of the township, will be provided at School with a mid-day cup of cocoa, for at least three months. If more Funds were available, the most needy children living near the School, would also be supplied. We are much indebted to Sir William D. M. Cotts and to Mr. MacIver for their Donations.
A TOLSTA CANADIAN
In a Canadian paper which we read recently, we noticed in a paragraph which was extolling the wonderful recuperative properties of the soil and climate of Alberta, that eleven pounds of potatoes in four tubers, was the record of Mr. Murdoch Campbell, Edmonton South and that three of these tubers were in one hill. Mr. Campbell, who is a son of the late Murdo Campbell, 34 North Tolsta, emigrated to Canada many years ago. We understand he has been very successful since he went there.