Random Stuff

Cousin Anna

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Growing up, we always heard of “Cousin Anna”.

She married Lord Malcolm Steuart and lived at Tulliepowrie House in Scotland. I could never figure out the relationship – as in whose cousin or how she was related – but finally, my sleuthing paid off!

Anna was the daughter of the first Phoebe – Phoebe Jane. Phoebe Jane was the sister of my maternal Great-Grandmother – Emeline Priscilla – so Cousin Anna was my grandmother’s cousin. This stuff gets complicated.

Family lore has it that Anna – born in 1872 in Iowa – was a New York showgirl. She met Malcolm in New York and they were married  in St George’s Church, Hanover Square, London in 1896.

From there, it was off to the Scottish Highlands.

Malcolm was Captain John Malcolm Skinner Steuart – 14th Laird of Ballechin. Not a bad catch for an Iowa girl…

Malcolm was 9 years older than Anna – who also went by Anastasia.

They did an around the world tour starting in 1905 and were in San Francisco coming back from Honolulu in 1906 when the April 18th earthquake struck.

These two pictures are screen shots of old 16mm film from the 1930s that my Aunt Phoebe had when she visited.

The first shows Anna and Malcolm on the grounds of Tulliepowrie House in the 1930s before the war.

This is Anna playing with a pet monkey – all the rage at the time.

Malcolm died in 1947 at the age of 85.

Anna died in 1957.

Ballechin House – the manor house – is purported to be one of the most haunted places in Scotland.

It seems, when Malcolm inherited the house, his uncle Robert had said he was coming back as a dog, so… Malcolm shot all the dogs on the estate. The legend continues that Robert Steuart haunted the house as a disembodied spirit.

The original house was built in the 15th century and the house Malcolm inherited was built in 1806. It was pretty much unused by 1932 and destroyed by fire in 1963.

Anna and Malcolm lived at the newer Tullipowrie House – which is still standing and owned by a Scottish author.

My mother had always dreamed of going to Scotland and see where Cousin Anna lived. If the travel gods are willing, we’d like to go over in 2024.

There’s a Ballechin single malt Scotch brewed nearby that I do think we should should sample and raise a glass to Anna and Malcolm.

Aunt Phoebe

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There are several Phoebe’s in the family, Phoebe Jane, Phoebe Catherine, two Phoebe Gloria’s, and the latest, Phoebe Rose.

My Aunt Phoebe [Catherine] was definitely one of the more adventurous of my relatives.

She was my grandmother’s older sister, so, technically, she was my great-aunt, but we never went by that strict a formality. Slightly odd, since she could be quite strict and formal – as one born in 1890 was wont to be.

Born in Colorado in 1890, she married in 1907, and, in the Federal Census of 1910, she was a widow, living in San Francisco. By 1920, she was living in New York City, working as a nurse on ocean liners, traveling the world.

She never remarried.

In 1940, she had a face-lift and a new birth certificate saying she was born in 1905. She then joined the Army Nurse Corps.

She spent several years back in California before heading off to The Philippines in late 1942.

The hospital she was working in was bombed, and she was buried under ruble for three days before being rescued. She had a bad back for the rest of her life, but it never slowed her down.

After her discharge, she returned to New York, but moved back to San Francisco in the mid 1950s and she and her sister, my Aunt Dolores moved in together after Aunt Dolores’ husband, my Uncle Tommy, died.

It wasn’t exactly a perfect arrangement – Phoebe was 8 years older than Dolores – and could play “older sister” quite well. Still, they managed until 1970 when Aunt Phoebe passed at 80 years of age.

At 70, she was taking my brother and me downtown to the luxurious movie palaces of the day for first run movies and to silver service, white tablecloth restaurants, learning the correct fork to use or how to properly use a napkin. She never raised her voice – it was a stern look that got us every time.

Their 5th floor apartment in Stonestown was great for kids… running up and down stairs, dropping bottles down the trash chute to see how much noise we could make, pushing all of the elevator buttons – you know… typical unsupervised kid-stuff.

In later years, I always went over to set up their aluminum Christmas Tree – using a shopping cart from QFI to bring it up from their basement storage area. My grammar school friend Bob Brandt and I would jump on the 18 Sloat and go over to and play Canasta with them after school now and again.

I have several small things she picked up in her travels, including these two little hand-carved pieces.

Great memories.

Program for The Military Ball held at the Hollywood Palladium, April 15, 1942