McCornack Country Sweaters

Genealogy compiled by

John C. McCornack of  Yukon, Oklahoma

Experiences of finding relatives in Scotland


in the Relatively Speaking section published Nov-Dec 1990.

During a recent business trip to Europe, I ended up with my friend, Tom ADAMS, in Manchester, England. We had a free weekend, so we decided to rent a BMW and drove up to the Newton Stewart area of Scotland to make a first-time visit to my ancestral homes.

Tom Adams, our BMW and a view of Kirkmabreck Cemetery

The trip was a great success, we spent Saturday roaming around the country and were lucky enough to find homes, named Annabaglish and Barwinnock, where my McCORNACK ancestors lived before they came to Illinois in the 1830's. Everywhere we went we asked: "Do you know or have you known a McCORNACK?" The answer was always the same - "No!". By noon Sunday, we decided it was time to return to England.

Tom drove the BMW and I settled down to reflect on my rewarding experiences in "McCORNACK" country. In my possession were about 150 pictures and four hours of tape recordings documenting my trip, little did I know the best was yet to come.

As we traveled for about 100 miles through various town, we noticed that most of the stores were closed because it was Sunday. Tom expressed concern that the trip was nearing the end, and he had not bought his wife a gift. As we approached one of the last towns in Scotland, Tom suddenly pulled the BMW to a stop beside a store which was open.

We were greeted by a young sales lady. Before long Tom was selecting a hand knit sweater. After looking at the quality of the sweaters, I decided that my wife should also have one. We made our purchases and were about to leave when Tom noticed his sweater did not have a label. He asked the sales lady, "How am I going to convince anyone this is a hand knit sweater from Scotland?" By this time the clerk's mother had come out of a back room and said, "No problem, we will sew a label in the sweater". She took both sweaters to a back room and shortly returned with labels in the sweaters.


Continuing the conversation, Tom mentioned that we had been over in the Newton Stewart area doing genealogy research on the McCORNACKs. She stopped and said, "I am a McCORNACK!" I tried to reassure her that she may be a McCORMACK or McCORMICK but she was not a McCORNACK because we spelled our name differently. She said, "No! I am a McCORNACK!" and ran to the back room to pick up her purse. From her purse she pulled a well worn letter. It was a letter written to her mother, Agnes FRASER, dated 1946 by Richard McCORNACK (who died in 1954). During World War 11, Richard had made written contact with what is now believed to be the last McCORNACK family in Scotland. The families in Scotland had a rough time during the war. Richard and his family had provided needed food and clothing parcels. Her mother had given her the letter and had told her to: "Keep this letter and some day a McCORNACK will come to see you."

The famous meeting place and view of me inspecting the letter.

It was on this late Sunday afternoon that a descendant of Andrew McCORNACK who left Scotland in 1839 made the first known personal contact with a member of the MeCORNACK family that stayed in Scotland. There is no way the odds could be figured on this chance occurrence which happened over eighty miles from the ancestral area. It is an example of what makes the search for our ancestors such a rewarding experience.

Letter exchanges continued, the hand knit sweater business was renamed, and as a result "McCornack Country" labeled hand knit sweaters are now available throughout the world (see below).

McCornack Country Knitwear
From: (Saskia)
Date: 8/21/98 10:09:30 AM Central Daylight Time
To: (Mr McCornack)

Mr McCornack,

I have just completed and uploaded a Web Site for Nessie Allan's McCornack Country Knitwear - a company based in Annan, Dumfries & Galloway.   I believe Nessie is a relative of yours and a couple of weeks ago I took her to the library in Annan where she sent an e-mail to you (her first time on the Internet and she was hooked!)  Would you like to place a link to her web site at ?


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

web-LINK, Dalton, Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire DG11 1DX

tel/fax: 01387 840 300 *

Administrators of


(Below is a detailed report of my first trip to Scotland)

Scotland was visited on May 12 and 13, 1984 by John C McCornack. He filed this report "The day started in Manchester, England, with Tom Adams, a business associate. Tom had rented a bright red BMW sports car. It was a beautiful clear day with temperatures in the low 60's. We fastened our seat belts and headed north on the M6 Motorway toward Scotland. The road was excellent and since neither of us were aware of any speed limits we moved with the traffic which was between 80 and 85 mph. By 11:00 a.m. we were in Scotland. We stopped at the first town which was Gretna Green. We had lunch at Gretna Green which is a typical tourist stop with lots of gift shops and a couple of bagpipers to entertain the visitors.


After lunch we moved west on Highway 75 through Annan, Dumfries and had a brief stop to view an interesting castle called Threav, northwest of Castle Douglas. After Gatehouse of the Fleet, we saw another castle called Cardoness. This castle was built in the 1500's and was probably within walking distance of where the McCornacks lived in Kirkmabreck.


The first special stop in "McCornack" country was a couple of miles south of Creetown where we turned off opposite a mining area called Quay. We drove past several houses which formed a complex called Kirkmabreck on our map. From there we drove up the side of a large hill to an abandoned stone quarry called Fell Quarries on the map. From this vantage point we were able to see west to Wigtown [across the bay], south to the blue waters of Wigtown Bay and east to the large hills covered with green grass, rock fences and scattered sheep. It was from this point that we were able to locate a significant landmark "the Kirkmabreck Parish Church" and accompanying cemetery. It was in this Church that members of the Knox County McCornack family worshipped.


After Kirkmabreck, we passed through Creetown where a local wedding was in process. We stopped for petrol in Newton Stewart where we checked the phone book and found no one named McCornack. We drove north through the main part of town where we passed a farmer's market place on the left. We continued our journey until we found the B7027 road. On this road we drove through the Penninghame Forest. After the forest we stopped at a farm house to ask directions to Barwinnock. There we had an interesting discussion with a farmer who was very familiar with Barwinnock. He stated that the last tenement farmer, Thomas Jackson, had move from the farm about 4 years earlier and that the house was now vacant. Barwinnock was the ancestral home of the Knox County McCornacks who came to America in the 1830's.

We continued on the B7027 until we came to a small house called Mayberry cottage on the right. This was a distance of about 11 miles from Newton Stewart. Opposite the Mayberry Cottage was a sign which pointed to Barwinnock. Each original house in this rural area has its own name identification. Most of the names have remained with houses for the last 150 years. Recent governments have severely restricted any additional house building. As a result the housing spacing has remained almost constant for the last 150 years. Most houses are well maintained because there is little chance of any one building a new one.

We continued northeast up a one lane road past a large manor house. We drove past one occupied farmhouse and before long we arrived at Barwinnock. The house was surrounded by stone walls which is typical for this part of Scotland. There was no doubt that we had found the farm as a large weather worn wooden sign with the name Barwinnock was visible from the road. It was attached to a stone barn.


At the farmstead was a neighbor boy who was doing some chores. I informed him my ancestors had lived in this house and I would like to take some pictures of the house and surrounding area. He went to the barn and fetched a large key to the back door and let me tour the house. It was a two story house and from the upstairs and downstairs there was an excellent view down the road past the stone walls and towards the big owners manor. In the front pasture was a cow grazing on the poor grass. In the upstairs there was a new addition of a bathroom with pipes on the outside of the house which is typical for old houses that have been remodeled in this part of Scotland. Following the tour of the house, we visited the barn complex. There were two large barns capable of keeping many sheep and cattle. In one of the barns was a goose setting on some eggs which would be typical of a much earlier time. There was little evidence to indicate much change from when Andrew and his family lived on the farmstead. Unlike the large manor down the road which was surrounded with many large trees, the Barwinnock property was covered with stones, grass, and a single tree. It was from this humble beginning that Andrew left and moved to some of the richest soil in the world which is located in Copley township in Knox County, Illinois. On leaving the farmstead we stopped to take a picture of a hare which is a lot larger than a rabbit in this country.

The Manor House

After our visit to Barwinnock, we decided it would be appropriate to "drop in" for a visit in the big manor house. We were met by a most gracious lady named Anne Beale. She invited me and "my driver" to the south side of the large manor house where a number of chairs were available. From this spot we were able to view loch Dornal which was located east of the house. It was a most delightful view with the birds singing and the surrounded area in full spring color. We learned the manor house was called Drumlamford House and that it had been part of an estate for over 150 years. At one time the estate covered over 16,000 acres and the Barwinnock farm had always been part of the estate.

John & Anne Beale

We also learned that the house called Burnghoin was part of the early day estate. Anne indicated that this farm where Andrew lived before moving to Barwinnock was now in ruins. We also learned from Anne that she was renting some of the tenement farm houses for summer visitors which were located directly back of the large manor house. For instance the "Green Cottage" which would provide accommodation for four was the originally occupied by the butler. For you future visitors this might be a most interesting place to stay. Included in the rent was the right to try your luck at fly fishing, also available was salmon and trout fishing.


After an interesting visit to Barwinnock, we returned to Newton Stewart and stopped at the Galloway Arms Hotel to obtain a nights lodging. It is a good place to sample the local flavor of living. Since the sun was still high in the sky, we decided to continue our tour of McCornack country. Our next stop was the Clachan [cemetery] which contains four stones with many McCornack names. We followed A714 south to Baltersan Cross, turned right and continued to Barwhirran, where an old farm house is visible from the road looking south. This is a must stop on any visit to McCornack country. The four large stones are located on the northwest part of the cemetery furthermost from the entrance gate.


From this cemetery we traveled to the town of Kirkcowan where we found 3 McCornack stones in a cemetery located near the center of town. One of the stones contained the following:



John and Jean were the grandparents of the Andrew McCornack who come to Kane County, Illinois in 1838 and the great grandparents of the Andrew McCornack who is the subject of this genealogy. The stone was located in the old part of cemetery near the remaining ruins of a single wall from a early day church.


From Kirkcowan we drove to Annabaglish, the ancestral home of the Kane County McCornacks. I would recommend that you have a good map to find this farmhouse. Although I must admit we had a very interesting side trip to the "Kenmore" farm which is located north of Annabaglish. To get to this farm home, we had to open two cattle gates. At the end of a long winding path which was a good test for our car, we found an extensive operating farm complex and a friendly housewife who gave excellent directions to Annabaglish in her native Scottish dialect.

View of Kirkcowan and standing by Mary with McCornack book

We arrived at Annabaglish at about sundown and were met by a very friendly young lady named Mary McCracken. We identified ourselves as McCornacks and she replied that this was the McCornack house and invited us in for a most interesting visit. She stated that we were the third group to visit from the states. We spend about 30 minutes in conversation with Mary and her mother in the kitchen. Mary stated the house had been completely redone on the inside starting with the bare walls. We left Mary a copy of our 1977 McCornack book.

Tom, Mary and Annabaglish

After we returned home we received a letter with the following: "I lent the book to some of the local villagers whose families were mentioned in the book and they all found it very interesting. It has started quite a thing in Kirkcowan to know your family history from away back." Mary continues "Things are very busy about the farm just now the sheep have all to be sheared and ground has to be ploughed to put the kale in to fatten the lambs for the market. At the end of July we start to cut our grass for silage to feed our cattle on through the winter." Work sounds like what you might expect if Andrew was still at Annabaglish.


After taking photos and extracting a single rock from the rock fence which surrounded the house for a souvenir, we climbed back into our bright red BMW and returned to Newton Stewart.


Early Sunday morning we were on the road again. We toured both the new and old cemeteries at Wigtown, also the old cemetery at Kirkinner. We found many names that were related to the McCornacks. One had the name of Andrew Cornack who died 25 March l827 at the age of 86. We returned to Newton Stewart for breakfast. After our meal we took a quick tour of old cemeteries in both Minnigaff and Newton Stewart and than left to retrace our route on Highway 75.

Tom guided the bright red BMW through the interesting country side and I had settled down to reflect on my rewarding experiences in "McCornack" country. In my possession were about 150 pictures and about 4 hours of tape recordings documenting my trip, little did I know the best was yet to come.


As we traveled for about 100 miles through various little towns, we noticed that most of the stores were closed because it was Sunday. Tom expressed concern that the trip was nearing the end, and he had not bought his wife Dolly a gift. (See above Genealogical Helper story)

It was on this late Sunday afternoon that a descendant of Andrew McCornack who left Barwinnock, near Newton Stewart in 1839 made the first known personal contact with a member of the McCornack family that stayed in Scotland. There is no way the odds could be figured on this chance occurrence which happened over 60 miles from the Newton Stewart area. It is an example of what makes the search for information on our ancestors such a rewarding experience.

My Scotland relative is Agnes Fraser Allan.  You can check out her knitwear Internet Site at .

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