Historic Scotland

Paisley Abbey in Glasgow, Scotland
Paisley Abbey in Glasgow, Scotland.

Recently my family and I were able to travel around historic Scotland researching our ancestral ties to this beautiful country. One of the amazing places we visited was Paisley Abbey where our ancestors, the Lords Cathcart I & II, were interred. We searched and searched all over the huge church for their tombs. But we needed to know some crucial information.

Traveling Historic Scotland can flip your assumptions 180 degrees.

The interior view of Paisley Abbey's new altar area
The interior view of Paisley Abbey’s new altar area.

Paisley Abbey was built over time in the 12th century. Major benefactors included the Cathcart family. Over the centuries, major benefactors and important people in society were very often buried nearest the altar inside churches. The less important a person in society, the farther from the altar. knowing this, we searched every brick and tomb. We searched all the carvings and stones.

The volunteer guide pointed out Cathcart Aisle and a small alcove behind the choir. We found more recent (1800s) Cathcarts that would be very distant cousins. But no sign of the lords’ gravesites.


Then, our guide mentioned that the  huge cathedral had a different design than its original. 

The historic altar had been destroyed as the Paisley Abbey, several times from war and a huge architectural mistake when one of the roof rebuilds crashed down from poor workmanship. Over time, the altar was moved as the abbey was expanded and rebuilt.

But one wall, the Old Wall, still exists.

Cathcart Memorials at Paisley Abbey in the Old Wall
Cathcart Memorials at Paisley Abbey in the Old Wall.

The guide pointed out the difference in the height and narrowness as potentially guards against Viking raids versus the new walls with windows at a more normal height. Then he mentioned the original wall, hidden mostly behind a long line of screens that told the story of the abbey. He pointed out where the original altar likely stood. People commonly interred in the thick walls of historic Scotland’s cathedrals over the centuries.

We’d been searching in the wrong place the entire time because we didn’t know the altar moved!

The ancient Cathcart tomb is a large stone carved in Latin, pretty high up below very narrow windows on the original monastery wall. We all admired the beautiful stained glass, more recently placed, but still gorgeous in the ancient church. Then…

We found them! A long brass plaque beneath the carved words, different centuries and yet the root of our Cathcart roots. Just one branch on our family tree. But I am so happy to have found them and a little more information to share with future generations.

All that time scouring every nook and cranny in the choir, altar, walls, and floor. Often we chase all around the answer, not realizing it’s the wrong spot because of an assumption based on the way things look right now. What a great example those few hours gave me! When I’m methodically searching and not finding, I learned from historic Scotland to ask God to point me in the right direction regardless of my assumptions.

Angela Breidenbach and her daughter pay their respects to ancestors at Paisley Abbey
Angela Breidenbach and her daughter pay their respects to ancestors at Paisley Abbey.


Author and genealogist, Angela Breidenbach
Author and genealogist, Angela Breidenbach

Angela Breidenbach uses the research from her travels in her historical novels.

She’s a genealogist and the president of the Christian Authors Network.

You can find her at and on social media with @AngBreidenbach including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter.

Try one of Angela’s historical novels that include genealogical research like:

 The Captive Brides Collection telling the story of Scottish immigrants who endured indenture to come to the Colonies as the American Revolution is birthed.

Captive Brides Historical Romance Collection
Captive Brides Romance Collection featuring CAN author Angela Breidenbach










Plot Twists and Adventures

Plot Twists and Adventures by Mary L. Hamilton

When the unexpected happens in a story, we call it a plot twist. In life, it’s

Plot Twists and Adventures
Plot Twists and Adventures

sometimes called an adventure.

My husband’s retirement meant a chance to move from the big city to a smaller town, with a lake to satisfy me, and a university to satisfy him. But initially, our move wasn’t the sort of adventure I’d envisioned.

Thinking it wise to rent until we decided what part of town we wanted to buy into, we arrived at our temporary quarters on a cold January day. Mind you, this was Texas, not North Dakota, but it was still cold to us! And there was no heat in the house, thanks to a mix-up with the utility company. Thankfully, we found a hotel for the night that accepted us, and our 80-lb. dog.

The next day, the movers unloaded all our furniture and boxes, the heat came on, and that night we climbed into bed—only to hear the storm siren go off. Did they really use the storm sirens for a hard freeze? It turned out to be a malfunction.

Apparently, the house hadn’t been occupied for a year or more. Built in the 1960’s, it also hadn’t seen any updates, recent or otherwise. The single pane windows leaked cold air in drafty waves, and rattled whenever the jet propulsion company, located over ten miles away, tested their rocket engines. The dining room floor sloped toward the back yard, thanks to a cracked foundation. One of the toilets leaked. And there were no three-prong outlets in the house, forcing us to go out and buy adapters for all our electronics. We also couldn’t figure out why we had hot showers, but no hot water in the kitchen—until we discovered a second water heater, which soon needed to be replaced.

With no gas hookup for our clothes dryer, we had to buy an electric model. It was delivered a week after we moved in, and I could finally wash our clothes. But of course, the drain was plugged, resulting in flooded floors in three rooms.

Then the furnace quit…twice. My husband and I still laugh about crawling into bed under four layers of blankets wearing long underwear, wool socks and ski hats. The electric heating pad helped, too.

Since we weren’t planning to stay in the house for long, we unpacked only the things we used on a daily basis. But when my daughter visited and asked me to help her sew up a hem, I couldn’t even find my needle and thread!

More than once in the seven months we lived in that house, I became overwhelmed and frustrated. But most of the time, I laughed it off and reminded myself this was an adventure.

I wish I could say I always keep that kind of attitude when things go wrong. Too often, I develop a short fuse and vent my anger and frustration. But I think I’ve found a way to hold onto that perspective. In John 9, when asked about the cause of a man’s blindness (surely a reason for frustration and despair), Jesus answered, “…this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

What if I look at the things that go wrong in life and see them as an opportunity for the work of God to be displayed in my life? Now that sounds like an adventure!

Mary Hamilton
Mary Hamilton

Bio: Mary L. Hamilton grew up at a youth camp in Wisconsin, much

See No Evil
See No Evil

like the setting for her Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series. Her experiences during twenty years of living at the camp, as well as people she knew there, inspired many of the events and situations in her novels. Mary is currently working on a women’s mystery/suspense. When not writing, she enjoys a little amateur photography, knitting, reading, and spending time with her family. Mary and her husband live in Texas.