Monday, February 6, 2023

2023 Prompt - Digging Deeper - Margaret Douglas Newland

Margaret Douglas Newland 1844-1929

My paternal Great-Great Grandmother

Nancy Simmons to Paul Simmons to Walter Simmons to Elspeth Leeton to Margaret Douglas Newland


Margaret Douglas "Maggie" Newland

This is a picture of my great-great grandmother Margaret Douglas Newland.

It is a picture probably taken in the early 1920s. She is about 80 years old although she looks much older. Photos are such a research prompt for me. As I stare at one of my ancestors in a photo, I have a strong urge to dig deeper to find out more about them.


Margaret Douglas Newland was born in October 23, 1844 in Virginia (now West Virginia) to William Newland and Elspeth Hall.[1] The 1850 census tells us she is five years old living in Wood County, West Virginia. This census record reveals that Margaret's parents William and Elspeth were both born in Scotland. The census also reveals she had three older brothers, Andrew 15 born in Scotland, William 11 and John 8 years born in Virginia and a younger sister Ellen one years old.[2] These ancestors are the first ancestors that I discovered who had Scottish roots. YES, had Scottish roots! I had to dig deeper!


1870 Wood County, West Virginia Federal Census
William, Elizabeth Newlin born in Scotland
Margaret is 25 years old born in Virginia

I couldn’t find the Newland family in the 1860 census but by 1870 they are still in Wood County, West Virginia. Margaret is 25 years old living with her parents William and Elspeth and three younger brothers, Peter, James, and George.[3] Three years later, on January 10, 1872,[4] Margaret married William Henry Leeton and they eventually have two daughters, Elspeth in 1873, my great grandmother, Elizabeth in 1876 and a son, John, born in 1877. In May 1883 Margaret's mother, Elspeth Hall Newland, died and four months later in September 1883 her father, William Newland, died.[5] They are buried in the Newland Cemetery which I visited in 2007 in Wood County, West Virginia. The cemetery is deep in the hills of Wood County in the middle of a cow pasture engulfed in weeds and brush. Howard and I stopped to ask directions and the gentleman took us to the cemetery and asked, “who are your ancestors”. Come to find out he was a cousin! According to the website Find A Grave this cemetery is located near the community of Newlandsville! According to deed records, this is where William Newland bought 100 acres land in 1845[6] and eventually several of William’s son inherit and own land in this area.

Newland Cemetery in Wood County, West Virginia

Newland Cemetery 


Born in Scotland! Where in Scotland were William and Elspeth born and when did they immigrate to America? In the book History of Ritchie County West Virginia it states Margaret’s parents were Elspeth Hall and William Newland and they were married in their native land.[7] The county history book also reveals that Elspeth grandparents were John Hall and Margaret Douglass. So, my 2X great grandmother was given the maiden name of her grandmother! The book also stated that after Margaret Douglass died in Scotland, John Hall and his three sons and two daughters came to the America and settled in Cairo, Ritchie County, WV in 1836. Bingo! I found two more generations and the date of immigration. But where in Scotland did they live? More digging!


William Newland and Elspeth Hall marriage record
7 November 1834
Kirknewton, Northumberland, England

I found the marriage record of Margaret's parent's, William Newland, and Elspeth Hall, in Kirknewton, Northumberland, England. They married November 7, 1834.[8] This certainly was puzzling since it was not in Scotland, but Northumberland does border Scotland.


Were William and Elspeth Newland my ancestors? Eventually I found their son’s, birth record. Andrew Newland was born March 27, 1835, in Branton, Northumberland County, England.[9] This data agreed with the 1850 census record. Another record I found was the New York, Passenger and Immigration List from 1835 that listed William Newland 35, his wife 22 and a son. William’s occupation was listed as a shepherd.[10]  This had to be Margaret’s parents and her older brother.

William Newland and Mrs. Newland and son
Arrival in New York City - July 30, 1835

Margaret married William Henry Leeton in 1872. William was a veteran from the Civil War and according to his tombstone fought for the Confederate Army in Company K, 20th Regiment of the Tennessee Infantry.[11] Margaret and William’s three children all married in Wood County. Their second daughter, Elizabeth Ellen, married first in 1893 and had five children, Elspeth, my great grandmother, married next in 1899 and moved to Missouri shortly after their marriage with her husband, Andrew Lincoln Simmons,  and they eventually had four children. Margaret and William’s son, John Newland, married in 1902 and he adopted a son.

William H Leeton - tombstone  1841-1923
husband of Margaret Douglas Newland 
Margaret buried next to him - no tombstone

Margaret’s husband, William Newland, died in 1923 and is buried in Egypt Cemetery in Cairo, Ritchie County, WV.[12] At the age of 84 years, 10 months and 29 days, 

Margaret Leeton
Died 22 September 1929
Cairo, Ritchie County, West Virginia

Margaret died September 22, 1929, and is buried in Egypt Cemetery without a tombstone.[13] As I researched Margaret for this story, I found a much younger picture of her posted on Ancestry by a descendant of her daughter Elizabeth Ellen.

Margaret Douglas "Maggie" Newland Leeton
picture posted on Ancestry by maramcgregor 17 Sep 2020


But so far, I have not found records claiming the Newlands were from Scotland. Northumberland is the northern most county in England and this region is known as the borderlands. My ancestors were born and married in England but claim they came from Scotland. Maybe the people of northern England like to claim their distant heritage of Scotland. Maybe their ancestors were from Scotland. This will take digging deeper to understand.


[1] 1900 Federal Census, Grant, Ritchie, West Virginia, ED 88, page 10, line 13, Margaret D Newland, Ancestry.

[2] 1850 Federal Census, District 65, Wood, Virginia, page 135A, image 273, line 8, Margaret Newland, Ancestry.

[3] 1870 Federal Census, Walker, Wood, West Virginia, page 532B, line 5, Margaret Newlin, Ancestry.

[4] West Virginia, Marriages Index, 1785-1971, Ancestry.

[5] Find A Grave, Memorials 85691383 and 85691429, William Newland and Elspeth Newland.

[6] Wood County, WV, FHL film 007895620, Deed Bk 13, page 450, image 567.

[7] Lowther, Minnie Kendall, History of Ritchie County, Wheeling News Litho Co., c1911, page 181.

[8] England, Select Marriages, 1538-1973, Ancestry.

[9] England, Northumberland Non-Conformist Church Records, 1613-1920, FamilySearch.    (

[10] New York, Passenger and Immigration Lists, 1820-1850, Ancestry.

[11] West Virginia, Marriage Index, 1785-1971, Ancestry, Maggie D. Newland

[12] Find A Grave, Memorial #38588278, Henry William Leeton.

[13] Find A Grave, Memorial 38588504, Margaret Douglas “Maggie” Newland Leeton.

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