Ethen, Milton, Meyer, Mitchell, and Liston Family
This page consists of the writings of
Alexanderina Elizabeth Liston Fischer
Alex, as she was known, is related to me on my mother's
side. She is a half cousin because her grandfather,
Alexander Graham Liston, Sr., had two wives and a number of
children with both wives. Alexanderiana's grandfather
Alexander was married to Agnes Graham, whereas the line I come
from were the children of Alexander Liston, Sr., and Christine
Stewart. Alex Fischer is of the same generation as my
great-grandmother, Agnes Mitchell Milton, but was about the same
age as my grandmother, Laura Milton Ethen. Alex corresponded
with my mother and aunts, and was interested in family history.
I have several letters and other material from Alex, which are
shown below. I've transcribed the content of the letters, as
well as showing scans of the original letters. There is also
a scan of a family tree provided by Alex, which was not
Although Alex mentions that the Liston line died out, there were
so many children of Alexander Graham Liston, Sr. that there must
be many unknown cousins. If any others immigrated to the
U.S. is unknown, but I provide this material in the hopes of
connecting with an unknown branch of the Liston family.
1973 letter 1976 Letter 1978 letter 1978 card 1981 letter
This first letter is dated 1973 (when Alex was
75) and consists of 6 pages of text and a Family Tree
6505 N. Waukesha Av.
Chgo., Ill. 60646
Aug. 8, 1973
I was so glad to hear from you. Your
letter was forwarded from Fla. We have sold our home here
& are in the process of selling off & giving away our
extra furniture & household goods preparatory to making our
permanent home in Fla. at the address you have which is a
condominium right on the ocean which we both love. Lou likes
the sea just as much as I & we drive down to Port Everglades
almost every Sun. to see what ships are in & why. We see
them passing from our balcony where we keep binoculars in
readiness. With only the apt. on our hands we will be able
to do more traveling though we managed a 40 day
European cruise in Apr. & May. Met about 15 cousins
& second cousins in Southampton & four more in
Helensburgh, Scotland. They're all a jolly crowd & we
had lots of fun.
I learned two new facts about the Liston family; first, there
were 19 children, not 25; 8 in the first family & 11 in the
second where we fit in and second, there is not a Liston clan
because our forebears came from Holland & the name was
originally Van Liston.
Alexander Liston was born at Boness [Bo'ness], Linlithgowshire,
Scotland on Mar. 17, 1818. He died in Clydebank May 28,
Agnes Graham was born at Balfron, Scotland, 1836
Married Sept. 9, 1856 at Balfron. Both are buried in the
churchyard at Balfron together with a son Peter who died at 17
of appendicitis, the only child not to grow to adulthood.
We learned this year that Grandpa managed an oil refinery in
& is said to have invented the process of extracting petroleum
jelly from crude oil. Between 1870 & 1874 the family was
transferred to N. Wales living in Leeswood.
Andrew & John after careers in sailing settled in
Southampton. Andrew married a widow whose daughter married
& lived in Johannesburg, S. Africa. John had 2 daughters
& a son (the only Liston in the 2nd generation & he died
in 1966 leaving a daughter Pamela (Glasgow now) so the name died
out with him in spite of Grandpa's huge family. This son,
Alexander, was commended by the gov. for his excellent management
of the huge docks at Southampton during W.W. II & a plaque in
his honor is hung in Southampton.
James migrated to Capetown S. Africa & made his fortune in
constructing bldgs. & homes. The youngest sister, Mary
Jane on this list but Aunt Jane to all of us lived
in Durban, S. Africa having married Wm Battison.
Her daughter Nancy Innis lives in Durban & her son Peter in
Johannesburg & another son in Port Elizabeth. I
correspond with Nancy and Peter. Jim's family (Capetown)
have all passed away. I visited them in 1934 & enjoyed
them a lot. He had 2 daughters: one a spinster, the
other Ella McGregor had 3 children but I've lost track of them.
Nellie Liston Warnock lived in Southampton but is gone
now. I know she had a daughter & a son but I don't
know their whereabouts.
My father, your great grandmother Agnes Mitchell & Elizabeth
(must be the Mary on the list) came to the U.S. Eliz.
lived in Osage, had one son (married Pearl) & he had 2 girls
Esther & ______ Robertson.
Wm Liston lived in New Orleans for many years working for
the United Fruit Co. but returned to Buchlyvie, Scotland about
1909, married a spinster & ran the Red Lion Inn there.
I learned also on this last trip that the "Clachan" the 240 yr.
old thatched cottage in Balfron where my father & your
grandmother were born has been declared a "Nat'l. Monument" to
be preserved & maintained by the royal government.
The ship you speak of went to Alex. I guess. He gave
it to me & last year I gave it to Sadie's grandson.
Thanks for your felicitations on our wedding, Bettie. We
are extremely happy. Lou is a retired lawyer & banker
& like me has no children of his own.
I hear from your Kate & Barb at Christmas time so
am able to keep up on their activities.
You'll notice that Grandpa Liston's birthday was the same as
your mother's, Mar. 17.
Hope this information is not too muddled. Write again if
it is & I'll try to clarify it. My father was the last
of the family to die ---at 93.
Am enclosing a family tree I got this year.
This scanned document is the family
tree mentioned above. It does not appear to be done in the
handwriting of Alex Fischer, but I don't know who wrote it
out. She mentioned meeting some cousins in Southampton,
England and in Helensburg, Scotland, so perhaps she obtained it
in one of those places.
is the second letter, dated July 19, 1976.
It was good to hear from you & to know that
someone is interested in the family history. I am enclosing
an obituary of John's son Alex.
the only Liston in the 2nd generation. He had no boys, only
one daughter, so out of the huge Liston family of nineteen
children, the name died out with him! Seems unbelievable,
Dad built little model ships after he retired & gave one of
them to you[r] Grandma, I believe. He was a ship builder
having learned his trade at Brown's on the Clyde. They are
the firm that built the Queens & many famous ships of lines
other than Cunard, in fact they built the Swed. Amer. "M.S.
Kungsholm" on which we went around the world last year. The
story is that Dad [Alexander Graham Liston, 1865-abt. 1958] ran
off to sea at 14 as captain's boy but met his older brother, a
capt. with the Union Castle Lines. He was thrashed & ordered to leave the ship on its
return to Scotland to learn his trade, which he did. Then he
went to sea again to sail until upon docking in Boston the rats
fled the ship. Since to the sailors of the time this meant
the ship's next trip would be fatal, he went to work for the Amer.
Ship Bldg. Co. until after World War I when he retired. We
do have a young cousin, Willie Reid of Kirkintilloch, Scotland who
is capt. of a Gulf oil tanker sailing to Capetown this trip.
He has a lovely wife & 3 yr. old daughter whom we met three
years ago on a North Cape Cruise.
Glad you keep up your music & that your children are also
musical. Though Lou is 88 & I almost 78 we still play
the piano & enjoy it. Lou is taking organ lessons from a
Canadian neighbor who's down here every winter.
Would like to be there when you three girls & your families
get together. Bet you have fun & make your Dad
happy. I'm so glad to hear from any of you when you have
time to write.
is the third letter, dated Oct. 14, 1978, At home [The Fischers,
901 Tiffany Gardens E., 1600 N. Ocean Blvd., Pompano Beach, Fl,
It was so good to get your nice newsy letter & to know that
you three girls & Dick & your Dad had been together.
I'd like to have been a little mouse listening in. I
generally hear from Barbara at Christmas time & a year or so
ago had a picture of her handsome family. My your family
surely is scattered but I think this is true of most families
Glad to hear your Nancy is interested in a fine Scotchman!
They all are, aren't they? Kate's oldest girl Mary is also dating one --- Kelly Graham!
He's in his last year of law school at Univ. of Mich.
I delayed answering your letter until after our Chgo. trip feeling
certain that if there were a Scotch cookbook Field's would have
it. There is none & both the clerk & I had a good
laugh because let's admit it the Scotch are not noted for their
cookery --- well maybe porridge & broth!! I hate to
blast your hopes Betty, but that's the way it is.
Now here are some cousin's addresses,
1. Nancy Reid (Mrs. Peter) Pa's niece
46 Parkburn Av.
Kirkintillock, Scotland G.664 A.D.
2. Wm & Janice Reid (her son)
12 Douglas Rd.
Glasgow, Scotland G.664 N.W.
3. Margaret Thomas (Pa's grand niece)
7 Castle Rd. Castle Hghts.
4. Esther Goffe (Pa's niece)
54 Mill Rd., Regent Pk.
5. Juliet Liston Foden (Pa's niece)
1 Rowan Close
6. Robt. & Pamela Bryson (Pa's grandniece)
2 Vinicome St.
Glasgow, W. 2, Scotland
Then we have real nice cousins in Durban & Johannesburg S.
Hope this list will help
Nancy with her Scotchman.
As I learn more about the Scotch & Irish I become convinced
they are one people (the Celts) who were both Catholic &
Protestant. Many years ago Caldwell Taylor wrote a
fascinating book "Grandmother & the Priests" --- a delightful
story about a wealthy very Protestant widow living in the
Highlands who, being certain the neighboring priests never had a
square meal invited several to her home each week for
dinner. The book records what transpired & is really
Love to you all,
Lou (90) & I (80) are both fine.
This third document is a Christmas
card. I believe it dates from 1978 because Alex mentions
Scottish independence from England, which was the Scotland Act of
1978. It failed to get approval the following year.
Hi! How are you & the youngsters? Since you are truly
interested in Liston family history, did you know that the house
in Balfron where they were almost all born called "The Clachan"
has been made a national monument, maintained by the government
& that Scotch independence from England has passed the Hse. of
Lou & Alex.
This is the last letter that I have that
was written to my mother, dated Feb. 16, 1981. Of note here
is the fact that Lou is still alive and would be about 93 years
old at this time. Alex would be 83, based on their ages of
90 and 80 mentioned above in the letter of 1978.
Dear Betty & Bill,
I do enjoy hearing from you. Since I'm sort of "a nut" on
the Liston family I am anxious to have Mark share my
interest. In fact it was that that gave me my travel bug, I
started with So. Africa though!
I just finished writing to the grandson of Agnes Graham Liston
Wilson who lives at
12 Douglas Rd.
Lenzie, Glasgow, Scotland G. 664 N.W.
His name is Willie Reid & he is first officer on a tanker
plying the Persian Gulf. His grandmother was "Little Agnes"
-- yours, Betty, was Big Agnes"
He is married & has
two little girls.
Another cousin, Pamela Liston Bryson lives in Glasgow at
2 Vinicombe St.
Glasgow W. 2
Her father was Alexander G. Liston who supervised the port of
Southampton during the war & won a citation & a bronze
plaque in the ton hall for his excellent job. *He was the
last of the Listons.
His niece, Margaret Thomas, lives at
7 Castle Rd., Castle Hghts.
Bittern Pk., Southampton
His sister Esther Goffe is at
54 Mill Rd.
Regents Pk., Millbrook
Her son went to see [sea], married of [a] Brazilian lady & settled in Rio.
*He was the last of the Listons because all the boys in the
original family had daughters who, of course, married &
changed their names.
Hope this is all clear. Tell Mark we have more relatives of
whom I've lost track. The son of a cousin in Johannesburg
& his wife visited us last summer. They were real fun
& great travelers.
Betty, I didn't hear from Katie this year. Are she & Don
Glad your Dad is fine. We are too.
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