Who lived in McIntyre’s House?
Incomers to the township were generally related to an existing resident, even if only distantly. The story of Neil McPhail illustrates this.
His uncle Colin Stewart lived in this house after came here from Kilninver near Oban in the 1870s, to take over the tenancy share held by the Sinclair family since the 18th century. In 1881, the house was home to him, his widowed mother Margaret, his nephew Neil McPhail, another nephew, and a 14-year-old domestic servant. By 1891 Neil McPhail has moved elsewhere, but a 59-year-old widow, Flora McPhail, was living elsewhere in the West Township: she may have been Neil’s mother.
After Colin Stewart died in 1901, Neil McPhail was here again living with his grandmother and working as a ploughman. The house and Colin Stewart’s share in the tenancy then passed to a relation of Martin Munro called Duncan Munro, and Neil and his grandmother had to move away. When Munro left in 1925 his share was bought out by the other two tenants (Eddie McCallum and Duncan Stoner Munro), so the house was not needed by a new tenant coming in. We do not know exactly what happened or when, but because of his family connections to the township and this house it is no surprise that by 1931 Neil McPhail was living here again.
In the 20th century, Neil McPhail took his place in the community in much the same manner as the cottars and sub-tenants of the 19th century and before. A couple of other family members – his niece and nephew Ian and Flora McIntyre – came to live with him, and he kept a few cattle. Neil and Ian ran the butcher’s shop in Furnace, and Flora looked after house. Flora became best friends with Bella Munro, the wife of Duncan Stoner Munro’s eldest son Cally Stoner, and their second daughter was named Flora after her. From his childhood in the early 1950s, Young Eddie MacCallum remembers “old Mr McPhail” before he died in 1954. He can also remember Ian giving up the butcher’s shop in Furnace, and the house becoming empty in 1961.