Is the Macduff Mystery solved?

Mary Arnold, July 2018 for Macduff Heritage Society

Gravestone William Conrad LOHR

George Forbes Dickson known locally as ‘Doddie Dickson’ had jewellers shop at 16 Duff Street Macduff.

Doddie Dickson kept a roll of honour in his shop to record names and information about each man from Macduff who had enlisted, fought and died, and of the ones who came home to family and friends. This roll of honour was used to list the names that are engraved on the War Memorial in Macduff. Doddie Dickson collected together information on 141 people, but there are 150 names on the War Memorial, and one of the names that were recorded by Doddie Dickson is not on the war memorial.  

The Roll of Honour book by Doddie Dickson was published on 15th April 1920, and for the commemoration of the 90th Anniversary of WW1, a second book was published using the material from Doddie’s book.  Stanley Bruce in 2008 produced his book for the Banffshire Maritime Heritage Association.  In Stanley’s book he includes the missing nine names from the Doddie Dickson Roll of Honour.  

The mystery begins, Doddie had recorded on his list a Private William Henry Conrad Lohr of High Street Macduff who had enlisted in the Indian Army, and that he drowned in service on 26th September 1918.   William Henry Conrad Lohr is not on the war memorial neither is he listed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database. If William Henry Conrad Lohr is not on the War Memorial or on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, then how is he recorded in Doddie Dickson’s book?  

Some theories were put together by Stanley Bruce for his 2008 book, was he just missed off the war memorial?  As he drowned perhaps there was no body to bury; did he suffer shell shock, and was unjustly treated as a coward? Perhaps he didn’t die.   

Research was undertaken by the Macduff Heritage Society to try and solve this mystery. We have discovered that William Henry Conrad Lohr was born 3rd October 1895 in South Dakota, that was a surprise!.  He was one of three children of William Henry Lohr and Jessie Ann Nicol. Jessie Ann Nicol was born on 19th October 1853 in Tocher Street Macduff, the daughter of John Nicol, saddler and Ann Leask. She was one of eight children. She went to Ohio USA in 1885 and in 1893 married William Henry Lohr, while in USA she had three children our William Henry Conrad Lohr, John Nicol Lohr and James Alexander George Lohr. William Henry Conrad Lohr with his parents and siblings arrived in Glasgow on 21 November 1910 on the ship ‘Columbia’; they are listed as American citizens. The family, probably through the family connections of Jessie Ann Lohr (nee Nicol) came to Macduff between 21st  November 1910 and 2nd April 1911, as they are all recorded on the 1911 Census at 6 Osborne Terrace, Macduff.   We know that William Henry Conrad Lohr lived at 11 High Street Macduff, as the property was then owned by his father William Henry Lohr. William Henry Lohr in 1915 was also the proprietor of 5 and 5a Souter Street and 3 and 3a Souter Street, he also held land at Whitehills. After William Henry Lohr’s death these properties were inherited by his sons John Nicol Lohr and James Alexander George Lohr.    

William Henry  Conrad is aged 17 on the 1911 census.  

William Henry  Conrad Lohr was aged about 19 when he enlisted.   

The mystery has remained  until some research work by Stanley West of Macduff who has discovered the gravestone of William Henry Conrad  Lohr in Doune Cemetery Macduff, another surprise!

The stone is in memory of William Henry Conrad Lohr and his parents. His actual burial place is Trichur Madras India.  

War was declared on 4th August 1914
Armistice was declared on 11th November 1918
Treaty of Versailles was signed 28th June 1919
Macduff War Memorial completed October 1922

Mary Arnold, July 2018 for Macduff Heritage Society