Who were the 'Little Boys'  who raised the money for the Ross Memorial harmonium?

The fever and surgery hospital dedicated to the memory of Dr William Ross, long-time physician and one-time Provost (1847-50) of Dingwall, was opened in 1873, four years after his death at his farm in Dunglust. 

George Clark of the National Bank saw potential in the singing voices of some of the children of Dingwall and trained and helped a group of friends—perhaps with extra incentive from their parents—up to the stage that they could perform a fund-raising concert in Alex Ross’s National Hotel and make enough money to buy this harmonium.

On August 31st 1886 the harmonium was presented officially to the hospital in an evening event attended by the Hospital Board and others of the professional class in the town. The speeches praised the six ‘Little boys’ who raised the money:
Willie Stewart; Johnnie Robertson (14) son of the hotelier; Willie Joass (11) son of the architect and Burgh Surveyor William Cumming Joass and later a marine engineer; Nesbitt Kemp (7) son of architect Alfred Kemp who had married Lizzie Grigor here and went to the USA; Archie Ross and his sister Rita were playmates of Nesbitt’s; Henry Joass (7) Willie’s younger brother

After the speeches, Nesbitt’s mother played the new machine and the boys sang. She had brought Nesbitt from California for an 18-month visit to see where their family had come from, and they stayed with his grandmother Ann Grigor, née Moxey, in Park House and he attended Miss Cameron’s school while here. In later years he became a banker, and worked with his childhood friend Henry Joass in London and stayed with MacMillan cousins also from Dingwall. It is not known how well the playing of the harmonium contributed to the well-being of the hospital patients, nor when it was decided that it was no longer needed there. The news got to Nesbitt and he fetched it across the Atlantic and the width of America to Oakland in California where it remained until his descendants felt it should return to Dingwall and the Museum received the welcome gift in 2017.

The Dingwall Museum welcomes any memories you might know of this instrument or of the families of the ‘Little Boys’.


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